Garmin Enduro | first thoughts | Ultra & Trail-Specific Watch
“It’s just a cheaper Fenix 6X Solar with no music & maps” will come the cry and there’s some truth in that.
OK, there’s a LOT of truth in that. However, I kinda like what I see and this opinion piece explains why. First some quick background
Garmin Enduro – Background
Let’s quickly recap what it is and what’s new.
In a nutshell: It is a Fenix 6X Solar GPS watch with a lightweight strap and improved battery life. It’s a non-pro version and, as such, omits maps, WiFi & music.
It has 3 new software features which are Trail VO2max, Trail rest timers and ClimbPro trail enhancements. These will find their way to Fenix 6, MARQ and 945/745.
- VO2max – it’s difficult to get an accurate VO2max estimation when running trails and VO2max on the trail can still be disabled. The terrain impacts the ability to get a sufficiently long and accurate series of data points for the Fristbeat algorithm. The new algorithm has been modified to understand when you are working harder due to terrain variations over parts of your run ie conditions underfoot rather than elevation which was previously incorporated
- Ultra Run Profile with Trail Rest Timer – this is a minor update to existing ‘pause’ functionalities and it’s designed to account for rest stations on longer runs. Just as in a transition in a triathlon, a trail rest still counts towards the full race time but you might just simply want to see the real amount of time you have spent running.
- ClimbPro Trail enhancements cover flat and downhill sections of your route. You are alerted (via configurable ClimbPro Alerts!) to uphill/downhill sections and now the ClimbPro hill profile is shown for downhills.
- Oh there’s also a tweak to the end-of-training summary screen with weekly summary data
Thus the two Garmin Enduro models we see are highly similar variants to the Fenix 6X Standard & 6X Solar, the difference being they have a lightweight strap and yellow detailing.
- Enduro Steel with Gray Ultrafit Nylon Strap – US$/Eu799.99
- Enduro Carbon Gray Diamon-Like Coating (DLC) Titanium bezel with black Ultrafit Nylon Strap – US$/Eu899.99
Thus we get the lightweight titanium bezel that’s further protected with a DLC. The new UltraFit nylon straps are super-light, coming in at just below 6g. However, this is still a fairly heavy watch with an overall weight of 70g. Well, I guess it’s heavy compared to a plastic one but light compared to a metal one and the metal part of the construction is considered important to the perceived need for an ultra/trail watch to be durable.
Finally, to justify the price tag there has to be something special. A sapphire glass can add about $100 to the price of a Fenix, so why not the same price leap for the Titanium and DLC bezel?
Garmin Enduro – Anything else new? Is it the Fenix 6.5?
We don’t know too much here.
The battery has a slightly better capacity (it’s slightly physically larger) and also benefits from improved efficiencies from ‘other components’.
However, the memory available to CIQ is lower than the earlier PRO and PLUS model ie lower than the 6X.
Enduro comes at the end of the Fenix 6/Fenix 6 Solar product cycle. We can expect a Fenix 7 in the fall/autumn of 2021 and in the past a minor release with this timing might contain upgraded internal hardware components that are tested out prior to inclusion in the MARQ2 or Fenix 7 – effectively this could be a Fenix 6.5. Improvements to the battery reliability, Solar efficiency and CPU power are plausibly likely but there appear to be no big-ticket items like the latest Sony GNSS chipset nor an Elevate Gen 4 oHR sensor.
So what’s going on here?
Trail and Ultrarunning are becoming increasingly popular. I guess you could counter that with ‘Well, so is running‘.
There are some new attempts due soon at the 100km record and these kinds of trail runs and races are just simply getting more media coverage.
We can deduce that Garmin has seen a market opportunity, just as they release subtle Fenix 6 hardware/software variants for Diving (Descent), Tactical (Tactix), Marine (Quatix) and Aviation (D2) then so the Enduro is the Fenix for Trail/Ultra Running. For example, the special hardware required for a diving watch is to be able to handle water pressure and the requirements for a long-distance event watch cover: light weight, durability, battery longevity and access to Garmin’s sporting/software features. Just as the Descent and D2 will have special use-specifics metrics then so has Enduro with VO2max, rest timer and ClimbPro descents.
Handily, there never has been a Fenix 6X non-pro version. The existing 6X Solar IS the 6X Pro Solar. So Enduro IS really the Fenix 6X Solar in all but name…Garmin has again got its own naming wrong, just as they have got the naming wrong for the Forerunner 745 (which is a 945s non-pro and the 945 is really a 945 PRO). #Shrug
That’s the most likely explanation. However there is still a gap at the upper end of the Forerunner watches with the replacement for the overdue 645 and, less so, for the replacement for the 945. Forerunners have a slightly different physical format to the Fenix but all share the same software as the Fenix underneath. Despite having tri features, the Enduro is definitely NOT a 945 replacement but it might be sitting in the place of the 655 which, in turn, might never materialise for a variety of other reasons.
