Garmin Forerunner 405 Review

The Garmin 405 Running Watch

Seeing has how I seem to have a reputation as “that guy” who always shows up least prepared for races, long runs, or any endurance trek of just about any kind, it seems unusual that I would plunk down $300 for a Garmin Forerunner 405.

But I did.

And if you’re reading this, you probably want to know if it’s worth it, right?

GPS-enabled Sports Watches

As a little background, I first became interested in GPS-enabled sport watches since a majority of my running is on the mountain trails. On the trails there aren’t exactly convenient little mile markers along the way like there are in the running parks; nor can you “drive the course” to get an idea of how far you are going.

The GPS-enabled watches offer the promise of distance monitoring, pace, laps, and more.

I bought the Garmin 205 a couple of years ago. After playing it for about 15 minutes, i found it slow, cumbersome, confusing, and it looked like I was wearing a laptop on my wrist. Thing was huge.

I sold it to another ultrarunner 3 days later.

The New Garmin 405 | A First Look

Garmin Forerunner 405 Sports Trainer

But this new Garmin is different. The size and shape of the Garmin 405 is about the same as your average Nike sportswatch. I bought the black one, and the design is sleek and dare I say, “stylish”.

You can easily wear it as both your training device, and your everyday watch.

In “training mode” the battery life is rather weak at eight hours, but in “low power” mode, usually just plain ol’ watch mode, the watch will last for two weeks between charges.

The band is strong and sturdy and feels good, but it’s a bit short. I have small joints, but those with large wrists, may find that they need a longer band. There are lots of accessories for the Garmin 405, but surprisingly, no wristbands of varied lengths available at this time.

“Ok, So it looks cool, but how does it work?”

The 405 locates GPS satellites very quickly. Usually, it will lock on to a satellite within 30 seconds of beginning training setup; however, I have also experienced as long as two minutes for it to make a reliable satellite connection – still, a strong improvement over the previous Forerunner models.

Accuracy? Well, this I just don’t know.

With regards to distance, the 405 has been spot-on. I have now clocked over ten runs and one mountain biking trip of known length, and Garmin was accurate each and every time down to the tenth of a mile.

But elevation? I dunno. I think the Garmin could be overstating total elevation during a training period.

A Run on the Appalachian Trail

Saturday, May 30, 2008, a group of us headed up to the Amicalola Falls Lodge to taken on the beautiful, but beastly, 16-mile Appalachian Trail approach to Springer Mountain. While this is a difficult course with a lot of elevation loss and gain, it’s hard for me to believe it’s a total of 12,000+ up and 12,000+ down.

Out-n-back to Springer Mountain - Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail

Elevation information for AT approach trail

However, since it is an out-n-back course, the elevations seem consistent both ways, so maybe it is accurate.

I’d be interested in other runners’ opinions who may have run this route in their own training. Is it really that much climbing and descending?

Garmin Connect | Use the Web to Keep Track of Training

Managing your training information is simple with Garmin Connect. The approach trail run information shown above is a screen shot from my Garmin Connect Dashboard. The dashboard provides indepth information about each of your runs storing you pace, distance, time, elevantion gain/loss; and if applicable, your laps, heart rate, cadence, calories and much more.

But it’s the Google Maps integration that really makes this online application shine. Below are some of the maps of our Appalachian approach trail run. Notice there are traditional map views, satellite views, and the very cool, terrain view.

Map View

AT approach trail map view

Satellite View

AT approach trail satellite view

Terrain View

AT approach trail terrain map view

…and of course, you can zoom in various section to get detailed views and information. Check out the close-up view of the springer Mountain summit below:

Zoomed Springer Mountain terrain map

Springer Mountain summits sits close to 4000′ …Cool huh?

It’s all wireless, baby …well, almost

The 405 tranfers all it’s data to the internet wirelessly using a small USB “key” that is constantly scanning, waiting for your Garmin to get within 20 feet, and BAM! it starts downloading new information. You could be uploading your training information while, well… typing on a blog for example, or answering an email, and you never have to take off the watch or initiate any software manually.

There is also a desktop software called Garmin Training Center that is supposedly even more feature-rich and designed to improve your overall training and route times, but I haven’t dug the deep yet.

I due time, friends, in due time…

So what else?

Since everyone loves bullet points, I’ll list a few more interesting features of the Garmin 405. If this list doesn’t send you out to the store with 300 clams in hand, I don’t know what else to tell ya.

Already have the Garmin 405 too? Tell me what you think

If you’re already rockin’ the Forerunner 405 during your training runs and races, please share your opinions and experiences. I am sure there are people out there much more serious than me, and have probably squeezed out tons of additional functionality and possibility.

Let us know in the comments below. Cheers!

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I have been using a Forerunner 405 since late in 2008, so almost five years. I love it. This watch motivated me to become a much more serious runner. When I got home after my first run and began stretching, the watch beeped. When I finished stretching, there on the monitor was a map of my route. Instant gratification! Of course, I wanted to make the map bigger, so I did. I went from running one and two miles to running as much as eleven.

