I jumped in at the Garmin 5S. Had it nearly two years
(Conclusion - Love it)
Its a huge outlay for a device with a longevity restricted by its battery life. I am guessing that It’ll be good for 5 years, but once the battery life starts dropping its going to be pretty useless as a navigation device. For Context my Casio Promaster is still ticking along on the mantle piece brought in 2011 and untouched It most likely will be for another 10 years
The Map is fiddly to zoom in and out and use for navigating but is useful to see where there are paths on the trail and whether you want to be going left or right as Arno suggests.
The Track on exposed mountains gets very lost, so thats something t consider in decision making, as visually you may be up to 1 km away from where you actually are.
I find it useful to have it on the navigation screen when hiking and monitor it frequently to see whether I am on course or off - especially approaching an indistinct junction that isn’t marked by a cairn
The battery life on GPS + Galileo mode is ok, typically about 1 & 1/2 days hiking. I usually use about 45% on a 7 hour hike
In the Extended (inaccurate GPS) mode the battery life is good for 3 hiking days navigating.
I find the distance travelled a useful feature, and the compass is actually pretty good too.
Bottom line a Dedicated GPS with spare batteries is much better, but you could drop it, loose it, forget it which youre not likely to with the watch. Its an absolutely nice to have.
But figuring out how to keep it powered is a whole different conversation. It likes my 20,000 1mah Uniross power bank, but doesn’t like my 8000 2mah solar powered RedE one. At the moment Im looking to rebuild a Solar panel for direct charging off USB for the Power banks GPS
As a guide having the messages come through to your wrist is particularly useful in so much as guests dont feel your are prioritising the communication over them and Ive had several people ask if I actually have a phone. (i get that any device does this) but having the turn signals vibrate on your wrist is great too!
I haven’t uploaded GPS tracks yet nor figured out how to nor needed to yet.
I do take mine off when washing as the chemical aspect isn’t great but the water resistance is very good. That said, buy the little caps that fit over the contacts as the salinity of your exercised body tends to make charging difficult as you need to wash them before connecting.
In short its a great companion to a MAP and Compass enabling you to be very much more aware of where you are and only bringing out the map at lunch or at night time.
Battery life isn’t great, typically I recharge once a week unless I have a hike on, but it charges quite quickly From a practical standpoint Id say it uses about 14% over 24 hours.
Its very awesome for the extras, like monitoring weather, adding on tidal predictions and when lion woke me up swatting my tent and I smelt her breath as she sniffed Flehmen through the vent of a First Ascent Luna 30cm from my face, the next day my watch recorded that my heart rate went from 64 to 120 at 03:26
Also cross referencing activity to the GPS track against heart rate is another interesting tool for reflection.
As a reference the App Maps.me is very good (probably better but youre using a communication device for mapping not a great idea), Garmin Etrex and Montana GPS’s are so much easier to interact with.
Ive just had a little play looking at and zooming on and out the Drakensberg area, it took a while but I did find Monks Cowl fork before I got bored. the screen refresh is not exactly quick, but I am sitting in Cape Town and the Contours at 50m intervals are visible, as well as “rivers” For this the device isn’t useless but your rather use anything else.
I have not uploaded routes to follow yet, but in Navigation mode use the Garmin to find things “around me” whilst travelling ona new road. Hey it found Bagdad Cafe on the N7, so thats a bonus Whilst typing this, It hasn’t found “Giants Castle” yet…
Obviously the 6 Pro (with the solar charger) will be better, last longer and find things faster, but still not as much use as a GPS
Also Its interesting to put it onto Tactical mode and monitor distance & speed whilst someone else is Skippering or Flying
All in all Im a big fan, and when this one’s battery life diminishes to the point it won’t last a 7 hour hike I hope Ill be in a flush position to buy another one (but Ill still have my Casio Promaster on the mantelpiece to tell the time whilst hiking.)
When the battery dies on you; you do feel kind of lost for a while