What about Garmin’s sports watch Fenix 5X? What works, what doesn’t? I’ve put it to the test. Read on to find out what my verdict is.
My passion for running and the outdoors began in 2013 when I took part in the epic Jungfrau-Marathon – and this passion hasn’t stopped growing since. I regularly take part in running events and enjoy outdoor adventures as often as I can. Sports watches have been part of my equipment for a while. When Garmin launched the Fenix 5X, I was keen to give it a try.
Unbox, charge the battery, get out the manual…put it away again. Let’s go! That’s how I roll.
The Garmin Fenix 5X makes an excellent first impression. It looks elegant and robust and comes with a display that offers a range of individual designs. The customising options include adding information such as date, steps, battery status, etc. to the watch face, as well as downloading other display designs from the Garmin portal «Garmin Connect». From a visual point of view, this watch certainly won't get boring.
The variety of display designs makes sure you never get bored.
I’ve had Garmin devices before, so I find it easy to use the basic functions without having to consult the manual. However, the Fenix 5X seems to offer almost infinite possibilities, which makes me wonder if I have to go back to uni and get a degree before I’ll understand and know how to apply all these settings.
If you don’t use the apps much, the battery will last almost two weeks. The more I use the watch, the faster the battery runs down – that’s no surprise. A one-day hike with GPS seems to be no problem. But once you launch the navigation function, you’ll run out of battery after about eight to nine hours. If you’re planning a longer adventure where you need the navigation option, a power source is essential.
I’m keen on checking my heart rate regularly, so I was especially looking forward to the wrist-based heart rate sensor. The measurement works well in everyday life and when you’re resting. What bothers me, however, is that you have to wear the watch rather tightly to your wrist to get accurate measurements. This isn’t only uncomfortable; it may even harm your skin. Especially if you wear your watch 24/7, as I do.
The heart rate measurement only works if I wear the watch very tightly.
How does the rate monitor perform during a workout session? I begin with a slow run, but the measurement is already off. I try it again with a faster run and the pulse rate that’s displayed is at least 30 beats too low. During interval training where I switch between high-intensity and low-intensity sessions, the Fenix 5X displays completely wrong measurements; sometimes too high and sometimes far too low. In my opinion, the wrist-based heart rate measurement is useless when it comes to running training. I’m definitely going to stick with my heart rate belt.
Another feature I was looking forward to: the maps. At first glance, they’re genius and look amazing. I couldn’t wait to go for a run and test the navigation function. Via the «Points of Interest» function on the watch, I quickly found a suitable destination in my area. Funnily enough, it showed me several picnic spots – but the chances of finding the exact location were relatively small. I chose a picnic spot in the north, as I thought it might be by the lake, judging by the distance. I took a few wrong turns while running; it was hard to follow the navigation, as the map on the watch face is very small. What’s good is that your watch lets you know straight away if you’re going off track.
The navigation works quite well for hiking, but gets tricky if you’re running. The distance to the next crossing or fork in the road is shown at the bottom of the display and the watch also alarms you with vibration and sound shortly before you have to take a turn. Nevertheless, it’s rather difficult to find the right way, especially if you don't know the area well. After 4.7 kilometres, I reached the picnic spot, which – of course – wasn’t by but behind the lake. I quickly realised that the original distance I saw was the linear distance to the destination. That's what happens if you run off without reading the manual.
By the time I reached the picnic spot, it was dark, so I set my home address as new navigation destination. The navigation led over field roads, but I decided to run along the main road instead. To my surprise, the route home was never recalculated. Strange, I thought to myself and set off again the next day. This time, I manually selected a destination at the lake and headed off. With the experience from the previous day and a little more time, the navigation worked perfectly. I deliberately took a few wrong turns and the route was recalculated without problems.
When I arrived at my destination, I decided to test the track back function, which leads you back to your starting point. However, I chose to take a different way. And again, the route wasn’t recalculated. My learning? Track back only works if you’re happy to take exactly the same way back. A great thing, in theory. On your way back, you can even enjoy some interesting insights, such as a diagram with the altitude meters covered and those still to come.
My verdict on the maps: Great function, but still room for improvement. When it comes to usability, having a look around the maps is quite hard work without a touch screen.
Training mode and training status
I can change the data fields in the training mode as I like. Up to four data fields can be displayed on the watch face. On top of that, I can configure various screens for each sport, which I can call up during the activity. The possibilities are almost endless. Personally, I’m interested in ground contact time and cadence, but these only work with a pulse belt.
The training status widget provides me with information about my fitness level after a training session: A VO2max is specified and a run forecast is derived from it. As far as I can judge from my own experience, the forecasts for 5 km and 10 km that my watch calculates for me are rather accurate. The half marathon and marathon times don’t look realistic. I don’t get why it makes a marathon forecast at all if you haven’t done more than a 15 km run.
