Garmin Forerunner 10: Entry Level GPS Watch for Outdoor Enthusiasts

(If you want to cut to the chase, click here)

fr10c

I purchased the Garmin Forerunner 10 after I decided that I wanted to get a little bit more out of running. Prior to purchasing it, I had run one half-marathon and a few 5ks. I wanted to get my feet wet with GPS-tracking and pace monitoring during training for my first marathon, but I also wanted a watch that was simple and relatively cheap.

I have owned and run exclusively with the FR10 for just over a year. I have used the watch in every one of the races I have done, including one triathlon. This Christmas, my 11 year-old brother got the FR10 as a way to track his pace and training for his first half-marathon. He loves it. I think that’s a pretty good testament to it’s simplicity and ease of use.
The FR10 is an entry-level GPS watch with features for tracking pace, distance, and elapsed time. In as few words as possible, this watch will tell you:

How far & how fast

Physical Features

In the world of GPS watches, the Forerunner 10 is the runt of the litter. The FR10 is barely noticeable on my wrist during runs. Sometimes, I forget to take it off afterwards and wear it around comfortably for the day. It stands out as a watch that is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast who is looking to stay away from the calculator-sized GPS watches that typically run in the hundreds of dollars.

fr10e

The FR10 features four very simple navigation buttons around the outer edge of the watch. Using these four buttons alone, you can navigate through all of the displays and options on the watch. I’ve used the watch so much that I don’t need to look at the watch to know what I’m doing.

fr10aOut of the box, the FR10 is basically ready to use. After customizing date and time, you’re ready to go.

Satellite

Any GPS watch you buy needs to connect to a satellite in order to establish your location. This basically means, wherever you choose to run, walk, or bike, the watch will need to make contact with a satellite (in space!), and then the satellite will need to make contact with the watch again.
fr10d

Although it may not be obvious, one of the frequent problems with GPS watches is that it can take a long time for this connection to get established (i.e. from second to minutes).

I have had moderate success connecting to satellites with the Forerunner 10. Most of the time (80%), it connects within seconds and I’m off on my run without a second thought. Starting the watch before I am really ready to head out the door has saved me from some headaches.

There seem to be ‘dead spots’ in my town where the watch has a really hard time connecting to the satellites, and this is usually tied to the weather (very cloudy days, for example). If you like trails or forests, you also may have some trouble with the connecting and tracking with the Forerunner 10. Some days, I have to run about 0.1 miles before starting the watch up due to problems with the tracking.

Important: You can turn the GPS capability off to save battery. In this mode, the FR10 is basically an expensive watch.

fr10bBattery Life

The FR10 is sold as a watch with about 5 hours of battery life with the GPS mode on. As I mentioned earlier, you can tease a few more hours out of the watch by turning the GPS mode off. The short battery life is probably my biggest complaint. Although not everyone who uses this watch intends to use it for outdoor recreation sporting events, most are. Not everyone can run a sub-5 hour marathon. I would say it’s a close call

Tracking Data

The great thing about GPS watches is that they store the information they collect during your activity, so that you can access it later. The FR10 stores your 5 most recent activities in the watch. If you want to save more than 5 activities, you will want to use one of a few free programs available online.

I use Garmin Connect and Strava to save the tracking data from my runs. The FR10 comes with a free Garmin Connect account, which is one of the pros of getting this watch. Garmin Connect is essentially an online portfolio of the tracking data from all of your activities. It includes summaries of your runs, charts showing your pace and time elapsed, elevation profile, and a map of your location during the activity.

I used the watch during my first marathon, the Disney Marathon, and here’s what the Garmin Connect data looked like this:

fr10review

To get the tracking data from the watch into the computer in the first place, Garmin has provided a USB syncing cable that attaches to the back of the watch. The other end of the cable can be plugged into any USB port on a computer.

Summary

All said and done, I have successfully used the watch to track two marathons, ton of training runs, and a triathlon.

From start to finish, the forerunner has been everything that I’ve needed to get my feet wet with GPS-tracking and pace monitoring.

fr10c


Find it at Amazon.com, Road Runner Sports, or Kelly’s Running Warehouse
Stars:
8/10
Price Check: $99 (used), $129.95 (new).
Months of use: 14
Runs used in: 100+
Battery life: 5 hours (some users report shorter lifetime)
Water Resistant? Yes (to 50 meters; survives the accidental shower and quick triathlon)
What I love: Size/compactness, simplicity, reliability, price
What I wish for: Longer battery life, longer illuminated display, quicker satellite connections

 

Best Uses

  • Day hikes/walks
  • 5k’s
  • Half-marathons
  • Marathons (<6 hours)
  • Sprint Triathlons

GPS Tracking

A couple of websites designed to help you get the most out of your watch’s GPS data.

What other have to say

Don’t take my word for it, read what some others have to say about the FR10.

Other

The Garmin Forerunner 10 has been voted one of the top 10 watches of 2013 by Running Metronome and Race Grader.

About Dylan

Dylan holds a degree in Microbiology and is currently pursuing his PhD in Nutrition. He is a contributor to the Gainesville Trail Network, Food Blog, and reviews on Eco Agro Trails.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *