Review: Garmin Enduro sports watch
I have been testing the Garmin Enduro for three months. It is a loan watch although I may buy one with a small discount from Garmin.
In this time, while wearing it every day and using it almost daily to record walking and running routes of between an hour and five hours, I have charged it to full only twice. I am about to need to charge it again.
It is this single feature, the battery life, that marks the Enduro out from almost all other sports watches on the market. (Note, Suunto now has a new 9 Peak with good battery life, too.)
It’s usually the GPS function, especially when mapping a route, that drains the battery and until I tested the Garmin Enduro I saw the need for regular re-charging as part of owning a sports watch. I would normally find myself re-charging after every two or three activities or, if it was a day out in the mountains, I found the battery would give up and I’d be left with half a recorded route.
Admittedly, my Suunto Spartan Ultra was quite old and battery life had been better at the start, but I have been amazed by the Enduro’s longevity. The stats quoited by Garmin are:
- Baseline battery life of 80 hours for normal GPS-on with solar enabled and up to 300 hours of GPS battery life on some settings.
Here are some other battery life stats from Garmin:
- Smart watch mode: Up to 50 days or 65 days with solar (given that I live in Scotland and I spend a lot of time indoors at my desk I am not convinced I would pay extra for the solar facility, but it comes as standard with Enduro).
- Battery saver watch mode: Up to 130 days or a year with solar (keep in mind that this is without using it for GPS route recording etc)
- GPS workout/training mode (with optical HR): Up to 70 hours or 80 hours with solar
- Max battery GPS mode: Up to 200 hours or 300 hours with solar
- Expedition GPS activity: Up to 65 days or 95 days with solar
- For solar charging to be useful, there needs to be a fair amount of sunshine.
Surprisingly, the battery longevity doesn’t mean the watch is massive or heavy because of the battery. Battery technology and size has improved massively and the watch feels lightweight (I have been testing the titanium version). Some people might find the watch face is too big, although I don’t mind a large watch even on my slim wrists.
The advantage of a large watch face is you can see the numbers more clearly (and this is vital for me with my ever poorer old-age eye sight).
In addition, the Garmin Enduro also has some other new features, such as VO2 max metrics and test times, which are both aimed at trail and ultra runners. (If you have updated the Firmware, you’ll have these features on the similar Garmin Fenix 6 watch, too.)
There is also an updated version of ClimbPro, which tracks and displays descents and can give you alerts before a climb starts.
Garmin Fenix 6 versus Garmin Enduro
The biggest question is whether the Enduro is worth the extra money, or, indeed, if anyone who has a Fenix 6 would change to the Enduro.
Where the watches differ most is the battery life, especially on GPS setting. But this is because Fenix 6 has mapping capability (you can see a map and your route on the watch), while the Enduro doesn’t have map displays, but uses a breadcrumb route.
Basically this is a line and wee arrows on the watch face that tells you the right direction to go in, or if you have gone off route, but it doesn’t show a map so you can’t navigate easily by the watch if you get lost or if you are trying to set a new route in unfamiliar territory.
I have ben trying to decide what I think about this. A map is obviously very helpful but only in certain situations. If I am following or planning a new route, I tend to do this on my iPhone OS Map app. I like the Max size screen and the OS Maps enabled app.
I have planned a route and then uploaded it to the Enduro. I found it easy enough – and fairly useful – to then use the breadcrumb style route to follow. It was more useful than I imagined it would be but to gain perspective of the landscape around me I needed an OS-style map.
Many running competitors will prefer the Fenix 6 because it has the capability of map uploads. But there is also huge appeal to ultra runners of a watch, the Enduro, that keeps going for days and days without need to recharge.
I am sure they day will come when there is the best of both worlds but for now it’s the use of GPS-enabled mapping that drains the battery.
Garmin Enduro: Spec and more features
Garmin Enduro in steel is £699.99.
Garmin Enduro in titanium is £799.99.
Actual size: 51 x 51 x 14.9mm
Display size: 1.4″ (35.56mm) diameter
Weight: Steel: 71g (with nylon strap) and Titanium: 61g (with nylon strap).
A few things to note here is the price: Ouch! Top of the range Garmins gadgets are not cheap. There are Fenix 6 watches that are pricier but it’s still an eye-watering amount to spend on a sports watch.
Weight is good. I have the titanium version and I hardly notice I am wearing the watch despite the size of it. I also like the nylon strap because it is lightweight and easily adjustable.
The watch is rugged and durable and after months of wear it looks as good as new.
Features (there are tons of them!)
Garmin claim: Get up to 80 hours of battery life in GPS mode1, up to 300 hours in max battery mode1 and up to 65 days in smartwatch mode with solar charging.
