Polar is one of those companies that are not big on route creation – but that’s fitting, given their focus on training aspects.
With the Grit X as outdoor-oriented watch, they have gone farther in the direction of navigation, but still in a special way.
Mainly, that way is Komoot.
If you do not want to use Komoot (and to buy the unlock for all regions), then there is only Polar Flow – but only in the PC/web version, not the mobile/app version.
1, Route Import to Polar Flow
The Polar Flow app on your smartphone not only lacks a functionality for route creation. It does not even support import of gpx files.
If you want to set up a route on your smartphone alone, you better have Komoot installed and ready (see below).
Otherwise, if you have found or created a gpx for the route you want to follow (there are lots of options for that), you can only import it into Polar Flow on the (non-mobile) web.
How to Import Routes (GPX) to Polar Flow
The process for that is easy enough, if with a little caveat in use that has confused lots of Grit X users at first, once you want to activate routes:
Just open Polar Flow (flow.polar.com), go to the Favorites page (which hides behind the “star” icon on the right of the page.
Click the “Import Route” button there and open the gpx (or tcx) file.
As so often, this can be done by browsing to the file through the File Explorer or by drag-and-dropping the file from a window of its storage location onto the dialog box.
If the file was okay to open, immediately upon upload, this window shows the track on the map at the top, the name (and with that, the option to name that route differently), the total distance, and the selection of which sport this is supposed to be for.
Click “Import” and you have this route in your routes library in Flow (under the Favorites). Here, routes can also be picked (check-marked) to sync to one’s watch (or be removed).
The order in which they appear on the device can also be changed (click-holding on the left edge of the route entry under “Order on Device” and dragging them to the desired position).
(Training Targets and Strava Live Segments also reside here, under Favorites.)
Flow-Imported Routes in Flow and on the Watch
A route imported like that is marked with a maps icon in Flow as well as on the watch you sync it with.
It can be activated to be followed from the start point or from the end point, the latter in reverse direction of the plan, of course. Or it can be used starting mid-route, going in forward or reverse direction.
(Polar always wants this to be set up by the user, even as the watches can still get confused if the course goes over a segment twice.)
Such a route does *not* give turn-by-turn directions on the Grit X. (The Vantage V does not offer those, anyways.)
The little caveat: Routes are under Favorites in Polar Flow, but the Grit X does not show them under Favorites, but under Routes (which is further down in the menu where these things can be found.
2, Route Import to Komoot
In order to get turn-by-turn directions on the Grit X, the route must be synced from Komoot to Polar Flow.
This, at least, works on a computer (using web versions of those tools) or through the mobile apps.
There are several options with slight differences in usability and workflow, the first of them, importing a route file to Komoot.
How to Import a Route (GPX) to Komoot
If you have a gpx (or tcx or fit) file for a route, while you cannot share it to Polar Flow on your smartphone, you can share it to Komoot (or import it into Komoot on the web).
Open GPX with Komoot on Mobile
On mobile, it’s usually sufficient to store the file on the smartphone (download it, save it, email it to yourself), and tap on it to be asked what app you would like to open it with.
Just pick Komoot and it gets imported there.
Import GPX in the Komoot App
It is also possible to import routes to the Komoot app when already in the app.
Head to the “Profile” tab, then click on the “+” on the right of the “Tours” heading for options to “Import a File (GPX, FIT or TCX)”, which is what we need.
(There are also options to “Import via Garmin Connect” or “Import from a Wahoo device”.)
Or open your “Planned Tours” and then tap on the “Import” at the upper right for the same options.
Import GPX into Komoot on the Web
On the web version of Komoot, click on the “+” icon on the upper right, then select “Import a GPS File” in the menu that pops open there.
As usual, drag-and-drop the route file there or browse to it, and Komoot starts importing it.
