Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin Forerunner 305 Review


UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For information on current models, check out our GPS for runners page.

The Garmin Forerunner 305 updates the Forerunner 301, and there are a number of improvements that go beyond the stylish appearance, such as the addition of customizable data screens. But the thing likely to wow everyone is the SiRFSTAR III chipset, which has been getting rave reviews for acquisition time and awesome coverage under canopy, in urban canyons and even indoors!

Related models

  • Drop down to the Forerunner 205 and you’ll lose the heart-rate monitor
  • Or step up to the Forerunner 405Or for a sleeker look and a touch bezel interface

More Garmin Forerunner 305 reviews

I’ll post other hands on reviews as they show up, but in the mean time, here’s some…

More Garmin Forerunner 305 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin Forerunner 305 at these merchants:


About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Daniel says:

    I bought a Forerunner 305 and would like to find how to convert a gpx log file to a crs which can be imported into the Forerunner 305. I have the MapSouce but could not find a way to convert it. Thanks

  2. Daniel-
    I’m hampered tonight by a lousy internet connection, so it’s hard for me to look too much, but I’m wondering about GPS Utility (, which will apparently import and export .crs files.

  3. You might want to check out (I am affiliated with the site). We recently added the ability to export runs to .crs files for Garmin import.

  4. This is my third Heart Rate Monitor and my first GPS device. It is amazing. It’s so much more intuitive and easy-to-use than the previous Polar HR monitors that I have owned. It is worth every penny, in my humble opinion. The web based application provided by is so thorough, and it literally takes one click to upload your data and less than 15 seconds. Imagine a graph that includes your HR, time, distance, and elevation coupled with a satellite view of your trek, and bunch of other stats to review if you desire. And the Web based application works seamlessly with a MAC. Best of all, HR monitor and clock on the Forerunner are so easy to start and stop. In addition, one can customize the data that is on the screen. So whatever you care to track as you trek, simply configure the device to show you that information. Really it’s easy. This thing is the coolest and smoothest application of technology. It makes training fun and informative. The only thing lacking is a countdown timer. But hey, perfection is just around the corner. Thank you Garmin. This product exceeds my expectations.

  5. JHT,
    I’m glad you’re so pleased with it. I got to play with a Forerunner 301 for awhile and it was pretty neat. And I agree that MotionBased is a great application. Keep an eye out for firmware upgrades — Garmin might add that countdown timer yet.

  6. Currently I am comparing sport watches. And the Forerunner 305 has all options that I would like to see on a complete sport watch. The only thing that is worrying to me is that the battery will only work for 10 hours. Can someone tell me if the 305 can be used as a normal watch? Can you switch off the GPS and other function (while not running) so you can use the 305 for days before charging?

