GARMIN FENIX 5
SMALL CHANGES FOR BIG GAINS IS A DREAM FOR MOST ATHLETES, AND THIS MULTISPORT WATCH NAILS IT
Keep track of your adventures and racing heart with Garmin’s latest multisport watch.
From $799, garmin.com
Garmin has taken roughly two years to revise its near-unbeatable multisport watch, the Fenix 3. There is no ‘4’ variant, though the newest range more than compensates for the missing sequel with a trio of timepieces that cater to modern-day Edmund Hillarys as well as more fashion-focused adventures who might like to take the weekend off. We have the middle-of-the-range Fenix 5 on test here. All three are designed for multisport enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies and survivalists, though the smaller, marginally lower-specced 5s will suit anyone with a smaller wrist, and the 5X wouldn’t be out of place on a military commando’s forearm. They share the same underpinnings and software, though the 5s has a lower-resolution screen compared to the 5 and 5X, and the latter gains proper maps.
Garmin has done a great job of making its range look more like ‘normal’ watches, especially with the 5s. The Fenix 5 has cut down on the bulk and improved the screen resolution compared to the Fenix 3 while reducing its overall diameter. These cosmetic changes impress.
Each has an optical heart rate monitor with 24/7 monitoring, and GPS functions. So far, so Fenix 3, though once you’re done training you’ll notice feedback on your training load that gives some indication of how you’re performing in relation to past results, plus more recommendations on what to do during recovery, rather than simply ‘recover’. Light exercise, train as normal and so on are very handy if you don’t have a plan worked out.
What’s fantastic about the Fenix is how adaptable it is to what you want to do. The list of sports available is broad enough to entice anyone who spends their time on land or in the water, skiing or snowboarding, running or adventuring thanks to its barometer, in built compass and altimeter. Battery life is nothing short of sensational, too, especially when paired to a chest strap – this tester completed a full Ironman in 11 hours and the Fenix 5 still had 50% battery left when paired to the triathlon-specific strap. In a separate, 3:25 marathon and using optical heart rate and GPS, it went down to 68%. You could expect to get about 10 hours of GPS and optical heart rate from a full charge, which is enough if you want to commute to and from work on foot or by bike and not bother with a chest strap for a week, or perhaps cycle from Sydney to Canberra.
Not that it’s perfect: the optical heart rate monitor often underreported what our ticker’s doing when active, and there is also discrepancy between left and right wrists, with the left (this tester’s non-dominant side) reporting closer to the chest strap. The optical sensor does show resting heart rate perfectly,
Garmin’s app offers more in-depth metrics, but the basics and more can be reviewed on the watch, cementing its place as a benchmark watch to beat.
You can turn notifications on during activities if you want, but you’ll need your phone nearby to get them ABOVE RIGHT Quick release straps make changing colours or styles easier than before.