Hiking Gear Review Travel

Garmin Fenix 3 Hiking GPS Review

In This Information
  • Why the Fenix Three is a superb climbing watch
  • Customizing the Fenix Three
  • Non-hiking makes use of for the Fenix Three
  • Fenix Three ideas and tips

Word: There’s a more moderen mannequin, the Fenix 5, and the evaluate is right here.

The Garmin Fenix Three is my favourite piece of climbing gear, bar none. It’s like having an outside smartphone on my wrist, 24/7. The Fenix Three has tons of of options. Right here’s what’s good, what’s not, and why you must get this superior climbing watch.

I bought the Fenix Three on the day that got here out (in March 2015), and have been utilizing it day by day since then. Being a hiker and a tech geek, I had a tough time deciding on which smartwatch to get. I thought-about getting the Apple Watch, Garmin Epix, Suunto Ambit, and I additionally thought-about doing with out it. I used to be additionally conflicted after studying the quite a few evaluations on Amazon and REI. So I attempted it out for myself.

BEST WATCH ON THE PLANET!!!!! – Amazon Reviewer

These are the options that make it an unimaginable device for any hiker. (And maintain studying to seek out out the not-so-great options that you have to be conscious of too.)

fenix on mt whitneyUtilizing my Fenix Three HR on the summit of Mt Whitney. The HR mannequin has optical coronary heart fee, making the watch not solely a dashboard for my hike, but in addition for my physique.

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Garmin Fenix Three Options

It’s Straightforward to Use

Some watches and smartwatches are difficult and onerous to make use of. This consists of some fashions from Garmin. However the Fenix Three is straightforward. The buttons on this watch are used persistently and make logical sense. After a minute or two utilizing it, you’ll know the best way to work each display.

key to garmin fenix 3 watch keysThe keys on the Fenix Three are easy and constant.

The face is straightforward to learn. The colours and distinction are easy and efficient. A backlight, triggered by a single button, is customizable. For instance, you’ll be able to flip the backlight on mechanically if you hit any button, and it will probably keep on from Eight seconds to a minute.

Very Correct GPS

I exploit the Fenix Three closely for climbing, and I’ve discovered the GPS to be spot on.  I did a check on a 1 mile stretch of street that had an official measurement. I in contrast it with my previous 910xt, and GaiaGPS on my iPhone 6. I additionally did the check on a couple of stretches of native trails. The Fenix Three all the time had the perfect GPS accuracy.

The GPS repair is strong too. I by no means had a sign dropout in deep woods and timber, whereas buddies with different watches and smartphones do. Garmin actively updates the firmware to deal with GPS accuracy, and it’s been efficient. The protection and accuracy appear to get higher over time.

gps lock on the garmin fenix 3A easy inexperienced coloured message lets you realize when GPS is locked in and an exercise can start.

The Fenix Three cannot solely use GPS satellites, but in addition the Russian equal referred to as GLONASS. Typically it’s higher with each, typically it’s not, however you will have the choice.

Lastly, and maybe most significantly, the Fenix Three can get a GPS repair in a short time, usually inside a couple of seconds. And it really works shortly once you dramatically transfer places too. For instance, I used the watch in LA someday, flew to Turkey, and fired it up there. I had a GPS repair inside a minute.

Following Trails is Straightforward

Navigating with the Fenix Three was an essential function for me. I thought-about getting a handheld GPS just like the Garmin Oregon 750t, and even utilizing my iPhone with a water-proof case. I stated no to the Oregon as a result of I didn’t need to be depending on Garmin’s (costly) maps. I stated no to the iPhone case as a result of I needed higher battery life. I additionally thought-about the Garmin Epix, which has a map display, nevertheless it has a popularity for being buggy. I additionally observed that loads of retailers (resembling REI) stopped promoting it. Not a great signal.

However I used to be fearful that the small display on the Fenix Three wouldn’t be too useful. It seems that I don’t really need the digital maps to navigate. I simply obtain the monitor of the path to the watch, after which use that to ensure that I’m on track. The monitor display on the Fenix Three exhibits your place relative to a monitor you’ve downloaded.

gps track on the garmin fenix 3You’ll be able to see the place I went off the monitor (black line) and the monitor I placed on the system (inexperienced line). The unit also can vibrate and notify you when you’re off the monitor.

For instance, a standard use case is once I’m climbing and understand that I won’t be on target. I convey up the monitor display on the Fenix Three, after which see my place relative to the monitor. If I’m not on or near the monitor line, I backtrack till I’m, then look intently for indicators on the path.

This technique has labored rather well for me.  I’ve a full information to creating mountaineering routes and transferring them to your Fenix Three right here.

There are additionally third celebration apps like this one from my pal Rodrigo that allow you to put maps on the watch itself which you’ll be able to give a attempt.

