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Tracking watches

After going through Fitbit and Garmin watches to track my workouts, biking, and hiking treks I have become disllusioned with their durability.  Individually they have some good features but whether it be battery life, durability, or connectivity and ease of use with apps, they both seem to fall short.  Looking for solutions.

12 Replies

@pathrillskr What Garmin models have you tried? I've typically had very good experiences with the Garmin fenix series.

@pathrillskr, even though you posted this question on the "Ask an REI Employee" board, you may also get suggestions from other members of the community. We wanted to provide a friendly reminder (from our User Guidelines) that "only posts from a user with the “REI Employee” rank should be regarded as employee-generated content."

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@pathrillskr Thanks for the question!

Without knowing more info than what you presented I'm going to need to fill in some gaps on my own here so I'll be speaking in somewhat general terms. If you'd like more detailed info it would be helpful to know which specific watches aren't meeting your needs. But in the meantime I'll try to address the three concerns you brought up:

1) Battery Life. This one can be tricky because often times battery life is given in ideal conditions with a specific setting on the watch (i.e. only tracking points every 30 minutes). Often companies will tell you on what settings they tested the battery life. It just might take some digging to find that information. You'll then want to see what settings you have on your watch. Typically battery issues come in to play due to backlight displays, constant tracking points, and/or running applications or features in the background. You'll definitely want to check all of those if your battery doesn't seem to be performing to your expectations.

2) Durability. Depending on which watches you have been using this can be related to a lot of different things. One consideration is making sure you are matching your style of watch with your chosen activity. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options of fitness watches available but it is important to remember that the reason there are so many is because there is a such a broad array of activities to cater to in this category. The Garmin Fenix series isn't going to be the best fit for everyone as far as features go but it is great for durability. If you're struggling with having a watch that stands up to your activity level it might be time to invest in a watch that can keep up with you!

3) Connectivity and Ease of use. When we see watches with connectivity issues typically these can be resolved with making sure the watch is current on its updates. Both Fitbit and Garmin are constantly building and creating new technology and maintaining their features on their watches. I would make it a habit to update my watch at least once a week to make sure everything is current and running smoothly. If that doesn't work I know that Garmin has a helpful customer support website as well as a phone number. Many connectivity and performance issues have been resolved for my customers through that channel.

I hope this helps guide you in the right direction! Thanks for reaching out and best of luck on your adventures!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thank you John.  That is very sound advice.  I have a lot of trust in REI.  You guys have never let me down.

I've tried several and am now on the Garmin Fenix 5x plus.  There are no dependability, durability, or feature issues I have experience.  Real life battery life with an hour or two of tracking per day has been around 10 days.  Not the 20 Max, but I use the watch.  The price concerned me at first but it was well worth it.  I have the inReach  mini that connects to my watch via ant and it completes my needed setup for extended backpacking trip safety.  The watch even has accident detection and an SOS feature.  My wife was more than happy with my purchase the first time I had to use it.  

Thank you @TrailMission.  Interesting information.  I am going to look into that watch.  I bike and hike in remote areas and have been looking for something that will allow me to stay in touch with my family.  Thanks for the heads up on the inReach connectivity.  Have actually been doing some research into that product as well.  Thought about purchasing a satellite phone.  I used one all over the world and it was awesome.  Will have to compare cost of a satellite phone and an inReach.  Appreciate the insight.

@pathrillskr @TrailMission Not to jump on the wagon and steer in a different, but similar, direction.  I'm interested in getting a watch as well.  I'm looking for something that will allow my wife to track my hikes, especially on the MST next year.

I saw that some of the watches have the SOS features that are very nice.  However, I would like to be able to send tracking data to her via the watch.  I'm not sure that's even possible.  

When I get the Garmin InReach, I doubt that I am going to wear a watch.  I'll be carrying my smart phone. So, I'm not sure if I'll be wasting money buying a watch.

I'd love to hear the opinions here.  They are awesome!



I have pretty much given up on a watch that will do what I want it to do.  Like you I am going to go to a Garmin InReach to stay in contact with my family while I am in remote areas.  The only hesitancy I have is having to make subscribe to a satellite service contract for it to communicate in remote areas.  I have used satellite phones in remote areas of the world before and am going to look into whether just getting a satellite phone will do what I need in those remote areas.  Hope this helps.


I'd love to try the Garin watches. I use the Fit bit SUrge and like it for the most part. I tried the Suunto and was NOT a fan at all. 

- I'm the best at being me when I'm outside