Garmin Fenix 5X – The Best Outdoor/GPS Watch

The Garmin Fenix 5X is a multi-sport GPS watch with full-color topographic maps and a staggering number of analytics and sensors.

The Garmin Fenix 5X is a GPS sport watch with apps for outdoor activity. It features a wide range of analytics and sensors and can display full-color topographic maps on your wrist. It’s easy to read even in bright sunlight and has great battery life.

If you spend any amount of time hiking, running, skiing, swimming, biking, or doing any other type of activity, that would benefit from the Fenix 5’s host of sensors, GPS, and mapping.

Who Should Be Interested In The Fenix 5X?

Anyone looking for a full-featured outdoor watch with GPS, mapping, and a full range of sport-related features should jump on the Garmin Fenix 5X. If the Fenix 5X is too large for you, I will go for the Fenix 5s.

Overall, I was timid about dropping so much money on a watch, but now that I have, I don’t regret it.

Garmin 010-01733-00 Fenix 5X Sapphire - Slate Gray with Black Band
  • Ultimate multisport GPS watch with full color Topo U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps and other...
  • Fit for adventure with rugged design that features stainless steel bezel, buttons and rear case:...
  • Built in navigation sensors include GPS and Glonass capability to track in more challenging...
  • Preloaded run profiles: Running, treadmill running, trail running. Put key stats at your fingertips...
  • Connected features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin connect online fitness...


The Garmin Fenix 5X is the largest of the new Fenix series. Coming in at 51mm in diameter and 17.5mm thick, it certainly isn’t small.

It has a round watch face with a five-button layout that you can see in the picture above. Two buttons are on the right side, and three are on the left. The entire bezel is stainless steel, as well as the rear of the watch. The sides of the watch are made of composite material, however.

The Fenix 5X is part of my EDC, so I don’t have to worry as much about having a separate form of navigation in my bug-out bag or get-home bag.

I bought the watch with the metal and silicone bands included and have since not even touched the metal band. I’d recommend saving $150 (yes, it’s $150 more!) and getting the watch with the silicone band. If you need to customize your Fenix 5X, you can find silicone watch bands in various colors.

Changing the bands out is a snap, thanks to the quick disconnect Garmin designed. There’s no need for tools to remove or change bands.

The 240×240 pixel display is a little grainy but not bad and is covered with the familiar sapphire crystal display that Garmin is known for.

The watch connects to your phone via Bluetooth and is also wifi enabled. (We should note that if you’re buying a non-Sapphire version of the five or 5s, you won’t have Wwifi-F.)

I was switching from an Apple Watch and was hesitant to lose all the notification features. I didn’t realize that I would still get the same notifications on the Garmin Fenix 5X! You can do everything short of reply to text messages and answer calls.

The watch also connects to various ANT+-enabled devices to track anything you want about your stride, pace, stroke, etc. It’s pretty incredible.

If you do a lot of swimming, you’ll love the Garmin Fenix 5X. It’s rated to 10ATM, which means it’s good for all kinds of watersports short of full-blown diving.

Runtime is great! You should get around 20 hours of active GPS tracking out of a full charge. Using it as a watch, you won’t have to recharge it for around two weeks. Using the Fenix 5X in various modes (active tracking of workouts, GPS, and regular watch mode) meant I would have 20-30% battery life after about seven days.

GPS tracking comes from traditional GPS and GLONASS capability to help better track your position in rough terrain. It also has a three-direction compass, a barometric altimeter, and a gyroscope. I found the compass on the Garmin Fenix 5X to be remarkably accurate.

There’s also a heart rate monitor on the rear of the watch.

Watch faces can be downloaded from the Garmin Connect IQ store for free. This lets you change the appearance and the information displayed on the watch’s face. You can go from minimal to over-the-top information overload and everything in between.

The feature that sets the 5X apart from the rest of the five series is its mapping feature. You get full-color mapping on your watch without the need to connect to a smartphone or other outside GPS. I love having it right there when I need it!


The mapping feature is the main thing the Garmin Fenix 5X has going for over the smaller versions of the five series. Having a full-color map on-demand where ever you are is incredible for a whole host of activities. Now that I’ve grown used to having it, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back.

I also really like the construction of the watch. It’s solidly built, and the quick-connect watch band stands out. Even though it’s something that I’ve only used a couple of times, it’s nice not to have to pull out any tools when you do want to swap out bands. If you’re going to have a couple of different colored bands, then this could become pretty important.

Battery life is just fantastic. I got used to charging my Apple Watch every night, so only having to charge the Fenix 5X every 7-10 days is great.

Being able to download new watch faces can completely change the look and feel of the watch.