I am on my third one. The first one I wore while sitting in a hot tub after a few too many adult beverages. Garmin sent me a refurb for $64. My second one just wore out. It only recharges a specified number of times; then it’s done. I got another refurb.

I sympathize with those who say the bezel doesn’t work as expected. I perspire very heavily and sweat would hit the bezel and cause issues during runs or rides. I learned to set it up as I wanted it, then lock the bezel during the run.

For cycling, I bought the cycling accessory which tracks the pedal RPMs and I bought the device to attach the watch to the handlebars. Has really increased the quality of the cycling workout.

Garmin’s support is good, but you will be on hold for a while if you want personal interaction.

I will be upgrading to a waterproof model soon.

Love the reviews on the 405, but I have not seen an update to the more important question of the elevation on the approach trail.
I just ran it this past Saturday, Oct 27th starting at the top of the falls. My total eleveation gain, using the Garmin 105, was close to 3500 feet. About 2400 feet ascending on the way out coupled with 1200 feet of descent, and reverse on the way in. If you include the path to the bottom of the falls, I think it would add another 600 feet or so, putting the total climbing elevation around 4,000 ft. It’s not the ascending that gets you on this trail, it’s the descending on the way back.

The 405 was my first GPS watch. I am training for a half marathon and at this time am only running about 12-15 miles a week. I have had a lot of issues with this watch. It sounded easy to work when I did my research and at first thought my issues were due to beginner errors. I realized after a few months of frustration and endless watching of the videos on garmins website that it was not me, it is the watch. It works when it wants to, stops working in the middle of a run, may not work when I start a run and there are times the bezel does not respond and now my face is not showing at all! I am trying to determine if I want to go through the hassle of trying to return it or just cut my losses and by another brand of GPS watch.. I wonder if it is just gong to give me the same issues if replaced?? For a first timer the thought of having a GPS watch was better then the actual feeling of having one… sigh..

I bought my 405 at an REI just about 2 yrs ago to the day.

Frankly, I am not impressed with it. Problems I’ve had with it;

~ The bezel is very difficult to work at times. You can press menu/gps/traning and nothing will happen for long stretches. Very frustrating.
~ The 405 takes a long time to pick-up satellites sometimes. I run the same route each time, yet sometimes it picks up my location almost instantly and other times it take 5-7 minutes.
~ Max speed is unreliable. Loading a run into “My Garmin Training Center” last November revealed that I had hit a max speed of 44133.2 mph in one lap of my run!
~ Even the smallest amount of leaf cover can cut out your satellite gps signal.
~ Will stop working on runs now giving the impression that it’s low battery even though I leave it on the charger when I’m not running. I’ve tried leaving it off and charging it an hour or two before the run and the thing is still tempermental at best – running when it wants to.

I’m a casual runner, running between 15-30 miles a week. If I were training, I’d be very unhappy with this product – as it is, I’ll probably be looking for a replacement. Garmin is unlikely to get my $$ going forward. For $300 I expected better.

In general i like 405 forerunner. One major problem: after 15 days use it got moisture inside. I´m very sad and the problem is get the 405 for train and if send it for warranty, for sure i would to wait some weeks to get it back. Any similar solved situation?

I received a 405 as a gift and while the instructions make it seem simple to use that is far from the truth. In a tool that should be easy to access the programming this watch fails. I have yet to have it work on a run. My friends 305 work great while this one has, so far, been a great source of frustration.

Can you help me? I want to get a GPS watch for my son for Christmas. He is an ultra runner and usually does mountain passes with lots of elevation. He has a simple one now. He wants one that measures elevation along with everything else. Do I look for altimeter in the product description? I ordered a Garmin Forerunner 405cx Gps, but now I am thinking that may not be the right watch and want to exchange before Christmas. Can you give me a good recommendation as to what he would want? The reviews sound good for the 405, is that the same as the one I ordered? He is on his 3rd 100 mile mountain run.
Thank you so much

Wow. Excellent blog. I stumbled upon it researching the Garmin 405 Review. There’s plenty of recommendations currently on amazon online marketplace. Judging from the tone of most comments below, I now discover why the Garmin Forerunner 405 is such a popular watch.
Thanks! for your amazing review along with awhole list of resources related to the Garmin Forerunner 405. I am currently carrying out a Garmin 405 Review and that’s the key reason why how i identified your web site and I find the content here very complementary to the written content in my site. In general, i’d like to say that the Garmin 405 is a wonderful watch as well as anyone who is actually serious in Running need to get one.

I bought the Garmin 405 for it’s GPS. I like the tracking software. Although good features the monitor freezes up and this started in less than a year after purchasing it. I would say this happens once a month and it can take from 2 to 3 days on to a week for it to work properly again.

This is my first Garmin device and has made me a skeptic. I like to have have reliable data for running and biking. Not having 25% is a big loss of information for those who appreciate accuracy.

hey good review, how well does 405 perform underwater?

You’d rather try the new 910xt, which has a barometric altimeter to get altitude.

