Although not a perfect “Survivor” watch, and there is no perfect “Ironman” watch, is not perfect, “hike” watch, Garmin Phoenix 2 is a good watch all of these categories. For me, this is the best multi-sport watch, for people who do not carry the watch, who will actually use it as an everyday thugs. This is a designed for outdoor type, almost no cases who spend time in the board room or formal encounter
The Garmin Fenix 2 is Garmin’s second version of what could be its most wearable sports watch. What I mean is that while some folks reading this blog would not be caught dead wearing a Timex Ironman watch (which, as a side note, happened to be President Bush’s watch while in office), I feel that the Garmin Fenix 2 would easily be the kind of watch that watch aficionados (such as us) would actually wear as a daily beater. The styling is reminiscent of some Casio ProTrek watches while having its own unique look. It is a big watch, coming in at 49 mm diameter, 19 mm high, and with lug-to-lug measurement just over 60 mm.
However, it is supremely lightweight at barely 85 grams (with strap), which makes it a watch I comfortably use for running, cycling, swimming, and even mountain biking (MTB); which is a sport that requires the perfect watch, otherwise, after a few minutes you feel like ripping the watch from your wrist as the constant shocks during MTBing will surely have the watch constantly hitting your wrist.
Furthermore, the Garmin Fenix 2 is a watch designed for outdoor activities. What I mean is that it’s the perfect watch for hiking. The multi-sports and GPS capabilities mean that you can use this for trail running, lake or ocean swimming, keeping track of distance, heart rate (not while swimming), and foot cadence (using Garmin’s HRM Run strap). It also offers important trail information like barometer, altitude, bearing, and temperature – all at the press of a button.
Starting and stopping activities is a couple clicks away. Once started, each activity comes preloaded with a series of customizable data pages that constantly, in real time, feed the data nerd like myself. Of course, this assumes you have already paired the Garmin Fenix 2 with the Garmin ANT+ HRM Run heart rate strap (for running, hiking) and with the bicycle cadence or power meter ANT+ sensors. All these are an extra $50 or $99 add-ons, except for the power meters, which tend to be in the $1000+ mark. Yup, being a data junky is expensive.
But with them, you get extra information that you collect during your activities and then can review ad nauseam after uploading to the free Garmin Connect Web site. For instance, when paired with the HRM Run heart rate strap, after doing a medium to long run (20 minutes or more), the device will give you an estimate of your VO2max for running which is widely agreed to be the best predictor of your capabilities as a runner. The Garmin Fenix 2 will then use that information to advise you of your recovery time as well as your predicted performance for various distances, e.g., 5km, 10km, half marathon, and full marathon.
Some other nice touches on this watch include the main dial, as you can see from the pictures above: it is a very stealthy but readable watch. The running seconds markers around the dial are a big part of that, as well as the inverse LCD markers (which cannot be reversed). Garmin sells a special Garmin Fenix 2 edition with the LCD markers in normal mode (i.e., white background with black markers). For night viewing, the regular Garmin Fenix 2 is a charm, with a nice red light that makes this watch super cool and even stealthier – almost like a Special Ops-style military watch. I am sure Garmin went for that look on purpose, since that must be part of the appeal and market segments targeted for this watch. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that Garmin makes a variant of the Garmin Fenix 2 called the Tactix which is geared especially toward military personnel.
Finally, I would be chastised for not mentioning on this site that the Garmin Fenix 2 uses a proprietary strap design, which, while very comfortable, means that it is not a watch you can easily put on typical nato straps or one of the many aftermarket military inspired straps. Instead, Garmin sells a few variants of the Garmin Fenix 2 strap in limited colors (orange, black, and olive) in the same rubber that comes with the watch as default. There is also a black leather variant. They each will run you about $30 and are shipped with two screw drivers with the proprietary Garmin screw head, designed to help you easily change the strap. Why Garmin chose to make this aspect proprietary beats me, but I did buy the orange and leather variant, which I have enjoyed swapping to