Product Review: Garmin 405 Heart Rate Monitor

Amelia Phillips

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Well I have been trialling the Garmin 405 for 8 weeks now, and I can tell you that this is the king of all heart rate monitors! If you want to know everything, and I mean everything about your run, ride, paddle, or ski then the Garmin Forerunner 405) is for you. This model includes heart rate monitor and GPS, and is priced at around AU$390 or US$350.  I have used many hear rate monitors in my time and this is my favorite by far!


Heart rate monitors generally fall into 3 categories:
– Basic heart rate monitors that just tell you your heart rate. (Try the Polar FS1)
– Heart rate monitors that tell you your heart rate as well as a bunch of other information such as calories burnt, laps and training zones. (Try the Polar RS200)
– Heart rate monitors that tell you all this information, as well as your distance and speed, by using either a foot pod (try the Polar RS800sd) or GPS. (like our Garmin Forerunner 405)


Knowing your heart rate while training is great, as it is a true indicator of how hard you are pushing. But if you are serious or starting to get serious about your training, then it’s great to have stats to tell you how far you have traveled and what pace you are running at.

In the past, GPS heart rate monitors had a separate, usually bulky, GPS unit that you had to carry around on an arm band. This was cumbersome and made the foot-pod models more popular, even though they were considered less accurate. The Garmin 405 has changed all that. It is the first heart rate monitor to combine the GPS function into the watch unit and pack it all into a sexy and functional device.


“Heart rate” all zones, percentages, splits included
“GPS” sat nav means you also get Speed/distance/pace/elavation and % incline
Calories burnt
Ability to set laps at distance or time.
Virtual training partner that tells you if you are faster/slower than target time
Interval training function.  For example you may set it so you run 1km, then rest 2 mins.  It tells you when to start, stop, with ten seconds warning. Simple, intermediate and advanced options.
Courses. You can set regular courses to run so it compares you with your last workout
Computer software that:
– Transmits data when you are within 3 meters of your computer
– Plots your course on google earth or
– Data can be viewed as graphed, tabulated, lap by lap, pretty much any way you want it
–  Compare with other workouts,
– Syncs with the Garmin website for even more advanced functions that I haven’t played with yet.

OK down to the nuts and bolts. I have been running with this watch for a while and it’s got a lot of features.

What I like:

  • It’s easy to use: I am by no means technologically savvy, yet I easily set it all up, and can change settings without any drama. I do suggest you follow the RTFM principal (read the freaking manual!). In no time I had it set up to automatically synchronize with my computer whenever I walked in the room.
  • The virtual partner: This is a very visual icon on your screen whereby you preset it at your goal pace (eg 5min/km) and as you run it tells you how far ahead/behind you are this lap. If you are ahead, the icon is black on white, and if you are behind it flips into white on black, which makes it easy to glance at while you are running. There is also 2 little stick figures running so you can get a visual as to how far ahead/behind you are. It was a saviour during the City to Surf this year!
  • The amount of info you can have on your screen: You can set the screen to rotate 4 times, and each rotation can have up to three pieces of data on it, which means there’s more to occupy your mind while you run. For example, the first screen you might set to have all your heart rate info on it, such as heart rate, average heart rate, and average heart rate last lap. The second screen might have all your distance and pace data on it. You can set it to show pretty much anything you want.
  • The ‘tap’ Bezel: Instead of pressing buttons, the circumference of the watch is a sensor (kind of like an ipod) that you tap to rotate screens and give commands. It’s much easier to use whilst running and gives the watch a sleeker look
  • The GPS function: Wow, this just adds a whole new dimension to running outdoors! Not only do you know exactly how far and fast you’ve gone, but you can plot your runs online. The GPS is remarkably accurate. I run through the CBD a lot and have yet to lose satellite reception.

What I don’t like:

  • You have to charge the battery: Like a mobile phone, you need to plug it in to charge and I find that the battery life won’t last much more than about 4 hours while the GPS is on. So if you run anything over about 30km, make sure it’s fully charged. The other day it had been completely out of battery for 3 days and I had to re-enter all my personal info again.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to read: Some of the data is written quite small, but this is adjustable. I like to see three things on each screen, but you can set it to only one or two.


Training with a heart rate monitor is mandatory for anyone remotely interested in improving their fitness. If you’re looking for the best, the Garmin 405 doesn’t come cheap, but it has all the features you’ll need, and scores top marks for functionality and usability.

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27 responses to “Product Review: Garmin 405 Heart Rate Monitor”

  1. Joe Harvey says:

    I used this heart rate monitor in a marathon recently and it was a major help in pacing. I wouldn’t race without it now.


  2. Amelia says:

    Hi Joe,

    My sentiments exactly! I am going to get the foot pod as well. Does that make me a complete gadget nerd!?!


  3. Aidan says:

    I have a Garmin 405 but i cant get it to detect my heart rate tried all the suggestions in the works for a few seconds and gives me a heart of 35 or 41 bpm .but no joy…it works ok on my friend but not me!! does anyone have any ideas why ?? my cheaper pola heart rate monitor works fine every time…i have an edge 705 same thing..nobody can tell me why…..

  4. Hi Aidan,
    Has anyone ever told you you have no heart? Maybe they were right!!!
    It sounds like a faulty device.
    Polars have far better heart rate detecting technology, where as Garmins have far better sat nav technology, so make your choice based on your priority. Having said that, the technology to detect heart rates is not too complicated hence my decision to go Garmin.
    I would send it back for a replacement. Also make sure the strap is tight and you thoroughly wet it as water conducts the signals better.
    I have not heard of this happening before.
    Hope that helps,

  5. Aidan says:

    Thanks for your comment. i have now had a suggestion from Garmin Support. i chose the Forerunner 405 as it offered the GPS and Heart Rate and a system to monitor my heart rate and speed. Well i am so happy now as the suugestion from Garmin Suport has given me that. When the heart rate monitors did not work on me i made sure i followed the manual to the letter how ever the solution was to move the heart rate monitor a few inches to the left on my chest! and bingo there was my pulse! i have test the position on my runs and bike rides and work great! i have the garim edge 705 on my bike an excelent tool. Thanks Garmin Support.

  6. Olivejammer says:

    Does anyone know if a 405 purchased in Australia will work (for pace and distance) in the US.

    I just noticed on one of the sites that they have different versions for the US, Pacific, etc.

  7. Tony says:

    My family gave me a 405 for fathers day and it’s great. I would recommenbd the watch/GPS to anyone if they are seriously into running. That said I have had a bunch of trouble trying to download the software so that I can pair the watch to my computer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

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  9. Hi Olive Jammer,
    I have just been using mine for three months in the USA and it didn’t skip a beat!

  10. Jan says:

    The garmin 405 sounds great but I was just wondering if two people can use one each and download it onto the same computer without any problems.
    Thanks for your help.

  11. sue franzmann says:

    I want to count my calories whilst doing an aerboic workout not running, does my forerunner 405 do this

  12. Hi Sue,
    Yes it will do this. Just switch off the gps as you will be indoors, but still wear your HR monitor. Make sure you have entered your personal information in the profile section (age, weight, height etc) and you can set your screen to display calories while you train, or you can simply view the history of the workout afterwards. Hope that helps,

  13. James says:

    Hi Amelia,
    I have used my 405 extensively for the last 12 months and as yet have not found a way to use it to calculate colories burnt during an inside workout, such as weights. The profile section alone doesn’t allow for this to occur.
    Also, have you been able to sync your Garmin heart rate monitor with any gym equipment, such as treadmills or steppers? As yet I have not had any luck.

  14. Hi James,

    Yes I have not been able to do either of those things as well. I don’t think the Garmin counts calories unless the gps is on (well I haven’t worked out how to) and I know that it is only the polar who sync with gym equipment. I guess that’s 2 negatives about the garmin that purchasers should consider.

  15. […] rate monitor with GPS: These can be expensive (around AU0) but I wouldn’t train without one. Garmin 405 is by far my favourite. The Polar GPS is second in […]

  16. Winston Lo says:

    Does anyone know if Garmin can record mileage for multiple shoes like Polar RS800sd?

  17. bret says:

    So am not the only one that can’t get their 405 to count calories indoors. If some one knows a way please tell. Also my inside work outs don’t show anything when I transfer the data to my computer, not even my heart rate on the graph.

  18. Peter says:

    Can the 405 be used by two different people in other words can you log two different profiles and have them saved?

  19. Paul says:

    I have had this watch for a little over a year now, I use it maybe an average of 3 times a week on my bike with a Garmin accessory mount. After about 11 months the strap almost broke in half, I returned it to my LBS who sent it to Garmin in Melbourne, Garmin have taken 2 months to assess the strap and have refused to replace it under warranty siting damage to the strap which I can`t see with my 20 20 vision. My LBS said the warranty person at Garmin was quite abrupt and rude when queried about their service. I WILL NOT buy a Garmin product again their warranty service is non existent.

  20. Kaydee says:

    Does anyone have trouble with their Garmin Forerunner 350 when it gets the slightest bit wet? If I get sweat on the bezel, or if it is not raining but misting outside and the bezel gets wet it starts beeping crazily and wont let me go the screen to see my pace and distance. Does anyone else have this problem? I find it super annoying while running. Thanks!

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