Clever Training

Product Review: A Look at the New Forerunner 935

Product Review: A Look at the New Forerunner 935
Erin Rose

The Forerunner 935 promises to be an ideal go-to for the “serious athlete” who’s on the quest for a comprehensive running watch with multisport features. But does it actually deliver? We’re reviewing the 935’s major features so you can decide for yourself whether this all-new running/triathlon unit is worth the upgrade from your current watch—or a good fit if you’re new to the multisport tech market.

Forerunner 935’s Key Features:

Varia Compatibility

4 Varia Compatibility Cycling-related traffic fatalities are on the rise: over 800 cyclists were killed by a motor vehicle in 2015 alone, according to U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). If you hop on your bike at all as part of your training regimen and ride around your hectic schedule (a.k.a. the wee hours of the morning or late evening), syncing your bike to a visibility system is crucial to staying safe on the road so you make the same gains and turns you would in broad daylight without having to slow down or look over your shoulder and compromise your output. The Forerunner 935 is one of just three Garmin mutisport watches that syncs right to the Varia Lights and Varia Radar system, so you’re always privy to approaching traffic from behind, while simultaneously sending signals to drivers that you’re slowing down or speeding up. Want to see your cycling stats right in your line of vision without glancing down at your watch or cycling computer? Forerunner 935 is also compatible with Varia Vision

Featherlight Wearability

The Forerunner 935 weighs in at just 49 grams, making it one of the lightest GPS running and multisport training watches to-date. (As a comparison, the Forerunner 920XT weighs in at 61 grams.) This sleek, easy-wearing watch is designed to tough it out during your most intense training sessions while still wearing comfortably as an everyday watch that captures your daily stats (more on that below).

24/7 Monitoring, Plus Built-In Activities

Forerunner 935 features Garmin’s signature Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitoring, so you know how you rate whether you’re hitting the trail, the golf course or the couch. Why pay attention to your resting heart rate? Because like all of the other stats you’re interested in monitoring, your resting heart rate, rather than your training heart rate, is one of the best indicators of your overall health and fitness conditioning.

When you’re not training, Forerunner 935 will still track your steps, distance, floors climbed and intensity minutes, so you can make better and more challenging lifestyle choices even when you’re not on the treadmill, road, or diving board. Pair up with Garmin’s HRM-Tri or HRM-Swim to get your underwater heart rate during a swimming leg, then switch back to wrist-based monitoring for your other activities like running, cycling, hiking, strength training, cardio classes, trail running, XC skiing, rowing, paddleboarding and golf—all with the most complete data support available, including your heart’s beats per minute. Looking to train in multisport mode? Forerunner 935 does that too.

Running Dynamics

Having access to metrics that go beyond the standard pace, distance and time is crucial if you’re ever going to make more significant strides in your running practice. In addition to ground contact time, vertical oscillation (a.k.a. your “bounce”) and cadence (the number of steps you take per minute), Forerunner 935 gives you even more ways to measure your performance that can’t be found on older models like 920XT, including your stride length, ground contact time balance (a measure of running symmetry that can help you make better decisions about your running form and avoid unnecessary injuries) and vertical ratio (the ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length and another key metric to determining and improving your running form). Not that for these dynamics, you will need to strap on a chest strap like HRM-RUN OR HRM-TRI...or you can run with the new Running Dynamics Pod, an alternative pod-shaped unit that acts as a chest strap but clips right to your waistband so you can glean biomechanical measurements such as as the aforementioned dynamics without a cumbersome chest strap. 935 is one of just four Garmin watches that syncs right to this nifty new pod...not bad, eh?

The 935’s Cycling Dynamics

Most serious athletes who are mainly runners but focused on training for triathlons and duathlons don’t necessarily want to invest in an entirely separate cycling computer just so they can track their cycling stats. In addition to monitoring your bike speed, cadence and power, the capable 935 pairs with Vector™ power meters to provide you with access to with a more potent array of power metrics such as power phase, platform center offset and seated/standing position. This critical upgrade, which cannot be found on comparable watches such as the 920XT, gives multisport athletes the advanced cycling dynamics they need on the same all-in-one unit they rely on for other sport metrics without having to purchase an additional cycling unit. Like its predecessors, Forerunner 935 also pairs with Shimano® Di2™ Shifters as well as tempe™ (note that the latter is not available on 920XT).

Advanced Performance Monitoring

2 Advanced Performance Monitoring If you’re a serious athlete with the goal of boosting your conditioning level and performance, FR 935 gives you all the more serious training stats you need, like VO2 max (your maximum oxygen consumption and a critical factor in your running performance), lactate threshold and recovery advisor to keep you training safely, functional threshold power (FTP) to help customize your training intensity and measure your progress when you’re cycling and both your aerobic and anaerobic training effect, in addition to HRV Stress Test, Auto max HR and other performance conditioning features. Collectively, these features cannot be found on the 920XT or 735XT, and, in fact, the only other multisport watch by Garmin that combines these same advanced metrics en masse is the fēnix 5.

Training Status

Based on your training load and VO2 max, Forerunner 935 will also give you daily training status updates, including but not limited to feedback such as recovering (i.e. do not increase your training load), peaking (you’re in ideal race condition, a temporary but key fitness state that should be taken advantage of) and unproductive (your body is struggling to recover and rest, nutrition and stress reduction are all advised to improve performance). These helpful routine updates will help you make decisions to scale back, increase your training load, vary your workouts without increasing your load, etc. so that you make decisions based on what your body is indicating, rather than what your ego might be communicating.

Positioning Capabilities

935 comes packed with GPS + GLONASS (the latter provides you with an additional 24 satellites, just in case!), plus an altimeter, barometer and compass (ABC) so you get real-time directional change and elevation.

Strava Live Segments

With your Forerunner 935 purchase, you’ll get a free trial to Strava Premium, which gives you live invaluable running and cycling feedback. Because 935 is synced to Strava Live, you’ll get continuous and in-the-moment updates specific to your current Strava segment, so you can compare your current workout to your personal record, get alerts for segment starts and finishes and view leaderboard rankings.

Connected Features

The Forerunner 935 features automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and you can also download unique widgets (a.k.a. apps) so you can see things like weather, your calendar and TrainingPeaks. You’ll also get smart notifications with the ability to share your adventures on social media, plus music control, audio prompts, and Live Track and Group Track, so your friends and family can keep tabs on you during race events and you can keep tabs on your fellow training comrades.


3 Conclusion935 is a sleek, lightweight all-inclusive running + multisport watch that combines all the great features of the fēnix 5, Forerunner 735XT and Forerunner 920XT. With its expansive scope of features, you won’t need an additional drawer full of add-ons or more sport-specific tech gear, such as a separate activity tracker, heart rate monitor or even cycling computer. True, you will need a chest strap to collect advanced running dynamics, but with the new Running Dynamics Pod that attaches right to the back of your waistband, even that chest strap could easily become a thing of the past. Pre-order your Forerunner 935 for $499.99 with free shipping here.



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