Best Triathlon Watch πŸ₯‡ Top 10 Guide 2020 Compare

Best Triathlon Watch

The Best Triathlon Watch 2020 is the Garmin Forerunner 945, yet there ARE better options if you have a specific need. For example, a Garmin Fenix 5S Plus has the same core triathlon features, as does the 935, and both for lower prices. Whereas someone with budget constraints and interested in running with power might find the new Polar Vantage M more to their liking.

Best Triathlon Watch

Garmin Forerunner 945 935

Anyway, you get the idea; there is a different ‘Best Triathlon Watch‘ for different kinds of people. I’ll try to cover ALL TYPES of triathletes but the basic thing you need to know is that a Triathlon Watch has a single mode that seamlessly permits the recording of a swim followed by a bike followed by a run, with appropriate data displayed for each sport.

Each category below includes a link to my detailed reviews of every single tri watch; my recommendation; a link to the best price from my partners (REI, Wiggle, Amazon, PMC…) as well as hundreds of reader pollings

Controversial Contention: The Best Triathlon Watch is the Forerunner 935. It properly does all-things ‘tri’ and has passed the stage of being a testing bucket for Garmin’s new features ie it works.

The 945 has even better features than the 935..now that’s confusing. Well, not really, it’s a faster 935 with extra ‘smarts’, extra $$$ but pretty much the same tri-functionality.

Remember you can tell if a reviewer has actually used the device they are recommending by the photo…a stock photo means they’ve never used it and may never have finished a triathlon. FWIW I’m a GB Age Group Triathlete.

FORM Swim Goggles Review Specifications

Let’s get back to watches

Best Triathlon Watch

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage

Spartan Trainer, Stratos, 935

Best Garmin Triathlon Watch

The absolute best Garmin Triathlon Watch is the Garmin MARQ ATHLETE which is the same as a Forerunner 945 but in a premium casing.

Both have ALMOST EVERY triathlon feature and a good battery to get you through KONA.

However, the 935 represents the best bang for your Garmin pro-tri buck, turn off some of the features for your Ironman and all will be fine. I sold my 935 for a 945 but now regret it.

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage Amazfit STRATOS

Amazfit STRATOS Garmin 935

Best Triathlon Watch – on a Budget

The Best Budget Triathlon Watch is the Sigma id.TRI at around $/Β£150

You will be seriously amazed by the wealth of techy features and connectivity of this small-format watch. It does the job most of you will want it to do but you probably wouldn’t like its looks 24×7.

Best Triathlon Watch – by Price Band

Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage

COROS Pace, Vantage M, Suunto Spartan Trainer, Garmin 735XT (235 Shown)

Best Triathlon Watch – Polar

#Tricky.

The old Polar V800 has the most features and is the joint-most accurate GPS watch…ever. The new Polar Vantage V has lost only a few features compared to the V800 but gained beauty as well as several other NEW features like optical HR. The new Polar Vantage M is cheaper and lighter than the Vantage V and I HAVE delighted in using itΒ  it for most of my races in 2019 alongside STRYD and the H10.

MY Best Polar Triathlon Watch is the Vantage M.

Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage

Best Triathlon Watch – Suunto

#Tricky

The Suunto Triathlon Watches have beauty in my eyes and have the best quality of construction of any of the watches covered here. Suunto’s thing is ‘a long-life battery in the rugged outdoors‘.

My personal favourite is the Suunto 9 and yet the Ambit 3 would be the joint most accurate (ever). You will get the best features at the best price from the Suunto 5, which is an updated Suunto SPARTAN Trainer. If you are less serious about triathlon but still want a triathlon watch then the Suunto 7 (Wear OS) is a beautiful-looking smartwatch but you need to consider the battery life (it’s like the Apple Watch in that sense). The older Spartan Trainer still represents your best value-for-money Suunto with nearly all the features in a well-made shell.

The best Suunto Triathlon Watch is the Suunto Spartan Trainer…I prefer the Suunto 9

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage

Best Triathlon Watch – with Heart Rate

#Tricky

They all support chest straps. I presume you mean with the ever-inaccurate, built-in optical HR?

The jury is still out on this but the best optical heart rate monitor in a triathlon watch might be found in the Polar Vantage M or Polar Vantage V. Garmin’s Elevate HR has improved with the 2019 models (MARQ, 945 and Fenix 6).

The Best Heart Rate Monitor in a Triathlon Watch is in the Polar Vantage M but it still might not work for you…that’s oHR for you.

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar VantageBest Triathlon Watch – for Thin Wrists

Best Triathlon Watch – for Women

Apologies for the assumption that only women have thin wrists…I HAVE THIN WRISTS

Without a doubt, this is the Garmin Fenix 6S (Pro+Sapphire) which maintains the same size screen as earlier Fenix watches but packs everything into a more compact case.

The Best Triathlon Watch for Thin Wrists is the Garmin Fenix 6S Pro Sapphire. If that’s too expensive consider the Sigma iD.Tri

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar VantageBest Triathlon Watch – for Accuracy

Optical HR likely won’t be accurate, so the most accurate triathlon watch will be the one that displays pace/distance and elevation correctly without onboard optical HR.

The current, Best Triathlon Watch for Accuracy is the Suunto Spartan Sport (HR, ie non WHR). The Polar V800 remains the best-ever.

