Winter Sport Activity Tips and Tricks for Outdoor Enthusiasts

For those of us who love winter sports, the first snow is an event to be celebrated. It’s the unofficial start of our year and the activities we love – skiing, snowboarding, the backcountry, being active, experiencing nature — all while spending time outside with friends and family. And, as always, getting outside is critical to our well-being.

As people pursue their passions throughout the year, Garmin smartwatches are there every step of the way. Oftentimes, people relate to Garmin products through their singular passion, but there are a lot of “under the hood” features in Garmin’s watches. With countless activities and functions in these wearables, it’s easy to miss some of the features that can help you.

Today, we’ll touch on a few of those features to keep in mind as you head out for the mountains during the winter months. 

Skiing and Snowboarding

Using the Ski or Snowboard activity on your fēnix or Instinct, users can see the distance traveled, time and the total elevation descent, as well as max and average speed. Your device will record the details of each downhill skiing or snowboarding run using the auto run feature, which automatically records new ski/snowboard runs based on your movement. On the ride up, your device will pause the timer during chairlift rides. As soon as you start moving downhill, the timer will restart.

Here are some of the compatible devices: fēnix 7 Series, fēnix 7 Pro Series, Forerunner 265 Series, Forerunner 965, Forerunner 955 & Solar Series, epix (Gen 2) & Sapphire Series, epix (Gen 2) Pro & Sapphire Series, Venu 3 Series, Instinct 2X Solar, Instinct 2 Series, MARQ Carbon Collection, tactix 7 Series, Descent Mk3 Series, Descent G1 Series, quatix 7 Series, Enduro 2, D2 Mach 1 and D2 Mach 1 Pro

Preloaded Ski Resorts

fēnix users will celebrate knowing that there are over 2,000 preloaded ski resort maps native to their devices. These resort maps allow for improved situational awareness when viewing the map data page while skiing and snowboarding. In addition, the maps are optimized to show run names with difficulty – viewable at a glance for each run.

Here are some of the compatible products: fēnix 7 Series, fēnix 7 Pro & Sapphire Series, epix (Gen 2) & Sapphire Series, epix Pro (Gen 2) & Sapphire Series, Enduro 2, MARQ Carbon Series, tactix 7 Series, Descent Mk3 Series, quatix 7 Series, D2 Mach 1 and D2 Mach 1 Pro

Additional Info: List of Worldwide Ski Resorts

XC (Cross-Country) Ski and Ski Power

When using the XC ski functionality, you see distance and elevation change. What’s unique is the additional data provided with a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)-Pro™ Plus (purchased separately). When used in conjunction with a compatible device, XC Ski Power provides a power metric as a data field option – in short, it shows just how much power you are creating within your ski workout. Additionally, you can save your power readout for the activity and review it in the Garmin Connect app downloaded on your compatible smartphone to compare against past activities. This feature has separate sets for both skate XC ski and traditional XC ski.

Why is this important?

For those readers who have not tried cross-country skiing, it is an extremely physically demanding form of exercise. In fact, one hour of cross-country skiing can burn the caloric intake of a Chipotle burrito, which is, frankly, wild.

Knowing this power metric helps users better understand their training and energy consumption. Using the power metric also negates variable conditions like elevation changes, wind, snow conditions and more, which can make the traditional measurement of pace an inadequate measure of intensity. Additionally, users can set up different power zones for their ski training, similar to cycling power zones.

How does it work? The power algorithm works by detecting when you are in a glide phase (no propulsion) and then calculating the friction coefficient based on the speed and elevation changes. Because conditions can change over the course of an outing, the ski algorithm dynamically adjusts the friction coefficient whenever it detects an extended glide phase.

Backcountry Ski Functionality

For those who want to get away from the crowds, the backcountry has always held an elusive call.

Aside from being a great form of exercise and spending time with friends experiencing nature, the backcountry can be an unparalleled outdoor experience.

Similar to the ski/snowboard activity, the Backcountry Ski profile provides information such as ascending time, descending time, distance and much more. Additionally, when syncing, users can view and relive their activity on the Garmin Connect platform with mapping.

Monitoring Your Oxygen Through Pulse Ox

Pulse Oximetry (or Pulse Ox, for short) is a noninvasive method used to measure the saturation of oxygen in the bloodstream. Compatible Garmin devices1 use a combination of red and infrared lights with sensors on the back of the device which can determine the percentage of oxygenated blood (SpO2%) available in your blood. This value should, in general, be 95% or higher in most settings but can be influenced by altitude, activity and an individual’s health.

So, why should you care about Pulse Ox? Since our bodies distribute oxygenated blood through our respiratory system, being aware of your SpO2 can help you understand how your body reacts to various situations and can serve as an indication of important changes in your health.

In short, if your blood oxygen levels are too low, your body could start having serious problems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, low blood oxygen levels, aka hypoxemia, can cause headaches and shortness of breath and, in severe cases, can interfere with heart and brain function. All are aspects you’ll want to avoid while in the backcountry.

1This is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition; see Pulse Ox not available in all countries

A Backcountry Safety Device Is inReach

As thrilling as backcountry skiing is, backcountry skiing by its nature can be dangerous, so having an emergency device is critical. No one ever wakes up in the morning thinking they are going to have an emergency in the afternoon. Enter inReach2. The two-way communication device operates on the Iridium Satellite Network, which means you have global coverage for contact with backcountry partners. Should an emergency happen, you can trigger an SOS.

More Information: Using inReach

2Active satellite subscription required. Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communications devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow all applicable laws in the jurisdictions where the device is intended to be used.

Outdoor Watch Mapping

Sometimes the most helpful things are right in front of you. You can toggle on-screen color mapping to determine, one — where you are, and two — where you might want to head. Garmin outdoor wearables like the fēnix 7 Pro Solar come with on-screen color mapping, which displays topographical contours, nearby points of interest, ski resort maps and golf courses. 

Weather Forecasts and Altimeter

Garmin outdoor wearables feature weather forecast widgets that can help you plan and adjust your backcountry plans. Given the risk of unexpected changes in weather, you can set up weather notifications that will alert you so you can plan your route to avoid the weather or take shelter3.

3 When paired with a compatible smartphone.

Solar Charging in fēnix 7 Pro Series and Instinct 2 Solar Series

In July 2019, Garmin introduced solar charging technology to a number of outdoor wearables. When you head out for a trip, the worst feeling is looking down and seeing that your watch is low on battery. The great thing about solar technology, according to Jon Hosler, one of Garmin’s lead wearable engineers, is that it’s working all the time and you don’t have to think about it. It just benefits your life, constantly harvesting energy, so you can worry less about what’s on your wrist and more about the activity at hand.   

Garmin Pay

Garmin Pay helps you avoid contact while you’re on the move. You can leave your wallet while out skiing and use Garmin Pay for that quick coffee or sandwich. Just tap your watch near a credit card terminal and head back to the slopes.

Compatible Devices

How to Set Up Garmin Pay

Wherever your skis or snowboards take you this year, we hope these functions help you be more efficient and effective as you enjoy the great outdoors. Stay safe and have a great season!