If you’re considering investing in a triathlon watch, odds are that you’re ready to push yourself to the limits of what you can achieve, and what better way to do it than to test your physical body by competing in a triathlon!
Imagine the feeling you’ll have when you cross the finish line – maybe you’ll kiss the ground, or maybe you’ll raise your hands as high as you can into the air in a victory stance.
If you’re on the verge of training for the Ironman Classic or the Sprint Triathlon, the perfect triathlon watch is something you’ll want to be rockin’ on your wrist. Excellent precision while training will help you train for less time and better.
So first things first..
What’s a triathlon?
It’s a multi-faceted competition of three continuous endurance activities, which mainly consist of swimming, cycling, and running. Contestants compete against one another to see who can finish this series of events in the shortest amount of time.
What exactly is a triathlon watch?
Well, it’s just like a running watch, except better. It tracks statistics of activities such as swimming, biking, and the intensity of your overall workout. With the advent of GPS enabled watches and improved waterproofing, heart rate monitors, digital time display, and wide compatibility, these nifty gadgets are next level if you want to adequately prepare for your competition.
A triathlon watch helps you to make a physiological assessment during and after your workout. It records your heart rate, calories burned, number of steps taken, and number of laps completed, amongst other details.
These devices also help you in establishing perfect navigation and ensures you follow the trail markings wherever you’re hiking, skiing, or biking.
Some of these watches even allow you to save your progress and statistics online. This way you can have a record on the internet, and also share your progress with friends if you want.
To prepare to run a triathlon, it’s vital to pick a triathlon watch that will suit you best. If you can feel your heart rate skipping a beat or two reading this, odds are you stumbled across the right article for you. Let’s dive into some of the important tidbits about the ins and outs of what to expect from your new triathlon watch to get you ready for race day.
Who should buy a best triathlon watch?
If you’re considering competing in a triathlon, this watch would be worth the money. Or, even if you’re just considering running, cycling, swimming, or recording your sports times, this sort of watch will serve you well for record-keeping.
Benefits of a Best Triathlon Watch
-You can track your cycling, running, biking, and other sports activities
-Predict your race times
-You’re able to receive Smartphone notifications from your watch
-You have the option to download music onto some triathlon watches
-You can track running metrics
-They’re often compatible with cycling accessories
-You don’t have to count the number of miles or laps you’ve completed in your head (hah!)
Multisport Mode: This feature allows you to identify the transitions between cycling, biking, or running during a tri workout. All you have to do is push a button and the watch will mark where exactly you switched between activities. This is a handy feature if you plan on doing multiple activities in one workout sesh and don’t want to hassle around with watch buttons.
Cycling Accessories: You can track pedal cadence and bike speed with a bike sensor. Now, if you’re a very experienced athlete, you also have the option of a power meter accessory that measures how hard you pedal.
You’ll want a good tri watch that will sync with some cycling accessories.
Swim Tracking: An ideal feature of a triathlon watch will measure and track your swims in both the pool and open bodies of water. Swim tracking will track your time, rate of speed in the water, and how far you’ve swum. It also counts laps and then uses that information to calculate how fast you’re swimming. If you’re swimming in the open pool, the watch uses GPS to record your mileage. If you opt for one of the more expensive watches, chances are that some of the swim tracking features will include one the recording of the type of swim stroke you’re doing. The higher end ones can also calculate SWOLF, a measure of swimming efficiency, in addition to counting your swim strokes.
Quick Release Strap: When cycling, it’s convenient to have the watch connected directly to the handlebars of your bike. Some watches have a quick release kit that allows you to speedily switch the watch from your wrist and attach it to the handlebars.
Thin Design: It’d be ideal to invest in a triathlon watch to make it easy to remove your wetsuit. Thicker watches make for a tough time when you take off your wet gear sleeves for your arms.
Battery Life: If you have plans to compete in a lengthy event such as the full Ironman, reflect on the battery life of your GPS watch. You’ll want to ensure it lasts the whole race. The Garmin Forerunner 735XT and the Coros Apex have battery livers that last over 14 hours.
Bluetooth Smart: This refers to your watches ability to synchronize with your smartphone to receive notifications, listen to music, etc. Some are compatible with Bluetooth, others aren’t.
Waterproof: If you’re planning on participating in the swimming part of a triathlon, you’ll need a water-resistant watch.
