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Garmin Fenix 7 Pro In-Depth Review: Flashlight and Multiband for Everyone!

If you wanted a Fenix 7 series device with the flashlight of the Fenix 7X series, you’ve finally got your wish. With the new Fenix 7 Pro series, all three size Fenix 7 Pro units include a flashlight. And atop that, every model now has multiband GNSS/GPS, and every model has 32GB of storage. And every model now has solar. Sure, there’s still the fancier sapphire-crystal models if you want them, but the only difference between the different Fenix 7 Pro series units are the cosmetic/material differences (or battery between sizes), not features or functions internally. In addition to those hardware upgrades, the Fenix 7 Pro series also gains a new optical heart rate sensor package and updated MIP display for better low-light conditions, plus a few new software metrics, including a Hill Score and Endurance Score.

Of course, it’s not just the new Fenix 7 Pro series that’s been announced today, but also the new three-sized Epix Pro units as well. These include Garmin’s fancier AMOLED display, as well as also featuring a flashlight across all models. Check out that in-depth review over here.

As always, I’ve been putting all these units to the test with crazy long trail runs and hikes, an Ironman 70.3 triathlon last weekend, and plenty of more normal training and workouts in between. Alongside that, my wife has been busy putting the smaller 42mm Fenix 7S Pro to the test in all her training for an upcoming long-distance race.

Finally, note that Garmin sent over a media loaner to test out. As usual, this review is not sponsored (nor does any company get to preview anything I review), and I don’t take any advertiser money from any companies I review. Once this unit goes back, I’ll go out and buy my own for any future testing needs. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter, which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And, of course, it makes you awesome.

What’s New:

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Historically speaking, anytime Garmin adds a ‘Pro’ or ‘Plus’ branding to an existing product, it means that it’s an in-between product cycle. And that holds true here as well. This means that it maintains the existing Fenix 7 branding, but is now the Fenix 7 Pro (and not branded something like the Fenix 8). Garmin typically sees these upgrades as largely incremental, rather than a major new product series.

As such, all of the new software features will also be seen on the existing Fenix 7 series and Epix units. The only exception being the watch faces that say ‘Fenix Pro’ or ‘Epix Pro’ on them. But everything including Hill Score, Endurance Score, the new shaded relief maps, sport modes, and more – all of it is going to the existing Fenix 7 & Epix units.

While I don’t expect many of you to upgrade from the Fenix 7 to the Fenix 7 Pro series, unless you really want the new flashlight, here’s the differences nonetheless:

– All three sizes now have a flashlight/torch (previously only the Fenix 7X and Instinct 2X had it)
– Completely new optical HR sensor – Garmin Elevate V5
– Fenix 7 Pro series has physical hardware for ECG, but is not yet enabled/certified for it (meaning, no ECG today, and no promise of it either)
– New MIP display that’s slightly more readable/clearer in lower-light conditions
– Added multiband/dual-frequency GNSS as standard/base (previously just Sapphire)
– Increased storage to 32GB on all models as standard/base (previously just Sapphire)
– Added Endurance Score metric
– Added Hill Score metric
– Added weather overlays on maps (precip, temp, wind, clouds)
– Added shaded relief on all maps
– Added new split screen data pages (map + data fields split vertically)
– Added new ‘perimeter’ data pages (data around edge of map)
– Added new ‘Recents’ feature to quickly access widgets anytime
– Added 30+ new activity/sport profiles (listed down below)
– Same battery life as before
– Pricing increases by $100 compared to previous Fenix 7S/7 models (but now includes solar, so that’s basically a wash compared to Solar prices), at $799 for non-Sapphire/Titanium editions
– Pricing stays the same compared to previous Fenix 7X models ($899 for the non-sapphire/titanium edition)
– They’ve also added a boatload of new QuickFit bands you can buy for each sized model (with new colors)

So from a pricing standpoint, the main item here is that all units now have Solar (versus previously having a cheaper non-Solar variant). And all units now have multiband GNSS and more storage, whereas previously the base units had no-multiband and less storage. Meanwhile, the Sapphire editions are $100 more, have a Sapphire display, and some models also have a titanium bezel. Further, those units have more pre-loaded maps, but you can always download those same exact maps/regions yourself on the base unit using WiFi easily.

Oh, and here are all the newly added sports/activity profiles:

Basketball, Volleyball, Field Hockey,Ice Hockey, Football/Soccer, American Football, Lacrosse, Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, Cricket, Softball Baseball, Ice Skating, Archery, Overland, Whitewater, Kayak, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Snorkel, BMX, Motocross, Table Tennis Squash, Racquetball, Badminton, Platform Tennis

This is a notable change in Garmin’s approach. Up till now, Garmin mostly only created sport/profiles when they had specific data metrics for each sport (e.g., stroke rate while kayaking, or run length for water skiing). But that got to be more and more annoying when you wanted to simply use sport profiles for categorization purposes. It led me to use the cross-country skiing profile for outdoors ice skating this winter, and others to use gym mode for basketball, and so on. All the while their competitors like Suunto and Polar offered tons of sports modes, albeit without the sport-specific data.

Now Garmin is going to split the difference. For some sport modes it’ll build-out those complex data metrics to back it (like it’s always done). Yet for others that people have been asking for, they’re creating sport profiles that at least allow you to categorize it correctly on-watch (and thus, on-platform later). Garmin says they’ll then take that usage data and figure out which sports they should invest further in, in terms of actual metrics/data. That approach seems…well…logical, if you ask me.

Next, here’s the full pricing charts for each mode, first the Fenix 7 Pro series:

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And then the Epix Pro series:

Screenshot 2023-04-25 18.05.06

And then here’s the battery chart for both of them:

And again, as a reminder – every single software feature outlined above is coming to the existing Epix & Fenix 7 series units. Note that Redshift is only on Epix series units, not a Fenix 7 series display thing (either base or Pro models). And, the higher resolution display on the Epix means you’ll get more map detail at higher zoom levels.

With that – let’s dive into it!

The Basics:

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This section is all about daily usage of the Fenix 7. I touch on aspects like the hardware basics including the display, buttons, and battery charging – to the 24×7 activity tracking, the new/updated MIP display, and more. Basically, everything except sport/navigation/training load/flashlight, which have their own dedicated sections.

To start, the Fenix 7 Pro follows the usual Garmin 5-button design, inclusive of a full-color touchscreen display. Garmin’s approach for this layout is that you can do any function you want via either touch or buttons. If you hate touch, you never have to use touch. If you hate buttons, the only time you need buttons is to start/stop/lap an activity. Equally, if you love touch for daily use but hate it for sport, you can even disable it during sports. Or disable it for running but keep it for hiking. The world is your oyster here.

From a button standpoint, there are three buttons on the left, and two on the right. The left-side buttons are generally for navigating up/down menus, whereas the right-side ones are generally for confirming/lap/stop/start/back.

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As with the previous Fenix 7 series, the Fenix 7 Pro sizes comes in three sizes: 42mm, 47mm, and 51mm – all of which are touchscreen.

The touchscreen works well in wet conditions for the most part, though it’ll struggle a bit if you have hard water streams like a shower nozzle directed towards it. But interestingly, it won’t tend to ‘go crazy’ in the shower, as Garmin appears to have some slight bit of logic that requires a more firm human touch before it starts reacting under water pressure. But for normal rain/sweat/etc usage, no problems in regular rainy day Amsterdam training, or even last weekend in the very rainy Ironman 70.3 race. The Epix Pro (51mm) was on my left wrist, and the Fenix 7X Pro was on my right wrist.

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As noted, you can enable/disable the touchscreen options in the system menu if you want. By default, the touchscreen is disabled for sport modes, but you can enable it across the board or on a per-sport profile basis. Or even just for maps only.

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Now, it’s notable that the Fenix 7 Pro has an updated MIPS display. Specifically, Garmin says the Fenix 7 Pro uses a “next generation ultra-low-power memory-in-pixel (MIP) display technology” with the following things changed:

New Pixel Design: Redesigned the display at the pixel level to achieve better display balance in all lighting conditions; improving indoor readability with higher contrast, increased color saturation and luminance. Garmin says these changes “improve the indoor light experience without sacrificing performance in outdoors.”

New Backlight Design: Increased brightness, dimness (can go dimmer in certain conditions), and power efficiency of the backlight. We are also now utilizing the solar panel itself as an ambient light sensor. Garmin says these “improve usability and power efficiency and automatically adapts the backlight to different lighting conditions.”

Here’s a side-by-side shot with the Fenix 7 Solar Sapphire and then the Fenix 7 Pro Solar Sapphire, first, with no backlight turned on:

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Then with backlight turned on:

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Now, in both of those cases I’ve turned off a virtually hidden setting called ‘Auto Backlight’. That new setting is massively critical to the Fenix 7 Pro series, and it’s ON by default. In the ‘On’ setting, it turns the brightness down – to the point where I told Garmin the display looked “horrible”. Like, I couldn’t understand it was somehow better than before. It was bad-bad, overly dim, and downright ugly.

However, since turning off that setting, it’s far better. Garmin is gathering data on what it might look like with that setting off, but their swag is it doesn’t have a meaningful difference to battery life. The setting is located under Settings > System > Backlight > General/etc > Auto Backlight. Note that this setting isn’t talking about the backlight setting directly; rather, mine is still set to a mere 20% after I turn off auto-backlight. This instead is using the solar panel to try and guess on current brightness levels, and then adjust the backlight accordingly. Spoiler: It guesses wrong, almost always.

In any case – let’s move along to some more basics. The watch face is fully customizable. Here I’m just showing the default watch face, but you can tweak any of the data bits on it (called complications), as well as download boatloads of 3rd party watch faces.

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As always, I’ll point out that I fail to understand the huge data inconsistencies between Garmin’s Forerunner & Fenix teams on watch face data fields. Why is it that some Garmin Forerunner watches allow data bits like Training Load/Recovery/Acute Load/etc, yet other Fenix watches don’t allow it. In my mind, the list of data fields I can use on stock watch faces should be massive. Instead, it’s trivially small. There’s no value in seeing VO2Max daily, but there is value in seeing Acute Load, or Hill Score, or Endurance Score, or Training Readiness, or any other data for that matter, from the widgets (none of which are allowed). For all the new metrics Garmin keeps adding, none of them are actually available here. Why?

Once you press down from the watch face, you’ve got your widget glances. These are little snippets of information that can be opened for more detailed views of that topic. You can re-arrange these, put them in folders, add/remove them, add 3rd party ones, and so on.

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Here you can see I’ve re-arranged things based on the most important ones to me. If I tap into one of them, like Training Readiness, I can see more information about that in a larger view.

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This is really the same for all the core metrics as well, such as steps or sleep. You can see here the widget glance view, and then more detailed views within it.

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And all of this is available via the Garmin Connect platform – either the smartphone app or the website. You can see some views of it here:

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In terms of sleep tracking and accuracy, I’ve had no issues with the exact time I fell asleep/woke up being correct. Garmin continues to improve this, and it handles things like middle-of-night wake-ups for small children without much problem these days.

As for sleep phases/stages, that’s not an area I typically judge. Mainly because the technology to baseline it against frankly sucks. Even the best comparative technologies are only about 80% accurate, and we’d never accept that kind of analysis when comparing heart rate data or GPS coordinates. So I’m not sure why I’d compare products to something that’s knowingly inaccurate (especially since here it’s a binary element of just one of four choices, so it’s not like HR where you’re inaccurate by 152bpm vs 155bpm – here the entire phase could be Deep Sleep instead of Light Sleep – drastically different). Equally, I also don’t put too much stock in the data here, though that’s somewhat challenging since it’s used for components like Recovery and Training Readiness.

Also, below is the result of the day-after a redeye no-sleep flight back across the Atlantic. Clearly, while I got lots of sleep – I still didn’t feel great.

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In addition, the Epix and Fenix 7 series both display HRV status. On Garmin devices this monitors your HRV values for the entire night constantly, and then simply averages them. You can see how this trends over the course of the night. The idea behind HRV status is to see how your body is reacting to various conditions – be it training fatigue, jetlag, sickness, or even drugs/alcohol. Generally speaking, you look for longer-term HRV trends – not just a single night.

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Garmin creates an HRV baseline over the course of 19 nights, so you won’t get the color coding until 19 nights are complete. That HRV baseline is unique/specific to you. You can see mine above. There are, of course, pros and cons to entire-night capture (versus doing it manually when you first wake up). On the pro side, the ‘easy-button’ factor is really high. It doesn’t require any work on your behalf. The downside is that you tend to ‘burn-off’ the effect of drinking or other stressors, which a morning-only value would sidestep. Except, those stressors have an impact on your sleep – so pretending they don’t exist is silly.

Anyways, the debate will continue to rage among HRV geeks as to which way is ‘best’, but for 99% of people, having a watch simply do it behind the scenes is going to produce more consistent and actionable results (no matter the brand).

Now, much of this data comes from the new Garmin Elevate V5 optical heart rate sensor on the back. You’ll see this new sensor now has more LEDs, designed to better handle workout types where your wrist may be bent in funky positions (like weightlifting). Further, it’s designed to handle inbound light leakage better (outside light is the arch nemesis of any optical HR sensor).

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The optical HR sensor is responsible for more than just heart rate 24×7 and during workouts, but also a slew of other metrics like breathing rate, blood oxygenation levels (SpO2 aka PulseOx), HRV status, stress levels, and plenty more. There’s boatloads of metrics derived from it, and it operates every second, constantly recording. You can see just a small snippet of some of these metrics, which are mirrored both on various watch widgets, but also in Garmin Connect:

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Specifically, it includes metal contacts against the skin, and an isolation ring you can see around the sensor, and metal contact against the skin near the sensor, as well as internal wiring to be able to use the upper right button when doing an ECG. At present, the only other watch from Garmin with such hardware is the existing Venu 2 Plus, which is certified for ECG usage (here’s how that works). However, at launch the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro is NOT certified for ECG usage, and as such is not on the list of features by Garmin.

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To be super clear here – while the hardware is capable of it (whereas the previous Epix/Fenix 7 didn’t have the hardware inside), Garmin, from an FDA compliance standpoint, legally cannot discuss any ECG plans on the Epix/Fenix 7, until the device is certified. Thus, if or when ECG gets lit up remains an unknown. Obviously, as Garmin has said previously on-record, they want to expand ECG access as much as possible. And given this unit has the hardware, it’s the certification aspect which remains outstanding.

Also, for lack of a better place to stash it, there is no skin temperature feature currently enabled on the Epix Pro or Fenix 7 Pro units. It wouldn’t surprise me if the sensor is capable of it (for a slate of reasons, especially around women’s health). But as of today, there is no skin temperature feature currently enabled on the watch.

