If you made it to this page, then you already know the importance of tracking your heart rate during workouts. Staying within you target heart rate is essential for getting the most out of your activities, without burning yourself out. Garmin, Polar, & Wahoo represent the best chest strap heart rate monitors for most runners, swimmers, and bikers. Here’s why…
1. Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor
- Super comfortable strap and very light main unit. You’ll forget you’re wearing it
- Compatible with more than 50 other fitness apps on Apple, Android, and Windows
- Built-in memory stores 50 hours of workout data
- Tracks reps for weightlifting, Crossfit, and more.
- Outdoor and indoor use. Works on stationary bikes and treadmills
- Real-time data straight to your compatible wearable or device
- Tracks advanced runners stats (only with your phone wirelessly connected)
- IPX7 Waterproof rating
- LED and vibration feedback
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- Electrical pulse heart rate sensor (extremely accurate, especially compared to traditional optical sensors on fitness trackers and arm straps)
- 500 Hour battery life
- Wahoo Fitness App: While there are some nice features on this app, it’s not a complete enough to replace any of the top fitness apps like Fitbit, Apple Health, S Health, Garmin Connect, and Polar Beat. Luckily, it’s directly compatible with these and most other fitness apps.
- Tough, but not as durable as other chest strap monitors we tested.
Best combination of accuracy, compatibility, battery life, and fit of any chest strap we’ve tested. Plus, the compatibility with almost all of the other popular fitness apps, makes it easy to add to anybody’s current fitness tracking system.
2. Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
- Built-in memory for storage of one workout session
- Great fitness app (Polar Flow), especially if you already have (or plan to get) a Polar fitness tracker or Polar GPS running watch
- Compatibility with Android, Apple, GoPro Hero 4 & 5 action cameras, and most brands of fitness trackers/smartwatches (except Garmin). Additionally, connecting with your GoPro Hero 4 or 5 will allow you to display overlays of your biometric and activity data, directly on your video playback
- Swim-ready; waterproof up to 30 meters
- Real-time heart rate data straight to your compatible wearable or device
- Fairly comfortable strap
- Bluetooth, 5 kHz, and ANT+ connectivity
- Electrical pulse heart rate sensor (extremely accurate, especially compared to optical sensors on fitness trackers and arm straps)
- 400-Hour battery life
- Heavier unit compared to Wahoo Tickr X
- Not compatible with Garmin wearables, except for Fenix 5 and 6 models
- No built-in sensors for advanced runners metrics
With comparable accuracy to the Wahoo Ticker X, the Polar H10 dropped to #2 because it’s a little less comfortable and less compatible. Being waterproof up to 30 meters, this is one of the best heart rate monitors for swimming AND running.
3. Garmin HRM Heart Rate Monitors
- Advanced running metrics include: Cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, ground contact time balance, stride length, and vertical ratio
- ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
- 1-Year battery life
- Advanced heart rate variability and features
- Real-time heart rate and running data straight to your compatible Garmin wearable or device
- Waterproof up to 30 meters
- Electrical pulse heart rate sensor. (extremely accurate, especially compared to optical sensors on fitness trackers and arm straps)
- Just as comfortable as the Wahoo Tickr X
- Steps, intensity min, calories, and heart rate data storage
- Best-in-class Garmin Connect fitness app
- ONLY compatible with Garmin devices.
- Battery life varies greatly, depending on usage.
Even though it produces the best advanced running metrics out of the 3 straps on this list, it ONLY works with compatible Garmin devices. On the other hand, if you own one of these devices or plan to get one, this is your best choice.
If you already have a Garmin device that ISN’T compatible with the HRM-Pro, your best choice will be the Garmin Soft Strap Premium Heart Rate Monitor. The main drawback is that it doesn’t collect advanced running metrics like the HRM-Run, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for those features.
Garmin currently has the largest selection and some of the best performing trackers and GPS devices, which is the main reasons the HRM-Pro made into the top 3. Just like with Apple products, if you go Garmin, you should go all the way with their wearables, for the best overall experience and performance.
If you already have a Garmin or Polar wearable then your best bet is to stick with the same company. The Wahoo Tickr X gets the nod at #1 because of the extremely comfortable fit and compatibility with all of the major fitness apps and wearables.
The main feature that makes them ALL exceptional is the electrical pulse heart rate sensor technology, which is much more accurate than the optical sensors on watches, fitness trackers, and other wearables.