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Thread: Smart/gps watch

  1. #1
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    Smart/gps watch

    Have an Apple Watch. I like it. It No longer will update. Iím willing to pay to upgrade but wondering if I should be looking at another watch? I really use it for (in no particular order):

    -track indoor rides through zwift and connect to Strava.
    -outdoor rides (and preferably connect to strava)
    -runs
    -Nordic ski
    -occasional swim
    -I use slopes to track downhill because why not. But anything that tracks vertical loosely is fine
    -need to get text notifications
    -would like to get calendar notifications

    Other than that donít really care. Donít care how it looks. Iím a little chapped that my Apple Watch is just a few years old and wonít update but generally itís been good. I like that it is easy to understand and function.

    What do you guys use? Ditch the Apple Watch and try a gps watch?


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    Last edited by justcuz; 01-03-2021 at 06:07 AM.

  2. #2
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    Sounds like you'd enjoy the Garmin Instinct. It does notifications and tracking, has great battery life and pretty burly so meant to last.

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    My Garmin Vivoactive 4 does all those things well.

  4. #4
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    A friend had both a Garmin and a COROS. She said COROS is head and shoulders above anything sheís ever tried (sheís a pretty hardcore ultra runner)


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  5. #5
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    I got a Garmin Vivo 3 this summer.
    Seems to have what youíre looking for, but I have no idea on how it tracks skiing.
    My one gripe, and maybe theyíve changed this with the 4, is the heart rate monitor deactivates during swims.


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dee Hubbs View Post
    My Garmin Vivoactive 4 does all those things well.
    Got this, and I use it to track skiing as well, built-in. Battery life is very good.
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  7. #7
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    For me, the question becomes how engrossed in the Apple ecosystem you are. If you already use an iPhone, MacBook, and/ or iPad, it makes sense to stay with the Apple Watch. This is mostly why Iíve stuck with my Series 4 Apple Watch.

    I have used Garmin watches in the past (Fenix 3 and 5X) but moved back to Apple for the reasons previously listed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaineSkiAddict1 View Post
    For me, the question becomes how engrossed in the Apple ecosystem you are. If you already use an iPhone, MacBook, and/ or iPad, it makes sense to stay with the Apple Watch. This is mostly why Iíve stuck with my Series 4 Apple Watch.

    I have used Garmin watches in the past (Fenix 3 and 5X) but moved back to Apple for the reasons previously listed.
    Yeah I had thought about that but Iím not super tied. iPhone and thatís it. I really just need text notifications and calendar notifications. Other than that itís just wanting to track fitness. For me the Apple user friendly interface is probably what Iím most concerned about loosing. Not necessarily integration.

    Anyone use a suunto before?


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  9. #9
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    The DCRainmaker blog is a good place to read up on anything smart watch if you want to nerd out. I have Apple everything else but love my Fenix 5x. So far I donít use the maps function as much as I thought I would so I probably have more watch than I need.

    The battery life for an Apple Watch would drive me nuts. I just plug my garmin in while I shower for a few minutes and thatís all thatís needed.

    My understanding is that the Garmin apps are what set them apart from Coros. On a hardware level Coros might be a better deal if itís as dependable as Garmin stuff.

    As for simplicity, itís not Apple-level intuitive, but it was pretty straightforward for me, nothing too confusing.

  10. #10
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    Iíve been using a Garmin Instinct the last couple months, and Iím quite happy and impressed. Had an Apple Watch (gave it to the wife) but the battery life drove me nuts. Iíve been using the XC Ski activity to track touring trips (works great!) and the Ski activity for Resort skiing. I like that I can see all the details in the app on my phone or iPad and I like the GPS tracking and mapping of my trips. The sleep tracking info is also proving to be quite helpful and interesting.

  11. #11
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    I bought a Fenix 6 recently and it's absolutely overkill for what you want, but I'll agree with all the recommendations above for the cheaper Garmin models. Notifications and basic tracking work flawlessly

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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    I bought a Fenix 6 recently and it's absolutely overkill for what you want, but I'll agree with all the recommendations above for the cheaper Garmin models. Notifications and basic tracking work flawlessly
    I'm literally trying to talk myself into the fenix 6. Seems the holy grail. But honestly I can't quite figure out what I'd miss by going with something like the Vivoactive 4 which is SO much less money. I guess the fact that I don't know probably means I don't "need" .

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by justcuz View Post
    I'm literally trying to talk myself into the fenix 6. Seems the holy grail. But honestly I can't quite figure out what I'd miss by going with something like the Vivoactive 4 which is SO much less money. I guess the fact that I don't know probably means I don't "need" .
    Mapping I think is the primary difference. It also looks spiffy with your flannel and flatbrim and dog named Dakota or Montana or Splitter.

  14. #14
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    +1 for consulting with dcrainmaker site, both for knowledge and seeing what deals he may have going/uncovered.

    I'm team Garmin (only because Best Buy was blowing out the Fenix 5x's last year), and love it. Was considering/expecting a Suunto purchase, but could not believe how small and unstable their app ecosystem* was after so many years leading the market on watch design & features.