My thoughts: It is really difficult to know how effective the solar charging function is in Scotland. The solar charge should work in direct sunlight and also you get the solar power as standard with the Enduro so there is not much to think about and this is an eco benefit (using the power of the sun is environmentally better than man -made power).
Garmin state: View how various settings and sensors impact your watch’s battery life, so you can make battery-extending changes on the fly.
My thoughts: If you are taking part in a multi-day race or FKT and you need the battery to last as long as possible, this will be a usual feature for optimising charge length. In ordinary life, I haven’t bothered with it. In my experience, the biggest drain on a battery is GPS-enabled mapping and the Enduro doesn’t have this.
Trail run V02 max:
Garmin: Trail run VO2 max estimates the cardiovascular fitness level of trail runners by adjusting based on the varying trail and terrain conditions that can affect run performance.
My thoughts: I question if it is possible for a watch to give you an accurate V02 measurement? VO2 max is an accurate measurement of aerobic fitness. It tells you the maximum rate at which you can take oxygen from the air and deliver it through the lungs into the bloodstream for use by your working muscles. But usually, this measurement is done in a physiology lab. The best way to to do it is by measuring the oxygen you consume while you exercise to exhaustion.
There are more basic ways to estimate VO2 health, such as assessing information such as your age, resting heart rate and typical activity levels. Heart rate can also be included in this.
Tests have been done on various Garmin gadgets. They found that an exercise-based test with a chest strap is better than one with a wrist sensor (Enduro has the wrist heart rate sensor), which in turn is better than a resting test.
And “taken as a whole, the studies suggest that the Garmin methodology can give you a VO2 max estimate within about 5 percent of your true value.”
In conclusion, the lab will be more accurate but if you want to check VO2 day to day and for curiosity sake it is fairly useful. If you are a professional athlete who is looking for marginal gains based on VO2 stats, you should head to a physiology lab.
Although, my stats tell me my VO2 is that of a 20 year old and in the top 5% for my age group and gender 9I am 53) so I think I rather like this feature!
Garmin: Use the ultrarun activity with rest timer, and log the time you spend at aid stations.
My thoughts: Useful, I guess, if you are doing a long-distance race with aid stations.
Garmin: Use the ClimbPro ascent planner to see real-time information on your current and upcoming climbs, including gradient, distance and elevation gain. ClimbPro trail enhancements also give you information for descents and flats — for additional awareness.
My thoughts: I am not sure I would ever use this feature. It is one of a number of features that I think are interesting but not useful personally.
Garmin: Track the details of every ride with mountain biking metrics plus specialised grit and flow measurements that rate trail difficulty and how smoothly you descend, giving you a score to beat next time.
My thoughts: As above for ClimbPro.
Heat and altitude acclimation:
Garmin: Prepare yourself for any environment. See how your body is holding up in different environments with heat and altitude acclimation.
My thoughts: Might well be useful if you are heading to hot and high location to race. I might be interested to use this when we go skiing in the high mountains of Canada and the US.
Garmin: View advanced training metrics that include running dynamics, heat and altitude-adjusted VO2 max, recovery advisor and more3.
My thoughts: There is so much to analyse via this watch. I think I am perhaps not serious enough with my training to be too bothered about all the stats but they are useful to have should you be aiming for an event/race.
Garmin: Giving your body time to recover between training sessions is crucial. After each workout, the built-in recovery advisor will let you know how long to rest before another big effort.
My thoughts: This is useful but I am never sure how accurate it is. See V02 above. And does anyone ever do anything other than guffaw at the recovery time required?!
Daily suggested workouts:
Garmin: For training guidance that takes you and your fitness level into account, get daily run and ride suggestions based on your current training load and training status.
My thoughts: Useful for some people I expect but not for me. I just run, walk and ride as I fancy.
Garmin: Preloaded activity profiles for trail running, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, skiing, golfing and more.
My thoughts: It’s great to have access to different data and stats for a range of sports.
Garmin: Access multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone.
My thoughts: It is always useful – and sometimes vital – to have the ability to navigate wherever you are.
Wrist-based heart rate:
Garmin: Optical heart rate3 technology gauges activity intensity as well as heart rate variability to calculate your stress level. It also tracks underwater without a heart rate strap.
My thoughts: I have never found the wrist-based heart rate monitor as accurate as the chest strap but it’s a lot easier to use (no need for chest strap) and for tracking day to day / hour to hour as a comparison heart rate it is good. This Garmin Enduro wrist heart rate monitor seems much better than any others I have used before.
Pulse Ox sensor:
Garmin: For altitude acclimation or sleep monitoring, a Pulse Ox4 sensor uses light beams at your wrist to gauge how well your body is absorbing oxygen.