If you really want to use a watch that’s not water-resistant, there’s a way around this. Place your watch underneath your swim cap so you can still track yourself with GPS, provided you have a GPS watch. The GPS signal will remain intact as long as your head is above the water
How to use a best triathlon watch
You simply need to figure out your unique triathlon watches specific design and go from there. Depending on what activity you plan on doing, you’ll want to verify its in the proper mode. So, if you’re swimming, you’ll want to be in the swimming menu section of your watch. In the same way, if you’re recording running data, opt for that selection. Touch screens make things pretty easy, so if you’re competent enough to participate in a triathlon, you’ll likely be able to figure out how to use your new watch.
These are some terms you may either encounter in this article, or during race day. It’d be good to familiarize yourself with them.
-Lap: Distance from one end of the pool to the other, and BACK!
-Lane: Section in the pool that you swim in. Like a driving lane, but a pool lane
-Intervals: Training that uses fast-paced repetitions to fortify strength and endurance
-On your left: This is a safety phrase. You tell someone this if you’re coming up on their left and about to pass them
Penalty: If you draft, litter, make a shortcut, or pass someone on the wrong side, you’ll serve a penalty that entails either adding time to your finishing time, or being required to stop and then restart
-PR: Abbreviation for a personal record
-Timing Mat: Electronic or rubber mats along a race course that records the timing chip on your person. It registers your swim, bike, run, and transition times
-Transition: There are 2 of these in a triathlon. The first transition is the amount of time between the swim and cycling sections, while the second transition is the time between biking and the run
-Triathlete: A contestant in a triathlon
-Wetsuit: Neoprene suit that’s worn during open-water swim training and races. It keeps you warm and also helps with buoyancy
Now that you’re more familiar with the background details of triathlon watches and their purpose- on your mark, get set, and go check out our buyers guide to help you train smarter, not harder!
8. Suunto 9
The Suunto 9 has you covered for any activity you may need, and supports more than 80 different sports.
The battery life on this one is superb – lasting from 25-100 hours depending on the setting used.
Forewarning – this one is a little expensive, but worth it for the quality.
This watch tracks pool and open water swims, cycling activities, and features a one button multisport switching option.
As far as the running settings go, the Suunto 9 combines motor sensor information with GPS to save power while providing spot-on distance tracking.
This excellent triathlon watch will provide you a comprehensive training summary with graphs and lap charts to inform you of your progress and improvement, or lack thereof.
Also, this beauty has a heart rate tracking feature with the wrist monitor.
Since GPS uses up a decent amount of battery power, having a watch in which the battery will last for those ultra long runs is ideal. A special feature of this watch is the FusedTrack sensored movement sensors that are combined with GPS to boost the track and distance accuracy, and that will ensure your battery lasts.
Note this watch is a little bulky, but ton the bright side, it has a large screen if you like to be able to see those small numbers easily while you train.
Why we love it:
-The FusedTrack technology that extends battery life.
7. Coros Apex
A best triathlon watch for both men and women, the Coros Apex has been designed specifically for triathletes, runners, cyclists, and swimmers alike.
This affordable watch features GPS tracking, wrist based heart rate, and fitness tracking for counting your steps.
This also boasts a big enough sized screen that you can easily glance at while youre working out, but its not too big – the watch itself weighs about two ounces .
If you’d like a variety of colors for your band, this company offers a variety of them.
As far as the settings for runners go, the time, distance covered, pace, heart rate are measured by this high-tech watch, in addition to cadence, stride, and elevation. The Apex also records indoor runs on the treadmill in addition to everything covered with the indoor setting.
Now for you cyclers, notifies you of the speed instead of the pace and how far you’ve climbed or descended, as well as the grade of the climb.
This is compatible with a cadence sensor, poower meter, or bike trainer, if you feel inclined to connect your watch to these.
Lastly, the swimming features for this option include lap counting, heart rate tracking, and it measures your pace and distance. This watch is also waterproof up to 100 meters, and works for both pool and open water swims.
You can program interval speed workouts with the Apex too, and this watch determines your stamina and training effect after each workout cycle you complete.
This one has a built in thermometer, too – so that you don’t have to connect to an app, which is nice if you don’t always have wi-fi.
This best triathlon watch also tracks sleep and records flights of stairs, if that’s your thing.
And, for the millenials, you will be able to receive phone notifications via this triathlon watch.
Why we love it:
-The extensive 35 hour battery life.
6. Garmin Vivoactive
Garmin Vívoactive’s triathlon watch covers all of your bases – with a built-in GPS enabled cycling app, running, golfing, and swimming apps, this has lots to offer in the way of multisports options.