    My daughters are team VivoActive (3)

    VivoActive is definitely a nice watch with lots of features for the pricepoint, but my running/skiing daughters have run into:
    - side scroll + touch screen navigation too sensitive. So many rides/runs/ski outings not recorded due to an unnoticed tap cutting them short. This should put it out of consideration for OP, IMO. Shame, really, as these are great watches on paper
    - battery life nowhere near the Fenix. Maybe not such an issue

    Fenix has been awesome, as others note, with plenty of features still left to explore. Mainly, though, button-based navigation with makes these things so easy to use with gloves (skiing & cycling), and is just a better tactile experience that the VivoActive IMO.

    As noted, Fenix is also $$$, but the same brains/buttons often reside in Forerunner & Instinct series (need to confirm features of specific models vs. your activities), and older high-end models are often available quite cheap, but you certainly lose out on HW like PulseOx, if that's important. IME, Garmin has been good about keeping backwards compatibility in their app so far. A couple examples below that were very hot items not to long ago (dunno if these support all of OP's use cases, but I would jump on either ahead of another VivoActive):

    https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Foreru...9789033&sr=8-1

    https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Foreru...9789104&sr=8-5

    Whatever you get, I recommend also getting a chest strap (I repurposed one from an old Edge) so that you can:
    - Up the accuracy over the wrist-based sensor if you're doing HR-based training
    - Wear your watch on the outside of whatever you're wearing while XC skiing & still get HR
    - Get HR info into both your watch and your trainer at the same time from one source

    Good luck! Also, don't be surprised to learn that Garmin thinks you are bad at sleeping.

    * To be fair, while Garmin's is a much bigger/better supported ecosystem, the only problems we've had were when Garmin was hacked for ransom last summer -> hopefully not a repeatable issue!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    Mapping I think is the primary difference. It also looks spiffy with your flannel and flatbrim and dog named Dakota or Montana or Splitter.
    fuckin caught red-handed. FWIW my dog should be named splitter the way he literally tore up a muskrat yesterday.

    Thanks for the help---the cost difference is huge---hard to justify.

  16. #16
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    Also have a 6S, but my kids 6X is slightly better (51mm v. 47mm face) for using the map function for the small bump in screen size (old 3X was 53mm). Sure the 6S has more functionality than I need most of the time. XC classic, skate, snowboard, downhill, and backcountry ski modes. Track your lake time in boating mode? You bet. All sorts of golf functionality I'll never use. Pretty sure it can do my taxes too.

    The watch is pretty good at dosing out flattery too- it tells me that I sleep great when I don't drink alcohol, that my VoMax is "superior" and that my fitness age is 20. Gee, thanks fitness watch!
    Move upside and let the man go through...

  17. #17
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    I'm going to rain a little bit on the Garmin parade. I'm on my 3rd Vivosport in two years... That's their super small form factor on-board GPS model. The band sucks, its integrated and keeps breaking, I'm not particularly hard on the device. Also, its notifications appear to be really buggy. Gets hung up re-notifying me again and again about something which should have already cleared the queue. I've tried wiping clean, back to factory defaults. Lastly, it seems to take fucking forever sometimes to find a satellite, in my driveway, no obstructions. Kudos though to Garmin for being easy to deal with for replacements!

  18. #18
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    Thanks all. Tons of awesome feedback. Spending quite a bit of time reading dc rainmaker and Iím definitely leaning towards paying the premium for a garmin fenix 6. I also noticed they have some sailing features which interests me since thatís our summer weekends.


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by justcuz View Post
    Thanks all. Tons of awesome feedback. Spending quite a bit of time reading dc rainmaker and I’m definitely leaning towards paying the premium for a garmin fenix 6. I also noticed they have some sailing features which interests me since that’s our summer weekends.
    F6 is definitely great. If you want something a little less heavy, the Forerunner 945 has (basically) all of the same functions/software, just all plastic and slimmer, which I think looks better. Love mine and the battery life is SOOO much better than Apple Watches (at least older version).

    FWIW, look around on Reddit Garmin for deals. I was able to snag a 30% off coupon (IIRC) for my FR945. Checkout this thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/GarminFenix...f_the_fenix_6/

  20. #20
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    Just bought a Coros Apex and am really happy so far. Just it for riding indoor (sufferfest here, but would with with Strava also) and outdoor, ski touring and inbounds laps, even has a weight training option (set up in your phone app and sync to the watch for all of your lifts. Does muscle heat mapping on the weight training side also. I will use it for flatwater/whitewater paddling in the summer. I previously had a Spartan Sport which I liked and a few different Garmins before that.

    I haven't owned a Fenix so can't compare but didn't like the UI of the Garmin line including two forerunners that my wife has/had. UI and user options are REALLY nice on this watch and I'm sure the Apex Pro would be even better.

    GPS battery life appears to be head and shoulders above others. I last charged on 12/31 and to date have 5:37 hours of GPS workouts, 2 hours of indoor workouts. The watch is at 60% battery, is estimating 13-18 days of use left or 21 hours of GPS tracking. On Ultramax is states 100 hours of GPS tracking. It is unassuming, but looks good. Has an optical HR and baro altimeter. You can sync routes to it but I think the mapping feature is pretty minimal if you need that.

