If you plan on taking a trip to embark on a hiking adventure or trekking mission anytime soon, you’ll need to take a reliable GPS-enabled smartwatch with you.
Before the invention of smartphones and internet-enabled devices, hikers and outdoor explorers largely had to rely on the use of the classic compass and map in order to successfully navigate the wild terrains that they were interacting with.
Why you need a GPS watch
Hiking and trekking can be very dangerous hobbies, sports, or whatever you prefer to call them largely due to the unpredictability and sudden changes in climate that can happen at any moment.
Serious hikers and trekkers are always prepared for the worst because they know how important it is to be able to find your way back to home base if you happen to lose track of your direction or adverse weather conditions cause you to seek immediate shelter interfering with your directional patterning abilities.
The use of printed maps and classic compasses are largely a thing of the past thanks to advancements in technology specifically designed to help hikers and out explorers alike stay on track.
GPS or (Global Positioning System) has been around for years now, however, new research into the accuracy of GPS and how it can be implemented into virtually every facet of life in order to make completing simple tasks and large problems easy and convenient.
One area that has really seen growth over recent years is the implementation of GPS into sporting equipment, hiking accessories, adventure gear, and activewear clothing.
The entire outdoors and sports industry have seen huge advancements in terms of technology being able to aid them in their various activities. Aside from the implementation of GPS into different activewear and sports accessories, there has also been a push to integrate new technology which can help those who participate in high-intensity activities stay healthy and alert.
There are several high-quality devices on the market that an individual can use in order to monitor their heart rate, vital signs, blood pressure, hydration levels, and more. All of these tools allow those who stay active to also become more self-reliant with aid that can be worn on your wrist and left in your pocket during activity.
There are a lot of very useful smart accessories that can help you perform better and maximize efficiency while hiking however the most valuable type of gadget is a GPS tracking watch.
GPS tracking watches allow you to conveniently monitor an array of bodily functions while simultaneously keeping track of your hiking direction and path. Most GPS watches run on the same networks as the most popular mobile devices which makes their tracking capabilities very accurate and reliable.
There are two well-tested and proven smart GPS tracking watches for hiking and adventuring that dominate the market today.
Those two watches are the Suunto Traverse Alpha and the Garmin Fenix 5, both of these smart GPS tracking watches provide a solid companion for serious hikers and outdoor explorers who want to keep track of their health and vitality levels without getting lost.
In this guide, we’re going to give you a detailed breakdown of all the features built-in to both the Garmin Fenix 5 and the Suunto Traverse Alpha. We’re also going to give you a full spec sheet to help you determine which watch is best for your particular needs. Make sure to read the guide in full so that you can get all the information you need in order to make the right purchase decision when choosing between the Suunto Traverse Alpha and the Garmin Fenix 5.
The winner of this comparison is the Garmin Fenix 5 largely due to its versatile connectivity options and in-depth monitoring system that keeps you protected from all threats both internal and external.
The Garmin Fenix 5 is one of the most fully capable smart GPS watches available on the market and for a very good reason. Its wide functionality range and durable design make the Garmin Fenix 5 one of the most reliable smart GPS watches out.
Garmin Fenix 5: The Company Behind the Product
Garmin is probably one of the most easily recognizable GPS and navigation accessory companies out there. They were one of the original manufacturers to produce commercially available GPS tracking car accessories in the early 2000s when the technology was fairly new.
As time has progressed, Garmin has shown no signs of slowing down. Today, Garmin produces a wide array of high-quality accessories for outdoor recreation, hunting, sports, marine, aviation, and more.
Garmin has established a solid reputation for providing quality products that consumers can rely on time and time again. The Garmin Fenix 5 is the latest attempt from the company to establish itself as a leader in an ever-evolving market.
More people than ever nowadays are starting to take up adventure hiking and trekking as a hobby which calls for more access to reliable accessories that can help experts and beginners alike. The Garmin Fenix 5 does an incredible job at completing both of the previously mentioned tasks and so much more.
Garmin: About the Company
Garmin was founded in 1989 by expert businessmen and technology experts Min Kao and Gary Burrell. The company was originally named ProNav during its beginning stages and later changed to Garmin which is a hybrid of the owner’s Gary and Min first names.
Interestingly enough, in 1991 Garmin acquired its first customer which was the U.S. Army this would prove to be a vital acquisition for the fresh technology company. The U.S. Army had a large interest in the Garmin company primarily related to their first product which was released in 1989 known as ProNav GPS.
The U.S. Army had an interest in the Garmin company because the company was able to demonstrate one of the earliest produced functional GPS systems which would help the U.S.
