Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

Want to get fit, fast and strong? Just listen to your heart with these wearables

Which heart rate monitor is the best for running? Which HR monitor is the most accurate? We get asked those questions and more all the time here at Wareable.

Now more than ever, there are dozens of options to supercharge your run, cycle or HIIT training sessions with an extra layer of biometric data, telling you just how hard you've been working in your gym sessions and giving you a better idea of that calorie burn.

Read this: The ultimate guide to the Apple Watch heart rate monitor

It doesn't only makes your post-workout stats more accurate, but it also enables you to start heart rate training in specific zones, which can make your regime more efficient.

Fitbit, Apple, Garmin and Polar are all adding heart rate monitors into running watches, fitness trackers and even running headphones, but in our opinion, dedicated chest straps still offer the best way to get tip-top accuracy.

Whether you're looking for something that's great for the gym, or plays nice with Strava or your iPhone, read on for our recommendations.

Any questions? Let us know in the comments section below.

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How to buy a heart rate monitor

When people ask us about buying a heart rate monitor, it always comes down to the type of device they're using to work out. When it comes to chest straps, most use ANT+, which is only compatible with specialist running watches that use that same connectivity ‚Äď i.e. Garmin, Polar and Suunto watches.

So ANT+ is limited to specialist devices, and the rise of the smartphone is a big factor here; those who want to use their phone to work out will need to look for a Bluetooth-enabled strap, which will connect to apps like Strava, Runkeeper and Endomondo.

Chest strap versus optical wrist sensors

The biggest battleground is now chest straps versus wrist devices, the latter of which use optical technology to "see" the blood pulsing through your veins. Optical sensors are integrated into most new running watches and fitness trackers from the likes of Garmin, Fitbit and Suunto.

Essential reading: Best heart rate monitors for Strava

Debate rages about accuracy, so we will put it here plainly: chest straps are more accurate, and wrist devices will struggle when you're really pushing hard. However, optical wrist wearables are far more comfortable and convenient, and, if you're running steadily, should do the job just fine.

We should mention that there is a new breed of optical heart rate sensors that moves the tracking to the forearm and the upper arm, too. Both Polar and Wahoo as well as Scosche have heart rate monitoring armbands available that claim to offer the same level of accuracy you'd get from a chest strap.

The accuracy question ‚Äď what's good enough?

At Wareable, we are serious runners, but are still happy with the imperfect data from our wrist devices because of the convenience they offer. Not carrying two devices everywhere is much easier, and when it comes to training in HR zones, the likes of Garmin and Polar do a good job.

That said, when indoor cycling, we do tend to reach for the chest strap. Why? We find it more comfortable on a bike, and the high intensity of a spin class works better with a chest strap than a relatively even-paced run.

Best sports watches with heart rate

Polar Vantage V

Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

Polar's wrist based HR monitors have steadily improved over time and with the Vantage V and the cheaper Vantage M, it's come up with some of the best in the business.

Read this: A guide to getting to know resting heart rate on your wearable

It's still an optical based sensor, but its sought to improve accuracy and reliability by adding additional LED sensors to penetrate the skin deeper to take a reading. It's also using more LEDs and including electrode sensors to ensure the sensor is in proper contact with the skin.

We've throughly put it to the test and found the monitor to be a solid performer for activities like running and interval training where most optical sensors are susceptible to having problems. It's a similar story for the Vantage M, which offers the same sensor tech inside of a more affordable watch design.

Check out our full Polar Vantage V review to see how it shaped up.

$499.90, polar.com | Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 935

Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches

The Forerunner 935 sits at the top table of Garmin's sport watch line up, and is designed with hardcore triathletes in mind. It makes use of Garmin's Elevate optical HR tech, and in our testing it's mustered the best performance of a Garmin device to date.

While the Fenix 5 and Forerunner 35 have been sluggish in early parts of runs and during high intensity, the Forerunner 935 put in a solid performance, which makes it much easier to recommend. Of course, the Forerunner 935 is capable of being paired with a chest strap if you do really need that hit of accurate data.

Check out our full Garmin Forerunner 935 review.

$499.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR

Best heart rate monitor: Top watches, chest straps and bands

Suunto's Spartan watches are steadily becoming better rivals to Garmin and Polar's top end watches, and one of the ways the company is doing that is through its improving heart rate monitoring skills.

We could be talking about the Spartan Sport Wrist HR, but with the slimmer body and pretty much the same features, the Trainer Wrist HR is the one we'd like keeping an eye on our BPMs.

Like its more expensive sibling, the triathlon-friendly watch performed very well in our own heart rate monitor tests and is up there with Polar for one of the wrist based sensors we've tried.

Have a read of our Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR review to see what we liked and disliked about the heart rate monitoring sports watch.

$279, suunto.com | Amazon

Apple Watch Series 4

Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

We can debate whether you should call the Apple Watch Series 4 a sports watch or a smartwatch, but there's no doubting it is becoming a solid device for sports tracking. It delivers great swim tracking, speedy GPS, third party app support and it has a really good heart rate monitor.

We've put it through the same rigorous testing as we do with all of the wearables on this list and it really impresses where a lot of wrist-based monitors falters. We're talking high intensity interval training.

If you don't care about working in heart rate zones though, it's well equipped for taking reliable resting heart rate readings throughout the day and with the addition of an ECG, it's now fit to tap into heart rate readings to detect serious heart issues including atrial fibrillation. Have a read of our Apple Watch Series 4 review to see why we're big fans of the new Apple smartwatch.