Lengthy Battery Life

There’s nothing extra annoying than having to always cost a tool, particularly one that you simply use as a private exercise tracker. I used to like my FitBit, however grew uninterested in charging it on a regular basis. The Fenix Three doesn’t have that drawback.

I exploit it 24/7 as an exercise and sleep tracker, I exploit it to trace a exercise for about 30-90 minutes a day, and I monitor one lengthy (Three-Eight hour) hike every week. I even have the Bluetooth and WiFi all the time on. For all that use, I usually simply cost it for about an hour or two (typically simply earlier than my lengthy hike, after which proper after).

battery meter on the garmin fenix 3The unit costs fairly shortly with a USB based mostly cable.

Based on Garmin, the watch will work in GPS mode for about 16 hours. I’ve used it on in a single day backpacking journeys and it wasn’t an issue recording each day’s hikes in GPS mode. These days I’ve been utilizing the Fenix Three HR mannequin, and I can get about 12-13 hours of steady use.

By default, the Fenix Three data a GPS repair each second in GPS mode. However in the event you want longer life (like on a multi-day backpacking journey), you’ll be able to change it to “sensible recording” which can prolong the battery life. There are additionally tons of USB chargers you possibly can deliver for those who’re doing an prolonged backpacking journey that ought to cowl you for 2 weeks of every day climbing. Additionally notice that the HR mannequin makes use of extra battery than the non-HR mannequin.

Customizable and Personalised

Each display and piece of knowledge that you simply see on the watch might be personalised. The Fenix Three has “knowledge screens” that you simply see throughout climbing (or another exercise like operating, biking, and so on.). Every display  can present from 1 to four items of knowledge. And every exercise (like climbing) can have from 1 to 12 totally different screens. You merely press the up and down button to cycle by way of every display. It allows you to see what’s essential to you and conceal what’s not.

hiking data on the garmin fenix 3I custom-made the mountaineering screens to point out solely the info that I want.

The customization goes simply past climbing. You possibly can select your watch face. You possibly can select what items of data you cycle by way of, similar to altimeter, barometer, steps, climate, compass, and temperature. The screens additionally embrace Bluetooth notifications out of your telephone. For instance, your smartphone can get the climate and output it to your telephone. Garmin calls these screens “widgets” and has opened it as much as builders as a part of it’s “Join IQ” app market. So when you don’t just like the default climate widget, you possibly can obtain the Accuweather widget. Similar factor goes for watch faces, knowledge fields, and apps. I’m going with a watch face that has the present moon cycle and sundown, along with the time and date.

apps for the garmin fenix 3Examples of free customization choices for the Garmin Fenix Three.

After which there are apps. Consider apps as actions. Climbing is an app. Operating is an app. And there are apps for nearly each exercise, from mountaineering, to biking, to strolling, indoor operating, virtually every little thing. Apps are additionally free on the Fenix Three Join IQ web site.

You possibly can principally make this watch do something you need. And in case you don’t need to customise it, it simply works out of the field as properly. I discovered that as I used it extra, I received extra adventurous and tried extra customization.

fenix 3 heart rate displayMaintaining a tally of my coronary heart price as I hike up a climb in Angeles Nationwide Forest. I like that I can monitor my health stats and my hike stats in a single place.

Not Simply For Climbing

The Fenix Three is rather more than only a mountaineering GPS. I assumed I might simply use this for climbing, however I actually use it each hour of daily now.

To start out, it’s a health tracker. I depart it on my arm and it tracks my steps, and it tracks my sleep. And it doesn’t seem like a health tracker (aka residence arrest bracelet). It seems to be like a rugged watch. I put on it at work, I put on it at play.

cris hazzard with garmin fenix 3Hanging with my Fenix Three on trip in Rome.

The step monitor helps me be sure I keep lively day-after-day. It even has a transfer alert. Should you’re at your desk to lengthy, it’ll buzz and remind you to maneuver. The sleep monitor tells you ways a lot sleep you get – how a lot is deep, mild, or awake. It’s automated. No buttons to press.

garmin connect app steps displayThe Garmin app and web site lets you see what number of steps you tackle a every day, weekly, and month-to-month foundation.garmin connect sleep reportGarmin Join sleep report from Fenix Three.

Should you do some other sports activities or actions, the Fenix Three works for these too. I exploit it for my mountain biking and street biking as nicely. A easy handlebar mount lets me connect the Fenix Three and it turns into my cycle pc. I opted in for a simple to mount velocity and cadence monitor too, and now I can get all of the stats from my rides.

garmin fenix 3 mounted on a bikeFenix Three mounted on my bike. I can customise the screens and knowledge for my rides on the watch too.

