Smart watches - feedback

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing.
Forum rules
Please do not use this forum to advertise, sell photos or other products or promote a commercial website. For more details, please see the Terms of Use you agreed to when joining the forum.
User avatar
LoveThisSite
Posts: 257
Joined: 9/4/2009
14ers:summits58 winter6 
13ers:summits8 

Smart watches - feedback

Post by LoveThisSite » Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:51 pm

I'm thinking of buying one of those "smart" watches and looking for feedback - good or bad about any specific models.
Primary use will be during hiking, and also during neighborhood runs. Something that I can wear everyday as a watch.

Key features I want:
- GPS (distance)
- Altitude (could be GPS based, or barometric)
- Dont need extensive mapping support but something basic that I can refer to quickly while hiking. No need for routing capability.
- Good battery life - at least several days at a minimum if it's something that needs to be charged regularly.

Price does not matter.

Garmin Fenix 6 looks amazing - way more features than I'd ever need, but wouldn't mind them :) Any specific feedback on Garmin Fenix 6?
User avatar
jimwei
Posts: 59
Joined: 11/10/2015
14ers:summits21 
13ers:summits11 
Trip Reports (2)

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by jimwei » Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:57 pm

I have the Suunto 9 Baro. It has all the features you listed. Battery life in tracking mode is between 24 hours to 120 hours depends on the tracking interval. I generally can go a week without charging it for daily runs, but I usually charge it for long weekend outings. GPS accuracy is superb.
User avatar
climbingcue
Posts: 515
Joined: 10/11/2011
14ers:summits58 ski6 winter16 
13ers:summits128 ski7 winter8 

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by climbingcue » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:11 pm

I have the Garmin Fenix 5, I bought it when the 6 came out. The price really dropped when the new model came out. It has worked great for me. If you are using the GPS the battery last one full day, for multi day trips I bring the battery backup to charge it up.
Consecutive months with at least one 14er, 35 months.
User avatar
Eli Watson
Posts: 119
Joined: 5/29/2020
14ers:summits58 winter5 
13ers:summits34 winter1 
Trip Reports (2)

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Eli Watson » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:26 pm

The Garmin 225 does not meet your criteria, despite its ~$100 secondhand price tag now. Even when I turn off everything I can besides GPS, I still can't squeeze more than 13 hr out of it. Great for shorter trips.
Crestone Centennial Circuit: Part I & Part II
User avatar
Monster5
Posts: 1658
Joined: 8/7/2009
14ers:summits58 winter30 
13ers:summits284 winter51 
Trip Reports (27)
Contact:

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Monster5 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:34 pm

Coros is throwing a lot of money around, claiming best battery life and such. While most of my friends like the watch, I'd say their opinions are perhaps biased by a free watch. A review from an unbiased source would be great.

I have a Garmin Fenix 5x. It is big and bulky, with a realistic battery life between 17-21 hrs with all else besides tracking turned off. The extended battery tracking wasn't remotely accurate.
"The road to alpine climbing is pocked and poorly marked, ending at an unexpectedly closed gate 5 miles from the trailhead." - MP user Beckerich
User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 1929
Joined: 6/14/2010
14ers: List not added
Trip Reports (9)

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Dave B » Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:04 pm

I have the Forerunner 245 music and enjoy it a good bit. Battery will definitely not last two days in tracking, but Goal Zero power banks are cheap and light. It's on the cheaper end and has actual buttons instead of touch screen, which I've ended up liking a lot when wearing gloves or being sweaty. I also really like having music on my watch, even though I don't use it all that often. Mapping requires an app and probably destroys battery life.

If very accurate distances/splits are important for running, you may want to consider a Stryd foot pod, they're $$$ but supposed to be far more accurate than GPS watches and you get their "power" estimate which is supposed to be better for pacing runs during training on hills than speed and HR.
User avatar
madbuck
Posts: 857
Joined: 6/16/2009
14ers: List not added
Trip Reports (6)
Contact:

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by madbuck » Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:08 pm

Monster5 wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:34 pm
Coros is throwing a lot of money around, claiming best battery life and such. While most of my friends like the watch, I'd say their opinions are perhaps biased by a free watch. A review from an unbiased source would be great.
I love the Coros Apex. (Sadly) I think my longest day is 8-9 hours, but, extrapolating from remaining battery, I believe the ~24 hour full GPS claim. Haven't tried the ~80 hours "UltraGPS" mode. I use it every day for running or biking, and it also worked well for paddling and skiing.

I bought and returned a Suunto 9 non-baro. The vert was regularly off (albeit, it was non-baro) but it was also slow to sync and had bad syncs mid-run every 10-20 runs. Also had probs with the phone software, which I would have to restart to get it to pull data. Coros has been super reliable.

