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Garmin Fenix 7 Review

The best GPS watch for everyday use and extended adventures in backcountry terrain
garmin fenix 7 gps watch review
Credit: Garmin
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $700 List | $700.00 at REI
Pros:  Excellent battery life, great interface, advanced health metrics, beautiful screen resolution
Cons:  App could be better, calibration of ABC difficult, expensive
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Matthew Richardson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 29, 2022
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88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Features - 20% 9.0
  • Battery Life - 20% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9.0
  • Accuracy - 20% 9.0
  • Design - 20% 9.0

Our Verdict

If you are in the market for the best GPS watch, we recommend the Garmin Fenix 7. Exceptional in everyday use, this workhorse also can perform under harsh conditions and on extended adventures. The Fenix 7 provides industry-leading health metrics and smartwatch features plus excellent battery life — the best for this case size. Garmin implements its standard user interface, which looks great given the high-resolution color touch screen. This was our go-to pick for everything from trail running to backcountry skiing. If you are looking for one GPS watch to do it all, this receives our highest recommendation.

Compare to Similar Products

 
garmin fenix 7 gps watch review
This Product
Garmin Fenix 7
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $700 List
$700.00 at REI
$700 List
$700.00 at REI
$799 List
$779.99 at Amazon
$399 List$200 List
$200.00 at REI
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Pros Excellent battery life, great interface, advanced health metrics, beautiful screen resolutionDurable, incredible battery life, large screen, great appLeading UI for a smartwatch, great design, excellent health metricsGood battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great valueLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low cost
Cons App could be better, calibration of ABC difficult, expensiveHeavy, expensive, limited touch function, resume later function not enabled across all activitiesShort battery life, poorly designed data screen, expensiveLacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicksMinimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic construction
Bottom Line The best GPS watch for everyday use and extended adventures in backcountry terrainThe most rugged expedition-ready watch we tested with insane battery life in a large 51mm caseA high level of smartphone integration while paired with an iPhone allows this watch to do a multitude of tasks without ever having to pull out your phoneA fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user typesA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible value
Rating Categories Garmin Fenix 7 Coros Vertix 2 Apple Watch Ultra Coros Apex Pro Coros Pace 2
Features (20%)
9.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
5.0
Battery Life (20%)
8.0
10.0
4.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (20%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Design (20%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Garmin Fenix 7 Coros Vertix 2 Apple Watch Ultra Coros Apex Pro Coros Pace 2
Watch Face Material Corning Gorilla Glass DX Sapphire Glass Sapphire crystal Sapphire glass Corning glass
Bezel Stainless steel Grade 5 titanium alloy with PVD coating Titanium Titanium Alloy Fiber reinforced polymer
Case Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover Titanium Alloy with PVD Coating Titanium/Ceramic Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicon Silicon or nylon 2L woven textile Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon
Tools Required to Change Band? No No No No No
Model Tested Standard Standard N/A Standard N/A
Size Tested 47mm One size only 49mm 47mm One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter) 47mm 50mm 49mm 47mm 43mm
Measured Thickness 15.5mm 16mm 14.4mm 13.4mm 11mm
Measured Screen Width 33mm 35.5mm 44mm 33mm 32mm
Measured Weight 2.75 oz 3.17 oz 2.2 oz 2.0 oz 1.2 oz
Measured Charging Time 168 min 128 min 150 min 80 min 80 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 56 hours 135 hours 58 hours 36 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Smartwatch mode: 18 days;
GPS: 57 hours
Smartwatch mode: 60 days;
GPS: 140 hours
Smartwatch mode: 18 hours;
Low Power mode: 60 hours;
Smartwatch mode: 30 days;
GPS mode: 40 hours;
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Satellite Networks Used GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSS GPS, GNSS, Galileo, BeiDou GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU
Maps? Yes - detailed Yes - detailed Yes - detailed Yes - basic No
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Water Resistance (max depth) 100m 100m 100m 100m 50m
Music Control? Yes Yes Yes No No
Music Storage? Yes - 1000 songs Yes - 32gb storage Yes No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? Yes No Yes No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blood Oxygen? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Compass? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Main Software App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App iOS Coros App Coros
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Out of all the watches we tested, this model felt the most refined and offered the best user experience. Garmin has really nailed the user experience for their products, and the Fenix 7 is no different. Advanced health metrics offer useful and easy-to-understand info, often with scores and helpful descriptions to help you analyze stats. Additional features such as Garmin Pay and on-screen music storage make it easy to leave items at home and go light. Navigation features can help in tricky terrain where visibility is low, and the screen looks amazing; black and crisp, with numbers that pop out even under intense activities. Battery life and the touch screen are also excellent, and there are dedicated buttons for sure-footed interaction even under high movement or intense activities. If you are looking for the best GPS watch, we suggest looking no further.

