The Garmin Forerunner 735XT – the lightest, most compact multisport watch ever


As the Forerunner 735XT, the latest and most compact multisport watch ever, landed on my desk I was awed by this edition of Garmin tech wizardry. But questions would be: what can we expect from it, will it live up to these expectations, will it stand up to current models and what will make it unique? In the course of 12 reviews, we will take a closer look. I could tell you now about its many superior features, like 24/7 wrist based heart rate monitoring, gearing position for Shimano Di2 equiped bikes and broadcasting to the Varia Vision Heads Up Display. For this review however, we’ll just stick to first impressions.

The bundled version of the Garmin 735XT. Swim and triathlon heart rate straps plus charge cable.

Amongst all the generations of Garmin’s multisport GPS watches, the obvious feature that stands out, is the size and weight of the 735XT. Weighing in at 40 grams, as opposed to the lightest Fenix 3’s 80 grams, it truly feels featherlight. And I mean: featherlight. For all the praises bestowed on the Fenix 3 and its buddies, some people where asking: “But can we have something less bulky and lighter?”. So Garmin listened to the people and over-delivered. Since the ground breaking 310XT, which now looks like small microwave oven in comparison, the 735XT does add unique value to Garmin’s multisport watches in terms of size and weight.

Garmin’s ground breaking multisport generations. From left to right: Forerunner 310XT (2009) – Forerunner 910XT (2012) – Forerunner 920XT (2014) – Fenix 3 (2015) – Forerunner 735XT (2016)

After wearing a Fenix 3 for a year, the 735XT feels seriously small to me. I don’t have to take it off for the precarious swim wetsuit dressing ritual. I don’t feel it vibrate on my arm when I cycle on a rough road surface. During my first runs I checked my arm intermittently to reassure myself of its presence. The good news is, the font size is bigger and easier to read than any of its predecessors. In terms of size and weight, it separates itself from all other Garmin multisport watches and ticks the unique-box flatout in that regard. It is like a well behaved kid. It does all the chores, without you knowing it is around.

The 24/7 activity tracking, courtesy of the wrist based HRM ticking over flawlessly, with a red-lining 8 Km run added to the mix.

We will get into the finer details in the next post, but it is hard to find any faults for now. I have put it through pools swims, the open seas, rough mountain biking, a long time trial bike session and serious running. It is dynamite in a small package. The 14 hour suggested battery life might prompt you to up your Ironman finish time, but DC Rainmaker, the world’s most famous gear tester got 19 hours out of it during testing, so fear not. It comes boxed in two packaged versions. The “watch only” and the “bundled” version, which includes the swim and the triathlon heart rate straps. There are two colour options, the black version and a dark blue/teal option. Differently coloured straps can also be bought.

In the meantime, you can order yours by following this link.

Next week we will take a look at more specific detail regarding the 735 XT. Stay tuned.

The 735XT delivered brilliantly on a 2.1 Km sea swim, a 78 Km TT ride, a MTB ride and an 8Km run within its first 3 days. Satellite connection and uploads happened in seconds.



About Frank Smuts 188 Articles
“The greatest moments happen when you step out of your comfort zone.”

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