$399, apple.com | Amazon

TomTom Spark 3

Best heart rate monitor: Top watches, chest straps and bands

Of all the running watches we've tested that pack heart rate monitors, the TomTom Spark 3 remains our go-to device for delivering accurate heart rate readings from the wrist. That's why it makes it all the more disappointing that the company has taken the decision recently to back away from wearables, making this likely the last running watch we'll see from TomTom.

The built-in heart rate monitor means there's no need for a traditional HR strap, and it uses TomTom's own optical sensor. Our testing has repeatedly found TomTom devices to be better at high intensity than rival watches, with superb accuracy at medium intensity when directly compared with a chest strap. There are also dedicated modes that display your current heart rate zones.

With the latest Spark, you get the addition of route exploration to view your location on the watch screen, plus you still get an integrated music player with 3GB storage, giving you more than 500 high-tempo running songs to help get you in the zone.

If you want the same heart rate accuracy with more outdoor-friendly features, you should check out the TomTom Adventurer as well.

Wareable verdict: TomTom Spark 3 review

From $149.99, tomtom.com | Amazon


Best heart rate training chest straps

Polar H10

Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches

Like its predecessor, the Polar H7 (which is still available), the H10 is one of the most reliable sensors out there. The iOS and Android-friendly strap boasts Bluetooth, and has a modified design, adding silicon friction dots to help keep the strap in place, plus it's noticeably more comfortable to wear.

It still uses an ECG-style sensor that detects the electrical activity of the heart to deliver your BPM readings, but a new measuring algorithm and extra interference-preventing electrodes help improve accuracy. It's waterproof, so you can go swimming with it, and there's onboard memory to store a training session, just in case your phone or wearable dies on you.

We've been using it to test against a lot of the new fitness trackers and smartwatches that have landed at Wareable HQ recently, and we can comprehensively say it still delivers the goods.

$89.95, polar.com | Amazon


Wahoo Tickr X

Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches

The Tickr X, along with the MyZone MZ-3, is one of the highest scoring heart rate monitoring devices on Wareable, with a very impressive four and a half stars out of five in our review.

It works with a host of devices, making it perfect for those who like to work out with a smartphone, and has dedicated modes for spinning and other types of activity. What's more, accelerometers inside can glean extra stats for running while it can be combined with additional sensors to add cadence and RPM data for indoor cycling, making it a much better bet than most simple straps.

The Wahoo Tickr X has internal memory that will store 16 hours of your heart rate data and additional motion analytics that track your cycles, too. You can work out without your smartphone, and then transfer all the data back when you're home and showered.

$79.99, wahoofitness.com | Amazon


Best heart rate monitor for HIIT training

MyZone MZ-3

Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches

If you want more from your chest strap, the MyZone MZ-3 goes beyond churning out simple bpm (beats per minute) recordings. You get your heart going ‚Äď whether that be by running, rowing, swimming, cycling or a session in the gym ‚Äď and earn points based on your bpm.

Rather than simply scoring highly based on a high reading, the MyZone studies your effort over time and creates a golf-style handicap for your level. Your aim is to better your own performance, and like golf, MyZone adds a gamification element enabling you to compete against others, even at vastly different abilities.

Like the Tickr X (above), the MZ-3 has storage for 16 hours of data, so you don't always have to carry your smartphone while working out.

$149.99, myzone.com | Amazon


Scosche Rhythm24 HR

Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

So you don't like wearing a chest strap and you don't trust your wrist-based monitor to do the business. There is another option ‚Äď and based on our experience, it's one that does deliver the goods.

Scosche launched the first heart rate monitoring armband before Wahoo and Polar decided to offer something similar. Like its predecessor, the Rhythm24 HR sits on the forearm to track your BPMs. The idea is that there are less motion artefacts that can impact on a reading that can happen further down on the wrist.

We've tried the Rhythm24 HR and the sweat-proof and water resistant wearable passed the high intensity interval test. Plus, it was also very comfortable to wear during our workouts.

Check out our Scosche Rhythm24 HR review to find out more about the heart rate monitoring armband.

$99.99, scosche.com | Amazon

Best fitness trackers with heart rate

Garmin Vivosport

Best heart rate monitor: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

Successor to the Vivosmart HR+, the Vivosport brings all of the same features including an optical heart rate sensor inside a slimmer design.

It is a little less intrusive than wearing one of the company's GPS watches all day long ‚Äď and with top 24/7 HR monitoring, all day wear is advised. HR accuracy does dwindle at high intensity and excessive wrist flex during weight sessions however, so that's worth keeping in mind.

But the built-in GPS makes it more appealing to runners and gym lovers than your average Fitbit, and data is pulled into the ever improving Garmin Connect companion app.

Take a look at our full Garmin Vivosport review.

$149.99, garmin.com | Amazon


Fitbit Charge 3

Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

The Fitbit Charge 3 is the company's new flagship tracker and it's packing the same HR setup as the Charge 2. So expect a similar performance. Like any wrist-based HR monitor, it can struggle at high intensity, but it will still be good enough for workouts in the gym and on the road if you're not too worried about pinpoint accuracy.

On the plus side, the Fitbit's resting heart rate tracking is up there with the best, and if you're put off by the technical graphs of its competitors, Fitbit's app is one of the most accessible ways to track your workouts. Looking for something with a slimmer design that still offers heart rate tracking? Take a look at the Fitbit Alta HR.

Have a read of our in-depthFitbit Charge 3 review.

