If you’re obsessed with running and obstacle races, you’ve heard of cutting-edge GPS watches that allow to track your HR, cadence and other useful data. What always makes top of the lists is the Garmin Fenix range, especially its latest piece – the Fenix 3.
To me, my scratched-out Fenix 2 was already the perfect GPS watch. I spent hours scouring the web trying to learn how exactly the 3 would be an upgrade to what I already had. For a long time, it seemed like the only difference was in the looks: the 3 looks more posh but that also means it looks more out of place at an OCR.
In the end, I bought the 3. Here’s a few features that sold it to me:
- Custom watch faces and apps – big thumbs up for this one. I’ll cover more on this below.
- A built-in Metronome. Although the sound is monotone and does become annoying.
- Colour display
- Great battery life
- Wi-Fi sync
- LTHR/LTP estimates
- Looks like a high-end watch, less like a black ops tactical and plasticky product (read: Fenix 2).
- Better (new gen.) default HR monitor, which comes with the performers bundle.
- Lastly smart-watch bollocks, including but not limited to: notifications, a step counter, etc.
Now, 50+ runs and 2 OCRs later, I can share my opinion of the Fenix 3 confidently. It all comes down to…
- Since it’s a multi-sport watch you can track metric data for almost any activity (cross training or running, skiing, swimming, trail running, etc.
- GPS was on point, even in what seemed like off-the-grid areas.
- It syncs to Garmin Connect and Strava instantly. Amazing! And super handy given Strava’s cool features like planning routes that you can upload onto the watch.
- Custom workout capabilities: speed intervals and other splits are pure joy to do and track.
- Garmin is famous for its precision in elevation tracking. I’ve found it to still be very precise on the Fenix 3.
- LTHR/LTP (lactic threshold/lactic pace) estimates. These were surprisingly accurate too, as my runs progressed, the metric either increased or went down. I could always refer to them when in doubt, or when designing speedplay workouts.
- Provides VO2Max and race time estimates based on past performance.
- Provides a recovery estimate.
- Lightweight and much slimmer design compared to previous versions.
- Once the watch face gets muddy, it’s hard to wipe it clean, especially in an OCR.
- The buttons as per Fenix 2 seem to be very easy to press in. For example, if you do weighted carries or do penalty burpees where your wrist bends, the chances are you are going to unknowingly pause your activity tracking.
- The price? Not everyone will want to pay $500 for a sports watch.
- The usage learning curve could be shortened. The watch is jam-packed with useful functionality, but learning to use it was cumbersome at first. A good interactive manual could be a lifesaver here.
The 5 Most Common Questions I Get About the Fenix 3
Is it worth the hefty price?
Yes, I’d even say it’s a bargain! This is because I use it every day during runs, and if I wanted to, it looks smart enough that I could wear it as my day watch. When compared to an Apple Watch, the price of a Fenix 3 begins to seem more reasonable. Regardless of your preferred sport, the Fenix 3 is a robust companion for any adventure.
How long does the battery last?
I charge it maybe once or twice a month. Note here that I use it daily. My weekly usage adds up to 5-6 hours of constant GPS work with colour display backlight. Compared to my fenix 2 – this one lasts at least 10x longer.
Does it sync wirelessly?
Yes. After you assign it to your home wifi it does connect automatically or manually via an assigned button.
Can you add workout splits?
Yes, you can still do this via Garmin Connect, Garmin’s online platform that allows you to store the data from your watch, create custom workouts and upload them to your watch, etc. What’s new on Fenix 3, is that you can also create a custom watchface and there’s also access to the Garmin app store. Meaning you can install plugins like watchfaces to customize the look of your watch, menus and more.
For example one of your running screens could look like this:
Or like this:
All up to you to modify using custom apps/watchfaces.
How long does it take for GPS to kick in?
It’s much faster than Fenix 2. Depending on the area and your activity history, it can take up to a minute but I’ve found it to take just 10 seconds usually.
I hope this quick review helps you decide if you really should get the Fenix 3. I sat on the fence a long time, because I thought the Fenix 2 which I had was already magical enough. Ultimately, it depends on how much you’re willing to invest into your training and performance – it’s all up to you!
But if you have any further questions about Garmin, feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.