This is an unsolicited review. None of the companies mentioned in the review are sponsors. My reason for writing it is simply because in working on The Pulse (For Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association) I have a lot of riders approach me asking for information on GPS watches as first time buyers. Since I was in the market recently, I wanted to share what I could with you all.
Nike+ Running Watch as a riding watch? A Review
After the death of my Garmin 305, I took on the daunting task of finding a new GPS watch. In the few years that have passed since I first got it, there have been lots of new products to be released to market. Variety nice, but it can get overwhelming very quickly. I started doing my research and writing an article with my research, only to find that by the time I had completed my article, half of the watches were discontinued by the manufacturer! Oh drat!
I could go through a list of what I looked at, but we may be here forever, so let me just take you to what I decided on and how I have found it after the first few uses.
I settled on the Nike+ Sportwatch. I chose it because it has an appealing design, and seems simple. One thing about my 305 was that it had a ton of features. I had great intentions of learning these features but when it came down to it… I just stuck it in run mode and went about my business.
Design – It is a LOT smaller than my 305, but it still feels a little large on my bird-like wrists – the flat back of the watch face extends a little too wide. It’s designed to be worn as a full time watch, but I likely wouldn’t wear it for that since it is not snug. Still, I bump it on far fewer things than my clunky Garmin. The numbers are enormous – with the primary display being distance – filling up 80% of the screen. The secondary display can either be changed with the buttons on the side, or it can be programmed to automatically rotate through your preferred settings. I put the watch face on the inside of my wrist and can easily see the numbers without compromising my hold on the reins.
Simplicity – Some reviews I saw said they had difficulty programming it. I did not find this to be the case. So long as you can take 10 minutes to program it through your computer (you have to charge it before using it anyway!), it’s far simpler than the Garmin was. I don’t think you can program it through the watch itself, so if you need to make changes you would have to go and plug it in again.
Technical Stuff – Linking to satellites is perhaps the best pro here. I turned it on for my first walk and it connected in under 15 seconds (compared to my Garmin which some days took 15 minutes). It has a touch screen, which concerned me when I first purchased it (as I have bonked my Garmin and lost minutes to hours worth of ride data before), but upon playing with it and removing tap for laps from my settings on the computer, the only thing it does when tapped is turn on the back light. Cons are that it doesn’t have track back features should you go off trail and need to find your way back (though I never once used this feature with my Garmin, I preferred to track back following my own hoofprints). It connects to Polar heart monitors, but I do not use an HRM so I was unable to test whether it works with the equine monitors. You can select Km or miles, but I believe you have to log into your computer to do so (so no changing your mind once you get to the ride site). Another thing I have not yet risked testing is waterproofness. I hear it’s very NOT waterproof (you have to get into the much more expensive triathlon watches to get true waterproof). I doubt I will test this, and perhaps carry it in the plastic baggie in my pocket with my ride card when the rain starts. Battery life seems to be good – the watch never actually turns off, rather it just changes from run mode to clock mode but so far I have used it a day in clock mode with 2 hours of run mode, and the battery display never appeared less than full.
Nike+ Connect – Their website is fine but of course, tailored for runners. Since I run and ride, I expected my values to be skewed, but there is a feature where you can select what shoes you wore for your “run”. So I turned my horse into a shoe, and therefore I can track my riding separate from my running as it will display metrics for each “Shoe” you use. I guess its for the die-hard runners who want to determine what shoes make them run faster? On the same screen you can also quickly note weather, your mood, terrain, and any other notes. It is a little more graphical than I would prefer – I am very into spreadsheets and raw stats – but overall it tracks what I want it to track and was easy to work with, then I just pull the numbers out and put it into my own training log. There is also Nike Fuel which has you setting goals and gives you little trophies for achievements (like longest run, fastest 1 km etc.), a little cheesy, but perhaps this works for those who need that extra bit of motivation.
Overall, I am happy with my new watch. The price was right ($150 at Running Room) and they gave me a 30 day return period. I doubt I will return it! If you are looking for something that can show you the basics: Distance, speed, average speed, elapsed time, basic lap features, and basic heartrate features, I would recommend this as it is pretty easy and good viewing. Definitely a beginner friendly watch – just make sure you program it on your computer BEFORE taking it out on your first ride.