Coros Pace 2 First-Look Review: A Terrific Budget Sports Watch
The first Coros I ever tested was the original Pace and I loved it. It’s a brilliant budget sports watch with a huge battery life. Coros has stuck to that formula with the Pace 2, covering the fundamental features runners and triathletes require for just £180, and improving the battery life for good measure.
Coros has improved the design of the Pace with the latest version, which weighs a next-to-nothing 29g with the nylon band and a mite more with the silicone one. The nylon band (pictured above) has a similar look to the Apple Watch sport loops, but isn’t as comfortable or as good to use for sports, so I’d suggest the silicone option is better.
The screen is large and clear to read outdoors, although when inside I sometimes found that the screen was a little dull and I needed to activate the backlight to read it without straining to see. Something that’s not a problem on other watches like the Garmin Fenix or Forerunner 245.
The Pace 2 offers 30 hours of GPS battery life, and even with 24/7 heart-rate monitoring enabled and tracking outdoor runs almost every day I found it lasted around ten days. If you exercise outdoors a little less and set the Pace 2 to take heart rate readings every ten minutes when not exercising, you’ll easily go two or even three weeks between charges.
I wasn’t wowed by the heart rate tracking on the Pace 2 though, which lagged behind the readings from a chest strap during intervals and was often way off the correct reading at the start of my runs, though it usually settled down after five minutes or so on steady runs to be fairly close to the chest strap reading. I’d pair a chest strap to the Pace 2 for more accurate readings.
The Pace 2 has built-in GPS (plus the Russian GLONASS and Chinese Beidou systems, with the EU’s Galileo promised in a future update) and a barometric altimeter for more accurate elevation tracking. The watch can also connect to external sensors via both ANT+ and Bluetooth, sensors which include the Stryd pod to track running power. You can also get running power from the watch on your wrist without using a pod, something that I’ve previously only seen on Polar’s flagship Vantage and Grit X watches.
On the run I found the distance tracking to be fairly accurate compared to a Garmin Fenix watch linked to a calibrated footpod, with the Pace 2 sometimes coming in a little under the distance recorded on the Fenix.
The Pace 2 also has a Track Run mode, which allows you to set the lane you’re running in during track workouts for more accurate distance measurements. To test this, I did eight laps of my track staying almost entirely in lane one for 3.2km in total and the Pace 2 logged 3.25km, which is impressive but about in line with what I’ve got using GPS. I’m not convinced this mode is needed either, since it’s pretty easy to know the distance you’ve run on a track – it’s 400m long and there are usually markers every 100m.
In the past, Coros watches have only offered running, cycling and swimming sports modes, but a series of updates now mean they cover all the bases, including strength sessions and generic indoor and outdoor cardio training.
Both indoor and open water swimming are covered, although I haven’t tested either out, and there’s a triathlon mode where you can customise the three sports recorded.
The watch supports structured workouts which you can set up in the partner Coros app, or you can create basic interval sessions on the Pace 2 itself. With running, cycling and swimming workouts you can set targets for each effort based on pace or heart rate, and for strength training you can build workouts using exercises from the library (or by adding your own), and get a muscle heatmap afterwards showing which parts of the body you’ve targeted.
One feature that isn’t on the Pace 2 is breadcrumb navigation, a feature which is reserved for more expensive Coros devices, starting with the Coros Apex, which costs in the region of £300. It’s a bit of a shame given Coros has thrown pretty much everything into the Pace 2, but it’s an understandable omission given that navigation is not a feature you really find on watches under £200.
You do get training insights. These start with the stamina stat, that provides an estimate of your remaining energy rated out of 100%. The percentage ticks down as you exercise and comes back up in between training sessions.
When exercising you are also able to see the training effect of your session in terms of aerobic and anaerobic benefit, watching the score for each tick up – long, steady efforts build aerobic fitness, while working in the highest heart rate zones – usually in short intervals – increases your anaerobic fitness.
In the Coros app you are also given a VO2 max estimate, along with an estimate of your resting heart rate, overall training load and your threshold pace, although the latter has always been bizarrely optimistic for me with Coros devices.
The pre-launch Pace 2 watch I tested did have problems with charging, either refusing to when plugged in or freezing once it had charged. However, a reset would get it working again and it’s not a problem I’d expect on the watch after launch. It’s something I’ve encountered with other Coros devices I’ve tested.
The Coros Pace 2 is a very impressive device, and so far I’d rate it as up there with the best running watches under £200, and it’s certainly the best triathlon watch you can get for that price. While the Polar Ignite offers more insight in the way of training and sleep analysis, and the Garmin Forerunner 45 is also excellent, the Pace 2 has that huge battery life, accurate and detailed tracking, and useful extras like running power.
Buy from Coros | £179.99