So I’ll be the first to admit the pattern: I love doing head-to-head-matchups between a new Garmin watch—which many athletes find to be the gold-standard of smartwatches—and a lesser-known one. I’m an underdog guy, and as such, I hope that our readers take the time to check out other brands before simply plopping down their hard-earned cash on “a new Garmin.” (Here, even the term “Garmin” is becoming shorthand for “GPS smartwatch” in the same way that “Rollerblades” became the term for inline skates, “Xerox” for photocopiers, and “Kleenex” for facial tissues. “Could you pass me a facial tissue?” said no one, ever.)
So imagine my excitement when Garmin announced an ultra distance-specific smartwatch with loads of battery, some very cool metrics add-ons, and solar-powering tech that is an easy conversation starter with almost any gear nerd you meet. Sure, Garmin already has the Forerunner 945, with onboard music and maps that the Enduro doesn’t have, but the battery life on the Enduro blows the 945 out of the water. Same goes for Garmin’s Fenix line. While we’ll get into more of that below and in my full review of the Enduro here, my excitement was doubled down because I realized there was finally a watch that could challenge the Coros Vertix for the high-dollar, high endurance-value title. For so long I’d loved the Vertix for many reasons that I’ll get to below, but until now have never had a worthy opponent for this watch in this “weight class.” Read on for the heavyweight matchup.
Weight: 74g (measured, silicone band), 63g (claimed, nylon band)
Battery: 45 days of smartwatch use, 60 hours in full GPS mode, roughly 25-35 days of near-daily workouts and continuous use
Usable Screen Size: 30.5mm
Bevel Size: 47 x 47 x 15.6 mm
Billed as something more along the lines of an “adventure watch,” the Coros Vertix is meant to be more like a tool in your toolkit than a smartwatch that literally does everything a computer/coach/training log can. For instance, it has a ridiculous operating temperature of -4 degrees F to 140 degrees F and goes to depths of almost 500 feet. While none of those things are likely to come up in a training run or multisport event, it speaks to how overbuilt the Vertix is, when it comes to physical use. This watch is not nearly as monstrous and burly as some of the larger Fenix watches; in fact, it’s quite a bit smaller than even the Enduro. But the ANT+ and Bluetooth connections on this watch, the GPS, the altimeter/barometer, pulse ox tracker, and optical heart rate are all very excellent and won’t fail or deviate.
In terms of actual endurance training use, it has all of the standards a multisport athlete would need: open-water swim, pool swim, basic cycling metrics, running (with onboard power, which is actually a big deal), multisport (meaning you can choose any three different sports to do in a row), and triathlon. The screens are clear, customizable, and color, but alas there are no onboard maps or music (even smartphone music control). Post workout, Coros does a great job of visually presenting your data with graphs, and you can scroll through the information using the “digital dial” to navigate—a little touch we actually really liked. Oddly enough, the Vertix does have a touchscreen, but its use is pretty limited to route screen navigation (though it is excellent in that situation).
While the Vertix does have some pretty robust training features, it lacks the performance/coaching universe that the Enduro has. It does tell you things like how much recovery you need post workout and what the training effect was on your aerobic and anaerobic systems, but that’s pretty much where the onboard analysis ends. As of this writing it has no sleep tracking functions nor heart-rate variability—something many other watches in this price range do very well and take pride in, like the Polar Vantage V or Garmin Forerunner 945. Its route navigation is super, super basic breadcrumb (no maps) and ok at best. In terms of actual watch screen navigation, the Vertix has the slight edge over the complexity of the Enduro, and the simplicity of Coros’ smartphone app also wins over the number-heavy Garmin Connect app, but it’s nearly a draw.