I just received the 405 as a b-day present. I have an old Garmin GPS handheld and found it to be close to 10% short, on all of my runs except one time at the beach, where it seemed to be right on. Must be the curves that confuse it. I have to say that so far I am disappointed with the 405, believing it to be close to 4% short on my greenway and street runs. I haven’t run in a straight line yet, but on the measured (shaded) greenway, it seems way off. I even measured my mileage time and the garmin registered 20 seconds slower, which is A LOT!. I have been clearing a single track trail near work and would like to measure it with the garmin, but now have my doubts, being in full tree cover.

I really do understand the difficulty of providing accurate measurements when the device registers 13 ft accuracy, but it certainly seems there would be methods for mitigating this problem, and for straight-line runs, that inaccuracy should become immaterial, ending up as a potential 26 ft error at the end of the point to point run. (I also found it got confused in an out and back run…)

I just bought the 405 w/heart rate monitor since it was available for $150 as Amazon’s deal of the day. I have had the 305 for about a year, and took both watches on my first 405 run.

On my first run the 405 performed great! Downloading the data post-run was a breeze. I liked how it automatically split your run into 1 mile segments, so you can easily monitor your pace.

On my second run I unfortunately left the 305 at home. The 405 appeared to be working well throughout the run. Satellites tracked prior to running, it consistently displayed heart rate, distance, pace, etc. Then post-run when I downloaded the data there was no gps track! I tried 4 different programs (garmin connect, garmin TC, sport tracks, running ahead) with no dice. The odd thing is it captured distance and average pace. I double checked that the gps was on, and indeed it was. Has anyone else had this problem?

I guess I will go back to wearing both watches for a while. I have never had this missing track problem with the 305, and it is a pretty big deal — I mean, why bother wearing a gps if you can’t get a track? Hopefully it won’t happen again but now I am left wondering how reliable the 405 will be.

The other problem is that the 405 doesn’t show you a track on the watch like the 305 does. This has saved my butt more than once when I found myself lost on long runs in the city. The fact that it may not reliably produce gps tracks points to yet another reason why this feature was important. If the 405 had a track view you could periodically check to make sure it was recording your run.

I’ve had the forerunner 405 for a couple of years now, and actually think it’s a great unit; there isn’t anything else out there that does so much in one compact unit without extra pods to mess about with.
I’ve also had battery problems though; got to the stage that battery would fail after 20 minutes with GPS on. When I wrote to Garmin, they advised a software upgrade and reset. Needless to say I was extremely sceptical…but to my amazement, it seems to have worked. I’ve been on my bike for >2 hours with the unit guiding me round the course with GPS on, and its been fine.
So if you have a 405 with battery issues, try upgrading the watch software; it worked for me.


Don’t buy the 405!! Endlessly frustrating to use!! Satellite signals take a long time to acquire (compared with the 110 that I now have), the bezel is complete crap and you need a computer science degree to figure out how to use the watch (this is after reading the instructions and going through the initial setup). I returned mine after my second attempt @ using it on a run….I bought the 110 which is much more user-friendly, has 4 buttons instead of a bezel that works when it feels like it, easy to use, acquires satellite signals within 30 secs and gives me everything I want to know… (distance, pace, speed, time). Hated the 405, it made me want to bang my head on the wall!!

I have had a 405 for half a year. Use: cross-country skiing, jogging, mountain biking, orienteering, rogaines. (GPS devices are banned from international orienteering & rogaining competitions but are OK in local events).

- Bezel is a major pain. Does not work when wet, is unreliable even when dry. I have missed a few tracks because the “gps on” button actually worked as “gps on” and instant “gps off”.
- Set-up of alarms is too complex. Better UI would help a lot here.
- 8 hrs of battery time – good enough for runs and skiing, barely enough for rogaines, not enough for multisport competitions
- Battery runs out in a few weeks even with GPS and all connectivity off. Why???
- is not good enough for real analysis.
- The strap is too short to be worn over ski clothes.
- Backlight stays on for too short time. (I jog & ski in late hours a lot.)

- I love the functionality, I truely do.
- I love the compact form.
- Uploads to are easy, and sharing / displayng your runs there works very well.
- The HR strap works better than Polar’s – does not need to be wet, feels more comfortable.
- is way better than carrying a gps phone on runs

- Bezel touchyness mostly solved by changing its sensitivity to “low”.
- Bezel not working when wet mostly solved by doing setup in advance.

Overall? I love the device, and I use it a lot. The con’s list is long, but every gadget has its weak spots, and you get to work around them. Many of the shortcomings are related to my particular usage – 12+ hour competitions, orienteering, using the GPS in the dark and without a headlight etc. It is very good as daily jogging / skiing tracker.

I have the Forerunner 405 and love it but it has one quite irritating problem. My Garmin believes that I am a 41, short, very heavy MAN! I have reprogrammed many times as I am a short, slim 47 yr old female. The calories burnt during LSRs are colossal as the Garmin thinks that I am a lumpen man! Does anyone else have the same problem?

Thanks for this reviews. I was just about to order 405 online but now I am not.

I had a Garmin 305 ForRunner for a long time. I liked the ability to track my distance and get my heart rate data, but I was always disappointed about the altitude. I would start at home and return back home and the 305 would say that my start and finish was 100 feet difference. When in fact my home I know that my home didn’t change.

