garmin forerunner 35 review

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review – Best Budget Running Watch 2017

Watch Review: Forerunner 35

Editors Rating:

Running Features

Watch Design

Ease of Use



  • Simple and easy to use
  • Wrist based heart rate
  • Cheap compared with other watches
  • Run/walk feature ideal for beginners
  • Tracks, time, distance, pace
  • Smart notifications


  • Black and white screen
  • Simple design, not stylish
  • Short battery life: 9 days watch mode, 13 hrs GPS mode

Garmin Forerunner 35 Review

Forerunner 35 is Garmin's simplest, dedicated GPS running watch with wrist heart rate, full activity tracking, and smart notifications.

This is the first entry-level watch that comes wrist heart rate for 24/7 activity tracking and accurate calories burned information. Forerunner 35 is a very good upgrade to the earlier Forerunner 25. It's perfect for beginners who want a dedicated running watch with the latest smartwatch features.

Forerunner 35 has an attractive slim design in a range of colors for both men and women. It's easy to use with four simple buttons around its 1.3" high res sunlight readable display.

Waterproof to 5ATM it can be worn every day with 10 days in smartwatch mode and 10 hours in GPS activity mode. Forerunner 35 gently vibrates for alerts such as smart notifications and training updates.

Garmin Forerunner 35 Key Features

  • Elevate wrist-based heart rate monitors heart rate all day and night
  • Built-in GPS tracks how far, how fast and where you run
  • Connected features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and the ability to track your runs with LiveTrack software
  • All-day activity tracking counts steps and intensity minutes and reminds you when to move
  • Designed for runners: lightweight and easy-to-use
  • Compatible with Garmin Connect, where you can save, track, plan and instantly share your progress with friends and family
  • Features training tools like intervals, audio prompts and a dedicated run/walk activity
  • Multisport Profiles
  • Vibration alerts notify you of smart notifications as well as running and activity tracking milestones
  • Internal accelerometer for distance of indoor runs; compatible with optional foot pod for greater indoor accuracy

Garmin Forerunner 35 Comparison

If you're in the market for a new GPS running watch that will actually assist with your running form rather than simply track your data there are 3 good options to choose from. The Forerunner 230 and 235 (Amazon) are classed as the best watches for 'improving runners' as they will help you get more from your run.

The Forerunner 630 is at the higher-end and targeted towards those runners pushing for marathon PB's. Of course, you can use any of these for simple data tracking. However, the 630 includes advanced running dynamics which gives you detailed feedback on your form.

garmin forerunner 25
garmin forerunner 35
garmin forerunner 230


Forerunner 25

Forerunner 35

Forerunner 230

Color display

Auto Pause / Lap

VO2 Max Estimate

Connected Features

Step Count

Sleep Monitoring

Pace Alert

Wrist-based heart rate

Connect IQ

Running Features: 3.5/5

With a GPS watch, you can hone your training in a variety of ways. The Garmin Forerunner 35 offers straightforward technology at a relatively affordable price to assist beginners and experienced runners with their training. Forerunner 35 also tracks your heart rate from the wrist and your activity level throughout the day.

garmin forerunner 35 review - style

Wrist-based heart rate

Some running watches simply read your heart rate from a separate monitor that you wear around your chest. The Garmin Forerunner 35’s heart rate monitor is wrist-based. That means that you only need to think about one piece of equipment whether you’re going to the gym or getting ready for work. The watch records your heart rate throughout the day. This gives you the opportunity to check in on your health and fitness level even while you’re sleeping.

Water resistant to 50 meters

Although this watch isn’t specifically designed for swimmers, it has a 5ATM certified waterproof rating. You can’t use it to track swimming, but it won’t break if you wear it in the pool or in the rain for that matter.

Garmin Move IQ

You don’t have to switch activity modes when you’re slowing down from running to walking. Move IQ captures your activity and automatically syncs it with Garmin Connect. You can access Garmin Connect later from a desktop or smartphone to view details or connect with other users.

Handy smartphone notifications

When training with this fitness watch, runners can check their distance, pace and time on one screen. Switching to another screen lets them access metabolic information such as heart rate and calories burned. The watch doesn’t just tell you what you’ve already done. You can set it up to help you develop your training plan for each run.

Virtual pacer and run/walk feature

Program the virtual pacer to help you run at a steady pace. Once you’ve set it, virtual pacer will turn on every time you head out for a run unless you disable it. You can also set intervals. You can program run/walk intervals as well as other intervals based on time or distance. A warm up or cool down period can be added to the interval workout. If you have allowed audible tones, the device will vibrate or beep when the interval changes.

