Mini Review of Garmin Forerunner 305

I’ve had my Garmin Forerunner 305 for 2 weeks now and have been quite pleased with it. A few people have asked me for a review of the unit, so I’ll do the best I can.When I first opened the box, I put it on the docking station plugged it into my DC inverter in my car so that it could charge on the way home from REI as I wanted to use it that day and it was supposed to charge for a few hours. After I got home, I plugged it in and it was ready to go in no time. I turned it on, took it outside and it acquired a signal pretty quickly. I browsed the instructions while waiting for it to charge, but didn’t thoroughly go through them.There was no configuration required and I started my first run by strapping on the heart rate monitor (I read a tip that said to put water on the monitor before putting it on), putting the monitor on my watch and I was off. There really was no configuration needed to get it going. It seemed to keep a signal and gives me the data I need to train (current pace and heart rate are about it).I’ve read some complaints about the unit from others in that it doesn’t keep a signal, the heart rate monitor doesn’t work, etc. My unit has performed flawlessly and keeps the signal all the time; I don’t run in wooded areas and there is pretty much a clear view of the sky. Also, the heart rate monitor works fine; another complaint I’ve read has to do with the heart rate monitor not registering when the GPS unit is placed on bicycle handlebars or on a crossbar on a boat. Since I run with it and it was designed for running, it works well. My only problem with the monitor was that I didn’t wet it down one day so it didn’t start registering until I had worked up a good sweat.If I wasn’t a techno geek, I’d stop here as the Forerunner tells me my pace, distance, and heart rate which has been helping me train. One of the reasons I went with the Garmin device is that Garmin announced Macintosh support for their products. The Forerunner comes with Training Center software which currently only works on Windows; I haven’t bothered to install it as Garmin’s subsidiary, MotionBased, put out a beta version of a Mac plugin that uploads data from the Forerunner to the MotionBased website. I love data analysis and this site has more data than I could ever need.The Forerunner has so many options, I don’t even know where to start. I configured my main screen to show my pace, time, and distance. I then configured a secondary screen to show my heart rate and average pace. It took me a few days to figure out that I could reconfigure the screens as I didn’t bother reading the instructions. The device does limited navigation (to get me back to where I started), handles multiple types of activities, etc. I currently have no use for lots of these options, but I’m sure I’ll discover them when I need them or I get bored.I’m quite impressed with the device; it appears to give me accurate information about distance and time. I’m not sure what else I could ask for in a device. I’m definitely giving this device a thumbs up; it makes me excited to get out and run.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Large readable display
  • Reasonably accurate distance tracking (I did compare a run with Google Earth and found it to be close)
  • Lots of options
  • Not too bulky for what it does (looks better than the Twinkie shaped Forerunner 301)
  • Partial Macintosh support for MotionBased; more is coming
  • Can charge over USB

Cons

  • Current desktop software is Windows only Update: Mac software is available. Read my first impressions of it.
  • Training partner is annoying to me, but maybe when I get better it won’t bother me as much

Some pictures of the unit are at the end of this entry. If anyone has specific questions, please post a comment and I’ll try to respond.

172 Replies to “Mini Review of Garmin Forerunner 305”

  1. Hi Guillermo,

    The device is rated at something like being able to withstand water for 30 minutes or something like that (their website has more information). I did notice a discoloration of one of the contacts from sweat, but all indications seem to be that its normal. The device is storing lat/long as I can upload my data when I’m done and see my run on a map. The number of points it can hold varies; they have a smart recording mode that records a lot more most likely because it isn’t recording every single step.

  2. Hi Orlando,

    Garmin now sells a foot pod ($99 which I think is a bit pricey for a device that already isn’t cheap) that allows you to use the Forerunner indoors. This should be able to give you an estimate of calories. Other than that, I’m not sure of a way to measure. As far as I know, calories have to do with distance and your weight, so the HRM will have nothing to do with the calculation.

  3. Wonder how much data (hours) can the device store in detailed format (I am using smart recording). I did´nt sent data to the software and it apparently was erased. Any toughts?

  4. how long does the battery of Forerunner 305 last when the GPS is OFF?
    (I know it works around 10h when GPS is ON, but sometimes i need to use it as a pure HRM to save the battery life, for instance when I go hiking for 3-4 days and I use another GPS)

  5. Ugly coyote,

    I don’t have an answer to your question; I didn’t even know that the GPS could be turned off until I looked back at the comments above and found that someone has turned it off.

  6. I want to thank every one who posted, and to Scott for his good reveiw and answering all these questions. I’ll be buying mine the next week or so and post how it’s working for me.