Likewise, I additionally run sometimes. I bought the chest coronary heart fee strap. The cool factor about this coronary heart fee monitor is that I can measure all my stride stats too. I’ve used these stats to extend my operating cadence and create a extra environment friendly stride. The guts price monitor additionally permits the Fenix Three to estimate my VO2 max (an indicator of health) and advocate restoration occasions after every exercise. It’s fairly superb. In case you’re into health and need to join, be happy to comply with me on Strava or join on Garmin Join.

The guts fee monitor can also be usable when mountaineering. I’ve discovered that it provides me a way more correct estimate of what number of energy I burn throughout a hike (in comparison with a non-heart price estimate). This helps me make it possible for I’m consuming sufficient on lengthy hikes to maintain my power ranges topped up.

heart rate data from garmin fenix 3Coronary heart fee knowledge from an extended hike with the Fenix Three.

Lastly, value a point out, are Bluetooth notifications. The watch can get notifications out of your smartphone. For instance, in the event you get a telephone name, the watch can vibrate. This could get fairly annoying, so I like to recommend shutting off any notifications in your telephone that aren’t important. I get a notification when I’ve a name or textual content from household or buddies. E-mail and different crap doesn’t come by way of. However on this means it really works identical to the Apple Watch.

What Might Be Higher

Sapphire Watch Band

You will get the Fenix Three with a daily band (in plastic or leather-based), or with the high-end all-metal hyperlinks on the Sapphire mannequin. The Sapphire mannequin is meant to be extra scratch resistant, however the band must be custom-made by you to be the fitting width in your wrist. I like to recommend taking it to a jeweler or utilizing this easy and low cost hyperlink device to pop the hyperlinks out.

And the Sapphire band doesn’t absolutely open, so if you wish to apply it to a motorcycle, you need to change the band. Fortunately the Sapphire version features a rubber watch band you’ll be able to swap out. I’ve the Sapphire band in reserve in case I want one thing fancy. Personally I feel the leather-based banded Sapphire mannequin is an effective stability between ease and elegance.

different garmin fenix 3 modelsComparability of Fenix Three fashions and types.

I do advocate getting display safety as I’ve a small scratch on mine. – Amazon Reviewer

I don’t know concerning the scratch resistance of the common mannequin (I’ve the Sapphire), however after doing analysis, it seems like you need to get the Sapphire mannequin to keep away from scratching.

The Fenix Three is Costly

There’s no getting round it, it’s an costly piece of drugs. Whenever you examine it towards a pleasant watch, it’s low cost although. If you examine it towards the worth you get from an Apple Watch, it’s value it. The Apple Watch is an honest various, however it’s solely waterproof. And it wants your telephone to work. The Fenix Three works on it’s personal, and it’s waterproof to 100 meters. The underside line is that the Fenix Three is made for climbing and the outside, whereas most different fashions will not be.

On reflection, if I ask myself was it well worth the cash, I can confidently say “sure.” I actually use it day-after-day, it provides me suggestions on my life and well being, and I navigate with it mountaineering. It does rather a lot for the cash.

Should you’re critical about operating, climbing, biking, swimming, that is the highest canine of all GPS/Health watches. – Amazon Reviewer

Fenix Three Software program

Garmin can do a lot better on the software program entrance. Reviewing the Garmin software program for the Fenix Three can be an article on it’s personal, however right here’s the great and dangerous of what you want to know.

  • General, the software program works and exhibits you details about your hike, sleep, and so on. You should use it on the internet or cellular.
  • They modify their cellular software program fairly a bit, and it’s not all the time for the higher. Fitbit does a a lot better job. I hope they enhance the software program..
  • Fitbit has a easy method that you could see what number of steps you could have in relation to your mates. Garmin makes the method clunky and it’s not well worth the effort.
  • Your actions sync seamlessly to the system and net utilizing WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • Updating the firmware typically is a problem. Typically I replace the Fenix Three firmware with the USB connection, after which get prompted to replace it to the identical model a number of occasions. I don’t know why Garmin can’t get this proper. It appears to be working a lot better now that it did when the watch first got here out.
  • On a constructive notice, Garmin updates the Fenix Three firmware typically and appears dedicated to enhancing the product and expertise. One of many newest updates added tons of options, like SUP monitoring, lactate threshold testing, stress checks, and golf monitoring.

This watch is superior have had no points, Garmin places out common updates this does the whole lot I would like it to do. – Amazon Reviewer

Useful Hyperlinks

Garmin Fenix Three Mountaineering GPS Backside Line

The Fenix Three is a strong device. It’s costly, nevertheless it’s value it. Each person who I’ve met who has one loves it, they usually find yourself loving it extra as time goes on. That features some grumpy previous males I do know who sometimes wouldn’t really feel that method. When you don’t need to spend the cash, I’d advocate determining a approach to make use of your smartphone. In case you’re contemplating the Fenix Three towards different smartwatches, I’d decide the Fenix Three with out hesitation.

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