I typically use my smartwatch to track activities like walking, running, cycling or hiking. Some also use such devices when they go to the gym to track activities like running on the treadmill, riding the elliptical or doing pull-ups. And others also use them to monitor sports activities such as basketball or tennis. Until I played around with the Samsung Galaxy Watch5, I didn’t realize that this kind of device also comes in handy when you’re doing something a little more unusual and extreme, like rafting down a mountain river. Here’s my recent experience and what I learned:
At Samsung’s invitation, we arrived early in the morning, around sunrise, at Vibe Camp, in the Buzău Mountains, in Romania. It was only 4℃ (39.2℉) in the morning, so we warmed up with a cup of tea, then had breakfast, and suited up in wetsuits for our adventure.
We took a minibus to the starting point, where the Green Adventure team conducted the safety briefing and did our warm-up by playing a game while the boats were being prepared for the upcoming adventure. Although it was still cold, we managed to heat up pretty quickly, many of us eager for the adventure to begin.
Within minutes, it was time for the start, so we split into groups of six, and lowered the boats into the water, where there was a final briefing on how we would work together as a team, boat by boat. I was very happy to learn that the coordinating guides were experienced people with international certifications and a lot of rafting experience.
For instance, my boat’s guide had a professional sporting career and had been part of Romania’s Olympic team in kayak-canoeing. I felt safe knowing that we were under the guidance of a real specialist.
We quickly started the descent, which proved to be full of adrenaline from the first minutes. We quickly learned how to synchronize and navigate our boat through the rocks on the waterway and how to paddle so as not to get stuck on the rocks, because in some areas, the water was shallow because of the drought and low rainfall in recent months.
After a few dozen minutes, the bottom of the boat came to rest on a large rock covered with water, which was not visible in the speed of the descent. The shock of the “collision” was strong enough that I felt myself being thrown out of the boat. Fortunately, the boat’s restraint system was effective and didn’t allow me to fall, and my colleagues and guide immediately helped me up. After a few seconds of respite, I got over the excitement of the moment, settled back into the boat using its safety features and we could resume our descent down the river.
During the two and a half hours of paddling, we enjoyed the absolutely beautiful autumn scenery, admiring the mountains in the area, but we also saw smooth areas with reeds on the river bank and wild ducks swimming peacefully. Every few minutes, there were technical points or steep descents that quickly raised our adrenaline levels and required our sustained effort and attention.
After about two and a half hours and 14 km (8.7 miles) of paddling down the river, we reached the end of the trail, back at Vibe Camp. I was happier and more excited than I expected and very grateful to have had such an experience.
At 40, I’m not the sportiest of people, but I’m not the laziest either. I have (what I would call) a reasonably active lifestyle, and one tool that helps me maintain it is a fitness band or smartwatch, depending on what I’m testing or using at any given time. And while I’ve tested many such devices, I haven’t yet formed the habit of using them to track more unusual physical activities, like rafting.
Well, when you’re paddling down a mountain river, always on the lookout for rocks, waves and waterfalls, there’s no way to bring your phone, take pictures, or use it to keep track of the activity. And the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 proved to be a very suitable companion on my rafting adventure. For one thing, you don’t need your phone to use it and set it up to track this kind of activity. You can do it all directly on the smartwatch. You have access to activities like Kayaking, Rowing, Canoeing, Windsurfing, and more. Unfortunately, in the excitement and rush at the start, I chose to turn on the tracking using the Kayaking setting instead of Rafting. Luckily, the monitored data is very similar, and so are the finish stats.
Before embarking on the trip, I wondered if tracking my rafting route would be interrupted by inadvertent touches of the smartwatch or by shocks to it. Fortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 has a Water lock mode that you can easily activate. It keeps the watch locked making sure that monitoring isn’t interrupted even if you bump, fall, or accidentally touch it during your adventure. Furthermore, you can set it to provide an audio guide that dictates your activity statistics at regular intervals while rafting.
At the end, you disable the Water lock mode and Samsung Galaxy Watch5 removes the water from your device and then allows you to end the tracking and gives you access to statistics. You get a summary of those displayed on your watch, and the detailed stats are then available in the Samsung Health app, which syncs automatically when you open it on your phone.
In the app, you find data on the total time spent in the activity you’re tracking, calorie consumption, heart rate progression, average and maximum values, and how long you spent in each heart rate zone.
See how much of your time has been spent in heart rate zones that help you lose weight or maintain your weight, but also how fast your heart rate returns to normal. These are all very useful details for anyone who wants the best health and physical shape possible.
My data was kept on the Galaxy Watch5 for the next few hours, while I changed and took a relaxation break, followed by a big lunch to recharge my batteries.
At the end of my rafting adventure, I enjoyed the warm midday sun, clear skies and beautiful scenery along the Buzău River. The key aspect I appreciated about the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 was that it allowed me to monitor my adventure without bringing my phone into the boat, stressing about dropping it into the water, or damaging it. This allowed me to be even more present, enjoying every moment, and the Water lock mode made sure all the data was collected without accidental shutdowns.
Like I said in my review a few weeks ago, the Samsung Galaxy Watch5 is an almost perfect device, and was a perfect companion on this rafting adventure.
At the end of this story, I want to thank Samsung for the invitation and for organizing this event together with Green Adventure. They gave me an unforgettable adventure, one that I enjoyed sharing. And if you liked it too, I'm curious: what unusual sports activities would you monitor using a Galaxy Watch5? Perhaps martial arts training, ice skating, archery, snowboarding, or horse riding? Yes, yes, Galaxy Watch 5 provides you with monitoring features for all these activities and more.