Garmin fenix 3

Pushing yourself to the limit during exercise, whether it be running, biking, swimming, or even a hard-charging set at the gym, shows obvious physical results over time but can be difficult to quantify, especially immediately after the session. Besides this, there are complex factors that many runners may not be aware are impacting their efficiency or approach to running. Many fitness activity monitors have been designed for the sports enthusiast to give them complex and up-to-date readouts of their stats--everything from tracking pace, distance, and speed to calories burned to compare previous sessions for the user to modify their performance.  But not all fitness activity monitors are created equal: they can range from being simple pedometers to hi-tech pieces of exercise equipment.

In the latter category falls the Garmin fenix 3. Packed with features that make this a versatile activity monitoring system that aims to provide the user with as much feedback as possible for them to fine-tune and get the most out of their run, workout, or any other number of activities this multisport watch is designed to monitor.

While the Garmin fenix 3 monitors distance traveled, calories burned, and steps taken like many standard fitness watches can, it is also loaded with higher-end features such as GPS, smart notification systems to receive text messages and emails on the go, and calculates rest and recovery periods, calories burned, a race predictor for your ideal time, monitors your body’s maximum oxygen consumption, has a notifier that reminds the wearer if they’ve been stagnant for too long, and a number of other details that will appeal to the runner and multisport enthusiast alike. The Garmin fenix 3 is a deluxe fitness activity monitor that’s waterproof, built to monitor numerous activities, and is loaded with features.

