Recently, we got the chance to check out Garmin’s newest iteration of their tactix smartwatch, the tactix Bravo. Featuring carbon-coated, stainless steel construction and a highly scratch-resistant sapphire lens, it will take a lot to damage this watch during those MilSim airsoft games in rugged terrain. Additionally, the watch was designed to be as non-reflective as possible, as to not inadvertently give away your position to opposing players. The tactix Bravo is available in two flavors: One with a silicone watch band and another that includes two nylon watch bands (one in olive drab and the other in black). Either of these options are fine, but depend more on your personal needs. If you plan to wear the watch in a personal, outdoorsman style of operation, you might want to consider going with the silicone band. If you are wearing the tactix Bravo on top or underneath your combat shirts and gear, you may consider the nylon band option. Measuring 2 inches by 2 inches, with a depth of 0.6 inches, the tactix Bravo is a rather large watch.
The tactix Bravo features a host of sensors designed to be of benefit to those of you in the field – whether it be for real world tactical operations or multi-day airsoft games in rugged territory. By hitting the down page button on the tactix Bravo, you can get to a compass, barometer, and altimeter – all of which seemed particularly accurate while I trekked across Southern California. The compass features both the degree of the direction you’re facing as well as the general direction (e.g. “NW”, “N”, NE”) for ease of use.
Pairing up with your smartphone via the Garmin Connect app is very simple, thanks to the tactix Bravo’s built-in ANT+and Bluetooth connectivity. Once paired, the Garmin Connect app will keep track of your activity levels on a daily basis, as well as have the ability to interface with other fitness apps on the app store – like My Fitness Pal. The information is extremely valuable – whether you are on a regimented diet and exercise plan or just curious about how many calories you burn doing your daily activities.
Of course, the tactix Bravo can receive your texts, emails, and app notifications as you like, and the Garmin Chroma Display is refreshingly crisp and can even be seen clearly in daylight! For those of you who do airsoft night games with night vision goggles, you will be happy to know that the tactix Bravo has a night vision mode! This enables a change in the display’s color scheme and light output to be optimized for your night vision equipment. As a fun additional feature, the tactix Bravo can even control a Garmin VIRB XE action camera, but I couldn’t test that feature as I don’t have a VIRB XE camera on-hand.
One of the coolest parts of the tactix Bravo’s feature set is its built-in GPS receiver. Similar to the Garmin Foretrex series, the tactix Bravo will display your current path and also display waypoint information and leave a trail of virtual “breadcrumbs” along your path. Furthermore, it will also display your current location in MGRS, Degrees Minutes Seconds and more. MGRS is extremely important for those of you in the military, being the geo-coordinate system standard for NATO. According to the specs of the tactix Bravo, it features an omni-directional stainless steel EXO antenna, with GPS/GLONASS satellite reception. I am not sure what that means in terms of the technical side of things, but I can tell you I was able to get GPS satellite reception inside my apartment just as fast as outdoors – so it means better reception all around!
At Garmin’s Connect IQ website, you can download additional pages for the tactix Bravo, with choices for speedometers, watch faces, navigation data, and more. It is really interesting to see the expandability that has been created for the watch from independent developers. Going down that road, if any of you are developers interested in creating new data pages for Garmin devices, checkout the Connect IQ developer portal.
Navigating around the various screens and pages of the tactix Bravo interface is very simple. The watch has a small array of buttons: Up, down, back, action, and backlight. These all do pretty much what you would expect. After selecting whatever option you prefer, you press the action button to proceed into that option. Hitting the action button from the main display will bring up the list of activities you can perform. There is a wide variety of choices – with the tactix Bravo even having Jumpmaster and Tactical sport modes! The Jumpmaster will help you if you ever decide to jump out of a perfectly good airplane while the tactical mode enables the GPS and sensor logging and is great for when you are actually playing your airsoft games. The jumpmaster mode can be used for HAHO, HALO, or Static line jumps. Of course, for those of you looking to be active people sans airsoft or military/tactical needs, you can also choose from things such as swimming, hiking, and trail running – to name just a brief few.
Overall, the Garmin tactix Bravo smartwatch is an excellent activity tracker and wearable watch that will provide some essential navigational capabilities during your stints in rugged terrain – whether you are playing in an airsoft game, camping, or in the field. The tactix Bravo retails for $699.99 and is available now on a variety of online stores as well as Garmin’s official website.