Sport Passion   -  advice and training tips

Comparison Garmin Fenix 6 vs Suunto 9 Baro vs Coros Vertix vs Polar Grit X: the differences, which one to choose?

by Philippe Baudoin © Copyright (published 10/07/2020)
Comparison Garmin Fenix 6 versus Suunto 9 versus Coros Vertix versus Polar Grit X

4 high-end GPS multisport watches for trail and outdoor use

In this comparison, we have chosen to compare 4 very complete and versatile top-of-the-range multi-sports watches adapted to trail and outdoor activities (hiking, high-mountain, mountaineering, extreme sports, exploration, adventure), the best on the market today. We have compared them to help you choose the model that best suits your objectives and budget. Discover our opinion at the end of the article.

Buy Garmin Fenix 6

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Buy Coros Vertix

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Buy Polar Grit X

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The best cardio-GPS trail and outdoor 2020 watches compared

In this article 4 we have compared some of the best GPS trail and outdoor watches available today. They seem to us the most complete watches currently on the market. They are all four Premium or high-end watches. Released in 2018 (Suunto 9), 2019 (Garmin Fenix 6 and Coros Vertix) and 2020 (Polar Grit X), they are relatively recent and should still be very successful in 2021.

Filled with sensors and rich in features, they are today the top GPS watches for outdoor, trail and triathlon. They are aimed at a demanding public looking for advanced functions, regular sportsmen and women, competitors and professionals. Of course, they are also suitable for the amateur looking to progress or to have fun.

It is difficult to say which one is the best, as it depends mainly on the objective, the sport practised and the user's expectations, not forgetting the budget of course. Some will look for accuracy and reliability of measurements, others a great autonomy, others a plethora of tools to help the sportsman, others additional functions used during sport and in everyday life (music, payment, cartography), others still a chic watch that can be worn in town as well as for sport!

First of all, here is a quick overview of the 4 watches compared:

Garmin Fenix 6

Garmin Fenix 6

An improved model of the famous Fenix 5 Plus, the Fenix 6 is a watch with outstanding functionalities declined in multiple versions (3 case sizes, standard, Pro or solar models, with or without sapphire glass). In July 2020, Garmin will generalize the solar (optional) on all its Fenix 6's. It is currently the most complete GPS cardio watch on the market, but this luxury has a price! It offers a record autonomy and an intelligent battery management. In addition to numerous functions to help the sportsman (performance analysis, physiological measurements, health monitoring, coaching, etc.), it includes, as an option, colour cartography (roads, cycle tracks, paths, ski slopes) and an mp3 player. It has advanced connected functions (live tracking of other athletes, possibility of being tracked online, etc.), complete GPS navigation, Garmin Pay contactless payment solution, blood oxygen level assessment. It embarks on more than 41,000 golf courses. The Fenix 6 comes in 3 case sizes (for thin to wide wrists) and 3 versions (Standard, Pro and Solar).

Read our detailed review and opinion on the Fenix 6
Buy Fenix 6
 

Suunto 9 Baro

watch Suunto 9

This top-of-the-range watch with sapphire crystal and integrated barometric altimeter (hence the "baro") emphasizes autonomy and precision. Thanks to the FusedTrack&trade system, it offers up to 120 hours of autonomy without altering the accuracy of GPS measurements, using data from other sensors to extrapolate the GPS track and thus save the battery. It has an intelligent battery management system to extend the use of the watch according to the user's route and habits. The FusedAlti™ system, a combination of GPS and barometric altimeter, also offers high accuracy in altimetry measurements. There is a model without a barometer, the Suunto 9.

Read our detailed review and opinion on the Suunto 9 Baro
Buy Suunto 9 Baro
 

Coros Vertix

Coros Vertix

As a newcomer in the field of sports watches, Coros now offers sports watches that rival the market leaders and represent an alternative to Garmin, Suunto and Polar. The Coros Vertix is a premium multi-sports watch designed for outdoor, mountain, mountaineering and triathlon.

Equipped with quality materials (titanium bezel and case back, sapphire crystal covered with a layer of synthetic diamond), it is chic, light and resistant to extreme conditions (-30/+70°C and 150 m when diving). A touch screen and a thumbwheel make it easy to use even with thick gloves.

It is ideal for high altitude sports such as mountaineering. In particular, it offers a new function that evaluates altitude acclimatization and gives recommendations for ascents. It predicts the weather and warns of thunderstorm risks. It also has advanced tools for athletes (guided training, physiological measurements, endurance assessment, running time prediction, etc.).

Its autonomy is unequalled to date (150 hours in GPS mode and 45 days in watch mode). Attention, it requires a Smartphone (no PC/web app).

Read our detailed review and opinion on the Coros Vertix
Buy Coros Vertix
 

Polar Grit X: for outdoor, trail, triathlon with a great autonomy

Polar Grit X watch

The Polar Grit X is a multisport and triathlon watch suitable for trail and outdoor use. This model released in 2020 has the same features as the running watch Polar Vantage V (except for the Recovery Pro function) with, in addition, new functions for trail and outdoor use.

Its sports functions, common to the Vantage V, include power at the wrist (without external sensor), advanced training functions (progressive training to prepare for a race, recovery analysis, evaluation of the effects of a training session, etc.). In addition, it offers comprehensive functions for outdoor, trail and mountain biking. It has a compass, displays the 2-day weather forecast, allows you to program a route with Komoot and follow it directly on the watch, offers a return to starting point function. The watch can analyse slopes live and has a refuelling assistant (feeding and hydration).

