Q:

Garmin Fenix: Workout Tool

I've been looking into the new Garmin Fenix. Is it any good?

Sep 14, 2012
Outside
Outside Magazine

  

A:

Garmin positions the Fenix as a hiking, hunting, fishing, and mountaineering device, but the watch has all the features of a workout tool as well. It connects to heart rate monitors and bike cadence sensors using the wireless system from Garmin subsidiary ANT+. I happened to have an old ANT+ heart rate strap, shown above, from my Forerunner 405, and it paired with the Fenix easily.

A cool new feature in the Fenix is its ability to pair with Bluetooth devices as well. This means you can send workouts and maps to your cell phone, and thus to the Web.

Using the Fenix for trail runs, I could see my heart rate against a 30-minute graph of altitude, grade, and vertical speed. Keep in mind, the elevation is more trustworthy in a barometer watch than with GPS alone. Typical GPS running watches use satellites to judge elevation, which is often off because of the geometry from outer space. The Fenix is one of only a few watches, like only the Suunto Ambit and Garmin Forerunner 910XT, with a barometer inside, and nothing’s better for understanding elevation changes on a mountainous ultra course.

At 2.9 ounces, the Fenix is bulky, but the upside is battery life. The watch’s lithium battery charged to 50 percent in about a half hour, allowing the GPS to run all day. On a full charge, you supposedly get 50 hours with sensors on. This is a huge bonus, since many GPS watches are short-lived.

In comparing the Fenix’s distance with a fixed distance over two miles, the Fenix was a few yards off each time, which is typical of any GPS device.

All in all, in my first week with the Fenix, I’ve found a lot to like. I have another week in the review period and will keep you updated on any problems that crop up. Feel free to post any questions in the comments, and I'll be happy to answer them.

Filed To: Gear Guy

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