Garmin Fenix 2 review

Fenix 2

Garmin Fenix 2

If you consider yourself to be a multifaceted athlete, that is you jog, swim, snowboard or perform just about any outdoor activity, the Garmin Fenix 2 is the watch for you! The Fenix 2 is Garmin’s much improved version over its predecessor, the first generation Fenix released in 2012. The original Fenix was geared towards running and hiking related activities, whereas the Fenix 2 is a full fledge multi sport watch that is a truly exemplary gadget to say the least.
The Fenix 2 as claimed by Garmin is a full featured training watch and that’s just about how we’d describe it too. Considering that it is designed for just about any activity, it is outfitted with a ton of features such as an accelerometer, 3-axis compass, ANT+ and Bluetooth radios, a high sensitivity GPS radio, barometer, altimeter and even an integrated thermometer. The biggest problem or inconvenience rather that most outdoor athletes are faced with is having a separate watch or even a couple multi sport watches for each activity. But the Gamin Fenix (pronounced Phoenix just like the US State) resolves this issue nicely and is intended to be the Jack of all Trades.

Unboxing the Garmin Fenix 2

Garmin Fenix 2

Garmin Fenix 2

The Fenix 2 can be ordered in two different packages: one with just the watch and one with the watch and the HRM-RUN heart strap. When paired with the Fenix 2, the HRM-RUN heart strap is able to measure ground contact time, vertical oscillation (measures how high you bounce when you run) and cadence among others. So if you train at a very high level or simply require detailed data such as this, the Fenix 2 multi sport training GPS bundle is a recommended buy. Getting back to the unboxing, the package of the Garmin Fenix 2 is a visual treat in itself, and is divided into 3 sections, two of which contain the device and accessories.

You receive power adapters, a fabric strap, user guide, screwdrivers to install the fabric straps and the Fenix 2 watch. The rear of the watch is appointed with the charging pins that connect with the included USB charger. The clip of the USB charger attaches firmly with the back and pins, and is great for charging on the go. Compared to the original Garmin Fenix, the size and weight of the Fenix 2 is almost identical with a few design improvements. The visible changes include the button layout, and an improved accelerometer for swimming activities. It also has a backlight that is not as bright as an indigo style backlight, but does the trick by lighting evenly for an unobtrusive view of the display while camping or running at night.

Using the Fenix 2 GPS Watch

Garmin Fenix 2

Garmin Fenix 2

The Fenix 2 is a great contender for indoor as well as outdoor activities, and uses GPS for measuring distance and position in open water swims. Adding to this, the UI of the Fenix 2 has also been greatly improved, and its well laid out buttons makes it extremely easy to use. Being a comprehensive GPS watch, using the watch may seem overwhelming at first due to the ton of features, but the intuitive homescreen makes this process a whole lot easier.

The homescreen displays the time, and allows you to launch an activity menu simply by hitting the red button located on the upper right side of the screen. The sport options you’re served with include rock climbing, hiking, navigate, ski/snowboard, workout, bike, swim, multisport, indoor run/cycle and custom. Selecting from any of these sports will either display a Go screen to launch the specific activity or display a sub menu of more options such as whether you?re swimming in open water or indoors. Wading through the several menus is a streamlined process, and ensures that you are launched into the right activity.

One of the notable features of the Garmin Fenix 2 and one that gives it an edge over its competitors is its ability to display detailed data for your activities. For example, you can not only time your swimming sessions, but keep track of your strokes per lap and number of laps. In fact, the advanced onsite accelerometer will also let the Garmin Fenix 2 know the type of stroke you’re performing and will log it appropriately.

Another example for the Fenix 2’s comprehensive data logging abilities is with regards to running, for which it indicates steps per minute aka cadence, and when mated with the HRM-Run chest-strap heart rate monitor will display parameters such as average ground contact time, average vertical oscillation and even average stride length. This may seem like a ton of obscure metrics, but can help solve several pieces of a puzzle. If you’re a serious runner, you may find the reason for your early fatigue or even lack of speed.

Garmin Fenix 2

Garmin Fenix 2

Where the Garmin Fenix 2 truly excels is on the navigational front, and boasts some unmatched features in its hiking mode such as breadcrumbs. When activated, this feature allows you to hike wherever you want and simultaneously and periodically create digital waypoints (up to 1000) so you can retrace your steps back to base. Things get better with a highly accurate onboard digital compass and barometer to alert you if a storm is approaching.

The Fenix 2 is an extremely versatile GPS sport watch, and its ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 radios make it possible to pair it with a range of compatible devices from heart rate monitors to power meters to bike cadence sensors and external thermometers. It can also be paired with most modern smartphone’s to not only sync your data, but update your location in real time for friends and family to track you on the map literally! Battery life of the Gamin Fenix 2 puts it in a whole new league with 10 hours of GPS navigation when fully charged, which can be extended by configuring the device to ping the satellites less frequently.

Features at a Glance

  • Onsite accelerometer for tracking distance and pace when indoors
  • Can be paired with a ton of devices including a HRM-Run? monitor
  • Easily switching between feature sets
  • Allows you to compete with a virtual partner
  • Receive emails, texts and alerts directly on the watch
  • Comes with easy-to-adjust rip-and-stick fabric wrist strap complete with an extender for various wrist sizes.
  • GPS lets you create and record up to a 1000 waypoints
  • 3-axis electronic compass
  • Real-time performance data
  • ANT and Bluetooth wireless technology
  • Outstanding 500mAh lithium ion battery for up 5 weeks of power in watch mode

Final Thoughts

The Fenix 2 arrives with a ton of bells of whistles that make it distinct in its segment. It’s ability to determine and record advanced metrics combined with monitoring cadence levels in real time makes it second to none. It pairs with almost any accessory you can think of, and can even be mounted on a bike with an optional mount for using it during triathlons.
The app makes it much easier to upload data compared to connecting the watch with a USB cable, and the backlight won’t hinder your night vision. The Garmin Fenix 2 reeks of awesomeness, and whatever or the number of sport activities you’re into, and regardless of whether you’re a novice or seasoned fitness enthusiast, this is undeniably the watch to explore.


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