Two things will put people off with the Fenix 5X. The cost and the size.

The cost was initially hard for me to justify. I had a watch that I liked, and it did everything that I thought I wanted it to do. Once I finally decided to take the plunge and got my hands on the 5X, I wished I had ditched the old iWatch sooner.

The size will be an issue for some people. The good thing is that if you don’t want the mapping capabilities of the 5X, then you can choose the five or 5s.

I wish the watch had a higher-resolution display. It doesn’t need one, but it would look much better if it were just a little higher.

Garmin Fenix 5s vs Fenix 5 vs Fenix 5X

This chart shows the differences between the various models of the Garmin Fenix 5. The main differences are size, resolution, and mapping capability.

Watch Type Fenix 5s Fenix 5 Fenix 5X
Size 42 x 42 x 15mm 47 x 47 x 15.5mm 51 x 51 x 17.5mm
Weight 67g 85g 98g
Display Size 1.1″ 1.2″ 1.2″
Display Resolution 218 x 218 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels
Lens Material Chemically Strengthened Glass
Sapphire Crystal
Chemically Strengthened Glass
Sapphire Crystal
Sapphire Crystal
Body Material Stainless Steel/Composite Fiber Stainless Steel/Composite Fiber Stainless Steel/Composite Fiber
Wifi Sapphire Edition Only Sapphire Edition Only Yes
Battery Life Smartwatch mode: Up to 9 days
GPS/HR mode: Up to 14 hours
UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 35 hours without wrist heart rate
Smartwatch mode: Up to 2 weeks
GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours
UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 60 hours without wrist heart rate
Smartwatch mode: Up to 12 days
GPS/HR mode: Up to 20 hours
UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 35 hours without wrist heart rate
Memory 64 MB 64 MB 16 GB
Mapping No No Yes

The Fenix 5s is the smallest version and only has a 218×218 pixel display and lacks the mapping features of the 5X.

The Fenix 5 is the middle ground for size. It has a higher resolution display of 240×240 but lacks the mapping features of the 5X.

The Fenix 5X is the largest model with all of the capabilities that the Fenix 5 series has to offer.

Garmin Fenix 5X Unboxing Video


After owning the watch for many months, I’m even happier about my purchase!

The Garmin Fenix 5X is the most capable sports watch out there! I highly recommend it and think anyone that decides to grab one will be more than pleased with it.

If you’re looking for something to track your biometrics, routes, daily routine, and any sport, then the Garmin Fenix 5X is your only watch.

Garmin Fenix 5X Review Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the battery last?

  • The manufacturer says the battery will last up to two weeks when the watch is only in smartwatch mode and up to 24 hours in GPS mode. While reviewing the Garmin Fenix 5X, I got around a week of mixed-use without recharging it. It has become my daily wear watch, and I’m getting around ten days on a charge. I don’t use the GPS features all that often.

How tough is the bezel of the watch?

  • The black on the bezel seems like it would scratch too easily when you first look at it. That was one of my main concerns when I first bought it. It’s proven very tough, but I did scratch it when I unintentionally slid down a small rock face. I touched it up with a fine-point black sharpie, and you can hardly see the scratch.

Does the watch come with a different band?

  • The Fenix 5X Sapphire comes with an extra metal watchband. If you buy the non-sapphire version, it only comes with the black rubber band, but you can get a ton of different colored bands if you want them. I don’t even wear the metal band.

What material is the metal band that comes with the Fenix 5X Sapphire?

  • The watch band is steel.

How accurate is the heart rat on the watch, and can you add an external HRM if you want?

  • I find the heart rate monitor to be more than accurate enough for me. I must tighten the band a notch or two if I want an accurate heart rate during a workout. It bounces around too much otherwise to keep consistent track of my heart rate. There are a bunch of external HRM bands you can get to add to the functionality.

When traveling, will the watch automatically adjust the time as you change time zones?

  • Yeah, it sure does.

Is it waterproof enough to wear swimming regularly?

  • It isn’t the typical watch that says it’s “waterproof” only to take it into the pool and ruin it. I have a friend that routinely swims with his and has never had a problem. I work out with mine all the time, and it may as well be underwater the way I sweat. I stick it in the sink to wash it and have never had any issues.

Is the vibration strong enough to wake you up if you mute the sound?

  • The vibration has always been enough to wake me up. You could run into problems if you’re a very deep sleeper.

Can you get storm warnings or extreme weather warnings?

  • You can set this feature in the watches menu. I played with it a little, but I don’t use it.

What languages can it be set to?

  • It can be set to nearly any language. I don’t know of a language that it doesn’t support.

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