The Grit X offers intelligent battery management and a 40-hour battery life that can be extended to 100 hours in battery-saving mode.

Read our detailed review of the Polar Grit X and our opinion on this model
Buy Polar Grit X
 

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Price and comparative physical characteristics

Main characteristicsFenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
 Fenix 6Suunto 9Coros Vertixmontre Polar Grit X
Awards599 / 1049 € (1)599 €599 €429 €
Weight58 to 93 g (2)81 g76 g64 g
Autonomy (GPS mode)25 to 60 hours25 h60 h40 h
Case Size42 to 51 mm50 mm47 mm47 mm
Thickness13.8 to 14.9 mm16.8 mm15.6 mm13 mm
Screen size1,2" (30 mm) à 1,4" (35 mm)1,4" (35 mm)1,2" (30 mm)1,2" (30 mm)
Definition240 x 240 px to 280 x 280 px320 x 300 px240 x 240 px240 x 240 px
Touch screen
Colour screen
GlassSapphire or Corning GorillaSapphireSapphireCorning Gorilla
BezelSteel or titaniumSteelTitaniumSteel
Military Standard Compliance
  
Waterproofing10 ATM10 ATM15 ATM10 ATM
Interchangeable bracelet
Garmin Fenix 6 vs. Suunto 9 vs. Coros Vertix vs. Polar Grit X: Comparison of Key Features
(1): depending on version (standard / Pro, Solar), type of glass (Corning Gorilla or sapphire) and strap
(2): depending on version / case size: 6S, 6, 6X
.

Price

The 4 models compared are offered at the same starting price (599 €) except for the Polar Grit X, which is much cheaper (429 €). At Garmin, you can go much higher by choosing additional options: sapphire crystal (100 €), titanium bezel or bracelet, Pro model with cartography and mp3 player, solar-powered version, etc.

Unlike other watches, the Coros Vertix and Suunto 9 offer a sapphire crystal at no extra cost. In addition, Coros offers a bezel and caseback in titanium, a light and high-quality material.

The latest release on the market, the Polar Grit X offers full features for a reasonable price.

Design, structure and robustness

The 4 watches offer a meticulous design. Each model has its own charm with a stainless steel or titanium bezel and a look suitable for both city and sport. The type of strap (interchangeable or not, with or without tools) and the choice of materials available (silicone, leather, titanium, steel, fabric) are criteria to be taken into account in the choice of its cardio-GPS. The sapphire glass (scratch-resistant) is recommended for the protection of the watch in sports where shocks are common, especially trail and outdoor sports. It sometimes adds a little weight (about 10 g) and can also increase the price (at least 100 € moreover at Garmin). Polar, on the other hand, offers a Corning Gorilla glass (as on smartphone screens) but less protective than sapphire.

Fenix 6

The advantage of the Fenix 6 is that it is available in 3 housing sizes (42, 47 and 51 mm). People with thin wrists will thus finally be able to benefit from a discreet watch offering the same functionalities! (see also our comparison of the best women's cardio watches). The strap is interchangeable without tools and its width varies according to the size of the watch case (thin straps for thin wrists, etc.). In addition, the brand offers chic straps in leather, steel and titanium and braided nylon in addition to the silicon strap designed for sports.

The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is available as an option on the Pro version. It effectively protects the screen from scratches, an interesting point for sports where rubbing is frequent (climbing, canyoning, trail, etc.). The standard and Pro Solar versions still benefit from an ultra-resistant Corning Gorilla 3 lens, but less resistant than sapphire. The watch is also ultra-resistant (complies with the MIL-STD-810G military standard (high resistance to shocks, temperature and humidity).

Note also that the Fenix 6 comes in 3 versions (read here the differences between the 3 models). The standard version, more economical, is proposed in 2 box sizes only (6S and 6) without mp3 player, without cartography and without Wi-Fi. The Pro version offers the same functions, 3 case sizes but, in addition, an mp3 player, cartography, Wi-Fi and, as an option, the sapphire glass. The Pro Solar version, available in a 6X version (large size) offers a Coring Gorilla glass and a solar recharge to extend autonomy.

Since July 2020, Garmin has extended its solar recharge to all its models. You can therefore opt for a standard or Pro, 6 or 6S model with solar recharge (add €150 to €200).

Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto offers a robust model with a single case size (51 mm), the size of the largest Fenix 6 model, but several strap sizes to fit all body shapes. The watch glass is made of sapphire, the hardest material after diamond! The strap is interchangeable without tools but only exists in silicone version.

Coros Vertix in snow

Coros Vertix

Coros seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from Garmin for the design of its watch (same format, small screws on the bezel, similar displays, etc.) including for the tool-free interchangeable strap that works like the one on the Fenix 6 (push button). On the Coros Pace and the Coros Apex released in 2018, Coros had adopted the old system (small lever to be pushed with the nail found on the Forerunner 245). The watch is also equipped with a sapphire crystal covered with a synthetic diamond coating, which is therefore ultra-resistant. The crown is made of titanium as well as the case back for an ultra-lightweight watch.

Polar Grit X

Polar offers a beautifully designed watch with a metal case, tool-free interchangeable straps in silicone, leather and fabric, and buttons that are comfortable to use (Polar has improved this aspect on this recent model). The watch is robust (compliant with the military standard MIL-STD-810G like the Polar Ignite, designed with this robustness in mind) and lighter than the other 3 models in this comparison.

