By Rob Martin
I have to admit - it took some convincing. As a long-term Garmin user (since the Forerunner 305 I bought in 2006) & current user of a Fenix 6X Sapphire, you could say the signature Garmin triangle was tattooed on my wrist. For the best part of 15 years I've worn a Garmin watch and travelled the world to events including Tarawera & UTMB to name a couple. Chatter was becoming hard to ignore through our running circles, with many friends saying "I've made the switch"!
When launching our store we were adamant we would bring in Garmin, but with stock shortages globally, and being the new kid on the block of running stores, this brand wasn't to be in our initial store launch. I decided to start my Coros journey with the original Vertix in the limited-edition Desert Sol version.
My Garmin journey - why they didn't offer me an ambassadorship I don't know !!! :)
The Vertix offered a couple of advantages over the Fenix 6X, but did miss some features I personally liked.
The first thing I noticed was the weight. The Vertix was over 40% lighter in weight than the Fenix 6X, being 54 grams compared to 93. This made the watch much more comfortable to wear all day and on long training runs. It was also much less noticeable on the wrist due to the smaller form factor & nylon Velcro band.
The GPS accuracy is excellent (it was faster to get a satellite lock than the Fenix) & I enjoyed using the watch for both road & trails runs. It also boasted a 60-hour battery with full GPS tracking, a phenomenal amount of power in a GPS watch.
Coros as a company aims to deliver a true performance based watch without the frills, focusing on data accuracy and delivering the most to you out of your training and racing. It's one thing coaches, including Jamie, love about the accuracy of the Coros data which really helps him design optimised training plans for his athletes. My Fenix 6X had some cool features I grew to love, which I found difficult to say goodbye to:
The screen size & resolution on the Vertix was marginally smaller than my Fenix 6X and the Fenix 6.
Coros Vertix with a 1.2inch/30.5mm screen with 240x240 pixels
Fenix 6X with a 1.4inch/35.56mm screen with 280x280 pixels.
Fenix 6 with a 1.3inch/33.03mm screen with 280x280 pixels.
The Fenix 6X has onboard topographic maps, whilst the Vertix has basic routing.
The Fenix has music via streaming services like Spotify, or you can load your own MP3’s. This is a feature I liked as I often run with a minimalist approach - that is leaving my phone at home.
The Vertix doesn't have the ability to load music or stream, so the phone and Bluetooth connectivity to my Jaybird Vista buds was back in the pocket, vest or arm band.
So, I went back to my Fenix 6X, which on any run over 15kms was still uncomfortable on my wrist & often caused a chafe point which would eventually start to bleed due to the weight & design of the watch. My only solution was to try to remember to put a Band-Aid on my wrist before I put the watch on.
However as a trade off, I got my larger 1.4 inch screen back that I could read more easily during a run & also access to my music again without carrying a phone.
Then Coros did something very unexpected – they released the Vertix 2. This watch doesn’t replace the original Vertix in the line-up - it’s an additional model to their range.
I checked out the specs & realised that this watch was a beast & potential game changer.
The screen now matched the Fenix 6X, with a 1.4inch/35.56mm display with 280x280 pixels of crisp goodness!
I can read the screen inside or outside, and although it’s almost as heavy as the Garmin 6X at 89g, it feels comfortable on my wrist & doesn’t chafe or cause bleeding during a run. (So far up to a marathon distance on trails).
The battery had been boosted to 140 hours in full GPS tracking, compared to 60 hours for the original Coros and 60 hours for the Fenix 6X (less if you play music).
The Coros Vertix 2 has a music option! (only via uploading MP3’s – no streaming services). I didn't mind this too much due to the Gigabytes of music I have collected over the years!
Mapping and GPS:
The other major addition was the first ever inclusion (on a non-aviation device) of the ability to use all five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou) at the same time, with Dual-Frequency satellite communication.
This was to assist in very difficult environments like heavy tree cover, bad weather & sheer rock walls.
There’s a good place, not far from Brisbane where I live, to test out the GPS accuracy. The Border Track in the Lamington National Park has heavy tree cover, rock walls & often heavy cloud cover.
On two occasions recently I’d been able to put the Vertix 2 up against multiple Garmin Fenix 6 and 5 models in this environment.
Both times the Vertix 2 (using all system + Dual-Frequency) was able to capture the crossing & double crossing (21.1 or 42.2kms measured with a steel wheel) within 200-400 meters.
The Garmin 6X dropped 4km’s both times & the 6 either under or over reported due to missing waypoints or general GPS glitches. Jamie ran with my older Fenix 5 watch on one of the same days, and this recorded only 38km's of distance over a marathon, whereby the Coros Vertix 2 captured the full 42.2 km's. I'm calling his race a DNF!
The Vertix 2 is also the fastest watch to get a satellite lock of any watch I’ve ever owned.
The maps work well, if you choose to load a training run or race, although it doesn't have turn-by-turn guidance which is on the Fenix 6X.
App and data capture:
Just like the Garmin Connect App, Coros comes with it's own mobile app to upload and track all of your activities. Bearing in mind that most athletes automatically upload to Strava &/or Training Peaks, which the Coros app can also do seamlessly, and although it does have some cool features I'm generally on Strava when it comes to analysis.
I love this watch - since I got it more than a month ago I haven’t gone back to the Fenix 6X once, or even felt like I might want to in the future.
Coros have worked hard to put this watch in the top echelon of wearables against the dominant players like Garmin, Suunto and Polar. Pricing is competitive with an RRP of $1,150 for the Coros against $1,399 for the Garmin Fenix 6X.
This watch is a keeper for me, so let me know if you want to buy a used Garmin Fenix 6X.