Turning this ship a bit, each morning you’ll get a morning report. The morning report highlights your sleep from last night, current Training Readiness level, upcoming scheduled workouts, your calendar, and more. Here’s the first screen, compared on an Epix Pro (51mm) vs Fenix Pro:

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You can then see here on the Fenix 7 Pro, my Training Readiness Level and suggested workout:

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And then my sleep and HRV status:

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Now switching topics and rounding out towards home, we’ve got smartphone notifications. The Fenix 7 Pro will display smartphone notifications from your phone, based on your phone configuration. Here’s one coming in here, showing emoji and all:

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Garmin continues to expand the on-watch emoji support, where it’s now pretty rare to get any text that has unsupported emoji in it. If you’re on an iPhone, you cannot respond back from the watch, due to Apple restrictions. However, on Android you can. For iPhone users, you’ll be able to read the full message, or clear the message (marking it as read).

Next, is the new weather overlays. Quirkily, this is within the Weather Widget, and not within the workout/activity modes. Thus to access this you’ll go down to the ‘Weather’ widget glance, then all the way down again within that to the overlays. There you’ve got four options for overlays: Precipitation, Wind, Heat, and Clouds:

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You can then play an animation that looks ahead at the next several hours. Further, you can zoom in/out and pan around – here’s it with the wind overlay instead:

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Now, as noted, the big quirk here is that you can’t see this directly while doing an activity on the map page. Instead, you need to bounce out to the weather widget. To Garmin’s credit, they made this slightly better via the new ‘Recents’ feature which you can long-hold the lower-right button to access weather, and then go down a few screens to see it. And, handily, this will at least show your route if you have a route loaded (though it won’t match whatever zoom levels you had.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that while the Epix Pro series got faster charging (90% in about an hour), I’m not seeing that being the case with the newer Fenix 7 Pro series. They still take a long-ass time to charge – nearly two hours. I’ll cover actual battery burn/usage a bit more down in the accuracy sections. With that, let’s talk about the flashlight.

The Flashlight:

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With the Fenix 7 Pro series, the flashlight has now been added to all Fenix 7 Pro sizes. Previously, it was only available on the Fenix 7X, Enduro 2, and Instinct 2X. And it’s on not just all Fenix 7 Pro sizes, but also all Epix Pro sizes.

The flashlight might sound a bit Inspector Gadgety, but it’s probably one of the most useful day-to-day pieces of hardware upgrades you’ll find on the watch. The flashlight has three main modes:

A) General purpose white and red flashlight
B) Emergency strobe modes
C) Running-specific strobe modes tied to cadence

To use the flashlight in a general purpose mode, you can either double-tap the upper left button to instantly turn it on (at any time), or long-hold the upper left button to access the controls menu, then the flashlight option:

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As you can see above, there are four levels of white-light, and one level of red-light. The white light at full brightness is basically the same as my iPhone 14 Pro in terms of brightness. It’s great. However, the red light is actually my most frequently used one, which is awesome for getting around in the middle of the night without blinding yourself (or others). And the cool part is the watch will remember your last flashlight mode – so I just double-tap and it automatically turns on the red light (the mode I use).

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Sure, all of this is great and useful for digging around in your tent – and I used it that way last summer in the Enduro 2 numerous times. However, it’s frankly just the most useful in day-to-day scenarios – such as when travelling in new hotel rooms and trying to find your way around at night.

Beyond the regular flashlight mode, there’s the strobe modes. These are also accessible via the controls menu as well:

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Within that, you’ve got the following strobe types:

1) Blink
2) Blitz
3) Beacon
4) Pulse
5) Custom

Within the custom mode, you can change the mode type (Blink/Blitz/Beacon/Pulse), the speed (slow/medium/fast), and the color (red/white).

Finally, there are running-specific modes for the flashlight, enabled within the Run (or sport) Settings. The idea here is to increase your visibility for others on the trail or roadways. These are similar to the strobe modes above, but with one added option – cadence:

1) Blink
2) Blitz
3) Beacon
4) Pulse
5) Cadence

Within those settings you can assign it one of the five modes above, as well as three enablement options: On, Off, After Sunset

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This means that if you were to choose ‘Cadence’ as your option, and ‘After Sunset’ with it, then the flashlight would blink to match your cadence on runs only after sunset. The light is plenty visible quite far away (like a bike light), letting either vehicles (if on/next to a road), or perhaps other pedestrians/cyclists see you if on a multi-use trail.

You can also always just leave the flashlight on if you need to, to illuminate the trail ahead of you. And while that works in a pinch, it’s not exactly the best way to illuminate the trail because of your arm swing. But hey, if your flashlight dies – it’s better than nothing. In fact, I even used it in a pinch on a ride that went later than I expected – merely to let cars see/spot me more easily.

I think the flashlight is one of those features that, given a few years, we’ll see on everything – beyond Garmin’s own offerings. For example, I could see the flashlight easily fitting into something like the Apple Watch Ultra range, or watches from Suunto or Polar. It’s just super effin’ functional and useful day-to-day, with just as much utility as the flashlight on your phone (if not more, since your hands are still free).

Sports Usage:

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With the Fenix 7 Pro launch, Garmin has seen the biggest jump in sports profiles that company has ever made, adding some 30 new sport profiles. This represents a shift in Garmin’s thinking on when to create new sport profiles.

Up till now, Garmin has largely only created sport profiles (such as running, mountain biking, standup paddle boarding, etc…) when there was unique sport-specific data to back it up. Meaning the running profile has Running Dynamics measuring running efficiency, and if you went water skiing, it’d measure the length of each one of your runs, and so on. While that was great, it started to increase frustration that other sports didn’t have any way to easily categorize their usage. Stuff like skating or basketball.

That’s changed now. With the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro, the company has added 30 new highly requested profiles – with the bulk of them more simplistic. These are primarily used for categorization purposes, and don’t have any sport-specific data behind them. You can customize them as you see fit, like in the past, but there might not be unique metrics. Garmin says the goal is that they’ll look at usage data for these sport profiles, and then figure out which ones make sense to build out more fully with added data.

In any case, to start a sport, you’ll tap the upper right button, which shows the sports menu. The sports you’ll see initially are those that you’ve favorited (and you can customize/re-arrange/etc this list):

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Here’s the full list of sports profiles available on the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro:

Hike, Run, Trail Run, Ultra Run, Treadmill, Virtual Run, Indoor Track, Adventure Race, Obstacle Racing, Walk, Pool Swim, Openwater Swim, Swimrun, Golf, Climb, Bouldering, Adventure Race, Fish, Hunt, Disc Golf, Horseback, Archery, Bike, Bike Indoor, MTB, eBike, eMTB, CycleCross, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, BMX, Strength, Cardio, HIIT, Yoga, Pilates, Elliptical, Stair Stepper, Row Indoor, Climb Indoor, Bouldering, Floor Climb, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Ski, Snowboard, Backcountry Ski, Backcountry Snowboard, XC Classic Ski, XC Skate Ski, Snowshoe, Ice Skating, SUP, Kayak, Row, Surf, Kiteboard, Windsurf, Whitewater, Boat, Sail, Sail Race, Sail Expedition, Wakeboard, Wakesurf, Water Ski, Tube, Fish, Snorkel, Soccer/American Football, Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, Cricket, Lacrosse, Rugby, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Ultimate Frisbee, Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Racquetball, Squash, Badminton, Table Tennis, Platform Tennis, ATV, Snowmobile, Overland, Motocross, Motorcycle, Breathwork, Jumpmaster, Tactical, Anchor, Other, Tides, Anchor, HRV Stress, Project Waypoint, Health Snapshot, Reference Point, Broadcast HR, Tempo Training, ABC

Within each sport profile you can customize data pages with the data fields you want. You can have essentially an unlimited number of custom data pages, each with up to 6 data fields on them for the Fenix 7S and Fenix 7 Pro, whereas the Fenix 7X Pro can get up to 8 data fields (interestingly, all three sizes of the Epix Pro get 8 data fields on them – likely due to the higher-resolution display). Also note below two of the different layouts. On the right, I meant to also include that split-side layout, but didn’t realize I had bumped the button, but it does include it too (left to right: Fenix 7S Pro, Fenix 7 Pro, Fenix 7X Pro):

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There are also standard data fields you can enable/disable for things like heart rate graphs, elevation plots, and maps. In fact, the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro now have a few new data page types related to the map. The first is the ability to put data around the outer edge/perimeter of the map. You can customize the data field you see on the edge:

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And the second is the ability to split-screen the map with data fields, like below:

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Further, you can also add either one or two (or zero) data fields atop the map page. Previously you had just one data field there related to distance, now you can tweak it how you see fit.

When it comes to sensors, the new units keep the same set of ANT+ & Bluetooth sensors as the existing Fenix 7/Epix units:

Headphones (Bluetooth), Heart Rate (ANT+/Bluetooth), Cycling Speed/Cadence Combo (ANT+/Bluetooth), Cycling Power (ANT+/Bluetooth), Running Footpod (ANT+/Bluetooth), Golf Club sensors, Garmin VIRB Action Cams, Tempe temperature sensors, Shimano Di2, ANT+ Cycling Shifting, ANT+ Cycling Lights, ANT+ Radar Sensors, Extended Display, ANT+ RD Pod, Muscle O2 (ANT+), XERO Laser Locations, Garmin inReach, Garmin DogTrack, Cycling Smart Trainer (ANT+), eBike

As in the past, you can save roughly 20 different sensors to the watch, as well as give them unique names. You can further enable/disable as you see fit (as well as delete). Note that in general, for dual-ANT+/Bluetooth Smart sensors (like power meters), you’ll want to use the ANT+ side, since it not only gives you unlimited channels on that sensor – but, more importantly, has more data in the stream than the Bluetooth equivalents. Only if you run into some sort of interference/connectivity issue with your environment should you swap over to the Bluetooth side.

With everything all configured, you’ll get ready to start your workout. If doing a structured workout, you can load that up. Same goes if doing some sort of navigation (which I’ll cover down below under the ‘Navigation & Routing’ section). Additionally, the watch will offer Daily Suggested Workouts for both Running & Cycling. These can be general in nature (without a goal), or can be driven by a specific goal race on your calendar.

If you put a specific running or cycling event on your calendar, it’ll automatically build out a pretty comprehensive training schedule – including multiple phases (e.g., base, build, peak, taper, recovery), as well as even offer which days you want your long runs/rides. You can see an example of one below:

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The system is smart enough that if you’ve had crappy sleep or too much load from something not on the schedule, it’ll pull back the recommendations (or give you a rest day). Same goes for travel, if you’ve added your travel via the Jetlag Advisor feature.

In any case, regardless of whether you’re doing a scheduled workout or not, you’ll end up on this page, showing you the watch status before pressing Start. This shows GPS signal status, heart rate lock, any sensors paired, as well as any courses or workouts loaded:

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Once ready, go ahead and tap the Start button to begin your suffering. To change data pages you can either use the buttons up/down, or swipe between data pages.

If you’ve enabled LiveTrack, it’ll use your nearby phone to show your current location to a predetermined list of friends and family. Both my wife and I have our watches configured to automatically send an e-mail notification to the other person with our current location. This sends not only my exact location, but also things like heart rate, cycling power, pace, elevation, etc… And if you’ve loaded a course, it’ll show the loaded course as well.

During the workout you can either use auto-lap (such as based on distance) or manual laps. Or both. I tend to use automatic laps every 1km for my long runs, whereas I tend to use manual laps for other workouts like doing an interval workout (in fact, if a structured workout is loaded, it’ll automatically create lap markers for each section).

If doing something like a multisport workout, you can iterate from sport to sport using the lap button. In my case with Ironman 70.3 AIX-en-Provence two weeks ago, I used the triathlon mode but also button-lock. This ensured that a single lap button didn’t advance from swim to T1, or bike to T2. Instead, I had to briefly long-hold the button to unlock the watch, and then press lap to advance. It worked great – no issues. You can configure which legs auto-lock in the settings.

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I used the Fenix 7X Pro on my wrist this past weekend (Fenix 7X Pro on my right wrist, and Epix Pro 51mm on my left wrist) in an Ironman 70.3 – and had no issues with either. They laid down some astoundingly good GPS tracks, and were within 10 meters of each other at the finish line. Albeit, there were some notable differences in heart rate during the swim section (which, is somewhat normal).

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Once your workout is complete, you can tap to pause it, and then again to save it. From there, you’ll see your efforts, including an outline of the map, training load, heart rate, and more. I did feel like things got a bit slower here somehow, in terms of enumerating some of these charts for longer workouts (e.g., 3-5hrs+). Just a few seconds, but something I don’t remember seeing in the past.

You’ll then see all this same data over on Garmin Connect, either the phone app or the website. Here’s some screenshots from the phone app, keeping in mind the depth of data here is far more than just this handful of pages.

And then from there, any workouts you’ve done will automatically sync to platforms like Strava, TrainingPeaks, and more – assuming you’ve configured as such. That typically happens within about 1 second of your workout syncing to Garmin Connect. Sync on the Fenix 7 Pro will occur via Bluetooth Smart, WiFi, or USB cable. The world is your syncing oyster.

So, once the workout is done, we can then dive into how that impacts all your training load and recovery metrics, things like Training Readiness, Training Status, and more.

Training Load & Recovery:

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Next up are Garmin’s training load and recovery components, including Training Readiness and Training Status. While these might sound similar, the reality is they have different purposes. Training Readiness is your overarching ‘Are you ready to train right this second?” number. Whereas Training Status is looking at the categorization and purpose of your training (e.g., is it too focused on aerobic vs anaerobic).

