Garmin Fenix 5
- Editor Rating
- Rated 5 stars
- Garmin Fenix 5 Outdoor Adventure GPS watch
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
- Last modified:
- Heart Rate Monitor functionsEditor: 100%
- Heart Rate AccuracyEditor: 98%
- Activity Tracking featuresEditor: 99%
- Running functionsEditor: 99%
- Cycling functionsEditor: 99%
- Fitness monitoring featuresEditor: 99%
- Ease of UseEditor: 100%
- Battery LifeEditor: 100%
The Garmin Fenix 5 was released in early March 2017. It’s the pinnacle of outdoor adventure racing watches. We loved the Fenix 3 but the Fenix 5 will feature on more people’s wrists due to the 3 x different case sizes. All models come with Garmin Elevate – off the wrist heart rate monitoring. A fantastic watch in all aspects from design to form and functionality. This review of the Garmin Fenix 5 has been brought to you by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic
Release Date (UK) > Q1 2017
Suggested Retail Price (when new) > £499 – £699 depending on model
Who’s it For?
The Garmin Fenix range is for the user looking for the highest quality sports watch in a bomb-proof case. There’s not a sport that the Fenix 5 doesn’t cater for. All the Fenix 5 models feature Garmin Elevate strapless heart rate sensors, taking heart rate directly off the wrist (no chest strap required). The Fenix 5 watches are all equipped with the 3 essential components of an ABC watch, Altimeter, Barometer and Compass. The Garmin Fenix 5 continues to provide a watch worthy of the world’s best outdoor adventure racers. Whether you’re mountaineering, orienteering, adventure racing or “just” running a marathon, the Fenix 5 could be for you.
Hugely Functional GPS Sports Watch
It’s quite remarkable just what this watch can do. Reading the features and functions of the Fenix 5 reads like the specification from 10 different dedicated sports watches. It encompasses the features and functions of the following watch types / categories
- FITNESS watch with advanced fitness tracker including 24/7 heart rate tracking
- RUNNING watch with technical functions specifically for advanced runners e.g Lactate Threshold & Recovery analysis
- TRIATHLON watch with a dedicated Triathlon mode for SWIM to BIKE to RUN times and transitions
- CYCLE computer with everything from power meter support to Functional Threshold Power (FTP)
- SWIM watch with detailed swim-metrics including SWOLF score
- GOLF watch with the ability to download golf course maps from thousands of courses
- SKI/SNOWBOARD watch with automatic detection of uplift and downhill time
- KAYAK / SUP watch provides speed and distance feedback plus STROKE count, stroke rate and distance per stroke
- CLIMBING watch with vertical speed ascent and descent data
- ORIENTEERING watch with breadcrumb follow and waypoint to waypoint navigation (all models) plus detailed OS based map (Fenix 5X only)
- There’s more I’m quite sure !!
The 3 main differences between these Fenix 5 range of watches and the Fenix 3 predecessor are
- The addition of Bluetooth connectivity for heart rate, speed and cadence sensors (previously only ANT+ sensors were compatible)
- The Fenix 5 is available in 3 sizes (see below for more details). This is GREAT NEWS for those with smaller wrists looking for a GPS sports watch that is as robust as it is discrete
- All Fenix 5 versions incorporate Garmin’s Elevate wrist based heart rate monitoring system. A chest strap can still be used for those who want 100% accuracy from their heart rate data. However, for most people, the convenience of wrist based heart rate at 95%+ accuracy for 95%+ of the time will relegate the chest strap to the bottom drawer.
Check for Lowest Prices
PLEASE use these links to check lowest prices with our International Shopping partners (UK, USA, Australia, Europe & Japan)
Note > if you are happy with the mid-sized unit and ANT+ sensors (not Bluetooth) then consider the cheaper Garmin Fenix 3 HR with wrist based heart rate.
Next Model Up
Functionally, this is the top of the range of Garmin sports watches. The only watches MORE expensive than this one are the Fenix Chrono range. Functionally they are nearly identical. The increase in price is down to the steel/titanium case of the Fenix Chrono. I’m afraid I’ve not had the benefit of reviewing the Chrono in the flesh so I can’t really comment further.
