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Garmin Enduro review: Long-lasting sports watch for long-distance fanatics

Garmin Enduro
Garmin Enduro review: Long-lasting sports watch for long-distance fanatics
MSRP $799.00
“The Garmin Enduro sports watch delivers long-lasting power for ultra-endurance athletes”
  • Mind-blowing battery life
  • Outdoors-focused sports tracking
  • Comfortable nylon strap
  • Roomy, readable display
  • No topographical maps
  • Expensive cost

Fitness watches keep you on track during a long run, but powering such a watch is a challenge. Long-distance runners sometimes carry a charging cable and bulky portable batteries to keep their watch charged. Enter the Garmin Enduro, the latest sports watch from Garmin, which boasts an incredible 70-hour runtime on a single charge. Is the Enduro a game changer for the ultra running crowd or just hype?

Solid design, susceptible to scratches

The Garmin Enduro is a hybrid watch that borrows heavily from both the brand’s outdoors-focused Fenix line and the Forerunner running watches. The Enduro has a rugged stainless steel bezel and metal-polymer casing that holds up against the elements. I’ve used it for hiking, biking, and rock scrambling, and I still have yet to scratch the watch’s body.

Garmin Enduro worn on wrist.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I can’t say the same about the corning Gorilla Glass 3 display. After about a month, the watch has a few light, superficial scratches. I likely got them from some rugged rock scrambling or from sticking my hand through spokes, pedals, and chains while fixing my bike. The scratches don’t affect performance and are visible only at an angle.

The Enduro has a color display, but don’t expect to be blown away by a rich, colorful interface. Color is used judiciously to either display critical stats or convey information. The 1.4-inch display is easy to read in the sunlight and big enough that you can check your stats without slowing down.

Chunky but comfortable design

The Enduro rivals the Fenix series in size, but surpasses it in comfort. Instead of the standard elastomer sports band, the Enduro is equipped with a very comfortable nylon strap. The strap wraps around your wrist and secures with Velcro. The strap cuts down on sweat and doesn’t chafe my wrist like other sport bands.

Closeup of watch strap on the Garmin Enduro.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you don’t like the nylon strap, you can easily swap it out for another version. Like the Fenix, the Enduro is a bit chunky, especially for smaller wrists, but it is relatively lightweight, with the steel version weighing 71 grams.

Fitness tracking for outdoors folks

The Garmin Enduro tracks a wide range of activities including hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and other outdoorsy activities. Like most Garmin watches, the Enduro quickly snatches a satellite signal and holds it securely even in thick woods. It is chock-full of metrics, like ClimbPro, which lets you know when you are about to hit a steep ascent, and a Trail VO2 max calculation that takes elevation into account. The Enduro is overkill for gym-goers and yoga fans, but hardcore outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate these extras when they are climbing mountains and putting in the miles.

Limited smartwatch features

The Garmin Enduro is packed with fitness and outdoor-centric features, but its smartwatch features are limited. You can receive incoming phone calls and notifications, but you cannot respond unless you have an Android phone. Even on Android, you can only respond to text messages.

Thanks to its widget-based interface, you can view the weather, sunrise/sunset times, and upcoming calendar events. The Enduro supports Garmin’s Connect IQ app repository, but most of the available apps are wellness- or music-oriented and don’t add to the watch’s already robust multisports feature set.

Mind-blowing battery life

I thought Coros Vertix and Suunto 9 had outstanding battery life, but the Enduro blew both of them away.  Under normal usage, the Enduro consistently lasted more than a month between charges. Charging was an afterthought — something I did only when the watch reminded me when it was getting low. The worst part was finding my charging cable after not using it for 30-plus+ days.

The Enduro lets you explore for days and weeks on end without a power source

Unlike the Apple Watch, I never had to worry about battery life, even with full GPS and fitness tracking enabled. I used the Enduro while hiking on both day trips and multiday overnight trips. A daylong hike in GPS mode barely made a dent in the battery life. It was so freeing to not have to worry about running out of juice before my hike was over. I didn’t have to carry a charging cable or power source on a multiday trip, either. I turned off GPS tracking at the end of each day and still had plenty of battery to spare after four days.

Solar provides a power boost

Battery life is boosted further by an integrated solar cell that rings the bezel and is embedded underneath the glass display. The Power Glass technology is designed to provide only supplemental power, so don’t rely on it to fully charge your watch. You need to be outside for a while in the sun to see any difference. I saw little difference on short excursions in the wood, but it did help battery life on a daylong hike in the bright sun.

Missing maps and music

The Enduro’s mind-blowing battery life comes with a cost. Garmin had to trim battery-hogging features, like navigation and music, which are found on the Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945 models. You get breadcrumb tracking and uploadable routes on the Enduro, but you won’t get the detail-rich topographical maps you find on the Forerunner 945 or the Fenix 6 Pro. Also missing is music storage. Yes, you can control music playback on your phone using the Enduro, but you cannot use the watch as a stand-alone music player.

Our take

Battery life is the killer feature for the Garmin Enduro. If you hike, bike, or run long distances, then the Enduro is a no-brainer. The sports watch is comfortable to wear and the battery lasts forever. You won’t have to carry the extra weight of a battery pack or charging cables, nor worry about how you’re going to run and charge simultaneously. Its hefty cost of $800 cost may be a tough sell for some people, but it certainly covers everything that an outdoor enthusiast craves.

Is there a better alternative?

The Garmin Enduro is a niche product meant for endurance runners, bikers, and hikers. Unless you want extended battery life, you should save some cash and add some features with a Fenix or Forerunner series watch. The Fenix has mapping and more advanced navigation features that may be more appealing than battery life to an outdoors enthusiast. Likewise, the Forerunner 945 has more advanced running metrics for those who run for hours, not days.

How long will it last?

Garmin’s outdoor watches are known for their rugged construction, and the Enduro is no exception. The stainless steel casing resists scratches, and the nylon strap fastens securely. We did get a few light scratches on the display from scrambling up rocks or repairing a bike, but you can slap on a screen protector. Garmin has a one-year warranty that covers defects in manufacturing or workmanship.

Should you buy it?

If battery life is at the top of your list, then go with the Garmin Enduro. The Enduro will blow away Garmin’s other watches and even those from competitors like Suunto or Polar.

Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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