  7. Scott, I saw your post about your run on MotionBased. Just wondering if you were using the lite or standard version, and if standard, what you thought was better then lite.

  8. Hi Tyler,

    I use MotionBased standard and actually just signed up for another 2 years (they ran a special during the holiday season). I have about 150 runs/walks in it. With the lite version, I believe you can only view the last 10 activities. In addition, I use some of the saved reports. For me, the ability to view all the activities is key; the Mac software that was just released for the Forerunner is so awful (and late) that MotionBased is/was the only way for me to store my data.

  9. Well, Finally got it today and went for a short run and absolutly love it. Will be going on a along 8 mile tomorrow so I’ll check it out again then.

  10. Well, you can also use the footpod thing to track your distance inside and the bicycle attachment to track your stats on a bike, with the 205 you can’t.

  11. Hi,
    I am in Australia and I wonder if anyone knows how the satellite reception is down here. As you could imagine I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars and then find it won’t work properly.
    Any 305 owning Aussies there?

  12. I\’ve been using the 205 for a couple of years now, mostly in Auckland, New Zealand, but also in Sydney and Melbourne. Have never had any problem getting satellite reception outdoors, seems just as good in the southern hemisphere as when I\’ve used it when travelling in Europe and the US.

  13. Hi,

    I bought a FR305 from ebay about six months ago, and it’s now started turning itself off. This normally seems to occur when I apply pressure to it (for instance, pushing the buttons), but also does it during mid run (possibly from jarring).

    If I hold the unit and apply pressure to the underside, where the serial number sticker is, it will turn off everytime.

    If it’s in the cradle, I can push it from any direction and it stay on, which makes me think it is an issue with the battery connection.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Apart from this, it’s an excellent device, but it’s a real bummer when you get back from a long run only to discover it turned itself off after 0.5 miles.

    Thanks

    Mick

  14. I have a question about the stored data : do I have to use the online website to store/view it, or can I download the data to my pc directly? If pc download is possible, what format is the data in? I’m planning on writing my own software for viewing/manipulating the data, but if it’s compressed (or something) then it will be difficult.

    Thanks,

    Mattias

  15. The Garmin Forerunner 305 has two MAJOR problems. First, Garmin’s algorithm for altitude recording is poor. It apparently records every foot of elevation it thinks you gain or lose. Since there will always be some measurement error in altitude, you could run a mile on a track and the Garmin Forerunner 305 will say you’ve done 300 feet of elevation when you’re done. I’ve had Polar and Avocet altimeters and both gave accurate readings on known elevation climbs. The Garmin typically doubled the true elevation gain!

    Garmin’s bigger problem is customer service. After using the Forerunner for two weeks, I had a software problem and emailed Garmin’s customer service. No response. I emailed again. No response. After five emails over four weeks with no reply from Garmin I gave up and returned the Forerunner.

    Until Garmin gets some customer service, I’d advise getting a Suunto or another brand.

  16. Hi Mick. I’m guessing you bought it used. If you did buy it new, you most likely didn’t charge it for the recommended 3 hours. If you did buy it used, you got ripped off and either way you need to contact Garmin.

    Hi Mattias, yes there are a few ways. You can use a program I use called SportTracks (http://www.zonefivesoftware.com/SportTracks/) Not sure which format it is on the device, or even how to get to it, but with either of these programs you can export in GPX I think.

    Hi Bruce, It might be your location, but I have been getting very accurate elevation data with mine, The one incident with Garmin might of just been some bad luck, I have owned 3 Garmin products and have always had excellent Customer Service with them.

  17. Hi Tyler

    Thanks for the comments. The unit was new, and I have charged it correctly. The issue isn’t actually with the battery life, that’s fine. The unit simply turns itself off it receives a shock or any pressure, even the shock caused running.

    The unit is actually still under warantee, so I can probably get it repaired, but having sent 2 emails each to both the US and UK Garmin support addresses, and having received no replies, i’m not too confident about returning the unit to them.

  18. How does the screen size/trail feature and go to feature work compared to the 201, 101, 301.

    Is the screen too small for us oldsters?

    btw, did you know you can make a neat
    on the fly instant charger for garmin by way of a everready instant phone charger, 2 double A batteries and a trip to Radio shack for about $30 U.s.
    Dont know about the 305 but it worked on my 201.
    How about the screen size for trail work and getting back to the truck?
    Thanks
    Keith Kibler
    Marion IL

  19. This is just an update in case anyone else gets the same problem as I had.

    Garmin support did eventually contact me to tell me to try resetting the device, even though i’d already told them i’d done that. When I wrote back and told them that it hadn’t worked, and therefore could I get it repaired, I got no reply.

