Summary

The Garmin Fenix 7S Pro Solar is an excellent, premium level running watch. The size is perfect - don't let the 'small wrist' thing fool you. The battery life is great, and the flashlight is more useful than you can imagine. A great choice.
Posted Dec 30, 2023
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Pros
  • Long Battery Life
  • Built In LED Flashlight
  • Solid, Premium Build
Cons
  • Heavier Than a Forerunner
  • Solar Charging Is a Gimmick
  • Beep Volume and Vibration Strength Could Be Improved

The Garmin Fenix 7S Pro Is a Premium Running Watch Worth the Upgrade

For several years, I ran with a Garmin Forerunner 245. I was very happy with it, and it fulfilled all my needs. I considered upgrading several times, but the newer Forerunners and the earlier Fenix's just didn't do it for me.

But when the Garmin Fenix 7S Pro came along, and when I was able to get a good deal on it, it was absolutely worth the upgrade. I love it, and I do not regret my decision at all.

The Fenix 7S Pro is one of Garmin's latest watches, and it includes all of the latest performance metrics - like training readiness, hill score, and endurance score. It has the latest optical heart rate monitor, and a solid build that is clearly an upgrade from the Forerunner.

I love the size of the 7S. One of the reasons I never upgraded to the Forerunner 9XX, despite wanting some of the features, is that it only comes in a larger size. the 7S is the same size as my old Forerunner 245 - which always seemed perfect. I'm not small - I'm a 6'1" man. So don't think that the 'small wrist' marketing means the Fenix 7S is only for people with petite frames. I couldn't imagine having the 7X on my wrist.

I wear my Fenix 24/7, unless it's charging. I run every day, sometimes twice a day, on a mix of roads and trails. I've found the battery life to be great - much better than my Forerunner 245 - and the GPS is accurate. I still have occasional issues with cadence lock when it's cold outside, but the heart rate monitor is more reliable than it was on the Forerunner.

I didn't spring for the Sapphire glass, which costs an extra $100. I've heard that some people get it because they're afraid of scratching their watch. After six months of heavy, daily use, my watch still looks like new. The body is solid and the glass is durable.

I'm a fan of the MIP display, and that's one reason I opted for the Fenix over either the Forerunner 965 or the epix Pro. I wasn't sure I'd love the touchscreen, but it's grown on me. But I do not want an AMOLED display on my watch. I'm happy they're still using a MIP display on one of their premium lines of watches.

My Favorite Things About the Fenix 7S

HRV Status Screen

One of the new features on the Fenix 7S, and similar current generation premium watches, is the heart rate variability status. It tracks your heart rate variability overnight, and right on your wrist you can see both the overnight value and the seven day average. It's a great way to keep tabs on your recovery and make sure you're not overdoing things. You can read more about heart rate variability here.

Another thing I absolutely love about the watch is the LED flashlight. When I read up on the watch, it sounded a bit gimmicky. But it is invaluable, and I use it on a daily basis. In the mornings, when my wife is still asleep and I'm getting ready in the dark, it helps me find my clothes. When I'm out walking the dog at night, it helps me see and be seen. It's not quite strong enough to replace a headlamp for night trail running, but there are still millions of other ways that you will find it to be useful.

A third thing I love is the battery life. I currently train about 10 hours a week, give or take. At that level, my Forerunner was running low after a day or two of use and I had to charge it constantly. With the Fenix, I charge it about once a week. If got all the way to 100%, I could probably last a little longer than a week before running low. The battery definitely holds up to heavy use.

My Least Favorite Things About the Fenix 7S Pro

There's nothing about the Fenix 7S Pro that I hate - and certainly none of these complaints are reasons not to buy the watch. But I do want to share a couple caveats.

First, in my experience the solar charging capability of the Fenix is nothing more than a gimmick. On paper, the solar charging should significantly increase the battery life. In practice, I never get near enough sunlight to realize those theoretical gains. When I look at how much sunlight I actually get with my watch - and again, I'm outside and active on a daily basis - it amounts to a minimal amount of charge. For specific examples, check out this post. Don't believe the hype, and don't buy this watch thinking that the solar charging is going to make a huge difference.

Second, the wrist based running dynamics aren't all that useful. I have no reason to doubt their accuracy, and it's nice to have more pretty graphs to look at in Garmin Connect. But I've yet to find any kind of actual reason to evaluate this data and use it to inform my training.

Third, the beep volume and vibration strength seems a bit weaker than I remember from my Forerunner. On a normal easy run, it works fine. However, I've noticed that when I'm running harder during a workout, I don't always feel the vibrations. If it's noisy out, it's also possible to miss the beeps. I think I've gotten a little more in tune to them over the last six months, but this was really my only 'complaint' when I first got the watch.

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Brian Rock
West Orange, New Jersey
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I ran on and off for a long time, but I've gotten more serious about it in the last few years. In early 2020, I committed to...

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