We’re Gear Nerds Too: Garmin FR735XT Triathlon Watch With DC Rainmaker


Ok, we’re also into gear, but we’re not even going to try to do a better review of GPS gear than this!

If you’re not familiar with his blog, you need to check out this quick overview and then hop over there for some awesome and in depth reviews of all things GPS watch.

We’ve made a few purchases based off of his recommendations and his experiences and descriptions have always been spot on.

While we’re not huge triathletes (we’ve each done a couple but it’s more of a “fun” thing than a serious training goal) we do like checking out what the watches offer as the higher end ones often complement trail running and ultra running in particular.

Without further ado – here’s some info on the Garmin FR735XT:

To begin, the FR735XT takes the non-touchscreen shell of the existing optical-HR sensor capable FR235 (running GPS), and then revamps the firmware as a triathlon watch.  They’ve also increased the interior display portion slightly over the FR235, though again, keeping the same outer/exterior shell size (Update: The shell actually shrunk an itty-bity-bit, but the screen remained the same).  It makes it the smallest triathlon watch Garmin has ever produced, though, not the smallest GPS watch they’ve made (that goes to the original Vivoactive).  However, the Vivoactive doesn’t have multisport mode.

It’ll be interesting to see how the unit appeals to different folks.  I suspect some will love it for its size, yet others will want something a bit bigger (the FR920XT or Fenix3).  Of course, I think this unit makes it clear that the FR920XT has likely seen the last of any new major software feature updates.  It’s been about 19 months since it was first announced – thus getting reasonably close to the typical 2-year marker that Garmin has often followed (though, that’s gotten much messier as of late).

On the upside, he will be taking this watch out and putting it through its paces so that he can give a more detailed report down the road:

After which I’ll be better suited to give a full in-depth review.  So expect that sometime in early June.  With that – thanks for reading!

For those of us anxiously awaiting the inclusion of heart rate monitoring onboard the watch, this one has an interesting…caveat. You can use it running and biking with the on board heart rate monitoring but will have to ante up for some additional gear if you want to use the feature while swimming:

Finally, it’s worth noting that the FR735XT is like the Fenix3 HR in that it doesn’t record HR while in the water using the optical HR sensor.  Instead, for that you’ll have to pickup either the HRM-TRI or HRM-SWIM (or the FR735XT bundle).  This is the same story as with the Vivoactive HR, in terms of optical HR sensor disablement.  It sounds like Garmin still isn’t seeing the level of HR accuracy that they want underwater to enable that feature.  Which is fair enough, since nobody else does that either (except Polar and the A360, but that wasn’t so hot on the accuracy front). Hands-on with the new Garmin FR735XT Triathlon Watch | DC Rainmaker

Hopefully this helps you if you’re checking out this watch – we’re looking forward to an update on the Fenix and will be looking for an on board HR monitoring system on the next watches we buy. It’s not critical but it will provide some more useful information and good training feedback…plus we like charts 🙂

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You can check out the watch here on Amazon.