Note > in May 2017 Garmin released the Forerunner 935. The Garmin Forerunner 935 aimed at triathletes, multisport and elite athletes provides some of the very best training feedback with Training Load, Training Effect (aerobic and anaerobic) and Training Status (featured in this Fenix 5). The 935 also features barometric pressure sensor but lacks some of the navigational features found on the Fenix range (e.g. routes)
Garmin Forerunner 935 the best all round GPS sports watch for those not interested GPX route navigation
Garmin Fenix Chronos (shopping partners website – approx £900 – £1000)
Next Model Down
The next models down are the the Fenix 3, without the built-in HR, and the Fenix 3 HR. If you are happy with the regular sized casing (47mm) and you don’t need Bluetooth accessory support then the Fenix 3 and Fenix 3 HR still come HIGHLY recommended. (April 2017)
Garmin Fenix 3 without Garmin Elevate off the wrist heart rate . One size only & only supports ANT+ accessories
Garmin Fenix 3 HR with Garmin Elevate off the wrist heart rate. One size only & only supports ANT+ accessories
It’s quite difficult to recommend a direct alternative to the Garmin Fenix 5 range of watches as it really depends on what is drawing you to them. A majority of people will be attracted by it’s solid looks, robust case, scratch resistant glass, built-in GPS and wrist based heart rate. Add to that essential navigational features like waypoint to waypoint navigation and breadcrumb trail route follow. Watches that come closest to this are the Suunto Spartan range. For those with a race / training time less than 9 hours there is the Spartan Sport Wrist HR. For those looking for a fully featured ABC outdoor adventure racing watch it would have to be the Spartan Sport Ultra (currently not available with wrist based HR, but I am certain coming very soon ….) [April 2017]
Suunto Spartan Sport best suited to triathletes and other multisport exercisers – this version requires a chest strap
Spartan Sport Wrist HR best suited to triathletes and other multisport exercisers – featuring off the wrist heart rate
Suunto Spartan Ultra best suited to outdoor adventure racers and ultra marathon / Ironman – chest strap required
Garmin Elevate HR sensors
All Fenix 5 models are fitted with Garmin Elevate wrist based heart rate sensor for convenience and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. For those who insist on 100% accuracy, all models of Fenix 5 can be used with a Bluetooth or ANT+ heart rate sensor belt.
A major innovation in the new range is the SIZES. This is the first time Garmin have released a product in 3 different sized cases. The Garmin Fenix 5 is available in 42mm, 47mm and 51mm cases.
The models in the new Fenix 5 range go hand in hand with the 3 x different case sizes. We have the smallest 42mm Fenix 5S, then the regular 47mm Garmin Fenix 5 and finally the huge Fenix 5X. An important point of fact here is that it’s ONLY the largest Fenix 5X that supports mapping. The Fenix 5x comes preloaded with TOPO mapping, routable cycling maps, guidance cues, points of interest, data overlays,
Garmin Fenix 5s (small / 42mm case)
This is the smallest version, the Fenix 5s with it’s 42mm case. It is available in various strap colours including white (as shown below) turquoise and black.
Fenix 5s Sapphire (42mm case)
The 5s is also available in a Sapphire glass version. The more expensive Sapphire vesion features a scratch-resistant sapphire lens and adds Wi-Fi connectivity for data upload without the need of your smartphone at hand
Garmin Fenix 5 (regular / 47mm case)
This model, the 47mm Fenix 5, is the same size model as the current Fenix 3 and Fenix 3 HR. Just like the Fenix 5S the regular sized version is also available with Sapphire watch glass and WiFi connectivity at a small increase in price.
Garmin Fenix 5X (large / 52mm case)
If you want mapping on your wrist (plus EVERYTHING else the Fenix 5 has) then it has to be the 52mm Garmin Fenix 5X. Preloaded with OS maps and featuring a barometric pressure meter for accurate altitude data the Fenix 5X is the must have adventure racer’s watch. The Fenix 5X comes as standard with the sapphire glass watch and WiFi connectivity.
What happened to Fenix 4?
There is no Fenix 4 as the number 4 (as well as 13 and 14) are considered by some to be unlucky in Chinese. The word for the number 4 “SI” sounds similar to the Chinese word for “death”. For this reason the numbers 4 is often omitted from building numbers etc. This is opposite to the number 8 which in Chinese is pronounced “ba” which sounds similar to a word for prosperity pronounced “fa”
Heart Rate Bundles
The regular 47mm version is also available in a Heart Rate bundle package. The Heart Rate pack includes HRM-Tri™ chest strap. When the Fenix 5 is paired with the chest strap additional heart rate and performance data becomes available including advanced running dynamics and heart rate while swimming
The fēnix 5 Performer Bundle with the HRM TRI chest strap provides access to additional fēnix 5 metrics including
- Stress Score to measure your actual stress level based on your heart rate variability
- Vertical oscillation and ratio or ground contact time and balance to make your running more efficient
Garmin Fenix 5 Promotional Video
This short promotional video (Garmin’s own) of the Fenix 5 and 5S shows the product from some nice angels and provides an overview of some of the key features. I hope to add my own video review of this watch ASAP.
The Garmin Fenix 5 is the one and only GPS sports watch I would recommend to everyone who emails me with their requirements if MONEY was NO OBJECT. It really does cover all bases. Other “all-purpose” watches might cover the essential functionality of many sports and disciplines but NONE have the level of detailed functionality found in the Fenix 5. It’s a luxury item that will provide years of high quality training feedback.
Would I buy one? Yes, I really would. It could quite easily replace my current training combination of Garmin Edge 820 and Suunto Spartan Ultra. I don’t see how any reviewer could give the Fenix 5 range of GPS sports watches anything but a 5/5 star review.
>> Back to Top of Review
Please support CardioCritic.com
The CardioCritic website exists solely through the revenue earned from our shopping and advertising partners. If these reviews have helped you in any way please use one or more of the links below to show your appreciation. It costs you nothing to support us, just a click of the mouse. Thank you
Tristan Haskins – aka the CardioCritic
More images of the new Fenix 5
Press Release – you may like to refer to the Fenix 5 official press release