Garmin ForeRunner 10 GPS Watch Hands-On Review

I usually like to lead my reviews with an intro, give the company providing a product the chance to say something, and then dig in … but not this time, because the Garmin ForeRunner 10 is simply that easy to recommend.

In fact, here are the only people I would NOT recommend getting the Garmin ForeRunner 10:

  • You run races of more than 50 miles distance or 5 hours duration.
  • You don’t like to sync/charge your GPS watch within 50-60 miles or 5-6 hours of use (or 7 ‘events’).
  • You need to use a heart-rate monitor or other ANT+ wireless accessories.

Everyone else, if you are in the market for a GPS watch then you should DEFINITELY check out the Garmin ForeRunner 10!

The Hype:
Every mile matters. And now there’s a stylishly simple way to capture each one. Forerunner 10 is a GPS running watch that tracks your distance, speed/pace and calories. It also identifies your personal records and provides motivation along the way.

Ready to Run
Forerunner 10 is so easy to use, you can start your run with the press of 1 button. As you run, you can see your time and distance clearly displayed on 1 screen and calories and pace on another. You can also customize the settings to show pace and distance on the same screen.

It Fits
It’s our lightest, most comfortable watch yet and is available in sporty green, pink, or black with red accents. The black and red model has a slightly larger watch face and wider wristband. All models can be worn as a regular watch, so your running partner is always on hand. For typical use (GPS on 30 minutes per day), the battery life is 10 days. If used continuously with GPS on, the battery life is 5 hours.

Motivating Feedback
As you run, Forerunner 10 automatically alerts you when you complete each mile, giving you a friendly beep and a screen that flashes your time for that mile. When you complete your run and save it, you’ll see a summary of how you did, including your total time, distance, average pace and calories. The watch even lets you know when you achieve a personal record, like your fastest mile or longest run to date.

Training Tools
For runners who want a little more, Forerunner 10 has a couple of simple training features like Virtual Pacer™, which compares your current running pace to your target. It also has a run/walk feature that’s helpful if you’re just starting out or your running plan includes walk breaks.

Store and Share
With a simple connection to your Mac or PC, you can upload your runs to Garmin Connect™ to see your run on a map, get more detail on each mile and share it with friends — all for free. You’ll be even more motivated when you see your miles add up in Garmin Connect and can go back and see how you’ve improved from last week, last month or last year.

The Reality:

I have stated before that I – like most runners – consider Garmin the ‘gold standard’ for GPS watches. They have established and maintained that reputation, and continue to earn it with each new product. How much do I believe it? Garmin sent me the ForeRunner 10 TWO DAYS before my first marathon, and after a 2 mile ‘final warm-up’ run the day before, I headed out for my first 26.2 with nothing but the Garmin – even after 5 months using the Nike+ Sportswatch.

In a way that was the ultimate test for this watch in several ways – I got to see how accurate it was, how comfortable over the long haul, ease of use, how easily I could grab the data, if the battery would survive the time before, during and after the race, and so on. After all, just like everything else, how your GPS watch does over 5-10 miles is very different from taking it on for the full marathon.

I never thought my house was a slow GPS lock area, but at this point I know it is. I have seen my Nike+ watch, various smartphones, Magellan wrist-GPS, and even the car GPS my wife uses all take a bit of time to lock signal. This was surprising to me as we sit in the open near the top of a small hill. But even with this, the Garmin has NEVER failed to find the GPS signal (something I can’t say for the Nike+ or Magellan), and has always done so before I finish stretching and am ready to leave the driveway. In general it takes 30 seconds or so, and gives a satisfying chirp when ready.

The accuracy of the Garmin ForeRunner 10 is simply stellar. I was fairly certain of this already as it matched up nicely with my Nike+ and smartphone GPS on my pre-marathon warm-up … but the fact that both time and distance were almost perfectly matched with the official time and distance for the event was great confirmation of accuracy. Also, since most people in a marathon wear a GPS watch … and most of those are Garmin watches, the ‘auto-lap’ function that beeps every mile had my watch singing in a chorus of beeps every mile.

