▷ Garmin 935 Review – The Best Forerunner Tri Watch

In this Garmin 935 Review, we briefly look at why the 935 is widely heralded as the Best Triathlon Watch

Garmin 935 Review best tri watch

Triple Awesomeness: 935 + Zante + STRYD

In Brief
  • Price - 90%
    90%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 90%
    90%
  • Build Quality & Design - 95%
    95%
  • Feafures, Including App - 99%
    99%
  • Openness & Compatability - 98%
    98%
94%

It's the best triathlon watch ever made as of March 2019

For just under £400 or just under $500 you can get triathlon sweetness on a stick.

This is the best triathlon watch ever made…for now. Expect something even better from Garmin as a replacement in 2019 but you might have to wait until Christmas to get it on your wrist. Even then the new features will likely be ‘music’, ‘maps’ and ‘smarts’, like contactless payments, rather than new triathlon features.

Think of 20 bells and 30 whistles. The 935 has all the bells and whistles for triathlon you can think of…and then some more. I can pick fault with it and, elsewhere, I have but if it’s triathlon features you want then this is the one to go for. It even looks good and I proudly and frequently use mine for training and racing and have done for over a year.

Go on to the Garmin website and look at the features. Even Garmin don’t show the full list of features and often just show you the ones that people regularly compare; then download the manual…even that’s out of date. There are new features being added even in March 2019. OK, I’ll stop you’ve got the point.

Other vendors are highly unlikely to support BLE and ANT+ sensors, they are less likely to support advanced cycling dynamics and, for sure, don’t have an app system as comprehensive for sports as Garmin’s CIQ. It supports complex structured workouts, brick workouts and bizarre multisport combinations including Otillo. Having said that the Polar Vantage V DOES look and feel nicer IMHO.

Garmin struggles a bit with oHR accuracy, though it is not too bad, and its GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO is not as good as it should be. Consequently, I always use an HRM-TRI and STRYD to give me the super accuracy I want.

To put a damper on your excitement. If I also used a Polar H10 and STRYD with a Polar Vantage V then that combination would provide all the features I actually need in my Age Group tri racing and training. So, be different, and buy the sweeter-looking Polar.

Go on…you know you want to. It’s features you really want isn’t it 😉

Garmin 935 Review – An Introduction

You can quite easily complete your first triathlon without a sports watch of any sort. You can quite easily use pretty much any sports watch for a triathlon, even an Apple Watch would be alright for most casual triathletes

However, if you intend to take triathlon at least half-seriously, if you have the money and if you rely on numbers for your triathlon training and racing then the Garmin 935 is undoubtedly the best choice. I used my first Garmin 935 in 2017 at Ironman UK.

Almost everyone at the Ironman Champs in KONA used Garmins in 2017. Most Age Group trathletes, who race with watches, use a Garmin (either the Fenix 5, Fenix 3, 920XT or 935) – at least that’s what I’ve seen from my own experience. They all use Garmin because they are at least vaguely serious athletes and have precise, and often complex, triathlon-related needs.

Garmin 935 Review – PROs

Garmin 935 Review best tri watch

My First Baby’s Cradle

Here is a selection of the many positives:

  • It has 99% of the conceivable triathlon functionality you could ever, ever, ever need. (Did I say ‘ever’?)
  • It will pair with just about any sensor – ANT+ or Bluetooth SMART/BLE.
  • You can construct unusual multi-sport profiles if you are undertaking an OTILLO, complex BRICK SESSION or just competing in your local duathlon. Most non-Garmins can’t handle that ‘complexity’. If you are training properly you will understand the convenience of Garmin’s custom multi-sport functionality.
  • Its battery will still work at the end of your Ironman. Many other tri watches will show a nice black screen. The battery life is awesome on the 935.
  • The Garmin 935 Review ed here has ALL the metrics for displaying how fast or slow, or powerfully you are going along at.
  • It can collect heart rate for the entire race duration when you also use the awesome Garmin HRM-TRI  (collecting HR is MY PERSONAL thing)
  • The Garmin 935 has a sensor pool. ie it can store more than one paired sensor for each sensor type.
  • It’s reliable and as for 2019 is bug-free.
  • There are several physiological metrics supplied by Firstbeat. These can be highly useful for guiding your training if you train to serious levels where you risk over-training or just simply want to perform the most effective speed session one week. These metrics are NOT foolproof and you should use them as an input to a training session and not as the definitive statement of what your training should be on any one particular day.
  • Garmin’s CIQ app store – these are mostly free apps and there are some occasionally useful sporty and non-sporty apps. I don’t really see any of the CIQ apps yet as much of a reason to buy the 935…BUT the 935 supports Garmin’s CIQ v2.4 and so you have future-proofed your purchase for when something good turns up in the app store in the future. I use some apps by XERT, RunScribe and STRYD that are pretty useful for me.
  • Even the tiny details like catering for your local 33m/yard pool are there in the Garmin 935.
Garmin 935 Review best tri watch