I never had any battery issues as other users are complaining about on the 405.

Has anyone seen any improvements in the altitude data collection?


Had the 405 since december of 2010. It is now February 2011. Just over on e year. The Battery will not hold a charge in GPS mode for more than 30 seconds. The watch can merely keep time now. It was the best watch I have ever owned for 12 months. Pacing and distance were beautiful. Now the watch is worthless.

I purchased the Garmin Forerunner 405 a year and a half ago. Needless to say it was the worst purchase of my life. I bought my Garmin 405 for $400 with the heart rate monitor, and it recently had some battery issues. I called support services, and they were very rude, and told me that I need to send it in to get fixed for $90! Apparently, after I sent my watch in to get fixed, I would be given another competely different watch that was restored, which only came with a 90 day warranty. Do not buy this watch!

Well, I paid 99.00 (106.00) After taxes so guess i wont be to worried about all the issues, etc. Looks like agood watch and as long as i can use it for atleast a year then i’ll be happy ;) Only 100.00 so no worries, now if i had paid 300.00 then Id be frustrated, lol.

Yeah, I’ve only had mine a month or so and was surprised when it froze up due to rain, for the price I expected much more.

Huge disappointment.
Battery died after 3 month of moderate using.
Compared to 305, the only advantage was a time needed to acquire the signal.
In detail check out
As the unit was put in use for the first time after a year, warranty expired. It is hard to decide whether to spent another 165$ only to get another bad product.

As a runner, depending on what you want it for – the 405 can be good or it can be lousy. It is definitely not for short distance running because it is not accurate enough. It is also not for marathons or half marathons because its battery life is too short. Its cons are it is very tricky to set because the bezel has a mind of its own, The HR monitor is too tight and interferes with breathing, it also doesn’t display the Heart rate correctly. I had the 101 and if only the 101 had a way to upload map/track data to the computer i would never have needed a 405.

Don’t buy it. It’s expensive, unreliable and endlessly aggravating. When it works, it’s great, but mine and my friend’s don’t work all the time. My instinct is that the technology just isn’t quite there yet. It’s asking too much of a watch to be able to do all the things it supposedly does. Also, the battery has begun to malfunction lately too. Absolutely do not buy this watch. It was a very poor investment for me- and not a cheap one either. I’m not even going to bother returning it- it’d be throwing good money after bad.

I have been running with a Garmin 405 for about two years now and honestly think that it still is one of the best performing and best value for money GPS watches available. I make massive use of both the virtual partner and auto lap functionality – something which other brands of watches don’t have and the Garmin Connect portal is the most useful training website that I have ever encountered.

I have run with the Garmin 110 before now as well and although think it is a decent watch for beginners, it lacks key features like Current Pace and Intervals that make the 405 the success story that it has been for the past two years or so!

See my Garmin 405 Review if you would like to see my opinions of the 405.


Forgot about buying this device. This product has problems with battery life, random memory loss, crashing and moisture that need to be worked out. The old 305′s are 200% better in every way except looks. They do everything the 405′s do and they are reliable! Do yourself a favor and buy a 305 and if you want looks then spend the money and get a Timex Triathalon.

I own a 405 and the battery is dead after 18 months and cannot be replaced. I called Garmin and they offered an exchange if I pay 79.99 + 40.00 shipping and handling. My wife paid 300.00 + 120.00 if I decide for the exchange…too expensive. I was hoping for better quality

I purchased the Garmin 405 about 2 months ago. At first, I liked the watch and was able to utilize the pace setting/virtual partner and found it very useful. After a few weeks, when I would try and toggle back and forth between the overall time and distance screen and the pace/virtual partner screen during my runs, the watch would not respond to touch. I am assuming this is becuse my fingers were sweaty, but that seems like a pretty obvious factor that should have been taken into consideration by Garmin. I delt with the issue by just leaving the screen on the total distace/time during my workouts. This was ok for a while until last week when the start/stop button decided to stop working. If the issues with the touch bezel and start/stop button are due to being wet with sweat than I have to say this watch is a complete waste of money. I was so frustrated with it this weekend that when I went on a 12mile 60lbs ruck run and the start button wasnt responding, I through it off a bridge into a river. I think I’ll just stick with MapMyRun and a stardard timex watch or something.

Note to garmin- You usually make good products. Either buck up and make a decently priced GPS watch with some durability or repectfully withdraw yourself from watch sector all together. This has put a bitter taste in my mouth.

I’ve had the Forerunner 405 for about a month now and I’m very dissapointed with it. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

The GPS seams to work fine, but the HR monitor is complete rubbish. It has gone has high as 224 (I’m 45) and then drop to 145 within 10 seconds after I’ve stopped running.

I have been using a 405 for the past three years now and honestly couldn’t imagine running without one! Not only is it comfortable to wear and easy to use, I find that the data that it records and displays is invaluable and really lets me make the most of every training session!

My Forerunner 405 Watch Review

HI there,

Just a quick note for potential buyers. I have both the 305 and 405 and today, neither are working. Garmin replaced them once under warrenty, but after that one year warrenty you are on your own dime.

