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Garmin Forerunner 735XT Watch For Triathlon

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

I won’t cover everything that’s on offer with this watch but I’m sometimes asked for recommendations for a GPS watch for triathlon. Having used it myself for a year this watch ticks most of the boxes for what I need as a coach. I previously owned two, very dated model now, 910XT watches. One just died for no particular reason and I replaced it with another off of Ebay which I eventually got sick of too. The main reason I had had enough with the old version was the battery life which is vastly improved in the 735XT (now the 745XT) when I finally got around to getting myself an upgrade. While it can get you through most workouts (recently a 6.5 hour bike ride) it might struggle to get the whole way through an Ironman. But everything else shouldn’t be a problem. And you don’t need to put it on charge every time you use it.

The 735XT has more screens and displays of the data you could possibly need. But it is nice to be able to see exactly what you want in terms of distance/time/average last lap etc. For swimming, it seems to count laps fine except for drills and kick. You can put it on “drill mode” and enter it manually if you’re doing either of those. I generally don’t bother and just let it run. I wish they had the technology just to count laps even when it’s kicking or doing one arm or whatever. Open swimming works fine, I’ve not really had any issues. The watch has a wrist heart rate sensor which DOES NOT WORK in the water. So that would be nice to have but again the technology isn’t there yet.

Watch seems good for all things bike. I have it set to auto stop so it’s not counting the minutes I’m stationary. One of my only gripe with the watch is the inaccessibility of the “Lap” button if you’re timing intervals. With my old Timex non-GPS watches the lap button was this big ol thing on the front of the watch which was easy to tap on the bike or swim without even looking. Now it’s a tiny thing on the side of the watch.

For running the annoyance is that the wrist watch pulse reader isn’t always accurate. It seems when it is working, which is most of the time, it’s accurate to the beat (I’ve double checked with other methods while using it). But when it’s off, it seems to read consistently 30-40 beats per minute ABOVE what your pulse actually is and will just stay there unless you take a complete stop and let it recompose itself. Only happens for the higher heart rate workouts but it’s very bizarre and frustrating when it happens. Problem can be solved by using a chest strap but obviously it’s nice and convenient to just have your watch take the pulse so it’s a bummer it just doesn’t work all the time.

Multisport takes some getting used to to set up but once you get the hang of it, and remember to tap the lap button at the transition points, it works just fine. As I mentioned, I’m not sure the battery will last an entire Ironman but everything less than that should be fine.

So as I said, from a coaching point of view of the data I need from my athletes it ticks all the boxes provided they’re tapping the lap button at the start and end of their intervals. There are plenty more features to take advantage of explained in more detail by the product review master DC Rainmaker. The other big advantage is it’s a fair bit cheaper than the other popular triathlon watch on offer the 935XT which also gets good review from the athletes I coach that use it and several hundred dollars cheaper than the newest 945XT

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