Gear Review: Garmin Forerunner 35

The world of GPS running watches can be overwhelming; soaring prices and endless features can deter runners from reaping the benefits of working out with a wearable device.

Enter the Garmin Forerunner 35.

Garmin designed the Forerunner 35 as an entry point to the GPS running watch market, but its comprehensive list of features makes it feel far from basic. Even compared with other Garmin running watches, the 35 is capable of doing everything we want it to and more.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Garmin Forerunner 35 and how our testers put it to use in the real world.

Hardware

Don’t let the Forerunner 35’s slim profile and feathery weight fool you. This is a hardy piece of equipment.

On the outside, a chemically strengthened glass lens set in a durable plastic bezel protects the watch’s guts from the elements. Garmin also made the Forerunner 35 waterproof—it’s rated to 5 ATM, which means it will withstand water pressure down to 50 meters—so it will make it through the worst rain storm or splashiest cannonball you can throw at it.

To strap it to your wrist, Garmin used a comfortable silicone band that comes in several different colors so you can swap them in and out to match your mood.

Garmin says the Forerunner 35’s battery pumps out up to nine days in smartwatch mode and up to 13 hours in GPS mode. In actual use, a tester found the watch gets a couple days worth of power out of a single charge when switching in and out of GPS mode for workouts.

Like with any battery powered device, battery life is dependent on use. Runners who use GPS during longer workouts will drain the battery faster than runners who track shorter mileage.

Physical specs:

  • Display size: .93 x .93 inches (23.5 x 23.4 mm)
  • Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
  • Weight: 37.3 g
Shop Garmin Forerunner 35

Features

Garmin filled the 35 with the most important features runners need in a device—GPS and activity tracking—but added several other notable traits to make it feel like a much more expensive watch.

Like all Garmin GPS running watches, the Forerunner 35 connects to the U.S. government’s Global Positioning System, which uses at least 24 satellites to provide users with 24-hour positioning, navigation and timing information. For runners, that information translates into accurate distance and pace tracking.

One Fleet Feet runner wears the watch every day (going on about 16 months now). She says the GPS connects quickly and measures distance accurately on most of her road runs, but that is does return some spotty numbers during runs with more overhead coverage—in the woods, on trails with switchbacks and in cities with tall buildings.

But even with GPS’ inherent limitations, she says the watch is essential for her training.

“Having a GPS watch is a real game-changer for my running,” she says. “I’ve been using a GPS watch for the past five to six years. Before the days of GPS, I guessed my pace and distance on any run that wasn’t on a track or measured race course. Now I feel like if I ever forget my watch, the run didn’t count if it didn’t get measured.”

Garmin Forerunner 35 with blue wristband

 

 

Garmin also built a wrist-based heart rate monitor into the watch and added sleep tracking to show you just how much shut-eye you’re getting. Paired with Garmin’s app, called Garmin Connect, you can easily keep track of all your workouts, view all your data and adjust your training accordingly.

Our tester also lauded the 35’s ability to track steps and alert her when she needs to get up and move, though the feature can be turned off.

Conclusion

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a feature-packed entry level GPS running watch that will likely do everything you need it to and then some.

 

Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

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