The army conducts its various missions and objectives across a wide variety of terrains and locations. By 1995, Garmin sales numbers reached a whopping $105 million propelling the company into an elite class for GPS manufacturers.
By 2000, Garmin was producing more than 50 different models of GPS equipment and navigation systems making them a pioneer in the market sector. In August of 2000, Garmin held 35 U.S. patents for GPS technology and equipment. Today, Garmin keeps expanding its reach further solidifying them as one of the leading GPS manufacturers on the market.
Garmin Fenix 5 Review
The Garmin Fenix 5 is a smart GPS watch that gives hikers and other outdoor explorers the ability to maintain steady positioning while also monitoring their health.
The Garmin Fenix 5 features dual-GPS capabilities running both a GPS and GLONASS satellite receiver so that you have even more backing when exploring new and unpredictable terrains.
The Garmin Fenix 5 features 3 separate modes which directly affect the battery life of the device, the three modes are UltraTrac mode, Smartwatch mode, and GPS/HR mode. UltraTrac mode provides the longest battery life bosting 60 hours of use time at the expense of heart rate monitoring functionality.
GPS/HR mode gives you 24-hour battery life with all of the watch functions enabled, Smartwatch mode gives you up to 2 weeks of battery life. These three modes give the Garmin Fenix 5 flexibility and customization options in terms of power management that you don’t often find with smart devices in general.
The Garmin Fenix 5 has three case sizes that you can order which are 42MM, 47MM, and 51MM. These three sizes allow anyone interested in purchasing and using the Garmin Fenix 5 to get the perfect fit regardless of their wrist size and width.
The Garmin Fenix 5 comes in an array of color choices and bundle options which make it easy to get the right set of equipment you need at discounted prices.
The Garmin Fenix 5 comes in two distinctive build types, one of the options is a Garmin Fenix 5 made from chemically strengthened glass and the other is a Fenix 5 made using the sapphire crystal. Both of these build materials provide a very durable and long-lasting shell to protect the watch from accidental damage.
The bezel on the Garmin Fenix 5 is made using stainless steel which adds another layer of strength and protection while giving the watch a unique and premium look.
The Garmin Fenix 5 can be fitted with two types of straps, either silicone or steel depending on how you react to certain materials and your desired level of comfort. The Garmin Fenix 5 comes with a sunlight-visible trans-reflective memory in-pixel display that provides a crystal-clear picture even in direct sunlight.
The following section is going to list what comes inside of the box when you purchase the Garmin Fenix 5.
Inside the Box
- Standard (Watch Only)- Fenix 5 watch, charging cable, and documentation.
- Performer Bundle- Fenix 5 watch, HRM-Tri heart rate monitor, documentation, and charging cable.
While the watch itself does not monitor heart rate, if you purchase the performance bundle, you’ll receive an easy-to-wear heart rate monitor band which makes it easy to check on your health levels while exploring.
In-Depth Feature Review
The Garmin 5 Fenix is packed with tons of features and has compatibility with a lot of related Garmin products to further maximize your hiking or outdoor adventure activities.
The Garmin Fenix 5 has the following built-in sensors and features:
- Barometric Altimeter
- Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor
- GPS Time Sync
- Alarm Clock
- Sunrise/sunset Clock
- Automatic Daylight-Saving Time Adjustment
- Bluetooth Smart
- Wi-Fi (sapphire edition only)
- Find My Phone
- Find My Watch
- VIRB Camera Remote
- iPhone & Android Compatibility
- Garmin Connect Mobile Functionality
- Smart Notifications
- LiveTrack (safety and tracking feature)
- Group LiveTrack (tracking and safety feature)
- And more
The Garmin Fenix 5 can be adjusted to monitor activity for specific sports and hobbies. For example, when inactivity tracking mode you can monitor the amounts of calories you’ve burned, floors climbed, distance traveled fitness age, and more. In Gym mode, the Garmin Fenix 5 can give you details about how many reps you’ve completed and how much strength is being applied while you exercise.
The Garmin 5 Fenix can act as a training companion as well giving you customizable fitness profiles and detailed information about interval training, aerobic exercise, multisport tracking, and more.
The heart rate monitoring feature that comes with the Garmin Fenix 5 is capable of reading HR calorie levels, giving you alerts when your heart rate is out of whack, and stress tests that will allow you to gauge how much pressure is being applied to your hear during certain activities so you can make adjustments to your training routine If needed.
The Garmin Fenix 5 also has a running mode that allows you to track the amount of time you’ve come in contact with the ground, the dynamics being used while you run, GPS-based pace, distance, and time tracking in addition to a race predictor.