This triathlon GPS watch is pronounced by an ultra slim design 8mm profile that’s as light as a feather on your wrist. Plus, you can customize your watch face the way you want it.
With this model, you can calculate your steps, distance covered, calories burnt, and sleep throughout the day. Plus, there is a move bar alert to notify you of when you’ve been sitting for too long.
This gem of a clock allows you to track your stats for cycling, running, etc., even if you’re not near your phone.
If you’re a swimmer, swim metrics like laps, time, lengths, and current pace are measured by the Vívoactive – and yes, it’s waterproof.
Feel free to jog around indoors with this one too, as it uses an internal accelerometer to record your distance and speed on a treadmill. And, for news to get your blood pumpin’, there is a wrist-based heart rate monitor on this one, too.
Oh, if you’re a fan of the golfing app – you can download golf course maps from over 38,000 courses around the world. Another feature of this one is that the app can determine your distance from the front, middle, and back of the green.
The Garmin Vívoactive has a high-resolution color touch screen, and is able to still be easily seen, even on a bright, sunny day. Now, if you catch yourself training on a rainy day, this watch is water resistant. Sounds like the best of both worlds, right?
Note the battery life lasts for ten hours in triathlon GPS mode and for three weeks in watch/tracking mode. Just remember to take it off of GPS mode when you’re not using it to preserve the battery.
This one is bluetooth smart, so you can link it with your smartphone for pertinent notifications. You can also use the find my phone function on the watch, too, if you’re one that has a tough time keeping up with it.
Why we love it:
-Its low profile design is very comfortable for everyday use in the office and for your triathlon needs.
5. Suunto Ambit3
Suunto Ambit3 features specialized outdoor functions from GPS with waypoint navigation, to a one of a kind 3D compass, to a barometer, to a precise as precise can be barometric altitude, this model is impressive with its offerings.
One of the triathlon features this watch offers is superior training technologies. From a very responsive pace and speed paired with an accelerometer that features triathlon GPS, to an online sports notebook where you can plan and examine your workouts, this watch will support you throughout your training days.
The Suunto Ambit3 can calculate your altitude, speed, location, heart rate (if you buy the monitor that’s sold separately), and what the weather conditions are down to the temperature outside. And what’s the best part? You can control it all with one single button.
This is compatible with Suunto bike and cadence pods, if capturing speed and cadence strikes your fancy. -In case you don’t know, cadence is the speed at which you turn the pedals on your bike, or with which your legs run.
This is the only brand of triathlon watches with a smart feature that allows you to create free apps straight from your watch. For example, you could create an app that assists you in calculating your half-marathon time speed based on your overall speed, or you could design one to alert you of when you’ll finally have finished burning off the extra calories from that brownie you decided to eat a few hours ago.
You can use it for your backpacking adventures too if you want to record any details along the trail. This is one of those GPS watches that will only continue to amaze you with its characteristics.
This model has an improved battery life (can last for an entire ultramarathon), in addition to a thicker design, if that’s something you don’t mind too much. Some prefer a lighter weight watch, but hey – for all the gizmos that come with this one, having to sacrifice a little in weight isn’t the worst. This brand has actually won awards for its sleek design and watch face.
Note that this device isn’t supported by Bluetooth smart features, if you’re about your smartphone notifications. But, on the bright side, expert reviews say that the screen is very easy to read.
We did a price check on Amazon for this one and this beauty rings in at $400.
Why we love it:
-Its more than just a watch… and it has remarkable precision!
4. Garmin Forerunner 735 XT
The Garmin Forerunner 735XT has all the key features of a triathlon watch, featuring multisport, open water and pool swim tracking, with a lightweight, thin, and sleek design and feel.
The 735XT is comparable to the Garmin 935, however it lacks the barometric altimeter. Unless you absolutely need a barometric altimeter, it might be wise to save a bit of money and opt for this choice.
This one tracks running metrics like stride length and cadence, and there is built-in running GPS technology. It also allows you to compete against courses you’ve already created to challenge yourself.
Exceptional dynamics for running, cycling, and swimming (it’s waterproof!), with ground contact time balance, stride length, and vertical ratio are also featured on this one. It also comes with a wrist-based optical heart rate sensor to give you relevant heart rate data.
If you’re big about having a watch that’s compatible with accessories, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT supports power meter and cadence accessories for cycling.