I went for a long run run a few weeks ago, got caught in a light rain shower in the final few miles. I noticed some condensation which eventually lead to total shutdown. I sent it in to there repair provider here in Canada, on my own dime, and they informed me that the repair will be 118.00 CDN……30% of what I paid for it……under two years of ownership.

In a nutshell, I have found the reliability to be very poor. If you run a couple times a week, then perhaps its for you. On the other hand, if you are training for marathons/ironmans etc, logging 50 plus miles a week, 5-6 days a week, forget it. It just wont last and I would strongly consider your purchase. I refuse to pay for this fix, only to see it happen again in another year I’m sure.

Garmin customer service is refusing to step up and help, I am left with no alternative put to walk away….800 dollars on two watches over four years, and I have nothing.


@Flyerfan: I’m not sure, but the 405CX comes with an additional, velco wristband that is longer than the standard one. Check out this link:

How long is the Forerunner 405 wristband. My wrist is 7.5 – 8 inches around. Will this fit me?

I’ve had my 405 for about 8 months now and love it. Ran a marathon and lots of training runs with it. However, the biggest issue, and it is now getting worse, is the battery. It is draining quicker and quicker now. Today I had a long hard work out planned and it was at about 70%, so I fully charged it last night to be ready for today. When I put it on this morning the battery level was 0%! I made sure the bezel wasn’t touching anything, so there was no reason the power should have drained. Its not the first time this has happened. Other than the battery issue, I love the rest of the unit. But that is a big issue.

I have used the old 405 but it glitched so I sold it and bought the new one in the beginning of may. It also seems to die on me saying low battery even though it´s fully charged after some 2-3 miles. One other thing I´ve noticed is that the touch boyet not work 100% when I do cross country skiing and other activities using the hands.(it blips a lot and changing display) I will send it back,lets hope my is a monday specimen !!

@David – CALL GARMIN!!! Mine has died a few times and depending on what is wrong w/ it they have never had a problem replacing it. It is a bit of a hassle, but def. worth it as it is expensive (and a wonderful training tool). They are super easy to work with, so make the call :)

My wife gave me the Forerunner 405 for Christmas. I’ve used it most days since, but it recently died. That’s a lot of money for something that lasted about 5 months.

Wow. Great blog. I stumbled upon it researching the FR405. There’s plenty of examples currently on ebay. Judging from the tone of most comments, I now see why. I think I’ll wait to see how the FR110 goes over.

The 405 was given to me as a gift to improve my health and get me active. Dreading any real physical workouts since my intense High School athletic career, the informaion packed 405 peeked my gadget interests, which in turn got me up and off the couch. For over a year I have been enjoying not only the benefits of walking, running, biking (w/ the cadence sensor), and racing (utilizing Virtual Partner in my first SD Rock-n-Roll Relay), but the often dreaded inside gym training inside(w/ the Foot Pod + Heart Monitor) on various machines. The device with all of its accessories & ANT Stick (for computer communication with various Garmin apps) can be tricky to initially calibrate/setup, but with patience and a complete read of the IMPORTANT instructions, it’s AWESOME!!! GARMIN has changed my life by providing useful info to make physical fitness easy.

I have the Garmin 205 and it has served me fairly well. The last few times I have tried to use it is beeps like it wants to come on, but nada on the screen. I have tried to do a reset per Garmin’s instructions and nothing. It magically comes on sometimes and then as soon as I want it for a race again it will not operate. I have had it for 3 years now and guess it is time for a new one. I was just wondering if anybody else has had this problem with any of the Garmin Forerunner models.


I did love my Garmin 405 at first, but the inaccurate elevation and pace at times is frustrating. I have experienced the bezel being a pain when I sweat or it is humid. I have run a couple trail races and the distance was 1 mile under for a 15.5 race. It was also under almost a half mile for a six mile trail race. My Garmin stick isn’t working also, so I am not loading workouts to my computer. I don’t if I had a virus on my computer that killed my stick. My computer can’t even find the stick when it is plugged in. The Garmin 405 is very frustrating for the high price tag. I wouldn’t recommend the 405 to anyone.

RC, I don’t expect the elevation data to be perfect, but in my experience, they are wildly inaccurate. For example, I climbed a small peak outside town after work, with 850 feet of ascent. My 405 says I gained 2,200+ feet. This is actually my second 405; I bought the first a few weeks ago and traded it in because it has the same problem. Garmin’s customer service led me to believe that they had never heard of this problem before. That’s hard to believe, given the complaints on this site.


I have a couple of quick questions. I had a 305 –loved it–by it was stolen. I was thinking of replacing it with the 405. The manufacters did not really recomend that you swim with the 305, this also ture for the 405? I really liked the multisport feature of the 305, does the 305 have this same feature? Normally, when using the 305 you could have 4 windows going.On the 305 one thing that I didn’t like about the multisport feature was that I would lose one window to the sport that I was doing, does this happen on the 405? Thanks for the help.

