Garmin Fenix 7X Pro Review: The Ultimate Multisport GPS Smartwatch

Our Garmin Fenix 7X Pro review explains why it's essentially the ultimate GPS smartwatch for runners and fitness enthusiasts, but not for everyone.

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As runners, we often start with the basics, using our phones or a simple fitness tracker to monitor our pace, distance, and maybe our heart rate. But as our love for running grows, so does our need for deeper insights and more robust features that can keep up with our evolving journey.

If you’ve found yourself pushing the limits of what your current watch or phone app can provide, and want to invest in your running and fitness journey by getting a high-end GPS watch, then the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro is one to consider. It’s essentially the ultimate multisport GPS smartwatch for running and pretty much any other activity, as well as tracking your health metrics throughout the rest of the day and night.

In this Garmin Fenix 7X Pro review, I’m explaining the features of the Sapphire Solar specific running watch that I find the most insightful and use every day on whichever Garmin I’m using that day, who this watch is best suited to, why it’s a much better option for runners and fitness enthusiasts than the Apple Watch, and also alternative Garmin running watches to consider.

Garmin Fenix 7X Pro review 8

The Key Specifications

  • Price: $999 at SCHEELS ($899 for the smaller Garmin Fenix 7 and Fenix 7S Pro)
  • Sizing and fit: 51mm (diameter), 47mm for the Fenix 7 and 42mm for the Fenix 7S
  • Wrist fit: 127-210 mm wrist with the silicone band
  • Battery life: Typically up to 28 days or 37 days with solar in smartwatch mode. See the product spec page on Garmin’s website for other variations
  • More specs: There are too many to list here; read more on the Fenix 7X Pro product page
  • Best for: Best-in-class health, fitness and activity tracking in any climate or sport you can think of, plus everyday smartwatch capabilities to rival the Apple Watch.

Features of the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro that I use every day

These are the Garmin features I personally find the most useful on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro because I use them every single day.

These are definitely not all the features I use regularly (there are so many), but some of the standout ones that I want to highlight, to give you an idea of how it can be used for everyday running, workouts, fitness tracking and as a smartwatch.

Selecting one of a long list of activities you can use the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro for.
Selecting one of a long list of activities you can use the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro for. Trail run is, naturally, at the top of my list of favorites!

Tracking and navigation features while running

Before I get into the more advanced health-related features I like on this Garmin watch, let’s touch on what it’s like to run with.

The Fenix 7X Pro has basically every feature you could wish for on a running watch, and you can use as little or as many of those features as you want, including training session guidance and recommendations, customizable screens with loads of stats and metrics that you can move around to get exactly what you want to see on your wrist.

Selecting workout features on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro, including recommended running workouts, race tools and course navigation options.
Selecting workout features on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro, including recommended running workouts, race tools and course navigation options.

In fact, there are so many features, I imagine most people will never get around to using them all… but that’s the thing, it’s so customizable that if you want to tailor the watch’s functions, displays and analytics to data that is interesting and useful to you, then pretty much anything is possible with this watch.

Unlike running watches that focus on the more basic time and distance-related metrics (pace, time, average pace, etc etc), you can set several screens to have one for each type of metric you want to focus on, that take the insights beyond typical running stats.

So, for example, I have a ‘hill climbing’ screen that shows my current heart rate, heart rate zone, elevation, total ascent and descent so far on my run.

Plus, if I’m following a course using the navigation feature, I’ll have a screen that shows me how much further I have on each hill climb in terms of both distance and meters (or feet) of climbing to go, which is super useful in races especially. Using this feature allows me to know when I’m near a summit and can judge when to push or take it easy to avoid blowing up mid-ascent and mid-race.

Garmin Fenix 7X Pro review - the navigation features are best-in-class and include detailed topographical mapping.
Garmin Fenix 7X Pro review – the navigation features are best-in-class and include detailed topographical mapping.

Speaking of navigation, it’s not a basic ‘breadcrumbs’ line on your screen to follow with left and right prompts. On this watch you get a full topo map view you can move around and zoom in and out of (you can zoom in even more than the example pictured above). You can see where you are on the map, what direction you’re facing and where you are on a given course, if you’ve opted to follow a route during your run.

Having a map view is great if you’re in territory with lots of paths, as you can more clearly see if you’ve taken a wrong turn, rather than just how many feet or meters off-course you are. I use navigation all the time to explore new trails.

There are also loads of other helpful associated navigation features like you’d expect, such as the ability to retrace your steps and go back the way you’ve come.

Lastly, and crucially, I’ve found the GPS signal to be very reliable. It picks up GPS signal within 15-30 seconds of me heading outside, and I have not had situations where the GPS has dropped for long enough to affect the data or recording of my runs and location.

Sleep quality tracking

Garmin’s running watch software has some of the most advanced sleep tracking features. If you wear the watch at night, then when you wake up you get given insights into your night’s rest and therefore recovery time – valuable data that influences your training intensity for the day.

