The Best Triathlon Watch 2018 is the Garmin Forerunner 935, 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 the 935 but also more techy stuff like contactless payments and music. Someone with budget constraints and interested in running with power might find the new Polar Vantage M more to their liking.
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 people below.
Basic Definition: A Triathlon Watch has a 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 review of every tri watch; my recommendation; a link to the best price on your local Amazon store; reader-polls & ratings, where you all may well recommend something completely different; and a pretty picture. Who’s right?
Best Triathlon Watch
The best Triathlon Watch is the Forerunner 935. It properly does all-things ‘tri’
Detailed review at the end.
Best Triathlon Watch – Garmin
The best Garmin Triathlon Watch is the Garmin Forerunner 935.
It has ALMOST EVERY triathlon feature and a good battery to get you through KONA.
Best Triathlon Watch – on a Budget
The Best Budget Triathlon Watch is the Amazfit STRATOS at around $/£150
You will be seriously amazed by the wealth of techy features and yet, perhaps, disappointed by the accuracy of the onboard sensors. But you are on a budget.
Best Triathlon Watch – by Price Band
- Premium Price – Best Garmin Forerunner 935, Fenix 5S Plus or Polar Vantage V – Next Best Garmin Fenix 5 Plus SERIES, Garmin Forerunner 920XT or Suunto 9
- Mid-Price – Best Suunto SPARTAN Trainer, Next Best Garmin 735XT or Polar Vantage M, and maybe the COROS Pace or Apex
- Low-Price – Best Amazfit STRATOS – Next Best “Sale/Refurb/Used Models”
Best Triathlon Watch – Polar
The old Polar V800 has the most features and is the joint-most accurate GPS watch…ever. The new Polar Vantage V has lost features from the V800 but gained beauty as well as other features like optical HR. The new Polar Vantage M is cheaper and lighter and I will be using it in 2019 to some degree with STRYD and the H10.
MY Best Polar Triathlon Watch is the Vantage M.
Best Triathlon Watch – Suunto
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 Spartan Trainer.
The best Suunto Triathlon Watch is the Suunto Spartan Trainer
Best Triathlon Watch – with Heart Rate
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 is fairly good and best found in the Forerunner 735XT as well as recent Garmins like the 935 or Fenix 5 Plus series (5S, 5X, 5)
The Best Heart Rate Monitor in a Triathlon Watch is in the Polar Vantage M
Best Triathlon Watch – for Thin Wrists
Without a doubt, this is the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus which maintains the same size screen of the other Fenix watches but packs everything into a more compact case.
The Best Triathlon Watch for Thin Wrists is the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus
Best 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 Best Triathlon Watch for Accuracy is the Suunto Spartan Sport (HR, ie non WHR)
Best Triathlon Watch – for Techiness
The geeky amongst you will buy any Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, ie the 5 Plus, the 5X Plus or the 5S Plus. Note well the suffix ‘Plus’ to avoid the disappointment of a non-Plus.
The Best Triahtlon Watch for Techniness is the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus (Sapphire)
Best Triathlon Watch – for full-race Live HR
If you want live HR for the entire race then there is only one winner that can display live HR accurately whilst underwater and that will be a tri watch linked to the Polar H7 5KHz HRM (or H10).
The Best Triathlon Watch for full-race live HR is the Polar V800
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. This should be an easy call, ie the 935, but my 935’s battery life has degraded to just over 10 hours after a year with all the bells and whistles enabled. Caveat Emptor.
The Best Triathlon Watch for Ironman is the Garmin Forerunner 935
Best 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
Best Triathlon Watch – with Maps
I’m not quite sure why you want maps but if you do then your choice is somewhat limited. The new Fenix 5X Plus seems to be the best powered when it comes to displaying your fancy maps.
Best 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. Caveat emptor. Your other choices from Garmin, Suunto and others are almost certainly going to be superceded within 2 years although should be supported beyond that timeframe.
The Best Triathlon Watch for the Future is the Polar Vantage V
Best 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 is the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
Best Triathlon Watch – Detailed Review Links
Still not convinced? You can read lots more about these individual watches in the links.
- Amazon : Review: Polar V800
- Amazon : Review: Polar Vantage M
- Amazon : Review: Polar Vantage V
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Fenix 3/HR
- Amazon : Review: Garmin 920Xt
- Amazon : Review: Suunto AMBIT3/ AMBIT3 SPORT
- Amazon : Review: Suunto 9
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Forerunner 735XT
- Amazon : Review: Suunto SPARTAN SPORT
- Amazon : Review: Suunto SPARTAN ULTRA /SPORT
- Amazon : Review: Suunto SPARTAN SPORT WHR
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Fenix 5
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Fenix 5S
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Forerunner 935
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Fenix 5X
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Fenix 5X Plus
- Amazon : Review: Garmin Fenix 5S Plus
- Amazon : Review: Suunto SPARTAN TRAINER WHR
- Amazon : Review: Amazfit STRATOS
- Amazon : Review: Garmin 910XT
- Amazon : Review: Refurbished Garmin 310XT
- Amazon : Review: COROS PACE
Best Triathlon Watch – Local Amazon Links (to: lowest priced listing)