    I spent $250 for a lightly used one (looks brand new) on eBay or you can pay $350 for new.

    I'm very satisfied.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by fool View Post
    FWIW, look around on Reddit Garmin for deals. I was able to snag a 30% off coupon (IIRC) for my FR945. Checkout this thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/GarminFenix...f_the_fenix_6/
    Discount is only 20% right now. I'm holding out until it gets back to 30%.

  22. #22
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    Anyone have time with the Suunto 9 "Peak"? The smaller form factor (thickness especially) is appealing to me compared to the Fenix.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaka View Post
    Anyone have time with the Suunto 9 "Peak"? The smaller form factor (thickness especially) is appealing to me compared to the Fenix.
    Yep. Just bought one.
    Use: running (long distance on trails) & ski touring.
    Summary: Good GPS & battery. Really fast charging. . Small / nice design (can wear it as a daily watch). The battery has me covered for everything except when I do something super long like UTMB, but that is a rare event and the watch charges so quickly that I can top it up at stops. It also charges while recording an activity so I can put it on charge for a bit while running. The lack of other gimicky functions means that it is easy to use.

    Mapping:
    Initially when looking for a new watch I thought that I wanted maps, but after playing with maps on a Garmin for a while I decided they are pretty clunky to navigate around and you are most often just going to get your phone out if you are lost or rerouting. Having used the 9 Peak I'm really happy with my decision. The navigation has junction identification (even for trails) and alerts you to an upcoming junction which is brilliant as most running navigation mistakes for me are going past a turning when I'm not looking at my watch. Really happy with this. The only minor downside is that the alerts seem to happen about 100m in advance of the turning, so if you are in an area where there are lots of path junctions close together then it can get confusing as the watch can be a junction or two ahead of you. I think they should make the alerts happen closer or, better still, be variable so that they don't get ahead.

    App
    The app is fairly stripped back and I do wish there was a PC based interface. That said, Suunto has partnered with Komoot which syncs seemlessly to provide excellent route planning and also can be used to record your runs and actually, after using it for a bit this may have been a smart move on Suunto's part.

    Music
    I'm not fussed about having music on my watch - again, the phone does that.

    Finally, while not top of the list of purchasing decisions, I really like the design. I'm not a big guy and most GPS watches are really big and clunky on my wrist. This watch is thin and light, but also the design is a bit more refined / designer. More Euro than American / more Aston Martin than Hummer. As a consequence I wear mine all the time which is something that I would not have done with my old Ambit 3.

    G.
    Last edited by gritter; 07-20-2021 at 03:22 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by gritter View Post
    Yep. Just bought one.
    Use: running (long distance on trails) & ski touring.
    Summary: Good GPS & battery. Really fast charging. . Small / nice design (can wear it as a daily watch). The battery has me covered for everything except when I do something super long like UTMB, but that is a rare event and the watch charges so quickly that I can top it up at stops. It also charges while recording an activity so I can put it on charge for a bit while running. The lack of other gimicky functions means that it is easy to use.

    Mapping:
    Initially when looking for a new watch I thought that I wanted maps, but after playing with maps on a Garmin for a while I decided they are pretty clunky to navigate around and you are most often just going to get your phone out if you are lost or rerouting. Having used the 9 Peak I'm really happy with my decision. The navigation has junction identification (even for trails) and alerts you to an upcoming junction which is brilliant as most running navigation mistakes for me are going past a turning when I'm not looking at my watch. Really happy with this. The only minor downside is that the alerts seem to happen about 100m in advance of the turning, so if you are in an area where there are lots of path junctions close together then it can get confusing as the watch can be a junction or two ahead of you. I think they should make the alerts happen closer or, better still, be variable so that they don't get ahead.

    App
    The app is fairly stripped back and I do wish there was a PC based interface. That said, Suunto has partnered with Komoot which syncs seemlessly to provide excellent route planning and also can be used to record your runs and actually, after using it for a bit this may have been a smart move on Suunto's part.

    Music
    I'm not fussed about having music on my watch - again, the phone does that.

    Finally, while not top of the list of purchasing decisions, I really like the design. I'm not a big guy and most GPS watches are really big and clunky on my wrist. This watch is thin and light, but also the design is a bit more refined / designer. More Euro than American / more Aston Martin than Hummer. As a consequence I wear mine all the time which is something that I would not have done with my old Ambit 3.

    G.
    thank you Gritter! very helpful. You and I seem to have similar priorities for these watches in general... prioritize battery life, charging etc over music, payment, etc. Does the Peak grab a GPS signal quickly? This drives me nuts on my Garmin Vivosport... sometimes requires me to cycle in and out of the run mode a few times before grabbing a signal, while standing out in the open. Also, you mention Kamoot, I'm assuming Strava integration is equally solid. thanks.

  25. #25
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    I only care about music for road running since I hate taking my phone with me for the 5-10mi runs I do. I'm looking at the Garmin 945 as an upgrade from my 935, which I love and still barely tap into everything it can do.

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