Starting from $149.95, fitbit.com | Amazon


Withings Steel HR Sport

Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

The Withings Steel HR Sport is a stylish hybrid that will give you a similar performance to what the Nokia Steel HR delivered.

If you're thinking, wait, Withings? Yes, the co-founder of Withings has bought back the business he sold to Nokia two years ago. The Steel HR Sport is the successor to the Steel HR and if you want a reliable heart rate monitor hidden beneath a stylish analogue-style watch, this should be your one.

Along with its heart rate monitoring skills, it now adds connected GPS (tethered from your phone) and the ability to take VO2 measurements to assess your fitness level.

The hybrid also offers automatic run and swim detection plus 25-day battery life and throws your data into Withings Health Mate app that used to be the Nokia Health Mate app.

You can check out our full verdict on the sleek hybrid in our Withings Steel HR Sport review.

$199.95, withings.com | Amazon

Best heart rate monitor for swimmers

Garmin HRM Tri

Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches

A real pro tool for triathletes, this ultra-small and light (a mere 49g) heart rate strap adds considerable bike and running smarts to some of the pool functions of the HRM Swim.

With a built-in accelerometer that'll deliver cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time data (like Garmin's HRM Run) while on two legs, plus HR stat storage while actually underwater, this is one of the most rounded tools for the three disciplines out there. Garmin has also ensured there are no exposed seams and all edges are soft and rounded, to prevent rubbing or any wetsuit-doffing difficulties.

$129.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Best headphones with a heart rate monitor

Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition

Best heart rate monitors and HRM watches

The Pulse are still some of our wireless sports headphones faves. Largely because they can deliver accurate heart rate readings from your ear. These wireless in-ear headphones banish the need for chest straps or watches, instead taking the reading from your lug holes and sending that data to your smartphone via Bluetooth, with spoken feedback as you go.

Another high scorer in its Wareable review, we gave the Sport Pulse Special Edition four stars for its great HR accuracy, solid sound quality and raft of sports tracking modes from the impressive Jabra Sport app.

$159.99, jabra.com | Amazon


Bragi Dash Pro

Best heart rate monitor: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

These premium, do-it-all buds offer wireless music (with storage for up to 1,000 songs), fitness and heart rate tracking and an ear bone mic for calls.

Getting up and running with Dash Pro is relatively straightforward. Once you've paired your hearable to the Bragi app, you'll be able to select run tracking from the Activity hub. Here you can see heart rate, steps, distance, duration and calories. When you're out, voice prompts will keep you updated on heart rate status, steps and duration. It's up there with the Jabra Sport Pulse in terms of delivering reliable heart rate readings from the ear.

Have a read of our Bragi Dash Pro review.

$329.99, bragi.com | Amazon


Best heart rate monitors for iPhone

Best heart rate monitors: Top watches, chest straps and fitness trackers

Thankfully there are a bunch of external heart rate monitors that play nice with Apple's smartphone and if you don't fancy investing in an Apple Watch Series 4, you do have some cheaper alternatives.

Some of our faves we've used include some of the devices we've mentioned above. You can definitely take a look at the Polar H10, Wahoo Tickr X for great chest strap options. If you find chest straps too uncomfortable, we've had good experiences with the Scosche Rhythm24 HR, Wahoo Tickr Fit and Polar OH1 armbands too.


What do you think?

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87 comments

  • lopkiol·

    Do any of these monitors actually show your heartbeat in real time? I bought the Polar H7 and I was quite disappointed since compared to my old Geonaute it does not even show when the actual individual heartbeats are detected.

    Also, are any of these able to stream?

    It's your own heartbeat data, so I was just wondering why one should not be entitled to have full ownership on it (given that Apple Health and Google Fit seem to already take every single bit of your health data).

    • JumperSpecialK·

      I have had a Mio for years now due to major cardiac problems. My Mio is ALWAYS spot on with cardiac rehab, my cardiologist and electrophysiologists readings and monitors HR 24-7. If you are a woman, make sure to get the female version and it is MUCH more appropriately sized. Both are fairly large but if you are looking for prime HR control it is well worth it. I love the red, blue and green lights to indicate HR zones and that you can customize them to meet your needs. I change the set parameters if I am at rest or working out. It does a great job at letting me know when my HR is at dangerous levels.

      • kristen-bell·

        Hello JumperSpecialK, I'm shopping for a heart rate tracker for my 9 year old with a cardiac issue, and wondering if you can access the real time data on a smartphone? I want to be able to monitor his heart rate from a distance. Thanks!

      • Adey·

        Please specify the complete description of the "Mio" as I need to get it. Appreciates your comments.

    • Daigle·

      fitbit surge and fitbit charge 2 and fitbit blaze all have continuous heart rate that monitors your heart rate 24 hours a day which is what I want.  I had the surge then the blaze and never got disappointed.  FITBIT is the way to go.

  • jdiv·

    So the Polar H7, at $49.99, "isn't exactly cheap compared to the likes of the Garmin Soft Strap", which is $69.99. Am I missing something?

    • lisazur·

      My Polar H7 is a wonderful device when it's working. When it's working is the key piece of that sentence. I have had to send mine back to Polar twice and, once again, it's not working. This device is the WORST HR device I have owned in 7 years. It will be going in the trash.

      • nycgrrl·

        OMG! I'm so glad I read this. Mine worked for one month and then stopped. It is a piece of junk. I'm very disappointed. I have a Garmin that has worked for over 10 years but the HR only works when I am outdoors (an old GPS version). Time for something new.

