Hillwalking inspiration, supported by you

Hillwalking inspiration, supported by you

Please help UKHillwalking continue to provide varied and free content by becoming an official UKH Supporter. You can show your support and with recieve rewards.

Please help UKHillwalking continue to provide varied and free content by becoming an official UKH Supporter. You can show your support and with recieve rewards.

Loading Notifications...

Looking for advice Re: running watches

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Euan Todd 24 Jan 2020

I'm looking for a bit of advice, and perhaps some recommendations on running watches.  I have never had one, but I'm beginning to think it would be useful to track my training and motivate me.

Requirement - I'm a fairly regular trail/hill runner, with the odd road session once a week.  Most of my runs are between 1-4 hours (with the odd longer hill day). 

  • I'd like a watch with enough battery life for a decent day out.
  • I've been impressed by how useful an altimeter function was (for hill days), so would quite like that.
  • I'm not so fussed by having a proper nav capability, but I would be interested to know how much cost that tends to add?

Other stuff - is the heart rate monitor important/useful?  

Cost - Obviously an important consideration, but this post is as much to find out roughly how much I'd need to spend.  How much would ~£200 get me?

Thanks in advance for responses,


 elliot.baker 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

Neither have a proper altimeter but the Garmin 235 is around £150 and the Garmin 735 can be had for around £180-£200 if you hunt around. The extra cost gets you navigation (not full mapping though). 

You can get the height gain etc. from the app or Strava afterwards but you can't accurately check it in real time that I know of.

The 735 has enough battery life for a 8-10 hour hike/run easily.

I would say to have a look at some reviews, like DC Rainmaker's videos to make your decision. £200 should be plenty to get you something decent.

As far as I am aware - only an Apple watch (c£400?) or a more expensive Garmin like the Fenix (£350?) has proper mapping navigation with OS maps etc. but the navigation functions of the 735 are plenty enough to both follow a route and not get lost.

 girlymonkey 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

I don't know how much it would matter to you, but adding more functions, like mapping, makes the watch bigger. They tend to be pretty big anyway. If you are a big bloke, maybe this won't bother you. If you are more petit then it can be annoying to have a huge watch on a small wrist.

I really struggled to get one that would do what I wanted which was small enough for me to wear comfortably

 stevevans5 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

To add to the above, I have a Forerunner 235 and have compared the altitude it tells me to the map at various points and while it's not to the meter it's usually close enough to tell you something useful, from memory maybe max 10-20m out. I've used it for about 8 or 9 hours as a max, but I doubt you'd get much more than that out of it. You can charge while in use if you wanted to though. I find the optical heartrate doesn't work that well, often picks up the cadence or something else but others seem to find it effective! If I want to know my heartrate I have a chest one that auto connects. 

 Stein 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

I have had the Garmin Forerunner 235 for a couple of years now. Battery life is more than enough. Navigation and altimeter can be found in more expensive models I believe.

The Forerunner 235 has an integrated wrist heart rate monitor, which I like. There are reports that for some people it is not accurate (my wife has very small wrists for example and it does not work well for her), but for me it works (checked multiple times with another heart rate monitor. Except for the wrist band, the watch seems to be very robust.

There are probably newer models with more features for that price.

In reply to Euan Todd:

There are some great deals on the 645 now you can get for less than £200.  Ive used one for two years now with no issues.

 r0b 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

You should be able to pick up a Garmin Fenix 3 secondhand for well under £200 (I got one off someone on here for £125 a couple of years ago).

All the running functionality you need plus 15 hours ish battery life, barometric altimeter, compass, basic navigation - upload and follow a gps track (no base map) and it will tell you your position as a UK grid reference

 Ridge 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

As per the posts above.

Barometric altimeter and proper mapping may well take you over the £200 point.

I have the Garmin Forerunner 245. 24 hours battery in GPS mode and allegedly longer in ''ultratrac" mode, which turns the sample rate down, but gives a cruder representation of the route followed when you input it into Strava etc.

It does give GPS based elevation, which was surprisingly accurate when I measured it at known spot heights (+- a few metres).

Navigation is very basic. It has options to return to the start by either following the track back or direct line. You can import waypoints manually but it's too much of a faff forr me to bother with.

TBH if you set it up to display 6 fig OS Grid and GPS elevation info its easy enough to find yourself on a map if you get lost.

I've found the wrist  HR quite useful, and the Garmin metics like "body battery" and "training status" which I thought were gimmicks  actually seem to have spotted I was going down with flu a few days before I had symptoms.

I'd be wary of second hand watches. Check the battery carefully, because once that starts to fail the watch won't last much longer.

 MattL80 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

I bought a Suunto Spartan on the recommendation of a friend, mainly due to its battery life. After 10 months or so I've been very impressed - I mainly use it for running, but have done some long days in the hills (walking) and have always had at least 15% left at the end of the day, often when others with Garmins (not sure on model or age) have run out before the end of the day. Accuracy and functionality/usability are very good too, but it's the first one I've owned so can't compare to other makes.

 petemeads 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

Fenix 3 from the Garmin factory outlet (overhauled to new standard with warranty) currently offered at £218. Decent buy, I reckon.

 colinakmc 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

+1 for the Garmin 235, it doesn’t have an altimeter that you can use in real time but the flip side is that it’s simple to use, not absorbing diminishing brain power that you need for more pressing matters like nav, or not falling off.

 steelbru 25 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

Garmin Instinct is I think the cheapest Garmin ( new ) with built in barometric altimeter - currently reduced from £270 to £195 on amazon.


 Shaunhaynes99 26 Jan 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

If you want something basic look at  fore runner 35. Think you can get them for able 100.  

Does  the basics plus a fee extras  battery life is as long as the 235.  i brought one an am quite happy with it only down side is no routing or apps. But if you want routing that go for the 735( i  really wish i had)  or get a 2nd hand edge which is what i am currently doing. 

Post edited at 12:41
In reply to Euan Todd:

I have a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak HRM, which I recommend.

It seems to be at a bit of a sweet spot currently, having long battery life and barometric altimeter (better than GPS only), as well as heart monitor, for under £200 new.

There are plenty of alternatives with a more modern look (watch face and without the Ambit 3's slight lump on the side of the watch) but none with those key features at this price point, so far as I'm aware..

 Shaunhaynes99 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

Which one did you settle on?

 stevewilson66 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Euan Todd:

+1 for Garmin 235. It’s easy enough using the Garmin connect IQ store to install mini apps (max. of 2) which will show ascent/descent, elevation, 6 figure grid ref (choose any 2)... Also, for runners,  IMHO barometric altimeters are mostly overrated ... changes in external pressure due to weather changes can throw it out significantly. GPS based elevation is now, in my experience, very accurate ...

(There is also a fairly basic nav app available but agin, IMHO, prob more trouble than it’s worth...)

The old 310xt has better nav capabilities (breadcrumb trails/tracks etc) but doesn’t Bluetooth to phone so downloading runs to Strava etc is more awkward...

Hope this helps ...

 Brendan2010 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Shaunhaynes99:

I did a lot of research and settled on a Garmin Forerunner 935, can highly recommend it

 Stig 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Brendan2010:I’m sure you’ll like it. I have a 220 and my wife a 235. Great watches. 

 Shaunhaynes99 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Brendan2010:

Isnt that the top of the range one or at least one of the top level ones? Howdid you mange to get it for within  your budget?

Does  it have routes/mapping  on it as i now want to upgrade  to one that does.

As having to take 2 devices is a pain on short sessions

Post edited at 09:34

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.