Coros Vertix review: For the mountaineer in all of us

The Coros Vertix is the smartwatch for month-long treks through the wilderness

Coros Vertix review: For the mountaineer in all of us

“Coros Vertix excels in battery life and fitness tracking, but it's short on advanced features.”
  • Long battery life
  • Durability
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Altitude acclimation
  • No web companion
  • No music, apps, or payments
  • Expensive for its feature set

Coros is known for its Pace and Apex smartwatches that combine a low price tag with ample features for the triathlete in training. The company’s third watch, the Vertix, attempts a similar feat in the adventure watch category. With its outdoors-centric design and $600 price tag, the Vertix takes on the Garmin Fenix series and the Suunto 9.

How does the Coros Vertix hold up against these two established brands? I hit the trails with the Vertix to find out.

Big and burly

Coros didn’t skimp when designing the Vertix. The materials in the watch are top-notch. It has a scratch-resistant sapphire glass display and a 48mm titanium casing. I wore the Vertix non-stop for more than a month, and there are zero scratches on the display or the casing. Except for dirt and grime, the watch still looks brand new.

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Kelly Hodgkins / Digital Trends

At 76 grams, the Vertix is heavy compared to most fitness watches, but it is lighter than competing adventure watches which offer stainless steel casings. Even though the Vertix falls into the bulky watch category, it doesn’t fit like a big and burly watch. I thought it would be a behemoth, but the Vertix is surprisingly comfortable to wear, even on my small wrists. The 22mm band is soft and flexible and had plenty of adjustments to expand from my small wrists to my husband’s larger wrists. The casing fits smoothly against my wrist.

Even though the Vertix falls into the bulky watch category, it doesn’t fit like a big and burly watch.

The Vertix has two buttons and a central digital crown button on the right-hand side of the watch. The watch buttons are flush with the casing, but the digital crown sticks out quite a bit making it awkward to wear the watch on your left hand. You can flip the display for left-hand use, but then the labels on the casing are upside down. I ended up wearing the watch on my right hand, which was convenient for me since I am left-handed.

The 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 display was easy to read both inside and outside in the sunlight. I never had any issues seeing my hiking stats on the screen, even when I was out on an exposed ridge line in full sun. I do wish the screen was slightly larger, but Coros cleverly hides the black space around the display with markings that represent a clock dial.

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Kelly Hodgkins / Digital Trends

Coros nailed it in the interface department. The watch uses two buttons – one that turns on backlighting and one that functions as a back/lap button. You can hold down the back button to access the shortcuts menu. In the center, there is a digital crown button that you can use to scroll through the menu system and then press to select the items on the screen.

The crown sticks out a bit, but that makes it easy to use it with a glove. Like the Apex before it, the menus on the Vertix are so intuitive that you don’t need a manual to figure out the menu system.

Sticking to the basics

Underneath the rugged exterior of the Coros Vertix is a capable watch to track your fitness. All the standard metrics are there – heart rate monitoring, pace, cadence, elevation, and distance. Measurement of these metrics is accurate — right in line with the Garmin Fenix 6S Pro. You can view these metrics by scrolling through the data screens during a workout. Like most high-end watches, these data screens can be customized on the mobile app. It was motivating to know the grade and how fast (or slow) I was able to ascend or descend it.

Coros uses the training data to calculate the training effect, which measures how the workout improves your fitness. I found the Vertix constantly underestimated the effort of a workout. On a recent run when I pushed myself, my Garmin 6S Pro logged me as overreaching, while the Vertix rated the run as inefficient. I saw a similar effect on a recent hike up Mount Katahdin in Maine.

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Kelly Hodgkins / Digital Trends

The Coros app breaks down each workout and displays the metrics using colorful, easy-to-read charts. Unfortunately, it only shows the single workout and does not let you see any trends. You can’t go back a week or a month to see how your pace or heart rate has changed. It also doesn’t recognize a run at the same location, so you can’t track your performance on that route over time. Other brands, like Garmin, offer trend analysis, so its disappointing not to see it in the Coros.

Because it is targeted at the outdoors and mountaineering community, the Vertix ships with a pulse oximeter that is designed for altitude acclimation at high elevations (2500m). When enabled, the Vertix will take readings every hour and will alert you when your oxygen levels dip too low. Though I live in a mountainous area, there are no peaks in the 2500m range.

There’s a barometer, temperature gauge, and an altimeter to track elevation and external conditions. I did take advantage of these when climbing Mount Washington. The Vertix is also waterproof down to 150 meters so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet.

