Should you consider investing in the Coros Vertix 2 ($700) for trail running and ultrarunning?
In our opinion, the answer is actually in how Coros positions this watch as an adventure watch. If you’re someone whose typical running outings are of the adventurous variety, then this could be the watch for you.
Coros was a disruptor in the GPS watch category when the brand debuted a few years ago. In key performance areas like battery life and processing speed, the company’s watches matched or exceeded those of previous industry leaders Garmin and Suunto. When the original Coros Vertix came out, it signaled competition for the traditionally mountain-oriented Suunto, as it utilized excellent barometric altitude data and GPS accuracy without draining the battery as dramatically as Suunto’s devices.
A lot has changed since then as the market players continue to develop new products. These days, Coros as a brand is synonymous with the tagline of “best battery life” — both self-proclaimed and commonly acknowledged by users — and the different watches the company offers span categories from road- and track-focused to multisport adventure machines.
Their sponsored athlete team has Eliud Kipchoge — the best runner on the planet — on one end and Tommy Caldwell — one of the most accomplished rock climbers ever — on the other. We’d argue that the Vertix 2 is oriented to the Caldwell end of the spectrum. It’s capable of being used as a running watch, but it’s much more suited to super-long adventures into unknown areas.
In this review, we’ll look at the Coros Vertix 2 through two lenses: how its features compare to other top GPS running watches presently on the market and how it performs for adventure-centric trail running and ultrarunning. On that latter point, iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks put the Coros Vertix 2 through the paces in the most adventurous race she’s participated in to date, the Snowman Race, a five-day, 126-mile stage race through the Himalaya of Bhutan in Asia during the fall of 2022. In this review, she shares how the Vertix 2 worked for this adventure.
All in all, this review reflects the feedback of three iRunFar team members who have thoroughly tested the Coros Vertix 2, including Craig Randall and Bryon Powell.
The Coros Vertix 2 is one of several excellent GPS watches on the market, so be sure to also check our guide to the Best GPS Running Watches to see how we compare the Coros Vertix 2 with other top watches.
Coros Vertix 2 Size and Weight
If the original Coros Vertix was big and fast, then the Coros Vertix 2 is even bigger and faster. The screen is a whopping 1.4 inches in diameter. Our test watches weigh 80 grams with the silicone band and 72 grams with the nylon band. This is just plain a large watch.
This large size and mass are partially explained by simply needing space to house the features of a large battery and a souped-up processor.
The other likely reason the display is so large is to allow users to display a lot of data simultaneously. You can display eight data points all at one time on the screen, which is pretty cool — if your eyesight is good enough to read them while on the move. Another reason Coros might have leaned into size with the Vertix 2 is to allow users to better navigate a map on the screen. The watch includes on-board, pre-loaded maps and there are more you can download from the Coros website. We discuss this feature in depth below.
You operate the watch using one of its three dials as well as its touchscreen, the latter of which works with only some features.
Coros Vertix 2 Look and Feel
Let’s start with perhaps a statement of the obvious for anyone who has seen the Coros Vertix 2 in real life: This is a rugged-looking watch, from its burly bezel and dials to the tough-looking silicone band. It looks like you could literally run it through a wringer without issue.
Like Garmin watches, this watch lets you choose between a number of different screen styles, which offer a range of fonts, sizes, and colors. These screen styles also center squarely in a rugged aesthetic.
While a couple of our testers liked the look and feel of the Coros Vertix 2, one didn’t. We’ll just put it out there — if you’re looking for clean lines or a feeling of sophistication through minimalism, you won’t find it in this watch. If you switch to the optional nylon band, the watch does shrink in size and take on a slightly less burly look.
But it’s still plenty enough watch to gather the commentary from folks about its size. In our opinion, it’s Suunto watches that possess the cleanest, most sophisticated aesthetic of GPS running watches on the market today.
The large size is not just a problem of aesthetics, says two of our three testers. One member of the iRunFar test team notes that the watch is so big they sometimes struggle to get it through the wrist holes on tight running shirts or through the sleeves of extra layers, particularly while running.
And two of our testers have experienced problems with frequently hitting the crown while wearing it on their left wrist, as the large button sits right where the bones are on their wrists. These testers have had problems with their wrists accidentally pausing the watch on a run by bumping the massive button. Of note, our third tester didn’t experience this problem. One more thought on this if it becomes an issue for you, you can enable an autolock feature that prevents you from accidental watch pausing, but it’s an extra step.
Also of note, in the settings, Coros prompts you to select on which wrist you’ll wear your Vertix 2 so that the interface flips to accommodate your choice.
The Coros Vertix 2 collects a number of biometric data points to help you track your health and well-being outside of your training, which we’ll talk about in greater depth below. So, you have to be willing to wear this large watch all the time to make full use of its features. One of iRunFar’s testers didn’t care for the watch’s large size in daily use, while two didn’t mind.
Coros Vertix 2 Battery Life
For trail running and ultrarunning, battery life is arguably the most prized feature. All GPS watch brands in and around the Coros Vertix 2’s price point have considerably stepped up their battery performance over the last two years. Some have focused on providing unique features in addition to very good battery life, while Coros has focused on providing the best battery life, almost to a fault.