Weight: 61g (measured, nylon band)
Battery: 50 days of smartwatch use (65 days with solar), 70 hours in full GPS mode (80 hours with solar), roughly 20-25 days of near-daily workouts and continuous use
Usable Screen Size: 35mm
Bevel Size: 51 x 51 x 14.9 mm
While the Vertix is more of an adventure watch, the Enduro is decidedly an ultra-distance endurance watch. It may not have the extreme condition edge for temperatures and depth, but it does have a staggering amount of powerful and unique training features like PacePro (that helps you pace, based on an inputted route, even accounting for elevation) and all of the sports listed for the Vertix, plus way more—like customizable sport modes for bricks and swimrun. Not only that, but the Enduro shines bigtime when it comes to built-in performance and recovery features, using sleep metrics, along with data gleaned from workouts to give an accurate sense of how fatigued you are and how much recovery you need—in a more robust way than the Vertix. It also has some very good training suggestions for workouts based off of previous data.
The Enduro also does pulse ox and acclimatization, just like the Vertix, but it does not have built-in on-wrist power for running. While neither the Vertix nor the Enduro has onboard maps, both have breadcrumb routing—meaning you can input a route (using Garmin Connect app for the Enduro or a third-party app imported into the Coros app) and it’ll give you turn-by-turn directions. We found the actual navigation of the Enduro to be better in terms of usability, but the controls for moving the view of the route were far better on the Vertix—thanks to it’s digital dial and touchscreen.
It’s worth noting that the Enduro may seem similar to the Forerunner 945 we mentioned before, but it’s actually almost the same. While the Enduro has way more battery life (the 945 has 14 days smartwatch/36 hours GPS), the Forerunner 945 also has built-in mapping and onboard music; the Enduro does not. It’s here where you get the rub of the Enduro: If the Enduro was a $600 watch with more battery than the $600 945, but was missing maps and music, that would be a fine tradeoff. Same when comparing the $600 Vertix to the $800 Enduro—the Enduro has way more performance and training/coaching functions, but $200 is a lot to spend if you’re not using at least half of them. And when it comes to real-world battery life between the Vertix and the Enduro, we actually found the Vertix to outlast the Enduro, though that’s most likely because the Garmin does a lot more with continuous heart rate and sleep functions at night.
The Winner: Garmin Enduro, but on a technicality
This one is tough because I don’t think the Enduro and Vertix are necessarily on a level playing field. There are weight classes in boxing and MMA for a reason—you don’t put a 220-pound fighter against someone who weighs 165 and expect a good match. While both the Enduro and the Vertix are very expensive smart watches, the Enduro is still 30% more expensive than the Vertix. Are many people willing to spend another $200 for a bunch of training features they may never use? Here, you need to be true to what you really need when deciding on which of these watches is better. Do you just want an absolute boatload of battery and necessary workout modes, data, and basic insights presented in a clear and noncomplex way? Then the Vertix wins. If battery isn’t that important (and by not important I mean, you don’t mind charging every two weeks versus every three to four), but you really love the admittedly excellent performance/recovery/training features that Garmin has worked super hard on, then the winner is probably the Forerunner 945. But if you need both and $200 doesn’t feel like a lot of money to you, then the Enduro has literally everything out there. Except maps and music, of course.
Specs At A Glance
|Coros Vertix||Garmin Enduro|
|Maps:||No (breadcrumb routing only)||No (breadcrumb routing only)|
|Onboard Music:||No||No (smartphone music control only)|
|Battery Life:||45 days smartwatch/60 hours GPS, 25-35 days in real-life use with workouts and continuous use||65 days smartwatch/80 hours GPS (both with solar), 20-25 days in real-life use with workouts and continuous use|
|Bevel Size:||47 x 47 x 15.6 mm||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm|
|Weight:||74g (measured, silicone band), 63g (claimed, nylon band)||61g (measured, nylon band)|
|Advanced Cycling Via External Sensors:||No||Yes|
|Running With Power:||Yes||No|
|Continuous Bricks:||No (max of three different sports in a workout)||Yes|
|Swimrun:||No (max of three different sports in a workout)||Yes|