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Best Triathlon Watch – for Techiness

The geeky amongst you will buy the Garmin Forerunner 945 or similarly any of the Garmin Fenix 6 range or 5 Plus range. The Best Triathlon Watch for Techniness is the Garmin Forerunner 945 (again)

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STRYD: Garmin 920XT, Suunto AMBIT 3 SPORT, Polar V800 Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar Vantage

STRYD: Garmin 920XT, Suunto AMBIT 3 SPORT, Polar V800

Best Triathlon Watch – for full-race Live HR (ie swimming too)

Pre-2020 the Polar V800 was the ONLY good choice for accurate live HR for the entire race when linked to the Polar H7 5KHz HRM (or H10). Now the latest Garmin tri watches can display live oHR (albeit sometimes WRONG readings) and I confess to myself using them for recording HR in the pool.

The Best Triathlon Watch for full-race live HR is the Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 645 Review Music Best Triathlon Watch

235 – 645 Music – 935

Best Triathlon Watch – for Ironman

Simply put, the battery has to last until the end of the race and the watch will probably also need to support your bike power meter. With the old 935’s battery life fading as it ages the best option here is the uber-batteried Forerunner 945.

The Best Triathlon Watch for Ironman is the Garmin Forerunner 945

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar VantageBest Triathlon Watch – for Beginners

The best triathlon watch for beginners is either “The Practice” or “The Training“. A watch is one more thing to worry about. Your current waterproof watch will be fine.

Do you want to spend some money? Oh alright then. Go for the Polar Vantage M, it’s superficially straightforward but a lot of clever stuff lies hidden away for you to discover as time passes, it’s pretty and it should be a good future-proof solution with lots of new stuff being added over the next couple of years.

The Best Triathlon Watch for Beginners is the Polar Vantage M

 

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar VantageBest Triathlon Watch – with Maps

With the introduction of maps onto the Forerunner 945 then this clearly makes the 945 the winner in this category.

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar VantageBest Triathlon Watch – for the Future

This might turn out to be the Polar Vantage V if it lives up to the expectation of continually delivering new features over several years like its predecessor, the V800. However, its 2019 roadmap has now been fully delivered and there are no further PUBLISHED plans for new features.

I’m 95% sure we will see a Forerunner 955 (five five) in 2020 so do you wait or buy now? If you are going to buy now then the 945 WILL have new features added throughout 2020 and probably 2021 as well.

The Best Triathlon Watch for the Future is the Garmin Forerunner 945

With the introduction of maps onto the Forerunner 945 then this clearly makes the 945 the winner in this category.

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Best Triathlon Watch Garmin 945 Sigma id.TRI Polar VantageBest Triathlon Watch – with Music

You can’t listen to music while you race, but you can while you train, and only Garmin seem to have this well under control and are able to support multiple online music providers AND with triathlon functionality.

The Best Triathlon Watch with Music AGAIN is the Garmin Forerunner 945

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Detailed Review Links

Still not convinced? You can read lots more about these individual watches in the links or check the prices at your local retailer (the link goes to retailers in your country)

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18 thoughts on “Best Triathlon Watch πŸ₯‡ Top 10 Guide 2020 Compare

  1. Would you allocate the Suunto Spartan WHR Baro in with the Suunto Sport WHR or the Suunto 9 Baro or was it forgotten altogether?

  2. Do you expect an eSim in a near or far future Garmin-watch? (or Polar, Suunto,..?)
    The only reason I take my Apple Watch along my runs is the fact that I can stream music and hopefully my prefered radio-stations soon and I’m reachable without my phone.
    But it looks quite silly wearing 2 watches (Garmin for training, Apple for streaming/phone).

  3. why no garmin under ‘The Best Triathlon Watch for Accuracy’ afraid to be embarrased by the reaults or? πŸ™‚
    stunning that the 5year old PolarV800 still make it to the top in some of the polls…

    • which Garmin do you think would deserve to be on that list?
      I couldn’t think of one that would deserve inclusion as potentially ‘the best’ in terms of accuracy. Happy to add one in…don’t think it would get (m)any votes

  4. How long it takes to fully charge your Suunto Trainer ? I have some weird problem when it’s going up to 99% and then stops charging at all (also I need something like 2.5 up to 3hr to get it there). The second question I have, why do you recommend Vantage M over the Trainer for the beginners ?

      • I’m talking about the SuuntoLink on desktop, but the same value is shown by the watch. Also 3hr of charging is totally normal for this device, nothing to be frightened?

        • many devices/sensors report the wrong charge state. i would not worry about 1%
          i cant remember the full charge time for fully depleted but i’m sure it was less than 3 hours. Could it be the port on your computer or an old cable? try it with a new turbo-boosting smartphone charger that plugs into the wall just use your suunto cable. it SHOULD charge/modulate to the right rate.
          are you sure it is on the clip properly?

  5. Hi, great post. I’ll tell you as an athlete, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is one of the best watches I’ve had. This is the best watch for a triathlon. This device is currently considered the top of the Garmin company. The watch is equipped with the largest number of functions in this class of devices. Slim case, light weight, excellent long-lasting battery, allow you to use the watch for the Garmin triathlon for 24 hours using GPS. The watch can take steps and help with routes thanks to navigation, and can also become an indispensable assistant in the fitness room. Good luck!

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