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Garmin Enduro review: The sports watch with a battery that goes on and on and on

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
700
inc VAT

A superb sports watch with incredible battery life and a great display but it lacks onboard maps

Pros 
Great battery life
Stuffed with advanced features
Big, clear 1.4in display
Cons 
No onboard maps
No local music storage
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There are two reasons you might want to buy the Garmin Enduro over other high-end Garmin sports watches. The first is battery life; the second is a larger, sharper and clearer screen.

Other than this pair of advantages, the Enduro follows the Garmin template, sharing most features with other premium watches manufactured by the brand.

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Garmin Enduro review: What do you get for the money?

At £700, the Enduro sits near the top of the Garmin range of multisports watches, slotting in alongside the Fenix 6 series of watches and just below the firm’s luxury Marq models. It’s marketed as a watch for extreme endurance athletes, a claim bolstered by the Enduro’s battery capabilities.

The Enduro delivers the best battery life in the Garmin range, with up to 80 hours of continuous GPS usage and a mind-boggling 65 days in “smartwatch” mode (ie, without the GPS or heart-rate monitor in use).

It employs Garmin’s solar glass charging tech to top that battery up while you’re out and about, and the display itself – one of Garmin’s excellent full-colour, always-on, sunlight-visible units – is the largest in the range at 1.4in across. It’s exceptionally clear and sharp, too, with a resolution of 280 x 280 pixels.

The watch body itself is built from plastic and the bezel is available in either stainless steel or “diamond-like carbon” coated titanium, with the latter adding £100 to the asking price. It feels as tough as nails and is also waterproof to 10 ATM (100 metres).

One thing that’s slightly unusual about the Enduro is that, instead of the usual silicon, buckle-based wristband, it comes with a slightly stretchy nylon hook and loop strap. This is both comfortable and holds the watch very securely to your wrist. It’s double-ended so you need to detach it at both ends before you can take it off, but this does add a little extra peace of mind.

Otherwise, the Enduro is typical high-end Garmin sports watch fare. The buttons are in the same places as they are on most of the firm’s other serious athlete-focused wearables, with three on the left edge and two on the right, and these provide quick and responsive access to all the watch’s many, many functions. There’s no touchscreen, though.

Inside, there’s all the sensor hardware you’d expect, too. Position, speed and distance data is supplied by a radio that supports the GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and the QZSS satellite systems.

The latest version of Garmin’s Elevate heart-rate monitor keeps tabs on your beats per minute and can also monitor your blood oxygen saturation, via either spot checks or continual all day/sleep monitoring. Also included are a digital compass, gyroscope and altimeter, plus a thermometer and accelerometer for counting your steps.

Naturally, given the high-end nature of the watch, the Enduro is also compatible with Bluetooth and ANT+ external sensors, including cycling power meters, heart-rate chest belts and running pods, from both Garmin and third-party manufacturers.

It’s worth noting, however, that you might miss out on extra features if you choose not to buy a Garmin-branded sensor. If you want access to running dynamics metrics or automatic lactic threshold detection, for instance, you need to use Garmin accessories.

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Garmin Enduro review: What can it do?

Beyond the hardware, the differences between the Enduro and Garmin’s other high-end watches are fairly minimal. The UI on the watch is straightforward to use – if you’ve used a recent Garmin from the Forerunner or Fenix range, you’ll know exactly what to do – and the same goes for the Garmin Connect app and website.

The less said about the rather brutish design of Garmin Connect the better, in my opinion, but at least it’s easy to get to grips with. It’s also good that you get access to some kind of web-based platform, which is more than can be said for Coros watches, for instance.

In terms of what the Enduro can track and the features, training tools and analysis it provides, that’s pretty much on a par with Garmin’s other high-end sports watches, too, with a couple of key exceptions, as detailed in the next section.

That means tracking modes for all the sports you can think of, including those modes that cheaper watches often omit, such as golf, triathlon and open water swimming modes. There’s support for third-party apps, too, via the Garmin IQ Store and also, naturally, monitoring for steps, floors climbed, calories burned and sleep.

The watch supports all the latest Garmin fitness and health features, too, including Body Battery – a neat way of gauging your energy levels, based on a number of factors – and the recently improved Fitness Age feature, which attempts to place an age on your fitness levels, no matter how long you’ve actually spend on this Earth.

You can easily set up structured workouts and training plans, and there’s a host of training load and recovery features, too, so you can see how much or how little you’ve been training. The watch also provides suggested workouts based on your recent training history. If you’ve run a half marathon the previous day, for instance, it will probably tell you to rest; if you’ve been doing too much speed work, it will likely advise a short, low-intensity recovery session.