The Garmin Fenix 5 also has several other activity modes such as golfing, outdoor recreation, swimming, and cycling. All of these modes provide customized tracking for the specific activity you’re engaged in at the moment to provide an inside look at really detailed analytics.
The integrated activity profiles make it easy make it extremely easy for anyone to track any sport they’re involved with, the smart notifications add an active alert system to the watch that is very useful for adventurers or sports enthusiasts who want to stay connected with what’s happening with their body.
Garmin Fenix 5: Pros & Cons
- Built-in Dual GPS systems with a 3-axis compass that uses a gyroscope and barometric altimeter to accurately keep track of your location at all times.
- Smart notifications and connectivity that automatically uploads information to Garmin Connect so you can easily access your activity stats.
- Multisport heart rate wrist-based monitoring provides up-to-date information about vital body components and processes.
- The long-lasting battery can be customized to fit individual activity profiles and routines.
- Progress indicator that lets you see how much you’re either improved or need to work on your fitness routine.
- Interchangeable wrist-bands make the watch fully customizable and allow you to add your own sense of style to the watch overall.
- Recovery monitoring will tell you when your vitals have reached an acceptable level to begin competing in activity again.
- Analytics tools let you analyze your fitness data to make adjustments and improvements where needed.
- Comes with compatibility to a wide range of custom fitness and activity monitoring apps which lets you get different perspectives for a wide range of sports.
- Comes in several different material options to add a custom level of security for each individual.
- Wrist-based heart monitoring device comes separate from the actual Garmin Fenix 5.
- Limited bundle options force you to buy unnecessary equipment just to get what you need.
- A small amount of internal memory with no way to expand the initial capacity.
Garmin Warranty Information
The Garmin Fenix 5 is protected under the standard Garmin warranty which states that the product is covered under warranty for up to exactly one year after the original purchase date. Products can only be claimed under warranty if it can be proven that the product came with manufacturer defects or production flaws that interfere with the successful operation of the device.
Items which are deemed to have been damaged due to customer misuse or improper care are not eligible to be repaired or replaced under the Garmin limited warranty protection.
Upon acceptance of your item at the repair facility, if it is determined that your product is eligible to be covered under warranty Garmin will make the decision on whether or not the item in question can be repaired or needs to be replaced totally.
FAQ’s about Garmin Fenix 5
What devices are compatible with the Garmin Fenix 5?
The Garmin Fenix 5 is compatible with all of the latest smartphones running either iOS or Android. Similarly, the Garmin Fenix 5 is compatible with all iPhone and Android devices.
What happens if the Garmin Fenix 5 I ordered doesn’t fit my wrist?
AYou have 30 days from the initial date of purchase to return your Garmin Fenix 5 in the event that it doesn’t fit or isn’t working properly
What apps are compatible with the Garmin Fenix 5?
The Garmin Fenix 5 is compatible with a wide variety of fitness tracking apps including Garmin Connect Mobile and can be used with devices including Android and iPhone.
How do I connect my Garmin Fenix 5 to my phone or other devices?
The Garmin Fenix 5 has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities which allow you to easily connect with an array of different devices.
Where to Buy the Garmin Fenix 5
If you’re interested in purchasing the Garmin Fenix 5, you have a lot of options to choose from. Many major tech retailers and sporting goods stores carry the Garmin Fenix 5 which makes it readily available to purchase virtually anywhere.
The only downside to purchasing the Garmin Fenix 5 at a physical retail store is that not all of them carry the same stock so you may have to search around until you find a store that carries the exact one you want.
Alternatively, you can purchase the Garmin Fenix 5 directly from the Garmin website which will give you access to exclusive information and tips regarding the watch.
By purchasing the Garmin Fenix 5 directly from the Garmin website, you’ll also be able to access exclusive deals and discounts that you won’t find anywhere else. The official Garmin website also has all of the color and bundle options available for purchase making it easier for you to get the exact Garmin Fenix 5 model that you want.
Suunto Traverse Alpha: The Company Behind the Product
Suunto is a high-quality active accessories and sportswear company that produces a wide range of products for sportsmen, outdoor explorers, athletes, swimmers, and more. Their product line consists of an array of smartwatches, dive computers, dive watches, compasses, heart rate monitors, and more.
Suunto has been in the industry for a very long time which has allowed them to perfect their production techniques and product line-up. Suunto offers a refined catalog of premium sports and active smart accessories which help outdoor and fitness enthusiasts from all walks of life better manage and track their activity.
Suunto delivers high-quality materials, functional accessories, a passion for the product, and a whole lot more. The design and production team over at Suunto take pride in their work and the dedication is reflected in their results.
Suunto: About the Company
Suunto was founded in 1936 by Tuomas Vohlonen who was a very enthusiastic outdoorsman and champion orienteer.
For over 80yrs the company Suunto has carried on the vision of its founder by repeatedly introducing streamlined wearable smart accessories and sports-related equipment that helps advanced athletes and novice outdoor explorers maintain a constant view of their vital performance metrics while participating in a wide array of activities. The name of the company Suunto is derived from the Finnish word “Suunto” which translates in English into the word “direction”.
An interesting backstory about the company is that in 1939 a Finnish soldier by the name of Lieutenant Norrback was shot by a Russian sniper during the winter war. Norrback was carrying a Suunto-produced M-311 compass at the time which was in the exact place where the bullet made contact, saving his life as a result.
In 1940, Suunto began manufacturing the compact liquid sighting compass known as the m/40, the compass was primarily used during World War II by artillery officers and other personnel who needed assistance measuring an azimuth or simply the horizontal angle of a bearing.
In 1953, Suunto began manufacturing their line of marine compasses, their first commercially available marine compass was the Suunto K-12 which launched in 1953.
At the time, the Suunto K-12 compass featured a base that was shaped like a bowl and was made from brass. This sort of engineering feet at the time gave fishermen and fishing enthusiasts the ability to accurately track their location and direction at all times.
By the time the Suunto K-12 compass was being produced, the company was already exporting its products to over 50 countries throughout the world. Shortly after in 1965, Suunto began producing the world’s very first diving compass named the SK-4. Interestingly enough, the entire concept of the SK-4 came into existence because of a British sports diver who attached a Suunto compass to his wrist and found out that It also worked underwater.
Suunto took the divers feedback and launched their line of Suunto Diving products which are known to be prestigious today. By 1987, Suunto became the world’s leading producer of diving instruments for professionals in all industries.
Suunto launched their first diving computer in 1987 named the Suunto SME-ML which severely revolutionized the entire sport of diving. By 1998, Suunto began producing their first line of wrist-top watches which used a barometer, compass, as well as a thermometer sensor to help outdoor enthusiasts keep track of their activity. Since then, Suunto has gone on to continuously revolutionize the industry of diving equipment and smart active wear sports accessories.
Today, Suunto produces a nice array of active sportswear accessories and diving equipment to help those who are serious about optimizing their performance and accuracy levels while participating in their favorite sport.
Suunto Traverse Alpha Review
The Suunto Traverse Alpha was designed specifically for hunters and anglers who want to keep track of their time and location while on sea or land. The Suunto Traverse Alpha is packed with tons of useful features which will help you monitor things such as weather and route orientation.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha uses GLONASS and GPS satellite technology for accurate navigation and route detection. The Suunto Traverse Alpha is resistant to water damage for up to 330ft or 100m which gives divers a lot of space to work with.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha gives you a real-time breadcrumb view of the course you’ve taken since the beginning of your trip. This allows you to have a consistently updated map to use in case you forget where you are or get thrown off course.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha gives you the ability to change the wrist bands easily which adds a layer of customization and versatility to the watch. The Suunto Traverse Alpha is compatible with Red backlight and Night Vision Goggles which allow you to quickly adapt to changing conditions while out in the wild.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha gives users the ability to plan their route using topographic maps in combination with the Suunto Movescount accessory. The Suunto Traverse Alpha also features a compass and vibration alarm which allows you to stay updated on your direction and any pending notifications which may impact your travel.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha comes with distance, speed, and altitude tracking capabilities which allow you to accurately stay up-to-date on everything that is happening in your environment.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha comes in a variety of colors and textures which allows you to add a personal sense of style to your watch. The Suunto Traverse Alpha comes with automatic shot detection to assist hunters and fishers with keeping track of their shot count.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a robust smartwatch that integrates a lot of useful features that can assist you in avoiding treacherous routes and climate conditions. The Suunto Traverse Alpha comes with a built-in storm alert and weather trend system so you’re always protected regardless of your location.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha also comes with integrated heatmaps which allow you to locate new routes and potential passageways. The Suunto Traverse Alpha is the ultimate wrist-top GPS-enabled assistant for hunters and anglers at all levels.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is made using a composite material for the outer casing and textile material for the strap material. The bezel is made using stainless steel and the glass is crafted from sapphire crystal which provides an extreme level of protection for the watch under virtually any circumstance.
