Garmin Forerunner 910XT
Garmin update their 310XT with this all conquering multi sport training device, it looks better, smaller and a completely revamped swimming mode make this the ultimate sports watch.
The box and watch design is similar to the FR610, in a sleek black. The 910XT sits in the middle of the box, as with all Garmin watches.
Once you have ripped the box open you will see all the 910 has to offer
In the box
• Garmin Forerunner 910XT
• USB charging clip
• Heart Rate Monitor (depends not the model you get)
• a USB ANT+ stick
• AC adapter with multiple country adaptors
• Strap extender
• detailed manuals
There is so much going on with the Forerunner 910XT that to cover everything would be extremely difficult. The first thing you will notice about the watch is the very generous screen. It needs to be large enough to use on the bike, but means that if you use the watch to run with, you will not be short of a real estate space for your data. You will also want a nice large screen for swimming.
There are seven buttons on the 910XT, two on the left, three on the right and two in the middle of the 910.
Enter button, and two navigation buttons
Power button and MODE
Lap and Start buttons
The buttons on the left are the power button and the mode button.
The 'power' button also activates the backlight and initiates a search for any ANT+ scales.
Pressing the 'mode' button opens up the menu, holding it down also allows for easy switching between workout types.
The three buttons on the right hand side of the 910XT as you look at the face are used for navigation.
The top two buttons navigate up and down.
The third button is the 'enter' button, use this to move forward in the menu.
The two buttons on the top of the 910XT are used during a workout. The 'Start' button begins and also ends a workout. The 'Lap' button laps the workout!! To reset the current workout you have to hold down the button.
Using the buttons to navigate around the watch is very simple, the navigational buttons feel slightly harder to push that the two workout buttons, which is probably a good thing because you wouldn't want to press a navigational button accidentally during a workout.
Comparison with 310XT
There are a couple of pics of the 910XT next to the 310XT to get an idea of the difference. The 910XT is certainly slimmer and has a much larger screen.
on the wrist view
Turing the Forerunner 910XT on for the first time you will be greeted with the customary initial questions, which include setting the language and checking if you own a heart rate monitor. Once these are answered you are ready to use the watch.
Finding a signal begins as soon as you turn the FR 910XT on, you can stop the process by pressing the enter button, then selecting that you are indoors.
The initial satellite search took a few minutes, subsequent searches are a bit quicker (from 10 - 60 seconds depending on the weather and location) but it is very smooth process. Once the satellites are found you are ready to go running.
To start the run, press the start button.
Your run will be recorded, to lap press the lap button. End the workout by pressing the stop button. To save the workout, hold down reset for 3 seconds and it will save the run.
Pressing the mode button on the 910XT opens up the menu and so many different options and areas to play with it is unbelievable.
One of the first changes you will probably want to make with the 910XT is changing the Pages and the information that is displayed on each of them.
The setting is called Data Fields, and is found by pressing Mode > Settings > Run Settings > Data Fields
It is possible to have up to 4 pages of data, and each page can hold as much as 4 pieces of data. The fewer pieces of data that you have, the larger the display.
There are close to 100 pieces of data that you can select. Some of these will not show anything without the appropriate ANT+ Sesnor (you will not get HR data without an ANT+ HR sensor connected.) A lot of the data areas only become available for specific Sports. Swimming has a number of efficiency and stroke types, whilst cycling has a power section.
The real thing to take in here is that you will never be short of information at the touch of a button. The most important thing is to not overload yourself with data, because you will end up spending more time reading the display that actually working out!
Alerts (tones and vibration)
Alerts are a great way of monitoring your training, making sure that you are not doing too much or too little during a given session.
The 910XT has a tone and vibration function, which will beep/vibrate or do both whenever there is something to tell you. These can be turned on/off by pressing Mode > Settings > System > Tones and Vibration.
The vibration function is very useful if you often run with headphones on, and during a swim it is possible you won't be able to hear the tone.
