A watch packed with location-tracking capability and impressive battery life boasts enough other features to make it a good choice even when you’re not roaming the great outdoors.
This outdoorsy watch talks to all five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and Beidou) at the same time with dual frequencies. This makes for the most precise positioning data and best signal, whether you’re scaling a rock wall, traveling deep in a forest or just running in the ‘concrete canyon’ of a city centre.
Unboxing is impressive, with a rugged waterproof case… that you might never use again if the watch stays on your wrist at all times.
The watch is chunky. Its 280×280 pixel sapphire glass screen is large and it’s deep (15.7mm). The watch is heavy – and yet, once you put it on, it’s OK. The design is impressively wearable – you don’t notice the weight when it’s on.
Charge the watch for the first time and a QR code appears on the screen for easy setup. You first need to download the Coros app, set up an account with a minimal amount of information (email, password, gender, height, weight) and then scan the QR code. It worked first time.
While it’s pairing, the app teaches you the basic controls. Impressively, the main button on the side of the watch can be turned like a watch crown (as if you were setting or winding an old-fashioned watch) as well as pushed in as a button. You have to press it in and hold to unlock it, so you won’t navigate menus by mistake. Rolling it up and down and clicking is great for navigating menus.
Lefties rejoice: not only can you set which wrist the watch is on, you can decide which side the big button is on. And yes, there are no fixed graphics that dictate which way up the watch should be. You can put it on your right wrist, turned by 180° so the main button is on the left and easy to use with your left hand.
Setup went very smoothly. The app immediately knew that a firmware update was available. This fixed a couple of known bugs and added new modes specific to climbers.
The app lets you customize the watch face in detail: the design, the metrics it shows. The display isn’t as bright as some rivals but you can tap a button to increase brightness. You can also set it so that a shake of your wrist wakes it to increase brightness, a gesture you soon get used to.
You can set up notifications from phone apps, set your bedtime, heart rate thresholds and fitness goals.
The controls are the large, rotating crown button, two other buttons and the touchscreen. The latter is only used in some menus.
32GB storage means you can upload maps and even music to the watch. Battery life is spectacular: 140 hours with GPS, 90 hours with all five satellite systems. And everyday battery life is an incredible 60 days: I wore it for weeks without thought of recharging.
Fitness features include an ECG for your heart rate variability: you put thumb and finger on it and wait. Navigation-wise, you get an on-screen map and can lay a breadcrumb trail as well as track journeys to review later.
It tracks all manner of workouts and sleep. It even automatically senses workouts and starts tracking them – handy as it’s easy to forget to start tracking fitness.
After a workout, you can see a full analysis in the app and even on the watch screen, with stats and a small map. You can export data to a number of popular apps, including Strava.
The app is functional rather than fancy, but it impressed with its reliability. And there are nice extra features like Insta360 and GoPro integration, so you can pair it with your action camera and then trigger photos and videos remotely.
The Vertix 2 comes in two colours: Lava (deep orange) and Obsidian (dark grey). It comes as a wristwatch but there’s an optional carabiner mount for climbers.
I didn’t make it to a sheer rock face but Westfield shopping center was a good test of its satellite positioning, with concrete canyons that can fox a lesser GPS watch. It tracked my position accurately and logged the calories burned in a gruelling shopping session.
The specs list in terms of activity tracking is immense but it’s more an outdoors and fitness watch than a smartwatch. So you do get notifications but you don’t get a bunch of apps on the watch. And that battery life is outstanding.
This is a watch you’d buy if you need great location tracking for outdoor sports but it’s good enough that you’ll keep it on your wrist the rest of the time.
Garmin fēnix 6
A chunky multisport watch with buttons (but no touchscreen) and an excellent app that puts your training and sleep data on your smartphone. Satellite data uses GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. GPS battery life is 36 hours but can be extended to 28 days on GPS Expedition mode.
From £529.99 garmin.com
Suunto 9 Peak
A stylish, touchscreen, slimmed-down alternative to the Suunto 9 Baro, just 10.6mm thick (rather than the Baro’s 16.6mm). GPS battery life is 25 hours, up to 170 hours in Tour mode. Like the Coros, it uses all five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and Beidou).
Polar Grit X Pro
A premium outdoor watch with tough sapphire glass touchscreen as standard. Full GPS battery life is impressive at up to 40 hours, extendable to up to 100 hours. It uses GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and QZSS satellites.
From £439 polar.com
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