Fenix 5x GPS Watch Review

Garmin have created a number of smart-watches that have GPS functionality, the last one was the Epix, which was good and also worked with my maps, but was limited by the number of colours it could display. However, Garmin have now released the successor to the Epix, and it significantly improves on the feature set, display and functionality; meet the Fenix 5x (other Fenix 5 models are available [5 and 5s] without mapping support).

Garmin advertise the Fenix 5x as follows:

“The fenix 5X is the ultra multisport GPS watch for athletes and adventurers. It’s the first fenix series watch to offer full-colour European recreational mapping for at-a-glance navigation and location reference – so you can beat yesterday, and be sure of getting back. You get training features such as Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology, built-in activity profiles, advanced performance metrics and training status readings that allow you to train more efficient. Smart notifications help you stay in touch on the go. Plus, QuickFit™ bands let you tailor the look to any lifestyle or activity – no tools required.”

I have had a number of Fenix 5x owner contact me since around March 2017 asking if my maps would work on this device as the European model of the 5x, although advertised as coming supplied with TOPO maps installed, are in fact, Garmin’s TOPO Active maps of Europe, but without the elevation shading that these maps have on the other Garmin devices, such as the Etrex 25/35, 20 and 30x models.

Therefore, the Fenix 5x European model maps are not TOPO maps at all, as they neither have elevation shading or contour lines.

This is all rather strange, as the US version of the Fenix 5x does come with TOPO maps that include contours (these are the US 100K TOPO maps).

I was recently contacted by ActiveJR who had tested my FREE British-Isle map, and then purchased my TT 1:50K style British-Isles maps too (which are far more detailed).

He reported that both work fine and that the level of detail, even on the FREE map exceeds that on the supplied maps, as mine both have contours too (which the supplied Garmin maps of Europe, do not). ActiveJR’s video review can be found below.

Since then, I have not only had a significant number of Fenix 5x owners contact me about my TT 1:50K Look n Feel British Isles maps, but also for maps for other countries across the globe, Canadian provinces, US states, etc. All these customers have been delight by the detail of the maps.

To aid development and check compatibility, I have now purchased a Garmin Fenix 5x myself. So far I have been very impressed with it’s mapping and GPS functionality. Not to mention the heart-rate, activity and sleep tracking features. I must say that Garmin should be congratulated on creating a very capable smart-watch for outdoors enthusiasts as well as the ‘sporty’ set. Please note that this is not the first smart-watch I have had or used.

The Fenix 5x is the only Fenix 5 model that come with mapping, and  also supports other Garmin and third party (Garmin format) mapping. It is not a touch-screen device, you use the 5 buttons dotted around the side of the watch to select items, move through menus, scroll the map, etc.

It is not a replacement for a full GPS, and unfortunately does not currently support paper-less Geocaching, but it is a good solution (along with  a paper map and compass) for those that hike, bike and play in the countryside.

The Fenix 5x support routing and navigation as standard, both on and off-road (via third party maps or routes/tracks). You can also import waypoints and POIs to suit your needs.

Here’s a nice video showing the routing in action and the various data screens available on the Fenix 5x when used as a GPS.

The watch features are highly customisable, with lots of available watch faces, widgets, applications and data fields. It also syncs with an app on your phone (Garmin Connect on Apple or Android) as well as your PC or Mac via Garmin Express. You can track all sorts of data, set goals, and connect to other supported sensors and devices.

The Fenix 5x is stated as having 12GB of storage (although some reviews mention 16GB), either way that is plenty of room for extra mapping and other data.

It is rated as waterproof to 100m (or 10 ATM), so no worries about getting it wet and it is a sturdy design with a Sapphire crystal lens, stainless steel bezel and back and a fibre reinforced polymer case. You could say that it is is built to last in all conditions!

More details on the specifications, etc. can be found via the following links: