Keeping track of your heart rate is one of the most essential metrics when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and improving your fitness training and finding a good heart rate monitor is part of that. Even paying a little more attention to your heart rate during a workout can help you stay in your desired heart rate zones, which will in turn help maximize your training efficiency.
Thankfully tracking your heart rate is pretty easy nowadays, as most activity trackers and smartwatches on the market come with built-in heart rate monitors. Of course, there are also dedicated chest straps for heart rate monitoring if you’re looking for something a little more accurate.
But with so many different heart rate sensors on the market, which one should you buy? We’re here to help! We’ve rounded up the best heart rate monitor chest straps, heart rate monitor running watches, and heart rate monitor fitness trackers on the market.
Best heart rate monitor chest straps
Coming in at just under $90, the best heart rate monitor chest strap you can buy right now is the Polar H10.
Polar has made a name for itself by producing high-quality, accurate heart rate monitors, so it should come as no surprise that the H10, the company’s latest chest strap, is at the very top of our list. The H10 uses an entirely new algorithm from previous Polar monitors, and the included Polar Pro strap has been updated as well. It includes extra “interference-preventing electrodes” to help make sure heart rate data is accurately captured. It also sports a new buckle mechanism and silicon dots that will help keep it in place when you’re working out.
The H10 also offers quite a few new improvements over its predecessor, the H7. The H10 is now able to receive over-the-air (OTA) software updates, features enough built-in memory for one training session, and up to 400 hours of battery life.
Wahoo TICKR X
I’ve been using the Wahoo TICKR X as my main heart rate monitor chest strap for over a year now, and for good reason.
The TICKR X tracks your heart rate (duh), calories burned, reps, running analytics, and much more. It also has quite a bit more on-board storage capacity than the Polar H10. You’ll be able to store up to 16 hours of fitness data on this monitor and sync back up with your phone at a later time. The TICKR X can connect to most smartphones, GPS watches, and bike computers, as it also comes equipped with Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ dual-band technology.
It’s waterproof and sweatproof, though it’s worth noting it won’t track your heart rate while you’re in the water.
My one main complaint about the TICKR X isn’t actually with the device itself; rather, the applications it pairs with. The RunFit and Wahoo Fitness apps seem a little outdated and lacking in features at this point (no social features, for instance), though they do handle the basics pretty well. Now, the TICKR X is able to pair with other fitness apps, so this complaint really only applies if you’re using Wahoo’s own apps.
If you’re a triathlete, you should definitely consider the Garmin HRM-Tri.
This is Garmin’s smallest and lightest heart rate monitor to date, and it’s super comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. The HRM-Tri will store all your heart rate data when you’re underwater, then forward it to your wearable once you’re done swimming. And when you’re out for a run, the monitor will report six different running dynamics metrics, including cadence, stride length, ground contact time, ground contact time balance, vertical oscillation, and vertical ratio.
MYZONE’s MZ-3 heart rate monitor is one of the most feature-packed options on our list.
This heart rate monitor sports Bluetooth and ANT+, which means you’ll be able to connect the device to your smartphone and sync it up with a number of popular fitness applications. It also has the ability to store up to 16 hours of fitness activity, meaning you don’t have to carry around your smartphone when you work out.
There are also a number of social elements baked into the MYZONE app. You can create challenges to compete against your previous workouts and against friends. Plus, you can see your friends’ progress and they can see yours, which will help hold you accountable to achieve your goals.
Best heart rate monitor running watches
Garmin fenix 5
Garmin’s new fenix 5 lineup is finally here, and these are the best GPS running watches on the market right now.
All three fenix 5 models come with preloaded multisport functionality for running, hiking, swimming, biking, and more. They all feature Garmin’s impressive Elevate heart rate trackers, built-in GPS, water resistance up to 100 meters, as well as navigation features with a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter.
They all also feature a variety of connected features that make these devices true smartwatches. Users can get call, text and email smartphone notifications. All Sapphire models are also Wi-Fi enabled, so users will be able to connect with their home network and upload statistics even if their smartphones aren’t around.
