Who Else Wants To Find the Best Heart Rate Monitor for Their Needs?
Because this page kicks the non-best 295 heart rate monitor options to the wayside. Leaving you with only the best 23 heart rate monitor options to choose from. And guess what…
…To make it even easier – the best 23 are split up into 9 categories to make picking the exact one that is best for your needs a cinch. A cinch I tell ya!
Jump To the Category That Tickles Your Fancy
All you have to do is click the link in the grey box below that most describes your preference and you will jump straight to the best 3 heart rate monitors for that category. Have at it:
– One of the most versatile and complete heart rate monitors on the market today that will handle just about anything you can ask it to do.
– This heart rate monitor can efficiently train you whether you enjoy running, cycling, hiking, weightlifting, sprinting or any combo of those sports.
– You can get this watch ‘out of the box’ tailored to your specific sport needs whether you want GPS, cycling speed and cadence or running pace and distance – the RS800CX has you covered.
– A state of the art altimeter, barometer and thermometer can tell you your elevation traversed and as such tell you the incline and decline of the roads you ran or rode.
– Built with a memory large enough to store 99 of your workouts with the data recorded at whatever intervals you want: 1s, 5s, 15s or 60s. And USB upload to PC for data analysis with PolarPersonalTrainer.com.
– This watch acts as your personal trainer. The groundbreaking Polar options like the VO2max fitness test, daily personal heart rate zone limits and a training program that helps you optimise each and every training session for intensity and duration will help you reach your goals fast!
– The high price of this heart rate monitor can put some people off, but you are buying a lot more than just a heart rate monitor because you are literally purchasing a personal trainer on your wrist. Forget about over and under training again because this watch sets you up for success with ease.
-You can bet that this watch will be with you for many years to come with supreme Polar quality and warranty!
Do you want to see the full specs for the different RS800CX ‘out of box’ versions?
Choose your sport:
2) Suunto t6d
– The Suunto T6D took the triathlon and endurance sports training world by storm when it was released as Suunto’s most advanced endurance sports training computer.
– One of the coolest features on the T6D is the excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) level data. If you want to maximise your training efficiency, then knowing your EPOC will enable you to never over or under train – but only push yourself to the safe edge!
– With USB data upload to computer you can use Movecount.com to log and analyse your training data – for free. This is crucial for you if you are serious about making the most out of every training session.
– But don’t worry, you won’t have to upload after every training session because with this watch you get 30 workout logs or 100,000 heart beats worth of data memory.
– The T6D shares many similar features to the other brands most advanced heart rate monitors like altimeter, barometer and thermometer for elevation data and digitally coded chest strap to stop heart sensing interference.
– To further tailor your training computer to your needs Suunto offers training packs for Runners and Triathletes (GPS).
Do you want to see the full specs for the training packs?
Choose which pack to see:
– Timex really took their sport watch knowledge and applied it to their Ironman Triathlon GPS heart rate monitor. It is a powerhouse and even has interval timers with the ability to assign target zones to each.
– Especially useful for Ironman/Triathlon type training is the multisport push of the button activity changing function this watch has. It allows you to seamlessly keep the watch (and thus the data) in the know by switching between running, swimming and biking with ease.
– You can easily tailor the Global Trainer for cycling with the available bike speed and cadence and power sensor.
– Also cool is the watches rechargeable lithium ion battery to ensure the GPS technology keeps tracking your routes and locations.
1) Polar FT60
My top rated heart rate monitor priced at about $150 is the Polar FT60 heart rate monitor. I see this as the best value for the money, and judging by the reviews around – a lot of people would agree with me.
They like how easy it is to setup, how easy it is to view the stored workout heart rate data, that it is compatible with GPS and foot pod sensors… And it has a few different colors and sizes available for women and men!
If you are looking for a versatile, affordable and durable “sweet spot” heart rate monitor then the FT60 is the best starting point. But at $150, it may be out of reach… then check out the next monitor.
Coming in second on my list of best heart rate monitors, at around $65, is this Timex Road Trainer. You won’t be disappointed with the ability of this watch to take your heart rate training to the next level.
You get features usually reserved for $200+ watches like 5 target zones, calorie counter, coded chest strap, interval timers and target zones for each, recovery heart rate timer, data transfer to PC or Mac, stopwatch and 100m water resistance (which means surface swimming – but HR data won’t work while swimming).
