The worst thing that could happen to you if you are a triathlon athlete is guessing the number of laps you have done of the miles you have run. You don’t want to lose count.
The best way to know how much accuracy you have achieved is to get yourself a sports watch. The best triathlon watch will effectively measure the swimming, running, and biking metrics. But what more do these watches offer and what should you look for to get the perfect one for all your needs?
Best and Most Popular Triathlon GPS Watches of 2019
|Model||Wrist HR||Battery life||Waterproof||Weight|
|Garmin Forerunner 935 (Editor’s Choice)||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours||Yes - 50m||49 g / 1.72 oz||47 x 47 x 13.9 mm 1.85 x 1.85 x 0.55 in|
|Garmin Fenix 5||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 24 hours||Yes - 100m||85 g / 3 oz||47 x 47 x 15.5 mm 1.85 x 1.85 x 0.61 in|
|Garmin Fenix 5 Plus||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 18 hours||Yes - 100m||86 g / 3 oz||47 x 47 x 15.5 mm 1.85 x 1.85 x 0.61 in|
|Polar Vantage V (Top Pick)||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 40 hours||Yes - 30m||66 g / 2.3 oz|
|Polar Vantage M||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 30 hours||Yes - 30m||45 g / 1.58 oz|
|Suunto 9||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 50 hours||Yes - 100m||72 g / 2.5 oz|
|Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 8 hours||Yes - 100m||74 g / 2.61 oz||50 x 50 x 16.8 mm 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.66 in|
|Garmin Forerunner 735XT (Best Buy)||Yes||GPS/HR mode: Up to 12 hours||Yes - 50m||40.2 g / 1.41 oz||45 x 45 x 12 mm 1.75 x 1.75 x 0.47 in|
|Polar V800||No||GPS/HR mode: Up to 13 hours||Yes - 30m||79 g / 2.79 oz||37 x 56 x 12.7 mm 1.46 x 2.2 x 0.5 in|
1. Garmin Forerunner 935 – An Ironman’s Best Watch for Triathlon
This particular watch is one of Garmin’s best watch ever released. It is loaded with lots of features unlike any other. The watch features a thin construction, which is lightweight and with its excellent battery life, maximum of 24 hours while using GPS, you can go about your exercise without losing track of the time and the number of laps you have done. All its features are geared towards helping you race, train, and make an analysis of your activities.
The Garmin Forerunner 935 can help you keep track of the distance or speed and the number of strokes while you are swimming. During a run, it gives you an analysis of the cadence, the pace, and the distance covered. Other activities it can help you with include golf, skiing, paddling, course, and cycling. It is compatible with chest-trap HRM and can track your heart rate on the wrist.
Better still, you can download data over Wi-Fi or connect to third-party apps to add more fun to your workouts.
If you are a serious athlete and you need a watch that can easily switch between swim, run, and bike, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is your watch. It will let you know if it thinks your exercise is sufficient, or if you are not trying hard enough.
2. Garmin Fenix 5 – Best Garmin Watch for Swimming and Cycling
The Garmin Fenix 5 watches are available in a variety of finishes and colors with more types of accessory bands provided. You can choose to go with a leather or a silicone band. The watch comes with many features including sapphire lens, routable cycling maps, Wi-Fi connection as well as other navigation features. It is water resistant to a depth of up to 100 meters, which is a guarantee of ultimate performance for swimmers.
The watch can make a track of your steps, the oscillations and ratio, sleep, stress test, the length of your strides, lactate threshold and many more. Its built-in navigation sensors include both GLONASS and GPS, which is much more suitable for tracking in environments that are challenging as opposed to the gyroscope, barometric altimeter, compass, and the GPS alone.
You can also view calls, texts, or email notifications on its display. Better still, you can add additional widgets and data. The elevated heart rate monitors will show you how far you are in terms of calories burned as well as quantifying the how intense your workout is.
The Wi-Fi connectivity incorporated into the watch allows you to automatically upload your activity directly to your Garmin connect when you are within the connectivity’s range. With all these features, if your activity includes golf, paddling, running or brisk walking, climbing, skiing, cycling, and hiking, the Garmin Fenix 5 is your watch.
3. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus – Best Triathlon GPS Watch with Music
If you are serious about hardcore triathlon training and performance but find it difficult to part you’re your bulky sports watch throughout the day, then perhaps you should consider the Garmin Fenix 5.
