Garmin Forerunner 405 – The Review


As you all know, I think the Garmin Forerunner 305 is the best thing since sliced bread but I’m so fickle it’s taken barely a thought for me to stick it on ebay and swap it for the new version – the Forerunner 405.

I’d like to say the new and IMPROVED Forerunner 405 but is it?

Reading the spec list it’s hard to see where Garmin made any attempts to improve on what had gone before, they missed out by not making it fully waterproof and therefore tri suitable, for example. Instead they appear to have simply repackaged the existing 305 as a sports watch that can be worn all day with the bonus of a nifty touch sensitive bezel control.

Out of the box, I decided I liked the look and feel of the watch very much. Garmin put a lot of effort into design and the strap closure is ingenious, a big improvement on the 305 which kept coming loose, snagging on my clothing and risked falling off. A minor point maybe, but Garmin are big on the little details.


The watch charged fully in 3 hours by the use of a strange bulldog style clip that slips snugly into a couple of recesses on the back of the watch. Another neat design but I fear it is just going to prove an inconvenience. With the 305 you uploaded data to the PC by slotting it into a USB docking station and it would charge at the same time as uploading. I’d leave my device in for a few minutes longer and thereby ensure I always hard a fully charged unit. With the 405, uploading data is automatic and will occur while the watch is still on your wrist, which now means I’ll have to remember to charge the unit separately.

In standby mode (ie time display only) the watch will supposedly last 20 days, although I’m down to 89% charged after 1 day so I doubt it will last much longer than a week. When used in active mode the battery life is expected to be in the region of 8 hours. So that’s another charging gizmo to be added to my pile of wires under my bed.

I thought the software was a bit of a faff to install, it didn’t happen automatically and I had to hunt around to see what it was that needed to be loaded up. It comes with Training Centre but after installing it I immediately removed it again because I remembered how pants it is. Instead I’m using the ANT uploader linked to Garmin Connect which is quite a neat online training log.

Setting up the watch is a doddle and it takes you through the process quickly with a mini tutorial that teaches you the basics of the bezel control. Basically:

  1. press and hold on the relevant label to access either time/date, training, menu or GPS functions
  2. slide around the bezel to move through menu options
  3. tap to accept
  4. tap in two separate places to activate the backlight

Forerunner 405 Virtual Partner

All very easy really. I had no problems using the bezel on the run, not that you need to use it much, you can tap to nudge the screen to a different view and in virtual partner mode you can increase/decrease the pace of your partner by sliding the bezel. I’m particularly fond of that feature as it means I can ensure I win every race now.

I’ve heard a few people fearing that accidental touches of the bezel would mess up the data but they shouldn’t worry. The start, stop and lap functions are all controlled by the big side buttons. Pressing the bezel during a run just alters the view – not a big deal. I haven’t tried it with gloves but as long as they aren’t massive affairs it shouldn’t be a problem.

For my first run I decided to set up a simple interval session, run 90 secs, walk 60 secs. I know that’s lame but I’ve got a cold and needed the walk periods to retrieve my hankies and have a good blow! Easy enough to setup, you don’t even need the manual. Features and settings are much more intuitive on the 405 than with its predecessor.

The intervals were well “signposted”, I was given a 5 second warning of loud beeps followed by a clear “chirrup” that marked the start of the next interval. I didn’t miss one and I appreciated the warning. A good feature.


I personalised the display I wanted to see on the run, you can choose upto 9 features to be displayed on 3 screens. On my main screen I had pace, time and distance and I accepted the defaults for the other screens. It’s well worth playing around though as there appear to be some great features. This is available on the heart rate screen for example and shows progress within your heart rate zones.

I had set the screens to auto scroll but will turn this off for the next run, I think it is more convenient to control the screen I view by tapping the bezel, that way I don’t have to wait for it to get around to the bit I’m interested in.

Back home, I was just unlocking my door, when the watch beeped to say it was uploading data. By the time I’d staggered through the hall to the laptop, my stats were already displayed on the Garmin connect website.