Within that, there’s a slew of different components that make up all the pieces. I’m going to throw all the terms here, but we’ll walk through it step-by-step, so think of this more as a reference:

Training Readiness: This metric aims to be your one-stop shop to decide whether or not to train that day. It blends Sleep (vs both short and long-term history), Recovery Time, HRV Status, Acute Load, and Stress. In short, you can spike one category (badly) without necessarily killing your next training day. But all categories aren’t created equal.
Training Status: This is looking at your acute load, HRV status, load focus, and VO2Max trends. This one is less about should you train, and more about how you’re training. Meaning, are you doing too much high intensity, or too much low intensity? That’s what’ll give you an unproductive status. In other words, how would a coach look at your training log, ignoring most other life/feeling type metrics.
HRV Status: This is measuring your HRV values constantly while you sleep, and then comparing it against your 3-week baseline, up to a 90-day rolling window baseline. A single night of drinking doesn’t tank this score, but three nights of partying won’t keep you in the green.
Acute Load: This is looking at your last 7 days of load, except the load now burns off dynamically. Meaning, a hard training day 7 days ago is far less impactful to the score than a hard training day yesterday. Previously this was called 7-Day Load, now it’s Acute Load.
Chronic Load: This is looking at the last 28 days of history, albeit like Acute Load, it’s weighted too within the 7-day chunks. The easiest way to think of it is essentially looking at the averaging of those Acute Load pieces for each of the last 4 weeks individually.
Load Focus: This shows which categories your training efforts have fallen into, over the last 4 weeks. These include Anaerobic, High Aerobic, and Low Aerobic. Basically, you need to have an even training diet to get faster. Simply running hard/all-out every day won’t make you faster. It’ll just get you injured and slower.
Recovery Time: This calculates how much time you need till your next hard-intensity workout. As is often misconstrued, this isn’t till your next workout, just your next hard one. This is largely the same as before. Exceptionally good sleep can speed this up, and inversely, a high-stress day can slow this down.
Chronic Training Load & Load Ratio: Chronic training load is simply the average of your 7-day training load chunks, but over the last 28 days. And Training Load Ratio is a comparison of this week’s Training Load versus that 28-day average. In other words: How does this week’s load compare to the last 28 days load?

There are many metrics here, some might say too many. But setting aside the quantity of them, most of them do actually have a purpose, even if confusing. If I were stepping back and looking at which ones to focus on, it’d essentially just be the new Training Readiness status. Before diving into that though, I’ve previously covered HRV Status components in my Forerunner 955 review here, so that’s a good place to dive into that component.

The idea with Training Readiness is to take a bunch of components under one umbrella, and figure out how ‘ready’ you are to ‘train’ at that very second in the day. The value will shift throughout the day (higher if you do nothing, lower if you do a workout). The score is comprised of all the fellows you’ve seen before: Sleep, Recovery Time, HRV Status, Acute Load, Sleep History, and Stress History:

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Each of the components are weighted in varying ways, and against varying timeframes. Here’s the run-down:

Sleep: This one is specifically looking at last night’s sleep
– Recovery time: This looks at your Recovery time in hours (based on workouts, but can be sped-up with good recovery)
– HRV Status: This is comparing your 7-day trend versus historical trend
– Acute Load: This is looking at your 7-day trend, weighted towards newness
– Sleep History: This is looking at last night versus your prior 2 nights of sleep history
– Stress History: This is looking at the recent daytime data (excluding overnight readings)

Again, the entire purpose of Training Readiness is a live score of whether or not you’re ready to train at that moment in the day. The score will generally rise throughout the day (if just relaxing), and then following a big training effort, will plummet down (to reflect that recovery time). An easier training effort, and it’ll shift down less.

The two biggest factors in your Training Readiness score are Sleep and Recovery time (workout recovery time). In fact, you can have low recovery time, but if you’ve got poor sleep – it’ll slaughter the score. Whereas HRV Status is meant to be a checks & balances type component to mitigate some of the others (both positively or negatively).

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Outside of those two, the biggest component I tend to look at training-wise is my Acute Load. At first glance, you might think this is just 7-day Load renamed, but that doesn’t really cover what it actually does. Yes, it shows your 7-day load, but load burns off dynamically. In years past, if you had a big ride 6 days ago, that load would be factored into your total 7-day load duration as if it just happened yesterday. Versus with Acute Load, it’s weighted to burn-off within a few days, as logical. That’s because a week later it’s unlikely that big ride is still impacting you. The point of this is to reduce the massive swings that used to occur in the Training Status panel when a big workout from a week ago disappears, making you go instantly from Productive to Unproductive in a matter of seconds.

Here’s my Acute Load. You can see the last two days are quiet, as I travelled across the pond on Saturday and landed Sunday. I haven’t worked out yet today. The green portion is my ‘tunnel’, which is basically my safe training load zone (high and low).

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Next, by tapping down, you can see your Chronic Load and Training Load Ratio. Your Chronic Load is simply the average of those 7-day chunks, but for the last 28 days. It helps figure out whether you’re ramping up too fast or not. Previously this was somewhat visible in a different way via the ‘4 Week Load Focus’ page, but in a different categorization of load types. Now it’s a simple gauge:

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If the two numbers (Acute and Chronic) matched exactly, that’d be 1.0. In my case, because of my travel the previous two days and not yet working out today – it’s below – at 0.8. Either way, it’s still in the ‘green’ as the green range is 0.8 to 1.5. This is also viewable in Garmin Connect Mobile.

Next, there’s Training Status. Training Status is the counterpart to Training Readiness. While similar sounding, they focus on different things. Training Readiness is more holistically looking at your sleep/stress (effectively your entire body), whereas Training Status is really focused mostly on just the training portion (with one aspect of HRV being pulled in for balancing it out). Overall, think of Training Status as trying to show whether or not the type of training I’m doing is beneficial to me getting faster. It’ll have messages like Productive, Unproductive, Maintaining, etc… Right now, I’m ‘Maintaining’, mostly because my Acute Load is on the lower end of the spectrum, and because my HRV Status is ‘Unbalanced’ from poor sleep with bouncing back and forth across the Atlantic these last few days.

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On the bright side, my VO2max scores have finally unstuck in the last 6-8 weeks (after 6 months of seemingly being broken in Garmin-land, despite huge gains in fitness/training), so that’s positive – and means I actually see the ‘Productive’ messages. Garmin had been looking into things the last few months, so whether or not stuff was quietly changed under the covers, or if something else triggered a shift – I don’t know.

Next, there’s Recovery Time. Recovery time is showing your recovery time based on workouts. This is basically showing your recovery time till your next hard workout, in hours. This can speed up with a good night’s sleep, or slow down with crappy sleep or a very stressful day:

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Beyond Recovery Time, Acute Load, and VO2Max – Training Status also accounts for Load Focus (how you divide up your training), HRV Status, Heat Acclimation, and Altitude Acclimation.

In general, when looking at Garmin’s various training load/recovery metrics, I find the Training Readiness component the most useful, alongside Acute Load. For the most part, if Training Readiness is in the red, I likely feel that way too – and am probably kaput on my ability to go out and do a hard interval workout (either due to lack of sleep or workout recovery time).

Whereas inversely, for Training Status, I find that to be a bit more finicky, and often less representative of where my training is (e.g., productive/maintaining/etc…). Ultimately, for Training Status especially, Garmin is, in effect, replicating what a coach would do. And like any real-world coach, different coaches have different training philosophies. You may agree or disagree with one style, and this is simply one style of coaching.

Hill Score & Endurance Score:

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Garmin has introduced two new metrics with the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro: Endurance Score & Hill Score. These two new scores are designed to help you compare your overall training load and mountain climbing prowess with friends. Or quickly demonstrate your lack thereof.

Starting off with Endurance Score, the goal here is to look at your entire training load – but in a way focused more on duration than intensity. Further, unlike Garmin’s other training load metrics (or even VO2Max), Endurance Score is sport-agnostic. Meaning that most of Garmin’s other metrics are heavily skewed towards running and cycling. But Endurance Score can be used to track progress in ice skating or swimming, or whatever you want.

Your Endurance Score looks at your overall activity duration in conjunction with the intensity level. The longer, the better, but at the same time, intensity plays a part, and in particular, intensity relative to your VO2max. However, the idea is that your Endurance Score is comparable with other people. Here’s mine below:

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You can see your historical Endurance Score, though how much you see is super variable on a painful amount of Garmin platform wonk. Basically, the first time you use the watch, it’ll pull your previous 30 days of historical data (maybe, that too depends on which watch you had). And then populate the graph.

Why on earth they can’t pull 90 days is beyond me. Garmin says it’s because they calculate it on the watch, and that’s resource intensive (both transferring the files to the watch, and then calculating). To which I say: Isn’t that the entire flipping reason you just spent a year re-architecting Physio TrueUp to be Unified Training Status? And isn’t that why you bought FirstBeat – to make this all seamless?

Making matters worse, at present, if you reset your watch for any reason, this too resets back to that 30 days of history. This below picture illustrates this incredibly well, with various watches in various states of recent resetting or being added to my account;

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To Garmin’s credit – after my incessant battering on this issue the past month or so, they agree this isn’t ideal – and are looking at ways to make this not suck. But it’s still frustrating. At the very first opportunity for a new feature after Garmin rolls out Unified Training Status, it goes out the window. Both Endurance Score & Hill Score. Seriously, any new feature shouldn’t be launched unless it’s fully supported in UTS for the full historical duration of whatever chart it has.

Ok, tangent aside – let’s talk about scores and relativity.

Garmin says that there’s no technical ‘limit’ to an Endurance Score per se. They noted they have some “internationally competitive” (read: Pro) Ironman triathletes that have scores in the 11,000 range. However, they also noted that they think it’d be difficult to reach beyond 12,000. Not impossible, but likely pushing the limits of human physiology (at least, in a non-doped realm).

For further context, my Endurance Score the last 1.5 months or so has floated in the 8,000-8,200 range on about 8-14 hours of training per week, mostly in the Zone 2 (HR/Z2) realm. Sometimes higher or lower in duration or intensity, but that’s the rough realm. Meanwhile, my wife’s score has been in the 9,000-9,200 realm as she peaks her training for an endurance event later in June. Her training load is in the 12-15 hours/week range – again, heavily focused on the Z2 intensity.

The problem is that I’ve had numerous days where the Endurance Score changes simply haven’t made sense. One in particular was where I did a 2-hour trail run (with huge elevation gain) and the score literally did nothing (moved from 8,075 to 8,077). Yet, later that same day I did a super chill/easy 30-minute openwater swim, and it spiked from 8,077 to 8,114. Why? The heart rate showed a reasonably low value – yet Endurance Score had a major pop.

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I wish I could see better historical data here, to see how things trend better in various scenarios – but, that’s what we’ve got to work with.

Next, there’s Hill Score, which is all about running/hiking/walking. No cycling is accounted for here. Hill Score has two core components to it, based on climbs with gradients of 2% or greater:

Hill Endurance: This first component is focused on going long, or rather, going high. Distance over speed – the longer and higher you go, the better. So a very long mountain day would spike this more than your weeknight hill repeats would.

Hill Strength: This second component is aimed at how fast you can go up a given pitch. So something like hill repeats would help here, assuming you were pushing a bit.

In addition, your current VO2Max is also utilized as a foundational element for determining your score. For the initial Hill Score instantiation, you need about two weeks of data. Albeit, that can be jumpstarted with other higher-end and recenter firmware Garmin devices like an existing Fenix 7 or Forerunner 965. Till then you’ll just get a message to keep running.

Note that this feature is not using running power under the covers, nor is it using straight pace or GAP (grade adjusted pace) either. Instead, Garmin says that while the exact details are a “trade secret”, they said that they’re looking at similar relationships between running power and GAP, but that running power isn’t a great method for this score because you can have the same running power on an incline as the flats. And the flats isn’t helping you build any hill endurance. Likewise, GAP doesn’t take into account any heart rate component – and HR is a component leveraged in relation to VO2Max (up to a point they said).

In my case, my initial Hill Score data point actually came in conjunction with doing an 8,000ft trail run/hike. I started from the sea, and went to the top of an 8,000ft snow-capped mountain in one go (the one you see in the background of the first photo), taking about 8 hours:

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This resulted in a rather interesting initial result – 85 – a very very very high Hill Score (I had one other hilly run a few days prior, but all remaining time was spent in Amsterdam on flat ground). Below, are images from my Epix Pro review showing the score there (I had done that mountain with the Epix Pro on one wrist, and the Suunto Vertical on the other wrist). But you can see the score of 85 at that time:

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The available categories are:

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Garmin says that your grading is “relative to others of the same age and gender, ensuring the progress you see is personally meaningful”. The challenge I have here is that I’m not a near-pro level hill runner. I mean, yes, I have lots of ‘endurance’ (or, stupidity as it was here). But I don’t think anyone would say that I’d be anywhere near a world-class level trail runner. Or even someone that does ultra running on the regular in the mountains. So for me to end up effectively on the podium on my opening game, is a bit suspect.

Unfortunately, Garmin isn’t really sure why I scored that high either. They agree that the initial 8,000ft climb was likely being overly weighted in the calculations. After doing that climb and a few others on that trip, my score slowly decayed down to 75. I was able to keep that score from decaying at the previous rate by doing another big 6.5hr hike/trail run in the mountains – adding another 4,000ft or so of elevation.

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Still, you can see the overall decline here, each time I return back to pancake-flat Amsterdam – and then it leveling out again as I do runs/hikes with elevation:

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So in my mind, the jury is still heavily out on this feature. I’ll be interested to see how others fair over the coming months in terms of Hill Score and how much mileage/speed/etc you’re putting up. In my case, while I have recorded good Hill Strength (the speed part), I suspect that too might be heavily influenced by just how long I can sustain a climb at a fast-hike level.

While I’m not great at ‘running’ up mountains, I’d say I’m very efficient at doing so for long periods of time  – and can do so for durations that are far beyond what most would bet I could do. For whatever reason, that’s my sweet spot. Last fall, without any background trail running/training, I went out and did the first 70KM of the UTMB course in the mountains in one 14hr shot (testing the Apple Watch Ultra). This was with a heavy pack of gear and just enjoying the beautiful fall day. This had 13,146ft of elevation gain by the time dinner came around (here’s the activity, in this case also on a non-Pro Epix unit).

My point is, perhaps I do have some mountain climbing talents that manifests itself well in the Hill Score values, even if I think they don’t at all compare to a true ultra trail runner.

While most of the time I can decode and fully understand the various metrics Garmin makes, this time with these two metrics – I’m still a bit in doubt. If we look at things like Training Readiness, or even the often quirky Training Status – I can generally understand the methodology behind how they arrived at a score. Sure, I might not agree with that coaching philosophy (since, it is in effect a coaching philosophy) – I can at least connect the dots and say ‘Sure, that’s not my cup of tea, but it’s a largely valid cup of tea’.

This time though, with these two scores – there’s shortcomings that seem hard to connect. I think Endurance Score is reasonably in the ballpark of things for me (minus some of the per-activity quirks I saw), whereas I think Hill Score is a bigger outlier.

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The Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro series have full onboard mapping and routing/navigation features. This means that unlike virtually all of their competitors, they can route free-standing using the data contained in their maps, without a pre-loaded course. Albeit, how often you actually do that in real-life will vary quite a bit (virtually never for me). Still, it is notable. Further, the maps in the Garmin devices contain details like street/trail/lake names as well as other points of interest labeled on them, which again, virtually none of their competitors contain.

The Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro units, in particular, now feature shaded relief maps (though existing Fenix 7/Epix units get that via firmware update). Interestingly, this doesn’t actually increase the map size. Rather, this is done using existing data in the maps data sets.

By default, your unit will come with preloaded maps for the region you bought it in (with free downloadable maps for all other regions). All Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro units have 32GB of storage now, which is plenty for not just maps, but also music and basically thousands of hours of workout recording. Here’s a quick look at the current sizes of the main downloadable map regions:

TopoActive North America: 9.1GB
TopoActive Europe: 10.4GB (*See update below for added Europe breakout)
TopoActive THID: 2.0GB
TopoActive Middle East & Central Asia: 1.3GB
TopoActive Australia & New Zealand: 1.8GB
TopoActive Africa: 4.6GB
TopoActive Japan: 3.9GB
TopoActive Hong Kong & Macau: 19MB (yes, megabytes)
TopoActive South America: 6.2GB
TopoActive Taiwan: 107MB
TopoActive Korea: 229MB
TopoActive SGMYVNPH (Singapore/Malaysia/Vietnam/Philippines): 1.3GB
TopoActive China Mainland: 6.6GB

In addition, in Europe, Garmin has also broken things out further, if you want smaller chunks. These overlap somewhat, to make it a bit easier to get the region you want. Alternatively, you can just download all of Europe per above:

Europe Whole: 10.4GB
Europe West: 6.8GB
Europe Central: 6.4GB
Europe East: 6.2GB

Here’s how the map region breakouts for Europe look:

To change which maps are on your unit, you can go into settings > Maps > Map Manager. This lets you add/remove maps via WiFi. Alternatively, you can do this via USB and the Garmin Express app. All of these maps are free to download.

There are also maps listed as Outdoor Maps+, these are paid subscription maps, mainly for satellite imagery. Garmin has actually long offered that under the ‘Birdseye’ branding, but recently rebranded that under the Outdoor Maps+ branding. Said differently: No, Garmin isn’t now trying to charge you a fee for something that was previously free. Instead, that’s rebranding something that Garmin has literally been doing for more than a decade. I hate subscription fees as much as the next guy, but this isn’t the thing to complain about (in fact, it’s a heck of a lot better than before, which required some stupid software on your computer to transfer over – now you can do it straight from the watch).

Once you select a map on the unit, it’ll start downloading once connected to a charger. In general, this is not a fast operation. Whereas via USB with a computer, it goes far faster. Basically, the WiFi chipset/antenna on the watch isn’t really designed for big-bandwidth operations (it’s designed for power efficiency). Thus by using a computer you can download a ton faster.

In any case, when it comes to courses/routing, you can create courses in a million different places/ways. Be it on Garmin Connect, Strava, Komoot, GPX creators, etc. All of them ultimately end up with the course showing up under ‘Navigation’ on the Epix or Fenix series. Here’s your full list of options (to navigate):

A) Point of interest
B) Around me
C) Back to Start
D) Courses
E) Activities
F) Saved Locations
G) Sight ‘N Go
H) Coordinates
I) Use Map

In the vast majority of cases, you’re going to be using a pre-loaded course. These are courses you create as noted above via either Garmin Connect or 3rd party platforms. In my case, I created this route via Strava, and then synced it to the Epix Pro:

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From there you can look at overall details about the route, including climbs, elevation profile, and map. You can also reverse it. And of course, you can load it up to start it.

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Once a course is loaded you’ll get prompts for turns as you approach them. For hiking/running/etc it’ll be about 50 meters out, and for cycling it’s about 150 meters out.

It’ll notify you on any data page, so you don’t have to stay on the map page. I can use the map page with my finger (touch), or use buttons, if I want context for things around me. If you go off-course, it’ll notify you of such. You can re-route if you want to (using the underlying map data), though by default it won’t re-route you – it’ll just let you know you’re still off-course.

Note above the shaded relief on the maps, that’s the greyish area. Here’s another look at it, side by side with the Epix Pro 51mm (left) and the Fenix 7X Pro (right):

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However, when I’m doing longer climbing routes, I’m typically going to stay mostly on the ClimbPro page. ClimbPro will automatically determine the climbs based on your route (some route has to be loaded, even if created on the watch). You’ll see the full list of climbs, and then each individual climb as you’re on it:

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As you plod along, it’ll show you how much distance/elevation to the top, and your ascent rate. There’s also a profile of the climb itself. As I’ve said many times, it’s one of my favorite Garmin features. Especially for crazy big mountain climbs like this where knowing not just how far it is to the top distance-wise, but also how much vertical is remaining (since that will vastly impact my speed).

Ultimately, there’s no watch out there that comes close to Garmin in the navigation/routing realm. The closest you can get today is some of the 3rd party apps on the Apple Watch (as natively Apple doesn’t offer navigation/routing today), though that tends to be a bit more scattershot in terms of features. And likewise, while companies like Suunto/COROS/Polar have navigation, they don’t have underlying routable maps (and mostly don’t have map data like road names/trail names/etc…) Meaning if you do want to do on-demand routing between two points from the watch alone, you can’t do that. Albeit, as noted above, it’s very rare that I do that. I’ve almost always got a route planned ahead of time.

GPS & Elevation Accuracy:

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There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS or heart rate accuracy.  A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road?  Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!

GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities.  I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day.  Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.

In this case, the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro units are all configured for so-called ‘SatIQ’ or AutoSelect mode, which means they’ll use Multiband GNSS when necessary – like under a cliff overhang (the best possible GPS/GNSS configuration), and then tone it down to other modes when unnecessary (such as across a farm field). This massively helps the battery life, as most times you don’t need multiband GNSS. The other units are configured as noted.

In my case, I’ve got nearly two months of data here – so I’m just gonna kinda pick and choose some of the hardware – because spoiler, virtually everything is perfect (as has been the case on virtually all of Garmin’s new multiband GNSS devices the last 18 months). Nonetheless, we’ll nitpick for the sake of nitpicking! However, it does demonstrate just how far ahead Garmin is to every competitor out there, especially when details matter. You can easily see this in the more challenging situations below.

First up we’ve got a theoretically simple Amsterdam run, this time partly in the woods, doing a tempo run. This has the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro, along with the COROS Vertix 2. At a high level, things look OK from all units:

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As you can see above, at a high level it looks pretty similar. But as you zoom in, within the woods you can see the COROS Vertix 2 meanders quite a bit. The Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro are virtually identical on-track:

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This is somewhat typical of the Vertix 2, never quite nailed (even in multiband as it is here). You can see it straight-up cuts across the top of the hill, and is offset in the trails:

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Along with cutting this corner here too, whereas the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro units are spot-on.

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Next, a trail run/hike, this time along the cliff-laden coast of France in a national park there. Here’s the data set from that, comparing the Epix Pro 51mm with the Fenix 7X Pro, as well as the COROS Vertix 2, Suunto Vertical, and Forerunner 965. The last three being snapped on the backpack facing the sun. You can see the route starting in Cassis, and ending in Marseilles:

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Just to show how good these tracks are (from all units actually), I’m gonna show both variants of the map so you can see the cliffs and such:

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However, here’s a really good example of just how much better Garmin’s implementation of multiband/dual-frequency is. Below is a cliff face that I’m going to hike under the edge of – all the way across as far as you can see in this image. Scale is tough to understand, but the boulders you see down below are as big as me. In some sections the cliff is over me entirely.

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Now, here’s the GPS tracks from that. Note the Garmin ones are clustered much closer against the wall and together, versus the others are a bit more wobbly out further away. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a huge deal, but it demonstrates it well.

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And one more final section showing how good the tracks are:

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Finally, here’s the elevation plot. Notably the FR965 track seems to be more ‘smoothed’ for some reason, including a section while I went to jump in the ocean to cool off, and it randomly rose a bit (despite that unit sitting on the beach on my backpack). Meanwhile, the Vertix 2 also seemed to be undercutting at times. In any case, the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro seemed spot on with the Suunto Vertical.

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Next, let’s look quickly at a couple of rides – both gravel and road. Here’s a gravel bike ride I did this past week, with the Epix Pro 51mm and Fenix 7X Pro, compared to the Hammerhead Karoo 2 bike GPS:

EpixFenix-GravelDay1-GPS1_thumb[2]

You can see that everything is very tight together:

EpixFenix-GravelDay1-GPS2_thumb[1]

Even in the woods, albeit, here you see a bit of meandering from the Hammerhead Karoo 2:

EpixFenix-GravelDay1-GPS3_thumb[1]

Looking at the elevation there, we do see some slight differences and drifting from the different units. This ride didn’t exactly start/end at the same place – so using that as a reference isn’t exactly correct. Either way, we do see some differences here of a few meters.

EpixFenix-GravelDay1-Elevation_thumb[1]

Next, here’s the bike portion of my Ironman 70.3 race two weekends ago. I’ll pick some sections that were more challenging GPS-wise, such as this here. We can see it’s virtually identical between the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro, versus the Garmin Edge 840:

EpixFenix-IronmanGPS1_thumb[1]

This twisty-turny mountain descent was also nailed by the two wearables, and oddly, the Edge 840 was the one slightly off:

EpixFenix-IronmanGPS2_thumb[1]

But these other areas here all look spot-on:

EpixFenix-IronmanGPS3_thumb[1]

And while I don’t have a 3rd data source for the openwater swim, I think we can all agree this looks incredibly perfect. And by that, I’m referring to my awesome swimming straight capabilities – who cares about the watches:

EpixFenix-AIX-Ironman-Swim_thumb[1]

It’s funny to look at the transition (T1) GPS lines, you can see here where I stopped to grab my bike:

EpixFenix-AIX-Ironman-Transition_thumb[1]

With that, as you can see, the GPS/GNSS accuracy is spot-on with the Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro series, and easily industry-leading. About the only company that’s putting up similar-level GPS tracks is Apple and the Apple Watch Ultra with multiband. Behind them is the Suunto Vertical, which has a rough time in openwater swimming, but does quite well in land activities with dual-frequency/multiband (albeit, has some very minor quirks from time to time). Then further down the list is COROS Vertix 2 with multiband, showing more errors in challenging conditions.

In terms of battery life, I’ve got lots of interesting charts – but the takeaway here is the Epix battery life is super impressive – especially the Epix Pro 51mm. Here first is a 6.5hr hike (with navigation enabled, and always-on display), where you can see the Epix Pro is on track for 50 hours of battery life. The Fenix 7X Pro? Only slightly more at 54 hours. Both in SatIQ mode. Note the FR965 was forced to multiband here, hence the lower battery life.

BatteryChart

Here’s my Ironman 70.3 race, where both units were used in the swim, then bike (with power meter), and then finally the run. Optical HR sensor for all of them, always-on for both. You can see the Epix Pro 51mm was on track for 45 hours, while the Fenix 7X Pro was on track for 48 hours.

BatteryCharge2IM

Then there’s a gravel-bike ride, where both units were connected to power meters as well as electronic shifting. Here we see a bigger jump from the Fenix 7X Pro, likely due to the very sunny conditions.

BatteryCharge2

Still, these numbers are impressive on the Epix side especially! I’ll add in some more regular Epix Pro 47mm and Epix Pro 42mm battery charts shortly.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy portions were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, running power, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Heart Rate Accuracy:

DSC_7065

Before we move on to the test results, note that optical HR sensor accuracy is rather varied from individual to individual.  Aspects such as skin color, hair density, and position can impact accuracy.  Position and how the band is worn, are *the most important* pieces.  A unit with an optical HR sensor should be snug.  It doesn’t need to leave marks, but you shouldn’t be able to slide a finger under the band (at least during workouts).  You can wear it a tiny bit looser the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, for HR accuracy testing, I’m typically wearing a chest strap (either the Polar H10 or the Garmin HRM-PRO Plus), as well as another optical HR sensor watch on the bicep (often the Whoop 4.0 band). Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner of the charts below are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

First up, we’ve got a nice tempo run to kick things off, showing the increasing steps of heart rate throughout. This has the Epix Pro (47mm) vs the Fenix 7 Pro (47mm), compared to an HRM-PRO Plus, here’s the data:

EpixFenix-TempoRunHR_thumb[1]

As you can see, it’s very very close. A tiny bit of latency at the very beginning for a few seconds, and then one brief bobble around the half-way marker for no obvious reason, but otherwise, both units were very close to the chest strap.

Next, we’ve got the hike and trail run I did. I don’t typically look at heart rate data much from hikes cause it tends to be too variable/messy. However, this time there’s enough long-sustained sections to look at that are interesting enough:

Epix-Fenix-FranceCoastalHIke

At a high level, this is super impressive. The only time it was ‘different’ was when I jumped in the sea to cool off (and took off my comparative chest strap as well). Everything else was basically spot-on.

Epix-Fenix-FranceCoastalHIke2

Next we’ll take a look at the heart rate during my Ironman 70.3 (bike portion) on a triathlon/TT bike. I don’t have a comparative recording device for the run/swim (meaning, not a 3rd watch to record the chest strap data), so no point in looking at that. Whereas for the bike, I had the bike computer record from the chest strap. Here’s those results:

EpixFenix-IronmanHR_thumb[1]

As you can see, the first half or so, the results were fairly close. Better in the first 1/3rd, but still, pretty darn good for riding in rainy conditions on occasionally bumpy roadways. Optical HR during cycling is still very challenging for many watches.

Where you see it struggle a bit more though is the lower-HR sections, when I’m descending bumpy roads and holding tightly on the handlebars (watching my competitors fly across into the woods and worse, in the horrible conditions). That’s where you see the most variation, and that holds true here too.

Next, we’ve got a gravel ride from this past week, on a gravel bike (in a road-style handlebar setup). I note the handlebar design, because it makes a difference when it comes to accuracy for most users, since the wrists strain differently between a triathlon bike and a road bike. Here we can see that on the whole, things are pretty darn close. Though, we have a few moments where the blue-line of the chest strap drops below.

EpixFenix-GravelDay1-HR1_thumb[1]

Curious, I dug into those blue-line drops, and could see that in all those cases, I had stopped pedaling (coasting) – perhaps due to the rolling terrain, or the group of people with me, or maybe I just wanted to eat a Slim Jim. Who knows. But, that pedal-stopping action natrually drops my HR, and we can see it drop far faster on the chest strap than the Epix Pro (51mm) or Fenix 7X Pro. This is fairly normal to see on optical HR sensors, and why they tend to do better in steady-state riding than interval-type efforts outside on the road – especially bumpier gravel conditions like this:

EpixFenix-GravelDay1-HR2_thumb[1]

For fun, here’s another gravel ride. It’s crazy to see that first section there – that’s actually the descent down some rough terrain. Meaning virtually no intensity on my side, yet, very high vibrations. Then you can see when I kick in the intensity, boom, everything really stabilizes. Same goes again around the half-way marker, albeit that’s also when there was a group break too. So basically, when I’m riding, it’s great, and when I’m stopped, it’s more wobbly.