I seriously cannot believe this watch is so affordable. With 4/5 stars rating off 88 customer reviews on Amazon, the majority seem to agree with me – this heart rate monitor is awesome!
It’s pretty amazing to see my third choice, the Garmin Forerunner 305, have a 4.5/5 star customer satisfaction rating with more than 2000 people rating it.
This GPS heart rate monitor essentially shot Garmin to the top of the heart rate monitor niche. Before it, they were merely GPS specialists. And before this watch, GPS and heart rate monitoring in one, was mostly unexplored. Garmin changed all that and with this being decently sized to be classed as a wrist watch, is an amazing training computer for only $140.
It has everything that is essential: Heart rate, GPS, custom heart rate training routines, USB data transfer, calorie counter, compete with an electronic person, compete against your past tracks, custom interval training, multisport data recording, simple workout guidance for time, distance and calories, rechargeable battery life
The Timex Personal Trainer is the bestselling heart rate monitor, and at about $40, is a basic entry level type heart rate monitor.
Obviously, a lot of people are starting to train the smart way, the heart rate way and want an affordable easy to use heart rate monitor with a chest strap, calorie counter, real time heart rate display and one workouts worth of heart rate data storage.
If you are looking for something to get you started into heart rate training, then this Timex should do the trick! And this bad-boy has an approval rating of 4.5/5 off nearly 600 customers who have taken the time to rate.
The second best selling heart rate monitor is made by Omron and is one of the simplest to use on the market today. They specialise in fitness monitors and haven’t disappointed, at the entry level, for heart rate monitoring.
The Omron HR-100C is about as basic as they come, but sometimes simple is best, with a chest strap, built in target zone alarm, time of day and stopwatch this heart rate monitor can be suitable for many many people.
Overall this watch has a 4/5 rating from nearly 1000 happy customers.
3) Polar FT4
For about $65, the third best selling heart rate monitor is more advanced than the preceding two. It boasts some lovely heart rate features like automatic age based target zones, 10 workout data memory, a coded signal between chest strap and watch, a calorie counter and a user replaceable battery.
It is one of Polar’s most entry level monitors, and also their best selling heart rate monitor.
You can get this watch in pink/orange as shown or grey/black. As you would expect from a best seller, this watch also shows favorable ratings with an approval of 4.5/5 off more that 130 people.
Impact Sports Technologies has developed this strapless, and yet, continuous heart rate monitoring training computer. It is a worlds first!
Usually when you come across a strapless heart rate monitor you expect to have to touch some button on the watch face for it to give you your heart rate. As in you don’t expect a real-time and continuous readout. But the ePulse2 does just that!
It’s a little complex, but the gist of how this puppy works without a chest strap is by having a light emitting sensor on the back of the watch display that rests against your forearm. It emits wavelengths that sense the change in size of your blood vessels as blood moves through them. Each time it senses that increase in vessel diameter it knows you have had a heart beat.
Although this strapless monitor has an amazing approval rating of 4.5/5 some people do mention the battery draw (because of the continuous light emitting from the sensor) to be annoying. They say that after 3 hours of continuous heart rate monitoring, the ePulse2 requires its rechargeable battery to be charged.
Nonetheless, this watch is one of a kind and definitely worth a look if you hate chest straps.
2) Mio Classic
While the ePulse2 by Impact Sports Technologies is a phenomenal step forward for strapless heart rate monitoring, the Mio brand started the trend. Back in 1999, the founder of Mio invented Smart Touch Technology, offerring on demand ECG accurate heart rate without the chest strap.
Mio has grown since then, and is now essentially the Polar of strapless heart rate monitors. Their product line is geared directly for general, all-purpose use and, in my opinion, has a very cool looking style.
The Mio Classic, for only $40 or so, has a calorie counter, ECG accurate heart rate without a chest strap and tracks calorie burned versus your inputted daily target.
- See full Mio Classic specs here…
- For a more lady-like strapless Mio – check out the Mio Drive Petite here…
I’m ranking the Sportline 925 as the third best strapless heart rate monitor because it is affordable at about $65, is ECG accurate, boasts a stopwatch, pedometer, calorie counter, 5 year warranty and if that isn’t enough has a built in accelerometer to monitor distance, speed and strides (hence the pedometer).