I have had the 405 for a few months now, used to have the 205. I love the 405. No real problems so far. The green one is cooler than you think.
Regarding everyone’s beefs about the elevation quality – you need to understand that with a single point positioning system (any GPS device the general public uses) elevation quality will be around one and a half times as bad as distance and speed. GPS essentially works by triangulation, but has a problem with elevation because there are only satellites above to receive positions from, none below to pull the solution to correct.
These devices are only capable of +/-10meter accuracy in 2d so +/_15meters in elevation 98% of the time. They are usually better than that, but this will explain some of the “not right all the time” and “not so good in elevation” problems that you are finding. I find it averages out pretty good considering.
I do agree the bezel is a bit finicky but I just customize my display and lock the bezel when it rains.

The technology behind these devices is absolutely astounding – give them a break! If only the battery would last longer.

I have used the garmin 405 for biking and running. It is pretty accurate, as I have worn it in many races. Basically, the only feature I use is the stopwatch but it is nice to know what my pace is and how far I’ve gone. I have not used some of the other features.

Two gripes:
1. The heart monitor is made for someone with a tiny frame. If you don’t have a 30 inch chest, it will feel like it is squeezing the life out of you. Maybe a lot of distance runners are that small but I carry some muscle in my upper body so i could not wear the heart monitor.

2. When the watch gets wet the touch bevel stops working. Every single time I sweat and touch the bevel I am unable to toggle the options. If it rains then forget about it.

I’ve owned a Garmin Forerunner 405 for almost 1 year and I really do love it. True, the bezel goes nuts with water or sweat, but I like the suggestion of setting up auto scroll screens. I use it for running and cycling and it is a fantastic aid.


I’ve logged about 230 hours of workout on it to date. This morning I did a bike ride, with HRM, left with 100% and read 75% after 1 hr of use. It doesn’t last enough for my Saturday long bike rides, I start with a full charge and I get the 20% warning beep at 3:15 hrs and the critical 10% warning at 3:30 hrs. I have to stop it and turn GPS off before my ride is over, otherwise I’ll lose the entire thing if I drain the battery further.

Garmin Customer Support recommended a Master Reset, which I did, but did not improve battery performance.

I know rechargeable batteries don’t last forever and I also know the FR405 has no option to replace just the battery. I’m just disappointed that it seems that my hefty investment was good for less than 1 year.

I got my 405 Sept 5th, 2008 and since then I have put over 500 miles on it. Last month however, I’m getting to do a run and the bezel stop working…thouhgt maybe I had a nearly dead battery – not the case. I tried contacting Garmin – worthless Tech support! I did love this watch, never having any issues w/ it, but now I’m back using a simple stop watch again to track my pace. Very unfortunate that Garmin charges so much for their products but does nothing to improve customer service. I won’t recommend the 405 to any friends of mine.



I have had the Forerunner 405 since 7-08. I previously had one of the earlier models, 301 I believe, which I loved. After using it for 4 yrs it finally gave out on me. My husband purchased the Forerunner 405 for me. I live in Florida where hot runs are the norm from March thru Oct. I noticed immediately that after 4-5 miles of running the humidity began to effect my Forerunner 405. When I would run a long run I basically had only the time of day and how much battery charge was left. No pace, no actual run time. I was frustrated and contacted Garmin. The rep emailed me and told me to reset it and update the Forerunner which I did. During the winter when runs were a bit cooler and not as humid, my 405 worked well. Now it is March and today during a 10K, when it was about 65 degrees,it went crazy again with no pace, no run time.. only the time of day… what gives… runners sweat and some runners run in humidity and rain. I had the same problem two weeks ago when I ran Gasparilla 15K in Tampa.very frustrating. The Forerunner 405 does have pluses..quick sateliite connecting and also the computer uploading with the ANT stick are great…but if we sweat and it is hot or rainy… it’s aggravating. I also need to charge it every 5-6 days.I liked my old,large and cumbersome Garmin 301 better.

Great blog. I love my 405 however I have simular frustrations to others. The “freaking out” that happens anytime it rains is frustrating, especially if you are trying to check something and need to access the dial. I do like others and lock the dail, but sometimes you need to use the dial midway through your workout. Second issue is I am starting to notice mosture inside of it now and it seems the two buttons are not working very well.

Little frustrating after what we paid for it. I hope REI return policy is good.

My HRM works great even with wickaway shirts. I don’t like the “back to start” feature because it does not re-route you were you jsut came from, it just gives you a direction and distance which I find pretty damm stupid!

But all in all, it is a great watch for all the other freatures.

I am this close from buying this watch.
but need some advice from users of the 405 –
1. Is it true that it has problems with water: I run in trails, rain or no rain, mud or no mud, and I sweat like a pig, so if this will be an issue then I’ll stick with the 100.