Epix-Fenix-GravelHR2

By and large, this is Garmin’s best optical HR sensor to date. Between all my Epix Pro & Fenix 7 Pro datasets, it’s very very good, in all sizes. However, the changes are especially notable in cycling, where it’s right more than it was in the past. Historically, we’ve seen more incorrect spots, whereas now, it’s very good the vast majority of the time in mostly normal conditions. In cases like cold wrists descending wet mountain passes holding on for dear life, we see it still struggle. Likewise, as seen above, we see a bit of latency on bumpier roads where it’s trying to denoise everything.

Still, for the most part, I can trust it in most of my training – especially running, indoor cycling, and road-riding outdoors that’s more steady-state, to be largely correct and dependable. As always with optical HR sensors, environmental & terrain conditions, your skin, and other factors can and will impact accuracy. But, it continues to improve, one iteration at a time.

Wrap-Up:

DSC_7132

In some ways, Garmin’s update to the Fenix 7 Pro signals a slight shift in direction. The lack of a non-Solar option means Garmin knows that people buying the Fenix series are there for the longer battery life. Certainly, Garmin can justify higher prices with an only-solar option (as they did here), but I think it’s actually more about positioning. With Epix increasing the battery life further, the demand trend for the Fenix series will (relatively speaking) only continue to decline. Thus focusing on areas like battery life and readability made sense. Having extra non-solar SKUs didn’t.

But while Garmin increased the prices, they at least packed more hardware features in there. All units now having multiband/dual-frequency GNSS is appreciated (and frankly at this price point would have been a miss), but likewise, the increased storage space as well as, of course, the flashlight. As I said above, while some see the flashlight as geeky – anyone who has used it on an existing Garmin watch knows that’s silly. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite features. And I’d even bet if we fast forward 3-5 years, we’ll see it as standard-issue on any more rugged watch from almost every company out there. Given Apple added a siren and scuba diving mode to the Apple Watch Ultra, you can bet a more practical everyday flashlight would be top of the list going forward.

As for the new features, I like the concept of both Endurance Score & Hill Score, but I’m not yet sold on the execution. I think Endurance Score is broadly trending in the right ways, but for me Hill Score seems like it unrealistically gave me an ego boost that wasn’t justified. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out for others over the coming months. Still, features like Garmin’s multi-band continue to stick the landing with industry-leading GPS tracks – and I’m eager to see where Garmin can take their new optical HR sensor (beyond the increases in accuracy we see today).

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

Hopefully you found this review useful. At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device. The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love). As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro Series or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you shop with TPC (The Pro's Closet), you'll save $40 on purchases over $200 with coupon code DCRAIN40! The Pro's Closet has been a long-time partner of the site here - including sponsoring videos like my cargo bike race, as well as just being an awesome Colorado-based company full of good humans. Check them out with the links below and the DCRAIN40 coupon!

Here's a few other variants or sibling products that are worth considering:

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others being the Polar H9/H10). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like TrainingPeaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

The HRM-PRO Plus is Garmin's top-end chest strap. It transmits dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, but also transmits Running Dynamics & Running Pace/Distance metrics, stores HR data during a swim, and can be used without a watch for other sports. Also, it can transmit XC Skiing Dynamics as well.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading! And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below. Thanks!

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173 Comments

  1. Shane Malaski

    I didn’t see this but can you say in terms of display. Is this better than the forerunner 965? I just see pixels but in terms of sharpness and the pics between the two I’ve seen it looks like the the 965 is better.

    • The FR965 is a far better display than the Fenix 7 series (any variant), in terms of resolution, color, and pixels.

      That’s especially true indoors, where it’s far brighter. Though, I don’t have any issues using either outdoors in the sun.

    • zfJames

      The difference is that the 965 has AMOLED like the Epix watches, not memory in pixel like the fenix. Better comparison would be 965 to Epix. I own epix and 965 and can’t see an appreciable difference, although the 965’s user interface is 4x more fun to use.

    • Luke

      Agree on resolution, color. But ‘better’ is relative and personal as I don’t like inverted display/dark mode which cannot be changed on Garmin AMOLED watches (other than the maps).
      Also for my scenario I’m mostly in bright outdoor conditions and I found the display in always on mode is not readable and just black. You can use then gesture control to turn it on temporarily again. Indoors it’s definitely better readable, but not fan of emitting light constantly. And yes you can turn off always on there as well.

      I do wonder if this new ‘MIP’ display is similar as the 955 series. Or even better?

    • Andreas Andersson

      Would you say that the Fenix display is better for someone like me who only care about readability in a direct sunlight scenario?

      I can understand that the much higher resolution of the Amoled versions are capable of some very nice nice detailed and colorful graphics compared the gloomy MIP-display. Im just used to the Fenix display though and appreciate how visible they are in an outside scenario and its hard for me to grasp that an amoled display could compete on visability in a bright, outside scenario?

  2. zfJames

    I’m surprised you did not include a comparison of the flashlight brightness/battery life across sizes – that would have been useful to know. Did you see any differences?

    • I actually did in the video. It’s on my afternoon to-do list to take screenshots from that and pull it into the post. 🙂

      The two bigger units were a wash to me (on both Epix/Fenix Pro). However, the smaller unit doesn’t seem to throw as much light. It’s unclear to me if it’s actually a different LED setup, or simply the case blocks the light portion (since the case is definitely a smaller window for the smaller units).

    • Michał

      Just had a glance at a video, I saw no comparison of flashlight on 7X Pro to Enduro 2. That used to be an Enduro 2 selling point for me, what are your thoughts here?

      Cheers!

    • M Mc

      Yeah I’d also like to know how it compares to the Enduro 2 because previously that was a brighter light than the 7X

  3. Pavel Vishniakov

    Hi Ray,
    thanks for the detailed review!

    It’s obviously a recurring question after every hardware release from Garmin, but still – do you know if the software features will find their way to Forerunner series devices? Endurance Score and Climb Score sound interesting, but I’m more curious about the new datafield layouts (specifically the map page with data around it).

  4. isabeksu

    Hi Ray,
    great review, as usual. And, as usual: is any of the new software features scheduled to be ported to the Fenix 7 series?

    Also: any clue on Freeride ClimbPro (both for 7 Pro and for 7…)?

    • isabeksu

      Sorry, you wrote that at the beginning. I missed it. Still, do you know anything on Freeride Climber?

    • All features get ported to the existing Fenix 7 series, except the watch faces that say ‘Fenix 7 Pro’ on them.

      No immediate plans for freeride ClimbPro. There’s some logistical challenges there (not impossible, but harder) when it comes to taking something that’s bike-only, and making it all paths known to mankind. Specifically, that doubled the map sizes for the Edge bike computers. And obviously, there’s a gazillion more pedestrial paths/routes than bike routes.

      This didn’t at all sound like a hard-no, just more of a ‘it’s more complicated’.

  5. TomTom

    Hi Ray, you probably have Fenix 5 and 6 somewhere nearby. Is the new F7 Pro MIP display on par with the old ones? I’m specifically talking about non backlight scenarios where F7 non-Pro was a lot dimmer than previous models (because of solar panels and touch screen). Cheers!

  6. Durrin

    It’s too bad Garmin didn’t add wireless charging to one or more of these watches. I probably would have bought one if they did. I’m currently using a Fenix 6x and I’m tired of how often the watch doesn’t charge when I put it on one of my charging pucks/cables. My wifes Vivoactive and Forerunner 255 have the same problems. Clearly part of the problem is the charging puck or cable, but the problem at root is the interface. I’d love for the things to charge faster (expecially my 6x), but being able to charge without slowly ruining the contact between charger and watch is even more important.

    • Dave Lusty

      I’m still using the charge cable from my F5 and have used it with 5, 5+, 6, 7, Epix, 935 and all have charged just fine. Be more careful, it’s not the charge cable.

      Most of the fitness features of these require you to wear the watch over night, wireless charging is way too slow for a quick charge while you shower so it makes no sense at all to waste space on it. The Marq 2 magnetic cable makes sense to me, but honestly I’d rather they slim the watch down slightly than add wireless that I can never really use.

    • Cameron

      Great point — wireless charging is much slower and it will take “forever” to charge to full capacity.
      In addition, I do *not* want to travel with a big bulky wireless charger — especially when I need to charge two watches (mine and wife)! Give the a wired charger any day…!

    • Jamie

      I’m always careful with mine and two cables very temperamental with the connection. Same with a friends venu 2.

      Unless I wrap it in cotton wool not sure what else to do. These devices are, or should be designed to be used.

    • Louie

      So as gross as this sounds, i was having the same problem with my old Fenix 6, not charging, popping out and not clicking. So I decided to look closer. There was im guessing alot of dead skin and other small debris that got packed in the watch. Makes sense since im constantly sweating and its rubbing while working out. Take a little toothpick or something and clean all around the charging port even if it looks fine. After that all my chargers worked perfectly again.

    • Jorge

      Make sure the port is clean. Anytime the connection on my watch has felt less than solid it’s because the port was dirty, even when I thought it looked clean.

      link to support.garmin.com

    • Chris

      Electrical contact cleaner may also help 👍

  7. Art. P

    Dear Garmin, we are almost there…. just add, please, wireless charging and flashlight to the next Forerunner watch and that’s it.

  8. Phil S

    Thanks Ray
    Any reason to buy the Fenix over the Epix? Same features but better screen on the Epix? I seem to remember your review of the previous iterations said that you would go for the Epix of the two.

    • Dave Lusty

      Subjectively better screen, not better screen. I have F7 and Epix and I rarely wear the Epix as I prefer the Fenix 7 screen. The Epix makes a pretty sucky watch to use as a watch, but it is nicer during sports.

    • Personally, I think the Epix screen is better in virtually every situation except putting it on bike handlebars. I don’t see any real-world issues in sun either – even using just the default settings in always-on mode.

      I shot roughly 1,000 photos of these two darn watch series over the last few months. Only a handful actually made it here to the post. And every single time I took pictures of the Fenix side-by-side with the Epix, I said to myself “Gosh, the Fenix screen just looks horrible in comparison”. But, to each their own.

      Obviously, the main objective reason to buy Fenix over Epix is simply battery life. It’ll last longer – potentially a lot longer. Though on the larger units, that gap is very much closer than it used to be.

    • Dave Lusty

      My main gripe is as a watch. It’s either too dark to see and glance the time or it’s a distracting light source that catches the eye constantly. I am certain they’ll figure this out eventually but right now it really is bad in watch mode which is the majority of the day. I do like it in activities and have zero issues with brightness or sunlight, but this is one of those things that seem easy to measure for a review and demonstrate “better” (brighter, higher res, etc.) but the real world plays differently to the numbers sometimes. As I said, it’s subjective, I don’t think you can categorically say either is better without specifying the circumstances. I also disagree in camera reviews about articulating screens, they’ve taken over from flip up because they review better on paper, but a flip out screen makes eyes look creepy so I still prefer a flip up. Also subjective, but sometimes the numbers and facts are not the whole story

    • TomTom

      I agree. It’s like saying e-reader is worse to read e-books than a tablet. I don’t want to have a phone on my wrist so I prefer MIP even though it’s a worse screen. Plus from sustainability standpoint I don’t like the fact that AMOLED will eventually get burn in and has a lot shorter life span. Maybe a switch to microLED will make it better but until then I wish Garmin will have something like a Fenix Crossover – analog with screen appearing above it 🙂

    • Luke

      The only site I ever seen spending time on evaluating display readability in various scenarios is pocketnavigation.de (use translator as needed). But unfortunately they haven’t been able to test every watch:

      link to pocketnavigation.de

      They also have a comparison of the Instinct 1 solar and one of the few sites that show loss of contrast compared to instinct 1 solar. Bit odd no one else picked that up since very visible.

    • Dave Lusty

      It’s not just readability though, I absolutely agree that the Epix is more readable in every condition than MIP and can see why Ray’s reviews sum it up in that way because the nuance would take many pages to explain even if he did agree, which he doesn’t seem to (and that’s fine by me, we all have opinions!) 🙂

      For me, I can glance at the F7 and get the time easily in any lighting. With the Epix I can’t do this, either because it’s too bright and my eyes need to adjust, or because it’s too dark and I need to look closer. The Epix is distracting because it’s a light source so the eye is drawn to it, this is exacerbated if it’s set to come on when the wrist moves because the slight delay makes it look like a light came on which makes me look every single time.

      Somehow the opposite is true during a run, I can glance at the bright crisp Epix display and get what I need, especially in an interval where there’s a blue bar telling me how long/far I have left to go. The F7 often needs a longer look or a couple of looks to get that information.

      Some of this is just the way that eyes work, or how the brain works, so there will never be one true winner. I think Epix will gradually improve and be less distracting and better as a watch as the tech and software improves. MIP will eventually go away in part because reviews say AMOLED is better, and people buy the better one based on reviews. They won’t be disappointed Epix is a great watch, but for me I rarely wear the Epix.

    • Damian

      Hi,

      Guys could you give a bit more details about distractions in Epix which you mentioned as I am considering new Epix vs Fenix.

      Is it possible to:
      – turn automatically redshift mode during sleep hours?
      – turn off the display always during sleep hours and decrease dim to a minimum?
      – is there any delay in gesture mode?
      – what about notifications from the phone – is the display turned on each time?
      – I understand that even if the display is in always-on mode the dim is set to a minimum and if you take a look at the watch dim is increased, right? So, that is a problem during cycling, right?

    • Luke

      I don’t have Epix Pro but likely same as Epix2. You can customize sleep mode with custom hours and choose low power dim watch face or display off. Note display will turn off regardless in any mode if no movement is detected (e.g. on your desk).

      I never seen issues or a delay in gesture mode, but I’ve heard some complain on that. So ymmv.

      Yes with alwaysOn it will dim the display after timeout. See this old review of Epix2 where it shows how that looks like in shade & bright conditions compared to Fenix:

      link to pocketnavigation.de

      In bright sunlight it’s just a black screen so I found alwaysOn in bright conditions is a waste of battery. Better to use gesture mode imo (IIRC in GPS mode it’s 32 hours with alwaysOn vs 47 hours).

    • inSyt

      I agree. For 24/7 usage, which you will need for the training status/readiness metrics, the MIP screen without needing the backlight to be constantly on is better. The extra battery life is simply a bonus.

      It looks much more natural when using it as a event/dress up watch. Just like the a traditional time piece, the screen is in it’s best/non-attention seeking state all the time. During darkness, it fades away like everything else, unless you really need it, in which case you can summon the backlight.