“Your Route Contains More than One Tour”
Sometimes, Komoot states that a gpx contains more than one tour and asks which one to import; I still haven’t seen any reason, but it’s easy enough to just use Tour 1 – and if it doesn’t look right, to go back, re-import the file, and choose the other tour.
(The app is nicer here. When the gpx contains more than one tour, it shows a preview of the tracks included, making it obvious if there are differences between them and, if so, which one is probably better.)
Finish the Import
Next up, stay with “Import to Plan a Route” (which should be automatically selected, on the web) or “Import as a planned Tour” in the app.
(Komoot also offers the option to “Import as Activity” (on app: “Import as a completed Tour”), which is only for routes/activities you want to show (off) in your Komoot profile as something you’ve done already.)
Click “Next” (app: “Import and Plan”) to get to the window for picking the sports mode this route is for.
“Next” (“Continue”) and Komoot offers to “Stick to original route” (directly as it is in the imported file) or the interesting – potentially very useful, potentially very dangerous – option to “Match route to known ways”.
The latter can result in better navigation experience, as Komoot states, but it can also, for example, mean that Komoot follows known paths whereas the actual trail experience *does* go bushwhacking.
This feature of Komoot is what I consider (responsible for) the greatest worry regarding navigation with the Grit X…
3, Route Creation in Komoot
Komoot, on the web or on mobile/app, can also be used to create routes.
Just open the “Route Planner”(second link on the left of the web homepage) or the “Plan” tab in the app.
There, you choose the type of sport you’re planning the route for, set your fitness level, set up the route as a one-way or a round-trip tour.
Pick a starting point, and then… well.
Either set the next points, one after another “as destination” on the map to create the route bit by bit and immediately check, all the time, what course is automatically being drawn between those points.
Modifying a Route
It’s also possible to click on a point off an existing part of the route to make it a waypoint to “Include on route” (not only to set it as new destination).
Sometimes that shifts the whole route (or rather, the section between the two nearest waypoints), sometimes it only results in an out-and-back detour, though.
On the web, it’s also possible to click-and-hold on a point on the route and drag it to a new place in order to change the path taken.
In the app, it is (somewhat) possible to tap and hold a point on the map to mark it as a waypoint to “Include on route”, changing the route to go past this point, or to “Set as destination” to continue the route there from the last point.
Going on Unknown Paths
Basically, Komoot is set up to follow ways it “knows”, picking them by… some factors.
If you need to include a path that isn’t known to the Komoot system, you need to turn off the “Follow ways” (you’ll notice if you click on a point on the map and the route doesn’t actually reach there).
You also need to be aware that the automatic routing between points is very convenient (which is why Komoot claims that adjusting an imported route to known ways is better for navigation, too), but it can mean that Komoot auto-picks paths that are actually not the best.
Follow Ways / Don’t Follow Ways
If you set the next waypoint up without the “Follow ways” by accident (because this option is kept off/on as it was the last time), you only need to click/tap on the waypoint and check the box to “Follow ways” to get the route to this point changed to follow ways automatically.
Setting a Route Up via Waypoints
It is also possible to open the list of waypoints and change their order (or remove waypoints), if that helps with the planning.
(Wrongly placed waypoints can also be removed by clicking on them in the map, which opens a menu offering to remove that point.)
In similar vein, one can plan by way of waypoints, adding them to the list, including by searching for them. Or (also) choose to “Show places on the map” to plan with a display of such things as train stations and bus stops, natural sights, and many more, on the map.
4, Find a Route in Komoot
Aside from the Route Planner, the major offering of Komoot is its “Discover” feature.
So, of course, it’s also possible to simply discover routes someone else has shared there and to save them as a planned route.
Some discoveries that can be made that way are really quite interesting. Many times, in my usual surroundings, I cannot find any routes at all, however; not so few places, they are not what I would want to do.
Between that and the ease of finding a route, clicking “Create a Copy of this Tour” (in the web) or “Save” (in the app) – which start the same process as a route file import, I want to have mentioned this option but don’t think it will need more explanation.