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Pros & Cons

Highly durable fitness monitor 

Up-to-date data

Highly accurate GPS system 

Numerous and versatile functions

Bluetooth compatibility


Watchband is slightly too tight

A little more cumbersome than some would have preferred

Key Features
The Garmin fenix 3 is excellent for runners, and with the push of a button the user can scroll through data fields to monitor their metrics (track pace, speed, distance), along with advanced features that will produce information on rest and recovery periods, calories burned, and a race predictor that lets the runner know their ideal finish time. In addition, the fenix 3 can be used to monitor similar statistics for cycling, swimming, skiing, and climbing. Its auto-climb feature changes data fields based upon either ascending or descending while this waterproof fitness tracker records stroke count, distance, pace, intervals, and time during a swim. No matter your sport, the fenix 3 is built to monitor and make your activities more efficient.
Basic Features
“Basic” is a reductive word for the built-in features that the Garmin fenix 3 has to offer the runner or overall sports enthusiast. The Garmin fenix 3 has an easy-to-use (and easy-to-read) monitor that tracks basic metrics such as speed, distance, and track pace. With the push of a button, the user can scroll through data fields to monitor their metrics. In addition, a vibration alert can be set for the fenix 3 to remind you if you’ve become stagnant for too long and also includes a “Virtual Racer” program for you to race against past performances or for setting new goals.
Advanced Features
It’s perhaps the advanced features of the Garmin fenix 3 that makes it really stand out among wrist fitness trackers. Users can set it to receive emails, text messages, and alerts. When paired with Garmin’s HRM Run, the fenix 3 can calculate rest and recovery periods, calories burned, and a race predictor that calculates your own ideal finishing time. In addition, vertical oscillation, cadence, and VO2 Max are also calculated in conjunction with the HRM Run. Besides this, the fenix 3 is fitted with a GPS system that automatically calibrates barometer, altimeter, and 3-axis compass. This fitness activity watch can also automatically and wirelessly update all data to Garmin Connect, LiveTrack, and other social media outlets. The fenix 3 is both Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ compatible. In addition, as an update from the fenix 2, this edition is now waterproof up to 100 meters, making it an ideal pick for tracking swimming metrics.
The fenix 3’s fitness metrics accurately measures pace, but it’s important for the user to keep consistent with which wrist they wear it on. Many runners will attest, wrist movement varies from one side to another, so for best accuracy keep this in mind. At times, a 5-10% variation (at worst) can be expected from “true” pace count, but this is standard for the market as it is today. In conjunction with the HRM Run, measurements such as VO2 Max, recovery time, and heart rate use estimated heart rate variabilities, so while this provides a realistic measurement, it is not pinpoint in its accuracy. However, according to many reviews, on the market today it’s difficult to find such a versatile fitness tracking watch that’s as accurate as the fenix 3.
Aiming to keep the user in constant contact with up-to-date measurements, metrics, and overall connectivity, the fenix 3 is loaded with features. From its GPS with excellent accuracy (within 5-meter) that features automatic calibrating barometer, altimeter, and a 3-axis compass to its omnidirectional EXO antenna that provides a faster and more accurate location fix, its GPS hardware is top of the line. Paired with the HRM Run (included), the fenix 3 can calculate calories burned, race predictor, VO2 Max and rest and recovery periods for a more holistic and accurate workout experience. The fenix 3 also wirelessly uploads data automatically to Garmin Connect, LiveTrack, and social media outlets via Bluetooth connection to your smartphone through the Garmin Connect Mobile app and allows for texts, emails, and alerts to be received on this fitness watch.
The Garmin fenix 3 works in conjunction with the Garmin Connect Mobile app, which is designed to keep the user fully connected and motivated to keep on track with their fitness goals. Compiling maps and stats from the data collected by the fenix 3, the Garmin Connect Mobile app analyzes the user’s progress by creating easy-to-read charts and graphs that reflect their progress. This app also keeps track of your total steps, activity and sleep patterns, and when you reach milestones to keep you motivated. Using Bluetooth technology to pair the fenix 3 with your smartphone, this app automatically uploads the data from the fenix 3 and manages call and text notifications and weather alerts that appear on the watch.
Outfitted with a durable band, the fenix 3 has received some criticism for being slightly uncomfortable due to this, while others enjoy both the look and tight fit of the band that secures this activity device to the wrist with no worry of slippage. While some may find it cumbersome, the device’s main body is rather compact and lightweight, allowing for freedom of movement without either weighing down or giving the user discomfort, even after wearing it for long periods of time.
An unbelievably stylish fitness watch, the fenix 3 hides its true purpose in plain sight, looking more like a high-end regular watch instead of a complicated, versatile piece of technology. Sleek and functional thanks to its array of user-friendly analog buttons, the fenix 3 comes across as more of a “geek chic” watch than a fitness tracker. Unobtrusive, not flashy, but still with a straightforward aesthetic, this is a no-nonsense watch for fitness enthusiasts who would rather have function trump fashion.
Constructed of highly durable materials, the fenix 3 features scratch-resistant mineral glass for its face, is waterproof up to 100 meters, and its rechargeable battery lasts up to 20 hours in GPS/training mode, up to 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, and up to 6 weeks in watch mode.
The fenix 3’s face is a hi-res 1.2” color screen that’s easily visible in sunlight. Using analog buttons fixed around the face, the user can easily switch between the multiple features of the watch (including pace, time, speed, and distance). In addition, the many extra apps that work in conjunction with the HRM Run (vertical oscillation, cadence, and VO2 Max) are also displayed on the watch. While not a complex graphic interface, it’s a highly functional one and with its analog buttons makes navigating and using the fenix 3 a much more straightforward and easier experience than having to fiddle with a touchscreen on a 1.2” face.
The standard band the fenix 3 has drawn some complaints from reviewers for being too tight. However, this treated silicone band is highly durable and has an adjustable notch enclosure. The band, like the fitness tracker, comes in black, gray, and sapphire.
Sizes Available
Although larger than regular watches, like many fitness trackers are, wearers will find the fenix 3 perhaps more cumbersome than a standard watch but for its type is still rather sleek. Though it only comes in one size, its adjustable band will provide a secure fit for any sized wrist.
Ease of Use
Thanks to the analog buttons on its side, the fenix 3 is remarkably easy to use. The basic functions, such as pace, speed, distance, etc. are just a button’s push away, while the more complex features, such as its integration with the HRM Run and Garmin Connect Mobile app, are easily synced and navigated since all programs function with the same buttons.
Power Source
With an external slip-on charging clip that connects to any USB port (the fenix 3 also includes a wall adapter), the watch charges with a slide in/out locking mechanism into the clip. Its rechargeable battery is long-lasting after a charge, which takes 2 hours 15 minutes from 0% to 100% charge.
Given the outrageous amount of tech involved and the multiple apps and features that make the fenix 3 a standout fitness tracker, its relatively high price may not be that much of a shock. While runners can find some good deals that may knock even a few hundred dollars off the overall cost, expect this to be an investment - one that delivers on its promises, but a healthy investment nonetheless.
A number of accessories are available for the fenix 3 including replacement bands, a heart monitor soft strap for the option of measuring heart rate, a speed/cadence bike sensor accessory, bike mount, and temperature accessory.
Key Features
- Excellent basic features that measure pace, speed, and distance.
- With the HRM Run, burned calories, rest and recovery periods
- Highly accurate GPS that tracks the user within 5 meters of his location
- Vertical oscillation, cadence, and VO2 Max easily measured with HRM Run
- Garmin Connect app translates complex data to easily understood information
- Waterproof up to 100 meters
- Sleek minimalist design and easy-to-use analog interface
Bottom Line
Looking to invest in a high-tech activity monitor that will both measure your performance and provide valuable metrics that will help your overall training? Then the Garmin fenix 3 is here to do just that. This wrist-worn fitness monitor works in conjunction with the included HRM Run and the downloadable Garmin Connect app to provide its user with up-to-date metrics on their performance. Meanwhile, this highly versatile piece of equipment can also receive email, texts, and alerts and provide accurate GPS readouts on both your location and route. Although most definitely an investment, there are few comparable products on the market that can beat the overall quality, versatility, and functionality of the Garmin fenix 3.
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Backcountry Link
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Holabird Sports Link
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Road Runner Sports Link
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By Mike Gray
Last updated:
Where to buy
Best offer on: Aug. 04. 2021

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