      Personally, I will have to use an AMOLED watch like the Epix with a whoop/oura style device, which Garmin does not offer. Having an AMOLED backlight draw attention at an interview/meeting/evening prayer/cinema/etc is something I can do without as long as Garmin keeps offering MIP versions of their watches.

    • Mr. T

      I’m confused on what you are trying to say. There is objective information that simply makes it “better”. Yet you argue only subjective times to say it’s not better. I mean “too dark to see” is purely subjective as is “distracting light source” I have had the Venu 2 and now 265 and I have never thought it was “distracting.”

      Also you fail to address readability for older eyes. which there is NO contest. you can say you prefer the Fenix 7 but to say it’s better…that’s a stretch.

    • TomTom

      While I understand that a vibrant screen might appeal to many, let me tell those who can’t decide between AMOLED and MIP, why I had to sell Epix and return to the dull Fenix:
      – I couldn’t see seconds hand and every second HR reading without gesture and in recent years with Garmin I got used to it
      – While wearing long sleeve I thought that both screen and battery are needlessly deteriorating (AOD is the only mode I use as gesture is a huge step backwards in terms of functionality)
      – On sunny days I had to use gesture during activity/everyday use and with polarized shades the visibility was pretty bad
      – Turned off screen while laying on the table and constant dimming on the wrist simply pissed me off
      – I didn’t see the benefits of solar energy while in the sun

    • Herschel Wong

      I have both AMOLED and MIPS displays and I prefer the MIPS for the following reasons:
      – I don’t like gesture mode. Sometimes I’m not aggressive enough with my gesture to activate it. When it’s dark I don’t mind manually invoking the backlight. When I’m hunting, I don’t like the possibility of the AMOLED lighting up when I’m stalking game when in gesture mode.
      – I like having all the information on the watch face all the time, 24×7, instead of just some of it or none of it. It’s closer to an analog watch in that regard
      – I like not having to worry about charging my watch when I leave on 1-2 week trips
      – I have no problems reading the MIPS indoors under ambient lighting

  9. Cédric

    Thanks for the review! Would you please be able to check if the kayak profile finally supports datafields for stroke rate or power now that they’re focusing on more activity profiles? Cadence sensors and power meters for kayaking have existed for years but Garmin still doesn’t support them in the kayak profile. You can use them in the bicycle or SUP profile but then your activity is listed as the wrong sport in Garmin Connect and Strava.

    • Bikej

      There is one – non obvious- reason for me – Epix does not show seconds on always on display. Yes, that is why I chosen Fenix 7x over Epix (which I had had four half year).

    • Just tried, no love.

      I had a power meter (with cadence) paired, and it doesn’t see it in that profile. Nonetheless, I also checked the data field options, and neither cadence nor power are listed there as data field options for it.

      Funny, I remember about writing about power meters for kayaks years ago. But agree, this is a good example of one where ideally they’d have copied one of the other profiles instead.

    • Cédric

      Thanks for checking! I’ll stick with my Fenix 6 then for now. Maybe I’ll try to log an issue with Garmin in the hopes they see it and fix it although I’ve never got any real answers on previous requests.

  10. Catalin

    Thanks for the very detailed review ! I have one question: are there any changes in vibration strength compared to the Fenix 7 ? To me the Fenix 7 has a bit lower strength than I would like.

  11. Otto

    Great review as always Ray. I’m more amazed in light of how much suffering you went through during the triathlon – you still used the even to get data this write-up.

    As to the device… I’m usually an early adopter and would order a new Fenix on day-1. I’m keeping my Fenix 7X and skipping the Pro line, and likely the Fenix 8 at this rate. Improvements seem to be plateauing.

    My next watch has to have LTE, speaker and microphone, and wireless charging, all things Garmin has piloted on separate watches. Fenix 9, perhaps?

    • I mean, I couldn’t have a half-finished data file for my review if I stopped! 🙂

      I agree that if you’ve already got a Fenix 7, given this gets all those software features (and especially a Fenix 7X like you with the flashlight already), there’s almost no reason to get this. I also agree that Garmin seems to be putting the building blocks together for a very strong Fenix 8 (I don’t have any inside information there, just reading the tea leaves a bit).

  12. Dan

    Will the flashlight “work” if the watch is worn on the right wrist? I’m left handed, and I can’t tell if the flashlight will be pointed awkwardly in that scenario, or if it’s all about the light, and the directional piece of it doesn’t matter?

    • Brian Reiter

      Yes, it works fine. The flashlight embedded in the bezel faces away regardless. I wear a fenix 7X on the right wrist.

      What would not work is wearing the watch on the inside of the wrist. Then the light will be pointed toward your face when you turn it on.

  13. Cameron

    Ray, looking at the differences between the Epix Gen 2 and the new Epix PRO 47 mm I do not see any significant differences in functionality or hardware, other than that the PRO has the flashlight added and optical heart rate sensor difference. Even battery life is about the same. I currently own the Epix Gen 2 Sapphire — I do not see any compelling reason to upgrade to the PRO version.

    Also, have you noticed a difference in screen brightness in the Epix PRO between the standard and sapphire versions?

    Thanks! Cameron

    • I haven’t noticed a meaningful difference between Sapphire and non-Sapphire for the Epix displays.

      As for Fenix 7 non-Pro, I did notice a difference – quite a bit. But I haven’t seen/had a non-Sapphire Fenix 7 Pro, just the Sapphire. Comparing Sapphire to Sapphire Pro, there is an improvement in visibility, but it’s very minor without the backlight, but much more clear with the backlight.

  14. Lukasz

    I’m using FR935 as my EDC watch + bike computer. The display is OK for me. I like “new” features such as climb pro or some new metrics such as body battery. Which watch would you recommend: 955/965 or Fenix 7 pro?

  15. Mike

    $400 difference between Fenix 7 Standard and Fenix 7 Pro Standard ($499 vs. $899). Both have 18 days of standard battery life (additional 4 due to solar). Both have same software features. GPS good enough for most people in Fenix 7 standard. HRM also good enough for Fenix 7 standard. Charge in an hour vs. 2 hours.

    Seems like Fenix 7 is a bargain. What am I missing?

    • Chris

      There are other nice to have features here that aren’t in the base model. Depends on what you value. The base model only has 16 GB of storage (vs 32 GB), doesn’t have the flashlight, has less accurate GPS and heartrate monitoring (but still good), etc. But if you can get by without that stuff, the base Fenix 7 is an incredible deal right now at $200 off. If you want a black watch though, you need to move up to at least the Fenix 7 Solar for $600.

  16. okrunner

    Since August 2022 you regarded the Enduro 2 as the “best” Fenix in terms of hardware and battery. Does the 7X Pro effectively kill the Enduro 2 in terms of hardware and battery?

    • okrunner

      Ok. I’ll partially answer my own question after going back to the Enduro 2 review. The Enduro 2 still has better battery life. I assume all the new features will port to the Enduro 2, correct?

    • Enduro 2 still has the best battery life. All the new features port to the Enduro 2 too.

      There is a notable difference in display between Enduro 2 and Fenix 7X Pro (with Fenix 7X Pro being better). I’ll try and take some pics tomorrow, though I think DesFit may have some in his review (he had texted me some, but haven’t had a chance to look at his Fenix video yet).

  17. Brian Reiter

    I’m astounded at how close the battery range of the Epix 51mm is to the 7X.

    I expected Garmin to put the enduro 2 battery in the 7X Pro but they didn’t. I find it confusing that a 7X, 7X Pro, and enduro 2 all exist and are being manufactured simultaneously but differ by only a tiny number of components in the bill of materials.

    What is the point of the 7X Pro if there is an enduro 2 for battery range and an Epix 2 Pro 51mm with ~80-100% of the range (depending on settings) of a 7X but with a fancier display?

    • “What is the point of the 7X Pro if there is an enduro 2…”

      Yup, I struggle there. I’m really curious to see what Garmin does branding-wise. In my mind something has to give, and either Enduro as a brand goes away (which is too bad, because long-term I think that branding is more ‘correct’ for a MIP-based watch). But Fenix is by far a massively bigger brand. But yeah, the overlap gets really obvious.

      Of course, if there’s any company that’s not afraid of overlap and excessive product lines…it’s Garmin.

      But yeah, it was interesting talking to them about how by going AMOLED they actually save a considerable amount of space in the case, because of the multiple layers required for a MIP screen. And by simply filling that space with battery, they’re astoundingly close on both spec, and real-world data as I showed above.

  18. Dave Lusty

    Is it just me, or do Garmin seem to be moving these watches away from having smart/premium looks and cutting down to mostly silicone bands? I get that Marq exists, but since Fenix 3 the Fenix has been the smarter and premium materials version of the FR9xx. The Epix titanium doesn’t go with any bands due to the white sides, while the Fenix Pro no longer has a metal band SKU, and the leather band SKU no longer comes with a silicone band in the box.

    Add to that the pointless copying of the Apple watch colours and I’m a bit disappointed at the direction of Garmin here. Most of the Apple watch users I know have either given up on smart watches or moved to Garmin so seems weird to ape the Apple when they were winning customers anyway.

    If Fenix and Epix stop being premium, what’s the point of them sitting between Marq and FR9xx?

    • To be fair, Garmin has always had far more colors than anyone else. I mean, back in the Fenix 5 days they had 24 different color combinations of watches. As both themselves and then Apple provided – people like color options.

      The hardware design here is virtually identical to the existing Fenix 7/Epix units – so much so that’s why I was able to use them out in the open in a race last weekend. Nobody can tell the difference since they look visually the same.

      I think MARQ is still in a tricky spot. It’s a really pretty-looking watch, but it was horribly mis-timed with what is effectively a smaller display. It feels odd to me. In my mind, they need to find a way to basically release MARQ ‘ahead’ of the curve somehow, or, at least release it the same day (god help me…).

    • Dave Lusty

      Completely agree. I’d have a Marq if it wasn’t out of sequence so badly. I’d also have a Descent mk2 but same issues!
      I know it’s similar to F7 but they have fewer SKUs than F7 from what I can see. I agree the design is good, they’re just getting wonky on the SKUs. Previously (in the UK) they had basic and premium SKUs which allowed for people wearing during sport, business, evening wear, etc. While I assume these didn’t sell, part of the issue was they were only available from Garmin direct so of course the others sold better – they were more available.
      I’m hoping that as the software converges to a single version, and they clearly are getting there, this will sort itself out. They need to stay in the news so I wouldn’t mind Marq and Descent lagging a couple of months so they have the same level of hardware and screen etc. but adding in the premium hardware or dive stuff. As it is the Marq always tries to be ahead but is then inevitably behind within months and I think that’s what they need to protect against. After a Fenix 8/Epix 3 they could easily tease for a few months that premium versions were coming and milk the marketing.

    • Brian Reiter

      I think the Descent is behind the comparable fenix by a few months because the firmware gets more validation testing due to the critical safety equipment functionality for dive. That is also why connect IQ is disabled in dive mode.

      For general use they can be a bit more cavalier about slinging firmware out there and letting people run with beta software.

    • Dave Lusty

      It’s never just a few months with Descent though, it’s currently a Fenix 6 model.

    • JR

      Garmin lets you order a custom Fenix with whatever combination of case color, bezel, and strap you want, for no upcharge. The only catch is that they aren’t returnable.

  19. Ryan M.

    Ray – Any updates on your Unified Training Status post? Rotating between my 955 (sleep/training) and Vivosmart 5 (day to day wear) and wondering if there is any chance of things like HRV and Body Battery ever working seamlessly.

    • Oh dear, I’m so far behind there.

      TLDR – no sync of Body Battery cross-device. Though, HRV does sync pretty seamlessly now. So much so that I can use all these watches interchangeably and it just doesn’t matter.

    • Ryan M.

      Too many watches and not enough time in the day. Not the end of the world, just looking forward to your thoughts on the Unified Training Status/any gaps that Garmin might be fixing.

      My 955 doesn’t show a stress score in the Training Readiness despite wearing a Garmin for almost 24/7.

  20. Rick

    Thank you for the great review! I use a 7X myself, so I am happy about getting to save money this time, since there hardly appears to be anything new. I look forward to the 8X!

  21. Jordan

    Quick question on the display – Is the display notably different between Fenix 7 and Fenix 7 pro? Particularly the glare and the visibility indoor (without the backlight).

    Great review!!

    • Not really.

      I actually thought it was worse till I turned off that silly Auto-Backlight settings. Then it’s really only when the backlight enabled that I notice it.

      I’m sitting here indoors right now, no backlight, and yeah, it’s typical MIP dim.

    • Ray,
      F7 Solar Saphire has less contrast/more dim than F6 Pro.
      Do you know where the dim come from is it solar or shaphire or both layers?
      The dim is yellow-brownish-like.

      How about F7 Pro with different layers did you have a chance to compare?

  22. Peter

    Hi Ray,

    So is the 300EUR difference betwen 7 and 7 pro justifiable for first time Gamirn Fenix buyers? Your subjective opinion!

    Cheers,
    Peter

    • steven

      Perhaps adding a follow-up question – Fenix 7 sapphire solar vs Fenix 7 pro sapphire, it the difference in pricing worth it? (approx 150$).

      Thanks!
      Steven

    • I wouldn’t spend that extra $400 more. I could see spending $150 more for Pro, with the hopes of good stuff from the new optical HR sensor.

      If it were me, for $400 more, I’d buy the cheap one now, and then splurge in another 14-18 months for a Fenix 8 or whatever.

  23. Leif

    Finally have squash! Now just waiting for wing foiling. My Garmin alter ego does a lot of tennis and kiteboarding but hats not quite right

  24. gingerneil

    I have a 955. Do you expect any of the new software features to make it over to me?
    It would be great to see a rolling pin comparison of the new F7 range alongside the 955 and 965, please. 🙂

    • They’re collecting the final list of updates that’ll go to the Foreunner series. I should have that shortly.

      I’ll shoot some rolling pin stuff tomorrow. Though honestly, I think I already shot it. I shot a bunch back in the Suunto Vertical review cycle, including rolling pin shots for later. I just gotta figure out which darn SD card it went to, or which darn portable hard drive it went to.

      Thanks for being a supporter, as always!

    • gingerneil

      Thanks. I don’t like the 965 display, and the 955 just refuses to update VO2 and lactate threshold, so all the other numbers are likely off for me (crap in, crap out etc). The alleged fixes just aren’t landing right. So I could be tempted by a smaller F7. I don’t want a huge watch so photo comparisons would be awesome…

  25. Adonis

    Any idea if the new sport profiles or endurance score might make it’s way to the Forerunner 265/965 line? Or are these exclusive to the new Fenix/Epix lines?

