best garmin triathlon watches

Garmin Forerunner 935 vs 735XT vs Fenix 5 Series!!

A leading producer in GPS running and multisport watches, Garmin has developed some of the best triathlon watches on the market. But which model is right for you?

This article will explore three of the best options available: the Forerunner 935, the Forerunner 735XT, and the Fenix 5 Series.

Best Garmin Sport Watches for Runners and Triathletes

This Forerunner 735 vs 935 vs Fenix 5 Series comparison will highlight the key features, pros, and cons of each model. First, you’ll find a brief summary of each individual watch. Then, read on for a comparison of each. Hopefully seeing the best Garmin triathlon watches compared will help you decide which watch is best for your training...

Garmin Multisport Watch Comparison Chart

garmin forerunner 735xt comparison chart
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FR 735XT

FR 935


(with silicone band)

40.2 g

49 g

5S: 67 g
5: 85 g
5X: 98 g


44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm

47 x 47 x 13.9 mm

5S: 42 x 42 x 15 mm
5: 47 x 47 x 15.5 mm
5X: 51 x 51 x 17.5 mm

Battery Life

Up to 11 days (smartwatch)
Up to 14hrs (GPS)
Up to 24hrs (UltraTrac)

 Up to 2wks (smartwatch)
Up to 24hrs (GPS)
Up to 60hrs (UltraTrac)

24hrs / 14hrs / 20hrs
2 wks / 9 days / 12 days
60 hrs / 35 hrs


215 x 180 pixels

240 x 240 pixels

5S: 218 x 218 px
5/5X: 240 x 240 px

Water Rating

50 meters (open water swimming)

50 meters (open water swimming)

100 meters (open water swimming)





Routable / Visual Maps



Yes (5X only)

New for 2017: Garmin Forerunner 935

One of Garmin’s newest models, the Forerunner 935 is a true multisport watch with the ability to track running, cycling, swimming, and many other activities. Its sleek and lightweight design means it is barely noticeable upon the wrist, making it ideal for those who are looking for a watch to wear continuously throughout the day. The wrist-based heart rate monitor on the back of the watch has a lower profile in comparison to the Forerunner 735XT.

With the introduction of the 935 came the Running Dynamics Pod, a small pod that clips onto the user’s waistband during runs and provides additional data about running form and more. Users will see statistics regarding cadence, stride length, ground contact balance, vertical oscillation, vertical ratio, and ground contact time. This is particularly helpful for serious runners who are looking to improve their form and maximize their effectiveness.​

Another key features of the 935 is its ability to measure the user’s training load and effectiveness. No matter what you’re training for, the 935 will factor in the amount you train and compare that to your actual improvement over time, providing invaluable feedback. Are you overtraining or undertraining? What adjustments should you make to reach your goals? With the 935, the answers to these questions have never been easier to find.​

In addition to running and general training features, the 935 is a true multisport watch with the ability to track a wide variety of activities. It also includes an “auto multisport” mode that allows you to track multiple activities in one session - such as running, cycling, and swimming. This is why the 935 is currently billed by Garmin primarily as a “running and triathlon watch.”​

Garmin Forerunner 735XT - Affordable Option

Small and relatively simple, the Forerunner 735XT (Amazon) is primarily a running watch. However, its added ability to track swimming and cycling makes it suitable for triathlon training as well. Like other Garmin models, the 735XT is suitable for all-day wear as it provides continuous heart rate monitoring and daily statistics such as total steps, calorie burn, and more.

One of the main features of the 735XT is its size. Weighing in at only 40.2 grams, this watch is as close to “dainty” as a GPS watch can be. This is a great feature for users who would like a watch they can wear all the time. It may also make the watch more attractive to those with smaller wrists, such as female customers.

In short, the 735XT offers the GPS running and sport tracking features you’ve come to expect from Garmin without all of the bells and whistles of some of the later models. If you want a fairly straightforward – but still very impressive – triathlon watch, the 735XT is a great and more affordable option.

Fenix 5 Series - Rugged and Durable

The Fenix 5 Series are not only triathlon watches, but true Garmin multisport watches with the ability to track a huge variety of different activities. No matter what your sport of choice is, you can track it with the Fenix 5. When it comes to running, the Fenix 5 Series offers a trackback feature, allowing you to run as far as your heart desires and then allow the watch to guide you back to your starting point. No more getting lost!

The Fenix 5X in particular includes pre-loaded maps, guided cycling routes, points of interest, and more. For users who want to do a lot of exploring, this model of the Fenix 5 is a great choice. No more needing multiple devices to look up routes and maps – Fenix 5X has it all!​

The Fenix 5 and Fenix 5S are available in both regular and Sapphire versions (the 5X is available only as a Sapphire version). This model uses tough sapphire glass in place of the regular glass used for most Garmin watches. For serious athletes who plan to put their watch through a lot of wear and tear, a Sapphire model may be worth some real consideration.​

Fenix 5 Series vs Forerunner 935

Let’s take a look at our first comparison: the Fenix 5 Series vs the Forerunner 935. Both are multisport watches with the ability to track running, triathlon training, and a variety of other activities. Both watches also offer continuous heart rate monitoring, daily statistics such as calorie burn and steps taken, and more traditional “smartwatch” features like the ability to customize screens and use applications.

