Improve your Garmin’s battery life for an ultra marathon

How I get the most out of my watch's battery

A concern I have for any ultra marathons is if my Garmin will last the distance. I don’t want to have to charge it while on the move, but unfortunately, batteries lose their capacity over time and my Fenix 6 is getting on a bit.

With my first race of 2022 looming, I’ve been testing a few settings recently to find the right balance between battery life and performance.

What follows are my recommendations, which I use on my Fenix 6 but should also work on the following watches:

  • Descent Mk2 series
  • Enduro
  • Epix (Gen 2) series
  • Fenix 7 series
  • Instinct Solar series
  • MARQ Collection
  • Quatix 6
  • Tactix Delta series

Create a custom power mode

Power modes allow you to tweak system settings to extend battery life during an activity. In this guide, I’ll explain how to create a power mode with optimal settings and apply those to the ultra run activity profile.

To begin, long press the menu button (that’s the middle left button on the Fenix 6) and then scroll down to Power Manager. Then select Power Modes.

Garmin power manager
Garmin power mode

In here, scroll down and choose Add New.Now give the new power mode a name. In this example, I’ve called it ‘Ultra’.

Adding a new power mode to Garmin watch
Naming a new power mode on Garmin watch

You now have various options to alter. Below are my choices.

Wrist HRDisconnect
Pulse OximeterDisconnect
DisplayAlways on
BacklightTurn off

Each setting explained

GPS – Set this to normal. GPS combined with GLONASS or Galileo is more accurate, but the difference is often negligible and you’ll gain a few hours by using only standard GPS.

MUSIC – Turn this off. If you think you might need some music to motivate you, then consider buying an old iPod Shuffle.

PHONE – Set this to disconnect. You won’t get notifications or calls, but you’ll improve your watch’s battery life considerably. This also disables Garmin’s LiveTrack feature, so bear that in mind if you want friends and family to track you.

WRIST HR – I think it’s pointless enabling this as it’s not very accurate. Switch it off and you’ll extend the battery life by a few hours.

PULSE OXIMETER – This will automatically be disabled after you turn off the wrist heart rate.

MAP – Allow this, but be aware that the map screen is the biggest battery drain (the watch has to constantly redraw it), so don’t leave it on there for long. Just make sure you scroll to another data screen when you’re not looking at the map.

DISPLAY – I leave this on. The reason why I don’t use ‘time out’ is because I find the gesture recognition to switch the display on isn’t great, so I could do without the frustration.

BACKLIGHT – Turn this off. You should be OK to use the watch during the day. At night, you’ll probably be wearing a head torch to see the screen anyway.

ACCESSORIES – I allow other devices to connect to my watch, most notably my heart rate monitor. If that’s not something you care about, then disallow all accessories for a battery life boost.

How to apply the power mode

Once you’re happy with your choices and saved the new power mode, you can apply it to the ultra run profile (or any profile, for that matter).

To do so, press the Start button and enter the list of profiles. Scroll down to Ultra Run and long press the menu button to enter the Ultra Run Settings section.

Ultra run profile on Garmin watch
Ultra run settings on Garmin watch

Scroll down and select Power Mode and then go into the Default Mode screen.

Power mode selection on Garmin watch
Power mode selection on Garmin watch

And lastly, choose the ‘Ultra’ power mode you created. These settings will be applied each and every time you use the ultra run activity.

Applying power mode on Garmin watch
Confirmation of new power mode on Garmin watch

Alternatively, get a power bank

If, however, you want the best accuracy and leave everything enabled, then consider buying a portable charger. The battery on a Fenix 6 is about 420mAh, so you won’t need a heavy 30,000mAh power bank to get you through a long event.

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