There are 6 Alerts to turn on whilst in Running Mode. To get to the Alert mode, press Mode > Training > Run Alerts.
There are 3 simple alerts, Time, Distance and Calorie. These alerts can be put on and set to a certain amount, when you reach it the FR910XT will alert you.
There are two Alerts which require the specific ANT+ sensor, HR Alert and Cadence Alert. For these two, you set a maximum and minim figure, and each time you stray out of these ranges the 910 will alert you. It is a very useful feature if you are looking to work in a specific heart rate zone.
Run/Walk alert is a feature introduced with the FR610. The amount of time spent running/walking can be setup as you like it. Whilst I haven't used this feature it is a great one for beginners, and I can imagine you using it during an Ultra. Its other use might be as a nutrition alarm. You could set it up to go off every 45 minutes with a 10 minute nutrition period, reminding you to take on nutrition during a marathon. Whilst using the run/walk alert, auto-lap will still work.
Auto Lap is automatically turned on when you receive the 910XT, and can be edited by navigating to Mode > Settings > Run Settings
Auto lap works in one of two ways, either by distance or by position.
Distance - The 910XT will lap at any given distance you want (you can set it to auto lap at over 100miles if you are that way inclined!) Useful if you are racing and want to monitor you mile or kilometre splits.
Position - Garmin also allows you to auto lap by position, which can be useful if you are jogging out to a loop and doing a number of loops around a certain course There are three options to select from here
Lap Press Only - any time you press the lap button, it will mark that as a lap position, and each time you pass the subsequent point the 910XT will start a new lap
Start and Lap - the point where you started, and any time you press the lap button, it will mark that as a lap position, and each time you pass the subsequent point the 910XT will start a new lap
Mark and Lap - the lap counter will trigger at a specific GPS location, and any time you press the lap button, it will mark that as a lap position, and each time you pass the subsequent point the 910XT will start a new lap
Auto pause works by stopping the timer at either a specific pace, or when you stop altogether. A great solution for those who run around town and always have to stop for lights and cars.
Auto Scroll will scroll through the training page data, it can be set at one of 3 speeds.
Virtual Partner is a really useful feature, as long as you use it correctly. It allows you to set a specific pace and the 910XT will tell you where you are in relation to a little stick man running at the specified pace. Great if you are running a race and want a real time update on where you are in comparison to your target time but I would exercise some caution. If you are training and down on your target pace, it may not be something to get too worried about, there are many factors that can disrupt a session and pace; such as time of day, what you have eaten and drunk, and the block of training you are in. Similarly in a race situation, don’t worry too much about where the little stick man is, the only aim is to beat him by the end of the race. Trying to get time in the bank is a dangerous strategy and will not pay off (see Mary Keitany at 2011 years ING New York Marathon for proof of this fact!!)
Virtual Racer is a new tool designed to help you training improve by being able to race yourself or against an activity from the web. To create a race you must have done at least one workout.
Mode > Training > Virtual Racer
To set up a new race, select New, then select an activity.
To race, select Do Race
It is also possible to select an activity from the web, navigate to Garmin Connect, find the workout and press Send to Device. See our review of Garmin Connect for more info on this process.
Your opponent in this race speeds up/slows down as if it were a real race. Where Virtual Partner runs at a set pace the whole way through, virtual partner speeds up and slows down depending on how the original workout was run.
The Forerunner 910XT allows you to create workouts directly on the watch. One of the most used features I have found is the Interval workout creation set up.
Mode > Training > Workouts > Interval
There are two types of workout, Time or Distance. Once that is set, you have to enter the rest type. Press MORE and it then is possible to set the number of reps, and add in a warm up and cool down. Then you have press Do Workout.
Once you start the process you are locked in and the timer starts and stops no matter how bad you feel. You can actually stop a workout by pressing LAP, but who wants to end a workout early?!