        • ThomasTank·

          My Polar H7 has worked a charm. I've used Suunto equivalent ones that really have let me down. I've had the chest strap for 3-4 years now and have had no problems what so ever.

      • Ob7896·

        What has been your best device? 

        • Gadgety·

          I'm up for a change in my 16 year old Polar S610. It still works, is waterproof, works under water (!) for swimming, does the HIIT intervals (which was the reason to get it, all those years ago) and the T61 chest strap has been rock solid with one update. The thing it doesn't do is export the data unless using a Windows XP PC. That's the only reason for my wanting to get a new solution. Then reading the reviews here, frankly, I'm flabbergasted. Did Polar really mess up when they have had a stellar track record?

          • nickm001·

            I have Polar S625x and use Polar ProTrainer5 on windows 7.  All you have to do is edit the property of the software ( right click ->Property). Go to compatibility tab and click "Runt this program in compatibility mode for : " and select XP (Service Pack 3).  Those old Polar units are unbelievable..

  • j.stables·

    As it used Mio technology (which we have tested) we were confident enough to put it in the list ‚Äď but¬†just wanted to add the caveat that a full verdict was TBC. If you check the link, it is now fully reviewed!¬†

  • get1fiT·

    Are there any fitness trackers that offer both optical HR for continues 24/7 monitoring on normal day activities but also that can connect to a chest strap (like to Wahoo) for exercise activities?

    • j.stables·

      That's a good question. So the Garmin Forerunner 225 has built in HRM and activity tracking and you can connect a chest strap via ANT+, I believe. It's a chunky old watch to wear every day though.

      Of course, you could just get a Fitbit Charge HR and then workout with Wahoo, like you say. But that means taking your phone for workouts. :\

    • Hbardwell·

      Have you had any luck? I need one for the same reason. Have been having issues with my heart rate exceeding 100. Even when sitting or in bed not doing anything.

  • Eya·

    Hello!

    I have been looking for a wearable HRM watch not for fitness training but just for daily/normal activities like normal (walking, moving around, sitting). But I don't know what to get because nearly everything (HRM) I come across seems to be made for training/exercise/jogging/running. So are there anything you would recommend for me for normal activities? Your response is well appreciated.

  • thihaz·

    Which watch doesn't need chest band to measure the heart rate monitor on the fly while i am working out?

    Thanks.

    • j.stables·

      225, Surge, Basis Peak...there's loads and a growing number

  • Alleykat·

    So do any of these GPS HRMs give you a heart rate reading WITHOUT GPS being turned on? Sometimes I just want to use the HR feature and so save the battery life by not using GPS.

    • tofi·

      I am trying to determine that very same thing!  I want HR reading throughout the duration of an Ironman - a device that craps out after 6-8 hours doesn't work for me.  User manuals for Garmin and Polar products don't address the Q.

  • tank·

    What watch is Accurate and Monitors the Heart for 24 hrs. Mio seems to be the most accurate but only monitoring your Hr while working out. The fit Bits don't really work once you start using your arms. They blank out. Can you help

    • leebwa·

      I would be interested in knowing the answer to this also.  Thanks :)

      • Kawhy·

        omg someone please answer this important question! 

    • j.stables·

      It's Fitbit vs Garmin Vivosmart HR really. The latter is the most accurate so far for 24/7 tracking, but still suffers issues with noise when running. There isn't a perfect answer in this field...yet.

      • gadalfi·

        i think all the ones that have Mio sensors and the own Garmin HRM seem to be the best, i heared mixed reviews about the Fitibt concerning HR monitoring during workouts.

        basically technology is not advanced enough yet, saw couple of reviews on dcrainmakers website, check out if you want an in deepth review of the bult-in HR Monitors. unfortunatelyfor me its not yet where i want it to be :(, seems if you do intense workouts especially cycling the HRM has some issues, still i think for the majority it would probably be fine. but for me i need exact HR monitoring and that means i ll have to wait for a bit.

        • laine·

          I'm looking for a new HRM as I do intensity intervals and need exact monitoring, I haven't found what I need yet,. 

          Have you found anything yet or still waiting

  • Davidian·

    So I am looking for a watch with built in HRM (no strap)
    It needs GPS for anything outstide
    It needs to be able to track laps in a pool (and also be waterproof)
    I would like to to connect with a fitness app, preferabley run keeper but whatever will do
    If it can work out what you are doing too (or ask you, eg weights, squash, badminton, swimming, general walking etc) this would also be great.
    I'd also like one with an active heart rate monitor that gives you up to date to the beat real time information instead of the delayed results I have had from some HRMs... 


    Nice to haves would be

    Built in storage for MP3's and Bluetooth with aptx technology for my headphones
    Max Heart rate setting and the "perfect" training heart rate, with alerts to signify when you are below or above that.

    If you have any reviews that suit my needs I would be happy to read, and will of course use your affiliate links to the products.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Sergey·

      Thank you for the question. It matches my requirements. So I am also waiting for an answer.

    • Strider·

      I believe the Tomtom Multisport Cardio does all this except the MP3 storage. Check it out. I personally use a Mio Link with my Garmin Forerunner 310 XT, which works well for me.

    • JamesN·

      I'll add my nice to haves... one that also tracks sleep (the current HR/sleep are the most two important things to me in a tracker) A slient alarm that tells you when your HR is out of your cardio or fat burning zone based on your age (and the ability to set those items before the workout.)  One that could track O2 and body temperature would be a true winner for me.  The app it comes with plus the apps it can sync with are just as important.