The screen: touch except at Garmin

The touch screen is becoming the standard for a large number of high-end watches, except at Garmin where it is now only offered on connected watches (Vivoactive 4, Venu). It must be said that its use is not always practical during sports activities or when wearing gloves. But it can be really useful for map manipulation, like on the Fenix 6. Too bad Garmin doesn't offer it.

At Coros, the interface is extremely convenient. The touch screen, which can be disengaged, can be activated for certain functions such as GPS navigation. As with the Apple Watch, a digital knob can be used to scroll through the menus, zoom in and out, etc. The digital knob is also used to control the navigation system. All this makes the interface very user-friendly and the watch can be used even with thick gloves.

In addition, the size and definition of the screen varies greatly from one watch to another. Suunto offers a widescreen (1.4") and high definition (320 x 300 px) display for optimal reading comfort during sports or if your vision is a little poor. On the other hand, the watch is quite large, even very wide on a small wrist. Garmin has favoured a variable design, with 3 case and screen sizes (1.2" to 1.4") and a definition ranging from 240 x 240 px to 280 x 280 px depending on the model. Coros and Polar, on the other hand, offer a small (1.2"), modest definition (240 x 240 px) screen with an intermediate case size (47 mm like the Fenix 6).

Produits beauté femme

Weight and thickness

Weight and thickness are important criteria depending on the sport. A light and thin watch feels less on the wrist than a bulky and heavy watch. For outdoor use, a slightly heavier watch can be afforded, as long as it does not cause discomfort. For trail and performance, a model that is as light as possible (ideally less than 80 g) is better.

The Fenix 6 (models 6 and 6X) and Suunto 9 are among the "heavyweights" with 83 and 93 g for the Garmin 6/6X (82 g for the Solar model with titanium bezel and case back) and 81 g for the Suunto 9 Baro (72 g for the version without barometer). To find a lighter model, choose a more expensive titanium model or opt for the small model of the Fenix 6 (6S version) which weighs only 58g. At Coros, thanks to the standard titanium, the weight goes down to 76 g. Polar proposes an ultra-light watch weighing 64 g!

Fenix 6S, 6X Solar and 6
The Fenix 6, available in 3 case sizes and 3 versions (Standard, Pro and Pro Solar), is the most complete watch on the market today.

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Autonomy

Record autonomy for the Coros Vertix and measurement reliability in Ultra mode for the Suunto

Autonomy is an important, even eliminatory, criterion in the choice of a cardio-GPS watch. It must be as long as possible if you are running "ultra" type races, as the duration of use can well exceed 40 hours. For shorter outings, it remains an essential criterion. The manufacturers are well aware of this and attach great importance to it. Enormous progress has been made thanks to the use of new, more economical GPS chips.

To stand out from the crowd, each manufacturer offers solutions to extend the autonomy time without altering the accuracy of measurements too much. Thus, the "energy saving" (ultra) modes are proposed with an intelligent management allowing to extrapolate the GPS track or to minimize the time in this mode.

ModelFenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
Watch mode9 to 21 d14 d45 d30 d
GPS mode25 to 60 hours25 h60 h40 h
UltraTrac Mode50 to 120 h120 h150 h100 h
Rechargeable during the activity
 
Garmin Fenix 6 vs Suunto 9 vs Coros Vertix vs Polar Grit X: Autonomy Comparison

Garmin offers a range of 25 hours (model 6S) to 60 hours (model 6X) in GPS mode and 50 hours to 120 hours in Ultra mode. With the Solar model, you can still gain between 6 and 50% more battery life, provided that the watch is exposed to direct sunlight during activity (at least 3 hours with the watch connected). The American firm also offers new battery modes (Shipping and Battery Saving) to last several weeks or even months during very long trips. It also offers, like Suunto, an intelligent battery management mode with a display of the sensors' consumption and the possibility of deactivating them individually. Custom profiles can also be defined to decide which sensors to activate for a given sports profile).

The Suunto 9 offers intelligent battery management; ultra mode display;Suunto 9 uses the watch's sensors for an accurate GPS track even in power-saving mode. Inaccurate track (yellow) is corrected (pink) by FusedTrack.

ultra mode display
Suunto 9 uses the watch's sensors for accurate GPS tracking even in power-saving mode. Inaccurate track (yellow) is corrected (pink) by FusedTrack.

Suunto, on the other hand, offers a revolutionary solution (FusedTrack&trade function): a power-saving mode that does not affect the accuracy of measurements too much. By combining data from the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, Suunto "guesses" the missing measurements from the GPS to finally obtain an accurate track. This allows you to go from 25 hours of autonomy to 40 or 120 hours! But beware, this mode can only be used for sports such as walking, trail or running (accuracy is lost for sports that are too fast such as cycling, motorcycling, etc.). The Suunto 9 also offers intelligent battery management based on previous outputs and user choices. It is thus possible to request an "extension" of autonomy to make an unexpected detour without running out of juice!

Coros was inspired by Suunto and Garmin to offer an Ultra mode capable of extrapolating missing GPS data thanks to the watch's sensors (compass, gyroscope, accelerometer) and an intelligent algorithm exploiting data from previous outings (modeling the athlete's stride). The results are rather satisfactory.

As for the Polar Grit X, we reach 40 hours of autonomy in GPS mode, but Polar has added an intelligent battery management that allows, by playing on 3 parameters (degraded mode), to reach 100 hours. The user can in fact deactivate the optical cardio (the use of a chest belt can replace it with minimal consumption), decrease the GPS recording frequency and deactivate the permanent display of the screen. This degraded mode is therefore less interesting than the solutions proposed by the 3 other manufacturers.

Charging without stopping the watch

Another important point is charging the watch during an activity. Garmin, Suunto and Coros offer the possibility to charge the watch during an activity without stopping the recording. However, you will need to take it off your wrist during a pause, as all three recharge via a connector located under the watch with a cable that connects perpendicularly to the case. Polar does not offer this possibility. Recharging is done via the contact sensors of the heart rate monitor and therefore cannot be done while the watch is in use (even if the cardio optics are deactivated!). This is a pity.

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Sensors: everything for outdoor and trail use

Outdoor watches are the best equipped in terms of sensors: GPS, cardio-frequency meter, ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, compass), thermometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, even pulse oximeter (saturometer). Some sensors may be superfluous depending on the sport practised.

ModelFenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
Barometer
Barometric altimeter
Manual Altimeter Calibration
Altitude combining GPS and barometer 
  
GPS systemsGPS, GLONASS, GalileoGPS, GLONASS, QZSS, GalileoGPS, GLONASS (Beidu, Galileo coming soon)GPS, GLONASS, QZSS, Galileo
Wrist cardio
Underwater wrist cardio system
 
PowerWith external sensorWith external sensorWith external sensorWith or without external sensor
Compass
Pulse oximeter
 
 
Thermometer
 
Weather functions
Storm Alerts
 
External sensor compatibilityANT+, BluetoothBluetoothANT+, BluetoothBluetooth
Garmin Fenix 6 vs Suunto 9 vs Coros Vertix vs Polar Grit X: Sensors compared

The barometer: thunderstorm alerts except at Polar

All 4 models are equipped with a barometer, essential for a watch that claims to be outdoor. It allows you to measure the atmospheric pressure, deduce the altitude, measure the difference in altitude and detect changes in the weather. Garmin, Suunto and Coros offer thunderstorm alerts triggered in the event of sudden changes in pressure, a plus for hikers and mountaineers. The Coros Vertix also offers pressure graphs for the last 6 hours.

The altimeter: barometric for the 4 models, mixed at Suunto

Essential for altitude and height measurements in particular, it can be barometric (altitude deduced from the atmospheric pressure measured by an internal barometer) or operate on the basis of GPS measurements. For good accuracy, the ideal is that it is barometric and can be calibrated manually to cope with changes in atmospheric pressure during the trip. This is the case for the 4 models being compared.

Suunto, on the other hand, goes one step further by combining GPS and barometric altimeter data for increased accuracy and reliability of altitude and elevation readings (FusedAlti&trade algorithm;).

At Polar, the altimeter can only be used during an activity.

GPS: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and Beidu

A few years ago, GPS watches worked with a single satellite network, the GPS (American system). Today, other systems are available such as GLONASS (Russian), QZSS or Michibiki (Japanese), Galileo (European) or Beidu (Chinese). Having more satellites does not necessarily improve signal acquisition time and accuracy, but the combination of several networks improves the reliability of reception, especially in sheltered areas. Manufacturers generally offer a choice of options between GPS alone or GPS in combination with another system (GLONASS, etc.). However, the combination of 2 satellite networks consumes more battery power.

Optical cardio: it now works underwater, except at Suunto

Most cardio watches today are equipped with a heart rate monitor on the wrist. This makes it possible to monitor activity 24 hours a day without having to wear a chest belt and simplifies sports outings. What's new on these recent outdoor models is that it works underwater, except at Suunto. Polar was the first to offer such a system. The leader has since been overtaken by competitors Garmin and Coros.

Please note that Polar offers 4 contact sensors to ensure that the watch is positioned against the skin. This limits measurement errors. The Grit X also benefits from an improved system. Orange LEDs have been added for even better adaptation to different skin types.

Regardless of the manufacturer, however, the reliability of the measurements remains poor, especially underwater and when the change of rate is important (case of fractionated for example). It is preferable to wear a belt or an armband if you want to record usable data.

Power development: without external sensors at Polar

Power Display

The 4 watches can be coupled with an external power sensor (Stryd sensor, Foodpod, belt HRM-Run or HRM-Tri, etc.). Coros proposes it for cycling but not yet for running. This function is not available for outdoor (not very interesting here).

Polar innovates on its side (since the release of the Polar Vantage V) with a watch that evaluates power without an external sensor. It deduces it from the kinetic energy and potential energy evaluated from the watch's sensors (accelerometer, GPS, altimeter). An external sensor can of course also be used for better accuracy.

Other sensors

ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, compass) are indispensable for hiking and exploration. These sensors are present on all 4 watches. But on the Polar Grit X, the compass and altimeter are only accessible during an activity.

graph oximeter
Oximeter measures blood oxygen level and helps prevent accidents at high altitude

Garmin and Coros also offer a pulse oximeter. This sensor, integrated into the optical heart rate monitor, measures the blood oxygenation rate, a parameter to be monitored for sports at high altitudes (mountaineering for example) and for diving (read our explanations below).

