Quick review: Garmin 920XT

I’ve had the opportunity to run with my new Garmin 920XT a couple of times, and wanted to share some of my thoughts on how the watch has held up so far in my runs. I did a 31 mile training race on Saturday, so the watch was put through its paces during a 7+ hour morning.

One of the best things about GPS watches is the tremendous amount of customizability in the information that is displayed to you while running. The 920XT in particular has tons of different options for customizing its screens. I decided to immediately add a new running mode designed for trail running. For this mode I changed the largest number displayed to distance, instead of overall time. Because I’m a slow trail runner, it’s more about completing the distance than how fast I’m going.

I also added another screen to show various elevation statistics, which is more fun than really useful mid-run. I then added in a special screen called a “Map” screen. The map screen displays course that you’ve just run. This is tremendously useful when you’re running a loop in a large wooded area, and trying to remember where to turn. I simply went to the map screen and could see which of the turn-offs where I turned previously, and could follow my previous course. The map can also be loaded with pre-defined courses you create on Garmin Connect and then can follow on your run.

Throughout the run the watch performed as expected. It beeps when it was supposed to, and the GPS track was accurate. I had phone notifications turned on, so I was able to see all of my emails and texts that came in while I was running. Because it shows my every notification from my phone, this will be a useful feature in only limited circumstances. It does allow me to quickly see if an incoming message is important (such as from my wife), or is a message I can ignore till later, saving myself the hassle of digging out my phone.

Because of the built-in bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, my activities sync automatically when I’m connected to my phone or home wi-fi. This is a convenient feature, meaning I only need to wait a few moments before going into Strava to update my run details. It is dependent on getting some form of internet signal on the phone however, so if you’re in the middle of the woods you need to wait until you can actually connect on your phone.

Battery life of the watch is looking quite good. It worked for almost 8 hours on Saturday, and then another hour or so on Sunday. I’m going to refrain from charging it this week until Friday to see if I can get all of my weekday runs completed on a single charge. From what the image of the battery is showing me, this shouldn’t be a problem.

From a physical standpoint the watch is barely heavier than my Garmin 220, and despite its large shape, it fit quite comfortably on my wrist for hours at a time. The buttons were easy to reach and press while mid-run, and the screen is huge and easy to read. In particular the rectangular shape allows for a lot more information to be displayed than on a round watch face.

I’m extremely happy with the Garmin 920XT, and I’m looking forward to a long summer of running with this watch on my wrist. I promised some explanation as to why I picked this watch over its competitors, but I’m going to share that blog post tomorrow.


Beer, running, and geeky things.

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