Garmin Fenix 3 Review

Updated: April 3, 2023

The Garmin Fenix 3 has recently been upgraded to the Garmin Instinct. This review is still mildly relevant.

It is like having a smartphone on your wrist 24/7. This durable and versatile fitness activity monitor is the perfect companion on all your adventures.

Whether you are a runner, climber, skier, swimmer or hiker the Garmin Fenix 3’s variety of features will help you keep your fitness goals on track.

See the Best Hiking Watches here.

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Garmin Fenix 3

Manufacturer: Garmin


  • Excellent battery life
  • Hard-wearing frame and waterproof 100m
  • Versatile GPS tracking
  • Quick, well-designed UI
  • Easy and intelligent configuration
  • Quick and accurate up to 5 meters
  • Up-to-date data
  • Easy to use, numerous and versatile functions
  • Bluetooth compatibility


  • No on-watch maps
  • Big and bulky
  • Needs a chest strap to really shine
  • Basic on-screen display
  • Sleep tracking could be better
  • Strap is slightly too tight
  • Expensive


The Garmin Instinct is a deluxe fitness activity monitor aimed at serious athletes and adventurers. This versatile multisport watch provides users with as much feedback as possible and monitors a number of activities including running, cycling, skiing and climbing.

At the push of a button, you can monitor your pace, speed and distance as well as calories burned, and steps taken.

The watch calculates rest and recovery periods, has a race predictor for your deal time, monitors your body’s maximum oxygen consumption and reminds the wearer if they have been stagnant for too long.

The Fenix 3 has an accurate GPS system with GLONASS and smart notification systems that allows you to receive emails, text messages and alerts.

The watch also has an impressive battery life. With the GPS enabled it lasts 16 hours. The battery life can stretch to 50 hours with the low power UltraTrac mode and an incredible 3 months in standby watch-only mode.

The navigation system is the standout feature of this watch. You can access a compass, barometer and altimeter with just a few button presses before you’ve even turned on the GPS.

The watch lets you set waypoints and navigate back to them. It also picks up pace automatically and elevation statistics also show up automatically.

The Fenix 3 is durable and waterproof to 100m which makes it ideal for tracking swimming metrics.

The watch connects to the Garmin Connect App. The watch wirelessly uploads data to the app as well as LiveTrack and other social media outlets via Bluetooth.

The app compiles maps and stats collected from the watch. It translates complex data into easily understood information.

Key Takeaway

The Garmin Instinct is an incredible multisport watch perfect for hikers and athletes alike. It has a very accurate GPS system, is durable and easy to use as well as being waterproof up to 100m. 

However, this watch is quite expensive, and you would also have to purchase the HRM RUN heart strap to access more advanced features. Due to its price, this watch is not recommended for casual wearers and is more targeted at serious athletes and adventurers.

Key Features


The watch is constructed from highly durable materials. The face of the watch is made from resistant mineral glass and it is waterproof up to 100m.


The watch has a high res 1.2” colour screen that is backlit and can be read easily in sunlight, the colour system used is what Garmin calls Chroma. The monochrome power-saving mode can be a little tricky to look at.

The analogue buttons fixed around the face make the watch straightforward and easy to use. Using the buttons, you can easily switch between the watch’s multiple features.

Battery Life

As mentioned previously, the watch as an impressive battery life ranging from 16 hours in constant use to 3 months in standby mode.

It lasts up to 50 hours in lower power UltraTrack mode, which means it pings for a GPS location every minute as opposed to every second.


The GPS is very accurate and top of the line. It utilizes GLONASS and has great coverage and accuracy. You can get a GPS fix very quickly, generally within a few seconds. The GPS also works well when you dramatically move locations.

You can also download the track of the route you want to use onto the watch and the watch lets you see your position in relation to the track. You can access the altimeter, barometer and compass very easily.

The watch lets you set waypoints and navigate back to them. However, if you want more advanced features you will have to purchase the HRM RUN heart strap.

Easy to Use

The Garmin Fenix 3 is easy to use. The buttons are used consistently and make logical sense.The face is also easy to read.

The colours and contrast are simple and effective and the backlight, which can be triggered by a single button, is customizable.

This hiking watch is loaded with features. You are able to wirelessly upload data from your watch to the Garmin Connect App, LiveTrack and other social media outlets via Bluetooth to your smartphone.

You can also receive text messages, emails and alerts.

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About the author 

Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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