As a simple everyday watch its functioning fine, but I would have preferred the power save mode to be the time and date screen, not just the time display. It’s a fiddle unlocking the bezel so I can access the date feature. Its also quite chunky so if you have a small wrist you are unlikely to find it very comfortable and it will probably overhang a little. I don’t have a small wrist though so I’m alright Jack.

I’m pretty pleased with it so far and think there are clear signs of improvement, I’ll be scrutinizing it further though and am particularly keen to see if there are any improvements with the speed in which it locks on to a GPS signal.

*UPDATE 22 July*

If you are in the market for a GPS running watch, this is the leader in my opinion but as for pros and cons of the 405 vs 305 here goes:


  1. Faster GPS pick up, I’ve seen responses within seconds even when I’m moving but it is still not perfect. In heavily built up areas of London the reception is slow.
  2. Louder volume on the beep/alarm so you can actually use it for interval training.
  3. You can wear it as a watch all day – should last about 2 weeks before charging.
  4. There are a lot of new screens available and it is very easy to adjust – more intuitive than the 305.
  5. You can adjust the speed of the virtual training partner while you are on the run.
  6. Easy wireless upload.
  7. Smaller, lighter and more inconspicuous.


  1. Sometimes the bezel seems to be a little unresponsive, so if I tap the edge to get to a different screen it may not respond, so I tap again and eventually it goes crazy and skips thru multiple screens.
  2. Because I don’t want the useless training centre on my computer I have to be quick if I want to upload the run to Sportstracks, as it doesn’t seem to save the file on my pc.
  3. When the watch gets wet – say from splashing at a water fountain – the bezel goes nuts and the forerunner generally doesn’t respond. Wipe it dry and its back to normal again. See comments 22-25 and here’s a link to one bloggers frustrating although amusing communication with garmin about the issue.

Not many cons really but maybe I’ll to them later.

The Garmin Forerunner 405 currently retails at Amazon for just under £210: Garmin Forerunner 405 with Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT stick – Black

75 thoughts on “Garmin Forerunner 405 – The Review

  1. Running from 30

    You’ve just made me feel the desire for a (yet another) new gadget. Damn you.

  2. Darrell

    Hi WW,

    So it’s not really any better, just newer? I’ve read reviews that say it locks onto satellite signals in seconds rather than minutes.

  3. Runner Leana

    Ohhh, now I have Garmin envy. Maybe my 205 will go belly up and I’ll have a better excuse to go forth and buy one!

  4. warriorwoman

    Well I think it is better but not everyone will feel the need to trade in their 305’s. I’d definitely recommend trading in the 205 though – have you tried accidentaly putting it through the washing machine RL?

    I needed a new watch so I’m content to wear the 405 everyday, if you prefer a dainty watch or just intend to use it when out running you’d need to consider well whether the additional features are worth it.

    I have yet to put it through its satellite tracking paces but will update here later when i have. I think the seconds estimate is a bit optimistic. You can set locations in the memory which I imagine will speed up the process. That may well have been available on the 305 as well but everything is so much easier to find on the 405 that I think it is new.

  5. Emma

    Really useful blog thanks – I’ll make do with my 205 for now, but this is on the Christmas list. Will also check out the Garmin Connect site.

  6. Emma

    Quick question – can you only use the Garmin Connect website with the 405, 50 and 605/705, or am I being thick?

  7. warriorwoman

    The 205 and 305 are practically the same model (205 minus the HR monitor) so I can completely understand you not really feeling the need to rush out.

    At the moment I think Garmin Connect only works for the 405 (possibly 50 but I don’t know much about that unit). I think they have plans to open it up to earlier models but my guess is that it is not high priority.

  8. Speed Racer

    I haven’t even figured out how to use most of the features on my 205 yet. And what the hell is a bezel? How was the visibility of the screen while running, since the watch is so much smaller? I have trouble making mine talk nice to my computer, so the uploading feature sounds nice (if I were ever able to figure it out).

    So are you ready to snuggle up with it, give it a pet name, and take it to bed with you?

