If you’re a runner with an eye for detail and a penchant for precise record keeping, the Garmin Forerunner 220 should be calling your name. The Forerunner 220 is a wristwatch-style, GPS-based running computer that allows for precise tracking of run distance, run time, heart rate, calorie consumption and more.
The device consists of the wristwatch computer base unit with a one-inch screen, and a chest strap style heart rate monitor that transmits data to the computer. The wrist unit is made of ABS plastic with a rubberized band. It’s available in black with red highlights and in white with violet highlights and band. The complete system with GPS training unit and heart rate monitor is currently only $279.00 on both Amazon and the Garmin website. The unit is available without the heart rate monitor, which can be purchased separately, for $249.99 on both sites.
- Stopwatch with lap timer/split intervals.
- Water resistant to 50 meters.
- USB charging cradle
- Lithium ion battery with up to 10 hours of usable life
- GPS Unit – The purpose of the GPS is to record distance. There is no map mode or ability to set waypoints.
- Heart Rate Monitor – When coupled with the chest strap, the device will show and record a user’s pulse and store the data to be viewed using the included computer software. Maximum and minimum heart rates can be set, with an alert if either exceeded.
- User Profile – The devices allows users to enter personal data such as height, weight, age and gender, which allows the Forerunner to more accurately calculate training data such as calorie count.
- Auto Pause – This is a nice feature for city runners who have to stop for traffic. When the GPS detects it has stopped moving, it pauses the timer and restarts it once you’re moving again.
- Advanced Workout Mode – This allows runners to plan a custom interval workout and receive alerts when it’s time to change the pace.
- Pace Alert – In the Advanced Workout mode or if a user enters a desired pace, a warning will sound if the pace becomes too fast or too slow.
- Auto Lap – For track runners, the unit will keep track of the number of laps and store the data automatically. This is also useful for those who want to compare their performance during different segments of a run.
- Calorie Computation – Though this will not be absolutely precise, the unit can use a runner’s personal data and heart rate to determine the approximate number of calories burned during a workout.
The Garmin Forerunner 220 comes from a family of devices with a long, solid reputation. The GPS connects rapidly and provides an accurate record of route, distance and pace. The heart rate monitor also delivers solid, accurate performance. 91% of reviewers on Amazon give the Garmin Forerunner 220 a rating of 4 or 5 stars.
One of the best features available to Forerunner users is the Garmin Connect website. This feature allows users to plan and schedule workouts on the Garmin Connect website and sync them with the Forerunner. The site also keeps track of workouts, displays them on a calendar, shows routes on a map and offers detailed analysis of improvements over time. Users can also share workout data with other users on the site.
The device is also Bluetooth compatible, which allows it to connect to a mobile device to upload data to the Garmin Connect website. If used during a race, friends and family will be able to track a user’s progress in real time along the route.
Although it’s difficult to find anything particularly bad about the Forerunner 220, the device is lacking several features that the upper level Forerunner units offer. Among the most noticeable are:
- No GPS map mode. The route data can be viewed on the Garmin Connect website, but the device cannot be used for navigation while on a run.
- No bike sensor. Some units are compatible with a bike sensor that provides accurate speed and cadence monitoring. For runners who also bike, another unit might be a better option.
- No Virtual Partner/Virtual Race mode. This is a feature on upper level units that allows users to race against computer generated racers or other actual users who have uploaded data to Garmin Connect.
- Most Amazon reviewers who have complaints seem to have problems with GPS reception. Various factors can cause this and most users report no problems with GPS connectivity. In areas with poor GPS reception or indoors, Garmin offers an optional foot pod unit that will report distance and pace to the Forerunner.
The Garmin Forerunner 220 is a great running computer for beginners as well as pros, but it is considered a mid-level unit. For people looking for a simple GPS/heart rate monitor, one of the Forerunner entry-level units, such as the Forerunner 110, will suffice at a lower price. Likewise, those looking for a more versatile unit with a wider range of features might want to pay a little more for a unit such as the Forerunner 660. The 220 is highly rated and has been around long enough to establish itself as a solid performer.
Garmin Forerunner 220 Video Review