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Discussion: What kind of watch are you using for your GPS tracks?

in: Orienteering; General

May 10, 2021 3:25 PM # 
I am interested to know what watches are using for your O-events to track your race and is it possible to use an Apple Watch with some app to track my course
May 10, 2021 4:29 PM # 
Garmin Forerunner 10. Cheap. Works great.
May 10, 2021 4:31 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
I usually use an old Fenix 3, but you can do it with an Apple Watch for free and w/out special apps, it's just somewhat annoying. This worked last time I tried it (year ago?). This gist is you export your health data, and then grab the gpx track from there. No heart rate came with the gpx if I recall correctly, if you care about that.

I've wondered if Strava would do it, but haven't tried it.
May 10, 2021 5:49 PM # 
I use a vivoactive HR, it's not in production anymore but there are some for sale on ebay if I remember correctly. It works well and I find it fairly accurate, and it's relatively small (especially not as wide as the circular watches which don't work great for me because of biking).
May 10, 2021 7:51 PM # 
I have an Apple watch, which I generally like for most things, but one major downside is that it appears impossible, or at least very difficult, to download the GPS tracks. I just read Mr. Wonderful's post as I was typing this. So apparently, it IS possible. I'll have to try what he recommended.

My advice, though, would be to get a GPS watch, possibly one recommended above, which will be a lot easier.
May 10, 2021 8:55 PM # 
Garmin, Polar and Suunto are some of the "biggies" when it comes to "real" GPS training watches. Not necessarily cheap but sometimes you can find special offers.
If you want to really dig into this market there´s all kinds of product reviews at:

PS. I´m a Garmin user and into my 3rd watch after 15 years - at present I´m using a Garmin235 which works for me. There are always new versions with different numbers and slightly enhanced (?) functions.
May 10, 2021 10:49 PM # 
Garmin Forerunner 10. Cheap. Works great. ... and no map display that would be illegal for orienteering. Also makes a great watch for everyday wear.
May 10, 2021 10:54 PM # 
Not necessarily cheap but sometimes you can find special offers.

Yeah don't bother trying to sell an out-of-production Garmin secondhand. I had (actually still have) a Garmin Forerunner 310XT that had a box price (back in the day) of A$599 but I couldn't even flog it off on Marketplace for A$30. I thought that was a pretty special offer!
May 11, 2021 12:56 AM # 
The Garmin Forerunner 310XT is fine piece of equipment. Still use mine when mapping out a new area.
May 11, 2021 1:31 AM # 
Hmm yeah I said 310XT but I meant to write 305. I also have the 310XT and 910XT, hence why I don't use the 305 anymore (plus I didn't even know I owned one until we moved house).
May 11, 2021 2:09 AM # 
I have a Polar M430. Not super happy with it. My distance on hikes, especially if there's a lot of elevation, is always significantly shorter than the Garmins and Suuntos on the hike. It's better over shorter and flatter distances. However, the optical HR seems fairly accurate - not that I care too much about it!
May 11, 2021 4:33 AM # 
Started with a 305, was good for a few years until the buttons fell out. Then a 235 which I still have but rarely use because the screen is cracked after a crazy driver pulled out right in front of me and I went over the handlebars from the required extreme braking. Then a cheap TomTom which wouldn't download and I stopped using when the strap broke after about 6 months. Now have a 735 which is very similar to the 235 and works fine.

If anyone wants the 235 or TomTom let me know!
May 11, 2021 7:04 AM # 
I have an Apple Watch 5 and an iPhone 11. I use an app called HealthFit which syncs with the Apple Watch's workouts. Once the workout is in HealthFit, I can export it to Strava. HealthFit can also export a GPX or FIT file. I think RouteGadget requires GPX. HealthFit cost US$3.99 and there are no more charges once you pay that.
May 11, 2021 11:42 AM # 
Garmin 235. Even though Garmin Connect's drop down menu does not seem to recognize orienteering as a possible activity I think you will find the 235 currently the most popular watch model among orienteers.
May 11, 2021 5:11 PM # 
Garmin Vivoactive 3 but that's just because it also includes a golf feature which shows shot distances at most golf courses in the US.
May 11, 2021 10:35 PM # 
Thanks, origamiguy, for the tip on HealthFit. I downloaded it, and am now able to export GPS tracks from my Apple watch. Just one further question -- do you know if there is any way to have it go directly to AP?
May 11, 2021 11:52 PM # 
Go directly...
May 12, 2021 7:05 AM # 
No, I don't think there's a way to send it directly to AP; I'm not sure what you would do with it. I don't use the training log, so I don't know if there's a way to put it there.
May 12, 2021 11:15 AM # 
You can auto-upload Apple Health workouts to Garmin Connect (or Strava, or others) with the RunGap app, and set AP to sync with Garmin Connect. That said, I don’t have an Apple Watch to test with, so I’m not sure if a new Activity sent to Garmin Connect that way would be recognized by AP. If it doesn’t work that way, Ken might be able to get AP added to the fairly extensive list of Account types to sync with.
May 12, 2021 12:24 PM # 
I have heard from one user that activities pushed via RunGap to GC do make it to AP automatically.
May 12, 2021 2:35 PM # 
I use Control app ( for tracking, and HealthFit for exporting fit or gpx -file to Strava, Attackpoint, Quickroute, RouteGadget etc. GPS accuracy on my Apple watch 4 is not quite enough for precise analysis but otherwise this setup works great.
May 12, 2021 4:51 PM # 
That’s great news, Ken. Thanks for the confirmation. It looks like a real nice product for this application.
May 12, 2021 5:31 PM # 
I started with a used Polar M430 and then replaced it with a used Polar Vantage M. Both have been rock solid.

