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 a built-in heart rate monitor. 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 running watches, and heart rate 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 sensors, 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 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 sensors 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 sensors 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 Forerunner 645 Music
If you’re looking for the best GPS running watch on the market, the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is it. Although it has a clunky name, there’s nothing clunky about this watch — it’s packed with features, comfortable to wear, and is actually Garmin’s first wearable that supports onboard music storage.
The big news here is the ability to story music directly on the watch, which means you don’t need to take your phone with you on a run if you want to listen to music. Garmin says the watch can hold approximately 500 songs at one time, and you can also download offline playlists from select music services like iHeart Radio. Once your watch is loaded up with music, just pair it with some Bluetooth earbuds and you’ll be on your way.
This is also a great option if you need a training watch. The Forerunner 645 Music comes with training features powered by Firstbeat, which will help you better prepare for a race by letting you know if you’re training productively, peaking, or overreaching.
Garmin fenix 5
Garmin’s new fenix 5 lineup is finally here, and they’re great.
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.
The Polar M430 is a relatively cheap GPS running watch that doesn’t skimp on the features. Plus, it has one of the most accurate wrist-based heart rate monitors we’ve ever tested.
It has a built-in GPS, 6-LED heart rate monitor, and a battery that will last up to 30 hours on a single charge. It’ll also display your smartphone notifications.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the watch is its compatibility with the Polar Running Program, which will help guide your daily training and help you achieve your performance goals. You can upload daily training programs to your M430, access strength and core training videos, and even monitor your running progress via the Running Index feature.
Best fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor
The best fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor is the Garmin vivosport.
This new device packs a GPS and a heart rate monitor, which is pretty incredible considering its slim and lightweight design. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters, will last up to seven days on a single charge, and comes with a Chroma touchscreen display that’s miles better than the display on the vivosmart 3. The display is a little small for my liking, however.
The Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor on the vivosport will track your resting and active heart rate throughout the day, and it does so pretty accurately. Resting heart rate is spot on, though, like pretty much all wrist-based sensors, active heart rate readings can be a little off. It’s still one of the best out there, though.
The vivosport is available now for around $199.99, though the great thing about buying Garmin devices is that their prices fluctuate every couple of weeks. I’m assuming we’ll see a price drop on the vivosport sometime soon. Keep an eye on that Amazon listing over the next couple weeks. You might get lucky.
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.
Don’t miss: Fitbit Charge 2 review
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 watches, and heart rate 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.