Our mountain experience with the Garmin Fenix ​​3


As a mountain lover I have always been accompanied by my map and compass everywhere until GPS and mountain watches entered my life. These clocks initially gave me information such as height, atmospheric pressure, digital compass, temperature among other things, until the smartwatch with integrated GPS appeared and the thing improved by leaps and bounds although I anticipate to say that in no case they are essential. The review that we present today shows you the fabulous Garmin Fenix ​​3, an all-terrain watch very suitable for use in the mountains and other sports activities such as mountain biking, triathlons, ..., etc. but that in no case will replace certain gadgets such as our beloved paper maps .

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3

Experience with the Garmin Fenix ​​3

Over the years I have had multiple mountain watches of brands such as Polar, Suunto and Garmin, all of them very good and with which I have been frankly satisfied. Over time brands like Polar have moved away from the mountainous focus, leaving us as better options Suunto and Garmin. With Suunto I had aAmbit 3 Peak I ended up selling, not because it was a bad watch, but because Garmin had taken out a watch with a much higher customization capacity, the Fenix ​​3, my current watch and which I will tell about my experience.

Main features of Garmin Fenix ​​3

Let's start with something as basic as the characteristics of the watch and my opinion on each of them after more than 6 months of use.

  • 32mb storage: Fair enough since we only have 23 megabytes available. I am a freak of installing applications, customizable screens, ..., etc. which quickly left me without space. At least with the application Garmin express It reminds you of what you had installed in case you want to reinstall it.
  • Bluetooth: I have it paired with my smartphone and I recognize that it was a simple task. I have lost my connection once but I have a feeling that it is more due to the mobile phone than the watch itself.
  • ANT +: It is a protocol to connect a wide range of wireless sensors such as cardium, cadence, speed, ..., etc. Easy to pair but only compatible with Garmin.
  • Wireless for synchronizing activities with our Garmin profile.
  • Drums Long-lasting: if you use it as a normal clock, with basic functions activated such as notifications and activity, the battery can last more than 20 days. On the other hand, if you have constant sports activities using GPS, the duration plummets. For example, a mountain route of about 8 hours can be eaten more than half of the battery. The good thing you can load it with a powerbank external, which my old Suunto did not finish working well.
  • GPS: both for tracking and recording tracks.
  • Glonass : If the Americans and their GPS system dislike you, we can opt for Glonass, the Russian alternative.
  • Vibration alert: one of the reasons why I changed my Suunto Ambit 3.
  • Barometric and GPS altimeter: the first useful not to throw in excess of the battery.
  • Electronic compass.
  • Cardio sensor on the wrist for the model HR. The others make use of a classic tape by ANT +.
  • Possibility to customize the clock through applications and new data fields.
  • Daily activity control.
  • Training plans
Garmin Fenix ​​3 HRGarmin Fenix ​​3Garmin Fenix ​​3 Red

Menu Navigation

The watch can be used 100% without the use of a smartphone or computer using simple menus to use and translated into multiple languages ​​such as Spanish. External tools are only necessary for the installation of additional extras, to save our information in the cloud or create our training plans.

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3 - buttons

The 5 buttons are generally soft although sometimes some of them have stuck a little. The important thing is that they look robust and do not seem to have problems in the future.

  1. The light. If left pressed we will have access to a series of options such as turning off the clock or locking the buttons.
  2. Start or for an activity.
  3. Record a lap or return to the previous menu page.
  4. We scroll down in the widget menu. If we keep it pressed we will see the time from any menu.
  5. We scroll up in the widget menu. If we keep it pressed we enter the configuration menu.

Garmin Fenix ​​3 customization

An important value in the Garmin Fenix ​​3 is its ability to customize. It may not be a watch with Android but far from it is necessary. Garmin has a wide range of applications both developed by them and by an incipient community. With all this we will be able to customize the following details:

Watch faces: Changing the appearance of the watch is a really good function having a lot of options and many of them providing very interesting data with just a glance. Data such as height, sunrise / sunset time, notifications, battery status, physical activity, ..., etc. I currently use one called Liquid Crystal Clock which is very customizable. However there are others such as SC8, ActiFace, Steam Gauge very striking being this last watch with full-fledged hands.

Review Garmin Fenix ​​3

Applications: applications really are a set of predefined activities and customizable For sports use. Activities from trekking, athletics, triathlon, skiing, golf, cycling,…, are available. Two that I really like are Skywatch for help observing the stars and dwMAP which helps mitigate the shortcomings when it comes to following a GPS route on the mountain.

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3

Data Fields: If the data provided by the applications does not fulfill our wishes we can add new data screens to provide more information. I particularly like it Visual HR zones, Hiking Fields and Single Run Field.

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3

Widgets: these types of applications provide special functions without the need to be doing a sporting activity through an application of the Phoenix 3. They provide graphical information of the Height, time, atmospheric pressure, music controls, calendar, notifications, world hours, ..., etc. .

