KayakerBee, the topo maps do not download onto my base Fenix 6; to do that, a more expensive Fenix 6 (the Pro?) is needed. However, I consider watch screens too small for reading that kind of thing anyway. The ability to get it on my laptop is the plum; they had far more maps than I thought they would offer. They can be used to make a route that you can use directly on the watch. I did the opposite: I brought the saved track of my hike on a known NPS trail onto the online screen map, just to see how well the physical trail matched the map’s depiction of it (very closely).
As I said, I actually don’t use the watch much for navigation, and it can do a lot of things, some of which I experimented with in the early months of owning it. It was well worth taking a USB stick with the user manual PDF on it to a commercial repro service to print and bind with a plastic front sheet. And then I studied it, highlighting features that I knew I would refer to later. It’s winter here again (zero paddling), so I’ll play around more with some of the nav features.
I didn’t mention that this watch has far longer charge life than any of the other watches I tried. (See the user manual for how long you can extend it by setting some options, especially in Expedition mode.) Mine is on a normal batch of settings, BUT I do not use a smartphone so there is no drain from pairing it to a messenging device.
I do keep the HRM etc on all the time. The watch uses roughly 9 to 10% a day charge, with the GPS on for activity recording about 2 hrs of that. Obviously, the power consumption varies depending on how many hrs the GPS is on and what displays you pick for display. Some items refresh constantly (well, whatever is close to constant on a digital device) while others refresh only once a second or whatever. For example, if you display a simulated analog compass face all the time, it refreshes with every miniscule movement of the watch. I set it as one of the alternate displays for the activity chosen. This means that it is not the default display but can easily be switched to with a press or few of the button, depending on the order of your selected alternate displays. Did I mention that customization is a big thing? If you like analog compass display, just bring an analog compass with you. I can’t remember if the watch allows choosing True or Magnetic north (the Suunto does), but I always do that in my head anyway.
Also, the screen readability in superbright sunlight is head and shoulders above the other GPS watches I tried. My husband’s Apple watch also has good visibility in bright sun, and no doubt the newer Fenix 7 watches do also.
BTW, when I compared GPS tracks from mapped, signed, public trails, my husband’s iPhone always overstated the distances by a fair bit. We checked his Apple watch a few months ago and it did better. Software upgrades? We will test all of them again.
Read the online manuals before buying. I was lucky that all of the watches I bought were on sale at a big discount ($200 off for the Fenix 6!), so even the “desk clock” mistake isn’t that big a deal.
Right now, REI has Fenix 7 on sale at $100 off, but that is a very expensive MSRP to start with.
I checked my printed manual. The Fenix allows choosing True, Magnetic, or Grid north reference.