03 July 2016

charge your Garmin fenix 3 while recording an activity

If you are an ultra athlete that runs or rides for 24+ hours at a time, or if you just want to record a long activity without resorting to a less accurate recording mode you can rejoice!

I've been a Garmin user for years but some of my friends use Suunto watches and one feature I was always jealous of is their ability to charge the watch while recording an activity. This allows them to use the most accurate recording mode and still log long workouts or races as a single activity.

I even called Garmin Tech Support two days ago and their official line is that you can't charge the fenix 3 while recording an activity. Turns out they are wrong.


By default the fenix 3 is set to "Mass Storage" mode. This means that when you connect your watch to a computer via the USB charging cradle it will be treated like any other USB storage device and you can browse the contents of your watch from your computer. And of course your watch will also get charged while it is connected.

If you change this setting to "Garmin" mode you will get prompted to enable Mass Storage mode every time your watch is connected to the charging cradle. All you need to do is say "No" and your watch will get charged while it keeps on recording your activity.

To change this setting go here:

Settings > System > USB Mode

So why not always leave your watch in Garmin mode? Garmin Express can't see or sync your watch when it's in Garmin mode. The advantage to selecting Mass Storage is you don't need to press two buttons to enable Mass Storage every time you connect your watch to your computer.

Of course you can still sync activities by using the Garmin Connect Mobile app on your phone and pairing your phone with your watch and you can install some updates via Wi-Fi but if you want to update apps that you have installed on your fenix 3, you need Garmin Express.


  1. Good observation and one that is relevant to the purchase of any new GPS device. Many GPS decides force a close down on the recording when charging is applied (generating track #1) and then generate another GPS track when recording is resumed. This then requires that one later merge these different recordings which is often a PITA

  2. Thanks for your useful advice, I did everything like you wrote and it all works perfectly. If you dont mind I will share your advice to my friends, cause we very love to cycle together! Also we love sailing together, and for this purposes we use free tracking software https://uboro.io/ that helps us a lot.

  3. @Katty Black - please feel free to share this with anyone you like! I'm glad you found this post useful.

  4. This is an excellent list of programs that I have used almost all of them, but personally I would also add here one of the best Hoverwatch phone tracker that I have ever used because this soft have helped me a lot.

  5. The watches that are not fabricated by the brand concoct a chaotic look with lopsided lettering of the 'Swiss Made'. seiko submariner kermit


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