The sleek, professional designs make the transition from training to the work day quite natural. There are 3 different options in the glass face, band type, and style, as well as color—so the lengths that someone can go to personalize their Fenix is extensive.
The GPS smartwatch can track heart rate, reveal topographic maps of frequented exercise trails, and play up to 500 songs with offline music support by syncing your music files from your mac or pc. The Bluetooth headsets connectivity for has improved for this series of Fenix, it seems—so there is no need to worry about which wrist you wear the watch, or how long your arms are.
The trendline routing can help you find the most popular trails and courses that have been logged by other Garmin users. Using the various navigation and location tracking features you can feel freer to journey into new territory or just concentrate fully on your stats rather than whether or not you took the wrong turn at that last tree.
Another great feature is that when you find yourself in locations where GPS might not be so accurate—large cities or cavernous valleys, for instance— the Galileo satellite will provide backup support.
If Garmin Pay contactless functionality and being water-rated up to 100 meters was not enough, in the Plus version only, there is a wrist-based sensor called Pulse Ox that approximates the oxygen saturation level in your blood.
For rugged terrain, the ClimbPro feature will determine your current and upcoming climbs, which can also help if you want to know when to lower your workout intensity or push the pace.
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus allows you to take full control of your training plan.
4. Polar Vantage V – Best Polar Triathlon Watch
This is Polar’s most advanced multisports watch to date and it includes a very special feature, running power. It feels like it means business. It’s got the same shape and style as the Vantage M, but just a little bit heavier, in a good way. It feels like it’s good quality. It’s got the same features as the Vantage M, but obviously more. It’s been designed for those athletes that are looking for the highest level of performance, perhaps those athletes that are trying to train like the pros.
Looks and Shape
Polar Vantage V have this more sort of traditional wristwatch shape with their circular watch face to them. You could wear these casually, outside of the sporting world, and people wouldn’t actually know that you’re a runner or a triathlete. Unless, of course, you want people to know that.
So what features does it include? It’s got ever so slightly longer battery life in it. It’s got over 40 hours of battery life, which is incredible. It’s obviously got GPS within it, it’s enabled for GPS tracking. It’s also got very accurate barometric measurement. It also features a touchscreen color display, along with five buttons around the side to scroll through the different functions as well. IThe Polar Vantage V includes an optical heart rate sensor, which includes the Precision Prime technology, and then with that, it also has another feature called Recovery Pro. So not only does this device record your training, it also looks at your recovery between each of those sessions, and then gives you feedback and advises you on how to recover better.
Running Power Meter
But the really exciting feature in this device is the running power. This is the world’s first wrist-based running power meter. So we don’t need any other devices to record our running power, as we’ve seen before, and then beam it up to a device. This all happens within this device, by recording a number of different metrics whilst we’re running along and putting it all into this one number. This is quite new and unknown territory for a lot of us out there. It will be very interesting to look at how our power changes between easy running, hard running, how we run off the bike, perhaps when you have your jelly legs, how that power changes. This will become a very valuable data tool.
5. Polar Vantage M – Best Budget Triathlon Watch
This is Polar’s mid-range watch. It’s GPS enabled and it’s designed for multisport, so you can wear this for your triathlon, record your swim, bike and run, all on one device. Polar Vantage M can record up to 130 different sports. This device, in particular, is aimed at those advanced athletes that are goal driven. They’re looking for a good watch but maybe not all the bells and whistles. If you did fancy doing a triathlon, or even an Ironman with this, you could quite happily, and you could be safe in the fact knowing that this has over 30 hours of battery life, going. The buttons have a nice texture to them and the action is quite stiff that the probably won’t result in accidental presses.
This watch comes in two different sizes wristbands. So you’ve got the small to medium size, which you can get with either black or white straps, and then Polar Vantage has the medium to large size, which comes with either the black, white or even red straps. The nice touch is that you can quite quickly and easily just pull the pin and flip straps out, so if you can’t make your mind up, you can just buy different straps without having to replace your watch, and just interchange them.
The optical heart rate sensor
This isn’t anything new, but it is slightly updated in comparison to its predecessor, the Polar M430, but it has been updated quite significantly. It still involves LED sensors in the middle, which detect the blood pressure change and therefore our heart rate, but to improve the accuracy now has these four contact points. So these press up against the skin and it detects how close the skin, or how far away from the skin, the sensor is, and then that will change the accuracy in the reading from the LED sensors.
