Coros Pace: The Ultimate Altitude Mapping GPS Watch

There was a time when the only electronic gadget that I ran with was my Sony Discman it had the best anti-skip technology of the day; Twenty seconds was the grace period where it could be shifted, turned, shaken – otherwise it was an all-out battle (and good shoulder workout) to absorb any shocks. I was a silly sight I’m sure, but it worked.

That’s basically how my life of adventure revolved around new technology: if I had something that worked – good enough, let it ride. I was late to the game getting my first smart phone, years after all of my friends had switched – and of course this came with listening to them rave about their excellent decisions every moment of the day to upgrade their technological devices.

Smartphones brought apps, and new apps brought maps. Map apps meant that I could track how far I ran, how much elevation I climbed – it was always a fun game to push further and higher!

For years, I was content having 4 apps to cover what I needed for the outdoors:

a running app, a hiking app, a map based app (fantastic as long as it had a WiFi connection), another app for an on the go compass (until I bought a real compass!). I tracked my journey summiting the 46 high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains, as well as everywhere we ran and hiked on the West Coast – always feeling limited to how much service and battery life my phone had – I made it work.

I never saw myself becoming interested in wearing a watch to track my outdoor activities, but I started seeing just how powerful the Garmin’s and Suunto’s were. I spent some time researching what was out on the market in my downtime at work, generally thinking “Yeah not anytime soon, how can anyone put $600 on their wrist – plus look at the dang thing.. it’s so bulky!!”

I secretly admired the look of a big, chunky pastel colored band on a wrist of someone up in the mountains.

I continued comparing the options and decided that IF I ever did go for one it must have a barometric altimeter – much more accurate than a phone app ever could be (unless it was built in, which was not the case with my IPhone 5c).

I found a watch that retailed for about $650 and thought “if I am going to get one, it is going to be top in its class and not become outdated in the next 365 days”. It had everything I wanted in a watch, and then some.. as in a lot of extra features that made me wonder “is this why it is so expensive?”, many of the watches that came with an altimeter also included too many “bonuses” (like the ability to download or stream music from my wrist – not a requirement in my mind!).

Then during the cloud of time surrounding the Javelina Jundred, a 100-mile ultra marathon which takes place annually in the Fountain Hills of Arizona – I heard about a trio of running brothers who had made the switch from a big name watch company to one that I had never heard of before; who was this COROS? – I was interested! They raved that they were able to track the entire desert-based course on one battery charge and then had power left for several more days. The detail that really made my eyes wide was that it came with a barometric altimeter!!

The watch was from an up and coming, growing company who also specialized in “smart” bike helmets. So, they took a stab at the watch market and so far were accomplishing great things! I read very satisfied reviews – raving about the updates that COROS had made earlier in 2018. By this time it was nearly the end of 2018, so my hopes were high that the updates and bugs had all been resolved.

COROS was offering a trial of their Pace watch with a deposit up front of the entire cost of the watch, which was a moderate $300 (considerably low when I compared its’ features with other brands!). I took a day at work to think it over, went home and jumped on the opportunity, knowing it was only a trial (a $300 trial, I reminded myself!).

I went ahead with ordering the trial knowing that unless something went very wrong or it was just plain trash, that I was probably going to keep it!

Several days passed and I kept checking the mail, tracking my package. When it finally did arrive (maybe 3 days – not bad at all), I leisurely opened the package knowing that it was late in the night and I didn’t have time to charge and set it all up. Here is where I was wrong – it shipped with enough of a charge to fire up and cruise through the brief set up. I had to select which wrist it was on, age, weight, download the COROS app, and within only a few minutes it was calibrating for elevation and compass direction and reading my heart rate (ooh how I’ve missed technology!!).

Set up wasn’t as immediate as I had hoped (chock it up to ‘user error’.. I was still learning!) to connect to my Strava account, I had to search the “how-to” research online and I finally found the answer right on their web page FAQ. Once connected however, the COROS Pace and Strava are inseparable – as long as a WiFi signal is available the upload to your Strava account is near instantaneous (and in the case of no cell service, I found out that going into the COROS app and pulling down to refresh will sync your tracks right into Strava).

There are minimal button clicks (which I think is awesome!!)

to start a new track, with the options of running, indoor running, biking, indoor biking, pool swimming, open water swimming and triathlon-modes. I bought my Pace watch for running and hiking outdoors, and so for this review I can only say that I have used the ‘Run’ mode.

At the beginning of a new track, the watch alerts the user when it links up to both a satellite service and senses a heart rate. There are many customize-able options here in the screens prior to starting your workout; they are all greatly helpful, but I will not be going into detail – other than the option of which of 3 GPS satellite services you would like to use; At the time of writing this, I can only say that I have utilized the stock GPS setting and have had no issues with it – no need to use the higher-tech options but I plan to experiment!

My Pace has followed me with great detail through some of the deepest forests of New Hampshire, where there is no cell phone service for miles.

Back-tracking a bit to before a work out: discovered after several tracks and feeling that I was missing some information during a track, I found that the four stock screens that I can cycle through with either button located on the right (basically like Up/Down arrow buttons), all of which are customize-able – and I could make additional screens, which I did with battery life remaining, total ascent/descent, current time, etc – a very awesome feature indeed!