  7. Patrick,
    I’d be surprised if it does. You might want to ask here…

  8. John Minnesota says:

    I purchased a Garmin Forerunner 305 about two months ago, and while I really liked the idea of having the GPS and HRM and tracking data, my experience with Garmin and this particular product has not been good.
    When I first got it, I followed the instructions, got it plugged in and went out for my first ride with it. When I got home and plugged it in to my computer USB bus, the computer froze and required a reset to reboot. Once the computer came up again, the USB bus didn’t work. I realized that the likely problem was too much current draw on the USB bus, and was going to need to get a new motherboard 🙁 Darned disappointing, but being a computer and electronics person, I went and purchased the new motherboard and a powered external USB hub and about 12 hours later I was up and running again.
    So, this time I plugged the Garmin Forerunner 305 into the powered USB hub instead of the computer. As soon as I did this, my computer blue screened (crashed) and it did so nearly every time I plugged the Garmin in. At this point I decided it must have been a problem with the Garmin Forerunner and got on their support system. Here is where the real problems happened.
    Their support person told me:
    1. Check for chipset names that are INTEL, NEC, etc. These are compatible chipsets with our devices.
    2. If you have a chipset name that contains SiS, Via, OpenHCD, Ali, or Alr,
    these chipsets are not compatible with our devices and may not allow the USB Card Programmer to function.
    That wasn’t on the package, or in the instructions, but regardless I learned that I had a compatible chipset from the manufacturer. So after letting them know that and that I now expected some compensation for my loss and that something definitely caused my motherboard’s USB bus to go bad they asked that I send the unit, cable, charger, etc back to them so they could determine what might have caused the problem, which I did. After a week or so I asked if anything had been determined about what had happened but they didn’t have any answers. I told them at this point that I expected some compensation for my damaged motherboard – another unit maybe? Something. They offered to send me a new unit and a cadence unit (for my bike) but I indicated that I already purchased the $60.00 cadence unit and that it didn’t work on my bicycle due to the frame/pedal design and that a new unit would help since I really wanted to start using the new toy I bought.
    After getting the replacement unit which didn’t cause any blue screens (after about a week) and seems to be functioning as well as the rest of them, Garmin refused to compensate me for my motherboard – I offered to accept the unit that I sent in back as payment – Garmin’s response:
    “Unfortunately, it appears as if we are unable to determine why the failure occurred given the information you provided. Thus we question whether the Forerunner 305 had anything to do with the failure on your PC. The device you provided does meet all specification standards. I apologize we could not provide a more conclusive answer.”.
    Unfortunately, I had already sent the bad Forerunner 305 back to Garmin along with the crash dump files from my PC and offered to send them the motherboard several times as well – they were never interested in what brand/make/model of motherboard I had – so I was no longer able to determine if a component had failed in the charging circuit of the Garmin and was out of luck.
    And that has been my experience with Garmin. Great idea, but a bad company. There are a lot of problems with Garmin’s products, unlike many better manufacturers like Canon and Apple computer, they don’t deal with the problems in an equitable manner.
    Be ForeWARNED!

  9. John,
    That’s quite the cautionary tale. Thanks so much for sharing it here. I hope that it will help others avoid the same fate.

  10. Anyone else having problems with 305 Forerunner NOT correctly recording altitude? Mine will be replaced by Garmin, a friend is on his 3rd replacement. My 301 worked much better, as long as I was not under trees. I have the latest software loaded. It’s been reset quite a few times now.
    Yesterdays run, 4 miles, 535 gain, the Garmin said over 10,000 feet!! Sunday’s 1/2 marathon, flat course, (550 feet gain over 13.1 miles) Garmin said 3120 feet.

  11. Cathy,
    A quick search of this group ( turned up a couple of threads. I used advanced search, specifying post titles including elevation or altitude. HTH.

  12. The Garmin Forerunner 305 has two MAJOR problems. First, Garmin’s algorithm for altitude recording is poor. It apparently records every foot of elevation it thinks you gain or lose. Since there will always be some measurement error in altitude, you could run a mile on a track and the Garmin Forerunner 305 will say you’ve done 300 feet of elevation when you’re done. I’ve had Polar and Avocet altimeters and both gave accurate readings on known elevation climbs. The Garmin typically doubled the true elevation gain!
    Garmin’s bigger problem is customer service. After using the Forerunner for two weeks, I had a software problem and emailed Garmin’s customer service. No response. I emailed again. No response. After five emails over four weeks with no reply from Garmin I gave up and returned the Forerunner.
    Until Garmin gets some customer service, I’d advise getting a Suunto or another brand.

  13. These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

  14. These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

  15. I still need to look at this in person, how will it be for a slight, 5’2″ woman with tiny wrists?

  16. Bobbi, I think that’s the best idea. Do you live near an REI? They would probably have it. I can tell you that I have small wrists for a guy and I didn’t notice any problems.

  17. Great post and comments.
    I used this information in my review of the 305:

  18. David Ragsdale says:

    I purchased a Garmin 201 when they first came out. For the first few years, it was excellent on mileage and speed, however something happened and the watch started losing the signal, so it would not calculated distance accurately. After more than a year of being frustrated with the 201, I recently purchased a new Garmin 305.
    In my first outing, I noticed that I was going at a fairly rapid pace but the watch showed me going at less than 4 mph. I worked like a dog to every get my pace over the 4 mph. This made be skeptical of the 305’s ability, so I went out on a pre measured route with the 201 on one wrist and the 305 on the other. The route is 2.21 miles. I never got that distance out of the 305. It measured everything from 2.03 to 2.18 miles in the ten or so laps I made. The old 201 measured the route exactly right the first time and got it right about four or five times after that. It measured the route between 2.16 to 2.22.
    So, I sent the Garmin 305 back and I am living with the 201 losing signal. I tried to e-mail Garmin about this, but their e-email did not work correctly either.

