I have been using Garmin devices for years to navigate to new places and to record my adventures. Additionally I use a Polar Training Computer to record my fitness training. Recently I updated to a Garmin eTrex Touch 35t partly in the hope that I could reduce the amount of devices I need and the complexity of my data aquisition.
My first Garmin device was yellow and easy to find if I put it down or dropped it. Nowadays all the devices seem to be grey. We once spent nearly an hour searching for a friends GPS amongst the stones so I wanted something colourful. Garmin however told me that the market wants grey but they now offer coloured covers. So I now have an orange device which is much easier to find.
I recently didn’t clip the GPS properly on to my bike holder and it fell off while I was speeding down a forest track. It bounced a few times but was still working perfectly. Experience has shown that Garmin devices can take a lot of abuse as long as you don’t drop the screen straight on to a stone. I also believe that the cover will reduce the scratches and dents my old devices collected. The device has now been subjected to deluges of fresh water while cycling and salt water while sailing with no obvious effect. I accidentally machine washed my last device at 30°C and it survived but I haven’t tried that with the eTrex.
Navigation is easy with the route being clearly displayed on the bright screen. On a recent 1200km road bike tour to Dubrovnik we followed a track created as explained here and it was easy to follow irrespective of the conditions. The ability to use the entire screen for the map is particularly helpful when things get a little complicated in the middle of a town.
When I am “on duty” I receive error messages from our Nagios system sent directly to my mobile phone. Some need to be dealt with immediately, others later. I can link the phone to the eTrex after which the text of any mails or Whatsapp messages are pushed to the device. This allows me to decide if the message is important without having to take my hands off the handlebars or fish my phone out of the rucsac.
At the end of an activity the device uploads all the details to my Carmin Connect App on my phone. This gives me all the details and summaries immediately I finish and also sends the data to the Garmin Connect web page so that it is all available from my PC or tablet. I have now bought a Garmin heart rate monitor which connects to the eTrex. This allows the device to now collect information about my heart frequency and this data is also available in Garmin Connect. Just to really add to the fun, Garmin Connect sends the data to my myfitnesspal App so that I don’t even have to add the calories I have “earned” out cycling.
Garmin calculates very different calorie values to the Polar system but neither of them agree with a variety of online calorie calculators (for example http://www.mapmyride.com/improve/calorie_calculator/ & http://mtb-sauerland.bplaced.net/grevenstein/training/bergauf.htm). For the time being I am believing Garmin because the values are consistently lower and are the easiest to collect.
The next weeks my Polar system is going to be left at home and I will be concentrating on collecting data with my eTrex.