  9. Signore Sigge

    Why oh why did Garmin put that bezel on there on the 405? It’s impossible to use in rain or with sweaty fingers, or with gloves on. Why did they decide to try and solve a problem that wasn’t there in the first place? Buttons work perfectly in rain, with wet fingers and with gloves on. Please Garmin return simplicity in the next Forerunner; get rid of the bezel-thing.

  10. warriorwoman

    Hi Simon, yes it does. You can choose training mode either running or cycling.
    It doesn’t have the multisport mode but I don’t think that is really a problem, you can get something like 4 diff display screens and can set one up to show speed and cadence and another for pace.

  11. simon lloyd

    Hi thanks for that. 2 more question does the 405 still bleep on the split mile or KM. I read on one blog that it did not but i have not read this any where else.
    2nd question apart from it being new, blingy & the latest must have gadget is there any other reason I would upgrade my 305 for this.

  12. warriorwoman Post author

    Simon – I’ve added a list of pros and cons on the main post which may help answer your question.

    Yes, the 405 can be set to beep on each km/mile and the beep is loud enough to make a good interval trainer.

    If it being new, blingy and the latest must have gadget isn’t enough for you then I would suggest that no, there is no compelling reason to upgrade from the 305. Unless you want to be able to wear it all day long as a watch.

  13. Phil

    I’ve got a 305 at the moment and my major gripe is the signal loss when running under tree cover or in built up areas

    Is it any better at holding onto a signal?

  14. warriorwoman Post author

    The only time I lost a signal on the 305 was when I ran through tunnels or entered buildings. Tree cover never proved to be a problem so I’d find it hard to do a comparison.

    The 405 does pick up signals quicker but it isn’t perfect by any means. I always find the Liverpool St station area to be a GPS no go zone and the 405 fared as badly there as the 305.

  15. Melanie

    Thank you for such a well-written and honest review! I also have a 305 right now, just bought myself a new bike, bought the cadence sensor for my bike being delivered tomorrow, and thought about upgrading, but you saved me a lot of $$! I don’t think that the enhancements are worth the upgrade as yet…. Thank you again!


  16. simon lloyd

    Thanks also for the advice, put my 305 on ebay and should get around £100 for it and managed to get the 405 for £190 so I have to say £90 to get the new blingy one, I have bit the bullet and I am looking out the window waiting for the dhl man to arrive

  17. warriorwoman

    That’s exactly what I did and £90 doesn’t seem that much for the latest gadget with a fresh battery and guarantee.

  18. Jack Bingley

    I have recently bought the 405 which is my first entrance into the GPS sports watch. I absolutely love it. It took me a couple of hours to play around with it but I got the hang of it and all it’s features very quickly. The best part about the watch is being able to create my own workouts via the software provided. The watch is like my own personal trainer.

    Only small issue I had with it was downloading the software took a little time to find on their website. But overall this is such a minor gripe that I highly recommend this watch to anyone who takes their running seriously.

  19. Dan Warner

    Thanks so much for the review which has been really useful. This will be my first venture into a GPS watch so feel I should invest in the latest rather a 305. I’ve read reviews on Amazon that says the 405 doesn’t like the rain, or any moisture, on the screen when it goes crazy. Have you experienced this at all?

  20. warriorwoman Post author

    I haven’t had any problems with moisture and it has been thoroughly tested recently with all this rain.

    The forerunner 405 is water resistant upto 1m deep in water I think (I wouldn’t test this though) which suggests that the poor reviews on amazon are related to dodgy units – they should send them back. I’ve found garmin to be really helpful and I’m sure they’d repair or swap them pretty quickly.

  21. simon lloyd

    I upgraded from the 305 to the 405 and have never looked back. A great upgrade is the virtual partener that can be used on every run/ride you do. Set the pace and watch how you get on, if you are ahead / behind and need to alter the pace you can do this mid run/ride. Very motivational for when you are training alone. 10/10 for the prodcut

  22. warriorwoman Post author

    Blimey Dan, did you jinx me?
    I went out for a long run this afternoon and stopped towards the end to refresh at a water fountain. The garmin got a bit wet and the bezel went nuts. I’d stopped the timer and needed to set it off again but it wouldn’t respond. Touching the bezel left it beeping but doing nothing useful.
    Pretty annoying.
    I wiped it and it started reacting again.
    I wonder if its something that will be fixed with a software update?

  23. Dan Warner

    Thanks for reporting that WW. I think mine might be on order now. My Wife decided to buy me it as a birthday pressie 😀 I guess Garmin will have to do something if it starts happening to more than a handful.

  24. NorskScot

    I bought a 405 last week – found the set up, use, download and data display excellent. Route maps onto Google Earth were no problem.

    The lack of being totally waterproof is a pain as I like to keep my watch on at all times – shower/swimming etc.

    The other missing feature to my mind is a hillwalking/mountain mararthon display, namely a UTM coord and an altitude.

  25. HillRunner

    Hi, I’m still using an old Forerunner 101 (yes they still work) but currently trying to decide between the 305 and 405 – apart from the style is there really much of a difference and as I have fairly small wrists which of the strap versions are more likely to stay on? (Hence 101and the velcro strap).

  26. warriorwoman Post author

    If you’ve got a particularly small wrist I would guess that the 405 is not going to be your everyday watch and that is pretty much the major advantage of the 405 over the 305.

    If you aren’t especially attracted to the latest must have gadgets and are just looking for GPS to wear on the run then I’d go for the 305, it’s reliable and doesn’t have the annoying quirks found with the 405 bezel.

  27. Laser Runner

    You’ve gone and done it now. My 405, with HRM, is on order ………apparently I am not allowed it until Christams though.

  28. R Edwards

    Thanks for great review. I’m thinking about buying a 405 (my first gps). Can you explain about Sporttrack and the garmin connect sites. Is Sporttrack better? Can you upload to Sporttrack from a 405? if so, how??


  29. warriorwoman Post author

    I don’t use the garmin connect site at all, I don’t find it very useful and have all I need with Sporttracks.

    The uploading with the 405 is a bit more of a faff than with the 305. You plug in the usb ANT stick and it detects your watch before automatically uploading the file to the computer – and garmin connect and training centre, should you wish.

    To get the activity into sporttracks you need to go to IMPORT within the application and navigate to the file stored on your pc.

    In Vista the path should look something like:

  30. R Edwards

    Thank you very much for your prompt response. I hope I can figure it out – my 405 is arriving from Amazon on Tuesday. Yay!

  31. pinwinrunning

    I’m reading this because my 205 ended up in the washing machine along with my dirty gear. Good way to find out its not totally waterproof! I reckon if I have to buy a new one, I may as well go for the most up-to-datest. The seconds to connect as opposed to minutes makes up my mind.

  32. HillRunner

    405 has been in use for several weeks now without any hiccups and it even manages to stay put on a relatively small wrist.

  33. L Farquhar


    Buying one as my husband “lost”his 305. Does anyone know if the HR belt for the 305 (which he still has) works with the new 405?


  34. steve

    Bought the 405 for my fiance for xmas…her request. Has anyone else noticed that there is no GB/UK time zone available in the setup? frustrating not being able to get past that on day 1. The GPS hookup was quick, but didn’t seem to make any difference to the avialable time zone. At the moment, her 405 thinks she is based in Iceland. Any suggestions?

  35. Tom

    Thanks for all the great info. I’ve never used one of these gadgets before, and I currently have the choice of buying either the 305 ($325AU) or 405($390AU with heart rate monitor). Seems an easy decision, but am wondering what the “Routes” do for you, since the 305 apparently has 50 while the 405 has none. I do a run with the guys from work each week . We alternate between 3 different routes, and I’d like to be able to check my progress against past performances on each different route. Do you know, is this possible with the 405 please?

    Regards Tom

  36. warriorwoman

    I never actually used routes function on the garmin 305 but was still able to compare performance for similar runs.

    I recommend that you import your training data into a training log (I use and recommend Sporttracks from Zonefive) you then assign route descriptions and names and can easily draw up reports comparing your performance over time.

