Both the Garmin Forerunner 30 and 35 are intuitive budget GPS watches for people who are new to running and want basic metrics to aid their training such as distance, pace and heart rate.
The newer Forerunner 30 is physically the same as the 35, although it does lack a few software features. Even still, these two watches are extremely similar.
The Forerunner 35 is also slightly more expensive than the 30 (169,99 vs 149,99 USD).
On the face of it, these two GPS watches are extremely similar. Both share the same small square display, wrist-based optical heart rate sensor, physical dimensions and weight.
This means that if you intend to only use either of these watches for running, they will both offer an extremely similar user experience.
Both options also have solid build quality and extremely comfortable silicon bands, which in my experience make for a comfortable wear and fit.
Both units are also very light so that, after a while, it is easy to forget you are wearing them.
Both watches sync via the Garmin Connect app for iOS and Android.
Either watch can last around a week in watch mode and 12 hours in GPS activity mode, so if you plan to do an activity in excess of this amount I suggest you bring an external battery pack to charge the unit.
The charging cable that comes with both the FR30 and FR35 clips on to the side of the watch, meaning the watch can be charged while on the move (alternatively, the watch could easily be stowed in a backpack).
One extremely useful feature of both watches is that they can be charged while recording a GPS activity, which is not a feature that you can find in many watches in this price range.
Differences between Garmin Forerunner 30 vs 35
The Forerunner 35 differs in that it offers a few more features in the software such as:
- On-watch support for activities other than running (walking, cycling, cardio, etc.)
- The ability to control phone music via a Bluetooth connection
- Heart rate and training features such as interval workouts, virtual pacer and HR alerts
- ANT+ accessory connectivity (foot pods to measure cadence, HR chest straps, etc.)
- The ability to change data fields for activities directly on the watch
- The ability to change the watch face directly on the watch
It's important to realise that the Forerunner 30 can only be used to record running, whereas the 35 model can track a number of different sporting activities.
However, the FR30 can be used to record hiking and cycling using the run profile on the watch.
You can then change the format of the activity through the Garmin Connect app to display your chosen activity type.
If you enjoy listening to music while running or hiking, the Forerunner 35 is definitely the better watch for you as you have the ability to play, pause and skip tracks, and adjust the volume of your phone music.
The ability to pair external sensors to the Forerunner 35 really sets it apart from the 30 model.
If you want to pair your watch to accessories like running foot pods and gym equipment (eg. rowing machines), I would only advise you to fork out the extra cash for the Forerunner 35.
Conclusion: Is it worth paying extra for the Garmin Forerunner 30 vs 35?
If running is your only choice of exercise and you do not care about accessory compatibility and interval training, I would advise you to save your money and buy the Forerunner 30.
However, if you value any one of the extra features listed above that the Forerunner 35 offers I would advise you to spend that tiny bit extra, in order to satisfy your needs and future-proof your purchase.