Activity Tracking with the Garmin Fenix 3 HR

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So Chinese New Year is officially over and with it goes the feeding frenzy. It’s time to claw my way back to some semblance of fitness with the new bling on my wrist from DH who heartily encourages my obsession with stats.

The Good

Yes. We’ve traded the Apple Watch for the Garmin Fenix 3 HR which has some advantages, namely:

  • Longer battery life – based on my usage, about a week – give or take – before it needs to go back on the charger.
  • Sleep tracking – which I can actually do now that I don’t need to take it off to charge everyday. Although I have some doubts about accuracy, but more about that later on.
  • It is waterproof so I can track my swimming as well – big plus! If you really want an activity tracker, how can you leave watersports out?
  • Better hiking stats – something goes awry with the Apple Watch whenever I hike and the stats are impossibly way off.
  • It doesn’t get smelly like the Apple Watch – don’t ask me why the difference but the Apple Watch would start smelling funky by the end of a day’s wear. This doesn’t happen with the Fenix.

New bling

The Bad

What’s not so good:

  • It makes my wrist itch – perhaps because I wear it all the time now and I have a natural skin sensitivity to certain jewellery. I get past this problem by switching the watch from left to right wrist and back again before my skin gets irritated.
  • It’s way bigger than the Apple Watch which means my chances of bumping it on something increases ten fold. Yeah, I’m clumsy like that. You can probably already see the scratches on the face in the picture above.
  • I mentioned the problems with sleep tracking above. A couple of times, the sleep tracker has me going to sleep at 8 or 9 pm. I never sleep earlier than 10 pm unless I’m sick. Perhaps because I was so comfortable in front of the idiot box that my vitals dipped to sleeping range?
  • The range of activities is severely limited. I supposed because it’s a serious watch for very active people. Nevertheless, it would be nice if I could record all kinds of activity, including pilates and regular walks (not hikes) but there is no facility for that unless you manually include it.
  • I confess I miss those lovely activity rings on Apple Watch that allow you to check at a glance how many targets you managed to hit in a month. There is something encouraging about it that prompts you to keep moving to make sure you hit all targets.

Fenix 3 versus Apple Watch Tracking

Given the gross discrepancies in tracking between the Polar Beat versus the Apple Watch, I figured I should do a couple of side-by-side comparisons of the Fenix 3 against the Apple Watch. The following images show the stats for our Valentine’s Day Hike (Left – Apple; Right – Fenix):

Hiking stats Hiking stats

Everything is out. The Fenix 3 tracks higher on every measure – active calories, distance covered, and elevation gain. Even the pace is faster. About the only thing that was fairly similar was my heart rate. The Fenix 3 recorded an average of 130bpm.

Next up, I compared a regular day’s worth of movement without a workout from wake up to dinner time (Left – Apple; Right – Fenix):

Activity trackers Activity trackers

This time, we have the Apple Watch tracking higher on calories burnt and steps taken.

Finally, I tried to compare an indoor walk but the Apple Watch ran out of batteries before I was done. Based on what I did see while I was working out, the Apple Watch was tracking higher than the Fenix 3 in both steps taken and calories burnt. In other words, the Fenix 3 is a tougher personal trainer. Aside from the hiking activity, the Fenix 3 forces me to work harder to hit my minimum daily targets – which is not really a bad thing. The next thing is to check if this holds true for other activities, like running and biking.

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