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Garmin HRM-PRO Review | The greatest ever could still be better

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The King of Chest Straps

Garmin HRM-PRO Review

My Garmin HRM-PRO Review strap cost me $130 (£120). Why was I crazy enough to spend all that money on a heart rate strap? Is it really that good?

Here is a quick summary review of the HRM-PRO and if you want more details, tips and unusual insights then scroll further down. I’m not a salaried journalist and if you buy from the links here you help my work. Thank you.

Garmin HRM-PRO Verdict
  • Price - 75%
    75%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 95%
    95%
  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
    90%
  • Features, Including App - 98%
    98%
  • Openness & Compatability - 100%
    100%
92%

Garmin HRM-PRO Review - Summary

Garmin HRM-PRO Review

This will be my go-to heart rate strap for the foreseeable future.

Do you need a heart rate strap that can do lots of clever things like simultaneously pair to Zwift and or your Polar Vantage V2, give you waking HRV over BLE in the morning, cache your swimming HR, help produce running power, give you running dynamics and record your gym classes with your watch left in the locker room? Me? I want a heart rate monitor that accurately records heart rate! We’ll both be happy with the HRM-PRO and we’ll both be poorer as it is the most expensive and most featured chest strap HRM ever made. Maybe I could get the exact same HR accuracy from one a third of the price but you will not be able to get this same feature set elsewhere at ANY price. In that sense the HRM-PRO is unique and that’s why you have to stump up the cash.

I will be using the HRM-PRO alongside my Forerunner 945/955 and I know that every advanced feature will ‘just work’.

Like you, I know that, to varying degrees, I will use every feature it supports and so, in a perverse way, it’s actually good value. Perhaps you have an ageing HRM-TRI? if it’s anything like mine, by now it will be looking worse for wear after years of usage (see images below). This will be a great upgrade for you…just because you can.

For $130/£120 you should expect at least 3 years use from this with over 10 hours a week typical usage.

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Pros

  • Perfect triathlon watch for Garmin Fenix/Forerunner owners
  • Caching works great for gyms and swimming
  • Running dynamics can be enlightening
  • Will enable FREE running power on a top-end Garmin watch
  • Great connectivity for Zwift and more
  • Looks nice!

Cons

  • Price
  • 1-year battery life
  • Might flip when doing tumble turns in swimming
  • Strap design could be improved (anti-slip, more or larger sensing pads)
  • Cannot be used to record a workout on Garmin Connect without a watch
  • ‘Only’ 2x BLE Connections

Garmin HRM-PRO Review – Background

The HRM-PRO is an evolution of Garmin’s HRM-TRI, HRM-RUN and HRM-SWIM chest strap heart rate monitor products from 2015 and is intended to be suitable to the rigours of most sports and is especially suited to each triathlon sport

Garmin HRM-PRO – What’s New?

Superficially, the HRM-PRO appears identical to the HRM-TRI/HRM-RUN with the same strap and pod – albeit a yellow one. Whilst the form might be the same it has new features and tech inside.

Don’t forget, you still get these features as found on the HRM-DUAL, HRM-TRI, HRM-RUN

Garmin HRM-PRO – What are the use-cases?

What do all those features actually mean for your day-to-day training?

For the time being, this product is primarily aimed at triathletes although if you are runner it will give you what you need and if you do sports where you can’t wear a watch for safety reasons, like soccer or for gym classes, then it’s good for you too.

Garmin HRM-PRO Review – Accuracy

Here’s the bit where I tell you this is super accurate and that it’s not worth testing. I did test it…a lot and 7 outdoors examples from my Swim/Bike/Run testing are shown below. I had one specific problem that occurred several times where the cached HR data was not correctly retrieved to a Garmin Forerunner 945 giving the appearance of multiple dropouts. I generally have few issues with chest straps – just lick it and wear it and all should be good if you are one of the unlucky ones then try this guide.

Garmin HRM-PRO Review – App Setup

Existing Garmin Conenct users (that’s everyone reading this) will experience ZERO surprise at how the HRM-PRO is paired to the app, although it may have been a surprise that it could be paired at all. It’s nice that the app let’s you update firmware and show the current battery status. It’s also nice that you can press the button to sync today’s data. Wait a minute. What button? The one in these images, that’s what button. Hmmm. If you can shed any insight on that I’d be grateful.

 

Garmin HRM-PRO Specifications

Source: Garmin

Battery

CR2032 – install it with the ‘+’ side facing out toward you.

The battery will likely exceed the 12 months of one hour per day usage stated by Garmin. It remains to be seen if, like the HRM-TRI, some users will find that replacement batteries do not perform well. Although I must point out here that not all CR2032 batteries are the same. Some have more juice squeezed into them, so don’t buy one of those cheap ones. They’re cheap for a reason.

When changing the battery, do NOT lose or damage the circular rubber ‘O’ ring seal – be VERY careful how you re-assemble the HRM-PRO. Tighten one screw sensibly then tighten the one diagonally opposite, then the other two. Tighten them all a little more, in turn, and repeat until sensibly tight.

Garmin HRM-PRO Review – Some Interesting Bits

The original HRM-TRI had a small non-slip area around the sensing pad. This has now been removed and may impact performance when used in the pool, although I’ve not noticed any difference. The sensor area itself is the same size, maybe a tad smaller.

 

Polar would argue that their H10 strap (not pod) is superior and I would agree. Their strap has 4 (not 2) sensor pads and additional rubber nobbly bits to stop slippage. Polar’s clasp mechanism, whilst slightly more cumbersome, will never come undone (Polar H9 is different) – see what I mean in the next two images.

Note that the Polar strap does not more accurately record any single heartbeat but rather the strap’s construction better ensures that no beats are missed due to strap movement.

 

Garmin HRM-Pro vs HRM-Tri vs HRM-Run vs HRM-Dual Compared – Which is the best heart rate monitor for Garmin

In my opinion, the Garmin HRM-PRO is the best strap on the market right now. But it’s expensive and that extra expense gets you features you might not want and a battery life that many other straps will beat. However some of the lesser branded straps can be rubbish and you might be saving a few bucks to give yourself more hassle down the line with one of those, so these are the ones I recommend as alternative chest straps.



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Garmin HRM-PRO – Futures

The HRM-PRO will likely have a retail life of 5 years (to 2025) and will be firmware updated periodically. Expect also to see a revamped HRM-RUN at a lower price point in 2021 but perhaps not a revamped HRM-SWIM, which doesn’t need BLE. Never expect to have the ability to record a workout to Garmin Connect without a Garmin watch.

Expect to have any bugs promptly fixed and expect to see skiing dynamics soon.

Buy Garmin HRM-PRO – Prices, Discounts & Availability

The price of this will fall by $/£/Eu40 as the months and years progress, indeed in Oct2020 you can already buy one for $30/£20 less than the rrp at Wiggle. Longer term, the best deals you will get are when you buy this bundled in with a high-end Garmin.

Current retail prices are US$ 130, Eu130, £120.


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