There’s a whole lot of tech packed into this outdoor-focussed watch from Polar
Why We Chose The Polar Grit X: Good features for outdoorsy people, long battery life
What we have here from fitness tech guys Polar is a new smartwatch that’s specifically targeted at us outdoorsy folks. In some ways it’s an evolution of one of their previous Vantage Series watches but with more impetus on mountain activities and mountain durability.
Who Is The Polar Grit X For?
The group that this will have the most appeal, we reckon, is trail runners. We can also see hikers finding a host of its features beneficial too as well though. Still, there are something like 130 different sports modes on this, including activities like open water swimming, road cycling and mountain biking, so it doesn’t need to be pigeon-holed too much.
The new Polar Grit X is, in our opinion, a great looking GPS watch. The screen has a lovely clarity to it, even in bright sunlight. It’s actually brighter and clearer than previous Polar models as well. You can navigate this using the touch screen and the buttons on the sides.
“This watch has a bunch of very useful features that’ll help you plan your trip or exercise, perform it and then analyse it afterwards”
It’s passed a bunch of military-level grades apparently, so the outdoor durability is there and its waterproof to 100m, so you’re not going to have any trouble using this for swimming or even surfing. At 64g it’s certainly not heavy. For comparison, the Casio Protrek f30 weighs 83g while the Garmin Fenix 6 is 83g.
One thing to note is that the straps can be clicked off and swapped around with different designs and there are a bunch of different styles and colours available. If you’re worried about these coming off by accident – don’t. These hold nice and securely.
In short, this watch has a bunch of very useful features that’ll help you plan your trip or exercise, perform it and then analyse it afterwards.
Let’s say you’re going on a trail run with the Grit X on your wrist. The more basic stuff you’ll get from it include altitude, barometric readings, weather analysis and forecast (when synched with your phone), distance, pace and GPS that syncs with a route planning and following app (more on this below) to allow you to follow a breadcrumb trail with active directions as well.
The Hill Splits feature is the one that trail runners will probably get the most out of. This function automatically breaks down your performance going up hill, including your speed, distance and altitude gain and it does the same for the downhills as well. Using the Polar app, it’s possible to check in on your performance post-activity and see how it compares to previous trips.
Keeping Tabs on Food and Water Intake
This is a very clever feature that feeds back information on how much you should be consuming, what you should be consuming and when – all based on your own biology and fitness and the type of activity/workout you’re doing. This is another feature that will be particularly useful for trail runners and also hikers as well, especially the hydration side of things. We’ve all managed to get a little knackered due to dehydration on the trail and the prompts on this are very handy for avoiding that.
Using It For Navigation
The navigation system this uses runs off komoot, an app we rate highly here at Outdoors Magic. You’ll have to register with them, but it’s free so that shouldn’t be much of a problem. Once you are signed up, you’re given a free download of one ‘region’, which tends to be about a county (or two) in size. The London region, for instance, gives you access to mapping for the whole city and then about 50 miles north of it as well.
To follow a route, you plan it out first using the Komoot app on your phone or desktop, then you enable it for your watch, activate it on your wrist and go. You’ll view the route you’re supposed to follow as a breadcrumb and it gives you the distance until your next turn and a prompt when you need to make it. It’ll also let you know when you’ve stepped off your trail. You won’t be able to see contours or terrain detail on the watch itself unfortunately but you can see the distance you’ve travelled. One slight downside is that there’s no offline mode for navigation, so that could be an issue when you’re venturing somewhere particularly wild.
“The navigation system this uses runs off Komoot, an app we rate highly here at Outdoors Magic”
The battery life is pretty decent. With all the economical settings turned on you’ll get about 100 hours juice from it. That would be with the GPS recording rate set to every 2 minutes the heart rate off and screen saver on. With the GPS recording every 1 second and the heart rate monitor and screen on full blast, you’ll have 40 hours. Not bad at all though not quite as impressive in this department as Garmin’s new “unlimited battery life” watch admittedly. The charging cable, by the way, is the same as the one featured on the last Polar watch – one of those little circular platforms that you plonk it on top of.
OK, it might be a little beyond our usual remit here at Outdoors Magic, but the Polar Grit X does seem to offer some very useful stuff for monitoring and improving fitness. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s that wrist-based heart rate monitor, a feature that lets you test your VO2 Max and then a bunch of pre-programmed exercises for certain types of training, with each workout/exercise demonstrated with little animations.
Mike Brindley, cinematographer at Outdoors Magic
“Straight off the bat, I’ve got to say the Grit X is a great looking smart watch. I’m by no means a connoisseur, but having tried out a few bulkier models, the compact and (relatively) discreet design made this feel like something I could wear day-in-day out no problem. Over the best part of a month, I’ve taken it cycling, running, hiking and more, without really taking it off in between – other than for charge cycles which are thankfully quick and can be done over a few hours.
“The interface is simple but effective, and with minimal introduction this watch is easy to navigate. For me it functioned primarily as a training aid, giving me a good idea of when I needed to push harder, and when I was slacking off, as well as gently guiding me towards a better sleep cycle. There are even stretches and breathing exercises to follow so you can make sure you’re getting as rounded a routine as possible – although at some points scrolling through those instructions on a small screen is a little irksome.
“Where the compact design does leave room for improvement is in processing and additional features. The software update and phone sync speeds feel quite dated, and unlike competitors there aren’t inbuilt maps/music software/endless watch face options. But in accepting that this is a watch (not a phone/GPS replacement), the Grit X excels at being something that’s practical and appealing, rather than over-complicated and unnecessary.
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