Preview: Garmin Fenix 5, 5S, and 5X (with maps!) GPS sport watches

Garmin's fourth-generation Fenix series: the 5S, 5, and 5X.

Garmin’s fourth-generation Fenix series: the 5S, 5, and 5X.

The fourth generation of Garmin’s Fenix GPS sport watch will replace the current Garmin Fenix 3 and Fenix 3 HR. Release date is March 2017. The three models vary in both size and features:

You might be asking, What happened to the Fenix 4? The rep did not go into details, but referenced (completely seriously) the perception of bad luck in Asia.

Versus the Fenix 3, the primary improvements to the Fenix 5 models are an:

  • Improved battery life;
  • Optical wrist-based heart rate monitor; and,
  • Interchangeable wrist band, so that it can be quickly and easily dressed up or down.

The Fenix 5 is the most direct upgrade from the 3-series. The Fenix 5S, as in “small,” is for those who want less bulk on their wrist, whether due to fit or aesthetics. And the Fenix 5X has an over-sized face so that it can better display maps. More on that shortly.

The MSRP jumps $150 from the Fenix 3, and $50 from the Fenix 3 HR. The Fenix 5S and Fenix 5 are both $600, and the Fenix 5X is $700. Yowzers.

Battery life

The battery life of a GPS watch is a function of how it is being used. In watch-only mode, the Fenix 3 will run for 6 weeks. In standard activity-tracking mode, when the GPS pings its location every second, it records 20 hours of data; and in UltraTrac mode, when the GPS pings are less often, 60 hours.

The battery life of the Fenix 5 improves to 12 days, 24 hours, and 75 hours in watch-only mode, 1-second mode, and UltraTrac mode, respectively. Few users need more; if you do, the only better option is the Suunto Ambit3 Peak, which runs for 20 hours, 30 hours, and 200 hours at 1-, 5, and 60-second GPS pings, respectively.

The 5S is not as long-lasting as the older Fenix 3 or newer Fenix 5, presumably due to a smaller battery. Its lifespan is 9 days, 14 hours, and 40 hours.

The 5X demands extra juice to power its over-sized display. Even so, battery life is comparable to the Fenix 3: 12 days, 20 hours, and 50 hours.

Optical HR sensors on the back of the watch

Optical HR sensors on the back of the watch

Wrist-based heart rate

The Fenix 5 models all have an integrated wrist-based optical heart rate monitor, similar the Fenix 3 HR. Garmin was reluctant to disclose its exact accuracy, but it is reportedly “good enough” for most users.

Its website gives no additional details, but clearly qualifies performance expectations:

The data and information provided by these devices is intended to be a close estimation of your activity and metrics tracked, but may not be precisely accurate.

A chest strap is still the benchmark for heart rate accuracy. If the difference of 150 bpm versus 160 bpm (or even 155 bpm) is meaningful to you, as it is to me on many of my training runs, these wrist-based monitors are not yet a viable substitute.

Fenix 5X: On-watch maps!

The Fenix 5X is the first Fenix model to display full-color maps. That sounds exciting, but I don’t think I will abandon my conventional handheld GPS unit or GaiaGPS app just yet.

One limitation is the screen. It’s inherently small. The resolution is not groundbreaking. And it’s not a touchscreen, so there is no pinching or swiping operations; instead, the side buttons must be used.

The other limitation is the mapping data. The watch is pre-loaded with Garmin’s proprietary 100,000-scale TOPO dataset, plus road maps for cycling and course maps for 40,000 worldwide golfing destinations (which I’m sure is of great interest to this readership).

Maps in 100k-scale are generally sufficient for navigating high-use trails, but not for off-trail travel or even sometimes for low-use corridors.

If you need more detailed maps, you can purchase Garmin’s 24k-scale topographic data and upload it to the watch. This layer was not available on the demo watch, but I was told that, “It gets busy” with all the topographic detail.

The 5X has an over-sized full-color display with pre-loaded maps. I believe that this is the cycling road map.

The 5X has an over-sized full-color display with pre-loaded maps. I believe that this is the cycling road map.

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

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  1. MarkL on January 12, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I don’t understand the point of putting maps on such a tiny screen. If you need a map print one and/or a phone and/or a real GPS.

