Gear Review - Garmin Enduro GPS Watch

12/11/2021 05:26:00 PM

This image is NOT the Garmin Enduro, but my Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, instead.

Let's get something out of the way from the get go. I had to use a picture of my Garmin Fenix 6X, because I sold my Garmin Enduro as soon as I got home from my extensive field test, but more about that in this user experience review. If you are looking for a really detailed review with technical specs and comparisons to other devices, I strongly suggest you check out the DC Rainmaker review. He does an amazing job reviewing and comparing the latest tech in depth. My review will be based on a specific use case, which I felt may be beneficial to other athletes and anyone that pushes the time and distance limits during organized endurance events and solo adventures.

Garmin touts this, its top of the line watch for endurance athletes as the "Smartwatch for Endurance Athletes". However, their biggest marketing pitch has centered on the Enduro featuring the longest lasting battery life in the industry. Considering how long Garmin has been in the game and how much this solar power supported watch sets you back, it would be only normal to believe the hype. I know I did...until I actually put it to the test. But before I go any further, I wanted to provide some background to this review.

I think it is fair to say that I have been a Garmin fanboy of sorts ever since my awesome wife got my my very first GPS watch after I become serious about running as a hobby nearly 15 years ago. I've always enjoyed the latest tech gadgets and Garmin has been fitting that bill nicely. I have had about 6 different iterations of various Garmin Forerunner and Fenix series models over these 15 years and my car has always been equipped with a Garmin device as well. All that to say, it actually pained me to write this review as it is a stark departure from my previous experiences with Garmin devices. To say that I was underwhelmed is an understatement. 

I upgraded to the Garmin Enduro GPS watch last summer as I was getting ready for my first attempt at the 200 mile distance at the Bigfoot 200 Mile Endurance Run. I never really got to put the watch through its paces as I ended up pulling the plug after just 21 hours. It did not matter, I knew I'd get another chance at the Moab 240 Mile Endurance Run in October.

Garmin was very clear in its description of the Enduro feature that they had foregone some features (like mapping and music player) in an effort to limit any unnecessary strain on its battery life. After all, they promised at least 80 hours with the standard battery profile and up to 300 hours of GPS tracking with a custom battery profile. Getting ready for the Moab 250 Miler, I knew I would likely need more than 80 hours of battery life, so I actually set up a custom profile turning off the heart rate monitor, backlight, and every other feature that was't related to actual GPS tracking. In other words, I should be getting closer to 300 than 80 hours of battery life. Since the Enduro does not support mapping, I did use the breadcrumb feature by loading the course onto the watch, so i could ensure to stay on course at various intersections. 

I started the watch and would really just check at aid stations to see if overall distances still lined up with the info we received at said checkpoints. The watch performed flawlessly...until it didn't. The one thing that's supposed to be the selling feature that also sets itself apart from other manufacturers like Coros and Suunto was the battery life. To much shock and frustration, my watch shut itself off after just 69 hours. The battery did not even last 70 hours. Even with all the features turned off and solar and the supposedly longest lasting battery in the market, the Garmin Enduro did not even last 70 hours. If you are a runner who track all of their workouts, especially bucket list races, then you understand why I was frustrated and borderline angry.

Now you also know why I no longer have the Enduro. I sold it on eBay the day after I returned from Moab 240. Thankfully, one doesn't require a GPS watch to actually finish an endurance event, but that is beside the point. I just felt like venting and sharing my disappointment in a company and product that should be a true market leader, not in words but in action. As I mentioned earlier, I have been a big fan of Garmin products for many years and I continue to be to some degree. I love the technology and the safety the inReach mini provides and I am still using my Fenix 6X with its multitude of features. However, I am not sure I will continue this trend. 

I have been contacting Garmin more than once to offer my services to be a beta tester as I had noticed a few features over the years in the Fenix series and other devices that could have used some improvements, but they never responded. When I love a product, I can overlook some shortcomings, but I do want to provide feedback. It's a shame when that feedback is not accepted. If you're listening or reading this Garmin, my offer still stands. But for now, the GPS watch of choice for my next 200 mile attempt will be a Coros Vertix 2. Every single Coros watch user still had plenty of battery life left at the end of the Moab 240 and that's all that matters for this type of watch. When it doesn't deliver on this promise, then what is the point...really.

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