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 it. 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.
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.
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.