Garmin GPS or GPS enabled smart phone

Just had my last Garmin 305 go out on me. That is three of those in five years and do not want to purchase another one. Was wondering if anyone has used a speed/distance app for their GPS enabled iphone or android based phones (of course using a water proof housing) instead of the Garmin "soon to die after warranty" GPS receivers.? Seems that having a protected phone on board that has many of Garmin's features makes sense from a safety stand point as well as providing the same training feedback that the Garmins provide. i.e...speed, distance, pace, etc. mahalo for any feedback.

Submitted by poidog on Mon, 02/24/2014 - 5:07pm

Works fine, except my damn lifeproof cases keep failing me. My garmin has been trouble free so far, except HR monitor died.

One down fall of the phone based training partner is if you live deep country and don't have phone service you would be out of luck. (In my experiences)

Plus side is if the tax man in gray like taste your water craft of choice, you can phone your wife to say "i love you"
....If you aren't deep country of course.


#1 Mon, 02/24/2014 - 8:45pm

I've been using a Garmin Dakota for the past 3 years and have had no problems with it at all.

Unfortunately, I don't have any info on any smartphone apps but would be really interested as well if other people have been using them.

#2 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 5:55am

I have a friend that uses a program called "RunKeeper". It looks to me like it tracks the same data as a Garmin and can be set up for verbal alerts (distance, speed, & time).

#3 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 7:24am

I've used some GPS apps on my phone ( in a waterproof case). They work well enough, but I ended up switching to a Garmin 305. My gripes were battery, stability and potential loss.

I was using it with an older phone, so the battery was a few years old. It would last a session no problem if I had it at 100% in the beginning, but if you're going out at the end of the day, that battery might not last ( not to mention you then have a dead phone afterwards). With the Garmin, it will last multiple practices before needing a charge. Plus having the battery die doesn't possibly lose the gps data ( could be dependent on the app you choose).

For stability, I've had apps quit halfway through a paddle because of all kinds of reasons. Getting a call, losing contact with the network, or just a hiccup. Especially annoying if you don't notice until afterwards. Again, certain apps are better than others.

Last being that, if the waterproof case ever fails ( or the mount fails) then I'm out a phone. Having the Garmin on my wrist is much less likely to fall off ( and since its designed to be waterproof, much less likely of water damage). Even if I lose my garmin, its easier ( and potentially cheaper) to replace than my phone.

I will admit, having the phone in the canoe is a great safety feature. Plus you can snap a few pics during breaks =).

Give it a try and see how you like it.

#4 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 9:17am

Check out the app CrewNerd. It will tell you a lot including stroke rate. Expensive app but try the free one.
If not get a Gramen 310xt refurbished only $160.

#5 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 10:30am

There's Garmin Fit for the iPhone (and assume for Android too). As far as I could tell, it's the same thing as the Garmin watch, but I don't use it since I can't read the phone display while paddling. I think if you're only using it for post-paddling analysis, it might do the trick since the data uploads to Garmin Connect too. I don't know if it works with the heart rate monitor.

#6 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 3:22pm

I"ve used Garmin 205s and 305s. I like the size, options, and speed acuracy (vs my Timex Global Trainer), but there is a major downfall. They are not really designed to be waterproof. They are just glued together. Eventually they all develop a leak and die when used in the ocean. I'm now looking for some options on hand held gps devices. I like the feature to start the timer at a given speed so I don't need to lean forward to my iako and hit start at the begining of a race or something. Any suggestions for one of those might be helpful

#7 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 4:20pm

thanks for the feedback....seems like the Garmins are still the mainstay. Like the apps for the smartphones that were suggested. Guess using a smartphone...even if in a waterproof container...good to pay extra for the insurance. And on Oahu...not going deep country like the Napali so should always have a strong signal . I have owned three garmin sport watches and they have all failed . . . About $300 per with a 1 year warranty. Factory reconditioned are only covered for 90 one to replace my last 305 under warranty... just died one month out of its 90 day warranty period. They all seem to have the same problems and Garmin's website cannot fix the problems. Just looking for alternatives....all I want is speed and distance.

#8 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 7:08pm

Why would you buy another one. I had 2 garmin that failed ( a forerunner 301 and then a forerunner 305 ). They were out of their warranty period, When I contacted Garmin about it (trough their website) they asked me to send them the dead unit and they sent me back an refurbished one. I only paid the expedition fees.
Today I need to buy a new 310 XT, only because mine is now somewhere in the depths of the Pacific ;)

#9 Tue, 02/25/2014 - 8:26pm

Look into the new 620 or 320. They are runner oriented but have all the metrics we are used to plus heart rate. It is water resistant to 50m. I've swimmed with mines many times no problem. Small, unobtrusive, and light. It's pricey, but we've come to expect that from Garmin.

#10 Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:35am

I downloaded Endomondo on my smart phone. Its has been great. I even created an event on it and got competitors to join. I was then about to live track them during the race. Comes up with all the usual stats and map. Its just like Fb, can add friends and see what they are doing for training too. I think its pretty cool. Cheaper than buying a gps. And just have it in my waterproof case while paddling. which i take with me anyway for safety.

#11 Wed, 02/26/2014 - 10:35am

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