Garmin + Wahoo Fitness HR Open Water & Race Solution (Heart Rate Monitor)

Wahoo TICKR-X pod on a new style Garmin strap

The open water season is most definitely upon us. Hopefully you’ve already managed a few swims as it’s not too cold, I’ve done 4 and I’m a bit of a cold water wimp. It’s fine.

However I’m looking at HR for my open-water swims. Obviously I’m not going to be looking at my HR as I swim (although maybe after a lap getting the average might be useful for some). However I would like to know what it was afterwards (I measure training load through TRIMPs).

Along a similar vein as the race season for tri’s is now upon us I would really like to know how hard I tried in the swim sections.

The rest of this is geared towards Garmin owners. You smug Suunto Ambit3 Sport (Reviewed Here) owners and Polar V800 owners are probably already OK 🙂

My Preferred Option: WAHOO TICKR-X (Reviewed Here) HR pod on a new style Garmin strap (more here). The Wahoo pod CACHES the data and you can upload it later via their APP. AT THE SAME TIME IT WILL ALSO SEND HR DATA to your watch just as any other HR strap does.

Advantages: This option will work for pretty much any watch. Whatever HR you can’t pick up from the strap (which supports ANT+ and BTLE) on your watch or smartphone you can get it later via their APP. The new Garmin strap has more sensors and I’m currently seeing if this is more accurate and/or longevitous.

Disadvantages: You will get an incorrect HR data track for the swim component because of drop-outs (indeed it may be entirely blank) and you will have to overwrite that track later. You will only get HRV from data recorded onto your 910/920 as the wahoo app only, currently, supports TCX export which does not contain HRV R-R data.

Summary: Looks good to me so far!


Another Option: MIO Link (or similar optical HR for wrist). If you put this right next to your Garmin 920XT (only) AND if your watch is in open-water swim mode you should record a HR track (but will not be able to see it as you swim).

Advantages: You get the HR data in the swim data track.

Disadvantages: water ingress to sensor area might cause dropouts, you probably would want to rely on the same MIO for bike+run. This might be less accurate at high HRs. You might choose to wear a chest strap as well for the bike/run.

Summary: Probably OK for training, perhaps not for racing.

Garmin HRM straps through time
Garmin HRM straps through time
Black Friday 2015AmazonUKAmazonUSA
4iiii Viiiiva V100 HRM£79.99Link$77.64Link
4iiii Viva MiniTBC
SMS Bio Sport Ear Bud£40.97Link$69.99Link
Garmin Heart Rate Monitor (Hard)£31.00Link$39.09Link
Garmin HRM-RUN (Soft)£51.36Link$99.99Link
Garmin Premium (Soft)£31.89Link$39.99Link
Garmin HRM-Swim£76.00Link$98.99Link
Garmin HRM-Tri£96.52Link$129.99Link
Jabra Sport Pulse£99.00Link$123.10Link
LifeBeam Smart Helmetn/aLink$185.49Link
MIO Fuse£94.95Link$129.95Link
MIO Link£58.95Link$61.51Link
MIO Velo£84.35Link$111.19Link
Polar H6£54.50Link$42.99Link
Polar H7£37.49Link$51.45Link
PowerTap PowerCal ANT+£104.49Link$95.99Link
PowerTap PowerCal Bluetooth£87.53Link$95.99Link
Scosche Rhythm+£70.00Link$79.95Link
Suunto Smart Belt£43.68Link$54.91Link
Under Armour Armour39$62.99Link
Wahoo RFLKT£71.99Link$89.99Link
Wahoo RFLKT+£79.99Link$128.57Link
Wahoo TICKR£44.14Link$59.85Link
Wahoo TICKR-RUN£64.99Link$71.92Link
Wahoo TICKR-X£79.90Link$99.90Link

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4 thoughts on “Garmin + Wahoo Fitness HR Open Water & Race Solution (Heart Rate Monitor)

  1. I have owned a Garmin Forerunner since November 2014 and I am very disappointed with the erratic peroformance of its HRM. After the first couple of months, it started malfunctioning and it now gives me a credible reading every five or six training sessions. Is there anything I can do to correct this problem? Is there a battery inside that must e replaced?
    Thank you

    1. Hi enrico. That shouldn’t happen. First look at the official garmin care instructions.
      1. you should always unclip at least one end of the pod to avoid th epotential for a circuit and battery drain when not in use
      2. you need to wear it properly and fairly snug/tight
      3. yes there is a battery. it should last longer than a year for most people.
      4. it could be the battery or it could be the strap. so find a friend and do a swap of the pods to find out if it is the pod or the strap. THEN you will know what to do

  2. I was thinking of buying a wahoo elemnt bolt with the bundle (cadence, speed + tickr) – if i use it for triathlon, will the tickr work properly for the bike leg if i wear it from the start of the race (ie including the swim) – i dont mind if it doesnt work for the swim, but want to be able to keep track during the bike leg – is it reliable even if its wet from the swim?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. should do
      why were you concerned it wouldn’t?
      being wet is not an issue, it would dry out within seconds and then get wet again from sweat.!
      the only thing to watch out for is bluetooth pairing. make sure you pair with ant+ then you have unlimited simultaneous conenctions/pairings (only one with ble ie might be a prob with your watch and your bolt)

      if there’s some deals here when you’re ready to buy it helps this blog, thank you:

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