2. GPS fix faulty? – I use the Suunto for work, but it do like the utilities of the garmin

So please if you have some advice, I’d like to hear from you

I had a 405 for a couple of months. I will have to admit that I was happy to return it. While I anticipated a nice GPS enabled running watch that I could use every day, the bezel and HR functions were disappointing. The custom screens were nice. Like another reader, I solved the bezel function by setting the screens to scroll and locking it. No fix with the HR function, which was mostly inaccurate. Both the manual and Garmin customer service say the HR monitor collects static electricity if worn under wicking shirts, like Under Armor, etc. Well … in the summer, that’s what I wear. Under a cotton shirt, it was pretty accurate. Never had the problem with my Nike Triax Max, which has accurate HR/distance/pace monitors, but no custom screens. Never the less, I am back to the Nike. One more item … the GPS compass feature is not accurate. While the back track will route you the way you came, the compass fluctates wildly. I found this out during a run in city I visited and tried to get back to the hotel. Back track was generally accurate, but the compass told me I was heading north and then south then north then east, etc while standing still and facing the same direction. According to the satellite page, I had good coverage. Sure made me wonder about the back track!! Being a guy, no way I was going to ask for directions. That’s why I have a GPS :)

Can anyone comment about how the 405 works for mountain biking?

I bought the 405 for my wife in May and I purchased one recently. I love the rich features but I do with the battery life was better with GPS on.

My biggest problem is the short write band. Make sure you try it on before buying. I don’t have large wrists but am 6’3″ and I use the last notch and it can be uncomfortable sometimes. Otherwise, it is a must have!

Gotta tell ya – I’m not all that happy with the 405 as a runner’s training watch. I need something to keep me on pace but this is just not a stable read-out over. The current PACE is not reliable within a minute/mile! The lap pace is more reliable since it has a larger set of data to use. So I have resorted to setting the auto lap feature to a 1/4 mile distance and at least getting a fairly stable display of my LAP PACE.

I’ve also had wildly out of control HR measures. I am very accustomed to wearing a HR monitor and know this is not operator error. I do doubt my HR was at 145% of max for 5 miles yesterday.

I’m afraid this watch might have been a bad investment. It frankly is Automobile technology that just isn’t ready for the precision of athletic training; at least the kind of training done on foot.

Great review. Seems like your readers have given mixed reviews.
Now that it has been a while, garmin still does not offer that longer wrist band. I have big joints and tried one on today. It was about 3 links short of a good fit. It was snug. I was wondering if you knew of anyway to change out the band for one of those Velcro straps? or just a longer watch band? Have you gotten any feedback?

Does the 305 also have this problem?


If you’re thinking about buying a 405, don’t unless you want endless aggravation. I owned a 305 for a couple of years. Never had a problem. Decided to switch to a 405 this summer (primarily because of its size). Big mistake. From my perspective, the only things better about this device are connection speed (to the satellites) and size. The bezel is useless — especially while running or cycling (it’s like an iPod clone gone bad). While the wireless connection is theoretically better, the hard wired 305 connection was much better in practice. I have never been able to get the Garmin Training Center software to work with the 405 (even after email assistance from Garmin). Also, I have had no end of problems with uploading my workout data to Garmin Connect. During the last marathon I ran — this Oct in Chicago — I constantly lost the signal (which in fairness might have happened with my old 305). Two weeks later during a half marathon, I inadvertently hit the bezel and wiped out the lap (never did figure out how it happened). I could go on and on.

Like Jerry (Nov 26 comment), I bought mine from REI and will be returning it soon, exchanging it for a 305.

I ave had the 405 for about 4 months and love it. I use the auto lap feature to recoed mile splits and it does a great job. The distance is spot on and I have used ii in PA, FL, and main land China (Hangzhou) and it worked well in all locations.
The touch bezel can be sensitive (re-Bobby abnd his 200 laps) I recommend settign auto lap and locking the bezel whrn you start. I have it rotate thought the screens so I have no reason to need the bezel.

Love the 405!!

I’ve had the 405 a little over a month now and I believe I am going to send it back for a replacement. When I am running in the normal training mode it starts beeping like I am pressing the lap button. I had over 200 laps recorded on it for a 30 minute run the other day and never pressed the lap button once. By the way I do not have the auto-lap feature set to “on”. It is driving me nuts!

I have had the 405 since mid-May with varied results. Overall it is ok, but I am about to return mine to REI. I would suggest purchasing from REI as their return policy is excellent if you need to utilize it.

In regards to the queations about functionality when wet or when your fingers are sweaty. Until I looked for this issue online, I though it was just me. When I’m running in the rain – which is often here in Seattle, or when my fingers are wet from sweat, the bezel doesn’t respond. This is definately frustrating.

GPS reception. I have had much better results than the 305, but the last few runs I have had, the elevation information is not even close to accurate, and my satellite connection was not good at all. It was around a popular lake in Seattle which I often run at, and it could not get reception at all. I was beyond frustrated with this. While it was cloudy, it should have had better reception.

I would suggest purchasing the footpod as well. The 405 is able to autoswitch between gps and the footpod if it doesn’t get good reception.

One other thing, while the 405 is a nice size compared to the 305, even when just running, it is tough to read the smaller data points available.

As excited as I was for this new device, I am not very excited about it any longer. I hope this at least provides some insight from my experience.


I think you should definitely buy the 405 for your husband. It’s very accurate, and unlike older ones, reliable on the trails. There is a ton of useful things the watch can do.

