Smart watches - feedback

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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by nyker » Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:05 am

LoveThisSite wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:51 pm
I'm thinking of buying one of those "smart" watches and looking for feedback - good or bad about any specific models.
Primary use will be during hiking, and also during neighborhood runs. Something that I can wear everyday as a watch.

Key features I want:
- GPS (distance)
- Altitude (could be GPS based, or barometric)
- Dont need extensive mapping support but something basic that I can refer to quickly while hiking. No need for routing capability.
- Good battery life - at least several days at a minimum if it's something that needs to be charged regularly.

Price does not matter.

Garmin Fenix 6 looks amazing - way more features than I'd ever need, but wouldn't mind them :) Any specific feedback on Garmin Fenix 6?

I'd also like to get more feedback on the Garmin solar GPS watch and if they are as legit as they appear in the ads. The lack of battery life is my main pet peeve for a smartwatch. I can't imagine having to charge a watch every few days to wear it. It was bad enough having "dress" watches that needed winding if you left it sitting for a few days, and those tend to sit in my drawer now.

The old Suunto models with replaceable batteries were my favorite ABC/waterproof watches, best lightweight HRMs but they have been phased out for their new smartwatches. Chest straps usually gave better HR accuracy vs wrist models, but were cumbersome sometimes and straps had to be cinched tight to work well and had their own batteries which seemed to die at the wrong times.

I have a solar G-Shock ABC Rangeman which has never needed a charge or new battery EVER, is bulletproof (maybe even literally) but it lacks GPS and while a good "walkaround" watch, is a bit bulky and gets caught on pack straps, jacket sleeves.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Jorts » Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:19 am

Going on 5 years with a Suunto Ambit3. Checks all your boxes, durable and battery life exceeds comparable Garmins.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by quattordesch » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:26 pm

This is a great resource for in-depth reviews on many watches: ... calculator

Select one or several watches. The link to each review will be at the very bottom of the table with the tech specs that appears after hitting "compare".
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Bill G » Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:27 am

Timex Indiglo. Cost around $20, lights up in the dark, battery last about 5 years, tells the time. If you need anything else, I suggest you stay home.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by LetsGoMets » Sun Jul 26, 2020 8:03 am

Bill G wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 7:27 am
Timex Indiglo. Now get off my lawn!
Fixed for you.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Alan Ellis » Tue Aug 11, 2020 8:10 am

I have a like-new Suunto Spartan Ultra Titanium for sale on the gear swap. I’ve used it on a couple of peaks and it’s perfect for the mountains.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by shays_days » Tue Aug 11, 2020 8:47 am

I have a Garmin Instinct and it's relatively cheap compared to the competition, does most everything I need it to. Should be fine for your purposes. It is ugly as all hell though - I absolutely only wear it in the mountains lol.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by RichH » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:54 am

The biggest factor is battery life with 1 sec GPS. Suunto, Coros and Garmin all make great watches. The Apple Watch generally only lasts 6 hours so for longer events it isn't useful. I have a Garmin Fenix 6 which lasts 36 hours using 1 sec GPS. I just ran a 100 mile race on a single charge. It is great also great for very long mountain adventures and can be quickly charged while it is tracking.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by Rollie Free » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:00 am

Can someone explain to me what these watches do for you considering the money?

What is it I need to know in a mountain trek that watches provide? I already have a free phone app that tells me my location, the trail I am on, elevation, time/distanced traveled etc.
Not discounting them, I just never had one and don't have a good concept of the appeal.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by shays_days » Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:57 am

Rollie Free wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:00 am
Can someone explain to me what these watches do for you considering the money?
Just one data point but I got mine after my friend had one and we got way off route on our first time up Sky Pond, and lost the trail on some switchbacks in the deep snow (February). However he had the Gpx loaded onto Suunto so we were easily able to find the trail, saving us slogging around trying to find out where to go.

Phones do a lot but I’m always paranoid mine’s going to die, especially in winter when the phone will just die if you have it out for 5 min too long. Also it’s so much easier to check your wrist than deal with phones and passwords and pockets and zippers.

I don’t think it’s essential by any means, obv people have been in wild places for hundreds of year w/o them haha, but they are nice to have sometimes. Also quick way to check altitude. Definitely don’t buy one bc you feel like you absolutely need it bc everyone else has one. I’m happy I bought mine because it’s been really nice sometimes (esp for preloaded routes on long backpacking trips) but sometimes honestly i forget it, especially if the trail isn’t really that complex.

I also got one of the cheaper ones (Garmin Instinct) which does everything I personally need it to. I don’t track my hikes or workouts or anything so the 1-second GPS and those additional features aren’t worth it to me.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by AndrewLyonsGeibel » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:44 pm

I’ve had the 910, 920, and 935. Mostly for Ironman training but it’s also just kinda interesting to google earth the gpx files from hiking. It’s also helpful if say you wanna do a 10 mile run so you know when to turn around. They also do sleep tracking which is a huge part of training. It’s also kinda nice when I’m cycling to be able to read texts without stopping to get the phone out. I also keep a road ID on the band so if stuff hits the fan at least someone can call a family member.
Last edited by AndrewLyonsGeibel on Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Smart watches - feedback

Post by oldschoolczar » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:45 pm

I just picked up the Garmin Instinct Solar a few weeks ago and I can’t recommend it highly enough for backcountry use. I’d consider it a Fenix lite. It has almost all the backcountry capabilities as the Fenix but will last significantly longer. You can load routes - it just doesn’t have a background map. However you can pull out your phone in the Garmin Explore app if you want maps. It’s got altimeter-barometer-compass. However the biggest selling point for me was the battery life. I’ve used other Garmin watches and they’d never make it through long day hikes or overnights. I’ve tracked my entire weekend, get home Monday and track 3-4 runs that week and still have battery the following weekend. Impressive!
The solar charging on the Instinct is much more robust than on the Fenix. It has much more solar charging area than the Fenix. I doubt the Fenix solar would make it through a weekend of tracking. The solar charging is definitely worth it in Colorado. With the intensity of the sun here you’ll notice a difference. I even get some decent charging hiking in the trees.

Definitely check it out. It’s $399 vs $299 vs the regular instinct but the GPS chip has been upgraded (same as Fenix), pulse/ox added, and a few other upgrades beyond just the solar charging.
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