garmin fenix 5 review best gps sport watches 2017

Garmin Fenix 5 Review – Best GPS Sports Watch Range 2017

Welcome to a review of the new Garmin Fenix 5 (Amazon). We'll take you through everything you need to know about the Fenix 5, 5S and 5X, Garmin's latest top line sports watches.


Garmin Fenix 5 Range Review

Garmin has launched not just one but 3 watches in this 2017 update. They are attempting to leave no stone unturned and are catering for the masses with this 2017 release. If you're after a sports watch which looks just as good as it performs then look no further, Fenix 5 is the best (naturally unbiased opinion)!

If you have any questions or if you feel we've missed something and you would like it added please leave a comment at the end of the review. We'll happily add your thoughts (no spam please!). There's also a really useful Facebook group run by enthusiasts. I'd suggest joining for tips and tricks on how to get the most from your watch.

Disclaimer: This site has been created as a dedicated buyers guide to the Garmin Fenix range of GPS sport watches. It's run by fans of Garmin - we simply love their technology and enjoy writing about it. We hope you enjoy the content and find it useful!

garmin fenix 5 comparison

The hands down best GPS sports watch

Fenix 5 is available in an incredible array of colors, styles, sizes, different bands, materials etc. You can easily customize with the new QuickFit bands. (quick release, no tools required). Simply style Fenix 5 to match your training kit or go for a dumbed down version (if you don't like to show off).

Personally, I love this 2017 version. In my opinion, it's the best watch Garmin have ever released. Don't get me wrong, there are other great watches out there (see Suunto Traverse, Ultra, Kailash etc at Amazon) however Garmin are the original pioneers of GPS wearables and have spent years perfecting each version, adding new and exciting features which will help make you a better athlete.

>> Check Garmin Fenix 5 Comparison Chart <<

Garmin has released other good looking watches. The Fenix Chronos was a fine example. However far too heavy, pricey and totally impracticable for outdoor sports. If money is no object then, by all means, add this to your collection as it still looks great. I just wouldn't wear it for my next triathlon.

STOP PRESS! What happened to Fenix 4?!

Garmin seems to have a habit of not ordering new products in a logical way. However, from what I've read it's something to do with the Chinese and how they pronounce the number 4 (translates as ‘fast rise to quick death’). Garmin's main factory is in Taiwan and probably not the start they wanted for a new product launch!

Garmin seems to have a habit of not ordering new products in a logical way. However, from what I've read it's something to do with the Chinese and how they pronounce the number 4 (translates as ‘fast rise to quick death’). Garmin's main factory is in Taiwan and probably not the start they would like for a new product launch!

What's new with the Garmin Fenix 5?

Starting with the most obvious is the new sizing. Fenix 5 comes in 3 different sizes:

New QuickFit watch bands

The new Fenix 5 bands (Amazon) are easily interchangeable and just clip in and clip out without the use of a tool. This is ideal if your version comes with a leather strap and you want to swap to silicone for your training session. Worth noting: Fenix 5 and Fenix 5X Sapphire watches come with a second set of QuickFit bands in the box.

improved heart rate sensor on back on fenix 5 watch

New wrist-based heart rate

One noticeable update is the improved heart rate sensor in the rear of the watch. The optical sensor is now flush with the back so you won't get that indentation in your wrist after wearing for a long period.

garmin gps multisport features

Keep informed of progress

A new performance widget keeps track of your progress and your most important performance indicators such as Training Status, VO2 Max, Training Load and Recovery Advisor. These features can help you train more efficiently and keep you informed about your progress.

Better battery life and accuracy with extended UltraTrac

You can get improved battery life and better tracking accuracy by using extended UltraTrac mode (battery life up to 100 hours Fenix 5 and 5X / 50 hours Fenix 5S). There's also support with additional external sport sensors through ANT+, now also supported through Bluetooth.

Preloaded maps and round trip routing

Fenix 5X also has new features not previously seen in the Fenix range, more akin to a handheld device. These include preloaded color maps for navigation featuring points of interest (POIs), waypoints and other map objects.

This could prove useful for trail runners, orienteering etc. You can also plan a round-trip course via Garmin Connect and send it to the watch for a run or bike ride. Fenix 5 will display 'at-a-glance guidance' for upcoming turns on your route.

some of the best multisport GPS watch features

Which version should you buy?

Let's take a look at each model in the range. Each version comes in a variety of colors and band options so you really need to check what you're actually getting in the box.

Fenix is designed for a range of active people, from those that are seeking a rugged and stylish watch with a wrist heart rate monitor to others that live for performance. Navigation features in the 5X will be useful for those that need situational awareness but don't necessarily want to a handheld GPS device.

Garmin Fenix 5S

garmin fenix 5s review

Fenix 5S

In the box: Charging/data cable, documentation
Silver with Carrara white band
Silver with Turquoise band
Silver with Black band

Fenix 5S Sapphire

In the box: Extra silicone QuickFit 20mm watch band, charging/data cable, documentation
Slate grey with black band
Champagne with grey suede band
Champagne with metal band

Garmin Fenix 5S Key Features

One problem with the last version was the size. Some women like chunky watches, however, the standard straps/bands weren't always a great fit for small wrists. The Fenix 5S should appeal to women for this reason. It has all the same features but a slightly smaller band (20mm) and display (42mm 218x218px). It's still packed with advanced features such as wrist heart rate, multisport profiles, and advanced tracking metrics.