  26. Markus

    Did you test the new HR sensor with streangth training?

    • I did some minor stuff there, but nothing crazy. I know DesFit spent a lot more time in the gym with it, so probably worth checking out his review on that piece.

  27. Thanks for the review. Will anything be ported to Instinct 2(X)? Like endurance metrics, split map (Crossover kinda did that.) and the widget lookup? Also, if there seems to be no reason keeping the non-solar line anymore, what will happen to the Enduro line in your opinion? How will it stay different from an FX?

  28. Harri

    Oh, come on.. Give me something new with LTE communication – at least text messages.. This watch does not impress me 2023.

  29. Dirk-Jan

    Do they have the full list of running dynamics like on the Forerunner 255?

  30. Jakob

    Hi Ray, does the Fenix series still just allow max two custom data fields per activity?

    With a habit to collect different dongles that beam ant+ or bluetooth data, I find it a shame not being able to save it all to my activity files.

    Best Regards, and thanks for the review

  31. Cameron

    I find it interesting (amusing) how people’s wish-list for watches differ.
    For example I have absolutely no desire to have a watch with LTE. If I wanted to make/receive phone calls I would take my phone with me instead. When I am out exercising/exploring I do not want to be interrupted with a phone call…!
    Also, I absolutely have ZERO desire for wireless charging. Wireless charging is significantly slower and the charger is typically specialized per device and much more bulky in size. So if I travel and need to charge multiple watches (mine, wife, and extra spare) I have to pack big bulky chargers and slug them along with me. Small thin charging cables are much more convenient – I travel with either an Anker or RAV Power charger that have 4~6 charging ports. I can charge all my devices simultaneously with simple cables.
    Just my opinion 😉

  32. JK

    Ray, would the red shift mode work well with swimming?

    • Maximilian

      There is no red shift mode on the Fenix 7 (that’s only on the Epix Pro), but why would you want to use it for swimming?

  33. Aytunc

    Hi Ray

    Do you think Garmin will ever follow suit with AWU and allow short term sports option for certain profiles such as diving and maybe other water sports ? I really like the idea of using fenix as a diving watch (for a recreational diver, not 300 m of course)

    • Cameron

      @Aytunc – do you know there is the Garmin Descent series of drive watches. It is basically the Fenix watch with a dedicated depth gauge for SCUBA DIVING driving.

    • Aytunc

      I know about descent but didn’t want to buy another garmin. I am more of a runner biker than maybe two dives a year.

  34. Frank X. Shaw

    I’ve had the Fenix 6 Saphire since it was released and have loved it, but am feeling like the new sensors make this a decent time to jump…but am totally stuck trying to decide between the Fenix and Epix lines! I haven’t had problems with visibility, so I’m leaning to the Fenix 7 Pro….Ray, you note that the key for you is the display, any other real deal breakers?

  35. Peter Stone

    Will there be an Enduro 2 Pro?

  36. Damian

    Great review!

    So, could you tell which one is personally better in your opinion AMOLED Epix2 Pro or Fenix7x Pro? In general who is a target of AMOLED and who is a target for MIP display?

    In my case, most of the sports I am doing are ski touring, skiing, running, cycling (not sure, perhaps would be nice to have a separate bike computer for that), climbing, and mountaineering.

    Are you using display always on, or gestures (in watch and sport mode)? How comfortable is gesture mode?

    The GPS was not so accurate during climbing. I understand why but wondering if Garmin fix anything related to that.

  37. FO

    Can you do a post regarding the differents between epix 2 and fenix 7 pro, i would like a quick post about it and help to which watch to buy

  38. Mark

    So can we please have that inline skating profile file? (:

  39. Christian Koehler

    This rises the question, how many guestimated ‘metrics’ do we actually need.

    They use an optical HR sensor (that may or not work well for you) to recognize sleep phases (unreliable compared to professional equipment) to calculate some sleep score on a scale that isn’t well defined (at least not publicly) using an algorothm that is kept secret. Nobody can verify the results.

    Watts sound like something that comes from science and engineering. So the benchmark for running power shoult be some well established scientiffic definition – and not the results of “your favorite brand” or “subjective consistancy”.

    What are training load, recovery score, hill score, stress level etc.? If the scale isn’t well defined, what do numbers mean?

    Some numbers may be hard to determine precisely, but if you could, they would be usefull (calories). But for some numbers even the use case is questionable. What do you make of ground contact time etc.?

    At some point it becomes pseudo science. And I think we are well past that point.

  40. De Tok

    Bad copy from your Epix Pro review?

    – Added faster charging (now about 1hr, instead of nearly 2hrs before)

    Finally, it’s worth noting that while the Epix Pro series got faster charging (90% in about an hour), I’m not seeing that being the case with the newer Fenix 7 Pro series. They still take a long-ass time to charge – nearly two hours.

  41. Vijay

    I believe more then Fenix, it’s Epix family of watches that need Solar support. Love the display of Epix but more inclined on Fenix due to battery life. If Garmin would have made a Epix with solar, that would have been the best deal

    • Ryan M.

      I’m sure there are technical reasons that prevent solar on the AMOLED devices. My guess is that the solar layer would impact visibility too much, and the potential solar gains aren’t enough to meaningfully increase the battery life relative to power draws of AMOLED.

    • Vijay

      I guess you are right coz adding solar layer would sacrifice/reduce some layers of battery already present (so less battery size). And that solar won’t add as much power compared to what can be given in terms of battery size. So I guess Garmin played safe in that aspect with AMOLED.
      But I guess I was waiting for that to happen, maybe in future.

  42. tom

    so to be sure…..no AMOLED screen on the fenix 7 pro? still……

  43. I waited for a fenix pro and then picked a tactix up in the mean time, and also… Ihave a green light and 🙂

    anyway assume all the features rolling down are rolling down to me as well

  44. Uffdada

    Update 13.22 for Marq2 is out… but no Endurance an Hill Score and also no Basketball or any other new sport profile…

    • Brian Reiter

      The 13.x beta cycle pre-dated the announcement of those features.

      It was about merging in launch features from the forerunner 965. It boils down to a bunch of new graphs and the running dynamics capture from the wrist without requiring an HRM-Pro, HRM-Tri, HRM-Run, or RD-Pod accessory. (Those accessories are still required for left/right balance, though.) And bug fixes.

      The launch features of the “pro” revision will presumably come in the next quarter.

  45. TC

    > On the bright side, my VO2max scores have finally unstuck in the last 6-8 weeks

    FYI lactate threshold auto-detection was (finally) fixed in beta 15.09 (April 3rd) and non-beta 15.19 (May 24th)

  46. Hi All-

    Here’s the complete list of all the new Fenix 7 Pro features getting backported to existing Fenix 7, Epix, Forerunner 955, Forerunner 965, and other watches. This includes timeframes and a breakdown by watch:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Cheers!

  47. Erwin

    What would you say DC about the coating of Fenix 7 Pro 47mm model? I’m looking for a silver stainless steel Fenix 7 PRO due to scratch-free look but clearly, it’s not available, only as 7S PRO. Is it the same as previous generation models, as in DLC coating which, once scratched shows some very visible scratches? Thanks

  48. leo

    Hi im interested in font size when displaying heart rate and calorie burn while running etc.. i cant find anywhere that shows me how large this looks on the screen of 7x??

  49. Filipe Pereira

    They will do some upgrade for fenix 5x?

  50. acousticbiker

    Disappointed that the improvements to the MIP display weren’t in the form of higher resolution. Having moved from Fenix to Epix, I would consider a move back to Fenix if the MIP had the same higher resolution (or at least high enough to get rid of the pixellation).

    On a quick search, there appear to be higher res MIP displays out there (for example, this one is 1.2″ 390 x 390: link to chance-display.com). Any ideas why they haven’t gone down this path?

  51. Ben

    Thanks for the great review! I am happy to see the new sports modes added. Been playing Badminton for years, and always logged in under a Misc profile.

    Is there any way to batch-convert all these activities into badminton somehow?

  52. Drew

    Hey man – really love your reviews! They are the most detailed I’ve seen and the testing lengths you go to are so helpful. I have the Fenix 6 Pro Solar and held off on the 7 because it seemed like mainly software updates, though moving to self-coaching, some of the new ones like Training Readiness would be super helpful. I saw your comment about it probably not being worth upgrading from the 7 to 7 Pro, but what about from the 6 Pro? I’m also super torn between the Fenix and Epix lines. I really like the idea of the color screen but take my Fenix backpacking a good amount and love the long battery life. Any advice/thoughts/personal preferences there too?

  53. Indy Jones

    do we know yet what the purpose of the reflective triangles within the sensor circle are for? very odd looking and quite shiny, which you’d think would not be a great benefit for a part of a watch that relies on reflecting light. there’s speculation they’re temperature sensing pads, which if that’s the case, that would be the second thing the device has in terms of hardware that is not enabled, and i don’t think they can blame this on the FDA.
    so…either these triangles are there for show and do nothing, or this device was rushed to market way ahead of its software…

  54. Cameron

    Ray, quick question (could not figure out from the video and review, even though you talked about it): regarding the display between the 7 PRO Solar vs 7 PRO Sapphire Solar – which screen is clearer in terms of contrast and color? Is the sapphire screen still darker compared to the standard screen?

    I am torn — I want the lighter watch with the best color screen. Typically, the Sapphire-Titanium is lighter than the standard version, but the standard version has a clearer screen (is that correct?) 🙁

    I know the weight difference between the sapphire vs standard watch is only 6~7 g (depending on 47 vs 51 mm size), but it sounds like there is a noticeable difference between the sapphire vs standard screen clarity…?

    GREAT REVIEW — thank you so much!
    Cameron

    • I haven’t tried the non-sapphire solar. but historically speaking, the Sapphire edition ones are slightly dimmer/darker. I’d expect that to be true here as well.

      Thanks for being a DCR Supporter!

    • Steven

      Interesting – I am in the same boat. Why not the Epix? (for the screen)

  55. Fred

    Nice comparing of the MIP screens (old vs new).

    I have personally seen that the 955 MIP screen has better contrast and readability than Fenix7 screen. Also 955 touch screen is less affected by water than F7/Epix2.

    So it looks like the supposed “new” MIP screen is the same (newer/better) screen already present in the FR 955 series.

    Can you please compare the F7 Pro vs 955 MIPs and tell us if they look the same or if the F7 Pro MIP is even better?

    Thanks!

  56. Dan

    Do you know if the running/cycling training schedule works for multiple events (eg run race a, run race c, cycling race b)?

    thanks

    • It does work for multiple events of the same type (e.g. run A, run b, etc). But I haven’t checked to see if you can interweave correctly both run and bike. I mean, I know you can add the events just fine, but I don’t know if behind the scenes it does what you want it to do in terms of balancing those.

    • Dan

      Looks like you can have primary & secondary events in Garmin Connect of different types (see video here link to youtube.com), but the race widget only focuses on the primary event, so if you are mixing cycling & running it would be up to the user to apply the appropriate suggested workout for the day.

      Here is a reddit thread on the same topic link to reddit.com

  57. Joey Davis

    Garmin clearly has the best hardware in the sports/fitness tech world. However, many of us are frustrated with the fact that they give us 79 preloaded activities, most of which the average person will never use, and yet they don’t give us the ability to create custom activities. Sure they let us rename some of them, but unless something changed with the Fenix 7 the renamed activity will revert to it’s original generic name when it transfers to Connect and Strava, making it very difficult to track progress over time unless you want to manually edit every movement every day every time you workout.

    Circuit training, functional fitness, WOD’s, Zone training, CrossFit, Hyrox, DekFit etc, and gyms all around the world are creating custom workouts daily, and events like the “Murph Challenge” are very popular. Having the ability to create custom activities such as Box Jumps, Burpees, Wall-balls, Assault Bike, pull-ups, Sled push/pull, Rowing machine, Ski machine, kettlebells, farmers carry, push-ups etc….and even typical gym movements where an athlete wants to chart their progress over time to see how their strength and fitness volume has changed when doing bench press, dead lifts, squats etc. None of this is possible on our $1000 watch, unless you just want to use the generic “cardio” “strength” feature and lump all movements together without the ability to measure progress over time.

    A lot of people will say that these are niche movements and I disagree. The top runners, swimmers, cyclist, and just every major sport incorporates cross-training to improve strength, mobility, and function fitness.

    And what about the sport of power lifting and bodybuilding, how do they record their training sessions in a way that allows them to evaluate specific movements over time? I mean c’mon they’ve added snorkeling, kitesurfing, disc golf, and mixed martial arts….are you telling me those aren’t niche sports/activities?

    Why does this seem like the low hanging fruit that Garmin can fix today with minimal investment, is it really that technologically challenging? I’d pay for a custom library saved on the cloud for easy daily transfer to my watch as needed for each daily WOD.

    Anybody have answers?

    • Indy Jones

      As a powerlifter and occasional weightlifter who uses his tactix 7 regularly, I’m not sure what you’re asking for. The watch records lifting workouts just fine and for the most part detects the specific movement you’re doing accurately. All you’re doing though is tracking reps and weight, not bar path. If you’re asking for that, you need other equipment to either sit on the barbell or on the rack (like perch)

      Literally everything you’ve mentioned is easily tracked by Garmin. You can create custom workouts or just track a generic workout activity like most ppl do (cardio I think is the activity I’ve used). I guess the only issue is labeling but that’s what workout notes are for. I think you’re asking way too much of any hardware company to create activities for the literally hundreds of movements out there. Do you want them to create specific activities for every dance move on the planet too? Or is it just better to capture it as a “dancing” activity and be done with it? As ray says, there’s no need to boil the ocean here…

    • Joey Davis

      I use it too, every day, it’s all we have right now. Here are some examples where it is lacking for the powerlifter, bodybuilder, and hybrid athletes (CrossFit, Hyrox, DekaFit etc).

      Let’s take powerlifter who wants to improve squats, deadlift, and bench press. I’m just making up a workout for discussion, but let’s say on squats day he/she does a number of movements such as standard barbell squats, hack squats, goblet squats, and walking lunges. All four of those exercises have to be lumped under one name “strength” on my Fenix 6 Pro and if I want I can go into Connect and rename them, every exercise, everyday, pain in the ass. And, let’s say I want to analyze my data on Garmin connect to see how my volume has changed over the weeks, months, years…I can’t because Connect see’s them all as “strength” and lumps them together with every strength movement I do.