    Side note: I have issues with Gaia. It is great when it works, but it fails too often. I’ve had it on 2 different phones. Even when I am using downloaded maps and the phone is in airplane mode it sometimes the map image won’t resolve when the screen comes back on when I check it.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      I generally agree. For serious or regular nav, you will want a better tool than this. But for done-in-a-day sports (e.g. cycling, running, day hiking) I could see it. For example, over the holidays I could have avoided carrying my smartphone on runs in northern MI, where my in-laws live but where I’m unfamiliar with the road system.

      Is this worth $700? YMMV, but I know my answer to that question.

      • Bob S. on January 12, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        Don’t forget the additional $100 for the 24K maps that I assume would be locked to the device it is activated on. I have a Garmin Edge 800 cycling computer and the map screen is next to useless to navigate with.

        Couple of questions.

        Are the OEM maps specifically designed for fenix 5x watches or do they use the same maps all their other GPS units use?

        Do you know if the fenix 5x is compatible with Garmin Bluecharts?

        • Andrew Skurka on January 12, 2017 at 4:11 pm

          The Fenix 5X map data is their standard 100k package that is used by other Garmin devices.

          Unsure about Bluecharts, but I can ask. If you have other tech questions, I can ask those too.

          • Bob S. on January 12, 2017 at 7:36 pm

            Thanks Andrew – I did a little research and I think I found the answers to my question.

            Bluecharts appear to be on SD card only now so they are not compatible.

      • MarkL on January 12, 2017 at 4:28 pm

        $700? Ouch!

      • Haig on January 15, 2017 at 5:17 am

        MI!? I live in Detroit, and although MI is great for camping, it seems less so for backpacking. Other than in the Upper Peninsula, have you found good backpacking trails in MI?
        By the way, I bought the Flex based on your recommendation. It’s excellent. Thanks.

    • Yohnny on February 20, 2023 at 4:34 pm

      Well, imagine that you are going to the mountain and holding the Leki hiking poles with both hands. You don’t even have time and it’s not practical to stop every minute and check on your mobile where you are and how much time and meters you still have until the finish line? Is it? The watch helps me a lot, even if I deviate from the road, it warns me to get back on the right road.

  2. Jimmy on January 12, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks for the preview, Andrew. Any idea how the optical HR impacts the battery life?

    Also, I think there was a typo in the Fenix 5 battery life lasting for 12 *weeks* in watch mode.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 12, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      I do not know for certain, but my experience with the Suunto HR chest strap is that the battery life is nearly unaffected. It may be different for an optical sensor or for a Garmin product.

      The “12 days” is not a typo. For whatever reason, the battery life of the Fenix 5 models is not as good as the Fenix 3 when in in watch-only mode. I don’t think this is a big deal — if you own one of these watches, I would imagine that you use it in activity mode several times a week and download the data regularly (while simultaneously charging it).

      • Jay C. on January 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm

        The thing about the optical HR is the LED lights that the watch has to power–with a chest strap there are none, it’s just the bluetooth LE or ANT+ wireless connection to a watch or phone. It’s not an insignificant battery impact. I have a Garmin watch with optical HR and with all-day HR turned on, it drains about 10% of the battery in a day without using GPS (GPS is about another 8% to 10% per hour in 1-second ping mode, which is mostly what I use it for, because I use it for running, not often for hiking). If I turn off all day HR, it sips the battery: maybe 3% to 5% in a day, depending on what other kinds of stuff I do with it. The light is another battery suck, as well as all sorts of goofy apps and widgets. My watch is an FR 235, so a different family of watch with a different baseline for total battery life, but just to note that wrist HR has an impact on the battery. Mine’s also over a year old, and they’ve likely improved the tech since then.

      • Jimmy on January 12, 2017 at 6:42 pm

        Thanks for the reply, I have the Fenix 3 which I will use in UltraTrac mode for hikes less than a week long. I’m sort of glad that the Fenix 5 isn’t so much better — I can save my money instead of wanting to upgrade!

        I was confused by the wording, “The battery life of the Fenix 5 improves to 12 days […]” when the previous paragraph said, “[…] Fenix 3 will run for 6 weeks”. I was lazy and didn’t factcheck on the Garmin website… oops.

  3. Bob S. on January 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    The Fenix 5X is the first GPS sport watch to display full-color maps only if you do not consider the Garmin Epix a watch.

