Despite how pleased I am with my purchase of the Garmin Fenix 5X, I would be the first to admit that, if ‘all’ you do is run, it is probably a bit overkill, unless you are planning to do 24 hour ultra marathons. I haven’t got the ultra bug and am never likely to.

The reasons I bought the watch are because I plan to, one day, complete at least one triathlon, and because I enjoy hiking. In fact, I would go as far to say that if there is anything that I enjoy more than running, it is hiking in the hills or the mountains. Given the stated battery life, the in-built ABC sensor and the mapping feature, the F5X was my best option. The recent UK Three Peaks challenge gave me the opportunity to try out these features.

First of all, the battery life. Having charged the watch the afternoon before the challenge, and then having worn it as a watch afterwards, when I started the challenge it was on 98% charge. I then had it in standard GPS mode (not GLONASS and not UltraTrac) for the three mountains, whilst using it as a watch for the remainder of the 24-30 hours. The only option that I disabled during this time was mobile phone notifications. This was as much to avoid disruption whilst trying to sleep as it was about saving battery life. All other functions remained, including tracking my heart rate throughout, both whilst walking and travelling. Despite the “up to 20-hours” stated by Garmin, I carried a portable charger with me during the challenge, fully expecting to need to charge it before tackling Snowdon. To my surprise, it didn’t need charging at all and finished the challenge with 21% charge still remaining. This 21% lasted until 36 hours after the challenge had finished, when I decided to give it a charge before Tuesday night’s club session.

Having a guide on each mountain meant that the compass and mapping features weren’t really required. That being said, I did keep an eye on the map during each walk and the tracks on each mountain were on the map on the watch and it clocked my location as being right on top of them. Another success I would say.

As for the altimeter, I had the elevation field on the main screen throughout, with the hope that it would give me a guide as to how much further we had to go before reaching the summit. The highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis has an elevation of 1,345m. Unfortunately this came and went, and we were still climbing, eventually reaching the top with the watch reading 1418m. Just over 5% out.

Scafell’s elevation is 978m. The F5X clocked the summit at 1,001. 2% out.

Finally Snowdon, at 1,085m, was recorded at 1,117m. Just under 3% out.

An average then, of 3.5%. Some hardcore hikers may claim that that is not accurate enough but, realistically for me, I wouldn’t expect anything better and was pleasantly surprised by the figure.

Triathlon test to follow, although not for quite some time yet, but for hiking, it seems to perform well. Perfectly well for me anyway, which is good as this is where the F5X belongs.

Categories: Blog


Simon Gilks · April 28, 2019 at 11:43

I’m doing the Three Peaks in June and have the 5X so was wondering, did you start an activity at the start and then just pause when travelling??

    Paul Price · April 28, 2019 at 14:13

    I did individual activities for each of the three mountains. So, started a “hike” before setting off up Ben Nevis, then stopped and saved the activity when I returned back to the coaches. I then did the same for Scafell and Snowdon. Not only does this save battery, but I’ve had it before where the watch has recorded the journey in between, even though the watch has been paused. I ran to my local train station, paused the watch, then re-started it at the other end. The watch noted the GPS position of where I’d paused it and the GPS position of where I re-started it and joined the dots. Different watch mind, but I know it’s happened to others too. Hope that helps…

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