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An ode to the Garmin Fenix

It’s no secret that I like things that don’t know when to give up or die.

Jeeps; Bulldogs; Accuracy International; USP 45s; the US Coast Guard – the list goes on. And lately, I’ve had this “I really want to like it” thing with ‘wearables’ – you know, fitness trackers and watches and shit that make you feel like a dysfunctional Dick Tracy, talking to your wrist and shit. Wearables are flimsy as fuck, honestly. Except – for the Garmin Fenix.

Yeah, that’s a Magpul AICS mag propping up the Garmin. You may also recognize the 168gr SMKs filling it.

TL;DR  version; This may be the damn finest watch and/or fitness device on the planet, which makes it like the equivalent of a $3800 Accuracy International rifle, or a Ferrari LaFerrari. You want it. It’s better than you, and you’ll never use it to it’s full potential.


You’ve probably seen the new commercial for the Garmin Fenix 5, with the guy who’s the coolest asshole in the world. He ditches all of his friends and super hot dates to go adventuring with himself on a series of increasingly extreme things. This is how you know this dude ain’t a veteran; he’s avoiding hot women (yes, there are exceptions, but c’mon, man. That beard is way too clean). He’s also a major narcissist, and should probably seek professional counseling. But anyway.

Disclaimer; I am drinking while I write this (I edited it sober, though). This results in brutal honesty and an I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. If you like, hang on for the ride. Oh, and if you want neutrality and data, seriously check out DC Rainmaker. His reviews kick ass, and he has a brand new one about the Fenix 5, with truth and facts and things.

The Garmin Fenix 5; the latest version. Comes in 9 million flavors, costs between $600.00 and $700.00, with a commercial that’s the TV equivalent of Arrogant Bastard; you’re not worthy. And, unfortunately, it’s probably right. You, me, and everyone else on the planet just isn’t quite there. Doesn’t mean this isn’t a damn fine piece of kit, though.

Second disclaimer; I don’t own the latest version. I own a Fenix 2. I have to assume that the 5 is even better, but that’s not always true.

In order to understand why you aren’t the person for this watch, you should understand who I am. I am not the biggest badass on the planet. I was never spec ops. I was just a regular-ass operational Boatswain’s Mate, with a penchant for stupid decisions and awesome storms. I spent my entire time with the Fenix 2 in the US Coast Guard, in heavy waves and medium surf, in the ice, heaving salty hawsers, saving lives and shooting guns, and in my limited private time I did woodworking, hiking, snowboarding and offroading. I also did a lot of riding on my Aprilia SL1000 and a good amount of triathlon training.

Or – just look at the picture.

The Fenix 2 was frozen, beat up, had the strap torn off – It was lost overboard once, thrown across the room by my belt sander (my own mistake), got caught in the tow bitt on a 47 MLB under strain (google that shit if you don’t know what the 47′ motor lifeboat is), scoffed at helo ops, was used as a
stopwatch for search patterns, and finally was lost for a year before rediscovery, and the only real damage it took was the loss of the strap. As far as battery life? It lasted for a
lot of heavy, GPS-intensive use during a 72-hour duty period where we manned up through an 18-hour straight storm, pulling uncountable boats and people from the teeth of the wind and waves, screaming the entire way, giddy with adrenaline and fear. If you want to know how many text messages it will receive before the battery dies, go find your dick  realize that you’re a major fucking hipster, and rectify that shit before finishing this article.

So… here’s the deal. The straight, no bullshit.

This watch kicks ass. It kicks so much ass, that I was never, ever able to use it to it’s full potential. The entire time I used it, I had only two gripes.

One, it needs to be recharged every few days. In my ideal world, this watch would be powered by a Fallout-style nuclear battery and never need to be charged. The downside is the whole nuclear thing, but whatevs.


Two, it doesn’t have the night-vision compatible setting of the Tactix. This may seem stupid, but I actually could have used that when I was using the PVS-14 NVG mono to search for poor souls in the icy hell that is the Great Lakes. The red backlight is pretty good for not torching your natural night vision, though.

Pocket dump, plus some other stuff after range day.

But… let’s be honest.

This watch has so much more shit than I was ever able to take advantage of. And yet – and yet, it was worth every damn penny. And as much as I’d love to upgrade to the Fenix 5, I can’t, and I won’t, because this watch stood duty with me for more hours than any other human, and even with a drained battery for more than a year, it’s still kicking ass.

Would I buy it again? Nah. Don’t need to. This one hasn’t died yet. Garmin doesn’t need a lifetime warranty on this watch. This shit never breaks. Fuck, my spine got fucked up before this watch did. You can buy it, and I recommend it. But – just realize you won’t be able to use this watch to the max.

But if you can, shoot me an email and I’ll buy you a beer, because you deserve it.

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