    As my unit had now stopped turning on at all outside the cradle, I had a £200 piece of useless plastic so..

    I got a knife and carefully prised open the unit by inserting the knife in the seam that runs the whole way around the watch, just above the buttons. There are no screws holding it together, just a bit of glue. Once opened, I could see that the terminals that provide contact between the battery and the electronics had become corroded (obviously the watch had leaked in water or sweat. This first started after about three months use, so don’t assume your unit is waterproof. I occasionally rinsed mine under a tap to wash the sweat off).

    I used a pin to scrape the corrosion from the terminals VERY CAREFULLY. If you break these, then you may as well throw your watch away. Because the unit kept turning itself off, I slid a small folded piece of paper beneath the terminals on the screen side of the unit, so that they were slightly more raised than normal to ensure a good contact with the battery connectors. I used some rubber solution to hold the top back on and provide a little bit of water resistance. My unit now works perfectly and no longer switches off.

    On another note, the battery (3.7v li-ion 750 maH) looks very similar to an iPod battery which you can buy for about £17.99, so if your watch is out of warranty and the battery has died, AND you are happy to open up your watch, then you may be able to replace it yourself

  20. Is it possible that the sky high calorie reading has something to do with the sky high elevation reading?
    Does the Forerunner use elevation information to calculate burnt calories?
    If so this probably explains it. The forerunner is notoriously inaccurate with elevation, and can give ridiculous figures.
    Just a thought….

  21. my 2 centc.
    i use garmin205 for year.
    i do inline skating.
    accuracy is exellent with speed more 10 km.h
    i did a lot of tests.
    if you go with speed more 10 km.h accuracy – 0.1km.h… even less.
    allmost everyday last year i did same lap 29km950m.
    allthe time i was getting 29.95… it mean accuracy less 50m or les 0.15%
    with the speed 5-10 km.h accuracy drops dramaticaly…
    so for running this device not good, unless you have garmin 305 with foot device.
    my question – garmin 305 and 205… do they have same algoritm to detemine callori burn?
    in pulsar callori burn is determined based on heart rate plus your own data.
    garmin 205 based on distance, speed, sport… and your own data.
    what abour garmin 305?

  22. I tried downloading the sporttracks programme, but cant get it to run, needs .net1.1.4322. i have .net 2.
    Any suggestions?

  23. Am considering purchasing Garmin Forerunner 305 was wondering if anyone has tried to use unit as multisport mainly cycling and swimming? Are there any problems with the waterproofness of the unit for running in rain ect?

  24. Sam,

    I would strongly advise against using the unit whilst swimming. The waterprof rating that the unit has, means it is waterproof up to one metre, for 30 mins. I’ve never worn mine swimming, or in the rain. However, just my sweat was enough to get into the unit and corrode the battery contacts, making it useless. Garmin support is basically non-existent.

    The problems with my unit certainly do not appear to be typical, but the issues with the support seem to be very common. Despite the fact that the 305 is the best GPS exercise tool there is, I would never buy another Garmin product again. It will cost me £90 to get my 305 fixed (if Garmin ever reply to my emails), and I can buy a Navman X300 brand new for £60. It doesn’t do navigation, but the 305 only does rudimentary navigation. I’d rather get through 6 Navmans for the price of one 305.

    M

  25. Hi all,

    I’ve posted this on the MB forums but haven’t received an answer. I will be getting my 3rd 205 unit soon and I wanted to see if anyone has an suggestions for me. I want to make sure I’m not doing something bad, since my first 2 units failed in the same manner:


    I know this has been beaten to death, so I apologize for overkill. I just want to make sure I do everything I can to have success with my 3rd unit when I get it.

    Exactly like (previous poster in MB) My 2nd FR205 unit just died (just like the 1st, it only works on external power). It lasted 4 months (the 1st one lasted 2 months). Both times there has been no visible corrosion on the contacts of the unit or charger cradle:

    Here’s my procedure I do after every run (based on an average of 4 runs per week).

    – Turn off, Wipe off unit immediately after running, usually with sleeve.
    – Wait an hour or more to make sure it’s dry, then connect to Laptop via USB
    – Upload data to Sporttracks
    – Disconnect USB after upload
    – Connect to Wall charger and charge unit until battery complete appears.
    – Remove from cradle

    I’m thinking of trying the electrical tape or the sweat band thing during my runs, but I wonder if the powered USB hub is worth a try also?