This device will connect to Polar Flow, which is basically an online training platform from Polar. So every time you finish an activity, a swim, a bike, a run, whatever it is, it will upload to Polar Flow, and you can log it all there, you can view your activities, you can analyze it all. But there’s been some exciting updates to this, so now have Polar’s Training Load Pro. So every time you upload this activity, it will analyze that data, it will look at the load, the stress of that. It will start to learn about you, and it will start to learn about your limits, whether you’re overtraining, or perhaps even under training.
Along with all these updates, Polar have also included Polar Flow for Coaches, for both of the devices, so this allows coaches to design and develop programs for athletes, then upload it to the athlete’s Polar Flow account, that will in turn then sync and upload to their Polar device, and then each morning an athlete will wake up and they can see their training on their watch, and then go ahead, complete those sessions, upload it to their Polar Flow account, and then that will allow their coach to then analyze their data.
Polar Sleep Plus
There have been loads more updates and new features added to these devices, for both running and swimming, but one that has really caught our eyes is to do with sleep, and this is called Polar Sleep Plus. This looks at the timings, the durations and the quality of the athlete’s sleep whilst they’re wearing it in bed, and then it will actually give you recommendations and tell you how to maybe improve your sleep quality.
6. Suunto 9 – Best Suunto Watch for Triathlon
The Suunto 9 is designed for long-distance endurance athletes like ultra runners, ultra triathletes, exterior athletes and those participating in multi-day events with over 80 different sports profiles.
The new Suunto 9 has GPS navigation on this device, but one of the highlights features that it has intelligent battery modes to help you manage battery life.
It is water resistant down to 100 meters. It does provide wrist-based heart rate with the latest balance heart rate sensor. Also, it has a very welcome sapphire glass screen.
This multisport watch features Suunto’s Fused Track technology that’s supposed to provide more accuracy for tracks and distance. And it also does provide outdoor specific functions utilizing its barometer (only for Suunto 9 Baro version), which also does provide elevation. But, really, it’s highlight feature is the battery life, with anywhere from 25 to 120 hours of GPS tracking. That battery life is also awesome, but that does come at a cost.
It’s kind of nuts that the Suunto 9 is supposed to get up 120 hours of battery life in its ultra GPS mode, but just know that it does disable wrist heart rate to pull that off. But it does provide two other modes to balance battery life and GPS accuracy, depending on your needs.
And along with that insane battery life, it also does come with smart charging reminders, which will definitely help you make sure that you don’t run out of battery before you finish your epic event.
The design of this watch is very impressive and commands a lot of attention. White version comes with a really nice looking silver stainless steel bezel, a sapphire glass screen, and a glass fiber reinforced polymer body.
The large stainless steel buttons have a smooth finish to them and feel quite nice with a very positive spring. And they do have a lot of throws, which should prevent accidental presses. Along with the three-button interface, there’s also going to be a 320×300 pixel touchscreen, which is nice to see the combination of both interfaces. Being a fitness watch, it locks the touchscreen during activities, but you can enable it in the settings.
On the back of the watch are the balance L heart rate sensor, the magnetic charge, and sync contact points.
The 24 mm straps are removable, but the pins are quite recessed. So it is a little bit challenging to remove them. However, the strap itself is super comfortable. It’s really quite flexible and it’s very soft to the touch.
Colors and Size
The company does offer the Suunto 9 in both black and white, but white does seem like an interesting color option.
It’s definitely not a small watch by any stretch of the imagination and when I first pulled it out of the box, it seemed absolutely gigantic. But if we actually compare this with a Fenix 5X, it’s virtually the exact same size and I think the reason it appears large is the white color and the silver bezel. So the black version will probably appear a little bit smaller. Probably one of those black is slimming, sort of things.
The watch itself is really quite nice and the construction is really solid. It’s definitely not a lite nor a small watch, but this thing has a really burly build, so it should instill confidence for durability.
7. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR – Best Budget Suunto Watch
The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is the best watch for anyone who partakes in most of the outdoor activities that call for distance, speed, and the measuring of the heart rate. It gives other types of sports watches a run for their money, and although its battery can last for only eight hours, it can hold up for most of the activities. The heart rate monitor doesn’t require any chest strap and for a better result, it can be paired with a Bluetooth heart rate sensor.
