I’ve been using Garmin watches for triathlon and training for a number of years. I started with the Forerunner 735 which was great and had no issues at all. My issues started when I upgrade to a Forerunner 935, I had to return that unit 4 times, twice due to a faulty barometer, twice due to a cracked heart rate monitor. On the last return I got a credit for the 935 which I used to get the Forerunner 945 in May. Sadly last week I noticed cracks in the heart rate monitor.

Each of my issues have been dealt with quickly and efficiently by Garmin and Wiggle customer services. However after five issues I have had to come to the conclusion that Garmin watches aren’t for me!

So I looked at alternates from Suunto and Polar, to get the features I wanted I need to go for their bigger, heavier models which I didn’t want to do.

So I’m trying the Apple Watch 5, and I’ll blog how I get on over the coming weeks. My research was much helped by Ian Blackburn at the https://theapplewatchtriathlete.com/ and it appears I can do almost everything I want.

I’ve also been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, so am retiring from competetive AG triathlon so don’t need all the multi sport features of the 945. I do like the fact I can take an ECG on the Apple Watch as well as auto A Fib detection if it returns after my surgery.

There is no argument that the Apple Watch is a better smartwatch. So far I’m loving being able to voice reply to SMS messages, control my Neato and Hue lighting all without a phone. Similarly there is no argument that the Garmin 945 is a superior serious multi sport training watch.

I know I am giving up things like the Performance monitoring features and also offline Spotify, which I’m ok with. I will miss the training advisor and other physiological metrics, but I I can gets some of those features, like VO2 and HRV with the standard Health app and Autosleep for the readiness measurements. There is a third party Fjuul that does the full Firstbeats analysis it appears, but I’d not want to pay a monthly or annual subscription for that, especially as it doesn’t have enough ratings or reviews to display a summary on the app store.

One of the main reasons I made the switch was a very good looking app http://www.workoutdoors.net/. On paper this would allow me to map a route, find paths on a hike, and also customise all my screens for a bigger font, essential with 52 year old eyes and something I cannot do on the Garmin.

I’m also using Healthfit to export my training to Strava, as well being able to get FIT files for us with the analyzer tool mentioned below.

I’ve done 2 runs, one hike and some indoor rides with the Apple Watch and GoOutdoors and been very pleased. I deliberately planned a new run route using some small off road trails I’ve never been on and the app was fantastic. The map shows a breadcrumb trail of where you have been, and can rotate according to direction of travel. Two compasses are available: a red one pointing north, and a green one that points to your starting position. You can also import GPX routes and waypoints and display them on the map (including geocaching caches).

Routes can be configured to be shown as “Hollow”. This means they appear as twin lines either side of the trail to follow.


This allows the user to see the trail types and names, rather than have them obscured by the route.

GPS looks on a par with the 945, using the aforementioned app back on the iphone I can zoom into the GPS and see how accurate it was at certain parts of the run.

The heart rate tracking looks better than the 945 based on an indoor cycle comparison, the pink line below is the AW, the other is a Wahoo Tickr paired to an 830. Analysed using the very handy tool https://www.dcrainmaker.com/analyzer

So far the biggest downer I’ve found is that I can’t use Spotify offline and play music on my bluetooth headphones. If Spotify don’t release an app I’ll switch to Apple Music which does support offline playback on the Apple Watch.

Battery life has been fine, enabling me to use the watch all day using the Always On Dispay and when sleeping, waking up with the watch on about 25% charge, where I then pop it onto the charger whilst having breakfast and getting ready. I suspect it’ll still be ok for 1 hours GPS usage a day, but anymore and I may have to top it up before bed.