Garmin Fenix 5X – Maps

fenix hrThe Garmin Fenix 5x has full colour maps. A TOPO map comes pre-loaded (USA) but you can use your own.

Functionality is targeted at walkers, runners and cyclists looking for a wrist-based solution.

There are VERY few other genuine navigational alternatives. Most of them simply come with a series of GPS points that make up a course or route or whatever terminology you want to use. In THOSE cases if you get off-track you can only be given straight-line directional information on how to get back on track. With a full map on the device, like the Fenix 5x, then you can be given turn-by-turn instructions based on REAL TRAILS/ROADS/PATHS.

I have a MIO CYCLO 505 and one of it’s neat features is to give you a round trip route back to where you started from (again TBT based on a real map). This is ideal when you are somewhere new and just want to go for a run/ride – like on holiday or at a new work location in a hotel. The Fenix 5 is similar, indeed better in some respects such as choosing which direction to head off from first. No doubt distances/difficulties will eventually be FULLY factored into round-trip calculations.

The Fenix map also comes with Points of Interest near you … again similar to those in your car’s SATNAV.

Other location-related features from the Edge 820 have been brought over (also working on other Edge devices) such as GroupTrack. GropTrack is great for figuring out if you’ve lost that person you don’t like in your riding group. But one use I hadn’t thought of is when you go skiing. Here safety is an issue where you might need to know where all your group are and stay with them.

LiveTrack means you partner can stay in the chalet, drinking gluwine (spelling?) and track your movements on the piste (or in the forest, wherever) before deciding when to head off to the spa. Or, in my case, for discovering when I’m heading back to the campsite 😉

So what?

Unfortunately, for the competition, with many more of us becoming a little more adventurous in our exercise, I suspect that mapping will become a killer feature. It’s WAY above anything offered by anyone else and I can’t see anyone getting close. Polar and Suunto might have a chance but I wouldn’t hold your breath. This feature is bad news for Suunto AMBIT/SPARTAN lovers unfortunately. Suunto’s SPARTAN offers a superior screen resolution…let’s hope something like Garmin’s map functionality can be put on it!.

I suspect that MAPPING will NEVER find its way onto the 920xt/930xt. Finally a super-clear distinction between the two product lines.

TomTom’s Adventurer makes clever use of a compass as well as movement when following a route. Using both to change screen orientation pseudo-intelligently at different speeds and likewise change the zoom level at different speeds. But Garmin’s F5x also has a gyroscope, down the line presumably to fine tune even more cleverly such screen orientations although the official line for the time being is that “an internal gyroscope to help improve position accuracy (and battery life) in UltraTrac mode”.

i’m not clear on whether or not the POIs come pre-loaded with altitude. If so, they could auto-calibrate the barometer. That would be super-nice but I suspect that is ‘one for the future’ too.

With GPS+GLONASS there’s an increased chance of decent and frequent accuracy down to 4.5/5m. We’ve known that for a while now. If the chip also supports Galileo (it probably does) then ‘all’ Garmin have to do is turn it on a write ‘a bit of firmware’ and voila…1m accuracy. (Probably a Fenix 6/7 thing in 2020!!).

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0 thoughts on “Garmin Fenix 5X – Maps

  1. Mapping is indeed awesome. It’s like a google maps on your wrist. There’s no reason anymore to get another device.

    For those who don’t live in the USA, or in the case you travel to a country like Cuba, it’s not really clear how you load new maps on this though?

  2. Race, you’re 100% sure that map data is customizable? (I hope it is!)
    If this is true, do you know what kind of maps it will load (only Garmin owned, third part, download web maps from who cares…)?
    How it you work? Direct from the 5X system or based in Garmin Express?
    Just to choose better between the 5X and 5…

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