Example during a physical activity

One of the tests we did was during a hiking trail in the Sierra de la Panamera in the province of Ávila. A route not too long, but with sufficient slope, changes in pace and distance to make an efficient assessment of our Garmin Fenix ​​3. We will also take with us aGarmin GPSMap 64S to check if the accuracy of the watch is as efficient as that of this exclusive mountain GPS.

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3

Let's start from the base that the clock was fully charged and with the following options enabled / disabled:

  • Glonass OFF (Activated on GPSMap 64S)
  • Altimeter with automatic calibration.
  • GPS in smart mode.
  • 100% battery.
  • Bluetooth ON.
  • Wireless ON
  • Daily activity ON.

We made a 9km hiking route with almost 700 meters of unevenness. The clock was active for 3: 50h and his battery was spent a 19% approximately, changing its functions very occasionally. 19% is frankly good if we compare it with other smartwatches however its accuracy is not as good as we would have liked.

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3

To begin we saw a gap between the altitude marked at the beginning and end of the route between the Garmin GPSMap 64S and the Garmin Fenix ​​3, marking 1386m and 1394m respectively. In this case we did not know the real height which we checked again at the top of the mountain, marking 2000m the GPSMap 64S and 1976m the Garmin Fenix ​​3. The top is bounded on the map at 1997m, therefore GPSMap 64S accuracy is in sight.

Once at home I downloaded the GPX of both devices seeing a substantial difference in the size of the files. 100k and 600K (Fenix ​​3), a size more than different whose meaning has more than 1000 points marked over by the fenix 3, will this be finally more accurate?

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3 vs GPSMap 64S

As you can see, the maximum altitude values ​​were readjusted once the GPXs were imported, but we continued with a lag in height and also in the unevenness and distances. In some cases it may not be important, but in the mountains it is something to be valued especially if we make routes where there are delicate steps as was our case.

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3 vs GPSMap 64S

In this other capture the red color marks the GPSMap 64S and the green the Phoenix 3 through the softwareBaseCamp from Garmin.. It is quite clear that one of the two has failures and in this case they are from the Phoenix 3 and possibly because of the algorithm of the Smart GPS. This can be deactivated and let the GPS record every second with the consequent loss of battery. For us this is key because right in the center of the image, where the Fenix ​​3 makes a zig zag, it would have been climbed by a 90 degree wall….

Review - Garmin Fenix ​​3 vs GPSMap 64S

Finally, the elevation graphs are also different, although there are no big differences at a glance. As a result of all this to say that the GPSMap 64S are much more accurate waiting to change the GPS mode every second in the Garmin Fenix ​​3 and with the Glonass activated.

Daily activity

Very fashionable function with activity wristbands but here we have it integrated in the watch. It is not a function to which I take too much advantage since I am too lazy for it and even more when I have the habit of taking off my watch when I sleep so the function of analyzing the quality of the dream It is absolutely useless. At least knowing that I have walked and I have consumed the minimum calories for days is more than enough, all visualized through the application for smartphones.

Review Garmin Fenix ​​3

Sensors and adapters

From my experience I have specifically used two of them, the cardio which comes with the same clock and the one of canncia. The speed does not see much sense unless we are addicted to precision, but in my case with the value that gives me GPS is more than enough.

  • Cardio sensor: comfortable and not excessively large but I certainly missed the one that came with theSuunto Ambit 3 peak, smaller, more precise in the pool and above it was bluetooth.
  • Cadence: Easy to install, it measures the power of pedaling on the bike, something like human RPM.
  • Speed ​​sensor: used on bicycles if you don't use GPS.
  • Bicycle adapter: completely optional but fits like a glove on it.


All good smartwatch notifications we could not leave them apart. Phone calls, SMS, emails, WhatsApp, calendar alarms, Facebook, etc., in short any type of smartphone application that we need to receive a notification directly on the phone will be available in our Garmin.

Particularly I find phone calls and whatsapp very useful, especially when we carry the phone in our pocket or in a backpack.

Garmin connect

This application available for IOS, Android and Windows It is almost essential for our day to day with Garmin Fenix ​​3. From it we can view all kinds of statistics, install applications, control our training plans, configure personal details of our profile and compete with our friends among many other things.

Review Garmin Fenix ​​3

A functionality that we liked for its usefulness is the Livetrack which from a personal computer can be observed in real time where we are developing our activity. Very useful in case of being on the mountain and we can get lost.

Garmin express

Comment that the transfer of information, updates and certain configurations can be done from our computer with the software Garmin express, available for Windows and MAC. From our point of view it is correct and receives constant updates in order to refine the software as well as possible.


In short, one of the best mountain watches on the market together with Suunto Ambit 3. Maybe GPS is not as accurate as we would have liked, but it is definitely a very good purchase.

Additional links

Garmin Fenix ​​3
Construction and quality
Summary A mountain watch with all the features we would like except for showing us map cartography. A function that personally on a screen so small that it doesn't make much sense. 82% Summary
Your Rating User Rating: 5 (1 votes)