I'm cheap and ran without tracking until a couple years ago. That won't help for the cost-doesn't-matter original question, but as for a sweet spot of affordability for basic functionality from a previously unknown brand, I'd strongly recommend Coros.
User avatar
andrewrose
Posts: 28
Joined: 8/30/2012
14ers:summits6 winter5 
13ers:summits18 
Trip Reports (5)
Contact:

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by andrewrose » Wed Jul 22, 2020 4:36 pm

I have a Coros Apex 42 mm. I got it slightly used for 200, absolutely would not have paid full price for it as that will put you in range of used Suunto 9 Baros or be money towards something even nicer, like the Fenix 6.
It’s been pretty glowingly reviewed in a lot of places, and MAY be the watch for you. At first glance, it does have a lot of features you’ll find on higher end and more expensive watches (sapphire, barometer) but on the other hand...
-walk is not an activity you can select. This annoys the duck out of me because I take my 5 month old on a walk almost every day. You could track them as a run, hike, or gps cardio, but if you’re wondering what fitness watch doesn’t have walk as an option, it’s Coros.
-since my first few activities were walks tracked as runs, it thinks I am in poor health. Obviously I’m not trying at all when on a walk. There is no way to select what activities you want it to look at to give you feedback. This is also despite my resting hr regularly being in the low 40s and max higher than the theoretical for someone my age.
-along those lines, the metrics don’t make any sense. The daily training load thing... not sure how it works. I’ll complete an activity, get say 100 points. Then when I look at it the next day, it’ll be at 96 points. Which is like saying if I drank six beers yesterday and then zero beers today, yesterday I drank 4 beers. Some days when I literally get out of bed I’ll already have 20 points and I haven’t done anything.
-if you want to use it as a training tool, you will definitely need a chest strap hr monitor. The wrist based one is not accurate at all.
-one of my wants was a long battery life for tracking multi day outings. It does have UltraMax mode. Before my last big one, I put it in UltraMax mode before I started. I ended sooner than planned, 22 hours in. The battery was at 20 percent. So somehow it wasn’t in that mode the entire time. There is no indication while in an activity if you are in that mode or not, and no way to tell after the fact.
-support. Google Coros forums. The forum is a Coros users page on Facebook. Apparently it is monitored by someone(s) from the company, but after initial questions, they have not responded to my inquiry. Now google Garmin forums. There actually is one.
-as far as mapping, you can upload a gpx and it’ll give you a line to follow. Nothing else on the map. It beeps if you go off the track. I used that once. I wasn’t off the track when it thought I was (though with gps connections out there, this issue is probably not specific to this watch/brand). They say it has a go back to start feature but I haven’t seen that or used it. Not sure if it points you in a straight line, or has you retrace your steps.
Other watches I looked at and seriously considered: Suunto 9 Baro, Polar Grit X, Garmin Fenix 6 series. When I can afford it, I will sell the Coros and get a Fenix 6. The Apex isn’t bad and if you can find one used at a reasonable price, it could be the watch for you. The gps tracks I’ve gotten look pretty accurate without getting knots.
CEO and head pancake maker at http://www.hikingrmnp.org
User avatar
Will_E
Posts: 217
Joined: 8/14/2018
14ers:summits58 winter44 
13ers:summits74 winter1 
Trip Reports (11)

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Will_E » Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:08 pm

I find the Apple Watch to be fantastic. But useless unless you’re in the Apple Ecosystem.
User avatar
amorgan
Posts: 23
Joined: 8/13/2014
14ers:summits11 
Trip Reports (1)

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by amorgan » Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:47 pm

I’ve been wearing a Fenix 6 Pro (one perk of being in the KC metro is lots of Garmin employees with discounts) for about 8 months now. Just about to get out for formal hikes in the mountains in a couple weeks, but I’ve used it pretty extensively for marathon training, walks, general fitness including HiiT and weight training, and golf GPS.

It is likely more than I’d ever use with so many layers of features in different modes. I really like the functionality of course mapping for runs, built in PacePro (like having a wristband during a race that gives you splits based on the course layout), and Spotify integration (which finally seems to work).

It has a built in barometer, great battery life (I get about 6 days per charge if I don’t use GPS, probably 18 hrs or so of GPS? Ballparking a bit there), and I’m impressed with the accuracy of the mapping and GPS.

I was sold on it from DC Rainmaker’s review. He’s my go-to for any fitness watch information and I’d strongly recommend his site for more info. I switched from an Apple Watch series 3 and the Fenix is definitely more geared toward all sport tracking and fitness.

I’d highly recommend the watch, but probably wouldn’t have bought it at full price initially, given what I use it for. That said, now that I’m used to it, it would be hard to go back to something with fewer features because it seems to do just about everything.
User avatar
LoveThisSite
Posts: 257
Joined: 9/4/2009
14ers:summits58 winter6 
13ers:summits8 

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by LoveThisSite » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:24 am

Thank you all for the detailed and practical feedback, both good and bad - exactly what I wanted to hear. You guys are amazing! Currently leaning towards the Fenix 6 pro Solar but I might wait a bit to see if they will go on sale during Labor Day..

Thanks again!
User avatar
andrewrose
Posts: 28
Joined: 8/30/2012
14ers:summits6 winter5 
13ers:summits18 
Trip Reports (5)
Contact:

Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by andrewrose » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:57 am

LoveThisSite wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:24 am
Thank you all for the detailed and practical feedback, both good and bad - exactly what I wanted to hear. You guys are amazing! Currently leaning towards the Fenix 6 pro Solar but I might wait a bit to see if they will go on sale during Labor Day..

Thanks again!
That is the one I’m planning on too. I’m also going to wait for sales- I think for Father’s Day, they were 150 off (maybe?). Still expensive, but a better price.
CEO and head pancake maker at http://www.hikingrmnp.org
Post Reply