Garmin Fenix 5x

Back to training! Currently I am busy working out a plan for 2018. Chances are I’ll return to Denali. But this time with a private team. No guides, no help, just the team. More on that later!

But while this is still work in progress, my training preparations have already begun. To get back in shape I roughly follow the same schedule as last year. One big change is the hardware around my wrist; a Garmin Fenix 5x (See Gamins page for full info on the watch). I wear this excellent watch daily, and I just love Garmin Fenix 5Xit. I love it so much, I want to tell you about it!

Since I do a pretty wide variety of sports, I will share my experienceswhile mountaineering, trekking and training (cycling and running). No matter how you use the Garmin Fenix 5x, the watch is comfortable. No further discussion on this!


For mountaineering, I basically need two things; current time and change in altitude since I started climbing.

Knowing the current altitude can help you navigate. But, at the same time, your barometer can also tell you something about the current weather.  Upcoming bad weather (thunder for example) might be coming if the current altitude on your watch changes dramatically in a short period of time.

The Garmin Fenix 5x has a barometric pressure sensor. This, in combination with GPS, should be enough to get accurate altitude information. However, having two altitude sensors doesn’t mean the Garmin Fenix 5x always displays the correct current altitude. At the moment of writing (this article took rather long to finish 🙂 ), I’m sitting in the Wangenitzseehütte in Austria. The sign on the hut tells me the current altitude is 2505m, but my Garmin Fenix 5x displays only 2461m. As you probably know, GPS is getting less accurate the higher you get, so despite having GPS, it’s still necessary to keep  calibrating your devices and known altitudes. No problem, just remember this.

The other important thing works flawlessly; time. But that is very much expected from a watch. One thing that is very convenient is that it automatically changing time zones while traveling. This is done by syncing time to your phone.

While mountaineering, I usually use GPS in UltraTrac mode. The mode limits GPS accuracy, but improves battery lifetime. So far, this has mostly resulted is some strange routes and distances on Strava. But I am very happy with the battery life of my Garmin Fenix 5x. It easily lasts a long day of climbing.

Garmin Fenix 5x


This is where the Garmin Fenix 5x truly shows its abilities. Like most Garmin devices, the Fenix is able to sync your training data with Garmin Connect. Here, you see tons of data about your training sessions and how effective they are. One nice feature of the Fenix is that it is able to display how effective your current training is, if you training load is manageable, and what your current VO2 max is.

Garmin has tons of training schedules programmed into Garmin Connect. While using such a program, the Garmin Fenix 5x nicely displays useful information at the right time. For running; your current heart rate, training zone, current pace and time left. And after about 5 minutes it displays how you are performing given your current VO2  max.

All Fenix watches have a built in heart rate monitor. Don’t be fooled by this though! For good accuracy during your workout, a chest strap is still necessary. I have found the internal heart rate monitor is inaccurate and too slow the be able to train effectively with.

Is it completely useless? No, it’s not. The Fenix will monitor you heart rate 24/7, giving you some nice insight about, for example, you heart rate at rest and your daily activities. And for low intensity activities, like walking, the internal heart rate monitor is sufficient.


Yes, navigation time! This is the reason why I chose for the Fenix 5x instead of the Fenix 5(s). The Garmin Fenix 5x is the only watch in the series equipped with maps, and thus navigation option. I am really surprised by the amount of detail of the maps and ease of the maps. During my last trek in Iceland, I noticed the Laugavegur is on the maps by default; one very nice feature that helped me a couple of times to get back on track. GPS on the device is accurate.Navigating with the Garmin Fenix 5x

On bad thing though is that it’s not easy to copy a GPX-file from the PC or Smartphone to the devices. To copy a GPX-file, you have to attach the Fenix to you PC and then copy it. However, the Fenix has Bluetooth so why not use that? As far as I know there currently is no way to add a route using you smartphone.

It has a lot of nifty features besides just navigating, but I haven’t used, of even found, them yet.


It’s hard to describe all the features of this extensive watch without writing a complete book. There are tons of features, I am still discovering more and more, and I am not even using all of them (Strava Live Segments, for example).

Speaking for myself, I am very impressed with the watch. Sure, it has some flaws (connectivity with your phone, for example), but they are very acceptable.

Is it really worth the money? That is an answer you have to answer yourself. I wouldn’t want any other watch (at the moment 🙂 ).