It is possible to create custom workouts on Garmin Connect, however the 910XT allows you to create a custom workout on the device. The process is a bit fiddly because you have only the buttons to use, but it brings in a huge array of options for creating that perfect workout.
Mode > Training > Workouts > Custom
Select New to create a New Workout
The name of the workout can be edited at the top, although do not choose anything long because it takes a while
Select step one, and the Duration and it is possible to choose from any of the following options
Open - step ends when you press the Lap button
Until HR < -- until HR is less than given number (useful for recovery)
Until HR > -- until HR is above a given number (useful for warm up)
Until PWR < --
Until PWR >
Selecting Target allows for a given range to be set for
The 910XT will beep and display a message if you do not hit the specified target zone.
It is possible to add in repeats and also mark a step as a rest step. The process is a bit laborious, and I would try and avoid creating custom workouts on the go, instead create them online beforehand.
list of custom training workouts
The Forerunner 910XT has a barometric altimeter, which it uses to calculate elevation. It is a bit more accurate than using GPS data, however, Garmin Connect does provide an elevation correction service online. Due to the sensitivity of the altimeter, it can report false reading due to environmental conditions. Due to this fact, you can calibrate the Barometric Altimeter.
Go to a location with a known elevation (use a webiste such as EarthTools to find elevation data for a given location), select Mode > GPS > Save Location. Enter elevation into the Elevation field.
If you travel within 50 meters of a saved location, the FR910XT will automatically calibrate the barometric altimeter, otherwise it will be done using GPS elevation data.
As the 910XT is also a cycling watch, it provides a fairly useful map function.
To start with you must turn the map on
Mode > Settings > System > Map
To view the map during a run, press Mode, and it will appear.
To zoom in or out, use the up and down keys
Once you start the timer, a dotted line will begin to appear, this shows you where you have traveled.
The 910XT can take you to a location, either one you have saved before or added using coordinates. Once you have started this process, a compass page will be added to the page loop.
You will see the direction of the location, the distance and time to it also.
Back to Start
The FR910XT also allows for traveling back to start.
Mode > GPS > Back to Start
To stop navigation, it is very simple
Mode > GPS > Stop Navigation
Whilst using the 910 as a satellite navigation isn't possible, it is useful for getting you home or to a certain location.
One feature the 910XT has over the FR610 is the use of courses. You can follow a previous workout, or download a course from Garmin Connect.
To create a course
Mode > Training > Courses > New
You will then be given a history page, with previous workouts on. Select the workout you want to the course to be based on.
To actually do a course, Select Do Course > Start
It is possible to see the profile of the course of the 910XT, and have a look at a map of the route also
Map View of the course
After you have selected the course, the Garmin will bring up a new page view, with information such as how far it is until you reach the course, and how long it will take.
It will also bring up a compass view, so you know the general direction of the course, how far away it is and how long it will take you to get there!
One setting that you may want to change is how the device records data. I really think it is beneficial to turn on Every Second recording, as a point is recorded every second, giving you very detailed record of your activity. Smart Recording does reduce the size of the workout file, but it only records at key points.
It is possible to train indoors, by turning the GPS off and using an ANT+ sensor to record data (for example a footpod). When the 910XT is searching for a GPS signal, press the enter button, the select 'Yes' to use indoors.
The Forerunner 910XT is designed to be a multi sport watch. The 910 builds upon the 310XT and vastly improves it, especially within the Swimming functions.
To change sport, hold down MODE button, and you then can select one of four sports
Once you activate another Sport, there are more options available to you in terms of setting and setting up profiles.
I have covered the running mode mainly, and the cycling options are very similar. The device has a big enough screen that you can see it whilst using the bike.
Where Garmin have made huge strides with the FR910XT is the Swimming mode. It is incredible what they have done here.
There is an Open Water swimming mode, which will record, distance, pace and stroke count. The Pool mode will actually identify your stroke type, and work out a wolf score (measurement of swimming efficiency). In pool mode, once you tell the 910XT the length of the pool, it will be able to work out the number of lengths you do.