One feature, which is very important to me, and that I had no idea did not come standard these days (on some of the pricier options out there) is water-proofness of a watch. This is one of the most important must-have’s for a watch (I was stunned to hear that a certain Garmin that I know out there recommends NOT getting wet!) and again COROS came through – as this is a ‘triathlon watch’, it should be resistant – but with a rating of up to 50 meters, this watch gladly enjoys some shower time to get clean after it sits against my sweaty skin for 16 hours running and hiking in the mountains!

The first real ‘abusive’ test that I put my COROS Pace through was at the end of a chilly and snowy November last year,

I was destined for the high peaks – nearly 5000 feet above sea level in the White Mountains of NH. It was a chilly 10 degree morning that I chose to begin, dressed warm in layers, breaking trail for 23.5 miles in the back country with 5118′ of elevation gain and summiting 5 peaks over 4000′ that day. Despite the cold air, high winds and being stuck against my sweaty body, and tracking for a constant 10 hours and 33 minutes – the battery that I assumed would be on its last legs (the reason I brought my USB charger along for the car ride!), had only dropped to 63% – WHAT!! could absolutely not believe my eyes when I saw that.

This test came under 1 week from the time I placed my “trial” order – the very next day I emailed COROS and told them to please keep my money, and that I was not going to be sending my watch back. I loved this new addition to my outdoors-ing!

The app does things that I would expect from a fitness tracking app: allows customization of your watch interface via the COROS app, view your recent workouts (in great detail, if I may say so!), view your day in real time with Active Energy, Exercise Time, Steps, Heart Rate over time, even the latest addition – sleep – which I have found to be remarkably spot-on since it has been tracking me! There are also newer additions for the hardcore athlete that I have payed some attention to such as Resting Heart Rate, VO2 Max, Threshold Pace, Lactate Threshold, Stamina Level – while obviously not a make-or-break feature for someone such as myself – I think it is truly fascinating to now be able to see how I progress from day to day, or month to month!

Moving onto the features of this watch that stood out: the reason I was hooked!

The COROS Pace allows the user (you or I) the option to calibrate the Elevation and Compass direction by either GPS (must do this outside), or manually if you know that you are beginning at a certain elevation. But even without doing this – the Pace is extremely accurate – yesterday when I stood atop Mount Lafayette in the Franconia Mountains, the previous Geological Survey marked the summit at 5240′; when I checked my Pace’s screen, it read 5246′.

After an ascent of 3,816′, running around the summit boulders, and coming from a barometric altimeter – I found this to be absolutely mind-blowingly accurate!

Even charging the battery on this little gem of a watch is quick, the funky connection from watch to USB gets me back to a full charge in about 30 minutes, in two months of having my COROS Pace, even despite all of the running, hiking and event tracking that I have done – my Pace has never dropped below 50%, and I only charge it when I find it convenient (such as sitting at my lap top typing this blog post!)

Being that this is basically an intro into why I decided to put a COROS Pace watch on my wrist, I’ll add an updated post as needed (a few months or so!) as my COROS Pace continues to grow on me and I learn more of the incredible capabilities that it has!

I am looking forward to using my watch on more of my up-coming 50K ultra marathons and of course – in the White Mountains for the ~32mi Pemi Loop coming up soon!!

Naturally, new tricks and certain functions of tools on the Pace are being discovered, constantly customizing, making the ultimate GPS/altitude tracking device – and most importantly, make it feel like my watch!!

While the Pace is epic right out of the box, COROS puts a fresh, new watch interface on your wrist with each of their updates (every few months), I have found nothing but improvements thus far from my techy friends at COROS!

Please feel free to comment below and ask me anything about my watch if I didn’t answer your questions!

Shoot me a message either on here, email or DM on Instagram for 10% off if you are interested, let’s chat!!

Don’t forget to sign up with your email on the menu to the right –> for my hiking/running/plant-based nutrition updates!!

Have an awesome day – and of course – Happy Trails out there!

 

– Erik

 


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2 thoughts on “Coros Pace: The Ultimate Altitude Mapping GPS Watch

  1. Hi,

    Great write up. I bought a Pace a few weeks back and love it. Does everything I need without all the bloatware and massively expensive prices of the new Garmins.

    I would like to update/change the bands though. What size watch band does it take? For instance, can I swap Garmin bands for the Coros ones? (they have some funky colours…)

    1. Hey there Jeffrey,
      Glad you are enjoying your watch! I’ve had mine almost a year and it’s only gotten better with the updates since. I have not needed to change watch bands yet.. I still have the stock red/black band that my Pace came with. I am honestly not sure if you can switch bands with a Garmin. You should have received a small tool with the 5 pointed star bit to remove/switch out the Coros band.. seeing that I have not switched bands, I have yet to use this tool.

      I think the best way to figure out if a Garmin watch band will fit a Coros Pace would be to just go to a store that sells Garmin watches and compare widths and band sizes with your watch. I’d love to hear if this works, best of luck!
      Erik

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