In this Garmin 935 Review we briefly look at why it is widely heralded as the Best Triathlon Watch.
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 people (link to: the5krunner.com) .
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 earlier this year at Ironman UK. I re-bought one yesterday with my own money from Amazon UK (I’ll post the picture at the end – I do NOT get ANY Garmin samples).
Pretty much everyone at the Ironman Champs in KONA used Garmin in 2017. Most Age Group athletes, 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 triathlon-related needs.
Garmin 935 Review – PROs
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.
- It’s 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 of November 2017 I’d say it’s pretty much bug free.
- There are several physiological metrics included from 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 – 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 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 realtively 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 a 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 particualrly 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 data base 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 get around this with their CIQ apps.
- The Garmin 935 will soon include Garmin’s free running power algorithm – it’s ‘free’ providing you have a 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 – Other Stuff
- The Garmin 935 Review ed here is FULL of 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. (either works or fails depending on your phone)
Sorted. Buy it.
If you need further convincing or re-assuring in more detail then look here:
- Garmin 935 **DETAILED** Review – This detailed review goes through the NEGATIVE ISSUES in more detail in case you are the sort of person that wants to make a fully informed decision.
- What is the Best Triathlon Watch – that article covers EVERY SINGLE alternative for different kinds of triathlete.
Up until Christmas 2017 Garmin have lowered prices across the board. You can buy now or next week – the price will be the same with no further discounts. Garmin pretty much control the prices that their products are re-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
If you can beat my November 2017 purchase price in the UK of £430 please let me know. I tend to avoid wasting money!
If you want to help this blog without paying a penny/cent more then…THANK YOU, please use any of the following links:
If you’d like to help a smaller company I partner with Josh at PowerMeterCity. They are awesome with a mind-blowingly high TRUSTPILOT rating and will give you a 10% store credit (Garmin do not allow discounting by ANYONE). Consider buying your bike power meter from there when you REALLY get into triathlon 😉 enjoy!
Here is the proof of re-purchase I promised from Amazon.co.uk although if it doesn’t arrive TODAY I’ll be seriously hacked off!…edit: hacked off….it’s coming from Italy via Nepal and Uzbekistan. Grrrr. I hope you enjoyed the Garmin 935 Review!