    The forerunner effectively just captures the data and all the analysis and mapping and general interesting stuff happens with the software.

  37. Tom

    Hi again. Thanks for the advice. You mentioned the Virtual Training Partner in earlier notes. Just wondered if its possible to set up the Virtual Training Partner as your previous (or average) run on the same route?

  38. Darrell

    Definitely possible on the 305 Tom and very useful!


  39. Tom

    Thanks Darrell, but does anyone know if it’s possible on the 405 please (now that I’ve got my heart set on it, and an order in 🙂
    Regards Tom

  40. Darrell

    Sorry Tom, page 13, sounds the same as the 305. I don’t think a lot has changed as far as software, mainly the physical interface and supposedly faster GPS lock, though I’ve read a lot saying it’s more sensitive to water than the 305 too.


  41. warriorwoman

    I have a vague recollection that you could create the necessary course from the wrist unit on the 305 but as it says in the manual you have to use the training centre software and download it to the 405 unit.

    I haven’t done this as yet so I’m not sure how the virtual partner will work, presumably it uses the timing from the data used to create the course.

  42. Tom

    Thanks Darrell, Warriorwoman, I appreciate your help. Great to be able to read the manual before it arrives too. Bad news is – I have a 2-3 week wait 🙁

  43. Darrell

    Never a problem to help a fellow runner Tom. The time will give you a chance to get the right running shoes and learn how to use one of the best gadgets ever!


  44. hazel

    Hi, I have a 205 which is too big for my small wrist and I never feel comfortable with it. Is the 405 a better option as it appears to be smaller so I may get better use from this???

  45. warriorwoman Post author

    Hard for me to say really as I have a distinctly chunky wrist. It is smaller than the 205 but still very large by watch standards.
    The Polar RS200SD is a very good alternative – reasonably sized if you don’t the GPS functionality. It measures distance via the footpod and is and excellent sports watch.

  46. kevbest

    Hi, Just recieved 405 and still getting the hang of it….all the distance info appears to be in k,s is it possible to have miles as the default setting…if so how do you do that…any help much appreciated..Ta

  47. kevbest

    Thanks for that…to keen to get out running and not paying attention to detail….had the same problem with the the new tv and washing machine…really do need to read the instructions properly…off out for another run and really going to enjoy it this time knowing it’s in miles….really feel that you benifit more if you use miles as 50 miles a week in your diary is so much more motivating than 50 k’s… for a paper…c…u…later…Kev

  48. legendpip


    Just wondering if anyone has a problem with battery life. It seems if in GPS mode it only lasts 6hours riding time & seem to be recharging every second day eevn with just an hour of active use. Is 6-7hrs all you get? also when the battery dies does it still keep the data as last time it recorded time & distance but lost altitude & pace etc. Cheers

  49. warriorwoman Post author

    Garmin only claim a battery life of 8hrs in training mode and that is bound to be a little optimistic.
    Charging every other day seems a bit extreme though. In power save mode my lasts for about 2 weeks but that is without use.
    I think the wireless transfer highlights the battery life problem. With the 305 I used to sit it in the USB cradle to upload the data and charging happened at the same time. Now I have to think of the two jobs separately and one or other rarely gets done til its critical.

  50. Emma

    Hi all, I too am trying to decide between the 305 and 405 – I heard that the 305 actually has a map screen whereas the 405 doesn’t – is that something that people feel is missing from the 405?

  51. Darrell

    Hi, I can’t see a map mentioned in the manual of the 405 but here’s the link to it for you to check as well and perhaps familiarise yourself with it’s features and functions.

    I have the 305 and it’s excellent, probbaly a good price too now. The 405 has had some issues mentioned regarding it’s sensitivity to water/sweat and also that the bezel is fiddly to get up the screens you want mid run. On a plus side, the 405 has a vibration alert which will be useful if you run to music as I rarely hear my 305 beep to tell me the pace of the last lap, etc.

    I’d recommend Sporttracks over the included software every time too, as Training Centre that comes with it is awful in comparison.


