The Garmin Fenix 5 is among the most effective multisport outdoor watches available, blending probably the most detailed metrics right into a single device. It’s now been superseded by Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, but is accessible for a few juicy Garmin deals.

The truth is, it’s only a upgrade from the ageing Fenix 3 HR, which itself was so powerful that Garmin has needed and then make a few tweaks. Size and design are the key areas that contain been addressed, and the Fenix 5 makes better make use of Garmin Connect IQ to become more personalised, wide-ranging sports watch.

It costs a bomb too. With the Fenix 5 starting at $599, it dwarfs rivals including the excellent TomTom Adventurer and the brand new Garmin Vivoactive 3. But how does the Fenix 5 build up? We spent a couple weeks getting it sweaty to determine.

Garmin Fenix 5: Design
Praise be to the gods of progress and miniaturisation because Garmin has succeeded in shrinking the Fenix 5 from its previous iteration. The Fenix 5 is drastically smaller and lighter compared to the Fenix 3 HR (no, you didn’t skip the Fenix 4 – it never existed), and is obviously easier and more pleasurable to wear. At 47mm it’s still massive, however, not quite as unwieldy.

As the Fenix 5 provides a good amount of benefits for all-day wear, it’s still hardly a looker. Industrial and bulky, there are five actual screws in the bezel. However the lighter and smaller design does imply that you can find away with all-day wear, and the ones who identify by their love of the outside could turn it to their long term watch.

There’s still a colour screen and the visuals look a tad sharper, because of the brand new resolution of 240 x 240, upped from 218 x 218. Initially you might not spot the colours – they’re used sparingly yet to good effect in screens like heartrate zones and menus.

Fenix 3 HR (left), Fenix 5 (right)

You may still find five buttons to regulate the menus, which is often a little confusing sometimes. Even after a year or two of using Fenix watches, we’re still finding new context menus and can’t quite get accustomed to waiting five seconds after pausing a run for the ‘end workout’ substitute for appear. Also, the keeping the stop/start button catches too easily on sleeves and bags, that may unwittingly pauses runs or hikes.

As you may guess from the look, the Fenix 5 is water-resistant to 10ATM, which roughly compatible 100m.

The Fenix has a rubber strap as standard, which is interchangeable. We found it comfortable and durable in testing, nonetheless it did have an annoying habit of falling out in clumps of its buckle loop and flapping about.

Garmin Fenix 5: Features
Watches don’t come more feature-packed compared to the Fenix 5, but it is the sports tracking that steals the show. When you create for the very first time, the Fenix 5 will request you to select the activities you intend to have on your own menu. The options add the evident – running (outdoor, indoor, trail), cycling (indoor, road, mountain bike) and swimming (pool, open water) – to other sports including golf, skiing, triathlon and – understand this – even parachuting.

Essential reading: Best GPS running watches

It’s hard to discover a sport that the Fenix 5 doesn’t track, and luckily, you can set favourites for a far more personalised and focused sports menu. They could be added to anytime from the key menu. We’ve dissected most below for your perusal.

Activity tracking can be a huge area of the set up, and because of the heartrate sensor that’s built-in, these stats are particularly rich. Again, more on that shortly.

But additionally to sports and fitness tracking, the Fenix 5 does an excellent smartwatch impression. Notifications from your own phone will be pinged to your wrist, although you can’t read these completely. However, unlike Fitbit the Fenix 5 isn’t fussy in what it displays. If it hits your phone’s home screen it’ll get pushed to the watch, and it’s really sometimes nice to get message notifications if you are out hitting the trails. Unless you want them, just set your phone to accomplish Not Disturb.

Together with your phone paired, additionally you get updates such as for example weather and calendar events synced to the watch, which is often accessed by cycling through the house screens. It’s a good touch and brings your Fenix alive.

Just like the TomTom Adventurer, you can even upload GPX/TCX files for hiking or walking routes. The procedure is a tad more convoluted compared to the Adventurer, and it actually took clarification from Garmin how to accomplish it. We’re prepping a complete guide, but you have to grab the Garmin Basecamp software first.

It means with just a little faff, you can include to the Courses portion of your watch. Of course, you may use Garmin’s built-in software, which is available online dashboard. That it is pretty near Strava’s, once you see through the original UX carnage, but we do choose the latter’s. However, the GPX upload means you can grab hikes and walks from the net, that is a feature we love.

Garmin Fenix 5: Running
Despite the huge selection of tracked sports, running is arguably the Fenix 5’s strongest suit. In ways the Fenix 5 brings the very best of most Garmin’s disparate consultant watches into one device, therefore the running data is formidable.

Aside from all of the bog standard pace, splits, time, distance and heartrate, there are live read outs on your own Performance Condition (displayed a couple of minutes into your run), and heartrate training, in order to set your own zones and receive alarms in the event that you drop out of these. In the event that you pair up with a chest strap, you can also get vertical oscillation and cadence data.

After a run things get better still, with training effect and VO2 Max, which are the best out there. Also, Garmin won our VO2 Max group test when set up against a sports science lab, and with it acing almost all of our heartrate testing, there is no reason to doubt its accuracy on the Fenix 5 either.

Recovery is also a major section of the running metrics, and the Fenix 5 will help you how much rest to get after every training session. In all honesty, that is something we felt was just a little weak. For reasons uknown, health insurance and safety probably, the Fenix 5 recommended huge periods of rest following the most mundane training runs, often between 50 and 72 hours after a gentle 10K. This originates from FirstBeat’s algorithms taking data from personal heartrate performance, but we do believe that if we paid attention to the Fenix, we’d never get any meaningful training done.

We’ll tackle the accuracy of the data below, but as a running watch, things do not get a lot more complete or detailed compared to the Fenix 5. Yes, it’s data overload, however the Garmin Fenix 5 manages to create this sheer amount of information manageable, and that is some achievement.

Garmin Fenix 5: Hiking
When you tripped on your own hike you can access pace, distance, time and elevation in addition to a live compass and mapping. It’s a fairly complete group of hiking features, and you could add GPX route uploads and also have a live route plotted of your rambles, too.

The amount of data hardly matches the amount of insights for runners, cyclists and swimmers but it is the longevity of the Fenix 5 that basically impresses.

Battery life may be the key for hikers and trekkers, and sadly, we can not quite attest to the Fenix 5’s performance here. We managed around 14 hours of fully GPS tracked hiking inside our testing, however when we tried to place the watch into UltraTrac mode, we got accurately the same degree of battery drain – evidently something is amiss. Garmin says you should get 60 hours of UltraTrac – so for multi-day hikers, the jury continues to be temporarily still out.

Garmin Fenix 5: Swimming, cycling, golf
As we mentioned, the Fenix 5 earns the very best of Garmin’s frightening rostrum of devices, and swimming and cycling is equally on-point.

We’ve already rewarded Garmin’s slew of devices for best-in-class swimming support, and that continues here. Once pool lengths have already been input, you can aquire indoor metrics including stroke count, stroke type, and SWOLF – the magic score for the optimum number of strokes per length. Additionally you get alerts and buzzes on the watch when you hit certain markers, but don’t expect that optical heartrate sensor to work properly in the pool. If you wish that workout intensity data then you will have to spend money on either Garmin’s HRM-Tri or HRM-Swim heartrate chest strap.

We put it to the test against the TomTom Spark 3’s swim tracking skills in the pool and were pleased the results. Once you have selected the right pool length, you’re good to get tracking. There’s the same data fields that popped through to the Fenix 3 and the Vivoactive HR and the big display helps it be really simple to absorb data throughout a session. The accuracy was strong, particularly with the lap counts and stroke detection proving once more that Garmin continues to be on top in terms of swim tracking.

The Fenix 5 can be a powerhouse for cycling. When you can get the typical distance, time and elevation gain simply by wearing the watch, in addition, it shacks up to Garmin’s ANT+ and today Bluetooth power meters and cadence.

We’ll admit, we didn’t take the Garmin Fenix 5 skydiving, despite the fact that there is an iphone app for this. There’s an iphone app for everything, considering the energy of Garmin Connect IQ.

But among the core sports is golf, a thing that interested us as enthusiastic users of Garmin’s Approach selection of GPS golf watches.

And what have you any idea, the Fenix 5 apes them aswell. Actually, we really enjoyed the visual nature of the golf software interface, more so compared to the Approach S20 and Approach X40. You can still get lay-up, hazard and measurement features, just as you’ll on high-end Garmins. Okay, it’s missing the swing analysis from the Approach S6, nevertheless, you can sync it with the TruSwing for a wrist-based data feed while down at the number. In general, a hole in a single for the Fenix 5.

Garmin Fenix 5: Activity and training effect
General fitness tracking can be a large the main Fenix 5’s remit and is similarly data packed. Steps and sleep are both tracked automatically, but also resting heartrate (RHR) – your last four hours and past a week RHR is displayed on the watch itself, together with being recorded in Garmin Connect.

Seen not merely as a great way of measuring enhancing fitness, resting heartrate spikes may also indicate the necessity for an escape day in your training schedule, and it’s really presented superbly here. We also found our RHR to maintain line with the Fitbit Alta HR, and reassuringly constant.

Also you can drill into your daily stats on the watch, including active minutes, flights climbed, steps and calories burned.

For many who take training seriously, the Fenix 5 also presents your VO2 Max, recommended recovery and race prediction times among the overall fitness stats, a thing that will be hugely enjoyed by serious runners and cyclists. But there are another two metrics among the line-up which are really worth your attention.

Training Load measures just how much you’ve been hitting your straps and whether that’s insufficient, optimal or an excessive amount of for your training. That is predicated on FirstBeat’s technology, and spits out an arbitrary number plus advised training intensity for the next session – for example light run or even to train as normal.

Training Status does quite similar, but supplies the key little bit of insight into your training: are you getting fitter, or losing your edge? That is a great motivator, even though our steady training only fed back ‘productive’ (e.g. getting fitter), you may also get readings for ‘unproductive’ (if you are losing fitness) and ‘peaking’ if you are really making gains.

After a workout, you can also get yourself a rating out of five for working out Effect (TE) and Anerobic Training Effect. For some wannabe athletes that is an excessive amount of information – let’s face it, almost all of us understand how much a good work out hit our anatomies straight after a good work out, but for the ones that crave that extra data, it’s a decent stat.

Garmin Fenix 5: Heartrate accuracy
We’ve written reams about heartrate accuracy at Wareable, and it’s a concern that raises its head with every new device.

The Garmin Fenix 5 uses the business’s Elevate optical sensor built-in, which includes come in for somewhat of stick before inside our testing. And sadly, the same issues remain here on the Fenix 5.

But let’s focus on the good. Resting heartrate, as we’ve mentioned, is pretty seamless and has reported consistent with Fitbit devices we’ve tested simultaneously. So far, so excellent.