  • Throk89·

    I have owned my Fitbit Charge HR for about a week now and to be honest I can't believe they released a product that is so bad at tracking heart rate.

    The only time it can track my HR is either when I am inactive, or walking. After jogging for about 10 minutes, It is unable to track anything accurately. Says my HR is in the 110-120 range and cannot read anything past 150.

    I know for a fact my HR averages is around 165-180 while doing a higher tempo jog and it has never read anything passed 150, or it will just completely stop working.

    On top of that When I wake up after I have slept with it on, it says I have some how taken 3,000 steps and burned 1,000+ calories. I have no idea why it is doing that, unless unbeknownst to me, I am having seizures throughout the night. Also After a two mile run It says I have magically ran 4-5 miles.

    Another thing that I dislike, but is more of a personal issue is that it does not play nice with the Run Keeper app on my phone. With the other downside of being one of the only devices that does not connect directly to Run Keeper app.

    Would love to know if fitbit in general is just horrible, or should I trade it in for a Surge. Otherwise i'm giving up on all bands and going back to my trusty chest strap.

  • nycgrrl·

    It is my strap that needs the work.

  • Nkolsen·

    Could there be a test of these smartwatches' HR monitors? Because I would like to know how many of them that could actually measure my HR while running. Im not interested in my HR when im not active......

  • Igor·

    Which of the HRM watches can make a sound which each heart-beat? I want to hear my heart-beats while doing different things.

  • WeissInPhoenix·

    I have the Wahoo strap monitor but I can't find an app to get what I want from it: the ability to set a min and max hr goal for a run and have it notify me if I am outside my envelope.

    • Maryslow·

      That's what I'm after too. Just a simple app or Watch that will take my HR and give me a beep outside my HR. Come on manufacturers, stop building over-complicated devices when we want the simple stuff first. They're a HUGE market.

    • Sheclimber·

      I use the iCardio app for this and it's perfect. You can set you own zones. Also it has a recovery function where it keeps tracking heart rate for 2 min after you end a workout and gives you a graph.  It means you have to carry your phone, though maybe not if you have an Apple Watch? I'd love to have a watch to work with my wahoo tickr as well so I could get a quick reading of where I'm at without pulling my phone out. 

  • kae·

    I have a 12y/o girl and a 16y/o boy whom were both recently diagnosed with HCM. Their cardiologist has released them to continue with their sports....but with some restrictions. Both are to wear an HRM that shows in real time. Both should have the chest bands, but would like the watches also. Don't need the other stuff (caller ID, etc) but don't mind it either. Any suggestions? He's a goalie (ice hockey) and she's a power base (cheer) and a catcher (softball).

    Thanks! Kae

    • stachall·

      Did you ever get a response to this?  I had a cardiac event and need to track my heart rate continuously.  Was wondering if you found anything you could recommend?

  • TimCD·

    Both the Fitbit Charge and Mio Fuse are excellent, but in very different ways. The Fuse is great for more intensive activities and training, while the Fitbit is great at all-day activity level monitoring.

    I'll be very interested to see what the BLOCKS team finally produce. The world's first modular smartwatch. Just about to finish on Kickstarter at about 600% of their target. #chooseblocks

  • Igor·

    Which of the Apps (plus some HR-belt) like Polar) or which of the HRM watches can make a sound which each heart-beat? I want to hear my heart-beats while doing different things.

  • Carol·

    Are there any that will detect irregular heart beats yet? afib? skip beat?

    • TAslinger·

      Following

  • n119jl·

    I have just been diagnosed with cardiac AFIB. I need to monitor my HR most of my waking hours. I do not want a chest strap, as I have used them before when running and don't want to wear them doing my daily activities..I want it to be a watch also. Don't need GPS or MP3 or other bells and whistles. 

    • sudburykid·

      I am very interested in your response to this same question.

      Not really interested in a whole lot of GPS, MP3 * other bells & whistles either!

  • Kelllaxt·

    How does the Vivosmart HR fit into the discussion on best fitness tracking bands with HRM?

    • j.stables·

      We've just published our review and are now going back to retest the Fitbit Charge HR (after its recent updates) and add it into this list. The Vivosmart HR is very strong as a fitness tracker, but it doesn't have the accuracy to be a complete heart rate training companion for those looking to stay within zones etc.

  • dublrr·

    So the Sony claims it can monitor my heart rate 24 hours per day, yet it has to be charged for an hour and a half every 10 hours. See a problem here?

  • roadster·

    Thanks for the excellent reviews.  Its not clear to me that any of the options offer the degree of accuracy in measuring heart rate that I need.  There must be a fair number of folks like me  coming off of cardiac surgery and needing to keep their heart rate within strict limits.  My cardiologist says that at this point I can take it up to 141, but became concerned when I peaked at 147, so there is not a lot of room for error here. Even 90% accuracy is not going to be all that helpful.

  • Catskillguy·

    I am on my third Fitbit Charge HR. First one had a bad battery and would not sync. Second one started reading double the HR and I was told it was defective and to return it. This is my third one and about 30% of the time it's reading 20 beats higher than my actual rate. Is there any one of these trackers that can give me the accuracy I seek? I use the Polar H7 for workouts but it's not practical to wear 24/7. I am recovering from heart surgery and having a tracker that reads double or an extra 20% is not helping my peace of mind. Fitbit support cannot explain the errors and they are occurring while at rest (not engaged in any activity that may introduce errors).

  • dbowman2·

    love my h7 when it is working as well - which is most of the time.  gotta remember to get that chest band damp before you put it on.  unfortunately, there are no battery strength indicators or bluetooth pairing indicators on either the strap or the watch, so when the watch isnt displaying the proper hr (or picking up any hr at all) it is not possible to isolate the weak link. i have noticed that the watch and strap will "work" with low batteries but the data sent/recv'd gets whacky.  i end up spending almost 2x on batteries because i switch out both every time because there is no way to tell which is dead/dying. also quite frustrating when batteries croak mid-run and i wish both devices used the same type of battery.  one of them is harder to find than the other.  for what its worth, my polar links up pretty well with map my run.  i've had to update map my run a few times over the last year when the link between devices goes awry, but outside of that, it all seems to work well together.  maybe it wont be long before we see sub-skin hrms - like a pierced ear or small implant - as it seems skin is the common barrier for the hrm accuracy problems.

  • Petercra·

    Folks - watch out for watches with no straps.  I have used Garmin for years, swapped to Tom Tom and the data is just a joke - utterly laughable.  My last 1/2 marathon gave data half way through the run - still doing 7 min miles at 84 bpm....I wish!!   I have done all the resets / software updates etc that Tomtom support could give me - nothing works...  i will be going back to Garmin - with a strap unless someone is sure -and will let me test a non-strap watch before i buy....

    • Jerapah·

      readings from the wrist are all over the place - they are for casual users at best. Im also looking for an accurate / reliable chest strap that works in athletic conditions. Did you find one yet?

  • heavengold·

    Hi, I have polar H7. It's working perfectly with android samsung s5. Now i want to buy fenix 3 or forerunner 630. I am confused that garmin watch will support polar H7 as polar uses Bluetooth and garmin uses ANT+. I don't know whether garmin watches support both bluetooth and ANT+. Please if anybody tried this than help. Thanks

  • koinflipper·

    OK folks.   I need accurate HRM (continuous) with very large display..  After cataract surgery,  I need reading glasses to see most anything closeup.   Almost all watches have numbers I cannot read.   C'mon folks.   I cannot walk outdoors for fitness with reading glasses.   Don't need GPS,  sleep quality monitoring.   I just need a fitness device that monitors my HRM and my workouts.  

  • Jerapah·

    My H7 is also very unreliable. It is great, WHEN it is working. It is the battery connection in the disc that is the weak link in my case, and, from what I have read elsewhere, I am not alone.

    • NomiMo·

      I have had 3 H7 sensors in the past year. My latest one started to fail after 2 months. Polar customer service is also terrible. Really need to get myself an alternative, any ideas?

  • Jerapah·

    I really just want a heart rate tracker that works consistently and accurately during HIIT / sprinting sessions. That seems very difficult to find right now. The wrist sensors are not accurate and/or move around too much. 

    A chest strap seems a more likely solution. The H7 should be great, and it is, when it works, but the battery connection seems very iffy on my one.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a reliable / accurate chest strap that works in an HITT environment (sweaty/bouncy/rapid movements) and that  Ican download to an iPhone/Mac?

  • Harrie·

    I'm more interested in real actual HR during sports and not an overfiltered averaged HR in order to have smooth graphs. The Zephyr Hxm is the best belt available compared to a true ECG.

  • Wally·

    .my lg watch r does heartrate fine. The thing that is like pulling teeth is finding an integrated app that doesn't depends that i wear another piece of equipment.  The watch can check my heart rate throughout the day, so i know android wear and Google fit can track and log this (google fit does  but doesn't display heartrate) ,  I have a standalone app called cinch that does it quite well but it doesn't work with any apps . I'm trying to find something integrate  my Withings scale and running/biking and GPS and Maps, and will let  me know when my Heartrate gets too high. NONE of the major apps (endomodo, moves, runkeeper, the list goes on) does this. So frustrating! 

  • maslacak·

    In order to heart rate train you need a heart rate monitor. Advanced heart rate monitors that are used for performance training such as triathlons or marathons can cost several hundreds of dollars. But luckily for the general population, there is an increasing number of fitness devices that offer heart rate monitoring. In fact, heart rate monitoring is fast becoming a standard offering for new fitness devices.

    In my view, the Fitbit Charge HR, Mio Alpha 2, Basis Peak, Garmin Vivosmart HR, Microsoft Band 2 and the new Blaze tracker are all good at HR tracking. But you should not expect chest strap quality measurements from wrist based trackers. But for the general population - these readings should be good enough.


  • Aimeet·

    hi looking for advice

    Would like a wrist based activity tracker that pairs with a HR chest strap (as do hiit and strength training). Would quite like a smart watch interface that's show's steps and possibly has colour screen. Currently ordered polar a300 but am not liking screen interface. Have looked at garmin vivoactive, Fitbit blaze and polar m400 but really stuck.  Would ideally like a good app interaction too. Had a Fitbit charge previously and app much better than Polar's. I don't run outside although do quite a bit of walking, but it's mainly for gym work. 

    Anyone have any thoughts please?  Would look to pay up to £175

  • eme40co·

    Are they going to come out with any small enough to look ok on a small girls wrist?  I use the Jawbone Up Move for that reason but it is the lowest level tracker and I'd love to have one with a heart monitor.  Giant watches look dumb and so does the jawbone bracelet.  :(  

  • viki·

    will it work on my wrist...! the price seems to be little expensive..!