    Although Garmin claims they do not support this, it is also possible load 24K open source maps onto a fenix 2 but the maps are monochrome and there is a bit of a trick to getting it to work. I have an old unlocked version of Garmin Mapsource Topo (Ver 3.00 Oct 1999) that works fine on a fenix 2 and is much better than the OS maps. I believe the basemap feature was disabled on the fenix 3 so it won’t work on that model.

    They fenix 5X series looks like nice watches but if you assess your needs and find $600 out of your price range there is the option of buying a refurbished fenix 2 for under $130 and a refurbished fenix 3 for about $250 (and dropping). I bought a refurbished fenix 2 with a 1 yr manufacturer’s warranty from an authorized Garmin dealer for $150 and it looks and works like new.

    I agree with Andrew that I would not abandon a traditional GPS or phone app to navigate with a watch but one of the nice features on the fenix watches is the ability to transfer routes, tracks, and waypoints back and forth between the watch and compatible Garmin GPS units.

    If I was going to complain about anything Garmin it would be the HRM chest straps; I am on my 3rd one.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Forgot about the Epix, thank you. Easy to do — it seems to have been abandoned, released two years ago and nothing since.

  4. shuping on January 13, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    hi Andrew
    I received your book for as a Christmas present. I’m enjoyed it. thanks for the review. I really wanted to buy the Garmin Fenix 3HR; but a hiker friend told me to wait. I current wear an Apple watch. it doesn’t really do a lot. it dies on my when I do a all day hike. I don’t mind paying $700 for the sapphire version of 5. I do make route of trails before going on a hike using Gaia GPS on a spare iPhone that I only use when I go abroad. it works out for me so far. I believe you can load route (.gps) file to the fenix watch too. it won’t so the map. but if you are off the trail the watch will tell you. you can also trace back with the watch too. do you have experience there? I have smaller wrist, but I think i will still buy the 5 for its battery life. am I making a good investment? thanks kindly

    • Andrew Skurka on January 14, 2017 at 7:12 am

      It sounds like you are looking mostly for an outdoor watch. In that case, I think the Suunto Ambit3 Peak is the best option: you can load it with routes (although none of these watches will be as user-friendly as a GPS unit or Gaia when used like this), and you can buy it for $300.

      I have been using an Ambit2 for years and could not be happier. The Ambit3 is similar but better, eg longer lasting battery, more powerful software. I have a long term review of it on this website.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 14, 2017 at 7:12 am

      It sounds like you are looking mostly for an outdoor watch. In that case, I think the Suunto Ambit3 Peak is the best option: you can load it with routes (although none of these watches will be as user-friendly as a GPS unit or Gaia when used like this), and you can buy it for $300.

      I have been using an Ambit2 for years and could not be happier. The Ambit3 is similar but better, eg longer lasting battery, more powerful software. I have a long term review of it on this website.

  5. shuping on January 13, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    I was going to buy the 5x. after reading the forum here, I believe I don’t need it. does everyone agree? thanks

    • Andrew Skurka on January 14, 2017 at 7:04 am

      Struggle to imagine a scenario where the $700 5X is “needed” or even where it is the most optimal solution. But if you tell me more about your intended use I could give you a more definitive answer.

    • MarkL on January 14, 2017 at 10:49 am

      IMHO, for someone really interested in training and tracking their routes but has minimal actual navigation needs (familiar areas, areas with low consequences, etc.) I can see the attraction of these watches as they are much more convenient than a hand-held unit. When my Foretrex 401 dies I might consider upgrading. But I am confident in my paper map skills.

      • Andrew Skurka on January 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

        That’s close to the application that I’m thinking for this type of device: if it wasn’t imperative that I have paper maps and compass (or even a smartphone with a big screen) but I still wanted something just in case. For example, I could imagine running on roads or well maintained trails in unknown areas with it, or doing a day hike in an area I know reasonably well but could use some assistance at a few intersections.

        But, again, $700, wow.

    • Yohnny on February 20, 2023 at 4:39 pm

      @shuping-although the topic is outdated – I don’t agree, I have a Garmin Fenix 5x and I am very satisfied with the watch, I have everything I need for mountain climbing, although with today’s date the Garmin Fenix 7x is already in use, I am satisfied with the accuracy of the gps

  6. CHERYL on January 14, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Is a heart rate chest strap still an option with the 5x?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 14, 2017 at 7:02 am

      Yes. When paired with a chest strap (extra accessory BTW) its data will override the optical sensor.

