When shopping for a reliable triathlon watch, many options are available for the dedicated athlete, but one must remember that the watch needs to withstand some extreme elements such as sweat, dirt, and water, and not to mention the added stress of a triathlon race.
Here's the bottom line:
These watches have proven to be the best of the best, and a favorite of athletes for years. They are focused on meeting the needs of a triathletes, and can differ from traditional running or cycling watch choices.
We have dedicated time to sifting through all the BS to give our readers the no-frills list of the top 10 triathlon watches of 2018. This list is continually updated, so be sure to check back for new contenders!
Garmin Forerunner 735 XT
Includes heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and is an overall gorgeous watch. It is small and lightweight, but is a bit on the expensive side.
Designed to be used 24/7, not just for races. Top choice for specifically for IRONMAN athletes. It is waterproof up to 100 feet. Our editor's choice.
This watch has a ton of features that may be great for some but overwhelming to others. It wont the "Good Design Award" for its sleek look.
Ironman Rugged 30
A very basic waterproof watch for people who like to keep it simple. You can time your sessions, and it is waterproof so it can be used during your entire triathlon.
More of an activity tracker than a watch, the Moov will keep track of your entire workout and show progress reports within the app. Best for people looking for an activitey tracker over a watch.
Tom Tom Multi Sport Cardio Watch
Geared for race training, has the option to "race" against yourself to improve your time. It is a great option if you have a medium budget and want some smartwatch features.
Garmin Forerunner 920 XT
One of Garmin's most popular fitness tracker watches. Can track your heart rate while under water. Gives you access to Garmin Connect Community.
A flashier version of the Forerunner, the Fenix is a full fledged activity tracker and smart watch that will do great for triathletes. Best if you want something for more than just the race.
Suunto Spartan Ultra
One of the most expensive options, this watch can do a ton. It can track over 80 sports, making a triathlon a breeze. Great if you want smart watch features.
Can track a variety of sports and is very lightweight. Comes in 2 basic colors, best for people who want a fitness tracker to use for multiple sports.
What To Consider In a Triathlon Watch
One of the biggest things to consider when looking for a triathlon watch is the ability to keep fitness goals on track. There are a handful of watches which are specially manufactured for a certain aspect of a triathlon such as cardio, swimming, cycling, and even some that specialize as a high tech compass for those seeking adventure with their daily training sessions so be sure to check out the details of each.
Additionally, if you're a serious triathlete, style may take a back seat! Your triathlon watch is your fitness companion, and you should select it based on the features that are most useful to you, not what you think looks the best. Keep in mind your triathlon watch will likely not be one you wear on a daily basis and should serve a special purpose in helping you track your performance.
Now without further adieu, check out our pick for the best triathlon watches currently on the market.
Garmin is a brand that is listed multiple times in this buyer's guide and for good reason! Over the years, Garmin watches have been proven to be almost essential for the dedicated triathlon participant and their one of their smallest models yet, the ‘Forerunner 735 XT’ is no execption.
Now, while being not only the smallest of the ‘Garmin’ models (coming in at around 1.75 x 0.47 x 1.75 in in total) this watch is very lightweight (weighing at only 1.6 ounces) and its design also gives it the multi-function of being able to be worn as a casual, every day watch or accessory. The band is made of lightweight silicon for extra comfort and flexibility.
The ‘Garmin Forerunner 735 XT’ features include heart rate monitoring, swim functions (so obviously it is waterproof) smart notifications, and advanced running dynamics. With this model as well, no chest strap is required to monitor heart rates at all time because of the ‘Forerunner 735 XT’’s built in Elevate Monitor. This way the heart rate can be tracked whenever, during either night or day.
This model of the’ Garmin Forerunner’ also includes Activity tracking, to track daily calories, nutrition, and even sleep schedules, to help keep tabs on overall fitness, and not just during races. So, if this watch has everything your looking for and just happens to be a fashion forward option that you'd like for everyday use, it may be worth considering.
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The ‘Polar V800’ watch also receives rave reviews all around from athletes. This model combines training load, with 24/7 activity data for the best recovery status, so again it is designed to be used at all times to improve fitness, and not just during races.
A major selling point for the ‘Polar V800’, not including its many useful features, is that is has a been a top choice for many champions of the IRONMAN challenge who includes Angela Naeth ( who completed the North American IRONMAN in less than nine hours) and 2015 two time winner of the Western Australian and Vineman IRONMAN, Sarah Piampiano.
The features of the ‘Polar V800’ includes the before mentioned training load. This actually tells the athlete how their training effects their body and helps monitor the effects of different workout sessions. Also with this is the recovery status feature, which tells how long to rest before the next session for optimal performance. The V800 also includes a five-minute fitness test to see where the fitness level stands by using an heart rate and other information stored on the watch.
The ‘Polar V800’ is also very durable, and has a very long battery life. The screen is made with gorilla glass, which is virtually indestructible, and is also water proof to 100 feet, and built to withstand anything a triathlon can throw it’s way.
This is a truly solid choice for a triathlon watch.