  • haris·

    Hi looking for advice, Im about to buy band with HRM but Im not sure if vivosmart HR or vivosmartHR+ is better option. Im looking for HR range alert feature, vibration alert to make sure that I did not overpass HRM range. Thanks for advice :)

  • JFB·

    Wrist-worn heart rate sensors can be accurate, it is just that the current ones are not accurate enough in the presence of motion etc.. I used a Basis peak for 1.5 years, often in conjunction with a chest band based monitor at the same time during exercise. The basis peak was perfectly accurate almost always as compared to the chest strap monitor, but there was a significant time lag so it was great for everything except interval training.

    For interval training, if your interval was 2 minutes, you could get a good read of your heart rate at the end of the 2 minutes, but you could not use it to gauge your effort during your peak interval. If you were doing 30 second intervals, it would be worse than useless.

    It was great, tough, durable and accurate enough for me. Sadly, it was recalled and gone. The technology can be great for exercise except for short interval training. If anyone finds a device on the market that has implemented it correctly or has licensed the Intel technology that the Basis Peak was based on, please tell me. I miss that watch as I frequently forget to bring the chest strap with me. My Basis peak was always on my arm as a full-time smart-watch, so I never forgot it.

  • BmontyB·

    hi all, I want to find out if any of the watches above mentioned has a strap longer than 260mm? Thank you

  • david-croe·

    Heart rate monitor and watches must be in every home which can help us in difficult hours efficiently. 

  • david-croe·
  • penplop·

    Hi, I am looking for an accurate chest strap HR that can send data to a wrist wearable rather than relying on the lest accurate wrist HR monitor. Can anyone recommend a combination. I want it for training but also to track general exercise. During training I would like to get instant data if possible to adjust training there and then.

    • Rowlpooch·

      Hi, I'm in a similar situation, have you found any good combinations?  

  • ianb·

    Why nothing on the Scosche Rhythm+? It is optical, but not on the wrist - you wear it just below the elbow. It doesn't suffer from muscle noise like the electrical pickups, nor does it move around like the wrist based. I've compared it with real EKG's during workouts and it has been spot-on.

  • joshgad·

    Heart rate monitor and watches must be in every home which can help us in difficult hours efficiently. http://amzn.to/2dn0PBv

  • Shania·

    I've never used any wearable fitness tracker before and am searching to find one that suits my needs. I want the most accurate reading possible for calories burned both during exercise and while resting. I'm assuming something with a heart rate monitor would be the best choice. I'm willing to wear a chest strap while working out if necessary but I'd like something that will give me my 24/7 heart rate and overall calories burned in a day.

  • Dsdaniels03·

    I play football and would like to track distance covered, heart rate etc in training and games. I would also like to use it on my players. I need one that will store data until uploaded onto my device. Any recommendations.

    Thanks

  • maxfrance·

    I've been using chest strap HRMs since the very first Polars available to the public in the late '80s, and never got disappointed about accuracy and reliability in every condition/environment.

    Then, I recently bought Garmin watches and cycling computer, and a TickrX.

    My advice is to FORGET wrist sensors if you seriously mind about checking you heart rate in training.

    They are totally useless, unless you want to know what your HR is, while sitting at your desk or lying on the couch.

  • jgalea·

    There's an error in your write up. It says that the Polar H10 supports ANT+, but I confirmed directly with Polar that is does not. "The H10 doesn't communicate with ANT+ receivers. The H10 can communicate through our frequency, 5kHz and Bluetooth Smart."

  • NelsonColt·

    Lots of good info here, even overwhelming. I live in Canada. I'm 53 years old, run 5k per day and weight train 2 days on 1 day off doing 5x5's. I was hoping someone out there in fitness land could recommend a heart rate/fitness monitor/tracker that I can either wear on my wrist all the time or only when I work out, that is as accurate as technologically possible at this time. Willing to look at a chest strap solution also. Hope someone can help. Thank you all. 

  • flyingleathers·

    I’m surprised that the internet, which normally has 10 trillion answers to inanely specific questions has ZERO content worldwide on pairing an Apple Watch to an external heart rate monitor chest strap and SWIMMING with it. With all the in-depth multi page reviews, (with lovely photos and YouTube videos) do you think anyone in the entire world has written about it?

    But more than that, there is no clear information about swimming and heart rate chest straps in general with any watches. I mean really clear info to the consumer because there are several catches that no one seems to know about or explain.

    The issue is this: if you have an external chest heart rate strap, for instance (example only) the Garmin HRM Swim or the Garmin HRM Tri, it will communicate via Bluetooth with most if not all Garmin watches OUT OF THE WATER in real time when doing OUT OF THE WATER stuff like running on a treadmill, chasing a polar bear away from your fridge, or cycling from zombies who are screaming after you on foot.... that is, you will be able to see your real time heart rate via the strap communicating with your watch sending signals through the AIR.

    HOWEVER, (and here is the catch), if you are swimming away from aforementioned feral and persistent zombies, in the water, the strap does not communicate with the Garmin watches because the signal from Bluetooth or ANT does not travel well through water. What happens in this instance is the fancy and somewhat pricey waterproof strap stores the heart rate info DURING THE SWIM ACTIVITY on board the heart strap module itself and only AFTER you (or the watch) leave the water (remove the water barrier to the signal) does it automatically send the info to the Garmin watch, so you can check your heart rate(s) AFTER the activity concludes, ie- escaping the aforementioned swimming zombies. You’ll then see that for the first 100 metres of your swim your average heart rate was 320bpm.