Interesting, two of the big 3, Polar and Suunto, are both Finnish.
May 13, 2021 4:02 PM # 
I am using Garmins (FR 630 currently). Once I left it at home and instead tried to use my Apple Watch (it was a night event) which just would not work properly. The session paused/stopped several times when the watch "locked" from my wrist as I moved around and needed to unlock etc. - due to the way its interface is working and is mostly touch based. There may bea. way around it but the second time it happened I just sweared not to use it again. It worked reliable on trail runs though, so maybe the orienteering terrain/swiping at vegetation, slipping down at earthbanks etc has to do with it, your milage may vary based on terrain. There may also be setting possible to get around these issues but I didn't bother further.
May 14, 2021 12:50 AM # 
Garmin 735XT (triathlon version of 235). cmpbllj is using a Suunto (I think) and swears he'll never buy another Garmin, although admittedly he uses his tracks more for mapping than training.
May 15, 2021 3:25 AM # 
There's a setting on the Apple Watch called Auto Pause which stops the workout timer for running workouts when you stop moving. That's fine for street running but orienteers stop all the time. At least I do. To disable it, open the Watch app, go to the settings for Workout, and turn off Running Auto Pause. On the same page, you also want to turn off End Workout Reminder. If you stop too long, the watch decides you're done and ends the workout.
May 15, 2021 5:28 AM # 
Hah! - there was a competitor at one of our night rogaines last year who must have been using an apple watch... I think they realised the impact this 'special feature' was having on their time-keeping part way through so didn't get as caught out by late penalties as they might have.
May 15, 2021 5:53 AM # 
I started out with a Garmin Foretrex (quite a clunky affair by today's standards), then switched to a Suunto GPS Pod (recommended by @jagge). This doesn't have a display, so it's perfect for O competitions, and I still use it for those occasions. For training, I've gotten a watch again, though: first an Ambit3 vertical, but after the barometer broke down twice (the second time out of warranty), I switched to a Suunto 5. Readability could be better, especially during everyday use, but otherwise, I'm quite satisfied.
May 15, 2021 6:28 AM # 
Suunto 5 for almost a year, replaced a bit bulky Ambit 3 peak. I was about to switch back to trusty Ambit3 this spring because suunto 5 was half of the time saving trackpoints only about every 11 meters making it not record any smaller details, hooks and hesitations. But few days ago I noticed there was a firmware update available and that seem to have improve recording drastically, that horrible 11 meter recording state seems to be gone.
May 15, 2021 6:42 PM # 
I still have the Garmin Forerunner 310 XT. Nice old watch. But now I m super happy with Garmin Instinct. I can use it with Garmin Connect and the data is automatically recognized by AP. This is very convenient
May 16, 2021 11:04 PM # 
I have a Garmin 235 which I have been quite happy with until the past couple of weeks...I have on 4 occasions saved a run but found that it has disappeared when I tried to download. In between times I have been able to download several as usual. Anyone have any ideas about what is causing this?
May 17, 2021 1:13 AM # 
LKohn that happened to me once when I connected the watch to the computer and the download happened while the computer was not connected to the Internet.
Funny thing was that a couple of weeks later the missing track showed up in Garmin Connect. Check the Garmin file on your computer. The tracks may be there.
(PS Hope to get to that island for a little more mapping in early June.)
May 17, 2021 3:12 AM # 
I've had issues with the Garmin 910 where I've had traces disappear from the device and others have been merged onto the same date. Tends to happen if GC decides to do an update but you only get advised of that after you attempt to upload a trace or traces and it fails.
May 22, 2021 12:35 AM # 
Thanks, will give it a try.
@gordhun - we keep hoping the border will far it doesn't look good.
May 22, 2021 3:09 AM # 
Yes, apparently they are talking about shots in 75% of Canadians arms before they let Americans in at a land border crossing. Does that compute?
USA will keep its land border crossings closed to Canadians for no other reason than tit for tat.
May 22, 2021 7:27 AM # 
LKohn are those missing downloads in History on the watch?
May 22, 2021 8:42 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I have had a lot of Garmin watches over the years, starting with a 405 which got replaced a couple of times under warranty and then finally replaced by a 410 when they ran out of refurbished 405s.

My next series was the 620, which has also been replaced 2 or 3 times under warranty, the last time was after I had bought a 735 in order to get a dual-GNSS chipset watch which also had wrist pulse monitoring. (I bought a 235 with the same core hw for my son at the same time.)

The 735 is currently in it's 3rd incarnation, Garmin service is literally the best in the world. :-)

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