It’s not just about how many hours you’ve slept, but the quality of that sleep, ensuring your body is fully recovered and ready for the day’s challenge. The tracking isn’t just looking at movements, it also considers other metrics including your resting heart rate, heart rate variability and pulse ox.

One of several sleep data screens on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro
One of several sleep data screens on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro

Heart rate variability (HRV) provides some insight into your stress and recovery levels, and pulse ox helps inform how well-adjusted you are to your environment, especially useful for those early morning runs at higher elevations.

Training readiness and optimal load tracking

Another feature I look at every day is how my training load is tracking. If I’m following a training plan, like one of our free half marathon training plans, for example, then I can see on the watch the ‘load’ each run or workout has placed on my body, and how I’m tracking in relation to the ‘optimal’ training load it calculates for me.

The ‘optimal’ load range goes up gradually during training blocks as I build up the duration and intensity of my runs, which is usually the case in the weeks leading up to a race.

This section is really important for ensuring I’m not putting myself at risk of doing too much training without adequate recovery – it can help you avoid suffering from issues such as running overuse injuries like Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, as well as reduce the risk of exposing yourself to overtraining.

In a similar way, the Fenix 7X Pro also gives metrics such as the ‘Hill Score’, which measures your capability for running uphill, and evaluates your progress over time based on your VO2 max and training history. It’s fun seeing that hill training payoff in how this metric evolves over time, as well as, of course, simply achieving faster times on uphill running segments.

Similarly, I like to look at the ‘Endurance Score’ and the ‘Heat Acclimation’ metric as a reference point for how well-trained I am for certain conditions (there also an Altitude Acclimation metric, in case you are wondering).

Everyday lifestyle features

With that, it’s also great as an everyday watch, and for many fitness enthusiasts, offers plenty of lifestyle functions that will have you not miss your Apple Watch or other fitness tracker you may have used previously. Seriously!

Garmin Fenix 7X Pro review 2

I don’t use all of them, all of the time, because I like that it’s a less intrusive wearable than an Apple Watch that may be sending you many notifications throughout the day. But, you can use it with Spotify, get call, text and email notifications, set up contactless pay and even track the performance of up to 50 stocks… if you want all of that on your watch!

Plus, any other notifications you get on your phone, in my experience, will show on your watch. So if I enable them, I get my watch telling me about activities on my security cameras and baby monitor (‘Seb is AWAKE!!’) – good to have as an option, but know you can switch that off if you don’t want it.

Flashlight function

Lastly, the built in flashlight deserves a mention. It may seem like this is a nice-to-have but I promise you you’ll find yourself using it allll the time. It’s really useful to have a light on you without carrying your phone around for that function (or, of course, an actual flashlight or running headlamp).

The surprisingly useful flashlight function on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro multisport watch.
The surprisingly useful flashlight function on the Garmin Fenix 7X Pro multisport watch.

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Features that make it not for everyone

You know how at the start of this review I said this is the one multisport GPS watch you’ll ever need? Well, that comes at a price, $999, to be specific – or $899 for the version that doesn’t have the Sapphire screen, or for the similar but smaller and lighter Fenix 7, or even smaller Fenix 7S Pro, which are both also available at SCHEELS.

For those with smaller wrists, you may well find the Fenix 7X Pro a little heavy and bulky for everyday wear – and possibly for running with, too. If you’re curious about the other smaller Fenix watches, know that they offer the same Garmin software and virtually all the functions and features of the 7X Pro (although notably not the flashlight, sadly), but with some difference such as lesser battery life.

For example, the Fenix 7S Pro, which Helen has used extensively, has battery life of up to 11 days – that’s less than half of what the 7X Pro is capable of, although still means it only needs charging around once a week or every few days, depending on how much you use it with GPS and other more intensive battery-consuming functions.

For this price, however (whether it’s $999 or $899), you are truly getting a quality watch that you can wear for any sport or activity, all day and night, and that is designed to be rugged enough to stand up to anything you can throw at it. If you’re going to be wearing it all the time, and using many of its features for your runs, health and everyday needs, then getting a watch at this price can easily be justified.

This isn’t just a watch that you put on to track your run time, distance and pace – if you want that kind of gadget, then you can spend a lot less on something more suited to your needs.

Similarly, if you don’t need quite so many high-end features (such as the scratch-resistant Sapphire screen, Titanium bezel, built-in 3-axis compass, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, and huge battery life), you want a smaller watch (perhaps you have smaller wrists), or you run mostly on roads and don’t need the added features that will appeal to trail and ultra runners, then you may prefer to opt for a more cost-effective, smaller Garmin watch like the Forerunner 55, which offers similar health, fitness and activity tracking and costs around $200.

Garmin Fenix 7X Pro – review summary

With all that said, for a runner and sports enthusiast who wants the ONE watch you can wear everyday that will do pretty much anything you think of, and be reliable (and look good) while doing it, it’s hard to go wrong with a Garmin Fenix GPS watch, whether it’s the Fenix 7X Pro, or one of its smaller, lighter siblings, the Fenix 7 or 7S, for those with smaller wrists.


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Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

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