It features a durable construction of steel bezel, water resistance for up to 100 meters, and a mineral crystal glass. You can, therefore, wear it comfortably for outdoor sports indoor swimming while comfortably getting all the necessary tracks you need to make. Its training insights will give you feedback planning, progression, recovery, as well as the training load.
What makes the watch stand out is its ability to customize the training metrics to suit personal preferences. With a quick press of a button, you can switch the modes from swim to bike to run. The screen itself is incredibly vivid with a high color display, which is ideal even for use where there is direct sunlight. With all these features, you wouldn’t want to get anything else.
8. Garmin Forerunner 735xt – Best Triathlon Watch for Beginners
The Garmin Forerunner 735 watch is a hardcore type of triathlon device that packs all the features any sports lover wouldn’t dare miss. You have two buying options; you can buy a standalone unit or a tri-bundle, which includes the advanced HRM Swim and Tri chest straps.
The HRM swim can be used with pool swimming and is chemical resistant. It even comes with suction power to aid in ensuring it stays in place throughout the activity. The Tri bundle turns the Garmin Forerunner 735 into one of the most desirable units with comprehensive tracking packages. This, however, doesn’t mean that the watch isn’t sufficient on its own to carry out all the necessary metrics that a triathlon watch would.
So, who exactly is the watch for? The watch is suitable for you if you actively engage in running, cycling, and swimming. The running mode gives you insight and easy access guide on your wrist. For cycling, it is compatible with Vector for easy tracking and measurement. In addition to the three modes, the watch incorporates multi-sport that helps you make a switch between metrics and data screen. This can be done through the push of a single button.
The watch is small, thin, and lightweight, making it easy to remove from a wetsuit easily. As a result, it makes it a perfect watch with a good value for money.
9. Polar V800 – Best GPS Sports Watch for Triathlon Training
Packed with beautiful functions, the Polar V800 comes with a design that makes it one of the high-quality fitness trackers on the market today. The watch is well optimized with multi-sport and it boasts scratch resistant lens with high contrast screen, for better visibility in all lighting conditions. Also incorporated into the watch is a GPS navigation system to help you in your biking or hiking expeditions.
Polar V800 has been equipped with an integrated barometric altimeter, which can track your uphill and downhills when cycling. Together with the GPS system, you get a perfect unit that will track your performance and speed while running or cycling. The watch will effectively count your steps, map your route, and distance among other features.
Other of its greatest selling points include the possession of easily customizable user profiles, for about three triathlon laps and efficiently moves one sport to the next as it beautifully records all of your performances as well as the time it takes you transition from one mode to another. This is an elegant characteristic that makes it an apt workout system and guide for both seasoned and those athletes starting out on tri watches.
Worried that the watch doesn’t have some of the smart features? The Polar V800 comes with an incorporation of a smart Bluetooth H7 heart rate sensor, which promises accuracy in terms of BPM checking as you train or when you are swimming. It is also waterproof for a depth of up to 30 meters. As such, it can perfectly monitor wide range pool activities.
Best Triathlon Watch – Buyer’s Guide
There are many options available for triathlon watch for every type of athlete. What is important to keep in mind is that whichever watch you buy, it should withstand most of the challenges and the elements you face during your workout including water, sweat, and dirt. Also, the watch should optimally meet all other needs it is required to fulfill.
The choice can be overwhelming even for those who have bought them before. Luckily, the following guide will help you make a decision you won’t regret later. Although you might not need all of the features mentioned below, it is worth considering, as the more a watch has, the more you will get out of it. You will have plenty of time to focus on your workout than messing up with the watch.
What is Triathlon and a Watch for Triathlon?
Triathlon is a multiple-stage competition that involves the completion of three progressive and continuous endurance activities. Most prevalently, the sport involves cycling, swimming, and running at short intervals over many distances. Participants of this sport compete for the fastest course time completion as they transition between swimming, running, and cycling.
A tri watch enables you to track your changes and make an analysis of all the physiological processes triathletes go through. It monitors the heart rate, calories, steps, number of laps you have done among others. The watch also helps you make perfect navigations and follow trails while you are hiking, cycling, or skiing. Some will allow you to connect to the internet and synchronize or save your stats and data online.
