Coros is THE newcomer in the field of running watches and is making big waves not only in the USA. We also have a growing fan community in Germany.
Sponsored Post: Enjoyyourbike.com provided me with the products for this review at my request. This had no influence on the content of my post. The article is written indipendently and reflects exclusively my personal experiences.
Coros is a US-American tech company with a base in California. The first product was a smart bicycle helmet in 2015 – at that time realized via Kickstarter. It was technically quite complex: with bone conduction headphones, various sensors and its own app. Further models followed, some of which are still available today from Coros. But on the website they can only be found under “Others”.
Only three years ago, Coros launched its first running watch: the Pace. For such a first product it was already remarkably good, as you could read for example at DC Rainmaker. However, it was also obvious that a Garmin Forerunner 735 had been the inspiration…
The Coros Apex, the first watch with a unique design, was launched in early 2019 and immediately gained a reputation for its long battery life. GPS and OHR quality did not have to hide, even though Coros was still accused of copying rather than developing a new watch (see also the review by Ray).
This was followed by the adventure model Vertix and later the Coros Apex Pro. At the same time the functionality of the app was improved and the watches got new features through firmware updates. The latest coup is the Coros Pace 2, which is the subject of this article.
Availability in Germany
I would have liked to test the Coros Apex, but I guess the brand was not yet prepared for the European market. Even the first German distributor had not improved the situation significantly. In principle, you can of course order the watches directly in the USA. But that is not necessarily attractive with customs and taxes…
But the problem has now been solved: with Ingo Quendler from Enjoyyourbike Coros now has a new sales partner and enthusiastic advocate in Germany. I found his Youtube channel very helpful in understanding what’s so special about Coros watches.
Mit dem Laden des Videos akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzerklärung von YouTube. Mehr erfahren
The number of professional athletes wearing Coros watches is constantly increasing. Especially on the trail, the watches have become popular because of their long battery life. Currently the team includes such well-known names as Camille Herron, Hyden Hawks, Sally McRae, Sage Canaday, Zach Bitter, Ian Sharman, Cody Reed, … Recently even John Kelly (winner of the Barkley Marathons) joined the team.
But Coros also gains a foothold on the street. Desiree Linden, Emma Bates and Parker Stinson are all part of the team. But these are only the official athletes. Shortly before the London Marathon there was some excitement when Eliud Kipchoge was spotted training with a Coros Apex Pro (see Runners World) – and he will certainly be able to freely choose his training equipment. ;)
As it should be, the Coros Pace 2 comes in a nice box, which contains the watch and the necessary accessories.
The USB charging cable may look familiar to Garmin users – but it has its own shape that matches the socket on the bottom of the Coros case. To protect the contacts from sweat, three covers are included – in case you want to use them.
The optical heart rate sensor is located on the bottom of the watch. In contrast to other manufacturers it seems to be hidden behind a protective shield. On the Pace 2, this is made of plastic.
It thus fits into the overall picture of the watch, as the case and the two buttons are also made of plastic. The display is protected by a Corning glass, which probably refers to a gorilla glass of this company.
World’s Lightest GPS Watch
The bracelet of the watch is eye-catching, as it is available with a very light nylon strap in addition to the usual silicone strap.
This makes the watch weigh only 29 grams and, according to Coros, makes it the lightest GPS watch in the world. For comparison: the new Forerunner 745 weighs 47 grams. So the Coros is really super-light.
A little criticism: even though the watch and bracelet from Coros are described as dark blue, the band is clearly black for me and therefore not really suitable. But I have to admit that you have to look very carefully to see that…
You may have noticed that the watch has only two buttons. One of them is not a simple button, but a scroll wheel, like the ones on the Apple Watch.
This is a rather unique concept in a running watch that will certainly not only find friends. But it is unbeatable in its simplicity: you move through menus with the scroll wheel and select a item by pressing it.
The lower button always goes back one step and opens either a context or shortcut menu by a long press. Coupled with the really very simple navigation structure, this allows you to access all functions of the watch quickly and easily.