Three of the 4 models include a thermometer (Fenix 6, Suunto 9 and Coros Vertix). All 4 watches offer weather functions (thunderstorm alerts, sunrise and sunset times at Garmin and Suunto, weather forecast based on atmospheric pressure at Coros, weather access via smartphone at Polar).

External sensors

Today, 2 standards are used to connect a GPS watch to an external sensor: ANT+ (a low-power wireless protocol developed by a Garmin subsidiary) and Bluetooth. ANT+ is used less and less. Its advantage is that it is compatible with most of the current sensors available on the market. Suunto and Polar only offer Bluetooth, hence a certain limitation in the choice of sensors. Garmin offers both protocols. Coros only proposed the ANT+ protocol but, since March 2020, has added Bluetooth.

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Features compared: focus on trail and outdoors

ModelFenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
GPS Navigation
++++
+++
++
+++
Nb of sports22+80+19130+
Triathlon
Golf41,000 routes   
Integrated path generatorPro Version   
Training programming
Interval training
Interval training
Training follow-up
 
Physiological measurements
 
- VO2max
- Race Time Predictor
 
- Training effect
 
 
- Lactic threshold
 
 
- Recovery time
 
- Drive load
 
- Training status
 
- Stress level
 
- Endurance level  
Racing dynamics (e.g. cadence, stride length...)72Coming soon2
Power
Altitude acclimatization
 
 
Altitude profile
Virtual partner
   
Strava Live segments
 
Connected functions
+++
+
+
+
Activity monitoring
+++
+++
+++
+++
MP3 PlayerPro Version   
Contactless payment
   
CartographyPro Version   
Pulse oximeter
 
 
Garmin Fenix 6 vs Suunto 9 vs Coros Vertix vs Polar Grit X: Features compared

Functions dedicated to outdoor and trail use

The functions dedicated to outdoor and trail use concern GPS navigation (GPS track, route tracking, return to the start, distance to go, estimated time remaining, etc.), orientation, weather functions, evaluation of altitude acclimatization, slope profiles (climbed or to come), altitude, vertical height, vertical speed readings. Here is a summary and comparison of the different functions offered by these 4 watches. We describe the main functions below.

For the trail, we also expect tools for training and monitoring of the athlete. We also describe them below in this chapter.

ModelFenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
Barometric altimeter
GPS navigation (route tracking)
GPS track
 
Turn-by-turn navigation
  
CartographyVersio Pro   
Route import
Barometer calibration (manual/auto)
Vertical drop
Vertical speed
Slope profile
 
Evaluates altitude acclimatization
 
 
Compass
Thermometer
 
Weather Functions
Storm alert
 
Garmin Fenix 6 vs. Suunto 9 vs. Coros Vertix vs. Polar Grit X: features dedicated to outdoor use

GPS navigation: the ultimate with the Fenix 6

GPS navigation (route tracking, route planning, return to the start, navigation to waypoints, etc.) is an essential function for trail riding, hiking, exploration, trekking but also for organizing a cycling or running trip on unknown trails.

colour mapping
The Garmin Fenix 6 offers colour mapping of the country or continent of purchase including bike and ski trails.

At this level, the Fenix 6 stands out from the crowd with a complete navigation tool such as the ability to create a route from the Garmin Connect interface and follow it (or synchronize a route from Strava or Komoot), heat maps (to find a route off the beaten track, among those frequented by the community), GPS track display, return to the starting point, color mapping of the country or continent of purchase (city maps, roads...), The Garmin community offers a wide range of functions (e.g. bike paths, trails, hiking maps with contour lines depending on the options, ski slopes in more than 2000 resorts worldwide), the possibility to let the watch propose a looped route, on road or bike paths, starting from a given distance, or to propose a route recorded by other users in the Garmin community (Trendline function), the possibility to obtain the route profile (ClimbPro function), the estimation of the duration of the route. It also allows you to find a hotel, a refuge, a hostel around you. A new turn-by-turn voice guidance function allows you to navigate without looking at your watch. The Fenix 6 is really excellent for this.

In addition to these functions, Garmin has generalized the LiveTrack function on its watches, which allows them to be tracked on the Internet. The Fenix 6 also offers the GroupTrack function to follow other athletes wearing a Garmin watch with this function.

Suunto 9 also offers advanced navigation features (route tracking, waypoint navigation, waypoint recording, thumbnail track, return to the start on the same path or as the crow flies, estimated time of arrival, altimeter profiles, climb rate, etc.). Heat maps can also be used to find a route frequented by other users of the watch. Suunto is indeed a leader in outdoor activities.

The Coros Vertix includes some navigation functions (route guidance, return to the starting point) but these are limited for the moment. It is not possible to program routes from within the application. It is necessary to use a third party application (Strava for example) to load a route into the watch.

Polar offers route planning from the Komoot application (free in limited version, otherwise you have to pay for it) and then download it to your watch. The Grit X allows you to follow a route with turn-by-turn guidance. The watch then displays the distance to go before the next change, indicates the direction to take and gives an alert if you deviate from the programmed route. You can also return to your starting point. It does not offer a GPS track (small thumb) or a map.

Oximetry and acclimatization assessment

oximeter
Coros Vertix clearly displays whether the ascent can continue without risk to health

At Garmin, the oximeter is used to assess altitude acclimatization and adjust VO2max values. It can be activated for sleep analysis, but Garmin does not use the results (the values are simply displayed in the interface). The interest of the sensor is especially for mountaineers in high altitude ascents. It is important that the blood oxygen level does not fall too low, otherwise there is a risk to health. If one climbs a little too fast, the watch will be able to indicate this.