Coros claims the Vertix 2 offers the longest battery life ever seen in a GPS watch. With 140 hours of standard full GPS tracking and 60 days of normal use, the Vertix 2 claims to more than double the battery life of the original Vertix.
When it finally comes to charging the watch, that too is incredibly fast. Coros claims it takes two hours to charge from zero to 100%. Because it’s almost impossible to drain this enormous battery, we’ve not been able to corroborate this claim. What’s more normal for our test team is to charge the battery every couple of weeks, after about 25 to 30 hours of running. In this case, the battery sits at about 30% capacity, and charging to full takes about 75 minutes. It charges fast, enough said.
For ultrarunners looking for the convenience of virtually never having to charge their watch, the Vertix 2 is simply the best option presently available. When you’re not doing really long runs or races, you could use the watch for an hour in normal GPS mode virtually every day for a month without needing to charge.
Some features like the electrocardiogram, the Insta360 camera control, and playing music add some drain to the battery, but overall, the Vertix 2 manages to sustain incredible performance despite these added demands.
The Vertix 2 uses a proprietary charger, so be sure to store it safely.
iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks tested the Coros Vertix 2’s battery life at its highest setting, where the watch connects to five different satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou) in dual frequency, during the 126-mile Snowman Race stage race in Bhutan. This amounted to 51 hours of “running” over five days in the high-altitude Himalayan wilderness. Coros claims the battery would last for 50 hours at this setting.
Meghan ended up charging the watch on the fourth and final night of camping, after 43.5 hours of use over 3.5 days out, ahead of the last, fifth stage, using a portable battery charger. Meghan says there was probably enough battery power to not need a recharge, but she didn’t dare tempt fate to run out of battery in the last miles of the event. The Vertix 2 at least matched this battery life claim.
Coros Vertix 2 Processing Speed
One of the aspects the iRunFar team has loved about the original Coros Vertix was its processing speed. While all Coros watches have great processing speed, the Coros Vertix 2 is reportedly over 20% faster than the original and very fast Vertix. From how fast the watch scrolls between screens and sport modes, as well as how fast it reacts to button selections, it’s clear that the Vertix 2 is an improvement to the already very good original.
One area where the processing speed positively affects the user experience is in mapping mode. It is fantastic at zooming and moving around the landscape.
This watch was in development pre-COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent chipset supply chain challenges. Luckily, Coros scored an incredible chipset to help the Vertix 2 lead the class in processing speed. How does this work?
The chipset talks to the processor and the storage devices, such as maps and music. You’ll notice the speed when clicking between screens or selecting different watch functions, which you’ll see is especially fast if you are familiar with similar movements with other watches.
A final note about processing speed — unfortunately, a faster chipset doesn’t impact GPS signal acquisition. This is still satellite-reception-dependent, so even a super-fast watch will still take the same amount of time to acquire positioning as other GPS watches on the market.
Coros Vertix 2 Additional Features
Here we’ll check out a few more features of the Coros Vertix 2.
Maps and Navigation
In a big improvement from the original Vertix, navigation features with landscape, topographic, and hybrid global mapping can be accessed in the Coros Vertix 2. But just like for the original Vertix, there is no companion website for the app where you can build a route directly.
To navigate a route on your watch, you need to build the course somewhere else (or find an existing file), transfer it to the Coros app, sync the watch to the app, and, finally, upload your route to Vertix 2. This is a lot of work for such an expensive watch, said one of iRunFar’s testers.
Another of iRunFar’s testers, who already prefers another mapping platform to build their long runs and adventures, appreciates that they can plot their route on their preferred platform and quickly import a file onto the Vertix 2 via the Coros app.
Unlike in competitor Garmin watches, when navigating a route or simply scrolling around an area on the maps in the Vertix 2, there are no labels, names, or turn-by-turn navigation. This offers a generally clean appearance that allows you to see your track and the basic features of the world around you and to do very basic navigation actions, such as following along as your route moves among significant terrain features or turning from one trail to another. However, you would not want to use the watch for detailed navigation needs. Adventure runner types should be using paper maps and mapping apps on their larger phone screens to do their detailed navigation anyway.
Mapping is the only touchscreen-enabled feature that is meaningful on the Vertix 2. You can also use the dial on the side of the watch to zoom in and out of the maps. Both ways of using mapping are not only nifty, but also nearly instantaneous, which we previously wrote about in reference to the Vertix 2’s processing speed.
iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks used the Coros Vertix 2’s mapping and navigation features during the Snowman Race in Bhutan. While the race had very good course markings, it traveled trails created by locals and their horses and yaks to carry supplies in and out of Bhutan’s remote Himalayan villages. Functional livestock trails are very different from human-constructed, Western trails in that they become braided via livestock’s natural movements in different directions on the trail.
Sometimes, Meghan would thusly find herself on a trail braid and away from the Snowman Race markings. Additionally, the course was enveloped by thick fog one late afternoon and into the night, which made seeing the course markings difficult.
