The Garmin Enduro 2 has just recently been announced, and I’m getting this close – holding two fingers very close to each other – to finishing the review, but I wanted to have a word or two about two of the new features that were introduced with the watch first. There are tons of new features to analyse, much to my delight, but the ones I’ll be dissecting today are the grade-adjusted pace (GAP) and NextFork, two metrics/modes currently exclusive to the Enduro 2.
Not surprisingly, both features are aimed at trail runners; after all, the Enduro 2 was designed for ultra trail runners and their needs, so it only makes sense to offer more features that benefit this, admittedly very niche group. That said, when I reached out to Garmin to clarify some of the questions I had about the new metrics, I was glad to hear that NextFork can be used for any outdoor running, cycling, hiking and walking activities, while GAP is available in outdoor running, walking and hiking modes. Hurray!
What are NextFork and Grade-adjusted Pace?
I must confess that I was initially more interested in NextFork than GAP, so I’ll start with this feature. When activated, NextFork embeds the trail names and remaining distance on the map screen, so you’ll be aware of upcoming ‘forks’ on your route. This is very cool, as the watch can now predict your path and forecast intersections, which was only available in pre-loaded routes previously.
Grade-adjusted pace uses different types of mapping, which includes elevation data, enabling the watch to ‘see’ what gradient you’re running up. This data is then interpreted by an algorithm that reverse-engineers it to show you what pace would be on a flat surface. Another impressive tool that helps people understand their efforts better, which can e especially beneficial for less experienced runners.
NextFork and Grade-adjusted Pace – Are they useful?
After learning about the new features, I couldn’t wait to try them, so I headed out for a run as soon as possible after work. I live in a hilly area, which is usually a real pain, but it comes in handy when I have to test grade-related multipart watch features. I was relieved that NextFork and GAP don’t need to be turned on separately – back in the day, you had to turn on 3D Speed on the Enduro – so as long as you select one of the supported workout modes, the watch will automatically add the extra data screens.
After giving both features a few tries, my initial verdict is that GAP is fantastic, but NextFork is a bit lacklustre. GAP really helps put my efforts into perspective and will be especially useful for runners living in non-flat areas. It’s easy to overwork your legs by trying to run at a certain pace no matter the gradient, but by using GAP, you’ll be able to adjust your speed according to your environment.
On the other hand, NextFork is a glorified traffic sign in its current state. Don’t get me wrong; I find it fascinating that the Enduro 2 can predict paths now and let me know about upcoming intersections. However, neither the design nor the functionality is there yet for this feature to be helpful. Information about the forthcoming intersection is overlaid on the map at the bottom, making it hard to read when you run. Plus, the lines ‘A4098’ and ‘100 yards’ don’t say anything to me.
It might sound that way, but I’m not entirely disappointed in NextFork. It’s a promising feature and one that can be made better via software updates, something Garmin is keen on sending to its watches. For now, though, I’ll be sticking with Grade-adjusted Pace and all the other features readily available on the Enduro 2 to elevate my running training to the next level.