Garmin Forerunner 55 : Altitude Tracking Isn’t Too Bad

If you are thinking of buying the Garmin Forerunner 55 but unsure if the Altitude tracking will meet your requirements then this article is for you. In this Altitude tracking review, the Garmin Forerunner 55 gains a very strong rating of 4 out of 5. The device did not quite performed consistently to earn the right of being called a 5 star device. Here is a short summary of my final results.

Variance Band22m

To be fair Altitude accuracy is never guaranteed, because there are things that are out of control, for example the number of satellites at the time of testing, or the GPS strength at the testing location. With that said please take in this information with a grain of salt.

However after taking a moment to reflect on the final results, this is a true reflection on how the Garmin Forerunner 55 performed on the day. Now I have created my own rating system for Altitude tracking, and I did it to provide a simple answer to your question, so my hope is that I have done it justice.

In this article I am going to show you how I go about testing the device for altitude, how I rate a device for altitude, explain why the variance band matters, and more importantly, where the Garmin Forerunner 55 is rated in the market.

How I Test A Device For Altitude

Just a quick explanation on how I go about doing the Altitude review. In this test I will be comparing the Garmin Forerunner 55 against a credible source, and let me tell you it want very easy. The best way I can come up with is to compare the Altitude readings against a App downloaded onto the phone.

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As a check, I would record the results the App against a online topographical map. I used certain landmarks in my town so it’s easy to pinpoint the location on the topographical map for comparison. If the results is within ±10m (±32ft) then it’s good enough in terms of accuracy, because you have to allow for some variance for things out of your control.

I have also nominated a track here in my own back yard to conduct the Altitude testing review. The Whakapipi hiking trail is a good track to test as there is good GPS strength, terrain has sharp elevations to test the device to pinpoint your location. If the App is outside the ±10m (±32ft) variance I will be refreshing the app until I get a reading that’s within the 5 star variance.

How Do I Rate a Device

When it comes to the rating of a device, it’s important to note that anything with a recording accuracy of ±10m (±32FT) is generally considered to be of very high quality. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain factors outside of one’s control that can affect the level of accuracy, such as the number of available satellites. Despite these factors, it’s still possible to get a very good idea of the altitude using such a device.

I have created a rating system that will be used to test the accuracy of altitude measuring devices. The system uses a benchmark of ±10m (±32FT), with further testing done at ±5m (±16FT) intervals. This system will allow us to accurately determine the accuracy of each device.

No of Stars± Accuracy (Metric)± Accuracy (Imperial)
411m – 15m36FT – 49FT
316m – 20m52FT – 66FT
221m – 25m69FT – 82FT
126m – 30m85FT – 98FT
031m plus102FT plus

Altitude Test Results

During the test, the Garmin Forerunner 55 performed very well, and I counted 7 out of 8 random waypoints were within the 5 star variance of ±10m (±32ft). The only issue is with waypoint 5 outside that variance.

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I remember that from waypoint 4 to waypoint 5 there wasn’t a sharp drop in elevation, so it should have picked my location well. However I do remember that I had to refresh the App 3 times at waypoint 5 because the variance was to large. GPS strength at waypoint 5 was fairly low which contributes with a larger variance. Here are my test results

Variance Band

Variance band is the total variance from the highest plus or minus records. What I am trying to show you is the margin of error “or variance” from another angle. For example waypoint 3 has the highest plus record, and waypoint 5 has the highest minus record. Add both numbers together and this will give you the variance band.

In other words, tighter the variance band, better the Altitude tracking based on my testing system. My top device so far is the Polar Pacer and Polar Ignite 3 both have a tighter variance band of 5m, and the Galaxy Watch at 8m.

+ Variance– VarianceVariance Band
+ 8m (26ft)-14m (46FT)22m (72FT)

Metric Results

WPAppForerunner 55Variance
130 m27 m-3 m
242 m32 m-10 m
346 m54 m+8 m
462 m53 m-9 m
558 m44 m-14 m
649 m45 m-4 m
737 m31 m-6 m
826 m20 m-6 m

Imperial Results

WPAppForerunner 55Variance
198 ft89 ft-9 ft
2138 ft105 ft-33 ft
3151 ft177 ft+26 ft
4203 ft174 ft-29 ft
5190 ft144 ft-46 ft
6161 ft148 ft-13 ft
7121 ft102 ft-19 ft
885 ft66 ft-19 ft

Waypoint 5 Testing

Garmin Forerunner 55 waypoint 5 results

How Does The Forerunner 55 Rank in the Market

So far here are the devices that I have done a Altitude test for. Although the Garmin Forerunner 55 gained a strong score, and that is why I created the variance band calculation and why it matters.

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As you can see in comparison to my top ranked device, the variance is tighter and close to the altitude reading than the Garmin Forerunner 55. I wondered if having assisted GPS, or dual band frequency played it’s part in terms of accuracy because the Forerunner 55 does not have this.

Then again the Huawei GT3 Pro which ranked lower than the Forerunner 55 does have dual band frequency. Then again I do have a suspicion that the algorithm maybe the issue with the GT3 pro, which is another thing that’s out of your control in terms of accuracy.

RankWatchRatingVariance Band
1Polar Ignite 355m
2Polar Pacer55m
3Galaxy Watch 6 Classic58m
4Galaxy Watch 5 Pro58m
5Garmin Forerunner 55422m
6Huawei GT3 Pro335m

Final Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have learnt a lot about the Altitude tracking review of the Garmin Forerunner 55. My method to provide answers maybe a little crude, but I had to think outside the box, and actually give it a go.

Also please do take it with a grain of salt that the testing results can vary on different days. Take for example my top ranking devices the Polar ignite 3, I might do another test review and get similar results as the Garmin Forerunner 55. There are things that are out of your control, like the number of satellites or the GPS strength within the area, that’s just the way it is.

Which is why the variance can be a useful measure. You’re not going to get the exact results, but if you can work within those variances then it should be useful. Thank you for reading.