For a complete review, including all features, review of the Garmin Fenix 5x, have a look at the excellent site of DC Rainmaker.

I would like the thank Juwelier De eenhoorn for helping me getting the Garmin Fenix 5x just before my trip to Denali.

The price I pay are not the euro’s I spend

Climbing is definitely not the cheapest thing to do. For those who wonder, climbing Denali will cost you over 10.000 euro including the trip, flights, gear and everything. Most of the 7 summits are a little less expensive. Notable exceptions are Everest and Vinsion. Both are much more expensive; over 40.000 euro each. But that’s only money.. and in the end not the biggest price I pay.

The real price cannot be written down in any amount of cash.


I demand myself to be in an excellent physical condition for all summits. My training sessions are pretty intense, hard and long. I train about about twice as hard as Alpine Ascents recommends for Denali. Why? Because this is one thing I can control to increase my chance of summitting.

The price, lost of trainingThe price, lost of training

The real price

Like most men of about 40 years old, I have a family and a full time job.  And there is the real price. Time is limited and, like most people, I cannot buy any extra. This forces me to prioritize. Working less is not an option, since there is a mortgage to pay and there are mouths to feed.

The price, lost of trainingThe price, lost of training

Family life

This is where I have to prioritize and choose. I have a wife and two young kids. I often choose between either bringing my kids to bed or go out for my daily suffer-session. Choose between spending a Saturday with my wife and kids in the park and have fun with them. Or choose to spend an evening with my wife in some fancy restaurant.

And guess what I choose most of the time? Indeed, training!

Intrinsic motivation

Some time ago, I spoke to a colleague of mine who was surprised by the strength of my intrinsic motivation. I strongly believe this is the only true working motivation for someone to be successful. Almost every day I choose between my wife and kids, whom of course I love very much, and the training I need to be in a good shape. It’s never easy to say no to my son who’s asking me to play a game with me.

But there’s always this voice  in my head, this focus demanding me to be successful on Denali. And the only one who is pushing me to do this is … me.

So is this price too high?

No, definitely not! While it’s definitely not always easy. I am very aware of the choices I make and the things I miss because of them. But to me, the are rewards that are huge. Of course summiting Denali, or any other challenging mountain, is one of those rewards. But maybe even better are the lessons I learn about myself; my mind, my body and how I react to the things I do. And hopefully I can share some of that knowledge with my family and the world.

Prepping for Denali: 3 months to go

Part four of my monthly countdown for Denali. I must admit, it’s getting harder to look back. Last week I was really surprised it’s less than two months before departure. I feel things are getting serious now. But still… what did I do last month in prepping for Denali?

Physical preparation

First some sad news.. The Be Your Best program has ended. Two months of an intensive program on Boot Camp helped me make a serious step forward. I’m a cyclist for over 25 years now, making my legs pretty strong. But thanks to the Boot Camp program I became much more of a multi sporter. My core stability increased dramatically, making me overall much stronger. I lost over 5kg of fat (which is pretty much for me!), but a did not loss any weight.  Thus, extra muscle power!

The Boot Camp program had barely ended, before I left for a week. the Hiking  Eifelsteig was good and great preparation. I already wrote quite extensive about that week!

And I would almost forget… I had another great two day hike on the Twentepad. This surely has been one of the most beautiful hikes I have done so far in the Netherlands!

Longs stairs in Utrecht. Excellent for preparation!Again, I have made some slight adjustments to my weekly training program. I’m still going Boot Camping once a week, just to keep my current level of strength. New on the program is a 2 hour+ hike with a 30kg packpack with stairs. Living in the Netherlands, without any hills or mountains, force you the be creative sometimes.


Not too much news here. Most stuff in ready to go. Still some small additions.

Haglofs Activity Top Haglofs Activities top. Actually, this is my second one. I love Haglofs because it just fits great. I love Merino, because it keeps me dry and warm.
Haglofs Activity Pants Haglofs Activities pants. I own some 10 years old Craft base layer pants. While walking the Twentepad, I decided I just don’t like the way they fit. So, time for replacement!

The expedition

Nothing new here! One thing left to do; booking a hotel in Anchorage. But plenty of time for that!

And now forward!

Yes! Let’s look forward! Spring is coming! I feel I want to get outside more and more; hike, cycle, etc. But, lets keep that for the next episode of prepping for Denali!