Another exciting feature is that you can wear the watch turned by 180° so that the buttons are on the left side. If you activate this option in the menu, the display will of course also turn around. So you can choose whether you prefer to operate the scroll wheel with your index finger ( buttons on the right ) or your thumb ( buttons on the left ).
But that’s not all: even the direction of action of the scroll wheel can be adjusted. Should a clockwise movement in the menu scroll up or down one entry? This is more important for an intuitive operation of the clock than it might read now. ;)
After powering on, the watch shows a QR code which has to be read with the Coros app on your cell phone. I found this a very comfortable solution.
Of course you have to create an account at Coros, where you can manage all watches and settings. Basically, you could start running with the watch right after that, because all the default settings are quite reasonably made.
Nevertheless, a few more steps are usually necessary, for example to connect a chest strap or other accessories – this is done via the watch. The app is used to adjust the displayed metrics in the sport modes.
Coros does not provide a web platform. All recorded data is transferred to the Coros app on the cell phone or is passed on from there to the associated services (Strava, TrainingPeaks, Final Surge, Runalyze, …). A large part of the watch configuration is also done in the app.
The first entry leads to the configuration of the sport modes and the metrics to be displayed there.
The Pace 2 offers ten sports that can be configured separately: running, treadmill, running track, cycling, indoor cycling, swimming, open water swimming, indoor aerobics, outdoor aerobics and strength. Additionally, you can also choose triathlon, which is of course only a combination of three already configured sports. Nevertheless, this is a real highlight of the watch, because a triathlon mode is usually only found in much more expensive watches. With the Pace 2, you can freely combine the three sports and even get a useful detection of the transition zones.
Of course I was more interested in the run mode. On the data pages there are layouts with 2, 3, 4 and 6 fields to choose from. These can easily be filled with a wide range of metrics. This includes obvious data like pace and distance as well as mileage or efficiency values. A complete list is available here.
Why is there no layout with only one data field? Well, Coros always shows a very narrow field at the bottom of the screen, which is displayed in contrasting colors. I find this a very good solution for keeping track of time or distance, for example. At the same time, however, this hardly takes up any valuable screen space.
Which sports are to be displayed in the menu of the watch can be set using the “Adjustments” item. So you don’t have to scroll through a long list of entries that you never use anyway. By the way: I haven’t tried the track mode, but with it you can probably get more accurate measurements when training on the track – including a GPS track that even corresponds to the track you’ve run.
The configuration also includes the “Watch Face”, i.e. the dial of the watch. There are many very wild options to choose from, which remind me of old arcade games. But fortunately, there are also one or two simple and therefore useful options.
Besides that, the app offers a tab with statistics like energy consumption, steps, heart rate (over the day) or sleep tracking. All these functions are only useful if you wear your watch 24 hours a day. I have no real comparison to the reliability of the values. At least the sleep tracking shows the same tendencies as the Oura-Rings – even if the sleep times on Coros are always about 0.5 to one hour longer.
In the lower part, there are also values such as training load, load index and training condition. That sounds more exciting to me, but the impression after closer examination is rather medium. The training load is comprehensible over time, but I cannot see how the values are determined. In terms of the load index, Coros hit my heart rate and pace at the threshold very well. But VO2max and resting heart rate are clearly off. Also, the training condition, a combination of VO2max, threshold and workout efficiency, is not really comprehensible to me.
The next tab shows an overview of all workouts and also offers weekly, monthly and yearly statistics. Of course you can also get to the details of the individual runs here.
And I have to admit: I really like the reports. They start with a map and the GPS track, on which you can even call up lap information. Besides that it continues with pace, cadence, stride length, running power, altitude and heart rate. Depending on the accessories you use, you can also call up other metrics: here Coros shows its full Stryd compatibility and really delivers everything the little footpod has to offer!
Finally, Coros displays an aerobic and anaerobic training effect for each run. This is very reminiscent of Garmin, even if the scales of these values differ slightly (Garmin: 0-5, Coros: 0-6). Nevertheless, the results are still very comparable.