Milestone Footpod – Cheap BLE alternative to STRYD but only for instant pace

Garmin 935 Review – CONs

It’s not perfect. It has flaws. Some quite serious ones in fact and they are pretty much all hardware related. There are ways around all the flaws and they still don’t stop me recommending it. There are non-Garmin options if the flaws cause you a particular problem.

If someone or some review says the 935 is a 10/10 then they don’t do triathlons. They sell watches!

  • I’m not so keen on the round and relatively small watch format but that only causes me a bit of a problem when cycling. So I use another device for the bike leg when racing and sometimes when performing brick workouts. I use either an Edge 820 (not recommended) or a WAHOO ELEMNT or BOLT (both recommended on the grounds of awesomeness). But pretty much any basic device is OK for displaying simple power numbers when racing. A Lezyne Super GPS will be alright for about £/$150 and will display power. I’d use a WAHOO ELEMNT on a Sunday ride with mates rather than a Garmin 935.
  • The Garmin 935 is REALLY expensive – So buy a Garmin 920XT (review) instead. The 920XT is a bit ugly but it’s up to any triathlon task.
  • Component accuracy. Quite a few of the sensors inside the 935 are not super accurate. Surprising? But true of the oHR and GPS and, less so, the altimetry. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong! Here’s what I do to increase accuracy:
    • I use an HRM-TRI chest strap. They are usually super accurate for me. Be warned: the optical HR onboard with the 935 will likely only be accurate for you for steady-state running.
    • I use STRYD as a source of running pace and power. It’s freakingly accurate (you can quote me on that). I leave the Garmin 935’s GPS turned on just to get a pretty GPS track of where I’ve been so that I can look at it after my training. The GPS accuracy intellectually ranks as a ‘5’ on the ‘meh’ scale – that’s better than average and certainly not awesome.
    • Altimetry – it’s alright. I don’t particularly worry about real-time ascent/descent/altitude. On the occasions when I’d like that information stored correctly ‘for the training log’ I use a SRTM database to correct my FIT files altitude based on GPS points after the exercise. If you don’t understand that then don’t worry! It won’t be important to you in the slightest and the 935 will be accurate enough for you.
  • Native RUNNING POWER metrics and alerts are not supported. This IS annoying and hopefully, it will be solved in 2018. STRYD sort-of gets around this with their CIQ apps.
    • The Garmin 935 will soon include Garmin’s free running power algorithm – it’s ‘free’ providing you have an HRM-TRI/HRM-RUN or RD-POD. I doubt it will be super accurate BUT it will be a good guide as a proxy for effort for you to see if you can benefit from running with power, so definitely use it.
    • Running with power will FOR SURE be 2018’s “tri-trend” and is ONE OF the futures of running (link to: parkrun masterclass).
Garmin 935 Review best tri watch

L-to-R Suunto Spartan, 935, 5s, Epson 810

Garmin 935 Review – Other Stuff

 

  • The Garmin Forerunner 935 Tri Bundle comes with a quick release kit and TWO HRMs ie the HRM-SWIM and HRM-TRI. For shorter tri’s you just keep the watch on your wrist and don’t need the quick release kit. I use my HRM-TRI a LOT even in the pool but rarely use the HRM-SWIM as I find it not to stay tight enough.
  • The Garmin 935 Review ed here is FULL of many OTHER features you’ll never use whilst training/racing. As far as triathlon training goes; they are irrelevant. However, the ‘other’ features might be enough to turn your 935 into your 24×7 watch eg
    • Watch Faces (mostly rubbish and tacky)
    • Activity tracker (mostly pretty good)
    • Does all the SMS notification stuff when linked to your smartphone. (

Sorted. Buy it.