    May I ask if any of you have been succuessful for a long period of time after having the battery problem? If so, what did you do different?

    I’m just worried I’m doing something wrong, since they both failed the same way.

    Thanks for any advice!
    Steve J

  26. I ran across this blog looking for info on how the 305 calculates calories burned. I\’ve read what everyone posted and feel the need to add my experience. I played tennis wearing my 305 last week, for an hour my avg. hr was 135 yet I only burned 205 calories. The distance was only 2.5 miles, so I am guessing the nice engineers at Garmin must be using some distance vs. time algorithm to compute calories which might explain the varience everyone else is experiencing. That\’s a little disappointing to me as I bought this to replace my old Polar which did a nice job of calculating calories burned. I\’m not training for a marathon, just looking to track and record my exercising. If anyone knows anything helpful, please post it.

  27. Hi all,

    I would like to change on of the data fields on the display from Pace to Speed, but when I try to i can’t find Speed item on the list.
    Can anyone tell me why ?

    Thanx

    PS: the unit software version is 2.60

  28. Steve J,

    You aren’t doing anything wrong. The unit has a problem with leaks.

    This may not occur on every Forerunner, but a fair number of people have experienced it.

    I stopped trying to contact Garmin support as I never got an answer, instead I just rang their normal office who immediately put me through to a returns department, who were able to give me an RMA number. It’s now being repaired for £53.

    When I get it back, I will use the electrical tape method, but rather than just covering the contacts, I will put tape over the entire base, and partially up the sides. The leak issue may be sorted after the repair, but i’d rather not take chances.

    Also, self-amalgamating tape (used by plumbers) would be very useful. Once this stuff is stretched and comes into contact with itself, it sticks together to form one lump (hard to imagine until you actually use it). You could stretch it and stick it all round the base of the unit to create a rubber ‘cap’ that fits the bottom of the watch. As the tape isn’t actually sticky, you could remove it when you need to charge it, then put it back on afterwards.

    M

  29. I’ve been using the Forerunner 305 for about 6 months now. It has huge potential as a great training tool, but seems to have a couple of major flaws and glitches.

    FYI, I use mine mostly for cycling, but also running and cross country skiing. (I’ve used it for almost 2000 miles cycling, 300+ Kilos skiing, and some running).

    The elevation gain and loss is so far off that it’s comical. Every time I go out my Forerunner tells me that I am way faster than Lance Armstrong ever was. The elevation totals are typically 3-6 times what the actual totals should be, so the elevation profile for every ride that I do looks like I’m doing a mountain stage in the Tour de France. As an example, I did a pancake flat 40 or so mile ride. The forerunner registered it as 5,000+ feet of climbing and 5,000+ feet of descending. I’ve had rides where the forerunner downloads 10,000+ feet of climbing and 10,000+ ft of descending in 40 miles (that’s 1000 feet of elevation gain/loss every 2 miles). I think this is a software algorithm that needs to be fixed.

    The inflated elevation totals make the calorie counts wildly off as well. My calorie totals are usually in the 1600-2500 calories burned per hour (which isn’t physically possible to maintain). Calorie counts are just an estimate, but at least they should be in the general ballpark.

    My last gripe with the unit is that you just never know how auto pause/resume feature will work until you get outside. Sometimes it works OK, and sometimes it works terribly. The unit seems to lose GPS signals regularly (even under clear skies at 7000′)- I’ve had up to 200 times in a 3 hour ride (talk about annoying). I’ve also had the unit cycle through the auto pause/resume 3-4 times while waiting at a traffic signal. Most of the time when the auto pause/resume feature is falsely turning off and on, I am tracking at least 6 satellites and have a great view of the sky. The unit auto pauses then resumes less than a second later.

    Again, I think this unit has huge potential- once the bugs are worked out. Speed, average speed, distance, etc. work well. The software works very well too. Elevation, calorie count, and the auto pause/resume really suck. Incidentally the unit seems to work better for lower speed activities like running and XC skiing.

    My feeling is that Garmin rushed this unit to market before it was ready. If you read the notes for the software updates, you’ll see the huge number of bugs that Garmin is still fixing with it’s almost monthly updates. We are all guinea pigs of sorts for this unit. This is my second unit as well. The first one died after less than 3 months when the heart rate monitor leaked, and the battery life on the wrist unit was less than 3 hours. Garmin warrantied it quickly though.

    Since I work at a major outdoor retailer, I paid less than $200 for the unit. If I had to pay the full $349, I don’t think it would have been worthwhile. If I had to do it again, I’d wait a few more months or a year for Garmin to work out the bugs.

