Five reasons to love the Garmin Fenix 7X.
Standing on a steep Montana hillside, bow in hand, I continued to scan for my guide and dad, as I’d done for the past hour. We’d separated that morning after a long, dark, early walk into our hunting zone, and we’re supposed to meet here before returning to camp together. At least I thought it was here…
With the sun setting, and temperatures dropping, I knew it’d be a long night if I stayed out any longer, so I made a decision. I scrolled through the menu on my Garmin Fenix 2 and found the GPS pin I’d dropped the day before while laying in my tent, and clicked “start”.
My watch displayed “7.2 miles” with an arrow pointing Northwest. I started walking, and a few hours later, to the shock of my hunting party, I walked in to camp under the light of my headlamp.
“We were organizing a search party. How’d you find your way back?” our lead guide said in half shock, half relief.
I just pointed at my Fenix, which now read “0.0 miles”.
I’ve worn a Garmin Fenix (and the outdoorsman version, Tactix) watch nearly every day over the past 10 years. Outside of my iPhone, there’s not another device that is more central to my life. And while an article on all of the features of this watch would fill this entire magazine, here’s my top 5 reasons I’m a Fenix fan.
1. Tracking – Whether it’s a long mountain bike ride, or navigating back to the truck after a long day chasing bulls in the mountains, the Garmin Fenix records every aspect of every journey. Simply select from the extensive menu of activities and sports, and the Fenix will track your path, speed, and even the weather and elevation at any given moment. In addition, it’s constantly watching your physical performance : heart rate, respiration, body battery ( a measure of how much estimated energy you have left), VO2 Max, running power, and more. Finish the workout, and it’ll give you a score, show you where you’ve improved, a recovery time suggestion, and what you need to focus on, going so far as to provide recommendations on what type of workout to focus on next time you start an activity. Have a health issue to keep an eye on? You can set hydration or eating reminders or max/min heart rate alerts to make sure you’re staying in the right zones. And for the hunters out there, the Tactix line is a Fenix with additional tools for the outdoorsman including a Applied Ballistic Elite calculator, hunting features (like the ability to quickly drop pins), online maps, and more.
2. Heath – I’m not sure how my Fenix knows when I’ve had a beer, but it does, and it doesn’t like It, resulting in poor sleep scores nearly every time I decide to trade in a few hours of sleep for socialization. I’ve prioritized my sleep ever since Garmin introduced sleep tracking, and it’s paid huge dividends in my life. When I wake up in the am, the first thing I look at is my sleep score, making sure I’ve had ample deep and REM cycles. After that, it’s a quick look at my body battery and HRV, which helps me determine how I’ll perform that day. After a run, I check my VO2 Max trend (a measure of cardiovascular endurance), and when I’m at elevation, I keep an eye on my O2 saturation, making sure I don’t crush myself at the start of a hunt and end up with altitude sickness. It’s eerily accurate, and gamifies improving key health metrics, which in turn has made me a better athlete.
3. Battery – These watches last an incredibly long time. As a society used to plugging in our devices every night, the Fenix’s ability to go nearly 3 weeks in standard mode, and nearly 60 days in battery saver mode, comes in handy when you’re on a real mission. And now with the addition of solar to some of the newer models, that number expands even further. No more plugging in every night, or cutting back on tracking features because you’re worried you’ll run out of juice before you get home.
4. To be honest, this seemed like a gimmick to me at first, but boy was I wrong… The Fenix rivals my iPhone when it comes to its flashlight output, and it’s a feature I use several times a day. Whether finding gear in a dark, making yourself seen to traffic during a late night run, or working on your truck and brightening a dark spot inside the engine bay, having light on your wrist has become something I’m not sure I’d want to live without.
5. Durability – in 10 years, I have yet to scratch the lens on a Fenix, and believe me, I’ve tried. The ‘Power Sapphire” used on select models of watch face has to be one of the toughest transparent materials on earth. As for the rest of the watch, it’s been submerged over and over on spearfishing trips, exposed to extreme temps on both sides of the spectrum, from Iraq to the Arctic Circle, and simply put, it just doesn’t flinch. My brother is an arborist, and my dad a farmer – both wear Garmin Fenix watches, neither have ever had a problem. They are truly tough.
The Garmin Fenix series is an incredible, necessary piece of gear that I have relied on for over a decade, and with more and more features being added, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
For a review on the Garmin Instinct and the Garmin inReach, click here.