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  55. Ross

    Firstly thank you for all this information. I’ve been trying to get a 405 for ages now (as a present) but my girlfreinfd just doesn’t seem to why this would be the perfect present.

    as a result I’m considering paying for one myself. I’ve been using a £5 stpwatch for the last two years and until I read this review have not been that bothered. Now after reaing this I definately want one. However, I am currently training for the Comrades next year and the 405’s battery life will not be long enough for the race. So is it possible to turn off the GPS and therefore extend the battery life?

    Obviously for anything up to marathons I could use all the functions but only 8hrs for ultramarathons is not very good.

    Thanks again for a great review.

  56. Lee

    Hi there,

    Forgive me if this has already been discussed.

    I think I’m going to buy a 405 however I’ve heard it transfers data to your pc through wireless capabilities. What means does it use to do this. I don’t have Bluetooth technology on my P.C.

    Any information would be extremely useful.

    Thank you for your time.

  57. Warriorwoman

    No need to worry, Garmin ship everything you require in the box.
    It comes with a little USB dongle that provides the wireless link.

  58. Bixente

    I love this watch but it just goes mad when it rains. Again this morning I was running a 10 miles and it just stopped suddenly after 4 miles because of the rain then it went crazy switching from one mode to another. Really annoying.

    If your fingers are wet as well the bezel will go mad.

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  61. Jarrad

    I bought this watch as a gift for my wife. It is clearly designed for men and did not fit her, there is a lot of adjustment in the strap but the moulded body meant it was simply too large to fit on a small wrist. I’m sure its a fine watch but it doesn’t fit everyone!

  62. Jim

    I found a way to use my 405 in the rain and be able to get the bezel and buttons to work quite well – does not go nuts and unresponsive.

    I put fasten plastic over the bezel so rain and moisture from fog doesn’t get on it.

    I cut a plastic sandwich bag open and in half. Then I wrap the plastic over the watch and strap. The I use tape on the back to hold the plastic in position. So I end up with a protective cover that allows me to touch/tap the bezel to change views. And the view stays where I want it.

    Maybe Garmin can develop a better bezel rain cover.

  63. Kate HOY

    I’m afraid that sandwich bag story made my mind up! My beloved 305 proved not so rain-proof last friday – one week out of the guarantee period 🙁 I have a marathon in two weeks time and feel lost without it. BIG question – upgrade to the 405 or stick with what I know. It looks like the 405 doesn’t have the mapping features that I use – i plot a course on mapping software, convert the file to Training Center and then upload it to my 305 and head for the hills following the arrow. Without this I’d never make it home, so its essential. Also not sure about the tricksy bevel sounds like gadgetry that is yet to be perfected.
    Thanks for the great review and some really useful info.

  64. warriorwoman

    I’m going to be in the market for another GPS unit soon and I don’t think I’ll go back to the 405. I will either stick with the solid reliable 305 unit or, as the prices seem to be dropping a bit I might go for the waterproof version – the 310XT. This looks to be a very useful piece of kit.
    Good luck with your marathon.

  65. Kate HOY

    Managed to fix my 305 with a bit of DIY, a screw driver and a hairdryer. Perhaps not recommended practice but its working and I’m a happy camper! It looks a bit more rugged now, which has got to be good for my image, no? After my rain episode I would seriously consider the waterproof 310XT as my next purcase.

  66. Dave

    Although im a Garmin fan, i am a little dissapointed with this watch. Too much style, not so good function. I think they tried to sell the “iPhone sensation” and misebraly failed. Thats why they made the 405cx so fast.
    Based on the functions this watch provides, id highly recommened the Garmin Forerunner 110 review its easy to use, made just for runners and it still looks good…plus no touch bezel!!

  67. Darrell

    I’m sure the 405cx is good, but I’d definitely recommend the Forerunner 310XT (reviewed here: which is far better, faster to lock onto satellites and waterproof too!! Another thing regarding Garmin GPS products is that Garmin Connect is now far more user friendly and works brilliantly with all Garmin GPS products, even easier with the ANT+ compatible products enabling automatic wireless uploads.

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