So where do these two watches differ? One major area is design. The Fenix 5 Series watches were made to be big, bold, and beautiful. The physical size is varies depending on the model, with a display diameter of 1.2 inches. Depending on the model and band used, these watches can weigh anywhere from 67 - 196 grams. That’s fairly heavy, especially for something you wear during activity! The upside is, the large and sturdy frame makes this watch more rugged, particularly the sapphire version. Even the 5S is a pretty durable model.​

The Forerunner 935, on the other hand, is much smaller at only 47 x 47 x 13.5mm, 1.2 inch diameter, and a weight of 49 grams – only half the as heavy as most of the Fenix 5 series. While this means the watch may be slightly less durable, it is more comfortable for everyday wear, especially for those who wish to wear it around the clock like a smartwatch. The 935 is also less bulky than the Fenix, laying relatively flat against the wrist and overall giving off a very smooth, sleek appearance.​

When it comes to features, each watch has a particular advantage that the other does not. For the 935, it’s the Running Dynamics Pod described above. The ability to get extra data and statistics from runs, especially pertaining to running form, will be invaluable to many runners. The Fenix 5 Series is also set up to sync with the Running Dynamics Pod (note: Fenix 3 HR​ is NOT compatible with running dynamics pod!)

On the other hand, the Fenix 5 Series has the option to purchase the 5X with the pre-programmed maps feature. This is a great option, especially for explorers - and particularly cyclists, as Garmin specifically advertises cycling routes. Those who think of maps when they think of GPS watches may greatly prefer this option over the mapless 935.​

In terms of style, the 935 is offered only as a black watch face that comes with a default black wrist band as well. However, interchangeable wristbands of all colors can be purchased through Garmin, so this watch can be customized to fit any style or outfit. The Fenix 5 Series is offered in a large variety of styles depending on the model chosen. Most are traditional “sport watches” with bands available in various colors, but there are also metal bands available. This may be an attractive option for those who wish to wear the watch daily in a professional setting.​

Price-wise, neither the Forerunner 935 or the Fenix 5 Series is a laughing matter. Both carry hefty price tags and are some of the most expensive sport watches on the market. The Fenix 5, in particular, can be astronomically expensive depending on the options chosen. However, both watches are sure to last a long time and provide an extremely valuable experience to the user.​

Overall, both the Forerunner 935 and the Fenix 5 Series offer excellent triathlon sport tracking as well as a multitude of other features. The 935 is sleeker and more lightweight, and offers additional features that may interest series runners. On the other hand, the Fenix 5 Series is available with a variety of sizes, styles, and features, meaning you can find the right fit for just about anybody. In terms of which watch is “better,” we’re going to have to call this one a tie – it depends on your personal preferences and needs!​

Forerunner 735XT vs Forerunner 935

Comparing the 735XT to the 935 is more difficult, because these watches are actually quite similar. In fact, the Forerunner 935 is basically a more advanced version of the Forerunner 735XT – a difference that is noticeable not only in the name of the product itself, but also in the pricepoint. Both watches offer great running features with the additional ability to track other sports. Both also offer continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring and daily statistics such as steps taken and calories burned.

Both watches are small and sleek, but the 735XT in particular is so lightweight that it feels “barely there” on your wrist. Weighing only 40.2 grams (compared to the 935’s 49 grams), the 735XT will be slightly more comfortable for all-day wear. It may also be a slightly more preferable option for those with smaller wrists. However, even though it is smaller overall, it is not quite as sleek – the wrist-based heart rate monitor on the back of the watch doesn’t sit quite as flat against the wrist as the version in the 935.

In terms of activity tracking, the 935 is superior. Both have the ability to track multiples sports and activities, but the 935 has a wider database, while the 735XT is billed primarily as a running and triathlon watch. However, even when it comes to running, the 935 includes more features.

Another extra feature that the 935 offers over the 735XT is WiFi connectability. Instead of using Bluetooth to sync everything through a mobile device, the 935 is actually able to sync on its own through a WiFi connection. This feature is not huge, but it does make things slightly more convenient.

The 935 also offers superior battery life over the 735XT: In SmartMode, the 935 has a battery life of up to 2 weeks compared to the 735XT’s 11 days; and in GPS mode, the 935 lasts up to 24 hours, compared to 14 hours for the 735. For those who participate in ultra marathons, long training sessions, or simply don’t like to charge their watch often, the 935’s extended battery life may be a huge advantage.

When it comes to price, we see the first advantage for the 735XT emerge. The 735XT will become a more affordable model than the 935, with many of the same core features. If you want a great triathlon watch and don’t mind sacrificing some of the bells and whistles to save a few bucks, the 735XT might be the right choice for you.

Overall, the 935 is clearly the more updated and “better” watch. However, both the 935 and 735XT are great options for runners and triathletes alike.


For those looking for the perfect companion watch to train for a triathlon or other event, Garmin has put several great options on the market. When it comes to the Forerunner 735 vs 935 vs Fenix 5 series Comparison, we have to call it: the 935 seems to offer the most features for the most convenient design – lightweight and perfect for athletes. But that’s not to say the other options aren’t great - the Fenix 5 Series is gorgeous, sturdy, and has something for everybody, while the 735 is straightforward, streamlined, and affordable. Each of these watches is sure to help you on your way to crushing your latest fitness goals!

Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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