      • Lorena on December 18, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        Does battery life time improves significantly?

        • Andrew Skurka on December 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm

          Not sure. The answer depends on whether the optical HR (and its lights) turn off when the strap is in use.

  7. Shuping on January 14, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks Andrew. I’m going to check out of Ambit3 and forego the fenix 5. I need to learn more about paper map and compass navigation skill. Any suggestion there?

    By the way the intend use of gps watch is for hiking running and cycling. I already have my answer though. Thanks

  8. Scott on January 23, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    With the Fenix 5, can you load the mapping/ topo maps that come pre-loaded on the 5x? Or is the only way to have that feature is soley on the 5x?? I prefer the size of the 5, the 5x just looks way too big. Thanks!


    • Andrew Skurka on January 23, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      The Fenix 5 does not display maps like the 5X. And I’m doubtful that this capability could be added with a software update or a home solution — Garmin would have had to add extra memory, but then not used it.

  9. Court Fawcett on February 2, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Do you know if you can delete or upload over some of the base maps? For example I have zero interest in golf, so could I delete the golf course and use that space to add more topos or apps?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 2, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Those maps are pre-loaded and cannot be modified by the user. Furthermore, at this point you cannot upload additional map data to the watch.

      • Phil on February 14, 2017 at 9:31 pm

        You should check on the loading of additional maps. I think it is possible.

        • Andrew Skurka on February 15, 2017 at 8:22 am

          Interesting comment. What makes you say that? It would not surprise me if there is some backdoor for tech-savvy folks, but Garmin gave no indication that it was even possible.

  10. Mose on February 26, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Does the Fenix 5x allow custom maps like the Garmin Epix for trails? Or are you stuck with the maps that come with the unit?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 26, 2017 at 8:59 pm

      At this time there is no option to change the stock map data.

  11. GS on March 26, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Hi Andrew
    A big picture question – I am an occasional runner. What is the benefit of paying up to get the 5 vs the 3HR. What does one really gain other than a higher price? Please note I am solely looking at the 5 and not the 5X.

    Secondly for someone who is price indifferent, is the Fenix 5 now the best sports/smart watch on the market or is there another category leader? Again I don’t need or care about maps.

    • Andrew Skurka on March 26, 2017 at 7:20 am

      The differences between the 5 and 3HR are not huge.

      Do you care about the wrist-mounted HR? If not, then I would give the Suunto Ambit3 Peak a look, too. About $300, and besides lacking the wrist-HR it has all the features you need for both endurance sports (e.g. running) and outdoors.

  12. Chris on April 12, 2017 at 3:55 am

    Can I program a running route and import it to my Fenix 5x? If so how? (for turn by turn directions? I just moved)

    • Andrew Skurka on April 12, 2017 at 7:05 am

      I don’t recall how much route-plotting you can do with the 5X. But at a minimum, you will know where you are, which is useful in new parts of town.

    • Andrew on February 10, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      You can try to use Navmin – ConnectIQ app/widget for Fenix 5.

  13. Susan Topp on April 13, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Have you found out if you can add any maps to the Fenix 5s? Can you even load a route? I need maps but the 5x is too large. Need this for daily wear and backpacking.

    • Andrew Skurka on April 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

      The 5S has no mapping capabilities. Only the 5X.

  14. Susan Topp on April 14, 2017 at 11:06 am

    So you can’t even download a route to follow using Garmin Connect or Basecamp on the 5s?

    • Andrew Skurka on April 14, 2017 at 11:11 am

      There are some basic navigation features, but no mapping. For example, you can create waypoints in the field and add waypoints using Basecamp, and “go to” that waypoint (and the watch will tell you distance and direction). It will also create a breadcrumb track for you and can tell you how to return to your car. But the watch will not show you a real map of what’s going on.

  15. EHAB on April 16, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Hello Dear

    If I buy Fenix 5X with USA Topo ,so can I download other maps to use it another country like middle east ? how to work there without Maps ?


  16. Myrixamophit on April 22, 2017 at 11:03 am

    “The 5X demands extra juice to power its over-sized display. Even so, battery life is comparable to the Fenix 3: 12 days, 20 hours, and 50 hours.”

