Serious multi-sport athletes need serious data tracking ability, and the Garmin Forerunner 735XT brings it in spades. Its ability to transition seamlessly from run to bike to swim with a quick click of a button makes it the perfect training partner for aspiring amateurs and professional athletes alike.
Most notably in comparison to other smart watches available, the 735XT incorporates Garmin's new and proprietary Elevate optical sensor at the wrist, eliminating the need for a chest strap. While Garmin claims Elevate is appropriate for tracking intense activities and training zones, it may be a good idea to stick to your traditional chest strap for interval sessions until Elevate's accuracy is proven, given the issues with many of the other optical sensors currently on the market. Garmin couches Elevate as freedom from heart rate straps on race day and recommends pairing the 735XT with a heart rate strap for precise data tracking during training and additional features such as ground contact time balance, stride length, and vertical ratio running dynamics.
The Forerunner 735XT is GPS-enabled to track routes, distance, speed, and other metrics depending on your choice of activity, and all of the data can be uploaded to Garmin Connect for in-depth analysis. It also connects to Garmin's app store, Connect IQ, which opens the unit up for virtually limitless customizability through third-party apps and features. In addition to all this, it still brings the usual functionality that we've grown to expect from smart watches and wearables, including text and call notifications, steps taken, calories burned, and sleep patterns, so you can stay on top of nutrition and recovery.
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Reviews & Community
Great watch for tri training & racing!
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
This is my second time buying this watch (I lost the last one in Glacier), and it's not cheap, so clearly I think it's worth the steep price tag! Honestly, there are too many features to cover them all a review.
I upgraded to this watch from the Forerunner 25, when all I cared about was having GPS to track my bike rides and runs, but the battery on the 25 didn't last long enough for long course triathlons. What's awesome about this watch is that despite all the extra features of this watch, it's battery lasts a long time. Depending on how much I'm using the GPS feature, I can get it to last anywhere from 4-7 training days without recharging - and I wear it all the time, even when I'm not training. I haven't tried it out for a full IM, but based on how it lasts for training, I think it would probably last.
In addition to options for tracking indoor and outdoor running and biking, pool and open water swims, there is a triathlon feature that allows you to transition between each sport in a triathlon. It allows you to see all your times - including transition, so you don't have to wait for race results. For pool swims, it will automatically count your laps based on what you tell it your pool size is. And for any of the sports you can program workouts in and the watch will tell you when you go/rest/etc.
The wrist heart rate monitor is one of the features I ended up really liking. It is definitely NOT as accurate as a heart rate monitor chest strap, but I can't stand wearing a strap on my chest while I workout and I've found that even if the wrist monitor isn't completely accurate, it is consistent, so you can still use it to identify what zone you are in. If you train primarily off heart rate, you should still use a chest strap, but if you have a Garmin heart rate monitor, you can sync them up on the Garmin Connect site (Backcountry sells a bundle with the watch and waterproof chest strap).
Another great feature is the ability to enable bluetooth on your watch to sync to your phone and automatically update the Garmin Connect App with your training information. This feature also lets you receive notifications from your phone on your watch. I thought I would never use it until I was waiting for an important call and really wanted to get my swim in. It's super easy to turn on and off depending on whether you want to be bothered during your workout or not!
Overall, it's a great watch for triathlon training and racing!
All in one multi sport watch
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
The great thing about this watch from Garmin is that it monitors HR right from the wrist unit without the use of a chest strap. The interface is very simple and I love the Garmin connect app for tracking all of my activity. It is really nice having a watch that can do it all and makes training and racing triathlons a little easier. My only knock would be the battery life. Its perfect for almost every race but if you are training for Iron distance events I would go with the Garmin 920. If you have questions, give me a call and I'll get you all setup for your next tri.