  19. Garmin Forerunner 205 causing a blue screen of death when I hook it up through USB port on my laptop. Works fine other than that.

  20. Hmm, you could be sure you have the latest USB driver. Other than that, I’m not sure what to suggest. A call to Garmin may be in order.

  21. Thanks for a great article. I have also reviewed heart rate monitors and have them for sale on my site much cheaper than retail. Please visit for more training articles, videos and product reviews. Thanks!

  22. Terry Galvin says:

    Has anyone had experience with using a GPS unit, or specifically the Forerunner 305, when rowing?
    I’m interested in particular whether anyone has used the cadence accessory to track stroke rate. Seems doable but I don’t want to buy one on the chance that I’m right.
    My wife wears ours running and I wear it rowing, and it works well for each of us.
    Our wish list would include a countdown timer (useful for rowing starts when you can’t take your hands off oars to push buttons), better waterproofing, a stroke-rate monitor and a way to assign units to a mode, such as metric to a rowing mode, so you don’t have to change units of measure in addition to mode every time.
    We have had a great experience with our Garmin, except that the first one failed. The second one has done well, and the replacement was fairly quick.
    Thanks for whatever input.

  23. I am attracted by the 305 as it does (on paper) all I want, but I have previously had a 301 which was useless, as was the support from garmin (all e-mails were sent back to me requesting that I forward them to a particular e-mail address – the same one as sent the forwarding request – I guess this was a way of getting rid of the support request).
    A significant No of 301’s were doa, or died with a few weeks of purchase. What is the consensus on 305’s are they as bad ?

  24. Dave,
    I haven’t heard of that problem with the 305’s. You might want to check one of the Forerunner forums.

  25. I have a 305 and find it an amazing piece of kit, it was a little complicated at first, but I have learned a little at a time.
    My only problem (and I don’t think I am doing anything wrong) is that I cannot create a route on my PC and send it to my Garmin.
    I have tried “map my run” & “GPSIES”, both with no success. I get an error message saying route transfer was not successful. Can anyone help with this.

  26. Wayne,
    Have you tried it with any Garmin software, like Trip & Waypoint Manager?

  27. Great product, wear it running and biking and have had no problems at all with it! Reccomend it highly! Except it is a little bit bulky, the new 405 solves that. A little waterproofing would be nice for those who get the triathlon bug however

  28. Great post. I could not agree more . Using a heart rate monitor is one of the best ways to loose fat and gain fitness. I have used lots of Garmins and now I use the 305

  29. The display is huge, but the digits that actually tells you about your pulse is so small that you struggle to read what your pulse is while jogging.

  30. To jim:
    You can change settings so that your pulse readout takes up half the screen.

  31. I bike and run so I would like to keep track of each activity separately. Can I do this with the 305? Also, with all of the problems being reported here, are there any other companies who make a similar product. Thanks for all of the great info.

  32. 1) Re small wrists: browse the Sports aisles at Walmart; grab the $2 “Wilson’s X-tra Long Wristband”; and situate the watch atop the wristband … super comfortable, AND prevents sweat from meeting the bare contacts on the back of the watch (a major cause of problems)
    2) Grab freebie SportTracks, and indulge their plugins. One-click imports from the FR305; ST’s separate categories nicely auto-distinguish between “running, cycling (road, trail) and other”. Add a Walking subcategory under Running if relevant, which will also be auto-recognized upon import. Plugins available to one-click add the day’s weather, smooth/tweak elevation, heart rate zones, Google Earth (if it’s installed) and other goodies. After installing Garmin’s software (for USB connect), I now leave that alone and use SportTracks exclusively. Visit the forums if Qs arise, as there is no manual. Fortunately, app is pretty intuitive.
    3) Unit I received within the past few months had latest firmware and software. Works fine, even the calories count (which I doublechecked with other programs til I realized it is consistently reliable).
    4) Bad commentary kept me away for months. Now, I’m just sorry I didn’t get it sooner (altho waiting = price drops!) 🙂 Hugely motivating!!!!!!

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