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Apple Watch Series 5

rated 5.0 of 5 stars
photo: Apple Watch Series 5 gps watch
Version reviewed: 44mm Aluminum

The Apple Watch Series 5 is the best of the three high dollar “adventure watches” that I have used. I have tested it on all terrain, across multiple sports, and my initial skepticism was proven completely wrong.


  • Altimeter
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Weather
  • Compass
  • Sun/Moon
  • Workout tracker
  • Voice recorder


  • What are the cons with every electronic? Battery!!
Connecticut River
The My Sun/Moon app is crucial for planning sunset pictures

It’s been almost a full year of wearing the Apple Watch Series 5 44mm Aluminum every day, all day. This year included (beyond Corona Virus and Social Unrest) 50 days of alpine skiing, 50 days of Nordic skiing, +/- 100 miles of road cycling, +/- 100 miles of hiking, 120 days of paddling so far, including four trips (four days each) of solo canoeing.

Three night solo basecamp

I have to assume that if a person is interested in gear, they are interested in using that gear, vis a vis they are interested in fitness. This is where my love for this particular piece of gear began, sitting at my desk, at work, and tracking every little bit of activity I could fit into the day.  Add a 7-minute walk around the building to 20 pushups there and 20 squats here, throw in the long way to the bathroom or the supply closet and back, always seeking out rather than avoiding steps, then another lap around the grounds, and boom, you just burned 400 calories!!

The watch reminds me to stand every hour too.  There is also a Breathe reminder that tracks one full minute of mindful breathing, that was something I didn't even know how badly I needed.

After work I usually Nordic ski for a while. The Apple Watch 5 tracks my workout. Before the season ended I had skied every available inch of the Bretton Woods Nordic Center in New Hampshire. On one day in early March I skied up to a spot where few had skied and nobody had groomed. This spot afforded me one of the best views of the Presidential Range, illuminated by a Full Moon, that I had ever seen. I used the digital compass to record not only my azimuth to the hotel (meaning I could shoot a reverse azimuth back to my spot) but I was also provided full GPS Coordinates courtesy of the Watch 5!!

Exceptionally helpful digital compass

My days off were dedicated to alpine skiing. We all know the trauma of digging around for phones on chairlifts so we can skip that same song we’ve heard eight hundred times. (Mine was Lorde’s, Royals, great song, but c’mon, sometimes we need a break.) Having my wireless helmet speakers paired with my Apple Watch was huge!! I controlled everything from my wrist!! Phone stayed warm and safe!!

Now that I’m paddling daily, I love tracking my workouts, challenging myself to push for another 100 calories or to keep my heart rate above 120 BPM for fifteen more minutes. Recognizing that I may be at risk of potential mockery for this next bit, I have to say, the Voice Notes are ideal when that little bit of poetry comes to mind, usually inspired by the scenery and experience, but access to pen and pad are limited.

A great way to record moments of inspiration

I also really like having up-to-date weather updates right on my wrist. The waterproofness of the Series 5 is no joke. I enjoyed days and days of long snorkeling sessions during my canoe trips and the watch was perfect, even fairly deep under the water.

The Ren

As for the cons...  the battery has been an issue on overnights. Here is my fix, complete with justification: My phone is my emergency communication device, my kindle, my knot guide (when I need to cheat), camera, and so much more.  I use the Petzl series of USB chargeable headlamps, and now I have this badass watch that needs daily charges. So I am seeking solar assistance.

I have an old Solio fan-styled charger. It’s pretty good. I also have an Outdoor Tech brick type battery that affords me multiple watch charges. Overall, compact energy has just become a permanent part of my kit. I purchased a tiny USB battery booster for the Apple Watch, which is okay, great for multi-peak, long day hikes, but not a solid solution. I have my eye on Goal Zero right now. If I pull the trigger, that review will follow.

Conclusion: the Apple Watch 5 is not a fancy watch. Well, it is that too. But this wrist adornment is also a badass adventure tech device that offers metrics, tools, tracking, and info while providing waterproof durability. I’m a fan and I will continue to refine my kit to include the tech devices I once shunned during my younger years because now tech can handle the mud and the blood and the beers of outdoor adventuring.

If you scroll down from the compass you get more great info!
High water calls for snorkel exploration


I used two previous Casio “adventure watches” and a Silva compass, heart, etc watch over the past 18 years.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $500

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Price Reviewers Paid: $500.00
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