I have loved testing the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar Edition. I wasn't a huge smart-watch fan before I got this one, but I find myself wearing the watch far more than I ever used to.
Primarily this is a multi-sport watch. I regularly use it for running and cycling, though you can use it for hill walking, golf and a host of other sports. As with most of the best Garmin watches, you can connect the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar to your phone for call alerts, message notifications, to control you music, for contactless payments, for map navigation and a host other functions. Oh, and it tells the time too.
The solar charging was a bonus on this watch – the face includes a solar cell that, while not enough to fully charge the battery, will prolong each charge, by up to 22 hours in smartwatch mode, or longer in power save mode.
Most of the time, I’ll admit I’ve used the most basic functions of the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar – telling the time, the alarm clock, and timing and tracking runs. In the latter mode, just knowing how far I’ve run, the pace I’m running at and what my heart rate is has helped me push my running when I’d normally be dawdling.
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Delving a little deeper into the functions, the watch can suggest workouts for me, track and record my heart rate zones over a workout, help me hit a desired pace, monitor my power output, my running cadence, rate of breathing, even my blood oxygenation.
Based on all of this, it can make recommendations about recovery time, productivity of my workouts, vertical pace, endurance, training readiness and next steps to improve my performance.
I’m not a competitive runner, but even just dabbling with pushing myself in 5k Park Runs there is a world of information I can get to help me run faster, train smarter, pace myself better and improve. This makes it a pretty serious training companion for anyone who has serious sporting goals.
The surf mode is pretty cool too. It’ll count my wave score, ride length and ride speed. If I’d hooked the watch up to a Surfline camera, it would also automatically film all of my waves, without wasting memory on the waiting between the waves. I haven’t use it mountain biking yet, or for HIIT workouts, but there’s a similar host of features here too.
In normal use, the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar will work out how your body functions when it’s healthy, giving you early warning of when you’re not at your best, not sleeping well, or when you need to rest. It’ll also track your day-to-day activity.
How does the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar fare as a sailing watch?
When it comes to sailing, the fēnix 7 can show me a timer and total distance sailed, speed over the ground, max and average speed, as well as chart, navigation information, compass heading and GPS course. In short, it gives me everything I would get from my GPS without leaving the helm.
That’s particularly handy as a backup, if you’re racing and sitting on the rail, or heading off in a small boat that doesn’t have a full set of electronics. Depending on what maps and charts you have downloaded, you can also view your position on a chart on the watch.
In sail race mode, I can set up a course, and ping the start line with a countdown timer, so I can be sure of hitting the start line on time without being over, taking the guess work out of Thursday night racing, when I’d normally find myself trying desperately to gauge a transit on the pin end against a flat and almost featureless shoreline.
While the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar doesn’t have the boat-controlling functions, it covers pretty much other base for sailing.
If I’m honest, I’m still getting to grips with what this watch can do. Navigating around the menus can be a little confusing remembering what each of the five buttons do, and how to get to various menus and functions.
This is made easier with the watch’s touch screen capability. I can also control much of this more easily from the linked phone app, which also lets me access the Garmin store for map downloads, as well as tracking all of my recorded data and workouts.
The physical watch itself is a chunky metal construction but without too much weight. The Garmin wristband has a huge amount of adjustability making it comfy whether I want it super-secure for activity or a little looser for normal wear.
In a year of wearing it pretty hard, the screen doesn’t have a single scratch, which is more than can be said for my phone.
Garmin fēnix 7 Solar deals
The fēnix 7 has an overwhelming amount of capability, and you're unlikely to want to do something with a smartwatch that this can't do.