For anybody who is actively involved in regular exercise and fitness, getting the most out of your training can be extremely tough, especially if you don’t have the right kit at your disposal. Fitness watches and activity trackers are incredibly popular amongst keen sports enthusiasts, and they have been for quite some time. If you’re a tri-athlete, are training for a particular sporting discipline, or just want to keep yourself in fantastic condition, a fitness tracker is the perfect tool for you.
In the early stages we simply had pedometers, which at the time, were considered groundbreaking and revolutionary. Then however, activity tracking began to evolve and we saw fitness watches, bands, and other wearable devices that changed the way we exercised for good. One brand that has a reputation for making a wide variety of effective electronic tech devices, and not just fitness-related ones either, is Garmin, and it is one of their products that we’ll be taking an in-depth look at right now, as we review the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT.
What is the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT?
The Garmin forerunner 920 XT is one of the most effective fitness trackers that Garmin has ever released, and it is arguably one of the best currently on the market today. The 920 XT takes a number of the best features found on other Garmin fitness tracking devices and combines them together to create one ultimate fitness tracker. Not only does it take features from the previous Edge series, such as live tracking, but it also provides swimming functions found on the Garmin swim, helping to create a perfectly rounded all-in-one activity tracker. If multi-sport tracking is your goal, the forerunner 920 XT is, without question, the device for you.
It is a powerfully featured multi-activity watch that tracks 7 individual disciplines from indoor & outdoor bike, indoor & outdoor run, indoor & outdoor swim, triathlon with precision and accuracy.
As you can see, it covers every discipline that will make any runner, swimmer or cyclist happy, it provides auto syncing and smartphone notifications from the watch. Oh, did I mention just like a Garmin Vivofit 3 or Vivosmart HR, the FR 920XT can track your day to day movement. With all this fully packed feature, the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT is leading the pack in sports tracking watches.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT – Design
One of the biggest drawbacks associated with previous wearable fitness trackers, was the fact that, truthfully, they were pretty ugly and unsightly. Whilst you are hardly participating in a fashion show when you exercise and work out, it is still nice to actually look presentable and to enjoy what you’re wearing, and many fitness trackers in the past simply did not cut the mustard in regards to appearance. The 920 XT however, has received praise across the board for its appearance, as not only does it look the part, but it is also very light and comfortable to wear in the process.
At first glance, you will notice the watch’s simple appearance – it’s a chunky watch with a 1.1 x 0.8 inch screen and surrounding the colour screen are 6 buttons, which of the 2 buttons are for Back and Enter functions. The watch is around 13mm thick, weighs 61 grams and comes with robust, rubberised band.
This Garmin fitness tracker features a modern and slender design combining black and blue colours with hints of silver, and the strap itself also looks pretty darn cool, featuring a series of blue slits that contrast perfectly against the black strap. Also, there is the option to purchase a chest strap (HRM-Run) which is recommended.
Features of Garmin Forerunner 920XT
Now it’s time to get down to the important part, as we take an in-depth look at some of the primary features that you can expect to find with the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT. These features include the following:
* Smart notifications (emails, caller id, sms, social media notice, WhatsApp, weather updates, etc)
* Speed tracking
* Distance tracking
* Steps taken
* Amount of sleep
* Quality of sleep
* A VO2 max recovery time and race predictor function
* Heart rate monitoring
* Ascent/descent gradient
* High-tech running dynamics
* Swimming tracking such as distance, pace, strokes, and drill logging
* Can be paired with other devices
* Social media sharing
* Automatically uploads to Garmin connect
* Recovery advice
* GPS tracking
* Navigation Plus Routing
* And more…
Garmin Forerunner 920XT: Running
Firstly, we’ll take a look at the run functions and features offered by this device. The device features a GPS function, so you can track your run via GPS. There are also three running dynamics, including: cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. VO and GCT however, can only be accessed via the HRM-RUN strap, so just bear that in mind. You will also be provided with running VO2 max (estimate), plus two recovery metrics to help you recover safely after your workout. What’s more, for added motivation, the device will display PRs, that’s Personal Records, so if you beat a previous PR, at the end of your run, the unit will tell you and will display your new record, giving you a new target to aim for.
Getting back to the cadence metric, the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT uses the Metronome feature which allows you to custom alarm audio and vibrating alerts which target a particular running cadence metric.
For casual runners, there is a Run/Walk mode where you can train and combine intervals of running with walking to improve your endurance.