My thoughts: The accuracy of this is questioned scientifically. Also, it draws the battery quite a bit when enabled.
Garmin: Receive emails, texts and alerts right on your watch when paired with a compatible device.
My thoughts: These are less sophisticated than, for example Apple Watch, but in any case I hate them! The notifications work well enough but I hate having my watch alerting me to such things when I am out running, walking or cycling. I want to switch off. Of course, if you are waiting for an emails or call, then this function can be enable and is useful. I have all this disabled on the watch.
Garmin pay contactless:
Garmin: Breeze through checkout lines with Garmin Pay contactless payment solution5 through participating providers.
My thoughts: I use my phone and I am not keeping the on-loan watch so I have not bothered to enable. I think it would be useful though.
Safety and tracking:
Garmin: If you feel unsafe or if your watch senses that an incident occurred, assistance and incident detection features6 send your location to an emergency contact.
My thoughts: I have not used this function but I can see it might be useful in certain situations.
Connect IQ store:
Garmin: Download custom watch faces, add data fields, and get apps and widgets from the Connect IQ Store7.
My thoughts: Customisation is standard on smart watches these days. It’s great to have choice for the look of the watch, plus apps and widgets. In all honesty, I don’t use widgets on my smart watch and prefer to keep apps on my phone. I have no doubt that I will end up using more of these features on my watch as time goes on but just now it’s my phone that I use the most.
Garmin Enduro: Then there are even more features
Music: The Garmin Enduro can control music playing from your smartphone but doesn’t have native music storage, unlike less-expensive Garmin watches such as the Forerunner 245 Music and the Forerunner 745.
Navigation sensors: To navigate your next trail with ABC sensors, including an altimeter for elevation data, barometer to monitor weather and 3-axis electronic compass.
PACEPRO™ technology: A first-of-its-kind PacePro feature helps keep you on pace with grade-adjusted guidance as you run a course.
Backcountry ski: Stay informed when you’re in the snow. This preloaded profile can distinguish between climbing and skiing. It automatically shows metrics specific to either ascent or descent.
Surf-ready: When Enduro is paired with the Surfline Sessions™ app on your compatible smartphone, you can create a video of every wave you ride in front of your Surfline® camera. Then watch the videos later to see how you did.
Advanced sleep monitoring: Get a full picture of how you’re sleeping, with a breakdown of your light, deep and REM sleep stages as well as Pulse Ox4 and respiration data. View sleep data on a dedicated widget that includes your sleep score and other insights.
Body battery energy monitoring: Optimise your body’s energy reserves, using heart rate variability, stress, sleep and other data to gauge when you’re ready to be active or when you may need to rest.
Hydration tracking: Log daily fluid intake as a reminder to stay hydrated. When auto goal is enabled, you’ll even see estimated sweat loss after an activity, and your goal will adjust accordingly.
Respiration tracking: See how you’re breathing throughout the day, during sleep and during breath work and yoga activities.
Plus: Wallet, find phone, music controls (for phone), alarm, save location, alternative time zones.
See Garmin Enduro for more info.
Fenix 6 feature that you do not get with the Enduro
- WiFi sync
- ClimbPro on the move (since that requires maps), but you can do ClimbPro based on a course
Review of the Garmin Enduro sports watch conclusion
This is a brilliant watch for battery life and has numerous useful and not so useful (in my opinion) features. Whether you will buy it will depend on your need for full-on mapping and how much you want to spend.
What I like:
- Fantastic, amazing battery life
- Weight – lighter than many Fenix 6 models
- Larger screen
- Ease of use
- Syncing with Garmin Connect app
- Connect app display of health stats. I can easily see average stats for the last week such as heart rate, stress level, steps, calories, sleep (mine is shocking)
- Connect app display of performance stats
- Great route maps produced on the app
- Elevation gain and distance recorded accuracy
- Garmin pay
What I’m not so sure about:
Setting challenges – I am not sure I’d ever bother with this. There are badges to collect if you want. This is not for me.
So, so many features. I am not sure I’d use half of them. They are there and might be useful in due course so why not have them? Then again, I think I’d like to pay less for a simpler watch with all the features I actually use.
Battery saver: Each morning when I wake I activate the watch to see the time. It is usually at sparrow o’clock because I always wake early and then go back to sleep. This sets in motion an energy saver mode that means the watch goes through a series of steps and with each there is a vibration. It is annoying. I expect there is a way to change this function but I haven’t worked it out yet.
What I could live without:
Email, text and social media alerts to my watch. (Unless I really need them, which is rare I have then disabled.)
What I don’t like:
You can buy from Amazon (I get a small commission for sales through Amazon.)