But of course even the best app can only record what the watch delivers. So back to the watch and its qualities. ;)
The quality of the GPS reception has a direct effect on the measured distance and thus on the pace. Together with time, these are the three metrics for which there should be no weaknesses. Unfortunately, there are always outliers, especially with brand new models (I remember the Vantage V). The Coros Pace 2 is not one of these candidates.
The Coros was not a bit worse than a Garmin Forerunner 945 or the Polar Grit X in the typical problematic situations (into the forest and out again) in all comparison runs. Far from it: it was rather the Grit X, which was a bit more sloppy in the woods, while the Pace 2 traced the path cleanly.
Optical Heart Rate Measurement
An optical sensor on the back of the watch is now standard equipment – as is the case with Coros. To be honest, I didn’t expect too much from it, because in my eyes it didn’t look quite as professional as those of the competitors. :)
As a comparison I used the OHR of the Grit X, which works very, very reliably for me. As you can see, the differences in the measurement are minimal. Again, it is rather the Grit X, which allows itself a peak in a few places.
The optical sensor is challenged in cold weather and sudden changes in HR – such as during interval training. Both were the case above. As comparison serves a Polar H10 chest strap, which was connected to the Forerunner 945. I can hardly explain the result, because there is practically no deviation! Not even the typical caster of 5-10 seconds. I double-checked first, if the Coros did not record the chest strap values as well. But the same result was also seen in further comparison runs.
Of course, the Coros sensor also reaches its limits in cold weather. Sometimes this leads to typical incorrect measurements in the first few minutes of the run – but all optical heart rate sensors share the same fate. Overall, the Coros 2 surprised me very positively here.
Full Stryd Compatibility
Measuring running power is becoming more and more popular among runners. The Stryd-Footpod has established itself as a quasi-standard and is now compatible with many watches – at least as far as pure wattage is concerned. However, Coros is the only manufacturer that natively supports all metrics of the Stryd. So you don’t have to struggle with the limitations of Garmin’s Connect-IQ data fields (max. 2 fields at the same time) and you can display as many Stryd-based metrics as you like. Of course, these also end up completely in the watch’s record and can be synchronized directly into Stryd PowerCenter.
But Coros takes it one step further: after Polar, Coros is the second manufacturer to offer wrist power measurement. This means: you only need the watch and no other equipment. This functionality was introduced with the Pace 2, but is now also available to all other Coros models via firmware update!
The basis of the power measurement on the wrist is of course the GPS signal and the speed derived from it. This leads with Polar (and also with Garmins Running Power) to the fact that the power values are not very reliable in the forest or at its edges. Second problem: the determined power values are always significantly higher than those of the Stryd. The measurements are therefore not interchangeable and a seamless change from one system to another is made considerably more difficult.
In my test runs, the Coros power is always very close to the Stryd power level – even at intervals. In the graph you can see a constant up and down of the values, but you can’t see them at all on the watch (3s-smoothing…) During the run the values were either identical or had a deviation of up to 5 watts.
By the way, this also applied to me in the forest and in (short) tunnels. So Coros seems to have not only reproduced the Stryd values almost perfectly (according to his own statements there was no help from Stryd), but also has to cleverly include the acceleration data of the watch in the calculations in addition to the GPS. The whole thing works so well that it would not give me any more headaches, if e.g. the Stryd fails on vacation and I had to work with the Coros power values. However, the calculation applies exclusively to the power values – no other metrics are emulated.
Coros states a runtime of 20 days “Regular Use” for the Pace 2 and 30 hours in Full-GPS mode. This is either/or. So you can either run for 30 hours with GPS at one-second intervals and optical measurement of your heart rate, or wear the watch for 20 days as an everyday watch (including activity tracking). In UltraMAX GPS mode, you can even run for up to 60 hours. In this case, however, the GPS is only active for 30 seconds within 120 seconds – the watch determines the missing intermediate distances using the “Intelligent Stride Algorithm”. This is fed or improved during each run and is always used when the GPS is not available.
