As a runner, a key piece of kit is the activity watch. While there are a number of running watches to choose from, having recently purchased the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro myself, here are my thoughts:
(updated Feb 23)
First of all – it’s quite an investment. At first, this can seem a little daunting but you will soon discover just how much value you get from this clever piece of kit.
Of course, when, where and how much you run will determine your requirements for a trail running watch and whether you will get value from spending between £400 and £500 on one.
For me, having got lost on the Green Man Ultra a couple of years ago, I decided two things; number 1 – always recce a course when it’s on your doorstep, number 2 – I wanted a device that I could upload the route onto. 40 miles in, when starting to struggle to remember my own name (let alone recall why I entered the race), I wouldn’t need to struggle with where I was going!
Anyway, this summer I decided to upgrade my Garmin 220 for something with more functionality, that was better suited to the types of challenges and events that interest me these days, and following a recommendation from a few people in my regular running group, I purchased the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro.
Functionality and Design
The watch is chunkier than other Garmin GPS running watches and the five buttons have a solid feel to them. More importantly for me it has a large face, which means the information screens are easy to see (a big benefit when I struggle to see anything on a smaller screen). The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro actually has the largest screen in the Fenix range – it also has the longest battery life. If you want a smaller screen, you will need the 6S which has the smallest screen, and not coincidentally, the shortest battery life.
There are multiple activity profiles which can be individually configured, with up to eight data fields available – I have different fields for trail running, road running and cycling. Personally, I prefer a larger view, so I only use four fields for trail running.
One of the best features is the topographical maps, which I upload via a GPX from a smartphone or computer. The maps are clear and easy to view, with a zoom capability.
Another great feature is the battery life, which Garmin claim is up to 60 hours as a GPS – if I need more than this to complete an ultra then I’ve definitely taken a wrong turn! According to Garmin the life can be extended up to 80 days in battery saver mode with a number of features disabled. This is a big improvement from the likes of the Forerunner 235 with its 11 hour battery life and a major consideration when choosing a watch for your next ultra.
The watch has a huge number of widgets such as: weather, barometer, compass, sunrise & sunset, steps, heart rate, VO2 max, music controls etc. Additionally, the watch produces a vast amount of performance data if you enjoy assessing that kind of stuff, this includes which HR zone you were in and what your VO2 max was.
How to Add GPX Routes to Your Garmin Watch:
First things first – do not expect to be able to open the box and run out of the door. Set it up when you have a bit of time. It’s not difficult and there are plenty of videos online that will help. You can upload routes via your phone however, it is easier to do it from a laptop following these basic steps:
- Download Garmin Connect App on to your phone and registerCreate a GPX file or download one and store it on iCloud/Dropbox/Google Drive.
- Import the GPX file into Garmin Connect on a computer
- Send the Course to your specific Garmin device and then sync.
- When commencing the activity, select ‘Navigation’ and then ‘Courses’ and off you go
- You can see the route on the 1,4 inch screen but don’t worry, if you are due to make a turn, the watch will beep at you.
Understanding the Various Versions
You have a lot of choice and there is quite a price difference between the entry level watches and the more upper end models which have solar charging capability . There’s the 6s, the 6S Pro, the 6S Solar, 6X Pro, 6X Solar etc. Before the 6 series was the 5 series, its a bit like choosing a new phone, all have slightly different spec and prices range.
Features of Garmin Fenix 6X Pro
- 1.4-Inch sunlight-readable display (36% Larger Than previous Fenix models) with stainless steel bezel
- Wrist heart rate technology
- Pacepro for grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity Plus VO2 max and training status estimates
- Styled for all day wearability (and available in a variety of colours
- Fits wrists with the following circumference: Silicone band: 127-210 mm, Leather band: 135-213 mm, Fabric band: 135-213 mm, Metal band: 135-225 mm
- Navigate the outdoors with preloaded TopoActive Europe maps, ski maps for over 2,000 worldwide ski resorts, multiple global navigation satellite system (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) support and built-in sensors for 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter
- Support for Garmin Pay contactless payments (not all countries and payment networks are eligible)
In summary, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro has great maps and a long battery life, these features together with the large screen made it the perfect running watch for me, just don’t mention the cost….
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links which may provide a small commission to me at no cost to you. The products we recommend are either those that we’ve used or that our fellow runners have used.