  30. I have read all of the postings but didn”t see anything about my question. I am a petite 5’2″ woman, and I am wondering how huge this will be for me.

  31. The calorie burn seems to be a weight/distance calculation. I placed my forerunner 305 on automatic lap of 1 mile and my run was 8 miles. The first half is primarily uphill and the second is downhill. 300ft relative elevation difference. The calorie burn per mile was exactly 156kCal for each mile regardless of the relative ascent/descent. The next week I updated my weight, and subsequently the calorie burn accordingly went down. I think that the rule of thumb is 100kCal/mile onroad and 125kCal/mile offroad.

  32. When I try to change the fields on my forerunner 305, the unit hangs after I make the choice for the number of fields. It stops responding to whatever button is pressed, and the only way of getting it working again is waiting until the battery runs out.
    I fiddled with these field settings before, and it worked fine. Recently I changed to software version 2.70, so I am pretty sure that this version had a bug, and my previous version did not.

    Anyone here who has software version 2.70 and able to change the data fields on the sceen???

  33. I finally got word from Garmin: this seems to be a problem only when the watch is set to the Dutch language. In English there is no such problem.

  34. Can anyone tell me if you can get an actual lat / longitude out reading from the 205. I t would be useful to use it as a back up when i am walking. thanks Paul

  35. Can anyone tell how you can change the measurement unit from miles to kilometers in the 305 device.
    I just recently acquire one (two days ago) and as I am using the 305 in South America , I would like to change the default settings from miles to Kms.
    Thanks.

  36. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this stream. I have learned a great deal.
    Having had a 101 (which worked very well for 18 months – no USB connection so no problems!), I then upgraded to a 301 – which became u/s after 3 months (2 weeks before my London Marathon run). Because of the urgency I drove down to Garmin UK office and they replaced it on the spot.
    The new 301 has worked very well for nearly 18 months except that over the past few months it has become increasingly difficult to get my PC to “recognise the USB device”. I then realised that the connection socket on my 301 had become corroded. I followed the advice of an earlier contributor and very carefully cleaned the terminals in the socket with a pin. I then covered the socket & surrounding void with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). This helps both prevent moisture ingress and terminal/socket corrosion. This solution has continued to work well and I’ll probably keep the 301 until Garmin have sorted out the various problems on the 305.

  37. I’ve had my 305 since July and have really enjoyed it. I run off road quite a bit as I help coach a high school xc team. So far, the 305 has provided me with some really good data about my running. The distances are very accurate as are the times. The only wacky data is the elevation. I walked from one end of a football field to the other and had a 75ft elevation change. 🙂 THe distance traveled was exactly 100 yards. So, I’m confident in the distance and pace data. I have noticed the pace data lags by about 5-10 seconds though so make sure you look back at the face after a few steps to see the change.

    So far I’m very happy with the 305.

    Mat, I work in the DoD arena and closely with the military GPS units…not sure where you get your information but military (and some commercial) GPS units are highly accurate. Also, there are GPS landing systems already on commercial airliners….the FAA hasn’t approved them for ‘live’ use yet….it’s coming though.

  38. Does anyone know or have you tried to use this with a bike or treadmill in the gym that would read heart rate data. For example most seem to read Polar Heart Rate Monitors.

    Excellent reviews so far, very helpful.

  39. Does anybody know if Garmin has an update for the calories burned issue? I rode an easy 1 hour ride to find out that i burned almost 1000 calories.. My Polar is still laughing.. Am I the only one who face such??

  40. Hi there, I\’ve just returned a Garmin Forerunner 50. I had real problems uploading data and my computer screen kept crashing. I\’m thinking about the 305 but it\’s clear reading the reviews here that there are real issues in respect of accuracy and reliability. I wondered how the unit compares to the Polar RS 400?

  41. I’ve run my third maraton last week and my 305 showed during the whole 4 hours a message that I wasn’t able to read and sound some kind of alarm. When I came home to download the race to my pc nothing was recorded in the 305. Today i ran a 10 K race and again it happened the same thing, ¿do you have any idea of what it’s going on or what could be wrong with the 305? ¿memory full maybe? ¿how can I see how much it’s used?
    Thank you and I hope you can help me.

  42. I just purchased the 305 and the training softeare allows me to track in km,but the device in miles only. As I am in Canada I would like to use KM, but can not seem to find info if it can be done.Any ideas’s?

  43. I have used my Garmin Forerunner 305 now for 1 year and I love it. The only thing I am unhappy with is the fact that the watch needs to be recharged almost for every run. Therefore I find myself using Polar as well when I have forgotten to recharge.

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