Garmin Fenix 5S: Is It Worth Its Weight In Fitness Gadget Gold?

It turns out that a giant multisport watch doesn’t have to be a giant multisport watch.

Case in point: the new Garmin Fenix 5. Garmin has taken its big, aggressive, I Am A Serious Outdoors Person line of Fenix multisport watches and shrunk it into something that looks a little less obtrusive. It was also designed with women in mind. (Yay!) The Fenix 5 model has a 47mm face, compared with the 51mm face of the Fenix 3; and the Fenix 5S, aimed at women and anyone with smaller wrists, has a 42mm face. The Fenix 5X is the only one in this series that has maintained its massive size, due to its advanced mapping features.

Almost more important than size is the fact that the Fenix 5 knows what it is and what it’s supposed to do. It’s not a smartwatch posing as a fitness watch, and it’s not a fitness watch that has co-opted the app platforms and battery-sucking touchscreen displays of smartwatches. It’s a fitness tracking watch with all of the stuff that you would expect from a high-end Garmin.

This all sounds great! The gut punch comes when you consider the price: the Fenix 5 starts at $599, and only goes up when you move into the Sapphire glass models. That’s more than Garmin’s Forerunner running watches, more than its triathlon watches, more than Polar’s multisport V800 watch, more than Suunto’s Spartan Sport watch, more than… okay, you get the idea. The Fenix 5 is a very expensive sport watch. For that price, you’d want to to track every activity under the sun. Fortunately, it pretty much does that.

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