According to Coros the running times are not “up to” values. However, there is still a lot of room between the two given scenarios… Coros has summarized the energy consumption you have to expect, for example if you activate the backlight all the time or use external sensors, in a support article. So you can see that the 30 hours of GPS time quickly becomes “only” 18 hours if you use the Stryd and/or a chest strap at the same time.
For me, this meant that with about 5 hours of training a week, the Pace 2 lasted a good 11 days before it had to be put back on the charging cable. When I didn’t also wear it 24/7 as a daily watch, but only for training, it even lasted a good two weeks. And I’m sure that the period could be extended considerably if I could switch off the Activity Tracking.
Using The Watch
Don’t be fooled by the size of the Pace 2’s housing: the 1.2-inch, 240×240 pixel display is identical to that of the Apex, Apex Pro or Vertix. Even Garmin or Polar offer no more than that in their premium models. On the Coros Pace 2 it is also very easy to read. While in the Clock Mode, bright numbers are displayed on a dark dial, in the Sport Modes it is exactly the opposite – unless you have configured it differently.
The font size of the data fields can be set system-wide so that either there is still space for the corresponding unit, or it disappears after 5 seconds, leaving room for larger digits. As a result I found contrast and readability optimal.
A special feature of Pace 2 is the NightMode. Via the toolbox menu you can switch on a dimmed backlight, which will be deactivated only by another intervention or at the next sunrise. This mode consumes only 15% additional energy, while the normal backlight would use an additional 135%. During my weekly runs in the dark this was a very welcome feature.
Coros watches connect via Bluetooth and ANT+. So this opens up all possibilities. I have already written about the special connection with the Stryd. But during my test runs I noticed that the watches also integrate other accessories very well. For example, you have access to all metrics of the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod. Unfortunately the same does not apply to the HRM Run chest strap, which unfortunately “only” transmits the heart rate.
Nevertheless, there are restrictions for simultaneous connections: only one device of each type may be connected at any one time. So the Stryd and the Garmin RDP cannot be used at the same time, because both seem to be footpods for Coros. But that is usually no problem for us runners.
Workouts And Training Plans
When discussing the app I left out one major point: Coros put a lot of work into the ability to create training plans and design workouts.
I have to admit that I have used this powerful function very little. Nevertheless I am really impressed by the possibilities. In terms of running training, you can create your own training plan here, create workouts for it and place them in a useful way during the period of the plan. The whole plan can be saved and restarted at any time on a different date. You can even export it and share it freely with friends, who can then use it on their Coros watch.
The workouts can be structured and allow a fairly free design – not only in terms of processes, but also in terms of specifications. Besides pace and heart rate, you can also control your training according to power! All this is created quickly and comfortably, so that I could spontaneously program the current interval workout shortly before the run.
Alternatively, there are ready-made training plans available for free download: two from Coros and two from Stryd. Unfortunately, the Stryd plans have the disadvantage that they do not automatically adapt to your own critical power and you have to manually update the training zones for each workout…
Almost even more powerful, however, are the workout plans. Coros knows and recognizes (!) a variety of common fitness exercises and can combine them into workouts. You can either do this manually or you can use ready-made workouts – for example, by loading Sally McRae’s strength exercises onto your watch.
The special thing here: Coros tracks the use of the muscle groups and can evaluate at any time which muscles were used and how they were used through the training. Small instruction sequences help to execute the exercises. And if you move your hands as instructed (watch on your wrist), the repetitions are even recorded automatically! ;)
As with all new watch models, I’m skeptical at first and only take them with me for training as a “second watch”. But it soon became clear that the Coros Pace 2 is in no way inferior to the Forerunner 945 and the Grit X – at least not in the functions I need for my training. Far from it: I even found the quality of the GPS and the OHR better on Coros, so that the other models were soon only used for comparison. :)
So the Pace 2 has become my main training watch pretty much seamlessly and has given me no single reason to regret it. I really liked the readability and the layout of the display. Somehow the numbers displayed were quicker to grasp during the run than with other watches – even in poor lighting conditions. On top of that, there is the comfort of the nylon strap, which makes the extremely light watch almost imperceptible. So… not that the weight of a 945 or Grit X ever bothered me. But with the Pace 2, it’s a very different feeling.
