Three years after the release of the Forerunner 945, Garmin has come out with its first solar charging watch in the Forerunner series with the 955 Solar. If you are looking for a running or a triathlon watch that can do it all at a reasonable price, don’t look past the Forerunner 955 Solar, whose main feature is a new long-lasting battery with solar panelling on the watch face.
The 955 Solar is one of the most accurate Garmins to date, with its multi-band/dual-frequency navigational capability, (also present in the Fenix 7 and Epix watches from Garmin). I found the watch’s GPS picked up spot-on distances on a 400m track and while running on downtown streets.
The new touchscreen interface makes the 955 Solar easy to use. You can scroll through your favourite widgets, including the new Training Readiness feature, which tells you how recovered you are before you go for your next run.
The new touchscreen is a game-changer, allowing you quickly swipe through data screens and stats. If you enjoy the old-school buttons of the Garmin, don’t worry, as the 955 Solar can still be used in the traditional way, with the same five control buttons as the 945.
Garmin has kept the weight of the 955 at 53 grams, which is impressive with the increased storage in the new model (32 GB), which is double the memory you get on the Fenix 7.
Heart rate variability (HRV)
Heart rate variability (HRV), which has become a dominant feature on top-end training tools. is the coolest addition to the new Forerunner 955. HRV, which refers to the beat-to-beat variations in your heart rate, is a measure of your neural system’s freshness or fatigue, and is a useful indicator of whether you might be undertraining or overtraining. HRV score is given out of 100 and should be 50 or higher for athletes aged 40 or older; the higher the HRV score, the readier you are for a tough session, while a lower score means you may be overtrained or under-recovered, and should consider taking a rest day. It’s recommended you wear the 955 to bed to provide more accurate results regarding recovery and overall health.
Another practical new feature of the Forerunner 955 is the daily morning report. If the watch is connected to a compatible smartphone, it shows the weather conditions, daily training suggestions, information on your previous night’s sleep and your current HRV score. The report can be customized to show the specific data you want.
I found the training readiness feature to be useful for the everyday athlete. The new metric blends sleep history, recovery, HRV, stress and acute training load to determine how ready you are for your next session. The score is given out of 100, a higher score meaning you’re well recovered. This feature is especially practical for runners coaching themselves in a half-marathon or marathon build.
Battery life and solar charging
The battery life on the 955 is now superior to the 945, thanks to solar charging, which works whenever the watch is exposed to sunlight. The 955 Solar lasts 15 days in smartwatch mode, 42 hours in GPS mode and up to 80 hours in UltraTrac mode (no GPS). The watch uses the same charging pin/cord as previous Forerunner models and reaches a full charge from zero within 90 minutes.
The Solar feature on the watch face has two panelling methods: the 4 mm strip around the edge of the face can collect 100 per cent of the sun’s rays, while the display itself collects seven per cent.
If you’ve been thinking of getting a watch in the Fenix series but can’t justify using all the features for the price, the Forerunner 955 Solar is perfect for runners who want a little more battery life and easy-to-understand features. The training readiness and morning report features make your training easier to follow than ever. What made the watch special for me was its training and recovery benefits. The Forerunner 955 Solar isn’t just a watch you wear while you work out, I found I got the most accurate training data while wearing it 24/7.
It’s perfect for someone who is training for their first marathon or triathlon, as it provides the user with easy-to-understand metrics to get the most out of training and recovery.
The Forerunner 955 is probably one of the best deals in sports technology right now. The non-solar version is priced at $649.99, which packs in effectively the same features as the higher-end Fenix 7. The solar version is $780.00.