Inside The Box
- Standard- Suunto Traverse Alpha watch, USB data/charging cable, warranty information, and quick guide.
In-Depth Feature Review
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is loaded with a lot of really advanced technology features which easily make it one of the premier smartwatches available on the market. The Suunto Traverse Alpha combines rugged design elements with powerful cutting-edge technology that delivers a robust tool for hunters and anglers who are serious about the favorite sport.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha has the following integrated features:
- Bluetooth Smart
- Wi-Fi wireless transfer
- Digital Full-tilt compass
- Activity Tracker
- Step Counter
- Barometric Altitude Sensor
- GPS Altitude Sensor
- Vertical Speed Calculator
- Total ascent/descent Calculator
- Sea level pressure graph
- Weather Trend Indicator
- Temperature Reader
- Moon Phase Calendar
- Storm Alarm
- Tide Information Reader
- Sea Level Pressure Indicator
- GPS-backed speed & distance reader
- Lap Counter
- Heart Rate Monitor (requires wrist HR monitor or requires HR belt)
- Running Pace Monitor
- Suunto FusedSpeed Indicator
- Lap analytics and comparison in m/km
- Cycling Speed Calculator
- Automatic Shot Detection
- Hunting-specific POI types
- Moonrise/moonset alert
- Sunrise/sunset alert
- Fishing-specific POI types
- And more
The Suunto Traverse Alpha gives its users the ability to customize their activity levels and profiles to receive accurate readings based on particular sports and activity types. This allows you to easily transition between different activities and sports effortlessly.
Suunto Traverse Alpha: Pros & Cons
- Automatic shot detection helps hunters keep track of their bullet count and potential kills.
- Distance, speed, and altitude monitoring enables users to see a detailed view of their activity levels.
- Water resistance for up to 330ft underwater so that users can take on any challenge without losing their Suunto wrist-top assistant.
- Weather trend and storm alert system which makes it easy for hunters to keep track of climate changes which may impact their productivity or safety.
- Moon phase and moonrise/set calibration which allows users to monitor time effortlessly.
- Integrated heatmaps and breadcrumb recorded track capabilities to keep users on track and provide them with assistance if they get lost while also allowing them to explore new paths that were hidden before.
- GPS and GLONASS satellite technology for more accurate location and track monitoring.
- Route planning with topographic maps makes it easy for users to view their intended path before beginning their journey.
- Fishing and Hunting specific POI types which automatically calibrates the watch to monitor activity statistics related to a particular sport or activity.
- Compatible with Suunto Movescount add-on and the Suunto Movescount app which is available on iOS and Android to make the experience of using the Suunto Traverse Alpha even more seamless and intuitive.
- Limited wrist sizing options
- Heart monitoring functionality requires a separate hid add-on and does not come standard with the watch itself.
- Limited app and accessory compatibility with third-party apps and accessories not made by Suunto.
Suunto Warranty Information
Suunto provides a standard international warranty service that protects all of their products for up to two years after the initial date of purchase.
The Suunto international limited warranty only covers products that suffering from a manufacturing defect or production issue. Items which are deemed to have been damaged due to normal wear, excessive use, or improper care are not eligible to be submitted for review under the Suunto limited international warranty.
FAQ’s About Suunto Traverse Alpha vs. Garmin Fenix
How sturdy is the design of my Suunto Traverse Alpha?
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is crafted using high-quality stainless steel, sapphire crystal, and composite material. The watch itself presents a very solid construction finish and has a nice average weight.
I don’t dive but I’m interested in the Suunto Traverse Alpha, is it right for me?
The answer to this question will largely depend on your intended use, while the Suunto Traverse Alpha was designed specifically for hunters and divers it can be used for a variety of other outdoor activity purposes.
Where to Buy the Suunto Traverse Alpha
Suunto maintains a very high level of product exclusivity and prestige due to the process involved with their inventory disbursement. You won’t find Suunto products in your regular retail shop, instead, you will have to look for local sporting goods or outdoor stores. The best way to purchase a Suunto Traverse Alpha is by visiting the official Suunto website to view their catalog.
Both the Garmin Fenix 5 and Suunto Traverse Alpha provide reliable assistance to hunters, hikers, divers, and outdoor enthusiasts in general.
While both smartwatches offer a wide array of impressive features, the Garmin Fenix 5 comes in the clear winner during this comparison.
The Garmin Fenix 5 provides more access to a versatile selection of apps and other devices to which it can be paired to. This in addition to the extremely long-lasting battery and proven design creates the most well-constructed and fully comprehensive smartwatch available on the market.
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