I have never had a problem getting it wet. After very long runs, I soak in creeks. Just plop right down in ‘em, watch and all, submerged, …no problem. ever.

He’ll love it.

Great review! I need your help & didn’t see an email address, so I’m commenting. I recently heard about the Garmin 405 & thought it would be a great b-day anniversary holiday present for my husband who trail runs, is doing the JFK next weekend, & bikes. He does like to use a heart rate monitor, so I wondered if there’s any downside to getting the 405 with the heart rate monitor. Is this really a good product? He does like to keep track of rate, distance, etc. calories, so this seems amazing. What about the complaints about getting wet from sweat & not working? Any suggestions for a reliable online place to order it, should he have problems, or want to return it? Appreciate a quick reply, because his b-day is fast approaching. Thanks, so much. Hope you see this!

Thanks for this review. I just got my 405 today. It’s charging as I type. How’s the battery life? Thanks!

Thanks for the review of the 405. I have been using the 205 for nearly 2 years now with no complaints. I would agree that the elevation feature is the most coarse of it’s metrics. In regards to, I have loaded files in 2 ways. First, I was able to find an application that downloads all of the watches .gpx files to a destination file of my choice, and then load those into MapMyRun, but also I have been able to load all of the workouts on my watch directly into MapMyRun using the tools available on the website itself.

OK does anyone out there know how to convert the Garmin files into compatible files?
I have tried all app.s suggested with no luck.
Thanks Dan B

I love new running tech. I have had almost every running watch/ pace/heart rate gizmo made,( I guess to make sure I really am a slow runner!!). Anyhow I like the 405. Battery life is a bummer for a slow runner like me. Also wish elevation profile was graphed along bottom of Garmin Center map after download.

Recently the Garmin Center website was improved so maybe it will get better and better.

Yeah the pacing and elevation features still have a long ways to go, but still an amazing product.

Have you had any trouble with the pace feature? I just recently purchased a 405 and at a dead sprint it says I’m running a 13:50 pace. Now, I’m not a lightening fast runner by any means, but that is not correct. My husband who was running along with me was using my old 205 and at times our live pace was up to 2 minutes difference. Happen to you?

The store I purchased the Garmin from says this is very common and the live pace will never be completely accurate. I understand that, but 2 minutes off?

I think Garmin Nuvi 350 is the best GPS navigation system in my opinion.

The way Garmin does altitude gain/loss is it calculates your total gain and total loss. This means if you run up and 100 foot hill, and down the 100 foot hill, then run up a 200 foot hill, your total elevation gain is 300 feet (even though you only go up 200 feet in total) and your total elevation loss is 100 feet.

Make sense?

My two cents. I liked your review, good stuff.

Hey Christian,

Good post on the Garmin. I think I may get one myself (eventually). The elevation gain during that run isn’t 12K ft though… can’t be!

I see you are running a 50K tomorrow… best of luck and stay cool!

– Greg

MotionBased does some altitude correction. You can use some features of the site for free or pay for more fucntionality.

I think MotionBased is affiliated with Garmin, for what it is worth.

Hi Christian,

I just found your blog. I am also a local CrossFitter. It looks like I’ll be meeting you at the CF Atlanta Running Cert.


I own the 350 myself. I use the MOTIONBASED.COM site, and as you guys experience the elevation is just a joke- UNLESS you tick the box “auto correct elevation” in motionbased.
WHen i do this the elevation seems correct for me and my friends at work and make totally sense.

Since GARMIN CONNECT is the “new motionbased” (both are owned by garmin and all motionbased customers are ported to garmin connect soon) Im pretty sure this option will be on the GARMIN CONNECT site as well.

If not now, it will prob be a service in the future.

AFter you upload your activity, go to EDIT activity and tick the elevation and gps correction boxes.


Christian – Great review! I’ve been saving my pennies for a new GPS watch so I really appreciate hearing your experience with the 405. I like that close up picture at the bottom. You can see, assuming the red line is the course as seen by the watch, the watch cut off a little of the trail on top of the mountain.

Thanks for the great review. The main reason I’d purchase the 405 would be for the altimeter feature but the fact it’s so far off is very disappointing. The net evelation gain on the Approach Trail is only about 2,000 feet (not sure what the accumulated would be), but there’s no way it’s 12,000. I doubt even the “2.5x factor” would apply.

What I want to know about is “drop out” occurances. My 205 was sensitive, but at times it would lose the signal in the forrest. Could be very frustrating. Did you see any of this on the AT?

In general, I find that the 305 records about 2.5x the actual elevation change on rolling types of courses. I have a number of runs where I’ve used my Suunto altimeter over the years and I know the elevation for those courses very well. Almost invariably, the number that the 305 records is about 2.5x the number that my Suunto has recorded.

An exception to this rule is a course that is made up of a limited number of large hills. Recently, I did 3 repeats on a road up Vermont’s highest peak, and the elevation was “only” off by 50%. There is a web site that will correct elevation numbers somewhat for the Garmin units, but I forget what it is.

I got the 305 for a birthday present back in January, so I won’t be upgrading to the 405 anytime soon.


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