My Apple Watch helps me to keep an eye on my health and accocunts for for my crummy memory with calendar and to-do notifications. To be able to control my music or react to a text without taking my phone out of my satchel? Awesome.

Too bad it sucks so much as a travel companion on long trips.

Where I prefer to visit with as few cables as possible, the Apple Watch demands a charger that can’t be shared by my iPhone or iPad. While travelling off the grid, I could often go a couple of days and never have to charge my iPhone and iPad. With the Apple Watch, I’m forced to top it off, Every. Single. Day-chipping away at the energy reserves of the external battery I retain in my pack. Which means fewer recharging cycles for my other devices. And despite coming with a hardcore metal body and ion-X scratch-resistant glass or a sapphire crystal display, the Apple Watch is definately not rugged.

Happily, the Tactix Bravo ($600 on Amazon), a waterproof, overbuilt GPS and fitness-oriented smartwatch created by Garmin, quashes most of these issues and will be offering enough baked-in functionality to keep even the most tech-oriented traveler happy.

Garmin Tactix Bravo

Admittedly, this isn’t my first Garmin rodeo. I’ve worn the initial Tactix since acquiring one back 2014 within my load out for trekking across Spain. For each and every step of the hike, I wore the initial Garmin Tactix: the company’s first go at a ruggedized GPS watch made for use for legal reasons enforcement and military personnel. Its vibrating alarm woke me up each morning and its own built-in barometer i want to know whenever a storm was coming. Most of all, its compass and GPS functionality got me back on the right track on several occasions when my mind, and consequentially, my own body, wandered off course. Because of a software upgrade in 2015, it became with the capacity of relaying notifications from an iPhone at the price tag on a significant hit to its battery life. I loved it and wore the Tactix until it had been antiquated by my Apple Watch, using its wide selection of apps, and solid fitness tracking capabilities.

However, after testing the Tactix Bravo for days gone by five weeks, Garmin’s earned my loyalty back.

Available with the silicon band or interchangeable black and olive drab NATO-style straps, Garmin’s Tactix Bravo is founded on their Fenix 3 GPS watch ($550 to $600 on Amazon). There’s a few distinctions between your two: the Bravo includes tactical and jumpmaster applications (for engaging military badassery) and is ready for use with night vision goggles. In addition, it includes a different case design compared to the Fenix 3, having a sapphire glass face (that you can get as an expensive extra for a Fenix 3,) and a carbon coated, scratch-resistant stainless body. If you don’t feel just like you need these features (and few persons really do), save a few bucks and a get Fenix 3 instead. Or don’t-I personally just like the Bravo’s looks around I really do its functionality and feel the excess cost is justified as I anticipate wearing it daily.

Séamus Bellamy
…and that is your smartwatch on steroids.

At 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 inches in proportions and weighing 3.09 ounces, the Bravo isn’t a tiny watch. But after wearing it for one hour, you’ll forget that it’s even there until you will need it. Then you’ll find that, unlike the Apple Watch, the Bravo’s color display is always on and daylight readable. Using it during the night? No issue: its backlight turns on with the push of a button. Talking about which, now’s nearly as good a period as any to say that the Bravo’s functions are navigated with a five-button interface. That capacitative touch isn’t part of the Bravo’s DNA signifies that you can put it to use with wet hands as well as underwater. Did I mention that it’s waterproof? Since it totally is, right down to a depth of 100 meters.

For apps, the Bravo can’t contend with the volume of possibilities to Apple Watch users, but it’s no slouch either. Users can accept/reject calls, have limited control over their iPhone’s music and receive iPhone notifications right out from the box. Because of the Bravo’s built-in omnidirectional antenna it could receive GPS/GLONASS satellite data in a wide selection of challenging environments, so that it is possible to stay on course through the woods or the location with waypoints or tracing the right path back along a track you merely finished walking. In addition, it includes a compass in addition to a self-calibrating altimeter and barometer.

Séamus Bellamy
The Tactix Bravo was an excellent travel companion on a recently available trip to NEW YORK, tracking my every step around the town.

For the healthy, or for folks like me who are hoping in order to avoid their first coronary attack, the Bravo can track a multitude of activities including golfing, walking, running, hiking, cycling, and swimming. It’s also possible to accurately monitor your heartrate through the consumption of the running- or swimming-oriented heartrate monitor. Of course, it’ll monitor your step count. And with help of third-party programs like MyFitnessPal and Strava, you’ll manage to track your calorie consumption and other important metrics. As the watch can keep tabs on your daily progress alone, the data is most beneficial viewed on your own iPhone using Garmin’s free Connect app. Should all this insufficient to keep you happy, don’t fret: Connect also serves as a gateway to a curated assortment of free apps, widgets watching faces for your Bravo.

So, that’s the watch’s build specifications and functionality covered. Now let’s talk battery life. For a smartwatch, it’s absolutely insane.

Séamus Bellamy
The Tactix Bravo includes a clunky proprietary charger-but you won’t need to put it to use very often.

Depending about how you utilize your Tactix Bravo, you can milk up to six weeks useful out of an individual charge. In the event that you leave its GPS running, full-time, this number drops right down to 20 hours. Seeking to find middle ground, I ran a straightforward experiment: Turning my Bravo’s Bluetooth on in order that it might receive notifications the same manner my Apple Watch does, I used it very much the same as I’d an Apple-branded wearable. To simulate the daily charge I’m familiar with giving my Apple Watch, I turned the Bravo off during the night when I visited bed and powered it back on very first thing each morning before putting it on. Whilst getting much amount of vibrating notifications each day and occasionally using the watch’s GPS functionality, I could go two-and-a-half weeks prior to the Bravo would have to be t