I’m not a fancy running watch person. Even when I got more into ultra and got serious about my running, I was using my $100(ish) Garmin Forerunner 35, and was generally psyched on it. But it wasn’t perfect: The battery was good but not great, the strap was kind comfy but not perfect, and the GPS was just OK on cloudy days. When I signed up for my first 100-miler, though, I knew I needed a new watch. I ended up with the COROS Pace 2 based on the good reviews around battery life and GPS reliability, as well as the price tag, which was reasonable compared to some of the higher-end options that would have similar batty life for 4-5X the price.
I’ve been putting off this review for a while, because when I get a new piece of gear like this, I want to see how it holds up for the long haul. So, 10 months in, how do I like it?
Coros Pace 2: The Good – Battery + Price
The battery life. Let’s start here, because it’s a big one. I don’t know anyone else with a watch that can run for over 24 hours with HR and GPS running, and then keep on working for another three days as a regular watch before finally giving up the ghost. The COROS Pace 2 made it through my 100-miler (well, 104 miler!) and still had battery to spare afterwards. It wasn’t until Wednesday that week that the battery finally gave up. And really, even if you’re not an ultra-runner, isn’t that the best part about a watch?
The basics. The GPS works super well, picks up fast, and I have yet to lose a run. Basically, it works the way you want a GPS watch to work. And the wrist-based HR is as good as any other wrist-based HR out there!
The price. It’s $199 USD, which puts it on the higher side of the low range for GPS watches, but it’s a fraction of the price of some of the more common upscale models that have similar features and functions. IMO, it’s a great value for what it does! (Note: This is not an ad, sponsored post or gift. I paid full price for this watch and would do it again!)
The app and easy display setup. I hate apps for watches and various fitness devices, I tend to find them difficult because I’m constantly switching from app to app as I review stuff. But I find COROS’ app really easy to use, and it makes organizing the watch screens super simple.
The aesthetic. A minor thing, but I do like the big, chunky watchface that looks good but doesn’t feel heavy or overbearing, even on my bony wrist. I also love that you can change the watchface for everyday use right in the app, and they do collabs with artists to change it up. (See: This adorable cartoon one that I use!)
The options. I keep things very simple, but the app and watch do allow you to input workouts and do tons of more complicated things. If you’re someone who’s really picky about watch functionalities, definitely research exactly what you want it to do before buying, but I’m betting it’ll work for you. I also love that it has all the different modes for different sports, including swimming, and it works well in water. It even survived a trip through my washing machine, though I don’t recommend that!!
Coros Pace 2: The Bad – Nitpicking the Mapping
Honestly, I don’t have anything particularly bad to say about the watch. The only thing that annoys me a bit is that at the end of the run, you get this cute little graphic that shows you your route, but you can’t see that line forming while you’re actually out running! I feel like the ability to see that basic line would be super helpful for a bit of a ‘breadcrumb’ map back to the start on out and backs and on loops, and since the watch is clearly getting that data, it seems silly that I can’t see it in-run!
Now, that said, would I be mad about the lack of mapping function if I couldn’t see the graphic at the end? Probably not! So, it’s pretty nitpicky that I’m irritated because of that. Otherwise, it’s great. The heart rate measured via wrist sensor is as good as any other wrist-based HR sensor in-run, which is to say, it’s just OK, but since I don’t train with HR, and if I did, I would wear a chest strap that could be pared to the watch, it’s a non-issue.
I will also add that if you’ve been using a Garmin or another brand for a while, there is a bit of a learning curve with it, and getting used to unlocking it via the dial before doing anything takes a bit of adaptation. But after a few runs, it becomes second nature, I promise!
One final use note: I’ve found when I switch countries, especially if I’m flying, the GPS sometimes gets messed up. Sync it in the app and power it on and off before you use it again if you’re worried about this—I had one truly irritating run before I figured this out!
What about for cycling?
The real testament to this watch? How easy it was to set up for cycling by syncing to HR and power. Peter forgot his Garmin cycling computer at a race the other week, and with 15 minutes before the start, we were able to pair the Coros to his heart rate strap and his powermeter so that he could record the race. And I’ll be honest, I had NOT spent a lot of time understanding how Coros’ settings work and I’m not tech savvy, so to be able to pair devices and set the watch up for cycling (including changing the watch display to show power, heart rate and time) in minutes was pretty astonishing.
Now, I wouldn’t say that I’d replace a cycling head unit with this watch, since it doesn’t have any mapping features, but if you’re out on a ride and need data collection, it certainly has your back on that!
You might be surprised, but I am a HUGE fan of the white wristband over the black. It’s way easier for me to spot in all of my black workout gear, it stands out amongst my friends’ watches if we’re on a training weekend and all using a big charger, and it just looks a little bit different.
And while you’re there, check out our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, right here: