Best HR monitors w/ wrist display?

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  • #23046

    Even though I have compared it with a chest strap, y’all are convincing me to invest in a chest strap monitor. My current wrist monitor doesn’t pair with the company’s (Garmin’s) chest strap.

    What do folks prefer, Garmin or Polar, and why? I want to be able to see my HR on my wrist to be able to adjust during training. I am used to the Garmin metrics and like them, but I am open to switching.

    I am a hiker and recently started dabbling in running.

  • Participant on #23071

    Which model Garmin do you have now?

    I have always assumed that all their sports watches and fitness bracelets could connect to their chest straps, but apparently I was wrong?

    Anyway, any Garmin Forerunner or Garmin Fenix will meet the requirements you have listed.

    Some of the differences between their cheap and expensive models are the types of activities you can choose. Hiking may for example not be a choice in the cheapest models.

    Also, you will probably have less options of creating structured workouts in the cheap models – or at least it used to be that way.

    death.jester on #23125

    I had a Polar H7 ( ~40-50 Euros). I was happy with it. It didn’t pair with my old Garmin Forerunner 235, though. But it then paired well with my Fenix 5+. The readings seemed quiet precise.
    But then for whatever reason the strap (not the heart rate monitor itself) broke. But it seems like the straps break after ~1-2 years (at least according to Ama*** reviews). I read lots of reviews where people were complaining about it. That’s annoying and not very sustainable! But you can at least can get a replacement for 10 (Chinese copy) to 20 (Original) Euros.

    But to see if the one from Garmin is better, I recently invested in a Garmin HRM Run (~60-80 Euros). It provides some nice additional metrics for running because it has a build in Accelerometer (tough they are kind of useless when Trail running, because they only work well on flat terrain).
    The disadvantage is, the heart rate monitor is directly fixed to the strap. So when the strap breaks you can trash the whole device.

    So, still not 100% convinced by either of the solutions. But I saw that DCRainmaker [1] thoroughly tested tons of these devices (wrist and chest), and there where some which he suggested. Even though when I searched for them, if I remember correctly, it was hard to order them in Europe. Because some of them I think were manufactured by US companies which only shipped to the US. So depending where you are located it might be an issue or not 😉


    Rachel on #23134

    I have a Suunto watch and use it with a Polar H10 strap. I had to stop using the Suunto chest strap last month after it got flaky (replacing the battery didn’t help). Too bad, because it was way more comfortable than the Polar

    I would look first for a strap that works with your watch, if your watch won’t pair with any strap then maybe just get a Garmin since you have a Garmin chest strap. You just want to make sure if it’s an ANT+ only strap you get a watch that has that technology.

    TerryLui on #23450

    This thread might be helpful:

    Recommended mountaineering watches

    I still use my Suunto Ambit 3. Like RachelP, I also had an issue w/ my Suunto HRM strap, ended up needing to replace the sensor module/computer disk and now works reliably.

    NotOnEiger on #23575

    I have the SUUNTO ambit3 with the smart sensor and I had had a lot of trouble with proper readings despite trying everything I learned here on uphillathlete as well as google about improvements until I followed one advice to turn the chest strap counterclockwise until the mid part is actually under my left armpit. So far so good, great accuracy now.

    TerryLui on #23691

    I too had success using it that way! But that was before outright replacing the sensor unit itself (ended up being faulty)

    briguy on #23699

    If you’re having trouble with the chest straps (I did too), the new generation of optical heart rate (OHR) devices are very good.



    I use the Scosche myself. It’s great because it’s dual-band (ANT+ & Bluetooth) so you can connect it to your phone and monitor HR on your phone while on a trainer/treadmill.

    crwebber707 on #34347

    does anyone have first experience with the accuracy of the applewatch 5 heart monitor?

    Rob Sterling on #34488

    Hi Crweber, I have the Apple Watch Series 5, and can’t fault the accuracy of the HRM. I have read some reports from people that the Series 5 is not as accurate as the s4, but that was when it first came out, and software updates have probably improved it.

    That said, and this is the big ‘but’, it is an optical wrist, so where the max and mins are all good, it definitely is slower at picking up the changes in HR than a chest strap – when I run or walk hills using the watch, I am out of breath but the watch shows me in AeT still… with a chest strap (TickrX linked to Apple watch), it moves into the higher zone first, and then I’m out of breath…. its the ‘flaw’ with Wrist HRM’s, as is widely discussed on this forum

    crwebber707 on #34490

    Thanks for the response Mike, could you outline to me what apps you use between you watch, phone and TickrX? I’d like to get myself a setup that is well integrated and makes for an easy interface with training peaks.

    Steve House on #34538

    The cheapest option is probably a $50 Wahoo chest strap and their phone app (assuming you have a smart phone). Then synch the Wahoo app to Training Peaks.

    I hate working out with my phone for a variety of reasons, but that is a functional option.

    Rob Sterling on #34562


    Steves suggestion above is valid, and the TickrX has loads of features that wyou wouldn’t imagine that makes it a very capable device, but top see live metrics, you need to have access to your phone screen, which I, like Steve do not find functional, so we are back to watches!

    I’ve used various Garmin and Suunto over the years, and I know there are people who will read this and baulk, but I love the Apple Watch, and believe is as good as any for multi-sport activities, and it’s probably not taken as seriously as it should be. Ive been using it for serious training for a few years now, and with a few initial tweaks, it dovetails into my training perfectly, seamlessly and easily, more so than any other watch I’ve used.

    For the doubters, I would highly recommend reading TheAppleWatchTriathalete ( where the author has successfully used an Apple Watch in a couple of Ironman events, and used it exclusively for his training for quite a few years now. He has tested many apps and third party additions, and his findings are very balanced. He has even written an article for Training Peaks about its use in IronMan events, so with that pedigree, I think it can manage a bit of hill running!

    My set up is simple in that I use the native Apple Activity App, as I think its metrics are great, it has all the features of a ‘specific’ sports watch (rolling pace, av Pace, pace alerts, splits, transition between activities etc), and I find the screen layout is easy to read

    I use Training Peaks as my ‘Hub’ although im also on Strava for the ‘coomunity/social’ stuff.

    My main ‘catalyst app’ is a great app called Healthfit ( which automagically syncs with the native Health App (which has picked up the workout from the Activity App), and then onward syncs it to Training Peaks and Strava in my case.

    Healthfit also syncs with Strava, Runalyze, Smashrun, Map my Run and loads of cycling apps, as well as Dropbox or iCloud for hard data storage, AND it also picks up other health metrics from other apps I use (MyFitnessPal, Waterminder and Sleep++) which all get added into my Training Peaks Account daily without me doing anything.

    All this might sound complicated, but when its all set up (took minutes), it all just works, and I just do my training and everything is there on Training Peaks.

    Its also nice to activate the calendar feature in TP, and so in the morning I see on my watch face what my workout is for the day, based on my ATP.

    I hope this helps

    Cheers, Mike

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