Garmin Fenix 6X, Polar Vantage V and Stryd

For the last two weeks, I was one of those weird people wearing two watches simultaneously … and those are not small watches, at least the Fenix 6X is by all means large (comfortable maybe, but still large). The reason for such a (strange) behaviour is the fact that I like both Vantage V and Fenix 6X for different reasons and I couldn’t decide for just one of them.

When I was forced to stay inside for 14 days, I found Polar’s approach to show Activity as being more attractive than the Steps provided by Garmin. For example, doing some bodyweight strength sessions or even indoor cycling is not contributing too much to the number of steps and I found this kind of demotivating. Polar has a different approach where they measure your moves and the effect on your heart rate to mark that as contribution to your daily activity. For situations when you only run or walk daily, but don’t that much anything else (like me, sitting in a chair for long periods) you may see that the number of steps counted by Garmin and the “steps” converted by Polar are similar (but not identical).

Anyway, that’s not why I write the post today … when I restarted to go out and run, I kept both watches with me active, connected to my Stryd and the Polar H10 strap. So, you might expect that the distance, pace to be the same, maybe some differences in the calories (because of the differences in the algorithms Polar and Garmin are using). To my surprise, it didn’t happen, but actually it was constantly a difference between them. For Garmin, the distance measured was always lower than Vantage V … they are using the same calibration for the footpod – 101.6, I checked that several times. I checked that Fenix 6X was configured to get distance/pace from Stryd always (outdoor and indoor).

After the firmware 12.20 was available (and even prior, with 11.7x beta versions) for Fenix 6X, I’ve seen some comments on the forums that Fenix 6 apparently is not using Stryd to measure distance/pace when you execute the daily recommended workout. The feature is nice, takes into account the recovery (night sleep, HRV/body battery) to get the right type of workout for you to maximise the training effect.

Today, I ran again, but not using the recommended workout on Fenix 6X, but only the default running with the PowerZones field active to be sure that I’m getting the connection with the Stryd right – actually during the run, I have seen the power value being displayed on Fenix 6X and Vantage V at similar values.

But … the distance is not there … the instant pace anyway is not exactly the same, because Garmin rounds it to the 5 second unlike Polar Vantage which displays the actual value – like 6:23 min/km for Vantage looks 6:25 min/km for Garmin. The overall pace is also skewed because of the distance difference. Today I made the effort of syncing Stryd offline, after the run, which makes 3 entries in the Power Center, one for Garmin, one for Polar and the other one directly from Stryd.

Stryd offline sync – unadjusted run display

In order to use it properly, since Stryd starts counting steps from the moment you start moving and even after the run is over, I trimmed the start/end to reflect the actual workout that’s captured by the watches as well. It’s not perfect, but is still acceptable.

The Garmin shows for today’s run the following data:

Garmin Fenix 6X data for today’s workout

The Polar Vantage displays the following data:

Polar Vantage V data for today’s workout

The heart rate info is the same, 141 bpm average, min and max, since they are collected from the same source – H10 strap.

But for the distance, if you do the math 12.04 x 1.016 = 12.2326 you may agree that Vantage uses the calibration factor and data from Stryd, unlike Garmin which seems to use the GPS measurement for a very decent 12.16 value (a deviation of 0.65% from the “golden standard”- Stryd adjusted).

I’m confident that Garmin will correct the situation in the next firmware version, but until then, if you’re keen on distance and pace and have the Stryd connected, you need to be aware that Garmin is not using the distance/pace from Stryd, but collects the power data.

So, if you train by running power, your option for Garmin is still safe – with platforms like Power Center, Final Surge and Training Peaks syncing with Garmin Connect calendar and offering you the opportunity to execute your structured workouts with the Stryd Garmin app. Coros might be another good choice (some may say better), but they don’t have yet the integration with the other platforms if you’re using some training plans.

This is not an unique situation, the same happened to other running sessions, I added below the info for the 27th of October session.

Cropped data from Stryd offline – 27th of Oct
Polar Vantage values – Stryd calibrated with 101.6 factor
Garmin Fenix 6X values – very good, but not collected from Stryd but rather from GPS (I presume)

Other than that, I like pretty much the direction Garmin took with incorporating more of FirstBeat knowledge into their watches (yes, I’m lucky to have the recent 6X, I’m sure that as soon as Fenix 7 appears or even FR955, I won’t be testing the newest stuff), with sleep being more accurate and also adding more insights into recovery and adaptive training.

Vantage V stays a very good companion for your running, biking .. not that much other outdoor adventure and Polar Flow is still a very nice platform (not without issues – no support for more advanced filtering or gear management).

Garmin Fenix 6X Saphire - FW 12.20
Vantage V - FW 5.1.8
Stryd (non wind) - FW 1.2.0

Enjoy your running and stay safe!

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

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