Coros nails the basic metrics, but the Vertix is missing the advanced features that aid in your workout and help improve performance.

Coros nails the basic metrics, but the Verix is missing the advanced features that aid in your workout and help improve performance. I like Garmin’s new PacePro pacing assistant which sets a pace using elevation data and Suunto’s FusedTrack algorithm which extends battery life by dialing down GPS and using motion sensor data to track a run. For a $600 watch, I expected to see some advanced ways of using the sensors on the device and innovative ways of analyzing the data.

Sleep tracking

The Vertix does a decent job detecting when you go to sleep and when you wake up. Each morning you can view your resting heart rate along with a graph of your sleep broken down into deep sleep, light sleep, and awake times.

This data is interesting to look at, but it doesn’t provide a lot of insight into your sleep patterns. What is lacking in the Vertix is your sleep history. Yes, you can scroll backward day-by-day, but you cannot view a month worth of sleep in one chart as you can on other platforms.

The Vertix also is lacking extras that are found on other competing devices; the watch ships with a pulse oximeter, but it is only used for altitude and not for sleep.

GPS and mobile app

GPS is key for an adventure watch and the Coros Vertix delivers most of the time. The watch connects quickly to satellites — either GPS or GLONASS. Its tracking was accurate most of the time, but there are occasions when it would drop. Unlike the Suunto and Garmin devices which seem to be able to fill in all the gaps, the Vertix would sometimes drop the GPS connection and lose a portion of my track.

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Kelly Hodgkins / Digital Trends

You can navigate a route using the Coros Vertix, but it is limited to breadcrumb mapping where your location is marked by an arrow and your route is a series of dots on the screen. Routes can be created using your computer, sent to the mobile app, and then synced to the watch using the mobile app. You can create a route directly within the Coros app using the GPS track from an existing exercise, but you cannot create one from scratch from within the app.

Speaking of the app, I love it. It has a clean, uncluttered interface that is easy to use. Its use of colors to display your data is outstanding. The app syncs quickly with the device, transferring workout data and delivering firmware updates with ease. Speaking of updates, get used to them as Coros updates its watches regularly, improving watch performance and adding new features all the time.

Coros syncs to a handful of third-party services such as Strava, Training Peaks, Health Kit, and others. The watch syncs quickly to these services — so quickly that my stats are on Strava before I even untie my running shoes. You can also manage the watch settings and upload GPS routes using the mobile app, but I really wish there was a web platform.

It is so much easier to import and export fitness data and GPS routes on a computer.

Unbelievably long battery life

The standout feature of the Coros watch lineup is battery life. I don’t know how Coros manages battery life, but the company has perfected it. The battery life of the Vertix far exceeds any other fitness watch I have tested. The Vertix promises up to 45 days of regular use, 60 hours in full GPS and 150 hours in Ultratrax mode and comes close to delivering these times.

I routinely go 30 days between charges and that is with routine workouts and a steady stream of email alerts to drain the battery. I wore it for a 12-hour hike and still had 75 percent battery left. It is downright amazing. The only downside to this stupidly long battery life — I kept losing the charging cable because I used it so infrequently.

Price, availability, and warranty information

The Coros Vertix is available for $300 from Coros and retailers such as Amazon. Coros warranties its products from defects in quality and workmanship for two years after the original purchase date.

Our take

There is a lot to love about the Coros Vertix. Its durability is outstanding and its battery life is unrivaled. It covers all the basic fitness metrics you need, but it falls short in the feature department when compared to its rivals. It’s hard to justify spending $600 on the Vertix when you can spend a bit more to snag an entry-level Garmin Fenix 6 Pro with music, maps, mobile payments, and more.

Is there a better alternative?

The Coros Vertix delivers when it comes to battery life, but its lack of fitness and lifestyle features is a detractor. Those looking for the most features for their buck should consider the $700 Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. The Fenix 6 Pro doesn’t have the sapphire screen or the titanium casing of the Vertix, but what the Fenix lacks in materials, it makes up for in features. It is one of the most feature-filled GPS watches available today.

Check out our best smartwatches for more options.

How long will it last?

The build quality on the Coros Vertix is rock solid. The watch should last at least three years under normal use. The company regularly updates its devices, adding new features and improving existing ones, so expect to see steady improvement during its lifetime.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If battery life is important to you and you don’t need every whizzbang feature under the sun, then the Coros Vertix is an excellent choice.

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