The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a serious fitness tracker and not one for the casual gym-goer; you really have to be an athlete to get the most value from this smartwatch. If you’ve done a Sparta Race, read on.
To optimise your experience (and your data), you can purchase the Tri-Bundle (£450) which comes with two heart rate monitor chest straps, a Tri and a Swim. You can get the watch on its own for £360.
The addition of the Tri-Bundle takes this piece of kit from intelligent to hardcore monitoring.
The Garmin Forerunner is actually a series of sports watches. The majority have GPS and triathletes and road runners as their core market. They are made specifically to monitor heart rate, pace, distance, speed and even altitude. You can plunge it 50m underwater and it’ll keep going.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT makes no apologies for its appearance, it wasn’t designed to be pretty, it was designed to function. It is thick (11.7mm thick with a 1-inch colour screen) with chunky buttons and a robust rubber strap. It’s available in two colours – Midnight Blue (Frost Blue) or a Black/Grey finish.
Garmin hasn’t wasted the space on this monster; they’ve stuffed it full of technology. With that in mind, it’s surprising the screen isn’t touch responsive. Rather, users press the chunky buttons. When you think about it, this is better for use during activity and makes the watch itself a little tougher.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is, therefore, one of the most rugged fitness tracker smartwatches you’ll find.
If there’s a quibble, it’s the proprietary charger – a common feature of many devices. But Garmin has ensured that the Forerunner 735XT has a solid five to seven days of battery life, which is incredible given that it’s monitoring your body 24 hours a day.
- 5 to 7 day battery life
- Heart rate monitor
- Waterproof up to 50m
- iOS and Android compatible app
The GPS system relentlessly sticks with you on the move, even during long-distance running and/or cycling sessions. It produces accurate time, distance and heart rate measurements.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT has an interesting multi-sport feature that triathletes will find hard to go without once they’ve tried. You can run, cycle and swim and the watch will track it all individually with one click of a button, so all you have to do is focus on your pace.
There’s a bespoke Garmin app to complement using the Forerunner 735XT; if you’re a Tough Mudder, Wolf Run or Sparta Race kind of person, this is a great app to look at your performance.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is technically a smartwatch, so it delivers notifications for apps like Twitter, Facebook and Gmail. You can check the weather and any appointments in your diary (if you sync it to your phone).
This watch goes deeper than just telling you your heart rate or distance. It produces real-time analytics, post-exercise. This is the justification for the price tag of the Forerunner 735XT. It offers in-exercise information like heart rate, duration and lap time. What’s unique is ‘training effect’ data, which tells you how much you’re optimising your workout. Again, this mico-information is really practical for competing athletes, but not so much if you’ve just done a sporadic HIIT class. This is also why they offer the Tri-Bundle for improved metrics.
After you’re done, the Forerunner 735XT will display post-workout information like recovery time and feedback on your most intense minutes and where you peaked. It gets really clever with its ability to collate everything it collects about you and turn this into goals for improvement, with help from data from the World Health Organisation.
If you’re encouraged by others, there’s a coaching element that motivates you not to do more of the same, but to try harder.
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT lives up to its ancestors’ legacy in its accurate offering of fitness and sleep monitoring data. It’s the best version to date, not just in the Garmin family but of trackers, generally.
Strava has some loyal users, but the Garmin Forerunner 735XT could tempt them away with a 60 day free trial of its premium membership. You don’t even have to abandon Strava; you can link your Forerunner device with your Strava account and it will tell you your Live Suffer score. This score will rate how hard you pushed yourself during a workout, again, more importantly than just telling you how far you went, how fast. This data is legitimately useful for analysis and goal setting,
There’s the more affordable (£229) Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR Multisport GPS Watch, which is equally as rugged but doesn’t offer as many features. At the much more cost-effective end (£148) the Polar M430 GPS Running Watch which is lighter, and more comfortable with a more accessible USB charger, but again, you won’t see the level of detail in the data as you will with the Garmin Forerunner 735XT.
- Hardwearing design
- Multi-sport intelligence
- A serious level of micro-data
- Tricky navigation around the app
- The design might not appeal to many
- Overkill for anyone not intensely serious about fitness
This watch is intended for a niche market. If you’re a fan of obstacle races, triathlons or any endurance sport, this will not fail you. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT features are unparalleled in that respect. It has a rugged and user-friendly, if not aesthetically-pleasing design.
If you’re a casual fitness enthusiast or New Year’s resolutioner, you’re better off with a FitBit.