Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I will buy it from manufacturer)
The standard of excellence in GPS/Navigational watches. A "must have" for the hunter, backpacker, or woodsman.
- Class leading technology
- Feature packed way beyond the competition
- Quality built
- Manual is a little vague
Garmin Fenix is quite possible a hunter's or those that travel in the backcountry's best tool. There are many good technical reviews of the Garmin Fenix. My goal is to field test the Fenix from a hunter or backpacker's point of view. The Fenix is so versatile and wears so many hats, its impossible to narrow its target user down to a particular activity. One thing to keep in mind with the Garmin Fenix is that everything, and I mean "everything is customizable. You set up the display info for your needs. It would be impossible to list or capture the unlimited combinations.
(One of many customizable time displays)
After owning many GPS navigational watches, I feel the Garmin Fenix is the market leader for Hunters, Fisherman, Backpackers, Campers, Fireman, Search and Rescue, etc.... The theme is anyone that travels deep in the mountains or may find themselves caught in a survival situation without communication or back-up. The best GPS is useless if you dont have it on you when you need it and that's why a GPS watch worn as a everyday watch makes the most sense.
The Garmin Fenix is a larger watch but not any larger than a typical ABC watch. A big advantage is that it uses standard 26mm lugs so your strap choices are limitless. The factory Fenix straps are very comfortable and pliable. I especially like the orange strap but I also purchased a few other straps just to mix it up and show the possibilities of the case design. As a guy with a 7” wrist, I can easily wear the Fenix as your every day watch. If you can wear a Casio G-shock or Suunto Core, the Fenix will feel right at home.
The GPS antenna is also incorporated into the watch case making it look like a traditional watch. No odd antenna bumps or protrusions like other GPS watches. I find the watch attractive and purposeful looking. Its got a solid build with a stainless steel smooth case back for comfort. Display is sharp and crisp with very good contrast that makes the detailed graphs,icons,etc.. very easy to read.
Don’t worry about swimming with the Fenix because it is WR rated to 50M. 50M is fine for swimming but not snorkeling so any outdoor activity around or in the water, the Fenix has you covered.
The battery is a rechargeable lithium ion battery that can be charged via any USB port. Garmin didn’t cheap out and includes a AC adapter with the watch. Battery life is reported as 16-50 hours (GPS mode); 2 weeks (sensor mode); 6 weeks (watch mode). There are a lot of factors on how long your battery will last between charging but all the factors can be individually adjusted on the watch. Once again flexibility is were Garmin thinks ahead of its competitors.
Garmin is no doubt the world leader in GPS devises and they used their prowess by creating a GPS watch that still has many of the same features as their hand held devices like track back or creating a route.
(Satellite info display)
You also do not need any proprietary software to use the Fenix. Plug its charging/synch cable into your computer and it is instantly recognized as a storage device. You can easily move or transfer way-points, maps, or tracks. The Garmin Fenix comes with a rudimentary base map but there are several 3rd party maps that are more detailed that you can load onto your Fenix. Just remember there is a limited amount of on board memory so you will not be squeezing a entire Countries road map onto the device. I managed to put a 300 square mile map of central/north central Pennsylvania that includes all the roads, log roads and towns. This took up very little memory and gives lots of extra room for tracks and way-points.
This is more than enough information and can get me out of a jam if I get lost deep in the mountains and need to find a log road to pack out on. (You will see this map in many of my pics).
I found my self reviewing the map from my tree stand by panning and zooming around the map. You do not need to be connected to the satellites to do this and it was very educational for hunting new areas. No other watch uses maps directly on the watch and lets you use the Fenix like a traditional hand held GPS. You can transfer all your tracks and waypoints to Garmin's Basecamp or even Google Earth, but you dont have to and that is a big difference with other GPS watches. This is one of the biggest and should not be underestimated advantages of the Garmin Fenix over any other GPS watch. Once you have this capability, all others seem like last years cell phone.
All the moon and sun info you could every want. There is even a moon phase icon displayed on the main time display and it changes from moon to sun info pending on the time of the day.
(This is a more detailed moon sun display. You can also scroll to different dates for that info)
From a hunters point of view, I can scout new areas, mark buck rubs and scrapes, new treestands, food sources, plot enter and exit tracks to and from my tree stand all on the watch without the need for a computer.
A hunting and fishing report for the best times are calculated for your exact location. You can also scroll days ahead to plan the best times.
Take your scouting to the next level and you can walk various game trails and plot the movement of the mountain just from the Fenix. Transfer this data to a satellite map like Google earth and you have the best recon/lintel you can get for your specific area. After the shot you can mark your blood trail and come back the next day if the weather changes on you. No more tying ribbons on trees in the middle of the night to mark the last know blood drop. Speaking of the middle of the night, the Fenix has a flashlight mode that can be programed to any one of its buttons as a “hot key”. When you hold the designated button down, the screen goes blank and the back light is turned up to 100%. It is very effective and bright. Once again, Garmin is thinking outside the box for the end user.
The ABC functions are very good with a very detailed and sensitive Barometer graph for predicting weather trends.
Multi axis compass with multiple displays were very accurate and easy to use.
As a watch the Fenix will give you any time displays you want with multiple time zones at one time. Unlimited alarms with the ability for a tone or vibration or both is class leading. Count down timers that can also notify you with just a vibration alarm, tone or both.
Garmin has been very proactive keeping the watch and satellite info up to date with regulate firmware updates.
I consider myself pretty picky with navigational watches and the Garmin Fenix surpassed my expectations. Just when you think you found every option, you find a shortcut or feature. With a watch that is constantly evolving by a world leader in GPS technology, you are sure to have a great explorer companion always on your wrist when you need it.