Coros goes one step further by offering a 24-hour measurement of blood oxygen levels above 2500 metres. The watch displays a gauge (score and colours) that explicitly indicates whether or not it is safe to continue the ascent, whether to take a break or whether it is better to go back down.

Weather functions

All 4 models offer weather functions, including weather forecasting (on the Garmin and Polar you need a smartphone connection. Coros makes a forecast based on the evolution of atmospheric pressure). Garmin and Suunto displays sunrise and sunset times. Fenix 6, Suunto 9 and Coros Vertix carry a thermometer and offer thunderstorm alerts (the barometer detects changes in air pressure).

Sports functions

The 4 watches offer tools to help the athlete for training, monitoring and performance optimisation. The Garmin Fenix 6 is the most complete, followed by the Polar Grit X.

The Fenix 6 offers many features. Programming of training sessions, split management, running against an opponent or against yourself, race time estimation, assistance in the mountains for cycling and in the hills for running (ClimbPro and PacePro functions), audio coaching, programming of alerts, goal setting, etc. This watch is very complete. These functions, combined with physiological measurements and running dynamics (running metrics), offer powerful tools for demanding athletes, especially runners.

Polar comes a close second with recent features aimed at trailers and outdoor fans (in addition to the features already available on other Polar models). These include training scheduling, adaptive customised training to prepare for a race (5, 10, 21 or 42 km) within a given time frame, night recovery assessment and its use in FitSpark, a function offering a daily training programme to stay healthy, evaluation of the benefits of training, a rib analyser and a refuelling assistant.

Coros offers interesting sports features, such as guided training (personalized program to reach a defined objective of Aerobic or Anaerobic Training Effect), running time evaluation, nutrition alerts (reminders).

At Suunto, sports functions are much more limited. The focus is on autonomy, reliability and outdoor functions.

Sports profiles

Suunto offers more than 80 profiles, the Fenix 6 about fifteen (but dozens can be downloaded on Garmin Connect), the Vertix about 20 and Polar about 20 in the watch but offers more than 130 to download for free on its platform.

At Suunto and Polar, each profile looks the same with generic data (distance, GPS track, calories burned, etc.). Sometimes it's only the name of the sport that changes!

At Garmin, each profile is studied to provide relevant data for each sport: race dynamics for running, number of strokes and cadence for rowing, number of runs for skiing, etc. It should also be noted that it is well suited to skiing (maps of ski slopes) and golf, with more than 41,000 embedded courses and functions specific to this sport. All in all, the Garmin offer is the best.

The Coros Vertix, on the other hand, is the most limited. You can't create a profile. The multi-sport profile is limited to a few sports, those of triathlon. There is no mountain biking, rowing, let alone yoga. But Coros has added some since his watch was released (ski and bodybuilding profiles for example).

Animated exercises

Scheduling workouts

The 4 watches can be used to program training sessions. Suunto is limited to simple split drives. The Fenix 6 takes into account the previous outputs.

Recovery

Polar, Garmin and Coros indicate the recovery time, i.e. the time needed to recover from an output. The watch can also be an invitation to go on a moderate outing or to rest. Garmin and Polar also evaluate the quality of recovery. The Body Battery at Garmin (24-hour evaluation based on sleep and activity during the day) and Nightly recharge at Polar (nightly recovery evaluation) evaluate this parameter for use in other functions.

Drive load

The training load takes into account the past activity and the type of effort to give an overview. It allows you to optimize your training, to arrive at an optimal preparation for a race or competition and to avoid overtraining, a source of injury.

color gradient curve
ClimbPro analyzes the profile of the course to help riders and cyclists to better manage their effort on a mountainous course

Rib management

In addition to indications of altitude, vertical speed and difference in height, some watches offer more detailed information on the slope being climbed or even the one to come.

Garmin offers comprehensive tools for managing uphill speed (PacePro) and analyzing future slope profile (ClimbPro). Unlike PacePro, the latter function requires you to follow a course programmed into the watch. It displays the distance to reach the next climb, the difficulty, the average slope of the hill being climbed, the distance and time to the summit, etc. The ClimbPro function is also available for the first time.

Polar offers HillSplitter, a less sophisticated function but which has the advantage of operating in real time, without route planning. It analyzes the terrain, detects slopes and displays the associated data: distance traveled (flat, ascent, descent), ascent/descent time, vertical speed, elevation, number of ascents/descents. This function is particularly interesting for loop routes.

Nutrition alerts

Polar has introduced a new Fuel Wise feature on the Grit X. It is a refueling assistant (food and hydration) that evaluates the expenses during the outing and generates alerts when it is time to eat or drink. This helps to avoid surprises such as cravings or performance loss due to dehydration).

FuelWise
Polar Grit X: a stylish all-metal and robust design, more pleasant buttons and a touchscreen

Recently (March 2020), Coros offers nutrition alerts, but they are less elaborate than those of Polar. The watch emits an alert after a given amount of time indicating that you should think about refuelling.

Physiological measurements and running dynamics

Increasingly present on sports watches, physiological measurements help the sportsman to manage his training and optimise his performance. From the measurement of heart rate and its variability and other parameters (power, cadence, etc.), the watch can estimate the athlete's physical condition, his VO2max, physiological age, stress level, training level, the effect of training on the body (training effects, training status and load, etc.).