    Aren’t the dsplays of 5 & 5x identical? The difference in power consumption comes only from the hardware, the calculation power is higher on the 5x, for the maps capabilies of course. 5 & 5x are the same, only a bigger housing and stronger computer for the mapping sets the 5x apart.


    • Andrew Skurka on April 22, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Yes, that is correct. The display size is exactly the same (30.4 mm) but the 5X has a bigger case.

  17. Kenny on April 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I own a Fenix 3 HR now, want to purchase a 5X if…
    The mapping system is sufficient while cycling. Does it compare with for instance a Garmin edge?
    So can I pre load routes, is the watch / mapping system able to give good directions while cycling and can I jump to my other important screens (HR / Distance etc.) Like a Garmin Edge?

    And or do you have other tips after you’ve read this ;)?

    Thanks in Advance, Kenny (Netherlands)

    • Andrew Skurka on April 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Without first-hand experience with the 5X or Edge, it’s difficult for me to speculate. Maybe I’ll use your question to prompt the sending of a media sample from Garmin.

  18. Patrick Hare on May 24, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Does the GPS function need to be “ON” in order to use the maps – i.e., to pinpoint where you are on the map? And do the stock maps include trails (e.g., the PCT).

    • Andrew Skurka on May 24, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Unsure on the first question.

      The stock maps are Garmin’s TOPO NA data. If a trail is included with that dataset, then it will be on the watch.

  19. Chris G on May 25, 2017 at 5:29 am

    How do I get the fitness index (compare to others in may age group) and V02 max rate to show? I have been using this watch for months with heart rate strap and it still says no data on V02 and nothing on compared to others.

    • Andrew Skurka on May 25, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      Unsure, but it sounds like this data is probably aggregated from other users. So you might need to upload your data through the Garmin app or online platform.

  20. Micah T Bilton-Smith on July 24, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Hello All,

    I can’t find this answer anywhere please help! Can I get the regular fenix 5 and download topo maps onto it? Or do you HAVE to buy the fenix 5x to get this feature period?

    • Andrew Skurka on July 25, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      No, the Fenix 5 has no mapping display feature.

    • Captainping on July 25, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      you can preload map to fenix 5 and select do course. the watch will guide you on the trail. it will let you know if you are off course. but if I were you I won’t buy the 5X. you don’t want to navigate with it. the topo map loaded on it is limited to specific region. but this is me. that’s why your have your smart phone for. people refresh their phone more often than their watches. smart phone always comes with latest chips. download the map of the course your doing on your phone you don’t need signal to navigate. I speak of this from personal experience. I have fenix 5. i preload my hikes both on my phone and my fenix 5. i use gaiagps on my phone. I also print the map out.

      • Andrew Skurka on July 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

        Thanks for chiming in. Are you saying that the 5 has a topo map display, or that it has a simple grid map (no topo map times) so that you can follow a pre-order route.

        Agree on your assessment. Would rather have a print-out map and Gaia (as backup).

      • Micah on July 25, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        Thank you very much for the reassurance. The 5X is a monster, I got a lot of learning to do with this watch still.

  21. Captainping on July 25, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    no topo display. only the route. but it works for me. believe or not so many hikers don’t bring maps on their hikes or depends on phone alone. i was hiking the San Gorgonio mountain in early May, we got lost many times for portions of the trails were covered in snow. good to have multiple backups.

  22. Ryan Verma on September 8, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Hi all, I’m looking to get into the world of sport watches and because I live in a relatively remote area (Newfoundland, Canada) there aren’t any options for testing or trying them here. I’m hoping to get some good advice from you good folks who have used a few different models.

    It would mainly be used for hiking, hunting and mapping logging roads and quad trails. I would also use it to track my sprinting workouts and the occasional swim if the local pool ever gets fixed. Features that are important to me are altimeter, compass and route display for quick reference navigation. Features that would be nice are smartwatch type stuff like displaying texts or calls from my phone. Cost isn’t a big hindrance as long as the additional features justify the cost.

    I’m debating between the ambit3 peak and the fenix 5. I think the ambit3 peak has most of the features I need but the fenix 5 is nicer to look at and use from the videos I’ve seen. I’m not sure what other features it has compared to the ambit3 peak to warrant the ~$300 price increase for me in Canada. One other factor that seriously detracts from the ambit3 peak is the size of it. I like the battery life, but I’m not a big guy and I’m slightly concerned about the size of it on my wrist as far as aesthetics. The fenix 5 seems sleeker and better looking, but perhaps the ambit3 sport would be an option to consider? I’ve been unable to locate a good comparison of the two (fenix 5 and ambit3 peak) watches as far as features and accuracy and have been piecing together as much info as I can from multiple sources. Any opinions or advice would be welcomed!