The pink version, as is pictured, is for the women.
But don’t worry guys Sportline also has a black men’s version (minus the pedometer)! Check the full specs here…
1) Suunto M5
Undoubtedly one of the best monitors for general fitness on the market today. Not by mistake either, as Suunto intended this one to provide vast fitness and general wellbeing improvements.
It is compatible with all Suunto PODs namely the GPS (speed/pace, distance and route tracking), Foot (speed/pace, stride sensing and distance) and Bike POD (pedaling cadence and speed). But don’t think you have to add-on a POD to make this M5 awesome because it comes fully stocked with goodness ‘out of the box.’
It has all that a general fitness heart rate monitor should have including a stopwatch, coded chest strap, calorie counter, data upload and training and exercise guidance in the form of: training program, exercise instructions, exercise duration and intensity, a fitness test and recovery time suggestion.
2) Polar FT80
Above you saw that I ranked the Polar FT60 as the best value for the money. Well I must tell you, it just narrowly beat out the FT80 as my number 1 heart rate monitor. Here I want to introduce you to the FT80, which is one model up from my favorite -the FT60.
The FT80 costs about $80 more than the FT60 and comes included with two extra features: stopwatch and the device for upload to computer (FlowLink) – both included ‘out of the box.’ The FlowLink costs about $45, so I essentially asked myself if a stopwatch was worth that $35 dollar difference.
Regardless of rankings, the FT80 is a powerful heart rate monitor than can do almost anything you ask of it.
Heart Rate Monitor I’m Currently Using
3) Polar FT7
My third ranked general fitness specific heart rate monitor is the Polar FT7 (Women’s Version in photo right).
It is Polar’s least expensive monitor with data upload to Mac or PC (via the FlowLink add-on) and because of that I feel it carries immense potential for all ranges of people to improve their heart rate training effectiveness and efficiency.
PolarPersonalTrainer.com, where your data will eventually end up, has heaps of features to help you optimise your training for duration, intensity and frequency.
With a few different colors on offer, the FT7 caters to men and women of all ages and body types.
- See the full women’s version specs here…(as pictured right)
- See the full men’s version specs here…
- See the full women’s RED color version specs here…
Garmin learned a lot from shaking up the heart rate monitor niche with their foray into it with the Forerunner 305 GPS. Essentially, my number 1 pick for multisport endurance trainers – the Forerunner 310XT, is an upgraded, improved and better training computer than the 305.
The 310XT is perfect for multisport endurance training because it is 50m waterproof (although when swimming you won’t get real time heart rate data because the transmission between the watch and strap won’t work – most of the time – underwater.) However, you can still track your data for the full Ironman Triathlon (if that’s what your doing) separating the stages with touch of the button activity changing (between swimming, cycling and running, for instance).
The 310XT also boasts a full 20 hours of training mode battery life, which is a 10 hour improvement over the 305.
2) Polar RCX5
Polar’s offerring to multisport endurance athletes (aside from the RS800CX) is the RCX5. It has similar functionality to the Garmin 310XT in that it can track your Ironman Triathlon data by separating the stages with touch of the button activity changing (between swimming, cycling and running, for instance).
Easily the most astounding feature Polar gives you here is the heart rate while swimming data. Polar has given this training computer a hybrid chest strap, which means it has a digital and analog signal to transmit your heart rate to the watch both when swimming and when not – awesome!
This watch is jam-packed with precision features to help make your endurance training more efficient, more enjoyable and you can see all those features by clicking here…
- See RCX5 GPS full specs here…
- See RCX5 Running (stride sensor) full specs here…
- See RCX5 Bike (Cadence/speed sensor) full specs here…
My third pick for the best multisport endurance training heart rate monitor is geared towards the more beginner endurance training athletes. And by that, I mean those who aren’t willing to spend the dough to get the $350 – 310XT or the $400 – RCX5 as described in the number 1 and 2 positions above, respectively.