Garmin Fenix 5

garmin fenix 5 review

Fenix 5

In the box: Charging/data cable, documentation
(Performer bundle adds the HRM-Tri heart rate monitor)
Slate grey with black band
Silver with granite blue band
Slate grey with amp yellow band
Performer Bundle > Slate grey with black band

Fenix 5 Sapphire

In the box: Extra silicone QuickFit 22mm watch band, charging/data cable, documentation (Performer Bundle adds the HRM-Tri heart rate monitor)
Black with black band
Slate grey with metal band
Performer Bundle > Black with black band

Garmin Fenix 5 Key Features

I expect the Fenix 5 to be the version which appeals to the masses and a slightly better price point over the 5X. It has all the sport profiles and performance metrics but lacks the topographic maps. Fenix 5 also includes 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter for on the trail. The Sapphire versions come with Wi-Fi for connected features such as smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and customization with Connect IQ.


Garmin Fenix 5X

garmin fenix 5x review

Fenix 5X Sapphire

In the box: charging/data cable, documentation (the slate grey with metal band configuration adds an extra silicone QuickFit 26mm watch band)
Slate grey with black band
Slate grey with metal band

Garmin Fenix 5X Key Features

Fenix 5X is the ultimate multisport GPS watch with full-color TOPO mapping and outdoor navigation features. Like the other versions, 5X has wrist heart rate and detailed performance metrics. Satellite navigation and tracking functions combine with a 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter to guide you with confidence, on and off the beaten path...

Garmin Fenix 5 FAQs

How do I charge the Fenix 5?

How do I change the watch bands on the Fenix 5?

What are the Fenix 5 band and display sizes?

Are QuickFit bands compatible with Fenix 3?

Which sports can I use the Fenix 5 for?

Can I use for daily activity tracking?

What is the Garmin Fenix 5 battery life?

What is the weight of the Fenix 5?

How do I customize the Fenix 5 display?

What are the benefits of a Sapphire screen version?

Can I store music on the Fenix 5?

Can I change the map on the Fenix 5X?

How do I use the Fenix GPS for hiking?

What is UltraTrac Mode?

How does the Fenix 5 compare with Fenix 3 HR?


new garmin running dynamics pod

New Garmin Running Dynamics Pod

The New Garmin Running Dynamics Pod is a replacement for the HRM-Run Chest Strap and clips on to your waist. When paired with Fenix 5 (no compatibility with Fenix 3!), it measures your torso movement to give you a better understanding of your running form. The pod captures the following running metrics:

  • Cadence: steps per minute
  • Ground Contact Balance: left and right foot balance
  • Ground Contact Time: how long your feet are on the ground
  • Stride Length: measures your stride
  • Vertical Oscillation: degree of bounce (wasted energy) while running
  • Vertical Ratio: the ration of vertical oscillation to stride length (a lower percentage indicates better running form)

Garmin Fenix 5 family review summary

Well done if you got this far! Seriously, there isn't much this watch won't track or give you feedback on. You can use it as a simple running watch (a bit of a waste but you'll be the envy of fellow runners) or you can use it for detailed marathon training.

If you're after more than just a lightweight piece of plastic (see Forerunner 735XT) and want a rugged watch (that feels like a watch) then I highly recommend converting to the Fenix. It looks just as good with your white check shirt as it does with a yellow neon band on a long dark, winter run. Especially if you keep the backlight on!

Is Fenix 5 worth the money?

That's debatable at the moment considering the Fenix 3 HR price drop (see at Amazon). If you're new to the Fenix range but don't the money to splash then it could be worth buying the 3 HR until the Fenix 6 (historically Garmin release a new version each year), then trade in for the 5 as the price drops?

The Fenix 5 will be hard to beat this year. It's right up there as one of the best watches for runners and wannabe athletes. Personally, I'm looking forward to what they release in 2018, can it get any better... Fenix 6?!

Let's face it, Fenix 5 is an expensive piece of kit. BUT if you're serious about your training and also have the cash to splash I think it's a sound investment. Keep it for 2 years then sell it on eBay and put the money towards the next edition.

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Useful hands-on video reviews

OK, so we can't beat DC Rainmaker when it comes to hands-on video reviews (weeks before the product is even available, thanks to his trusting relationship with Garmin). But he does have some useful video reviews which are well worth watching:


Garmin Fenix 5 Review
  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 5 stars
  • Spectacular

  • Garmin Fenix 5
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: August 12, 2017
  • Multisport Features
    Editor: 100%
  • Watch Style & Design
    Editor: 100%
  • Hiking and Trail Features
    Editor: 90%
  • Smartwatch Features
    Editor: 90%
  • Price
    Editor: 60%

Review Summary:

Garmin Fenix 5 is the 2017 range of outdoor sport watches from the world leader in GPS technology. These stylish and tough watches will appeal to endurance athletes and outdoor adventurers seeking advanced training and performance features. Available in 3 different sizes: Fenix 5S (for smaller wrists), 5 and 5X (color TOPO maps).

Pros

  • Updated wrist heart rate (now flush with back of watch)
  • 3 Different sizes for men and women
  • New QuickFit watch bands
  • Advanced multisport training features
  • Extra long battery life
  • Stylish - can be worn as an everyday watch

Cons

  • Very expensive - Fenix 3HR is still a cheaper option

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