    • Andrew Skurka on September 11, 2017 at 4:02 am

      I upgraded to the Ambit3 Peak last month (finally, after 1,100 outings with my Ambit2) and I can’t imagine any must-have feature beyond what it has. It will do the critical functions you identified, and can be paired with your smartphone to display notifications (e.g. texts, emails). It’s obviously quite a bit less than the Fenix 5.

      The Ambit3 Peak does not have a built-in heart rate monitor, but you didn’t specify the importance of this feature. For more accurate HR readings, you need a belt anyway, and that’s available as an accessory with the Ambits. I think it’s usually quite a bit less expensive if you buy the components together rather than later.

      Re size, the Fenix 5 is slightly smaller: 47 x 47 x 15.5 mm versus 50 x 50 x 18 mm (watch face width x height x thickness). But both watches are fairly substantial versus a simple watch. If size is really important to you, look at the Fenix 5S. But I have to be honest: the size is not a big deal. I have very thin wrists and I’ve been running and hiking with one of these watches for years.

      • Ryan Verma on September 12, 2017 at 8:54 am

        I spent a lot more time on youtube watching videos of the watches in use and I think I’m expecting too much from a watch – if I’m going to spend a significant amount on a watch, I want the battery life and GPS accuracy of the ambit3 peak but the wrist appeal and smart functions akin to an apple watch. It seems such a product doesn’t exist yet.

        I’m considering picking up a cheaper (~$230 new) ambit2 on ebay to track my hikes and sprints while I wait for the ultimate superwatch. I believe there would be no notifications on the watch but I could live without that at this price point. Are there any significant differences in features between the ambit2 and ambit3 peak besides battery life? Did you find you actually got the advertised 50 hours in 60s update interval mode on the ambit2 and are you finding 200 hours on the ambit3?

        Finally, what are you opinions on the value of a sapphire watch face? is it worth an additional ~$50-$100 (depending on the model) or does it not add much protection? I don’t trash my stuff but an occasional scuff is inevitable on a watch that size, so is the protection overrated anyway? Thanks!

        • Andrew Skurka on September 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm

          For an extra $70 I would just get the Ambit3, which is still supported by Suunto (with software updates), has better battery life, and which has the phone connectivity. Their battery accuracy is pretty spot-on. At UTMB recently I had the watch running for 25 hours at 5-sec intervals. I think there was 3 or 8 percent battery left when I finished. Not sure it would get to the advertised 30 hours, but it’d have been pretty close.

        • Andrew Skurka on September 12, 2017 at 4:01 pm

          Re the sapphire face, I’d say no. I don’t have it, I beat the crap out of the watch, and it barely got scratched up.

  23. Shuping Yin on September 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    hi Ryan
    I don’t know ambit3 so I can’t common on it. I have fenix 5. I believe fenix 5 is able to do all those things that you talked about. I use it for hiking too. the watch helps me in the following ways:
    1. track back feature: in workout menu, select track back. it will track your route should you need to return original starting point watch will take you back. you have to have your basic navigation skill for it doesn’t give turn by turn instruction only show you the route of the map.
    2. follow preloaded map and track back: this is similar to #1. where you want to hike, just load the course to your watch. if you create waypoints those points will show on the watch
    3. smart watch: it will give you notifications. I have not test this function much.

  24. Samreen on October 5, 2017 at 1:40 am

    Hi Andrew

    Does Garmin Fenix 5X has a sd card slot in it? what about Fenix 5 and 5S? Also, kindly explain me about how to install maps on garmin Fenix 5X which is brought from USA and has to be used in Asia. Because it has preloaded maps of USA I think, so how do we use it in Asian countries?

  25. Shuping on October 23, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    found the ambit 3 at a killer pricing is anyone is interested. that’s Andrew’s favorite watch 🙂

  26. Gerry B on January 7, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Does the Fenix 5 give you the option of providing UTM coordinates in the field?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 7, 2018 at 7:33 pm

      I think it’s fair to assume, but I don’t know the button sequence to get to it.