Things to Consider While Buying Triathlon Watch
This is one of the key features to consider in a triathlon training watch. A watch with this characteristic will make it simple to transition from one activity to another. The watch will allow you to switch modes simply by the push of a button. This transitions it from running to cycling or swimming. How it does this also involves the marking of the split in time as it transitions to another sport. Later on, you can review the information. During the transition, the display also changes to the mode you choose, for example, the changes in speed from miles an hour to miles a minute when you change it from cycling to running.
Other watches do not have this feature and they involve manual stopping of the activity, configuring the settings, and starting a new profile for every transition. These types of watches will waste much of your exercise, they are cumbersome and you will lose the ability to review the whole workout as a single post-race activity.
The quick release is particularly helpful for those who want to move the watch from their wrists to the bike. Not all of the watches available on the market have this feature, and its importance, however, depends entirely on your needs. But you should know that if you actively engage yourself in cycling, this feature is a must-have for better tracking.
If you care less about glancing at your watch on the wrist while you ride, a quick-release feature won’t be such a big deal. The good thing is that you can purchase a foam handlebar mount and strap it on. This might take a bit longer to get it working, but it is worth it.
Every triathlon GPS watches must be waterproof, that is apparent. But is it enough? Some have an ATM rating of a depth of up to 100 meters. However, the watch is no use if it is water resistant, but will not do or achieve much under water. The watch should track the distance, show all the swimming metrics apart from showing you the stroke count. All this can happen while the watch is firmly on your wrists. With a little sophistication, the watches monitor the pool laps, and far from counting your strokes, it can show you the particular type of stroke you are using.
If you are unlucky and you don’t have a watch with swim features or water resistance, but you have GPS, you can put the watch under your swimming cap to get better tracking. This keeps the watch above the water to ensure that the GPS signal is not lost. Normally, when the watch is worn and you submerge yourself in under an inch of water, the GPS is lost.
Another important factor to give a priority is the battery life. Nothing is infuriating more than a triathlon GPS watch that dies on you while you are in the middle of your workouts. Get a watch that comes with sufficient battery life that is longer than your daily exercise routine.
Battery life is particularly important during competitions. If the battery comes with an impressive life, it will enable you to engage in several activities without having to give up in the middle to go and recharge the unit. A flawless session allows you to train more effectively and keep a perfect track of how you are faring on.
Connectivity with Workout Accessories
Compatibility with other fitness accessories is one important consideration that you shouldn’t pass up. Some watches have multi-sport features but aren’t compatible with heart rate monitors, speed sensors, or the cadence. These features are some of the most important in triathlon training watches. Some watches, however, have Bluetooth sensors heart rate monitors that are compatible with other smart devices like phones and tablets.
To keep a complete track of changes in your workouts, calories, and other important metrics, you need a watch that allows you to store everything online. This calls for data connectivity. Some have Wi-Fi connections while others do not. Those that allow internet connectivity will enable you to upload the data to either a fitness app or an online account.
With an online account, you can evaluate your performance and even share most of your achievements with your family members or friends through the social media. Again, this feature is highly dependent on you. It might not be such a great deal if you don’t need it.
Do tri watches have a specific water resistance power?
Most triathlon GPS watches are water resistant. However, it doesn’t mean that they are ideal for all water activities. For example, there are some that are fit for use both in pools and open waters like the Garmin Fenix and Forerunners. On the other hand, others are only compatible for use in pools only.
How long should the battery life last?
Most of the time, this feature is highly dependent on the number of features the watch has as well as how you use it. If a watch can perform multiple functions at the same time, the battery life will only run out faster than if it only does a single function. This is also to say that a watch that has few features will last way longer.
Which type of watch is better suited for measuring speed/pace/cadence?
A good number of these sports watches have this feature. They can perform several functions including monitoring the heart rate, the speed, cadence, pace, strokes in swimming, and steps among others. They can also connect to other fitness applications. Any of these types of triathlon watches will suffice in what you need.
While the options of having the best triathlon GPS watch are almost limitless, none of them are the same. From the above-discussed watches, you can tell that the features are different, but are all tailored towards making your workout a success. One with many features like the Garmin Forerunner 935 is suitable for most activities in comparison with one that has only a few features. This is really best Garmin tri watch.
It is thus mandatory to search for relevant information in terms of what you are looking for. The above guide and review, hopefully, has helped you reached a conclusion in terms of your preferences, the functionality, efficiency, and the type of activity you are engaged in.