If you need further convincing or re-assuring in more detail then look here:

  1. Garmin 935 **DETAILED** Review – This detailed review goes through the NEGATIVE ISSUES in much more detail in case you are the sort of person that wants to make a fully informed decision.
  2. What is the Best Triathlon Watch – that article covers EVERY SINGLE alternative tri watch for different kinds of triathlete.

Amazon seasonalise their prices…it’s spring and so UP go the prices. Garmin pretty much controls the prices that their products are sold at. You might as well buy it from Amazon as you can always easily send it back. As I said above: I just re-bought my second one from there.

Discounted Links and Prices

Garmin Forerunner 935

Best Amazon/REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are about Eur450/$420/£430 and will stay around that level until Summer 2019. Buying from my partners supports this site.

If you’d like to help a smaller company I partner with Josh at PowerMeterCity and that can be a good place for a Garmin 935 sale from time-to-time. They are awesome with a mind-blowingly high TRUSTPILOT rating and will give you a 10% store credit (Garmin do not allow discounting on newer products). Consider buying your bike power meter from there when you REALLY get into triathlon 😉 enjoy!

power meter city

Clicks through to PMC – 10% Discount with code the5krunner10 on many products, 10% store credit on Garmin

Here is the proof of purchase I promised from Amazon.co.uk- no PR freebies for me! I have no link to Garmin. I hope you enjoyed the Garmin 935 Review!

Garmin 935 Review best tri watch

Garmin Forerunner 935

Best Amazon/REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are about Eur450/$420/£430 and will stay around that level until Summer 2019. Buying from my partners supports this site.

In Brief
  • Price - 90%
    90%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 90%
    90%
  • Build Quality & Design - 95%
    95%
  • Feafures, Including App - 99%
    99%
  • Openness & Compatability - 98%
    98%
94%

It's the best triathlon watch ever made as of March 2019

For just under £400 or just under $500 you can get triathlon sweetness on a stick.

This is the best triathlon watch ever made…for now. Expect something even better from Garmin as a replacement in 2019 but you might have to wait until Christmas to get it on your wrist. Even then the new features will likely be ‘music’, ‘maps’ and ‘smarts’, like contactless payments, rather than new triathlon features.

Think of 20 bells and 30 whistles. The 935 has all the bells and whistles for triathlon you can think of…and then some more. I can pick fault with it and, elsewhere, I have but if it’s triathlon features you want then this is the one to go for. It even looks good and I proudly and frequently use mine for training and racing and have done for over a year.

Go on to the Garmin website and look at the features. Even Garmin don’t show the full list of features and often just show you the ones that people regularly compare; then download the manual…even that’s out of date. There are new features being added even in March 2019. OK, I’ll stop you’ve got the point.

Other vendors are highly unlikely to support BLE and ANT+ sensors, they are less likely to support advanced cycling dynamics and, for sure, don’t have an app system as comprehensive for sports as Garmin’s CIQ. It supports complex structured workouts, brick workouts and bizarre multisport combinations including Otillo. Having said that the Polar Vantage V DOES look and feel nicer IMHO.

Garmin struggles a bit with oHR accuracy, though it is not too bad, and its GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO is not as good as it should be. Consequently, I always use an HRM-TRI and STRYD to give me the super accuracy I want.

To put a damper on your excitement. If I also used a Polar H10 and STRYD with a Polar Vantage V then that combination would provide all the features I actually need in my Age Group tri racing and training. So, be different, and buy the sweeter-looking Polar.

Go on…you know you want to. It’s features you really want isn’t it 😉

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