Both swimming modes will output a swim efficiency index, which allows you to compare swim efficiency in the pool to the open water. The lower the index value, the better the swim was!
Navigate to Other sport mode and a Countdown timer option opens up.
Mode > Settings > Other Settings > Countdown Timer
This will automatically start the Forerunner 910XT after a specified time.
As a multi-sport watch, the 910XT can handle multi sport workouts. This can be done manually or automatically.
Manual - Start the workout in the first sport. When it is time to switch sport, hold MODE, then select the next sport. The timer will automatically reset for the new leg of the workout.
Auto - If you are racing a triathlon, you will want the 910 to automatically transition into each sport segment.
Mode > Training > Auto Multisport
It is possible to include transition as a separate leg.
To end a leg, and move to the next one, press LAP.
To end the multisport workout -- Mode > Training > Stop Multisport
Press Stop, then Reset to save the activity.
The 910XT allows you to view your training on the watch, via the History option.
Navigate by pressing Mode > History
There are 6 sub menus in the history section
This brings up a complete list of the activities saved on the Forerunner. It is possible to view the activity summary, see the map, view the laps and even the legs of a multisport activity. Depending on the ANT+ Sensors connected, other data will also be displayed.
Totals splits up the sports and allows you to see how much activity has been done of each sport.
Via Garmin Connect, it is possible to set up Goals. These will then be transferred to your 910XT and can be viewed here.
Delete allows you to manually manage the space on the FR910XT, removing either individual workouts, or those older than one month.
This will let you know how much space has been taken up by workouts. The 910XT will automatically manage your space, and when the memory is almost full, it will start to write over old data.
Memory depends upon the recording mode you choose, and any ANT+ sensors you have connected. Using Smart Recording and no ANT+ accessories, you get close to 220hours. This drops to 42 hours using Every second recording and ANT+ accessories. Whilst that is a big difference, I would be surprised if you managed to get more than 42hours of data and not time to get to a computer to sync the FR910XT up to Garmin Connect to then save the data permanently.
This will transfer all data on the next sync.
The 910XT has three backlight settings, off, medium, or on. To turn the backlight on, press the power button
In run or other mode, double tapping the device will turn the backlight on
The Backlight Timeout setting is found by pressing Mode > Settings > System > Display. At night, I find it best to have it set to 'Always on'. The backlight is very good and easily allows for reading of the screen in low light.
The FR910XT uses the same two pronged teeth as the 310XT, 405 and 410 series. They easily grip onto the device and charge up via plugging the cable into a USB port or a power adaptor.
Charging takes around 2 hours and provides up to 20hours of workouts (depending on the features you have enabled)
As you will only use the 910XT for workouts, and at the other times it will be turned off, Garmin advertise that you will get 20 hours of battery life out of the 910XT. I have found this to be very accurate, and can go almost two weeks before the device needs a charge. It is very impressive. 20 hours will give all but the most serious ultra athletes enough juice for a workout.
Pairing ANT+ Sensors
The 910XT can pair with a number of ANT+ sensors.
To get the most out of your watch you really need to use a heart rate monitor. Not only does it more accurately track calories burnt, but you will be able to track your effort levels in more detail. The Heart Rate monitor connects using ANT+ technology. It is comfortable to wear and I usually can’t tell I have it on. Your HR monitor will not work in Swimming mode.
To enable a Heart Rate monitor, navigate to Mode > Settings > Run Settings > Heart Rate > ANT+ HR > Yes
If you select 'Display' from this menu, the 910XT will ask you to enter your max HR and resting HR, and from this it will create HR zones, which can be viewed by press HR Zones. These can be manually changed if you wish.
The Forerunner 910 will work with an ANT+ Foot Pod, this will allow you to track cadence when running, or use the watch indoors, on a treadmill for example, and it’ll track all your data. You can calibrate the Foot Pod in also to give more accurate results. This can be done by distance (ideally 2 laps on the inside lane of a regulation track = 800m), or via GPS signal.