Not crazy about the regular fenix 5? The smaller fenix 5S might be for you. It has all the same specs as the fenix 5, though it’s built for people with smaller wrists and has a slightly smaller battery. Looking for something even more beefy than the fenix 5? The fenix 5X is much larger and comes with preloaded with TOPO U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps and other navigation features like Round Trip Run and Round Trip Ride. The 5X will even display guidance cues for upcoming turns.
Get ready to fork over a good amount of cash, though. The fenix 5 and 5S both start at $599.99, while the fenix 5X can be yours for $699.99.
TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music
TomTom’s Spark 3 Cardio + Music is a great option if you need something a little cheaper.
It has everything you need in a running watch – an accurate heart rate monitor, a built-in GPS, and support for a ton of different running applications. Plus, this model comes with a Route Exploration feature that not only lets you track where you’ve run, but also lets you get routes from any website and upload them to your watch if you’re interested in trying out a new route.
It’s worth noting there are a few different models in the Spark 3 lineup: the TomTom Spark 3, Spark 3 Music, Spark 3 Cardio and our pick, the Spark 3 Cardio + Music. Though less expensive, the Spark 3 and Spark 3 Music unfortunately don’t offer a heart rate monitor. The Spark 3 Cardio certainly offers a lot for the money, though we believe the onboard music storage and pair of Bluetooth headphones that come with the Spark 3 Cardio + Music provide a better value overall. The Cardio + Music model only costs $60 more.
Polar’s M600 sport watch is by far the best Android Wear-powered fitness tracker on the market.
With a built-in GPS, IPX8 water resistance rating, a super accurate optical heart rate monitor, and 4 GB of on-board storage, the M600 is quite the feature-packed device. It also comes with support for Polar’s wonderful Flow app, allowing you to track just about any activity you can think of – rowing, skiing, hiking and much more. You’ll also be able to squeeze about two days of battery life out of this thing, which is impressive for an Android Wear watch.
It’s a little pricey, though, starting at $329. You can certainly find Android Wear devices for less than that, but the M600 provides much more than other devices.
Best fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor
Garmin vívosmart HR+
The best fitness tracker you can buy right now is the Garmin vívosmart HR+. It’s one of the most feature-packed, well-rounded wearables you’ll find.
For starters, it has a big touchscreen display that’s easy to read outdoors. And thanks to the larger screen, that means you’ll be able to view more information on the tracker itself without having to pick up your phone to open the Garmin app. It also has a waterproof rating of up to 50 meters, which is a feature many other trackers don’t offer.
How does it differ from our previous fitness tracking champion, the vívosmart HR? For starters, it comes with a built-in GPS while remaining just about the same size as its predecessor. The addition of a GPS brings some new running features like personal records, virtual pacer, Auto Pause, Auto Lap and walk/run mode. It will also track your activity and workouts automatically with Garmin’s powerful Move IQ technology, something the vívosmart HR does not offer. And of course, this device also comes with an accurate heart rate monitor, just like most other Garmin devices out there.
With a built-in GPS, great water resistance rating, automatic activity recognition, and the company’s wonderful Auto Goal feature, the vívosmart HR+ is by far the best fitness tracker available.
Fitbit Charge 2
If you’re buying a fitness tracker in this price range, it’s hard not to consider the Charge 2.
It’s clear Fitbit really focused on design when making the Charge 2. This device not only looks more like a piece of jewelry and less like a standard fitness tracker this time around, you also have the option to change out the bands if you’d like.
The Charge 2 also has a bigger display this time, meaning you get more room for smartphone notifications. Plus, Fitbit also introduced a few new features to the Charge 2 that should help users stay healthy and relaxed overtime: Cardio Fitness Level, which will give you a cardiovascular rating based on an estimate of your VO2 Max, and Relax, a new on-device guided breathing feature that will walk you through short breathing exercises to help you lower blood pressure, reduce stress and lessen anxiety.
Overall, it’s an all-around great fitness tracker, especially considering its $150 price point.
Fitbit Alta HR
That was our list of the best heart rate monitors, heart rate monitor watches, and heart rate monitor fitness trackers. Did we miss anything? What do you think of our list? We’d love to hear what you have to say in the comment section below.