This information might be helpful as a rough guideline, but no more than this. What the Fenix 5X also indicates is your recovery time that’s required for complete recovery after your last activity. This is also a helpful indication, especially for beginner runners.
What I liked and what I didn’t
Garmin Connect (app and web portal for viewing your own data/activities and networking with friends)
range of display designs
navigation function when hiking
altimeter (very accurate when compared to altitude information on signposts)
wrist-based heart rate measurement when relaxing
an infinite amount of data :)
navigation function when running
wrist-based heart rate measurement isn’t accurate when running
thermometer (unnecessary because inaccurate. The weather widget that you get by connecting your watch to your phone is more reliable)
weight training app with repetition counter (too complicated and inaccurate, the counter didn’t work for all exercises and setting the counter manually is possible but takes too much time in my opinion)
The altimeter provides accurate elevation data.
The Garmin Fenix 5X looks great and offers an almost endless range of functions. You’ll never get bored with this watch. It’s quite an investment, but definitely worth it if you spend a lot of time outdoors and if you love data. This watch is also suitable in day-to-day life. If you’d like a more elegant version, there’s a metal wrist band that makes it look rather sophisticated. For ambitious runners and those who are constantly going for a new personal record, the Fenix 5X may be too big and too heavy. Moreover, the wrist-based pulse measurement doesn’t replace the pulse belt.
These articles might also interest you
News and trends
Pre-order now: the new Suunto Spartan Ultra sports watch
Ich liebe es, draussen zu sein und zu laufen – ohne Bewegung geht bei mir gar nichts. Bei meinen Outdoor-Aktivitäten fotografiere ich auch sehr gerne. Weniger Spass macht mir das Lesen von Bedienungsanleitungen – ich probiere lieber mal drauf los.
Das die Uhr bei eng angezogenem Band so ungenaue Werte der Herzfrequenz liefert liegt eben an der falschen Annahme es müsste eng angebunden sein. Die Lichtquelle muss zur Messung durch die Haut scheinen sonst bekommt es kein feedback über den Blutdurchfluss aus dessen Wellen es den Puls misst.
habe dieselben erfahrungen gemacht wie du. pulsgurt habe ich ebenso von garmin gekauft, wobei die differenzen eher vernachlässgbar sind. man sollte halt nur die uhr nicht allzu eng schnallen, schon gar nicht so eng, dass danach solche spuren wie auf den bildern zu sehen sind.
Für eine einigermassen genaue Messung ist ein ständiger Hautkontakt des Sensors unabdingbar. Eine lose Tragart führt auf keinen Fall zu einem korrekten Ergebnis. Bewegungen der Uhr am Handgelenk machen eine korrekte Messung ebenso unmöglich.
Ständiger Hautkontakt und ich drucke mir den Sensor in den Gelenk hinein ist aber ein Unterschied. Wenn man den Abdruck betrachtet sieht man doch dass man es so nicht tragen sollte. Aber hey, es sind ja Profis, nicht wahr? ;)
Habe die Uhr seit Samstag 24.03.18 und der Höhenmesser/Barometer funktionieren absolut nicht korrekt. Höhe von -20'000m bis +35'000m innert 2 Std. obwohl ich immer am gleichen Ort bin. Baro von -195 bis +1500. Wohlgemerkt mit Standardeinstellungen der Uhr... Tipptopp für eine über 500.- teure Uhr.
Handelt es sich wirklich um die Fènix 5X? Dieser Fehler ist von der Fénix 3 HR bekannt! Uhr unbedingt unter Garantie umtauschen. (Ich habe das gleiche mit der ersten 3 HR erlebt, die Austauschuhr funktioniert nun einwandfrei))
Ich habe sie gekauft, weil ich mich auf die Handgenkmessung (Puls) freute. Im Ruhemodus funktioniert die Messung brauchbar, im Trainingsmodus funktioniert die Messung sehr schnell überhaupt nicht mehr! Musste mir unbedint einen Brustgurt besorgen.
Je suis d'accord avec vous et je trouve que c'est un point important, la fonction cardio au poignet est assez décevant, j'ai pu le voir sur la montre d'un ami. Je tiens à noter que la Garmin Fenix 3 WHR (mesure au poignet) fonctionne plutôt bien et surtout mieux si la montre n'est pas serrée (à l'inverse de la Fenix 5 selon l'article). En fait, quand on court ou à vélo, bien que les bras bougent la montre est assez stable meme si pas serrée, surement due à son poids. Enfin, je ne conseille pas de changer une Fenix 3 contre une Fenix 5, le prix ne justifie pas le changement.