Lastly, for treadmill enthusiasts, the device utilises stats from wrist movements of your outdoor runs using the GPS to set and calculate the distance and pace. Although it is not as accurate as the data from the running machine, the ability to record the indoor run and then be able to sync the running metrics is a bonus.
By the way, for the gym cardio training (non-bike/run), the device can record the number of calories burned and provide heart rate data. This is done by creating an activity profile within the fitness watch via the ‘Strength’ profile in ‘default’ setting.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT: Swimming
Up next we have the swimming functions/features. There are two swim functions on this device: pool, and open water. With open water, the device uses GPS, whereas in pool mode, it uses an accelerometer instead, which will register each time you reach the end of the pool and complete a length. These functions also detect strokes taken, as well as stroke types. You need to tell the device how big the pool is, which you can easily do by entering settings and taking things from there. There is also a swim timer so you can compete with yourself in an attempt to beat your previous best time.
Other notable features include a swim rest timer to which shows resting time with interval time on one screen, and a mode for swim drills, where it sets a total distance at the completion of a drill section.
As well, you can monitor the swimming efficiency using SWOLF data. This is calculated by adding the time with number of swimming strokes needed to complete the length of the pool. For example, 40 seconds and 20 strokes to swim the pool length equates to a SWOLF rating of 60. The lower the rating, the better the efficiency.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT – Cycling
One of the best features of the 920 XT is the cycling mode, as the cycling functions/features have gained a lot of interest from cycling buffs. This mode allows users to see speed as opposed to pace, so it will tell you how quickly you are cycling in MPH or KPH using the GPS on the watch. There are also power meter metrics which can be accessed, as well as cadence/speed/combo sensors to really give you a fantastic breakdown of your cycling workouts. The device will easily clip onto a bike mount, which will need to be purchased separately, but once it’s on, it won’t be going anywhere.
Plus you can get more variety of data by using ANT+ accessories such as speed/cadence sensors, power meters.
Oh … you can get more analysis tools by auto-syncing your workout data to TrainingPeaks and Strava.
What People Liked
As mentioned, this is widely considered to be Garmin’s best ever fitness tracker, and is a contender for one of the best fitness trackers currently on the market today. Packed full of features, there are some things that users have been especially impressed with.
For example, the fact that the device provides detailed breakdowns of your sleep quality is very important, as it helps to show when you fell asleep, when you were in a light and disrupted sleep, and when you were in REM sleep. The fact that the watch can be used for multiple sporting events and disciplines is also very impressive, as users can use it just as effectively when swimming, as they can when cycling.
In actual fact, because of this very reason, the forerunner XT is very popular amongst triathlon athletes, and it has been proven to really assist with triathlon and multi-sport training. It also has a very impressive battery life, and the GPS has been found to be very accurate.
Like all things in life, nothing is perfect, and the Forerunner 920 XT is no exception. Strangely, there is no USB charging.
Plus there are some people out there who have complained that the phone connectivity with the device can be sporadic and inconsistent, although generally this has been found to depend on which phone you are using. People have also complained about the price, as it can range from anything from $350 – $500, depending on where you look, but again, you get what you pay for in this world and if you want quality, you must be willing to pay a decent price.
The Garmin Forerunner 920 XT is truly a nice all-round fitness tracker.
Garmin Connect App
Although it is not the easiest of APP to use (you need time to wreck your head to get a grip on workout data), it offers plenty of tools to help improve your performance. Use it effectively, the app can help you prepare for your training for a marathon and setting periodical goals to participating team challenges and bettering other runners’ personal times around your local area, there are plenty of options. In other words you can customise structured workouts, plan impromptu intervals and offer you the ability to set specific workouts on certain days that syncs to the 920XT.
You can expect close to 40 hours with UltraTrac mode; up to 1 day in normal workout mode and close to 4 months using watch mode which does depend on tracking activity and number of notifications delivered from your smartphone.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT - Final Thoughts
So, is the Garmin forerunner 920 XT worth it? Absolutely. The watch is powerful, it is accurate, it’s incredibly diverse, it looks great, it is comfortable, and it can really assist with your health and fitness goals and objectives, whatever they may be.
For a triathlete or a serious multi-sport buff, this is a mighty all-round sport watch. Whilst Garmin Connect needs to be improved for a better user experience, the Forerunner 920XT does cherry pick the top features from Garmin’s family of products and combines them into one serious powerful Garmin fitness tracker which makes it a complete package for an individual who jumps between the pavement, the bike and the water. For these reasons, plus many more, the 920 XT comes very highly recommended indeed.