Most times, I’m content running with my phone in a pocket, but when I want to go minimalist, the Garmin Forerunner 10 goes with me. This low-priced running watch does the job, but has some livable flaws.

Garmin Forerunner 10 Features:

  • Tracks distance, pace and calories
  • Start running with the press of a button
  • Identifies personal records
  • Virtual Pacer™ compares current pace to target
  • Plan, review and share runs at Garmin Connect™
  • Price: $129.99

Testing the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch

Simple and efficient GPS watch — for the most part

While it’s great having specialized equipment, it ends up costing you twice as much. So, my thought was that the Garmin Forerunner 10 could work as both a trail running watch and a cycling watch. I picked one up and proceeded to use it just as planned.

For running, the Forerunner 10 is great. It is relatively small and is easy to use. While running, it wears nicely and gives a quick view on simple performance metrics. Beware that if you are a data junkie, this may not be the best watch for you. But, if all you care about is pace, distance and calories burned, this simple watch does the trick.

Battery life is about 3 hours, which is good enough for most long training and riding workouts. But, it is insufficient for all-day adventures. On one all-day hike, I thought I’d bring along a USB battery charger and just charge the Forerunner when the battery went low. Well, that didn’t quite work out because the watch will kill and save the current session when charging. And, you can’t workout and charge the device at the same time. A bit of a bummer if you want to extend the range of this watch. 

Overall, as a running device, it does quite well. I’ve appreciated the easy-to-use buttons for scrolling through the data I’ve chosen to display. I do have to remember to switch from pace to speed when going from running to cycling, but that’s easily done — all without referencing the manual one time. To this day, I’ve not looked at the manual. Kudos for being so intuitive.

Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch Review

Sometimes, this process took awhile.

I will say that I’ve had times when the watch has taken a LONG time to acquire the satellite signal. There really isn’t a pattern to it other than perhaps I was just caught in a dead zone.

To log your activities, you must use Garmin Connect. This online service houses all your activities and does sync with outside apps, like Strava. When I first started using the Forerunner, it worked easily as a direct sync with Strava, but Garmin seemingly got tired of nobody using Garmin Connect, so about a year ago they changed things so we all have to do the Strava Two-Step. It’s a bit frustrating, but I suppose it is workable and helps keep the firmware up to date on the device.

Testing the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch

Issues for Mac users

On a Mac, things do get interesting. As of about 6 months ago (the last time I experienced this), the storage became “full”. I say “full” because I only had a handful of activities on the watch and all seemed fine, but the storage was indeed full. Full of junk data and files that are never cleared if you are using a Mac. What will happen is the device will just bork your latest activity. I had it happen enough times that I lost faith in the watch and stopped using it.

After endless emails back-and-forth to Garmin Support (they were surprisingly responsive, I might add), they told me that this was a known issue on Macs and gave me a workaround. The workaround is to manually wipe all files from the device on occasion. This hygeine activity must be performed regularly or you will, like me, lose some activities. Apparently, on a PC, this doesn’t happen. So there you have it.

I hope I don’t sound too down on this watch. It is simple and, when it works, it does a great job as a basic running tracker. For cycling, it leaves a bit to be desired since the displayed data is so minimal.

The Good

  • Intuitive interface meant I haven’t looked at the manual once
  • Reasonable size and comfort
  • Simple and does what you need
  • Garmin Connect is definitely one of the better-quality logbook tools I’ve seen
  • Works best for running, but can be used for cycling

The Bad

  • Can only show two data points at once (three would be PERFECT)
  • Can’t charge and work out simultaneously (plug in a USB charger and it auto-stops the activity)
  • Only does speed and distance — if you need HRM or ANT+, look elsewhere
  • Buttons can be inadvertently pushed — needs a button lock
  • Watch storage can become “full” on a Mac and randomly delete activities

The Bottom Line: Garmin Forerunner 10

This is a simple GPS watch that can be had for under $100. It does an admirable job (so long as you know some workarounds) as a running watch.

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About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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