Review: Garmin 220

garminAfter three years of contentment and a good working relationship, I am here to announce that I have decided to leave . . . my Garmin Forerunner 10. For the past three months, I’ve been running with a new-to-me Garmin 220 and I’ve been loving it.

Back in August, I had some trouble with my Garmin Forerunner 10. Right before a race, it refused to connect with the satellites. Being that this was a mile race, I found the predicament annoying, but not devastating, since my strategy for a mile is to go all out and hang on for dear life. I went out and did that, and had a good race.

Anyway, I kept on having problems with satellite connections. Unbeknownst to me, the problem was because Garmin updated the software on the watch and I had to sync everything. In the meanwhile, I had a defunct watch. I debated with myself over getting another Forerunner 10 or if I should upgrade. At a run, I casually mentioned to Unnie, a friend and also a member of PPTC, that I was going to buy a new watch. She immediately offered her old Garmin 220 to me because she received another watch as a gift and was no longer using it. A free watch?!?! Of course, I would take it!

It was pretty much love at first run. About a week later, I figured out what was wrong with my Forerunner 10 and got it working again. I offered to give back the 220 back to Unnie since she offered it to me thinking that the 10 was broken. She told me to keep the watch, so it’s been with me ever since. 🙂

The Good

I can’t get over how lightning fast it connects to satellites. With the Forerunner 10 I always had to give myself a couple of minutes to connect, even though 80% of the time I start the route at the exact same spot. With the 220, it’s pretty much instantaneous most of the time, even when I’m traveling and in a new location. Before Ben had to wait for me to connect. Now I wait for him.

I can program interval workouts through GarminConnect. This is something I couldn’t do with the Forerunner 10. Most of the time, the interval workouts I do is straightforward, so not having this feature wasn’t a problem, but for a complex workout (varying times, distances and speeds, etc), having the ability to program is a freaking lifesaver. I do a warm-up, then I hear three short beeps warning me that a new segment is about to start, and when I hear a long beep, I knew a new segment begins. If I program a pace (or a range of paces) for that segment, I can see it on the screen. If I run outside the range, either too fast or too fast, the watch beeps to let me know.

I like that the screen can be set up to show the distance, total elapsed time, and pace. With the Forerunner 10, I could only have two pieces of info on a screen, which was fine, but when I’m a pacer, it’s nice to have all three pieces of info on a single screen.

It comes in a pretty violet and white color for women.

If you like features, the Garmin 220 has lots of them. I don’t know what they are, how to get to them, or how to use them because I don’t need those features and I’m too lazy to learn. If you want to know more, you should read DC Rainmaker’s excellent and very thorough review.

The watch vibrates, as well as beeps, when to alert me that the lap is done (I set the default auto lap to a mile, but you can change this to whatever distance you want). The vibration ensures that I notice every mile pace. The Forerunner 10 only beeped, so in a noisy race situation, I would miss mile alerts.

The price for a Forerunner 220 is reasonable ($225-250 brand new and about $150 refurbished). It’s more expensive than a Forerunner 10, but you’re buying a better quality watch. Unnie told me that the Forerunner 220 is an upgrade and it truly is one.

The Bad

While the watch does tell you what your paces are for the interval (if you programmed them in), the paces show up in tiny font that’s impossible to see. At least it’s impossible for me to see when I’m running fast, either because the font is entirely too small or I’m entirely too old (#mastersrunner).

There are more buttons on this watch. While the Garmin Forerunner 220 is not a complicated watch, it is more complex than the stripped-down, simple Forerunner 10. I miss the simplicity of the 10. It took me a few weeks to figure out which buttons and in what I order I had to push buttons. I know I could have read the instructions manual, but I kinda feel like I shouldn’t have to. Although in the 220’s defense of buttons, I am a troglodyte when it comes to technology.

It only comes in a pretty violet and white color for women.

The Ugly


The Verdict

If you’re looking to upgrade from a Forerunner 10 or you want a fancier watch than a simple 10, I think the Garmin Forerunner 220 is a great choice. After running with the 220 for three months, I absolutely love this watch and am so happy that I have it. I still think the Forerunner 10 is a good watch and would still be using it happily. If you simply want a cheap, but good, simple watch, Forerunner 10 is the way to go. If you want more features and lightning fast satellite connection, the Forerunner 220 is a good choice.

12 thoughts on “Review: Garmin 220

  1. Ummm I’ve had the 220 for 2.5 years and didn’t know you could program workouts. Thought that was only for 230+. Please show me how some time.

    • Sure! If these instructions aren’t clear, I can walk you through in person or send photos.

      1. Go to Garmin Connect.
      2. On the left, click on Training.
      3. Then click on Workouts.
      4. Select Run in the drop down menu for Select Workout type.
      5. Click on Create Workout.
      6. Then put in the workout that you want.
      7. Give your workout a name.
      8. Then click on Save Workout.
      8a. If this doesn’t take you back to the screen with the dropdown menu, go back to that page. You should see your workout now.
      9. Connect your watch to your laptop (or use Bluetooth to connect it)
      10. Click on the two diagonal arrows on the right hand side of the screen. The words Send to Device should pop up when the mouse hovers over it.
      11. When you click on the two arrows, the workout will be sent to your watch.
      12. You can access it by going to Training under Menu.
      13. Click on My Workouts.
      14. Click on the workout you want (if you have more than one workout saved on your watch).

    • I ran for two years without one, so it’s not strictly necessary, but I really like running with a watch. It keeps me from going out too fast at races and I also use it in the middle of a race when I tend to lose focus, to not slow down.

      I switched over to a watch when I dropped my phone one too many times and shattered the screen (again) when I was fumbling around with it trying to get the run app going at a race. Buying a watch was a lot cheaper than constantly replacing my screen.

      • When I got my first smart phone I said it would be my running watch as well and I suppose in some ways it’s good that I have no info during a run but sometimes I’d like to be able to look down and see my pace or distance or time!!!

  2. Thanks for the review! When my TomTom dies and I’m looking for a replacement, I’ll keep the Garmin 220 in mind. I’ve had Garmins before and liked them but just thought I’d try something new with my TomTom.

  3. Love this review and though I thought I didn’t need this, now I’m thinking I was totally wrong. Being able to program interval workouts in would be so useful. I once had difficulty getting my 10 to connect and another blogger mentioned I needed to do the update. So annoying! But even so, I feel that it generally takes awhile to connect, especially in the city.

    • The 10 does take a while to connect and the 220 is so fast, that it is almost embarrassing how slow the 10 is in comparison. I had workarounds like pre-connecting before races to make sure I would have it ready for the start with the 10. Still think 10 is a good watch, but it’s true that you get what you pay for.

  4. Haha I think that’s the problem with the fancier Garmins. I have my 935 and I still don’t know about most of the features. I’m going to see if I can program workouts into my Garmin connect. It’ll come to be useful later on. 🙂 Thanks And Congrats on the phone upgrade. ☺️

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