Polar V800 Review
Pros: It is designed to be used virtually 24/7 to track overall health, not just race stats. Long battery life. Top choice of IRONMAN athletes. Waterproof.
Cons: Some users report this watch to be unreliable. In some cases, the battery has stopped charging after 9-10 months so be sure to purchase a warranty.
The ‘Suunto Ambit3’ Sport watch is formulated to increase speed and performance. On the ‘Suunto’ website it is quoted, “The desire to be faster is universal. Whether you’re pushing your limits on the trail, on your bike or in the water, the ‘Suunto Ambit3 Sport GPS’ watch is your invaluable multisport tool to become the best you can be.” And the features this model offers really are designed to help performance and push oneself to the limit.
Of the many features offered on the ‘Suunto Ambit3’ Sports model, the main one is the running tracker which tracks speed, pace and distance with a five second GPS accuracy. The Ambit3 also tracks sleep schedules and heart rate, and has the ability to still track heart rate while swimming. This model of watch also tracks recovery time and even has a feature to take pictures and videos while training to share.
The ‘Suunto Ambit3’ also has a lengthy battery life of 200 hours from one charge and its overall design is the winner of the “Good Design Award” so not only I the ‘Ambit3’ incredibly useful and practical, it’s also stylish and sleek. The ‘Ambit3’ comes in Black and Blue for color choices.
The Suunto Ambit3 excels in its accurate GPS capabilities, smart mobile connection, and ability to easily share your activities. This is a great watch if you frequently train off the beaten path or like to test yourself to beat previous personal records. It is a great triathlon companion and off-season training assistant.
Suunto Ambit3 Sport Review
Pros: Decent battery life, beautifully designed, reasonably priced compared to other options.
Cons: It has a lot of features, which may be too much for some users. It has a definitely learning curve to be able to use it properly.
The ‘Ironman Rugged 30’ manufactured by ‘Timex’ is a much more affordable option and great for beginners. It comes in a variety of colors and is very easy to use. Like other models of Triathlon watches, this model by Timex also includes tracking for running and a countdown to track times. It also features a 30-Lap Memory Recall, a 100-Hour Chronograph with Lap and Split Times, and a 99-Lap Counter.
It also has the ability to be set in three different time zones, and has three separate alarm options for multiple timing or training reason. The ‘Ironman Rugged 30’ is also waterproof up to 100 meters.
Being on the cheaper end of the sports watch spectrum, there are some complaints about quality but this is most likely a watch for beginners to triathlon training and yet, while it’s not overly fancy compared to some of the bigger names, it will get the job done.
The Ironman Rugged 30 most definitely puts function before fashion. Let's be honest, it has a bit of a 1995 high school gym coach aura about it, but if you are looking for an incredibly helpful and incredibly affordable triathlon watch, this option has your covered.
Ironman Rugged 30 Review
Pros: Affordable option for beginners. It gets the job done. Waterproof. Variety of styles.
Cons: Low quality materials to keep the price down.
The ‘Moov’ is a unique and innovative approach to triathlon watches. It has a modern, artsy design and unlike other watches, this acts as a personal trainer to say, and gives real time audio coaching to keep you motivated.
The ‘Moov’ tracks your workouts and keeps track of your progress and also features modes for various other workouts, both indoor and outdoor guided programs to give plenty of options to improve fitness. Among the guided options are swimming, cardio, boxing, treadmill run, cycling, and outdoor run.
A recent update to the ‘Moov’ app and overall design has fixed any flaws and made the new watch even more popular. The overall design of the watch is now dirt, sweat, and water proof, to handle the toughest and messiest workouts, and it has a six month battery life so charging the ‘Moov’, never has to be a worry.
Another feature of this product is its use of ‘Omni’ Motion sensor uses military and gaming technology to capture & analyze your motion in 3D. This way it can get the most accurate stats from a workout and keeps a more accurate record of all progress made.
Another watch that is on the more affordable scale, the ‘Moov’ can be found from a variety of retailers for a a reasonable price and is even often on sale. It is a no frills option for those who are simply looking to track their progress and don't care about all the fancy smartwatch-type extra features included in some of the other watch options.
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The Moov Review
Pros: Beautifully designed. Comes with voice coaching. Captures 'omni motion' 3D statistics to help improve performance and recovery.
Cons: The lack of a traditional watch features can be off putting. It is designed to be primarily for fitness.
The makers of the Popular ‘Tom Tom’ GPS system also have a Cardio Sports watch with many fans and positive reviews. This watch features a large screen made of durable and scratch resistant glass that features full screen graphics to help better tack workouts.
The ‘Tom Tom Multi Sport Cardio Watch’ offers a multitude of helpful programs to track and record your progress. It is geared towards cardio, and has a race feature where one can ‘race themselves’ to beat their past times and increase their speed and endurance.
Like all other triathlon watches this model is also waterproof, and this one goes a bit deeper to 165 meters, compared to many others that are only waterproof to 100 meters.