Some of the premium running features from the Fenix Pro and Forerunner series of Garmin watches are in place, too. Of these, PacePro is among my favourites, providing pacing strategies for race days. Simply load a course file into Garmin Connect and it helps you to maintain the correct pace, adjusting it down when you’re running uphill and up when you’re descending.

And don’t forget that, like all Garmin sports watches, the Enduro also doubles effectively as a smartwatch, pinging you whenever a notification or a call from your smartwatch arrives. You won’t be able to read the text of all messages in full, or reply to them, but that’s a compromise I’m happy to make for the longer battery life and superior sports tracking features on offer here.

READ NEXT: Check out our favourite smartwatches

Garmin Enduro review: What can’t it do?

I’ve not enough time to list every feature so I’ll draw the line right there and instead focus on the things the Enduro doesn’t offer, because that’s a lot easier to get a handle on.

I’ll start with the most obvious of the omissions: the lack of full onboard mapping. Given this is a watch intended to appeal to adventurous, outdoor types, this is a baffling feature to leave out and although there is breadcrumb navigation, this is only useful if you’ve loaded a GPX course onto the watch first.

Even if using maps has a negative impact on the Enduro’s battery life, which appears to be the reason it was left out, why not give users the option to side load the feature for occasional use? As it stands, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast for whom full mapping is a must have, you’ll have to train your sights on the Fenix 6 Pro. Alternatively, you could wait and see if the recently announced Coros Vertix 2, which promises to deliver even better battery life than the Enduro and also includes mapping, is more to your taste.

This is not the only feature missing from the Enduro’s roster, either. There’s also no offline music storage – another feature the Fenix 6 Series Pro has. Listening to music or podcasts while running from your watch does take a bite out of your battery life, but there’s no reason not to give users the option, even if it’s heavily caveated in the UI.

Finally, the Enduro also misses out on some other features that rivals from other manufacturers offer. For example, it doesn’t support running power natively, although you can add that with a third-party accessory such as the Stryd running pod.

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Garmin Enduro review: How accurate is it?

Unlike a lot of sports watches I’ve tested recently, the Garmin Enduro never had a major wobble throughout the time I was testing it, either on heart rate or GPS. I also connected several different sensors to it, installed Garmin IQ apps and used it with those as well. It took everything in its stride.

Close examination of the GPS traces from various runs revealed the usual minor issues: the occasional corner is cut here and there and it struggles to maintain accuracy in heavy tree cover, but I’d say it’s slightly better than the Polar Vantage V2 I was comparing it with. Most importantly, distance and pace was largely on the money compared with the Stryd pod I run with every day.

The Enduro’s optical heart-rate monitor is better than average, I’d say, but it does suffer from the same problems most optical monitors do in that it takes a while to catch up with abrupt changes in heart rate. If you do a lot of interval workouts and use heart rate as your main gauge of effort, you’re better off with a chest belt such as the Garmin HRM-Run, which also logs running dynamics.

In general, however, I found that it was on the money for measurements during steady-effort workouts – long runs, for example – and while running, comparisons with my Polar H10 belt were usually favourable. I rarely saw differences of more than five beats per minute.

READ NEXT: Optimise your workout with these top fitness trackers

Garmin Enduro review: How good is the battery life?

This is the best aspect of the Garmin Enduro: it needs charging less than any sports watch I’ve ever worn. I’ve been training for a marathon while testing this watch, running five days a week for between five and seven hours (with continuous GPS and heart rate on), and I’ve only had to charge it around once a month.

Although that’s impressive, it can do even more. By tinkering with the power settings and spending more time outdoors so the solar watch face can do its thing, you can boost that even further.

The theoretical maximum is a year in smartwatch mode, although you’d have to never use GPS or the heart-rate monitor to hit that figure so it isn’t particularly realistic. If, however, you use one of the GPS power saver modes, which update your position less frequently, you can track your position for a still impressive 300 hours in Max battery GPS mode or 95 days in Expedition Mode.

In short, for multi-day expeditions and backcountry treks when second-by-second GPS accuracy isn’t strictly necessary, the Enduro will deliver all the battery life you’ll need.

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Garmin Enduro review: Should you buy one?

The Garmin Enduro, just like its stablemates from the Fenix 6 series, is a seriously good multisport watch. It’s packed with features, is easy to use and, thanks to the presence of third-party app support, is more flexible than rivals from Polar, Coros and Suunto.

Battery life is absolutely superb – the best Garmin currently offers – and its big, clear display makes the Enduro a pleasure to use and wear. In most aspects, it’s truly outstanding.

And yet, as highlighted above, there are a couple of areas in which it falls behind its rivals. With no onboard maps and no music storage, it isn’t quite as good an all-rounder as the Fenix 6 Pro with Solar and falls behind the upcoming Coros Vertix 2 as well.

If you’re a very active person who wants to record a lot of activities at full accuracy, however, without having to constantly plug in, the Enduro stands alone.

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