Accelerometer for indoor running

When you’re running inside, you can disable the GPS. This will allow the watch to calculate speed and distance using an accelerometer. The accelerometer calibrates automatically. It becomes more accurate after you’ve calibrated it by running outdoors a few times. Still, the accelerometer is not as accurate as the GPS.

garmin forerunner 35 vs vivosmart hr +

Garmin Vivosmart HR+ also offers budget tracking for running

How does the Garmin Forerunner 35 compare with the Garmin Vivosmart HR+?

The Garmin Forerunner 35 (Amazon) costs less than the Vivosmart HR+, but it has similar functionality and better battery life. While the GPS is on, the Forerunner 35 runs for 13 hours before needing a charge. The Vivosmart HR+ only gives you 8 hours of workout time with heart rate. All of the other functions are largely the same.​

The Vivosmart adds an altimeter to its features. If you’re a trail runner and altitude is part of your training, you might need this feature. Otherwise, you’ll get the same functionality out of this watch as you would from the Forerunner 35.

The Vivosmart also has a touch screen and the slimmer design that you see in the FitBit. However, the sleeker screen provides less visibility. The high-contrast screen and backlight on the Forerunner 35 let you see the display easily even if you have sunglasses on.​

How does the Garmin Forerunner 35 compare with the Forerunner 25?

If you’re familiar with Garmin’s line of budget running watches, you might hesitate to pick this one up. However, the Forerunner 35 is a definite upgrade over the previous model, the Forerunner 25.​

The Garmin Forerunner 25 does not have on-wrist pulse tracking. You have to wear a chest strap to monitor your heart rate. That’s not always comfortable while working out. It’s definitely not convenient to wear for keeping an eye on your heart rate throughout the day.​

Because it automatically picks up your heart rate, the Forerunner 35 will automatically track your workouts if your heart rate is elevated consistently for 10 minutes. The previous model doesn’t have this functionality.

A fresher design, some more sophisticated sports profiles, and the 24/7 heart rate monitoring make the Forerunner 35 a more technologically advanced option. If you just want a running watch, you might be able to get away with the Forerunner 25. However, for a daily activity tracker that you can also use for workouts, the Forerunner 35 is the clear winner.​

review of the garmin forerunner 35

Watch Design: 3/5

Whether you’re at the gym or outdoors, whatever you put on your wrist should be relatively sleek, light and attractive. Some GPS running watches look no different than a traditional watch that simply tells time.

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is fairly simple and unobtrusive. The slim, rectangular face sits flush with your wrist and isn’t too bulky. Even the wristband is streamlined and free of extraneous design features. The wristband is available in a variety of colors to match your personal style or your workout clothes. Some people may consider the design low-tech. Others may simply view it as minimalist.

When the screen is lit, it’s obvious that it’s a GPS watch. However, the large display is easy to read while you’re moving. It’s designed to be viewed just as easily outdoors in the bright sunlight as indoors under fluorescent lighting.

Ease of Use: 4/5

If you’re dead set on a touchscreen, look elsewhere. Four buttons on the outside of the Garmin Forerunner 35 watch face control its functions. They’re fairly straightforward, and tiny icons on the watch face remind you what each button is for. One button customizes the light so that it shines automatically for specific modes. You can also turn it off to conserve the battery.

The back button leads out of menus to a general screen that shows your history and achievements. You can also change your settings and set alerts from here.​

Another button operates the different modes. The watch contains specific modes for running outdoors, running on a treadmill, cycling, walking and generic cardio.

The last button lets you scroll through screens to view your heart rate, step totals, calorie expenditure, minutes spent exercising and weather. You can also control your music selection with this button.​

Price: 5/5

Overall Forerunner 35 is a well priced watch which provides all the essential data a runner needs exceptionally well. If you're serious about taking your running to the next level or training for a marathon then it's well worth investing in this watch, like you would a new pair of 'rather' expensive trainers or running kit.

Bottom Line

This watch will appeal to competitive runners who are prepared to spend a few hundred dollars (or pounds) on wearable technology that will actually help with their training. It's well worth the money for the data and functions it provides in such a lightweight, well-designed sports watch.

Forerunner 35 does lack of 2nd generation running dynamics or advanced physiological measurements that the Forerunner 630 offers at a higher price point.

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Reviewed Item
Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Running Watch
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