Coros Apex 2 Pro in the test: For practitioners outdoors

Coros Apex 2 Pro in the test: For practitioners outdoors

I can’t be the only person having this problem. When I snowboard, I am moving. I sit down to latch in and turn to stand up. I fall off the kickers, pinch myself to hike back up and shoot the slide, and fall down the halfpipe while screaming singing Jon Secada. When testing huge, expensive Garmin watches, I often use my gimmicks to unintentionally press the side buttons or touchscreen and accidentally stop or start the recording.

Coros watches lock out. Press and hold the center button to start recording your activity, then press and hold again for three seconds to stop recording. Clever! This is one of many small but very appreciated features that make Coros watches my favorites, even when compared to pricier sports watches from other brands.

The company ran into something most manufacturers don’t have: people who love sports (me especially) don’t always care about looks. A big, bright, crisp screen doesn’t mean as much to me as not having to charge my watch every night. I would happily pay a lower price for a watch that is more comfortable, convenient, and easier to wear.

lab rat

The Apex 2 debuted late last year and is available in a Basic or Pro version. I tested the Pro, which costs $100 more, is slightly larger, and has dual-frequency GPS for more precise location tracking. And it has my favorite nylon strap that doesn’t trap sweat like silicone straps do. At 46.5 millimeters in diameter, the Pro is larger than the base model, but not as large or heavy as Coros’ Vertix 2 (50.3 mm).

Dual-frequency GPS positioning is important as Coros now uses EvoLab, a personalized sports science platform and a direct competitor to Garmin Connect. (Unlike Fitbit Premium, it’s free to use with all Coros watches.) The company has cleverly targeted serious runners with celebrity ambassadors like Des Linden, Kilian Jornet, and Eliud Kipchoge. Additionally, you can only unlock EvoLab by following road running sessions. If you’re interested in getting ahead as a runner, programs like EvoLab are better than what you’d get with the Apple Watch. Sure, Apple now measures a number of useful running metrics, but it still doesn’t give you an actionable big picture.

Photo: Koros

It took me about two weeks of running 3-4 times a week (and sleeping regularly, which I’m not very good at) to unlock EvoLab. Once I did that, I scrolled through the suggested workout plans, which are, in a word, nice. (You can view sample workout plans online.) I’m currently working on my speed development, which will help you run faster and easier by alternating longer, aerobic runs at an easy pace with short, hard anaerobic intervals.

In one of my workouts, I run fast 0.1 mile reps with 0.4 mile recoveries. That means I run 0.1 mile at my threshold pace and then jog 0.4 mile. The Apex 2 Pro pings me when it’s time to start my fast segment, pings me when I’m not in my target speed range, and then pings me to stop and go back to recovery pace. To put this technological feat into perspective, I can run 0.1 mile in about the time it takes you to read this paragraph. During this time, the Apex 2 Pro sends out dozens of signals to space and backfast enough to guide me in real time.

It’s not nearly as accurate as a bus standing by a route with a stopwatch, but it’s a lot more convenient and cheaper. For more running metrics, you can also add the Coros Pod 2 ($99), which is slightly more expensive than the comparable Garmin running pod. When it came to tracking my speed and heart rate during my routine runs, I didn’t notice any differences between the Apex 2 Pro and the Apple Watch Ultra, which also has dual-frequency GPS tracking. Perhaps the Apex 2 Pro was a little slower to connect to the GPS when I started running.

Navigate on the wrist

Probably one of the biggest reasons to own a Garmin is for its navigational abilities. If you’re anything like me, an impulsive and absent-minded outdoor person with no sense of direction, having easy-to-use maps even when your phone has no signal is invaluable. There is simply no comparison here. Garmin started out as a navigation company, and even now its maps and software are just so much easier to use.

The Apex 2 Pro is much more difficult to use for navigation. There are preloaded landscape maps that are relatively easy to view and scroll on the LCD screen, but you’ll need to download topographic maps. I noticed that especially when snowboarding. I may have accidentally turned activity tracking on and off on the Garmin Epix, but Garmin comes with ski resort maps preloaded on all of their watches for all the ski resorts near me – I never had to do anything! The Apex 2 Pro, which comes with 32GB of storage, requires you to manually download topographic maps. That’s enough for about 10 routes saved as GPX files. Since there’s no integration with music services, you’ll have to share that space with MP3 files if you’re still doing something like this.

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