In both of these cases, Meghan appreciated both the navigation error alert feature, which warned her that she was off route by a little bit, as well as the mapping feature which allowed her to quickly zoom in and around the map to see where she was in relation to the race course.
All of this said, iRunFar feels strongly that the Coros Vertix 2 — or any GPS running watch — should not be a primary or only navigation tool. The watch screen of any watch is too small to get the various perspectives you need to navigate, and the maps are not detailed enough to navigate properly. You should always rely on a trail system’s supplied map signs, a paper map, and/or mapping apps on your phone for safe navigation. Instead, consider the mapping and navigation technologies of your GPS watch as a tool to help you make quick and easy navigation decisions and course corrections on the move.
Music Storage and Access
This is the first Coros GPS watch to have music or podcast capabilities, meaning it will play back files using its internal storage. The Coros Vertix 2 has no syncing capabilities with offline playlists on Amazon, Spotify, or Apple Music, so you’ll have to buy or otherwise source music files, download them, and then drag them over to the watch’s storage on your home computer. It’s easy to do but somewhat slow to transfer. To listen, you must pair Bluetooth wireless headphones.
I appreciate watches that can play music, as I really don’t like running with a phone but again, unlike the Garmin fēnix watches which can sync with playlists from popular streaming services, you’re limited to manually transferring MP3 files as you used to on your iPod Touch years ago. This is a very unmodern solution, but it’s better than not having any music options.
In the category of GPS accuracy, the Coros Vertix 2 is the first of its kind on the GPS watch market for offering something called dual frequency GNSS. This impressive feature allows the watch to locate the best GPS frequency available from all five of the major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou) simultaneously.
This, in theory, should offer huge accuracy improvements over previous GPS units, but during our testing, it performed quite similarly to the other watches in our guide to the Best GPS Running Watches.
There is one situation where we’ve experienced increased GPS accuracy of the Coros system over that of Suunto: moving through a canyon with tight rock walls rising up around us. One member of the iRunFar test team often does speedwork on a paved road through a canyon. And, in their previous use of several Suunto watch models in this location, they found the watch detached from the GPS system enough that they instead needed to use road signs and a timer to measure progress rather than GPS data. This has changed with the Coros Vertix 2 in the same location, as they can rely on the watch to offer accurate, live-time readouts of pace and distance while moving fast.
Optical Oxygen Saturation, Heart Rate, and Electrocardiogram
The Vertix 2 has several sensors including optical oxygen saturation, heart rate, and electrocardiogram (ECG), similar to what you find on the Apple Watch.
Here’s how the ECG works: put the watch on your wrist and start the 60-second timer. The Vertix 2 then gives you a heart rate variability value between zero and 100.
Coros Vertix 2 Overall Impressions
In our opinion, the Coros Vertix 2 is a top contender for trail runners and ultrarunners who tend toward long outings in wild places.
Where this watch shines the brightest is on multiday or long, nonstop outings where you have a long distance to cover before you can or want to recharge the battery. iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks used the watch with its highest settings during the five-day, 126-mile Snowman Race stage race, which took her 51 hours to complete over 4.5 days in the wilderness. She only recharged it on the fourth and final night of camping before the last, fifth stage. Meghan admits there was probably enough battery power to not need a recharge, but she wanted to ensure that it would take her all the way to the finish line.
If you’re a person who can’t be bothered to recharge your watch every few days, and you’d like to just set it and forget it — for weeks at a time — the Coros Vertix 2 is a great option. When it comes to battery life, there is simply no better competitor.
The mapping and navigation on the Coros Vertix 2 are good, but not best in class. One of our testers said that without a native route-building tool, pre-loaded maps, and no labeling on the maps, the Vertix 2 misses the mark compared to similarly priced watches. Another of our testers wasn’t bothered by either the lack of a Coros route-building tool or details not present on the maps, as they have another preferred route-building software anyway and use other tools when detailed navigation is required.
Fans of fitness and biometric tracking will also be able to rely on the Vertix 2 to cover most everything their Fitbit or similar tracker already records; the app will relay an impressive amount of non-running performance and health indicators.
The Coros Vertix 2 is a big, heavy watch, which some will like and some won’t.
There is a lot to like about the Vertix 2 beyond battery life, but it is debatable whether this watch, with its gigantic display and equally gigantic price tag, will be the best choice for most people who just run. And this isn’t a knock against Coros; in fact, I think their Pace series is the best GPS watch on the market today when you want a watch for regular running. It’s that the Vertix 2 doesn’t do what some other less expensive watches do for less money.
In closing, if you’re a trail runner or an ultrarunner who loves super-long, adventurous runs — or you’re someone who doesn’t want to charge your GPS running watch every few days — the Coros Vertix 2 could be the correct watch for you.
Do make sure to also check our guide to the Best GPS Watches for Running to see how we compare the Coros Vertix 2 with other GPS running watches on the market today.Shop the Coros Vertix 2
Call for Comments
- Are you running with the Coros Vertix 2? What do you think about this watch’s features?
- How does the Coros Vertix 2 compare with other GPS running watches you’ve used?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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