    But there is yet another catch. The strap will only sync info, or more accurately will only have swimming heart rate info received by very particular, specific, Garmin watches, a limited amount of the higher priced ones. So with the other, lesser priced Garmin watches, yes, you can get the real time info from the heart rate strap out of the water doing other out of the water in the air things, but swimming is a no-no for heart rate (for the lower priced watches), only for the higher priced watches.

    Some watches say they are compatible with a strap, yes OUT of WATER but not in the water, and even straps themselves say they are compatible with watches, again not specifying this compatibility is OUT of the water, not with all of them swimming, so this is very misleading. A consumer who sees that his watch is compatible with a swimming strap would of course believe that he or she can swim and get data, and would not naturally know that they are compatible only with the strap doing OTHER things rather than swimming. Again, only certain higher priced watches are compatible both out of the water and swimming as well.

    What no-one in the world on the entire internet or outer space is saying is whether the Apple Watch Series 3 will communicate heart rate information with an external HR strap WHILST SWIMMING or more accurately, receive (be able to download) the information from the strap module once you have completed swimming, like the higher priced swimming specific model watches from other manufacturers.

    I feel like the only person in the known universe and other multiverses wondering about this yet it is such an obvious question.

    My guess is the Apple Watch will pair with a chest strap but ONLY to give heart rate information doing out of the water, in the air activities. Once you jump into the water with your Apple Watch and your paired chest strap you will get zilch. Zero. Nothing. Not during the swim nor after the swim. (Nothing gives a reading during the swim by the way.)

    This is something reviewers and indeed sales reps don’t appear to know anything about, the fact that the heart rate signal does not travel through water and info has to be downloaded/synced to a watch when out of the water to be viewed afterwards. And only on very specific watches.

    Does the Apple Watch do this?

    Tumbleweeds.

    Yes, I understand it has an onboard optical wrist heart rate monitor which is wildly innacurate in the water, this reply of mine is about external chest straps.

    Maybe one day someone on the web will cover this topic since there are only about 600 million people interested in swimming who would like accurate HR data from the Apple Watch or do not want to be misled with their other manufacturer’s watch which says it’s compatible but really isn’t fully.

    • flyingleathers·

      An example of misleading advertising for instance is the Garmin Vivoactive HR says it is compatible with the Garmin HRM-Swim and the HRM-Swim says it is compatible with the Vivoactive HR on the box yet in reality this is only for out of water activities and that is not specified unless you drill down into very fine print in very specific areas of advertising on the web that the average person would never find and a salesperson selling it in person would never know.

  • EWaldman·

    I Am a physical therapist, I need to monitor a patient or clients heart rate on real time as they are doing their activity, sometimes to ensure they are not exceeding certain heart rates, or sometimes to train them into specific zones. I would like to track this information on a tablet or smart phone while they are wearing the device. Is anyone familiar with the best devices for this scenario? I think chest strap may Be best because it is most accurate.

  • 2Bhealthy·

    I have a Polar FT7 and the old chest HRM, in which I've had for over 15 years and its time to upgrade. I'm looking for a fitness watch that can monitor my speed and distance on a treadmill or elliptical. I was looking into the Polar V800 and the Polar H10 Bluetooth HR Transmitter, but I would also need the Polar stride sensor. I was looking at the Wahoo TICKR HRM chest strap. Can someone recommend the best HRM chest strap and fitness watch to buy for what I need?

  • Connor-Patto·

    Hey I'm a young footballer looking for some kind of tracker and preferably heart rate monitor that i could wear in games to measure my distance and heart rate throughout the game. Looking for something I could wear in the top of my jumper or with a bra strap. Any suggestions or any websites I should checkout?

  • QuantifiedSelf·

    Really surprised that they don't have the Whoop listed. I picked one up last summer and use it 24-7 with an upper arm band. I find its accuracy to match the Polar H7 when I am running on a treadmill (even for HIIT) or jumping rope because I run both the H7 and Whoop together to track activities and get numbers that move in sync. It has memory so you don't have to be within distance of your phone to work and will even autodetect activity if you forget to tell it you're starting a workout (or basketball game in my case) and move into activity tracking mode and then produces an workout analysis. Speaking of analysis, that is one of the things the device does best - it provide a picture of your HR during the workout, puts a rating on it using a proprietary scale they created, and then provides sentence or two description about this particular workout compared to things like your rest level or your norm doing that type of activity. Whoop also has a clever charging system wherein you slide a small battery over it while wearing it and it recharges in a few hours (I do it while sleeping) so I never have to take it off except to dry after the shower and switch arms (day on one, night on the other). So I get continuous HR, calorie, and HRV tracking all day as well as sleep tracking at night and their system uses this information to provide feedback on readiness for activity so you can adjust you workout plans accordingly. It also estimates how much sleep you need and gives you a push notice each evening a couple hours before it suggests you go to bed (which is variable based on your readings). The only quibbles I have with it are that I wish that your could set the app to keep the display on during an activity so you could use it to monitor current state and I wish that the app would display a dynamic graph of HR during the workout. Polar does both automatically.

  • KelseySoar·

    Hey there

    I am after a product which I can’t seem to find on the market. I suffer from vasovagal attacks where my heart rate + blood pressure drops and I pass out. Apparently its common and happens to quite a few people. What I am after is a watch or easy to wear monitor to wear daily which will alerts me if my heart rate drops so I have time to react or even send a message alert to someone if the worst happens and can’t track where I am.

    I want to be able to live a normal life and not live in fear... especially when travelling alone.

    Hoping someone can help?