Performance Comparison


garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - ski touring-specific modes are common on high-end models like the...
Ski touring-specific modes are common on high-end models like the Fenix 7. There are even sub-modes for the up and the down.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Features


You're buying the best at this price point, so we expect the features to align with that cost — and they absolutely do on the Fenix 7. There is something for everyone in this model, no matter how you see yourself using this watch. Pairing excellently with a smartphone, you can access notifications and store music or use services like Spotify. Using Garmin Pay, you can add credit cards for use around town for places you know accept contactless payments.


Garmin implements both stat widgets and various easy-to-access tools. These are customizable and accessible anytime when using the watch. Having the ability to access these tool settings quickly is fluid and extremely useful. For example, turning on battery-saving features or enabling or disabling the touch screen. The widgets allow for rich data visualization or interaction with paired tools such as a Garmin inReach. On adventures with potentially higher consequences, having the ability to remotely control and send messages right from the watch offers a piece of mind you can't get on other models.

Notable Features:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Alarms
  • Several activity profiles
  • Pedometer and calories burned
  • Barometer
  • Altimeter
  • Sunrise/Sunset information
  • Breadcrumb navigation and topo maps
  • Course creation and upload options
  • Customizable watch faces

Take a look at the Garmin website to see the full scope of all the offered features.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - garmin inreach support is a huge feature for us. you gain easy...
Garmin inReach support is a huge feature for us. You gain easy access to the SOS / preset message features right from the watch.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Health stats are extensive on the Fenix 7 — everything from sleep metrics and scores to stress and energy levels. While the importance of these varies from person to person, it's nice to have these, even if you only glance at them every once in a while. Navigation features are rich, and the topo maps are downloadable over wifi but aren't included by default as they are on the Coros Vertix 2.

We are big fans of the 'resume later' function on this watch. While perhaps not crucial for everyone, we love having a device that can still act as a watch during workouts. We appreciate that this feature is integrated throughout all of the different activity profiles instead of just specific types like on the Coros models.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - garmin's toolset features are the best we tested. find my phone and...
Garmin's toolset features are the best we tested. Find my phone and Garmin Pay are our personal favorites.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Battery Life


The Fenix 7 doesn't have the best battery life out of the models we tested, but it is the best for the weight and case size. We really like the Garmin PowerManage* settings; you can turn on battery-saving modes for everyday use, or you can adjust the power mode when starting a workout. The differences between these modes are easy to understand, with pictures showing what is on/off during various activities. On a full charge, we used smartwatch mode with everything turned on for 18 days. Switching to 'battery saver,' we extended to 56 days.


Once starting an activity, you can expect 42 hours of multi-satellite tracking. Switch to 1 min-GPS with UltraTrac, and you can extend to 135 hours. If you feel like this isn't good enough for your use case, then the Coros Vertix 2 could suit you better. However, with the increase in battery life, you increase both weight and case size, which are noticeable when doing high movement activities such as running. We are glad that most watchmakers are making these switches in power modes easily adjustable and visual while providing the stats behind what you are gaining and losing in functionality.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - our lead tester matthew went backpacking in colorado testing out the...
Our lead tester Matthew went backpacking in Colorado testing out the various GPS watches in this review.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Ease of Use


Garmin was the first to implement the tools and widgets we rave about in the features category, which also greatly increase the ease of use. In addition to that, we are impressed with the interface. The touch screen is excellent (even when wet) and is enabled throughout the entire watch, easily turned on and off from the tool screen. The movement between settings and menus feels natural, and we quickly learned the button layout.


Dedicated buttons make navigation easy even under intense activity or high movement. On other models, we needed to keep the watch locked, especially when wearing gloves or a jacket, to prevent accidental button presses or scrolls. This was just one extra step that made the whole experience feel a bit sluggish. Instantly interacting with your watch and having the confidence that you can look down during a fast mile and see the last screen you were on is a benefit of the Fenix 7 we can't overstate. If you use auto-scroll, this could be of less importance.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - we appreciate the easy-to-read and understand health metrics found...
We appreciate the easy-to-read and understand health metrics found on the Garmin products. A score and description are normally accompanied by the data.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

The Garmin Connect mobile application is not as user-friendly as the competitors, and we find it a bit lacking given the interaction between the watch and mobile app. While the watch is easy to use, the mobile app feels a bit dated when compared to the competition. That said, we had no issues syncing the watch even with our phone connected to 10+ watches in our test area, and the Fenix accepts both Ant+ and Bluetooth, which we appreciate. Ultimately, all the information you need can be found, and you will learn the application fairly easily, but we think it's one thing slightly lacking about Garmin products. If you use a third-party application like Strava, you may find you are only using the app for syncing anyway.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - touch navigation is great on the fenix 7 although for complex...
Touch navigation is great on the Fenix 7 although for complex navigation we still prefer our iPhone.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Accuracy


We are impressed with the accuracy of the Fenix 7 and think it's a great fit for those venturing into technical terrain. Thanks to the dual-frequency and MULTI GNSS capabilities, this watch could easily locate satellites, even in deep canyons that are notoriously bad due to their limited line of sight. We experienced no data inaccuracy, and when tested against our lineup, this model reached the same distance and elevation at the end of our test activity.


Heart rate capabilities are limited by the fit of the watch. The Fenix 7 fit our wrists great, so we were confident with the heart rate readings when compared to the data from a chest strap. If you are okay with being a percentage off here and there, you will be fine with the Fenix. If you seek the most accurate heart rate data, we would suggest pairing this model with a chest monitor.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - testing gps capabilities and satellite reception deep in the canyons...
Testing GPS capabilities and satellite reception deep in the canyons of Utah.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Design


With a metal bezel and metal back, this is one of the most durable models we tested, and we experienced no scratching of the glass. The screen bezels are small, and the watch face fills the space well. This is the brightest model we tested and features blacks/colors and edges that are more defined. Quick glances were more natural, and the data fields are sharper and easily readable even at high output. Some of the competitors required more focus when glancing at the watch — in technical terrain, while moving quickly, glances need to be precise and quick.


The removable watch straps on the Fenix 7 are comfortable, and the design feels good on the wrist, even when working throughout the day at a computer. We feel the 47mm case size is the sweet spot for most people, and we are glad that the standard version of this watch comes in this size. Ultimately you will have to decide what case size works best for you. When compared with a 51mm, we thought the 47mm was better for running and high output activities, whereas a 51mm may be better for activities with less arm movement, such as hiking. We wear our GPS watch every day, so we appreciate the nice materials and sleek look of this watch. If you find yourself wearing other watches throughout the day, you may desire a less premium-looking watch at a better price point.

Multi GNSS is a common feature these days but dual-frequency is a...
Multi GNSS is a common feature these days but dual-frequency is a new technology that is found on the most premium models. Perfect for technical terrain.
The Fenix 7 had the best contrast when looking at data screens...
The Fenix 7 had the best contrast when looking at data screens. Perfect for when running hard on technical terrain.

Value


GPS watches are an investment and should last you for many years to come. We wear ours every day, so the premium cost of the Fenix 7 is worth it to us. Not only does it look great and support our lifestyle, but it also helps keep us safe and make smart decisions in the backcountry. At this price point, you should consider if these features will be used by you or not. If you have a dedicated watch and this one would only be taken out for runs and shorter efforts, you may be able to get away with a cheaper model that does the basics almost just as well. If you want the best, this is the price point of today's market, and we think it's worthwhile.

Conclusion


We have always been impressed by the Fenix series, and this model has kept up. If you are looking for the best GPS watch, look no further. Scoring very high on all of our test metrics, we think if you could choose one watch, the Garmin Fenix 7 would be it. The internal system and design are both excellent and make our workouts and everyday life better. If you desire maximum battery life, there are better options, but for typical usage and watch 'workflow,' this checks all the boxes. We wish the Garmin Connect app was updated and a bit more modern, but we imagine that's coming in the future. If your wallet can afford this expensive model, we do not think you will be disappointed.

garmin fenix 7 gps watch review - deep in the canyons of utah, our lead tester hiked through the...
Deep in the canyons of Utah, our lead tester hiked through the riverbed finding the hardest place for satellites to reach.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson
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