I have to admit that I got along with the scroll wheel pretty well – as long as I only want to turn it in one direction. With the other direction of rotation, the ulnar head on the wrist was often a troublesome factor. But with a little practice the problem almost disappeared. Alternatively, I also wore the watch turned 180°, which is also a good solution. But in everyday life I find the scroll wheel in the upper right corner more practical to use.
For me personally, the Coros app is enough as an “ecosystem”. I don’t need an additional web platform and I don’t really use those of other manufacturers. My data already ends up in so many services anyway: Strava (exchange with other runners), TrainingPeaks (planning and evaluation), the Stryd PowerCenter and Runalyze (backup and specials). Coros supports direct exchange with all these providers, so I’m happy there.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to synchronize structured workouts, for example from TrainingPeaks or Stryd, with the watch. But that is surely only a question of time (UPDATE: already possible with the latest firmware!). Until then, I had no problem to recreate the workouts in the Coros app. I also found the watch’s display and instructions (tones and vibration) useful. Suddenly power-controlled training was possible for me! I had almost stopped believing that. ;)
To be honest, I don’t have much to criticize. The watch delivers what I really need for training in pretty good quality. Mostly even better than the competitors! Nevertheless, I am bumped by the poor German translation. I’d like to have the option to switch to English – especially since even with German language selection all explanatory texts are English anyway.
What also bothers me a little bit are the functions that somehow feel “copied”. Of course I’m willing to accept that for power on the wrist ;) But for the Training Effect, the training load, the training condition, endurance and recovery I would like to know why they are very similar but not equal to the specifications of the other manufacturers. Either they are based on the same scientific principles and thus come to very comparable results, or they follow a different, comprehensible approach. I do not need these metrics and would have found it more consistent to do without them.
In the same way I would like to be able to turn off the Activity Tracking. I don’t need a permanent measurement of the heart rate on my wrist and would be happy about an even longer battery life instead. This also includes the widgets (heart rate, temperature, altitude, …) But I could well imagine that there will be one or the other change here, also due to the feedback of the pro-athletes.
With the launch of the Pace 2, all existing models were upgraded with the same functions. This includes in particular the power measurement on the wrist, full Stryd compatibility and the use of training plans. Such feature updates are rather rare or even non-existent with other manufacturers. Although firmware updates provide bug fixes, they do not extend the functionality of the watch.
According to the Release Notes all firmwares have the same status – even the same version number. So we can probably assume that new functions will be available on all Coros watches in the future.
With the possibility to sync TrainingPeaks workouts and training plans, Coros make my perfect running watch – especially when combined with a Stryd. The watch delivers a very good GPS track, the optical heart rate is working well and the battery lasts forever. What more could you ask for? :)
I find it really difficult to place the Coros Pace 2 in the field of competitors. If I take the price of 200 Euros as a basis, I get either only a fitness tracker or outdated models from Garmin or Polar. In terms of functionality, the Pace 2 is more in the upper class. Even the barometric altimeter is usually only found in models starting at about 500 Euro. Polar only offers wrist power in the expensive top models and Garmin requires additional sensors in addition to the (expensive) watch. I don’t even want to talk about the battery life or even full Stryd compatibility…
Coros Pace 2
The Coros Pace 2 is almost too good to be true. It is extremely light, offers an innovative interface concept, delivers impeccable readings and power on the wrist. The long battery life and the ability to create training plans and structured workouts are second to none.
For me, the watch simply offers everything I really need to run - with a great potential for more exciting functions in the future.
This is where Thomas Pier writes about running and (much more than just the necessary) equipment. I don't run particularly fast or far. But I like to share my experiences as an ambitious recreational runner, curious early-adopter and as my own trainer.
I am happy about every digital contacting - but even more so about every kilometer run together.