At Garmin, Polar et et et Coros you can even predict a race time based on the distance to be covered, the level of training and the physical condition of the athlete. Recently, the Suunto 9 has been used to evaluate stress levels, recovery and VO2max. Coros also offers an evaluation of the overall endurance level and the energy remaining to be expended for the current training (stamina). Polar evaluates nightly recovery (Nightly Recharge).

In addition to physiological measurements, these watches offer running dynamics, advanced functions for runners such as running power (see below), stride length, running cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, ground contact time balance, vertical ratio and more.

Each of the watches compared here evaluates the running power (race or trail). Coros measures it with a dedicated sensor, Garmin, Polar and Suunto with a Stryd sensor. Polar can evaluate the power without an external sensor thanks to the other sensors of the watch. Garmin also offers a downloadable application (Running Power) on its Connect IQ platform for use with a cardio belt or the Running Dynamics pod sensor.

Connected functions: out of the ordinary for the Fenix 6

Polar, Coros and Suunto offer the bare minimum: Smartphone notifications (SMS, emails, incoming calls) and, for Coros and Suunto, those of classic applications (WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, FB, WeChat, FB Messenger). Coros also has a support function in the smartphone application but nothing on the watch.

The Fenix 6, on the other hand, allows you to reject incoming calls from a smartphone or send predefined SMS messages. It offers LiveTrack and GroupTrack functions, the ability to listen to music locally or stream music with Spotify or Deezer or Amazon Music, the ability to make purchases (Garmin Pay function), control of compatible devices (VIRB 3D camera, etc.). Pro models can also connect via Wifi for data and music downloads and firmware updates.

Activity monitoring

The 4 watches offer more or less similar functions: distance travelled, number of steps, calories burned, quality of sleep, stress (except at Polar). The Fenix 6 and the Coros Vertix count, in addition, the number of steps climbed and the intensive minutes.

ModelFenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
Distance
Number of steps
Calories
Ascended floors
 
 
Detailed sleep analysis
Stress
 
Intensive Minutes
 
 
Garmin Fenix 6 vs Suunto 9 vs Coros Vertix vs Polar Grit X: Activity monitoring

lary functions

These functions can make a difference in the choice of a cardio watch, even though some of them may seem a bit gadget-like and add price to the watch.

  • Color mapping: Only the Fenix 6 Pro offers this feature. Maps of Europe (for purchase in Europe) are embedded in the watch's gigantic memory and include the cycle paths (Garmin Cycle maps) and ski slopes of more than 2000 resorts worldwide.
  • Music player: Present on the Fenix 6 Pro, it allows you to listen to your favorite music without a Smartphone thanks to Bluetooth headphones.
  • Payment system: only Fenix 6 offers this function. It allows you to pay for your purchases without having to use your smartphone or a bank card.

Our opinion on these 4 cardio-GPS multi-sports, trail and outdoor watches: which one is the best?

Even if the Garmin Fenix 6 stands out from the crowd, you can't say that one watch is better than the other because it all depends on the objective and the tools you need. These 4 high-end outdoor watches each have different advantages.

The Fenix 6 is the most complete and will appeal to demanding sportsmen, competitors and fans of numbers. It shines with a wealth of features and tools, advanced connected functions for everyday use and a wide choice of models and bracelets. The Suunto 9 is a sporty, more sober watch that is only available in a rather bulky model (small wristbands abstain). It offers an exceptional autonomy, the accuracy of measurements even in Ultra mode, and a management mode that will delight fans of long-distance racing. The Coros Vertix offers a model that still needs to mature, but is a serious alternative to the watches of the leaders. Its altitude mode is perfect for mountaineers and its record-breaking autonomy alone is a criterion of choice! The Polar Grit X offers the best value for money with complete and sufficient functions for most sportsmen and women.

Garmin Fenix 6: for sports functions, GPS navigation and case size

Fenix 6 ski slopes

The Fenix 6 is to date the most complete watch on the market, especially for outdoor use (version 6 Pro). It is the queen of sports watches. It is robust and its interface is user-friendly. It has all the useful sensors. It offers complete functionalities for training, navigation and health monitoring. The autonomy of the 6X model is also excellent and is suitable for ultra-trail races. Elegant, it's good for city and work as well as sports.

This is the watch we recommend for professional use, for competitors or for demanding athletes looking for advanced tools and statistics.

The basic version (without cartography and mp3 player) is sufficient for most sports and for competition. The Pro version, with cartography, will interest hikers and adventurers but also sportsmen who like to run or ride with music. The Solar version will interest ultra-trailers and trekking enthusiasts who are looking for the greatest autonomy. However, it remains expensive and the gain in autonomy is not enough to make it more interesting than the 6X Pro model.

It adapts to all wrist sizes, a definite asset for people with thin wrists and those looking for a watch discreet enough to be worn every day. Garmin also offers stylish straps for city and work wear and an easy attachment system (no tools required).

Hard to do better!

Read our detailed review and our full review of the Garmin Fenix 6.

For exclusively sports use, we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 945, an equally complete outdoor and triathlon watch (equivalent to the Fenix 6 Pro), lighter and cheaper (but less chic too).

Suunto 9: for robustness, precision, screen comfort and autonomy

Suunto 9

The Suunto 9, with its less developed functions, is nevertheless a highly sought-after watch for its long autonomy (120 h), the precision of the GPS track in power-saving mode (thanks to FusedTrack™) and altitude measurements (thanks to FusedAlti™), the outdoor functions and the comfort of its 320x300 px screen. Suunto also enjoys a good reputation for outdoor use. It offers an impressive range of autonomy that ultra-racing fans, mountaineers or hikers who spend several days in the mountains are looking for. Intelligent battery management is also a plus. It allows you to change modes at any time to extend the range without affecting the accuracy of the track. No more compromises between battery life and data accuracy! Finally, the FusedAlti™ and FusedSpeed™ functions are a plus compared to the competition. The Suunto 9 is also pretty and robust with its sapphire crystal. The Suunto 9 is ideal for outdoor use, hiking, trail riding and of course all long (ultra) runs, multi-day trips and trekking. It's a pity that the functions offered are not more developed and that Suunto does not offer mapping. That said, the manufacturer has added new functions during a firmware update at the end of 2019 and we can hope that the watch will evolve further.

Read our detailed review and our full review of the Suunto 9.

Coros Vertix: complete, with top-of-the-range materials and record-breaking autonomy

Coros Vertix

The interest of the Coros Vertix is to offer, at the same price as the 2 other watches, quality materials (titanium, sapphire) and resistance to extreme conditions (temperature, pressure). It offers an irreproachable GPS quality as well as new functions such as the evaluation of altitude acclimatization and recommendations for climbing without taking risks. It is very attractive for mountaineering or hiking in high mountains. Its record autonomy is also an advantage over the competition for very long outings (trekking, ultra trail), even in very cold weather (other watches do not hold up as soon as the thermometer goes down). It's a pity that it only interfaces with a Smartphone (no web application) and that its sports profiles are still limited.

Read our detailed review and our full review of the Coros Vertix.

Polar Grit X: robust, complete and with new functions. The best value for money!

GPS guidance

Polar was lagging behind when it came to watches for trail and outdoor use. The newest Vantage V already offers comprehensive functions for running and triathlon. This new Grit X model provides the functions that were missing for trail and outdoor use, with the addition of power on the wrist (without external sensor), new functions such as the rib analyser or the refuelling assistant, and a high degree of robustness of the watch (military standard). However, navigation remains limited compared to Garmin and Suunto (no real-time GPS track, no heat map, route planning via a third-party application). Polar's experience in exploiting heart rate and its variability is also appreciated. Finally, it is difficult to find such a complete watch for outdoor and trail at this price.

 

 Fenix 6Suunto 9 BaroCoros VertixPolar Grit X
 Fenix 6Suunto 9Coros Vertixmontre Polar Grit X
Strong pointsExtremely comprehensive
Robust (military standard)
Numerous athletic functions
Physiological meadures
Running Dynamics
Advanced GPS navigation
Colour cartography (Pro version)
Integrated route generator
MP3 player (Pro version)
Payment solution
Long battery life
Smart battery management
Reliability of measurerements (fusedAlti, FusedTrack, FusedSpeed)
Advanced GPS navigation
Practical gauges
Confortable screen
Quality/priceratio
Altitude mode and practical recommendations
Guided trainings
Quality materials
Practical interface even with gloves
Robust (military standard)
Very comprehensive and cheap for the features offered
Power at the wrist
Number of training tools (Adaptive Training, Training Load Pro, FitSpark)
Slope analyser
Refueling assistant
Intelligent battery management
Areas for ImprovementNo touch screen
Screen size and definition can be perfected
Few new functions
Few physiological measurements
No interface for PC or Mac
Limited sports profiles
No downloadable widgets or watchfaces
Komoot app fees for route planning
No thumbnail tracks
No heat maps
Price
$$$($)
$$$
$$$
$$
RobustnessMilitary standard + sapphire crystal (optional)Sapphire glassSapphire glassMilitary Standard
Screen definition
+++
++++
+++
+++
Autonomy GPS mode
++(++)
++
++++
+++
Autonomy Ultra mode
++(++)
++++
+++++
+++
Precision Ultra mode
++
+++
++
+
Sports features
++++
+
++
+++
Outdoor functions
++++
+++
+++
+++
GPS Navigation
+++++
+++
+++
+++
Strengths and areas for improvement of each model

Where to buy these models

The Garmin Fenix 6, Coros Vertix, Suunto 9 Baro and Polar Grit X are available on the internet. Discover them at our partners and take advantage of our promo codes.

Buy Garmin Fenix 6

Merchant
Price (from)
 
Lepape
749 €
699 €
i-Run
599 €
549 €
Alltricks
549.99 €
474.99 €
Amazon
599.99 €
429.99 €
Darty
599 €
536.86 €
Rakuten
599 €
390 €

 

Buy la Suunto 9 Baro

Merchant
Price (from)
 
Lepape
599 €
469 €
i-Run
599 €
329 €
Alltricks
599 €
469 €
Amazon
599 €
431 €
Rakuten
599 €
431 €

 

Buy Coros Vertix

Merchant
Price (from)
 
Alltricks
599 €
Amazon
599 €

 

Buy Polar Grit X

Merchant
Price (from)
 
Lepape
429 €
i-Run
429 €
Amazon
395 €

Commercial links. Prices are not contractual. Please visit the merchant site.

Philippe Baudoin
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