Battery Life: 60 hours
The right watch for: Trail and mountain runners who want a big battery and altitude tracking.
Coros made its debut in the wearable tech scene last spring with the Pace, packing incredible battery life and advanced metrics into a thin, reasonably priced sports watch. Its sophomore effort, the Apex, won our Editors’ Choice award for its advanced features for competitive athletes.
With two offerings capable of any possible use for road and trails, Coros only had one place left to go: up. The Vertix was designed with adventurers in mind—trail runners, thru-hikers; there’s even a mountain climbing setting.
From battery life (long) to weight (light) to metrics (endless), there’s a lot to love about this watch.
Climb Every Mountain
The emphasis on elevation is reflected throughout the new features. New modes prioritize measurements such as trail grade and vertical ascent per hour. They’ve incorporated a modified stride calculator for those rare instances when your wrist can’t communicate with satellites 22,000 feet above. Whereas in the Apex your speed and distance during signal loss was calculated via the speed you had been going, the Vertix’s algorithm takes your modified pace on a trail into consideration. This is especially beneficial for routes with thick canopies overhead or paths that dip between peaks.
One of the most important additions to the mountaineering watch is the altitude performance index. This assigns a numeric value to your blood oxygen level, allowing users to compare readings while scaling high trails and mountains to measurements at normal elevation. The Vertix takes these readings every hour. At sea level it’ll read in the 95-100% range (pretty much sea level); if you dip below 70, you will be issued an advisory to either stop climbing or to retreat a few thousand feet. The average runner may not be scaling Denali anytime soon, but it’s a worthwhile companion for anyone vacationing or elevation training in, say, Colorado.
Built to Take a Beating
The rugged body is built for weeklong quests, with a snug wrap that won’t slide, no matter how sweaty you get. The digital knob, twice as large as the one found on the Apex, is designed for easy operation while wearing thick gloves. A new wristband design is more forgiving than those found in the previous Coros offerings, stretching to fit around layers in winter. The interchangeable design lets you swap the band quickly and doesn’t require any special tools.
Though our measurements found it only a millimeter thinner than the Suunto 9, the Vertix never feels bulky. The display is the same size as the Apex, but is set up differently to cram more metrics onto the screen. The scratch-resistant face lives up to its name – I threw it in my backpack with my keys and it came out unharmed, so it’ll survive scrapes with branches and rocks. Now included on the main screen are the times for sunrise and sunset, perfect additions for multi-day treks where every second of light is imperative to a safe pass.
Easy to Use Essentials
Coros took the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach with the user interface, keeping all of the reliable, user-friendly options from their other watches. You still get up to five screens of analytics during your activities—I tested the three running modes, hiking, and bicycling—with more tracking happening in the background and accessible through the free Coros app.
None of that would matter if it wasn’t correct, right? Thankfully, the watch was hyper-accurate, with each mile’s haptic ping coming within feet of the unofficial markers on my local trail. Altitude measurements and hill grades matched up those found in local atlases and Google Maps. With a few notable exceptions (see below), the longest I waited to receive a signal was ten seconds.
Plus, it’ll ensure you don’t get lost. If you’ve tackled a trail over the winter or spring but your usual landmarks are now covered in overgrown weeds, you can store up to ten routes. Managed through the app, these routes resemble Waze directions on your wrist, letting you know when and where to turn, notifying you if you stray too far from the designated route.
Nothing is Perfect
We can’t recommend this for folks who will spend more time in the concrete jungle than the wilderness. On multiple occasions I was not able to get a signal outside of our office in New York City (two blocks from Central Park, but surrounded by skyscrapers); when I finally did, it was a solid ten minutes after I’d given up and began my run.
While there are a lot of positives with the battery – a two-hour bike ride only drained four percent and it only required one charge in the four weeks I tested it – one feature I couldn’t replicate was the claimed lack of battery depreciation in low temperatures. Coros says it will work down to -4° F with less than 30 percent battery loss and last 21 hours in GPS mode when the temps drop to -22° F. Our testing found its 40 percent battery completely drained in the two hours I had it stored in the office freezer.
Video Producer Since becoming a video producer for Runner’s World in 2014, Derek has captured such historic moments as Meb Keflezighi and Desiree Linden’s Boston victories and Amy Cragg’s win at the 2016 U.S.