Other features offered on the ‘Tom Tom Multi Sport Cardio Watch’ are interval training, heart monitoring, real time activity, and multiple workout programs and options to choose from.
This watch is reasonably priced and can be found at most online retailers. If you are looking for a great combination of function for your triathlon and also a variety of other sports, this option would be one to strongly consider.
Tom Tom Multi Sport Cardio Review
Pros: Durable, easy to read screen. Waterproof up to 165 meters.
Cons: For the most accurate heart rate monitoring you will need an external strap.
Another fan favorite by ‘Garmin’ is their ‘Forerunner 920XT’. While this ‘Forerunner’ model shares many similarities with the smaller 735 XT, the 920XT is built for those who want to increase the progress of their cardio with more in depth features for running and swimming.
Among these are the option to track more detailed swimming stats, including, but not limited to, distance, pace, and stroke count. The Forerunner 920XT also has a Drill option to log drills and keep track of kick off time using the two types of rest timers.
The 920XT heart monitor now includes the ability to know peak recovery time and track heart rate while underwater.
This ‘Garmin’ watch can also be connected to ‘Garmin’ online community, ‘Garmin connect’, where stats and progress can be shared with other users and to keep each other motivates. It also can act as a smartphone so calls emails, and texts can be received though it and connecting to social media is available through the 920 XT as well.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT Review
Pros: Gives more details statistics than other options available. Can be connected to Garmin Connect. Tells peak recovery time and can track heart rate while under water.
Cons: While prices vary by vendor, this is traditionally a more expensive choice.
Another fan favorite by ‘Garmin is the Fenix 3’ GPS watch. This model by ‘Garmin’ offers a more in depth GPS and navigational experience. It is for the outdoor athlete, and from the ‘Garmin; website it Is quoted, “fēnix 3 is the rugged, capable and smart multisport training GPS watch.”
The Fenix 3 also boast the “Omni-directional stainless-steel EXO™ antenna, with GPS/GLONASS satellite reception, has the ability to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone.” (garmin.com) and has a 1.2-inch screen that is readable in the brightest of sunlight.
Among its outstanding navigational abilities, the ‘Fenix 3’ also includes heart monitoring that is measured at the wrist, so no need for a chest strap, and records and monitors all aspects of the workout being performed, to best keep track of progress.
This ‘Garmin’ model watch is also eligible to connect to the ‘Garmin connect’, to share stats. It’s battery life can last up to forty hours from one charge.
The ‘Garmin Fenix 3’ comes in three different design and color options, and a more pricier titanium model Is available for purchase.
This watch is a bit more expensive than other options, but you are paying for high quality materials, a suite of features and a watch that will ultimately last you for years.
Garmin Fenix 3 Review
Pros: Superior GPS capability. Rugged, and comes in a wide range of colors/designs.
Cons: Like other Garmin watches, they aren't cheap. If you are just looking for something to get the job done you may want to try another option. However, you get what you pay for.
The ‘Suunto Sparta Ultra’ watch stands out from the rest for its one of a kind, state of the art, full color touch screen. The screen is also formulated to have perfect visibility, despite any kind of weather.
This watch by ‘Suunto’ really packs a lot into a small yet colorful package. The Spartan Ultra comes preprogrammed with eighty different sport modes to accommodate any kind of activity. The Spartan Ultra also tracks steps and daily food intake as well, and has accurate GPS tracking and barometric altitude tracking. The ‘Suunto Spartan Ultra’ also has a thirty-day activity tracker so improvements can be observed month to month.
Along with heart rate monitoring and a multisport mode this model from ‘Suunto’ is geared specifically for trilithon athletes as it is programmed with a triathlon mode.
All ‘Suunto’ watches are handmade in Finland and built for endurance and to be durable and hold up in the most extreme of situations. Which makes their steep price a bit more understandable.
Suunto Spartan Ultra Review
Pros: State of the art full color touch screen,visible in all weather. Comes pre-progammed with over 80 sports, including triathlon mode.
Cons: This watch is still a little buggy. It has great intentions but is lacking in the details.
One of ‘Garmin’s’ more affordable watches wraps up the top ten list with its ‘Vivoactive’ watch. This model is described as an ultra-thin GPS smart watch, and it holds a lot of useful features in its thin body.
With built in sports apps to track everything from cycling, swimming, even golf, this watch is lightweight and able to be worm every day to track daily activities and chart progress and fitness. The watch was also formulated by ‘Garmin’ to be able to help users keep a balance from daily work life and training, so while tracking your fitness and training for the big race, one can also keep on tabs with emails and other pressing matters without sacrificing fitness.
The ‘Garmin Vivoactive’ is also waterproof and can survive through swimming showering, and excessive sweating and though it is lightweight, it is also designed to be extremely durable and survive the toughest of workouts.
The ‘Garmin Vivoactive’ comes in two basic colors, white and black, and includes a color screen for added style.
Garmin Vivoactive Review
Pros: Low price, lots of great features, reliable.
Cons: Not much! Unless you are looking for something really fancy, the Garmin Vivoactive is a great choice for most triathletes.