Garmin Fenix 6s Review
I’ve been asked a lot recently about what running watch I would recommend and what to look for when buying your first run watch. For those looking to step up their running distance and pace, are training for a new goal or just want to track their training, a running watch can be a great investment.
Personally I don’t need all the things in a running watch but there are a couple of factors that are crucial for me;
Check out my post on How to Choose the Right Running Watch For You…
My first Garmin watch was the Forerunner 205. I genuinely think I bought it because Anne and Emily, the first running bloggers I followed, wore them. I had no idea what I was doing when it came to marathon training, and so I bought one (in the SweatShop sale) because I thought I needed it to be able to train. Up until that point I was using mapmyrun to track my mileage. The watch was huge, it took a long time for GPS to register but the battery life was incredible and it served me well through three marathons before my friend Kerry made me throw it away.
Next up was the Garmin Forerunner 220, this watch was a lot smaller and more feminine than the old Garmin. I had the purple version but it came in a couple of different colours. This watch had a couple of different functions (including cadence) but overall I used it in the same way I had used my Forerunner 205.
I had lusted after the rose gold and white Fenix 3 and was given a chance to borrow one to test it out but the watch itself was so bulky that I just couldn’t get used to it. However when they brought out the smaller, sleeker Rose Gold Fenix 5, I treated myself to it for my 30th birthday present. I loved it and wore it everyday. Garmin gifted my the Fenix 6S last year, honestly I wouldn’t have upgraded if I was buying it myself because my Fenix 5 was still fully functioning. However I do love this watch so much and highly recommend it for those looking for a new running watch, especially if you’re looking for one you can wear as an everyday watch too.
Garmin Fenix 6s Review
I have the Fenix 6S Sapphire Crystal version in grey and rose gold and honestly I was drawn to the watch first by how pretty it was. I wear mine everyday, whether I’m running or not. And I even wear it on my belt loop or lanyard when I’m on the wards at work and have to be bare below the elbow.
Whilst it doesn’t track my steps or stairs when I’m not wearing it on my wrist, I love having that info on hand to encourage me to move more during the day. We’ve started taking breaks during the day to walk up to the 8th floor and back.
The features I use most are obviously distance and pace as well as the timer for my intervals. I like having that data from most of my runs to track my progress as well as overall mileage. During goal races I end up clockwatching a lot to try to keep myself on target pace (I’ve become very good at mental maths since I started running!)
I find the watch easy to use which is key for this technophobe.
And the GPS is quick to find satellites (I’ve been one of those idiots waiting for GPS to load in the past with my arm in the air lol). I find it works best when you let the GPS reset before you start running, particularly if you’ve travelled away from your usual run route (eg going abroad or racing somewhere new). I do find there’s sometimes a bit of discrepancy between mine and Emma’s Garmin Fenix watches, particularly if I haven’t waited for the GPS to properly load!
All the data uploads to Garmin Connect and Strava (or other apps if you set them up) to track your routes, distances and paces, plus cadence and heart rate.
You can set up your workout intervals on most Garmin watches (check out my IGTV showing you how here), meaning my run/walk is a lot easier without having to constantly clock watch. As well as using this for running intervals, you can also use the watch for swimming and cycling intervals too. I loved using my watch last summer while I was triathlon training (and can’t wait for pools to reopen to start swimming again).
Heart Rate Monitor
The inbuilt wrist HR monitor isn’t quite as reliable as a chest strap, which you can buy to go with your watch. I find it useful mostly to monitor effort, but also to see when I might need more recovery (and if I’m on the verge of getting ill when my resting and average HR increases).
There’s also a pulse oximeter built into most of the newer Garmin watches to measure saturation of oxygen in the blood. This is particularly useful when travelling to higher altitudes to establish how your body is adapting to altitude.
Anyone else constantly forget to charge their watch, or worse, forget to bring their chargers with them when they travel? I love that the Fenix 6S Pro has a 36 hour GPS battery life and 48 days when you’re using power management battery saver modes.
There is also a version of the watch, the Fenix 6x pro solar, that has essentially a solar panel for solar charging to extend battery life. Sadly my version doesn’t have this but I hope it’s something we’ll see in more running watches in the future!
One of the functions I don’t use is the sleep tracker, mostly because I find it hard to sleep in my watch (and I wear it on my left arm which means I’ve hit Tom with my watch more than once when I’ve tried to monitor my sleep!). I also think that people can get a bit obsessed with sleep tracking but if you like to monitor your rest then you’ll appreciate this feature.
Why the Garmin Fenix 6S is so great for runners…
Whilst the Fenix 6S is a true multisport watch (it records everything from open water swimming, triathlon and weights , to skiing and golf) there are a number of functions that make it a particularly perfect watch for runners. It includes the Advanced Running Dynamics feature which provides you with a plethora of running data alongside the usual pace, distance, elevation and mile/km splits.
- Ground Contact Time – The time your foot spends on the ground with each stride.
- Ground Contact Balance -Symmetry between left and right foot.
- Vertical Oscillation – degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion.
- Vertical Ratio – the cost-benefit ratio with stride length.
- Cadence – Real time cadence stats displayed on your watch.
- Stride Length – Real time stride length stats displayed on your watch.
The watch calculates your V02 Max which can help determine training pace and race finish predictors (I love how much faith my watch has in me!).
This is designed to help you achieve your target time during training and races – this is essentially a pacer with you to keep you on track. It can be adapted to take elevation into consideration, slowing you down on the uphill and faster on the downhill.
Garmin give a great breakdown of the Performance Data their watches and the Garmin Connect App can give you if you’re a little bit data obsessed. This info can also be great to give a running coach access to if you’re working with one.