Garmin Enduro – First Negative Impressions
I’ve put these first negative impressions of Enduro in a separate post. Partly for the sake of completeness, partly because many readers don’t like negativity and partly because Garmin will address many of those points in relatively short order.
Garmin Enduro Headline Specs
- Dimensions: 5.1 x 5.1 x 1.49 cm (Same as 6X)
- Screen: 3.6 cm diameter (1.4″, same as 6X)
- Lighter Weight: 72 gram, the case is 66g or 58g/52g for the steel (6X is 54g titanium case/66g steel case)
- New UltraFit nylon strip (under 6g, 26mm QuickFit compatible)
- Case options DLC coated Titanium (same as an F6X option) plus Stainless steel option (same as F6X option)
- S$/Eu799.99 & US$/Eu899.99 (F6X Solar Pro is $1099)
- Memory 64Mb (DEcreased from F6X 32Gb)
- All CIQ Memory DEcreased eg Datafield is 32768bytes from F6X 131072bytes
- Up to 70/80 hours battery in GPS mode (6X claims 60 hours +6 hours)… improved
- Up to 200/300 hours battery in “max battery, GPS-on mode” (6X claims 120 hours +28 hours)
- Solar cell to recharge the battery Up to 65 days of battery when used as a smartwatch (6X claims 21 days +3 days)
here are the battery differences in more detail
Headline Features, not necessarily new:
- Power Glass Solar charging extends GPS-battery life to 80 hours.
- Power and battery management features can toggle features during the run
- Trail Run VO2max
- Ultrarun rest timer
- ClimbPro trail enhancements (adds descent/flats info)
- Run/Walk detection & logging
- Latest recovery advisor
- Next daily workout suggestions
- Recovery time enhanced by sleep & wellness data
- Compass, barometer and multi-GNSS support (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)
- Expedition mode sports profile
Enduro has the new Sleep Stage widget! PacePro and Climb Pro REMAIN and require a pre-loaded course
These are removed
Maps & features that require an onboard map including those that are used in golf and ski modes and certain aspects of ClimbPro and PacePro All music features Wi-Fi
Garmin Enduro – Problems
Other than the price, there’s not too much to take issues with.
Apart from the omission of maps.
Maps give enhanced functionality with ClimbPro and PacePro. Sure those features both work with a pre-loaded file but it is surely better to have them calculate on-the-fly. That said, I don’t think this is the main issue. To me the problem is the context that maps bring to navigation, simply put they just help you know when to turn and put in context how far from one notable route point you have travelled to get a view on how far to the next. It might have made sense to include maps and then give people the option not to use them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to buy one and I’m going to produce a Garmin Enduro review but I probably wouldn’t have used the maps much even if they were available. Nevertheless, there will CERTAINLY be MANY OF YOU who would want and use maps.
Similarly WiFi. What’s the big deal about removing WiFi? It’s hardly going to be used during your next ultra race! (Clearly, the argument is that the WiFi chip takes up space that the battery can use but it’s a tiny component)
On a trivial point, you might take issue with the silly yellow ring details on the face. Why Garmin, Why?
Garmin Enduro – oHR Accuracy
I’ll add some more images over the next month, this one shows the Enduro’s oHR is essentially OK on long, road-based, steady-state runs. Looking closer the oHR track is not as smooth as it should be and numerous small peaks make the average for the whole track too high (aka ‘wrong’).
Garmin Enduro – GNSS Accuracy
GNSS accuracy with GLONASS is unacceptable at times. For much of the runs it’s fine in a normal sense but then gives results like this which other reviewers have also found. It’s simply not worth my while spending any more time doing this it’s so bad.
Garmin Enduro – Is there anything to be excited about?
If you’re in the market for a high-spec, frills-free ultra/trail running watch then a resounding “YES” is the answer.
I guess there might be a new or slightly larger battery and this might share improvements in GNSS that seemed to appear on the 745 and this might support CIQ4. Lotta ‘mights’ there. Though @DCR points out that there is a new platform underneath all of this so we probably are seeing the first sightings of what will form a major part of the Fenix 7/MARQ2
Perhaps you like the larger-format screen to cram more metrics onto? Perhaps you want to properly attach your device to a Windows PC as a drive letter (MTP music devices don’t do that, Enduro will), perhaps your 945 has a somewhat strangely performing battery and you hope that a newer model has fixed it, perhaps you like the velcro-Esque strap.
If any of those tickle your fancy then get your AMEX card out and get spending. Actually, ALL those reasons plus the Enduro’s ability to be a fully-featured triathlon watch are the reasons why I’m going to get one. But, to all intents and purposes, YES – it is just a slightly cheaper non-Pro Fenix 6X Solar with a new strap.
Garmin Enduro: Buy a Garmin Enduro HERE when available from one of my partners (or from the blue banner below).
Note: Published after product details appeared on Garmin.com