  27. Hunter G Hall on January 15, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Prediction: Garmin will incorporate InReach functionality into it’s next gen watches. It’s the only move that makes sense.

    That’s the product we’re all waiting for.

  28. Gerry B. on February 10, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    I have read a lot of reviews and comments on the Fenix 5 series and it seems that there is a common complaint about the GPS accuracy of them, especially if Glonass is not also turned on. It seems that the distance can be off by as much as 15% from what I have read. Oddly enough the older / other Garmin GPS watches seem to be much more accurate from what people have said. Garmin has not admitted to or addressed the problem. Owners who have experienced this issue hoped that software updates would address the problem but to date they have not.

    I really like the combination of fitness data and GPS that the Fenix offers and I especially like the smaller 5S size but because they are so expensive and apparently have this GPS accuracy issue, I am going to wait and see if a newer generation of Fenix watches come out later this year or next that will resolve the problem.

    • MarkL on February 11, 2018 at 12:42 am

      Curious: 15% of what? Typically accuracy is measured by a specific distance (for example within 30m or 15m or whatever.) I don’t understand how that can be off by “15%”.

      If you are talking about a track, there are a lot of things that can affect that, not least of which is conditions (reception) and interval (time between location checks)

  29. Gerry B, on February 11, 2018 at 10:33 am

    IIRC, the person’s track for a run was supposed to be 6.2 miles long and the track showed it 15% longer than it actually was. Others had responded that they had had similar experiences.

  30. Ionut on March 23, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Hello everyone.

    I asked on chat the Garmin suport about the posibilities to change or show our track in a map that shows details like topo, and they sent me to walk away and try google earth or another services.

    The basic idea I wanted to expose is that I would have liked to use the Garmin Connect application together with the map to be able to orient myself in the field in hiking tours, to be able to have details such as contours, nearby peaks.
    I walk quite a lot on unmarked roads and so far I have been satisfied with the support and maps I have found using Suunto Ambit3 and their application.
    I thought I was upgrading and I bought a Fenix 5x Plus, but I was hit hard by the lack of support as well as the lack of possibilities.
    Google Earth doesn’t help me and all I have to do is sync the tours recorded with the new Garmin, in the Suunto application so I can see the details in the field that I want.
    Until I let the disappointment overwhelm me, I ask you what solutions you have in relation to the problem of maps without details from the official Garmin applications (Connect Android / Web).

    Have you any ideas/ Solution?

    • Andrew Skurka on March 23, 2021 at 10:11 am

      You’re trying to use the wrong tool for the job.

      What you really need to be using is a paper map or a GPS app on your smartphone like Gaia GPS or CalTopo.

      • Ionut on March 24, 2021 at 1:47 am

        I understand. I did several checks. In parallel I use OSMand but often in the field I used to use the Suunto application especially for location in unmarked routes and field orientation in connection with level and relief differences.
        I would have liked and thought that I could use the Garmin application as I did with the Suunto one, but I will have to focus on something else.
        Thanks so much for the information.
        Do you have any idea how I could synchronize the routes recorded with Fenix 5x in the Suunto application. I would like to have them in both programs.
        And I have another question. I am going to make the transition from Ambit3 to Fenix 5X (which is already paid and will arrive). Will this be an upgrade? (in the field)
        Thank you

        • Shuping on March 24, 2021 at 3:59 am

          Like Andrew said use paper map or Gaia GPS or Cal TOPO may be better. I also have a fenix 5. I don’t think its purpose is for navigation. it is a good sports watch. However you could pre-load a .gpx file to your fenix 5 and use it to track your course. it will tell you if you are of course or not. for backcountry navigation I premiery use Gaia GPS.

          • Ionut on March 24, 2021 at 4:45 am

            I dont really need/use the watch for navigation, but for recording my tracks. I supossed to use a Garmin App, not for planning a route. I wanted to use it (Connect) to view details in the fields like I saw in Suunto App. Now, my question is how to import GPX files that i’ll record with Fenix into Suunto App(i want to view it there also), and I just ask myself if my future Fenix 5, will be really an upgrade to my old Ambit3 in the field (for recording, battery, GPS accuracy). But I have to do my tests for this soon.
            Thanks a lot

          • Shuping on March 24, 2021 at 3:07 pm

            oh, don’t mind about my reply. I may not understand your question. I will share my experience. I just use track me function. works well for me.

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