Suunto has on offer a really thoughtful triathlon training computer that doubles as your personal Coach. At about $170, the t4d is within reach of many more of you than the above two. And that is awesome because…
This Suunto is compatible with all Suunto PODs (GPS, Bike Speed, Bike Cadence and Foot POD for running). Has real-time training effect (fat burning, performance improving etc.) and Suunto Coach for some personalised, detailed training schedules. After you’re done training you can also upload your data via the Suunto Movestick for further training data analysis on your Mac or PC!
Coming in at number 1 for running specific heart rate monitors is the Garmin Forerunner 210. Without a doubt, the 210 is geared towards runners, with their bundled foot pod, GPS, custom interval training feature, 1000 lap memory and lightweight/sport watch size heart rate monitor.
There is not really a better option out there if all you plan to use your heart rate monitor for is running. Like most other GPS Garmin’s, the 210 has a rechargeable battery that usually lasts 8 hours in training mode. But even when you need to recharge it, you have an AC charger option or you can simply charge it when you plug your watch into the USB drive of your computer to transfer data online.
- See full specs here…
- Or, click here to check out this cheaper one (still GPS, just no Foot Pod incl.)
2) Polar RS100
Coming in at number 2 for my running specific heart rate monitors is the $69 or so Polar RS100. Undoubtedly the RS100 is the best start to running heart rate training.
It has an enthusiastic approval rating of 4.5/5 and only has the features you actually need and use. It has a stopwatch lap timer, which is crucial for running training and has personal heart rate zone limits, a coded chest strap transmission and 1 workout worth of heart rate data storage – to get you into the habit of analysing your average and max heart rate of training.
The Polar RS300X Run with S1 Foot Pod is the perfect runner’s tool. Although this Polar has some major features that the RS100 does not, I have decided to rank this one third, strictly because of the affordability (It is $80 more expensive than the RS100).
If you have the cash, and want to get the RS300X then the features you will get (over the RS100) are data upload to PC or Mac, VO2max fitness test, 16 workouts logging memory and of course access to PolarPersonalTrainer.com and all it has to offer you!
And just in case you didn’t know, the S1 foot pod attaches to your shoelaces and measures your running pace, speed and distance.
Things you might use the S1 foot pod for:
- Training for a marathon more efficiently by always knowing your pace.
- Racing against yourself on tracks you run each week.
- See full specs for Black color RS300X Run with S1 Foot Pod
- See full specs for Orange color RS300X Run with S1 Foot Pod
I think the Garmin Edge 500 is the best cycling heart rate monitor computer on offer because it is affordable (at $250 or $350 with speed/cadence sensor) has all the features you could possible need:
- Custom heart rate training routines
- USB data transfer to PC or Mac
- Calorie counter
- Compete feature (against electronic person) and against your past self
- Much more…
The model up Edge 800, which is $100 more expensive, only has the additional features of simple workouts guidance and custom interval training. Shows the Edge 500 hit the sweet spot in price and value.
If you want this lightweight and small, yet easily viewable cycling computer why not check out one of the options at the links below:
- Click here to check out the Garmin Edge 500 WITHOUT cadence sensor
- Click here to see the Edge 500 as pictured
1) Polar RCX5
The only true swimming heart rate monitor available for you is the Polar RCX5. It was my number 2 choice for multisport endurance training above.
It isn’t water resistance that causes the problem for swimming heart rate monitors, it is the transmission signal from chest strap to watch. The increased density of water versus air causes the signal the dissipate ages before it reaches the heart rate training computer (water is 1000 times more dense than air).
Polar solved this issue by inventing a hybrid chest strap. The chest strap that comes with the RCX5 can emit an analog or a digital signal, depending on what medium you are training in – water or air?
So if you want to have real-time and continuos heart rate data from your swimming training then you must get the RCX5.
I would recommend the Oregon Scientific SE138 for intermittent swimming heart rate data. It is a strapless watch that does not require any button to be pushed in to sense your heart rate – keeping it free from water ingress. It has a metal watch face that you place two fingers on, instead.
Many people have expressed happiness using the SE138 this way, and although it is not continuous, it is a highly affordable option for a swimming heart rate monitor.
The SE138, by the way, is water resistant to 50m, which means that you should not go deeper than 1-2m (surface swimming!)
Update March 1, 2017: I’ve been using the Polar FT7 for the last 5.25 years. I have some likes, and dislikes… Check out my detailed thoughts here.