The lightness and comfortable feel of the watch are amazing! I have read countless times that a certain GPS watch ‘could be worn as an everyday watch’ … but this is the first time I believe it. As I noted in my first look, it is about half the weight of my Nike+ and much thinner. I have never had a comfort issue with the Garmin ForeRunner 10, and didn’t experience any discomfort in terms of rubbing or chafing across the marathon.

Battery life is the singular concern I have with the Garmin ForeRunner 10. The specification list 5 hours as the battery life for ‘training mode’, in other words when the GPS is active. And compared with the Nike+ the battery life definitely seems considerably shorter – when I finished the marathon the battery was down to < ~25% by my estimate. And that was based on a fresh full-charge, and the starting line for the race was in a great GPS location.

But the main focus of the Garmin ForeRunner 10 is the reason I have made it my main GPS Watch – it is simple to use, and it works great.

You push a button and it finds the GPS signal and then you can get started. Push another button for the backlight – one that is clearly marked. When running you have two pages of data and a screen for the date and time. When not running you can alter settings easily – you won’t see everything here that is available on other watches, but for most people there is more than enough depth.

Some of the features you can access are Auto-Pause, which is great if you regularly run in traffic and need to stop at intersections; Auto-Lap, which I (and seemingly everyone else) has defaulted to 1 mile; an ‘auto-pace’ that helps keep you on track; the data fields displayed on the first and second page of the display when active; your weight for calculating calories; and a bunch of other settings. There are not the infinite settings found in other devices, but for me I have yet to come across anything additional I would want.

Hooking up the Garmin ForeRunner 10 is also simple. You have a four-pin USB dock that will auto-mount the Garmin as a device, and when you open the Garmin Connect site you can select Upload and it will detect your device and let you upload and view (and share) your activities. It has a playback feature to walk through how you did throughout your run, and the ability to name and annotate each activity.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been able to assess the Garmin in competition with two other GPS watch devices (and occasionally my phone) – the Nike+ watch and the Magellan Switch (review coming soon). The Nike+ works with the footpod, but I have also had it fail to lock GPS way too many times – and it is just too inconsistent. Some people like using a heart rate monitor, but I am happy with pace and distance and how I feel – if you need the monitor you will need a different watch than the Garmin. The Magellan review is coming soon, but the focus of the switch is for folks who are doing more than running – it supports swimming and biking as well as running, and works with ANT+ devices and so on … it is also more than twice the size and weight of the Garmin – and the GPS has failed to lock more than once in two weeks.

At the start of the review I noted that I had taken a leap of faith by trusting the Garmin brand and the recommendation of many runners (including Carly) and switched from my Nike+ to the Garmin on the day before my first marathon. My trust was well served, and I haven’t regretted it for a second. It isn’t the perfect device – there is no such thing – but for a $130 running watch that meets all of my needs and is super-accurate and light-weight? I can’t picture anything replacing it anytime soon.

Here is my hands-on video of the Garmin ForeRunner 10:

Review: Garmin ForeRunner 10

Where to Buy: or

Price: $129.95

What I Like: Great design; fantastic accuracy; super light-weight; perfect fit; great price; easy readability and controls; great choices in features.

What Needs Improvement: Battery life is short; no support for ANT+ wireless devices (such as heart rate monitor) or foot pods.

Source: Manufacturer provided review sample

Categories: Health and Fitness, Reviews

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5 replies

  1. I find this some of your points interesting especially about battery life and mileage accuracy. My Forerunner 10 shut off today at hour 2:50 of a 3-hour run, and it NEVER syncs with my smartphone–it’s always a good 3/10 of a mile slower. Thoughts?

    • Wow … that doesn’t sound good. How old is it? After nearly a year, and hundreds of runs, I still get more than 5 hours battery life in GPS-mode – and still find it tracks race time and distance incredibly accurately. You might have a ‘dud’?


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