Garmin Fenix 5x Sapphire Hiking Watch

Hiking watches are getting more and more advance with the Garmin Fenix 5x Sapphire leading the charge. It is at the top of our list of Best Hiking Watch article here.

The 12 Gigabyte 5X Sapphire is the flagship of the Fenix 5 range. The GPS/GLONASS is highly accurate and the 5X software even includes color topographic maps.

garmin-fenix-5x-sapphire

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You can effortlessly mark points of interest, save multiple hiking routes and track your progress with an incredible amount of complementary data. You can even track the location of friends in your party.

Garmin Fenix 5s vs 5 vs 5x

garmin-fenix-5-models--

There are 3 models in the Fenix 5 range.

  • 5s = 42mm diameter casing = 218 x 218 pixels (For ladies and smaller wrists)
  • 5 = 47mm diameter casing = 240 x 240 pixels
  • 5x = 51mm diameter casing = 240 x 240 pixels (Only available in Sapphire option)

5x Sapphire Model

A very important factor is that ONLY the 5X comes with a preloaded set of maps. (More can be added) You can even display preloaded points of interest on your route like food, entertainment, accommodation, etc.

garmin-topographic-maps-

All the Sapphire versions include a scratch resistant Sapphire glass lens but more importantly, only the Sapphire models include wifi for easy transfer of data to your computer.

With these additional Wifi capabilities, Sapphire Scratch Resistant Glass and Built in Maps, the Fenix 5X Sapphire outshines its counterparts.

Unfortunately this comes at a very high price… The Fenix 5X price tag has nearly doubled over the more recent Fenix 3 (reviewed below). This is the mothership of features and functionality and may only be for you if you are really the type to explore the endless tools that come packed into this hi-tech device.

fenix-3-wrist

Due to its weight (5.29 oz) and size, it can also be considered a little too bulky for hiking by some folks. That being said, it’s still one of the greatest hiking watches for men with larger wrists or guys who don’t mind the weight.

Display & Functionality

The large 1.2 inch display is not entirely full color. It’s actually only a 64 Color Chroma display which can seem less “vibrant” at times, than the full color Casio ProTrek (below).

Garmin uses its own platform called Connect IQ whereas the Casio ProTrek can download apps from the Google Play store.

There are tons more apps on Google Play compared to Garmin’s Connect IQ… But on the other hand, a multitude of these extraneous functions also drains the battery faster, and you might get stuck wishing you had the powerful Garmin Fenix 5x with only the essentials running.

garmin-fenix-5x-sapphire-faces

There are still loads of apps and copious amounts of custom watch faces. They range from clean “analog” designs that display minimal info to complex digital faces with tons of fitness tracking, navigation and weather information. You’ll even find some outright absurd faces and, if that’s not personalized enough, you can also add your own image.

Battery

  • 12 Days in “smart” mode (depending on the settings)
  • 18 Hours in full GPS mode (extended to 50 hours in UltraTrac™ mode)

UltraTrac™ mode connects to the satellite intermittently saving a tons of power.

Optical Heart Rate Sensor

One more thing… the Garmin Fenix 5 range includes an Optical Heart Rate Monitor on the back of the casing. Unfortunately, we’ve found that since these “read” the top of your wrist, they’re never really that accurate (especially when moving around a lot during high activity).

Our Conclusion

This is undoubtedly a beast of a men’s Garmin Military Watch for trekking into the wild.

The built-in altimeter, barometer, 3-axis compass are superb and the gyro & accelerometer are smooth and precise. The casing is tough as nails and can take a huge hit without showing damage. (We did find the paint on the bezel scuffs quite easily though.)

But could it be the very Best GPS Watch for Hiking?

The price is steep and the Casio ProTrek and The Suunto Traverse are frothing at the bit to overtake. The Casio has a full color Touch Screen and Suunto’s GPS is faster and more accurate, which makes them VERY competitive at much lower prices.

Specifications

  • Weight: 92 grams
  • Display Size: 1,2″ – 240 x 240 pixels
  • GPS & Breadcrumb Trails: Yes
  • Maps: Yes
  • Color: Full Color LCD
  • Vibration Alerts: Yes
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Yes
  • Water Resistance: 100M
  • Battery (Normal Mode): 12 Days
  • Battery (GPS Mode): 18 Hours
  • Battery (UltraTrac Mode): 48 Hours
  • Wifi & Bluetooth
  • Accelerometer & Gyro
  • Sensors: ABC & Thermometer

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