Garmin 405 Review

By MACKENZIE LOBBY

As a runner, I long ago was convinced I had developed a keen sense for pace and distance. I just knew — like a sixth sense. Boy, was I wrong. Strap on the Garmin 405 and it turns out many of my routes were short, which means my pace was slow.

In bone-chilling cold to sun-scorching days at 100 degrees, the Garmin 405 has yet to fail me. From the mountains of North Carolina to Colorado, back out to the Boston Marathon and everywhere in between, this device has proven to be quite an accessory.

Garmin 405 watch.jpg

Garmin 405 GPS watch

Can you tell I’m a fan? But I’m not the only one. The Garmin 405 is well suited for all runners, even gear-phobics and running purists. It’s nowhere near the monstrosity that was the Garmin 305. Weighing 20% less, the 405 actually looks and wears like a regular digital watch.

The bezel touch screen display is perhaps the biggest change. Ipod users will be familiar with the bezel function. Simply drag your finger around the circular ring of the watch and it scrolls through the various options. Tap to select. By adjusting the sensitivity of the bezel and locking it during use, runners avoid inadvertently changing settings.

Out of the box, the Garmin 405 is easy to get up and running. With options for two training screens, each with three fields, a runner can monitor six different functions all at once. For a long run I select overall time, overall distance, and average mile pace for the main screen. For tempo runs I choose lap distance, lap time, and heart rate.

Garmin 405 HR Strap.jpg

Garmin 405 heart-rate monitor strap

The one function I don’t use is elevation, partially because I live in Minnesota, but also because it doesn’t seem accurate. When I first tracked elevation, running on a pancake flat route, the watch registered as if I were out running rim to rim. Not sure what was going on.

Minus the imprecise elevation readings, the Garmin 405 has been spot-on. Locating the GPS satellites every time in less than 30 seconds, usually much quicker, the watch is raring to go at every workout, keeping tabs on distance within 15 feet.

The uses of the Garmin 405 are many. While it is certainly an asset when you are out pounding the pavement, its usefulness continues once you are home with your computer in your lap and your feet up on the coffee table. A wireless configuration, branded “ANT + Sport,” allows the watch to instantly communicate with the computer without a cable.

Garmin 405.jpg

Garmin 405 GPS watch with USB toggle

You choose to download the information to your computer or to a site online called Garmin Connect. The online option is handy because you can access your information from any computer and it is available with maps of your routes. It keeps track of your activities (running or biking), pace, distance, heart rate (if you purchase the strap), and a long list of other ways in which to break down, analyze, and scrutinize your workouts.

Retailing at $299, the Garmin 405 isn’t just for gearheads or elites, it’s also for the weekend warriors. While this gem of a GPS watch is sure to be shown up by next year’s latest and greatest, it sure seems like a sizeable technological leap in the here and now.

—Mackenzie Lobby is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis.

Posted by gearhead4 - 06/21/2009 08:37 AM

Great review. But, what’s with the elevation calculations. I did a hike up Bear Mountain in NYS and it read 932 meters. Its a 1200 foot mountain.

Posted by Mike Schoeffler - 03/01/2010 03:59 AM

Nice review.

GPS elevation is notoriously tricky. The uncorrected signal from satellites is pretty good with side-to-side (where you are on a map), but horrible with up and down.

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