Garmin vs. RA for elevation (Read 77 times)

    I mapped one of my neighborhood runs on RA and then compared it to the data on a Garmin 920xt.  The elevation change calculated is vastly different (200ft variance) between the two.  Which do you techies think is more accurate?  I thought the Garmin had an altimeter in the device so should be more accurate, but the RA map should calculate actual terrain changes right?  Not important in the grand scheme of things, but it would be interesting to know the reason for the difference.

    "Shut up Legs!" Jens Voigt

      I have never used RA before but based on my Garmin results I would say the elevation measurement is very inaccurate.  My Garmin constantly gives different elevation measurements for routes I run on a consistent basis.  So imo RA is probably more accurate.

      Don't let injuries ruin your career!


        I have noticed the same thing. Routes I do that have a lot of short hills (20') will not register the hills at all on my Garmin. They do on RA. Some long runs can have 400' difference in elevation.  I like to map out new routes before I run them so I have an idea of how much elevation I'm dealing with, but I usually just note the Garmin elevation in my log, not the RA elevation.


        Part of it has to do with the base maps used, I think. There is a big difference between 10 foot contour intervals and 10 meter intervals. Map My Run was also very different from RA, which I figured had to do with the base maps.


        What Coleman said is also true:  I do the same first mile on most of my local runs. Garmin will give me anything from 110 - 140' elevation gain for that mile.


        Prince of Fatness

          Zoom into a map of one of your runs uploaded from your Garmin and you’ll see that the route is not precise. If the route is not precisely plotted I’m going to assume that there is a similar margin of error with altitude. Because of this I’m thinking that the RA mapping is going to have the more accurate representation of altitude.

          Not at it at all. 


          Pace Prophet

            Garmin mapping can be quite far off, even with an altimeter.  I use SportTracks to record my workouts and there's an option to remap using mapping data (using the 2d path to find the altitude on the map) which almost always results in a difference from the workout - but is consistent from day to day.

              Hey, thanks for the insights, everyone.  RA says I did more work (more elevation gain) so the consensus makes me happy. 

              "Shut up Legs!" Jens Voigt



                My Garmin Vivoactive says I ride 10ft of elevation gain when I ride my bike—-in the basement on a trainer.  It also will tell me I’ve gone up stairs 1-2x for about every 6 trips up.

                Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to

                remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.    

                     ~ Sarah Kay



                  I have found my Garmin 920xt to be accurate and consistent at least comparing the same routes or with topo maps.  Rolling terrain not so much because there is a lag time.  Example, I can get to the top of a hill repeat and stand for a moment and it will log another 7 feet.


                  I can't give feedback on any other devices, but will say running the same routes as those with Sunnitos, they get a little more gain, and strava reads way high.


                  So is it that important?  Do I use elevation or altitude to justify my slowness?  Maybe.

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