Plotting a Route
Whilst I haven’t tried this before, I look forward to utilising the Navigation feature on the watch when I travel again to find a route used by local runners . You can also upload a pre-planned route using Garmin Connect, this can be a run you’ve used before or that others have run using the app.
For those looking for the safety additions to your Garmin, you can enable ‘Incident Detection’ that allows your Gamin Connect App to send an automated text and email with your name and GPS location to up to three emergency contacts if you’re hurt or in trouble.
A message will appears on your watch and paired phone letting you know that your contacts will be messaged after 30 seconds have elapsed. If you don’t need help then you can cancel the automated emergency message.
Can you listen to music without taking your phone?
Yes, plus podcasts (although I never run without my phone). You can store up to 2000 songs on the Fenix 6S.
What colourways does the Garmin Fenix 6s come in?
I am obsessed with Rose Gold. So I was trying to decide between the Rose Gold White, Grey and Black versions. Ultimately I chose the grey as it was something a little different to my white (which did get a little dirty), and could be worn with non-fitness clothes too. For those that aren’t into the gold, there are black, titanium, leather and orange bands in the Fenix 6 series. Plus you can always switch out the straps if you get bored on the colour and want to mix things up in future.
How big is the screen/watch faces?
I actually have quite wide wrists and small watches look ridiculous on me, however I really like the 42mm screen size option for those with smaller wrists. There’s also a 47mm and 51mm option.
How much does the Fenix 6s cost?
My Grey & Rose Gold version of the Fenix 6S is currently £669.99, with prices starting at £499.99 for other Fenix 6 watches.
What other Garmin watches are similar, but cheaper?
Love the rose gold but don’t want to pay so much? I LOVE my Garmin Fenix 6S but know that it’s a very pricey product. I honestly don’t use all of the functions that this top range watch offers and think that for most runners, middle-range Garmins would do the job just as well as the more expensive products, especially if you’re only using it for running and not for triathlon.
Forerunner 645 – black and rose gold for £349. The battery life is 14 hours using GPS and up to 7 days when using it on smartwatch mode. (However using the music function is only 6 hours.) I personally prefer the buttons on the Forerunner 645 vs the touchscreen Vivoactive. (It feels more intuitive to use.) This watch also has the Advanced Running Dynamics, more versatility in data screens compared to the Vivoactive 4S. And includes FirstBeat (allowing you to analyse training status and load).
(Vivoactive 4S – white & rose gold or pink & rose gold for £239. A number of my friends ahve this option and love it. You can track 20 sports on this touchscreen watch, as well as running of course. However it doesn’t include Advanced Running Dynamics, ProPace or the ability to track open water swimming/triathlon. You can store 500 songs. The battery life is about half of the fenix 6 with 18 hours of GPS.
How does Garmin compare to the Apple Watch?
Whilst I think Apple watches are awesome, personally I don’t think they’re very accurate for tracking your run paces and mileage. I have found the GPS on my Garmin much more reliable than the Apple watches and like that it connects to both Garmin connect app & Strava. You can read my full review of Apple Watch for runners here.
You could fool me that you are a technophobe! G.
I just got this same one (and in the same color!). My old garmin was a forerunner, and this is such a great upgrade. I actually picked this version because it pairs with these goggles I’m dying to get, which pair with the watch and display your swim stats on the goggles in real time. (Haven’t pulled the trigger on the goggles yet, but if I ever do I know I’ll have the right watch I guess!)
Wow those sound INSANE!
I use a garmin but also use the nike run app for the guided runs – the distance covered never matches! Which is most likely to be more accurate??
I would say the Garmin is more likely to be accurate – my Nike was very off when I used it!
Forerunner 245 needs to be on this page as an alternative. Much cheaper and still does pool swimming and bike. Does incident detection, body battery too. Fenix is extremely expensive, especially if all you are doing is running.
Thanks, I’ve never tried a 245 but thanks for mentioning it. There are a number of awesome Garmin’s for different price ranges. I used the Forerunner 220 for years and loved it!
Great article! I’ve owned all the garmins you mentioned upto the fenix 5s but not 6s. I think you failed to mention the most important reason I thought the fenix was overkill for runners. it weighs an absolute ton at 63g compared to around 41g for garmin 245 or 645. I also couldn’t sleep with it for the same reason it left a huge dent in my arm and basically disturbed my sleep. When running my arm felt heavy. Running wise it is worth noting that advanced running dynamics requires a garmin chest heart rate strap at a cosy of £40 to £80. The fenix 6s has identical running features to the garmin 645 music or 245 music and I guess it’s a personal thing but I think it’s a bit ugly and heavy and no amount of rose gold can undo that. Battery life is amazing but so it should be at that weight! GPS accuracy is hard to compare but 245 music and fenix 6s have the same GPS unit upgraded from the one in the 645 music. Even the best GPS is upto 5 per cent inaccurate or more in certain settings and if you really want accuracy you need a running foot pod. As you note apple watch has a limited battery life that means you cannot wear it all day as it needs an overnight charge so can’t track sleep. The 645 and 245 do swimming and cycling too but don’t have a triathlon mode. You didn’t mention the 945 which basically has everything the fenix6s has in a lighter package including the navigation and triathlon functionality.
I agree the 945 is awesome, this post wasn’t a round up of all Garmin watches, it was just a couple that i like, think are similar in look to the Garmin Fenix 6 and have tried in the past. I personally haven’t had any issues with the weight of the Fenix 5!
This is really helpful! I’ve been dying to get a watch for ages now, but been put off by how much out there there is to choose from. Found your blog whilst looking up AHP front line involvement in Covid wards (work related, trying to advance personal understanding) and then fell down a rabbit hole of reading when I found out it was a running blog – because running!
Aee I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!