To enable a FootPod, navigate to Mode > Settings > Run Settings > FootPod > Yes
Bike Sensors, Power Meters and Fitness Equipment
The 910XT can also connect to an ANT+ bike sensor, such as the Garmin GSC10, power meters,such as the soon to be release Vector Pedal system and any ANT+ fitness equipment.
Tanita BC 1000 Weight Scales
The 910 is able to connect to your Tanita BC 1000 scales to get your vital statistics. It will then send these to Garmin connect, and store them under the “health” section. See here for a full review of the scales. To activate, press the power button on the FR910, and it will begin the search for the scales.
There are a number of accessories that will enhance your use of the 910XT.
The bicycle kit allows for the Forerunner 910XT to be easily strapped onto the bike's handlebars, with this done you can easily read the data coming from the 910 when on the bike.
At £10.99, it is a solid investment if you plan on cycling a lot with your 910.
Quick Release Kit
The quick relase kit is a complete bike to running transition solution for the 910XT. What it does is provide you with an almost instant way of taking the forerunner off the bike and onto your wrist. A must for those triathletes, at £19.99 not overpriced.
Fabric Wrist Strap
The fabric wrist strap is one of my favourite Garmin accessories, it makes the watch even comfier and it certainly feels lighter on the wrist. It is designed for those with smaller wrists.
The kit comes in a small box, init you get
•Fabric Wrist Strap
The installation process is rather simple
First remove the plastic wrist strap
After this, install the Connector, and the attach the fabric strap to the other end.
The end product will look like this
Here it is on my wrist
Connecting to Garmin Connect
The 910XT needs to pair with the ANT Agent on the computer to enable it to wirelessly transmit data to Garmin Connect. Enable "Pair with new devices" on the ANT Agent software.
On the 910XT, the "Pair with new devices" option needs to be turned on, Mode > Settings > System > Data Transfer after this it is a case of waiting for the two devices to 'find' each other.
Once they do the following pop up will appear
Selecting "Yes" and the device will then also ask if you wish to pair your device, selecting yes on that and the Wireless device will start to sync
At £359.00 for the model without Heart Rate and £389.99, the Garmin Forerunner 910XT is certainly not cheap. However, it does everything you could possibly want a multisport watch todo. As it is a multisport watch, there will always be areas that are compromised, for example for running, the smaller form factor of the FR610 might be more appealing, and certainly for cycling the Edge 800, with is glorious colour touchscreen would be a winner. Taking this all into account the 910XT still comes out as a massive winner in my books. The compromises made are tiny when considering the overall function of the watch.
If you were purchasing this watch to run with only, it would be fantastic, if not a bit large.
If you were purchasing it to only cycle with, it perhaps lacks a bit in screen real estate.
If you bought the watch to just swim with it is great. A serious swimmer may perhaps get upset that it doesn't record Heart Rate underwater, and issues have still arisen with open water mode and GPS, however it is much improved from any other Garmin watch.
However, you are really buying the watch because it does all three functions and it does them incredibly well. It looks good, is small enough to wear on your wrist daily (although you can't really) and addresses many of the concerns of the 310XT, especially with taking off a wetsuit being close to impossible with the chunky 310XT.
The biggest piece of evidence I can give as to how good the Forerunner 910XT is, is that it has almost replaced my 610 as my day to day running watch! I didn't expect that when it first arrived a few weeks ago.
Who is it for?
Obviously the FR910XT is aimed at the triathlon or multi event athletes, and for them there is nothing as good available at the moment. If you practice two disciples to a any level, this is the device for you.
A serious runner would certainly use all the advanced features, but may want the smaller FR610 or Timex Run Trainer (review coming soon). However, the large screen may be really useful for some people.
Just starting out, you may want something a little cheaper, such as the FR110 or Soleus GPS 1.0.
The 910XT is an investment piece, and an investment well worth making in our opinion.