      The problem is compounded for the bodybuilder who benefits from knowing specific body part volume metrics. A bodybuilder might do 30 or more different movements in week, and over time as certain body parts grow they modify their workout to emphasize particular muscle groups that need more attention. They too would benefit from knowing just how many sets, reps, and total weight volume, including time, was devoted to specific movements and body parts over the past weeks, months, years.

      Lastly, and the group truly left out of sports wearables today, and one of the largest groups in the world, the CrossFit, Hybid, and daily WOD people.

      Just about every gym in the world has some form of circuit training class, or cross-training/WOD program. And, if you look around you’ll see individuals who circuit train on their own where they move through a multi-activity workout that might take them from the rower to the treadmill to box jumps etc. CrossFit, Hyrox, DekaFit took this concept of combining strength and endurance and made them into Global Sports. Those athletes are limited to creating Garmin multi-sport workouts where they are limited to “cardio” and “strength” and have no ability to look at their historical training data to analyze specific data for improvement.

      Think about the precise measures and data available to the runner using Garmin, literally dozens of data points that can be analyzed over years. All I’m saying is that Garmin already has everything the powerlifter, bodybuilder, CrossFit and hybrid athlete need, they just need to give us the ability to replace the 30 or more sports/activities that come with the watch that will never be used, and let us replace them with 30 or more custom strength and cardio exercise such as squats, bench press, barbell curls, box jumps, burpees, wall-balls, sled push/pull, pull-ups, kettlebells, air assault bike etc so that we can pull up our data in the same way as a runner, cyclist, and swimmer.

    • Indy Jones

      The runner the cyclist and the swimmer are doing one thing, so garmin (and any brand) can track it exceptionally well. You’re asking a device to track 30+ wildly different things in a single activity. That’s… a lot to ask… There’s nothing on the market that can do what you’re wanting…

  58. Chris Collins

    Is this new Event driving comprehensive training schedule an evolution of their “Garmin Coach” avatars, creating an adaptive training schedule to run a 5K/10K/HM?

    “… Daily Suggested Workouts for both Running….or can be driven by a specific goal race on your calendar.
    If you put a specific running or cycling event on your calendar, it’ll automatically build out a pretty comprehensive training schedule – including multiple phases (e.g., base, build, peak, taper, recovery), as well as even offer which days you want your long runs/rides…The system is smart enough that if you’ve had crappy sleep or too much load from something not on the schedule, it’ll pull back the recommendations (or give you a rest day). Same goes for travel, if you’ve added your travel via the Jetlag Advisor feature.”

    • Chris Collins

      Ah, I see in your 265 youtube, you describe the Event-based training plan. Answering my own question, “Yes” the concept of their Garmin Coach, is subsumed by this more detailed Daily Suggested Workouts for a “Primary” Event.

  59. Steve

    I have a Garmin Enduro 2 and wondering if the Fenix 7x Pro Solar Sapphire is worth the upgrade. Also want to know if the flashlight on the Enduro 2 is brighter than the one on the 7x Pro. Up until now, it was more powerful than the flashlight on the Fenix 7x so wondering if the new “Pro” version matches the brightness of the Enduro 2.
    Thanks and keep up the great work.

    • Brian Reiter

      It’s a downgrade overall.

      FWIW I think the battery from the enduro 2 is in the epix 2 pro 51mm and the 2nd gen flashlight design from the enduro 2 is in the pro series in general.

      The only upgraded components in the Fenix 7X pro are the display and the oHR sensor. Those are de minimus changes today. If you are interested in accurate heart rate training the real solution is an ECG chest strap.

      The oHR might enable new sensor capabilities over the next year like ECG and skin temperature but those will also be in a fenix 8X / enduro 3 / epix 3 51mm. I think the reason this sensor is out now is so that Garmin can have FDA approval for ECG for the fenix 8 / enduro 3 generation from day 1.

      You would basically be paying to field test the new oHR sensor and have 23% less battery range.

      I think the 7X is almost unchanged and along for the ride with the rest of the line. The real point of the “pro” is flashlight in all models, 3 sizes in the epix, and release of the latest oHR module. Nothing else has changed.

    • Steve T

      I can confirm that the flashlight on my fenix 7X pro is noticeably brighter than that of my fenix 7X. I’d suspect it’s the same unit as the Enduro 2.

  60. Allison Grace

    Hi. I’m very interested in these new editions as I have small wrists, although there is nothing wrong with my fenix 6S. Will your wife be publishing what she thinks? Also do you think that they will do smaller versions in the forerunner 965 or any future Fenix releases? Cheers.

  61. Dan

    Do you think there will be a garmin enduro 2 pro with the same improvements as these models or will Garmin jump straight to enduro 3 next year?

  62. Nekaj

    Hi, great reviews.

    It would be really nice if you could prepare an “in depth” screen /display comparison of various Garmin watches. Seems like this is the key difference between Fenix 7 and Epix. And some of us are just confused on which is best for individual 🤷‍♂️

    Additional bonus would be comparison with Fenix 6 – just asking for a friend who is thinking about upgrade 😉

  63. SoCorsu

    As for performance, it’s astonishing: all the latest 2022/2023 models – F7 /E2 / Pro and FRx55 / FRx65 – have the same engine. Only the Instinct 2 / 2S / 2X / Crossover is anemic.

    link to forums.garmin.com

    —-

    We’ll wait for a Teardown to realize the differences.

    link to f-blog.info

  64. William Christensen

    Is the updated display also on the Fenix 51mm 7X Pro, or is it only the smaller model that got that update?

  65. Eric Schneider

    I apologize if this has been addressed in comments.

    How much of a difference is there between the Elevate 4 sensor and Elevate 5 sensor?

    I’m using a Fenix 6; wanted to upgrade to Enduro 2 (battery life, faster processor), waited for Fenix 7 pro, disappointed that the battery life wasn’t closer to Enduro. Now wondering if I should wait for Elevate 5 to come to Enduro line. Or if the Enduro is at the end of it’s line…

    Thanks.

  66. Durrin

    I am aware of this. I use a Q-tip to clean out the port and/or the charger frequently. In addition, I almost always have a silicon port-cap covering the charging port when I am wearing the watch.

  67. Jay

    Is Garmin trying to mindf*ck customer?
    If you look at their released product Garmin Fenix 7 Standard, Fenix 7 Solar, Sapphire Solar, Fenix 7 Pro Solar and Fenix 7 Pro Sapphire Solar?
    Is this purposely producing many versions trying to confuse customer mind?

  68. Daryl

    Is there a way to see perceived effort or “how did that feel” on a chart? I’d love to see mapped out how I’ve felt over the past few months, but I can’t seem to find anything that will work other than clicking through every activity manually.

  69. andrew

    hi all, i am using 7x pro but i dont have the precipitation overlay , any thought?
    look at the attached screenshot, i dont have precipitation.

  70. Ellen

    Any idea how many lumens the flashlight is? This race I’m pacing in requires a flashlight on hand at all times with at least 10 lumens and I’m wondering if this would fit the requirement.

    • Brian Reiter

      An iPhone is about 40-50 lumens. I think the Garmin torch is in that ballpark, maybe a bit less but I’m fairly sure it is at least 10.

      Note that running flashlight continuously is the fastest way to run down your battery and also it does dim itself after a while due to heat, even in winter conditions.

      I would not rely on the watch torch as safety equipment except for an emergency.

    • First, I agree with Brian, that I would not use this as a primary flashlight. However, if it is more like: there is no real need for continuous lighting, but for safety reasons, there should be a backup than this could probably check the box.
      Fit Gear Hunter did some measurement for the Instinct 2X (maybe he did for F7Pro as well, I haven’t checked). In that video he lists iPhone 14 as 35 lumnents, Enduro 2 as 85-87 lumens, and Instinct 2X as 64 lumens. link to youtu.be
      I have a Petzl bindi which does 5 lumens in a basic setting, and I think that my I2X can do way more than 10 lumens. For how long… never tested.

  71. Tib Teng

    This review is not categorized in “Garmin Reviews”.

    I got here by Googling the product name with dcrainmaker, but wanted to cross check with recently released Garmin watches so I went to the category page …

  72. Egil G

    How to add backpack weight? Is there any way to add kg to the backpack of a hike? Backpacking/rucking with a heavy backpack is something between a strength training and cardio. Current hiking activity doesnt give a correct view of the stress of a hike when there is no option to add backpack weight. (at least for me) I was hiking this weekend with a 30kg backpack. After 13km hike and 600m height increase the 965 says 5 hour recovery due to low HR, while im flat out and feel completely tanked.

  73. Tib Teng

    Hi,

    Could you add photos of every available data page layouts? (Or just keep that in mind when you review another new watch from Garmin in the future)

    I’m currently using Instinct Crossover, while it’s great on daily use and timekeeping, it only can display max. 4 data fields in a page during workout. I just need one more field for rowing so I don’t need to switch pages (time, distance, total calorie, hr zone, power).

    I just think of it, tried looking up on the web, and discovered somewhat surprisingly that Garmin official user manuals don’t have them, their tutorial on how to choose data fields don’t have them, and various review videos don’t scroll over all them either (they just gave a glance on some pages of it).

    Your review mentioned 7X models have max. 8 fields, 7S and 7 have max. 6 fields, and that section indeed have few photos covered many of the layouts. What I’m interested is that, for example, 7S and 7 have two different layouts for 6 fields. I’m curious that if it provide alternative layouts for pages with other data field count as well.

    • Will

      You can look at the Connect IQ device reference to see layouts for various devices. It’s not the easiest page to navigate, and it may be out of date for some models, but it’s better that nothing. According to that page, the only watch which supports 2 layouts for 6 fields is Marq (gen 2):

      link to developer.garmin.com

      I will say that I have a Forerunner 955, which has the same screen size / resolution as Fenix 7. It used to have a limit of 6 fields (one layout), and with the latest beta firmware, it now supports up to 8 fields, which is a surprise to me since I only expected 8 fields to be supported on the big watches like Fenix 7X.

      Now my 955 has the following 6-8 field layouts (which may be useful for you given that 955 and fenix 7 have similar software):

      – 6 fields (all labels visible)
      1
      2 | 3
      4 | 5
      6

      – 7 fields (labels for fields 1, 2 and 4 not visible; field 4 is big and the rest are small)
      1
      2 | 3
      4
      5 | 6
      7

      – 8 fields (labels for fields 1 and 8 not visible; all fields are small)
      1
      2 | 3
      4 | 5
      6 | 7
      8

    • Tib Teng

      Wow, I didn’t know this reference, and it’s indeed useful.

      Thanks!

    • Tib Teng

      And just as you said, if 955 supports 6+ fields, then Fenix 7X suddenly becomes not that attractive to me.

      But since Garmin have a new Elevate V5 sensor, one naturally looking forward to a new Forerunner model using it …

  74. KeithP

    Hi. Thank you for your in-depth reviews, these are highly informative and greatly appreciated.

    Apologies if I missed this in the review but is the impact on battery life of using or not using navigation known (all other things being equal)? I understand that also having the navigation screen (i.e., map) showing or hidden by displaying another data field apparently makes a difference to battery life.

    Thanks.

  75. Tom

    Hi Ray, would you know whether the new “nap detection/tracking” and “sleep coach” features will come over to the Fenix 7 pro-series?

    Thanks a lot!

  76. Bob

    Has anybody tried the new Soccer/Football activity profile? Is this now essentially a built in profile the same as run, bike, hike etc? Can GPS be turned on/off under this activity profile when playing outdoors/indoors?

  77. Ned

    Thank you DC. Can you make some updates for enabled ECG functionality? It will be nice to have it at same place.

  78. Bob

    When you choose the new Football/Soccer activity does it then let you select ‘indoor/outdoor’ in the same way it does for example for Tennis?

    If not, can you specifically turn on/off the GPS depending on whether you’re playing indoor or outdoor?

  79. Barry Gerhold

    Thank you for another fantastic in depth review. This is very useful. I am eager to go for the Fenix 7x pro sapphire solar, but there appears to be two different product codes with two greatly varying prices. Do you have any idea what the differences are here?
    010-02778-11
    010-02778-30

  80. Klark

    Is there a significant upgrade in the display from the Garmin fenix 5X to the 7X Pro? I would love to get the Epix 2 Pro, but my budget tells me differently and I’ve grown used to the MIP display. I looked at the Enduro 2, but I see the 7X Pro is on sale at the same price and I am still getting almost a week out of my 5X with 60-70 minutes of running 5x (no pun intended) per week.

    Cheers!

  81. Len ellis

    Ray – could I use a Fenix for scuba? Or one of their dive watches for running / triathlon??

  82. Steven

    Does the new wrist heart rate sensor work with tattoos?

    • John Watson

      If you’re considering this watch now I’d say reconsider, because the current firmware will tell you to rest every day for the rest of your life.

    • Nate C

      Just as a counterpoint, I’m on the current firmware, am just getting over a uri for the last 3 weeks with lower hrv than my usual baseline, so it would be expected to have some lower intensity, and I’m still getting recommendations for 30 min rest workouts up to 2 hour workouts of various intensities.

      So you might need to try resetting your watch?

    • Generally speaking, if the watch is telling you to rest – that’s backed up by specific data. The key reasons a Garmin watch will tell you to rest are:

      A) Low sleep quantity (or sometimes low sleep quality, but mostly quantity)
      B) Very high Acute Load (training volume), but specifically, relative to your last 7/28 day load (if you took off December and just jumped back into things cold turkey, then it’ll be out of whack)
      C) Low/Unbalanced HRV – this by itself won’t tell you to rest, but when combined with some of the above factors will.
      D) Recovery time: If you’ve got really high volumes of high intensity workouts, and your previously estimated VO2Max doesn’t seem to support sustained days of high volumes at those intensities, then this will drive the rest recommendation.

      About the only scenario that can be a pickle, is when Garmin improperly detects VO2Max, because then it impacts the Recovery Time metric above quite significantly. Whereas for Acute Load being way higher, that’s no different than a coach would say when you’re massively ramping up volume without recent history to support it.

      If it’s telling you to rest, look at Training Readiness, and see what the factors are (and perhaps note them here). Specifically what it says for:

      – Sleep
      – Recovery Time
      – HRV Status
      – Acute Load
      – Sleep History

      Stress is a factor, but a relatively minor one.

    • Anthony

      Epix2 Pro here. Anybody advise me as to where in the dickens I can find the “Log HRV” widget? I’d sure like to be able to get my RR data along with HR so I can get the full metric displays including ECG from Kubios Scientific. Anthony

    • Ryan M.

      Menu > System > Data recording > Log HRV

      It doesn’t do anything with a widget, and only logs the HRV data in a workout as part of the .fit file. The data is viewable on sites like runalyze, but Garmin doesn’t do anything with the additional data/I’m not sure if something like Kubios can take advantage of it.