In May 2014, it became painfully obvious that if we were going to add sports to our workouts that we would no longer be able to utilize the Nike+ GPS Watch. It skewed running data because it was only intended to track runs, not running and swimming. Over the last 8 months, the Fenix 2 has treated me well and my thoughts about the watch are posted below (this is all on the verge of the Fenix 3 release).
First and foremost, coming from the Nike+ GPS watch, I found that Garmin has a far superior system for connecting to satellites. I had become quite accustomed to a several minute walk around while waving my arms in hopes of finding satellites, but that wasn’t the case with the Fenix 2. I was quickly picking up my location (within 10 seconds of starting an activity). This was a relief immediately because in addition to my pre-run walking and waving, there were many times I had to go back into the house, plug in the watch to update the gps data, and then go back outside for more walking and waving. My understanding of this, is that Garmin uploads geo data to the watch when you connect to the computer so it has some idea of where you are before you walk out the door.
The Fenix 2 also has a great range of activities to choose from, some of which I will never use. For instance, I am not a skier and I don’t believe I will ever go rock climbing. There are, however, many that I have and do use. Hiking, Running, Biking, Swimming, have all had their turn since I purchased the watch. The indoor feature is quite good too. The Fenix contains internal accelerometers so that there isn’t any need for a footpod while running, and when paired with the HRM Run, running dynamic information is available on Garmin Connect after the run.
While I haven’t yet used the Multi-sport mode, I have had plenty of opportunities to. Last summer we were doing quite a few bike/run bricks. For some reason I never put it together and so I never used this function.
Accuracy is quite similar to any other gps watch I have used, but I will say that Nike tries to snap your run to paths and roads much more than Garmin does.
Form factor for the watch is good. The watch itself is quite large, but it does remain comfortable to wear. Mine came with a fabric/velcro strap as a replacement that I put on for a short time, but decided I preferred the rubber/plastic band.
Each activity offers a wide variety of screens for the athlete to see how they are doing. For running I choose to look at my pace, HR and Cadence. For me they are the most important parts of my run. I have a second screen that has vertical oscillation, I review this from time to time since I tend to bounce more at a slower pace.
For swimming, I compared the Fenix2 to the 920xt. During 1000 yards, the 920 was pretty consistent with measuring the correct distance and the Fenix2 picked upon extra 50 yards somewhere along the way. This could have been an issue of wearing them on different wrists, but I can’t imagine that my right and left arms were moving that far out of sync that the fenix would sense a direction change, but the 920 would not.
Cycling tracks important things for me, Cadence and Speed. I also tend to watch HR on this as well, but for the most part, I am watching cadence. I watch this a lot for indoor rides and almost neglect the speed since I am focused more on consistency than how far I have gone (plus indoor rides are pretty easy to get a lot of mileage because there aren’t any hills on my trainer).
The Fenix2 actually has something on it that I miss on the 920xt. The Altimeter. I am sure this is because the Fenix2 functions as a hiking kind of watch and the 920 doesn’t have that same focus, so altitude isn’t likely as big a factor, but I do miss it.
Garmin claims 50 hours of battery life with the GPS on. I can’t say I have come anywhere close to this, but I can say that I have gone a week without needing to charge it using it for running, cycling and as a daily watch.
Garmin has started to build in smart watch features to their multisport and running watches. If you are reading this and haven’t read my 920XT first look or my Garmin Vivosmart review, or even my note on the new Apple Watch, you can see the same opinion there. I don’t need to see everything that is coming through to my phone all the time. It is distracting . . . even more distracting that the phone going off in my pocket.
I really like the Fenix2, it is a great watch and has a ton of really great features that aren’t available on every sport watch out there. For my first foray into a multisport watch, it was perfect. It did everything I needed it to do and then some. The large form of the body leaves something to be wished for, but I do not notice it a lot during my workouts.