This one will relay notifications from your smartphone, as it’s Bluetooth smart, and it also features live tracking for your activities. Not to worry about wearing down the battery, as this device has excellent battery life, and will give you the running power you need. The battery life lasts for 14 hours in GPS mode.
You can customize this with a complimentary watch face if you want to customize the color with your favorite pair of running shoes.
If you like to be on the money with your times, this Garmin Forerunner 735XT can predict your race times to help you achieve your best possible race time. There is also basic stopwatch functionality if you prefer that way.
To save you from having to check the price on Amazon, it’s $260.00.
Why we love it:
-It has multisport tracking and many techy features.
3. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
A great watch for trail and ultra runners, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has a little bit of everything for your triathlon needs.
This choice features activity tracking, daily step goals, tracks sleep, and gives you a heads up if it’s been some time since you’ve moved any of your limbs. How’s that for smart features?
The longlasting battery on the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus can last up to ten days in smartphone mode for those long runs.
A feature of the water-resistant Fenix is that it has swim tracking, which records the number of swimming laps, pace, and distance in the pool and open water swims.
This one can be set up with different bike profiles, too, if you like to practice on a variety of bicycles.
You can train with a virtual person with the virtual pacer feature, on those days you find you need some extra motivation.
And, if you like to blast the tunes while you workout from your cellphone, this Garmin triathlon watch has the option to play, pause, and skip songs from your device, and also has the option to store music.
This also assesses golf information such as stat tracking, round timer, hazards, and course targets if you find yourself on the golf course.
This tracks running metrics like vertical oscillation and ground contact time, too, and also paddling sports like kayaking, rowing, and stand-up paddle boards.
Any notification that appears on your smartphone transfers to your Garmin, so you can be immediately alerted of important news.
The ski/snowboard mode marks when you’ve finished a run and boarded the chairlift, while the vertical speed feature tracks your speed at the same time.
The best running watch, this one has built-in navigation sensors that include a 3 axis compass, gyroscope, and a barometric altimeter, which is more spot-on than running GPS technology.
There’s also a track back feature that makes it easy for you to find your way back to where you started. If you veer off the route somehow, you’ll be re-routed.
As far as design goes- though not quite as thin as the Garmin Forerunner 935, this one has a tough outer casing that will endure the tests of time.
Oh – there is the option of buying a quick-release kit with this one, too.
Last but not least, this gem costs a whopping $600, but if you need the versatility of this watch – it’s worth it.
Why we love it:
-It’s the most extensive GPS watch for function and style.
2. Polar V800
The Polar Vantage 800 is the most advanced triathlon watch that’s great for a professional athlete who is searching for the highest level of performance watch with a running power meter.
One of the triathlon watches that features an optical heart rate monitor with Precision Prime technology, this one boasts the latest in bio-impedance electrodes and optical sensors.
Highlights of this choice include a built-in activity tracker, running GPS tracking with accurate barometric measurements, and a recovery pro feature that allows your watch to take in factors outside of training that can boost recovery.
The style for this one features a traditional wrist watch face with a circular design, one you could even wear as an everyday watch if you wanted, and people wouldn’t even be able to tell that it’s a triathlon watch.
As far as screen style goes, the Polar Vantage features color touch display, with five buttons on the side to maneuver different functions.
One of the smart features for this one is that it divides muscle load, cardio load, and perceived load, providing you with insight about how your training affects your body.
Know that this one doesn’t give you the option to receive Smartphone notifications, if you’re big on that.
With over forty long hours of battery life, you can rest knowing you won’t have to charge it on the daily.
So, if you’re training for one of the most difficult races, this durable Polar V800 watch will live up to the test.
Why we love it:
-The Polar Vantage is the first ever wrist-based watch with a running power meter feature.
1. Garmin Forerunner 935
Coming in as our number one pick, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is a triathlon watch that packs a punch with its key features.
The Garmin Forerunner boasts a thin design, is lightweight and features a high-resolution screen, along with features that help you train your best and also allow you to review your workout history.
This choice will provide you up to a whole 24 hours of battery life even if it’s GPS functionality mode is turned on, so you don’t have to worry about it dying on you mid-workout. Yes – this one has excellent navigation features
This watch will track swimming by counting your number of strokes, distance, and your speed in the water. It also tracks running GPS, distance and speed along with your cadence. A cool detail about this one is that it has a multisport transition option that will work with you if you want to do activities such as golfing, paddling, cycling, and skiing, too.
The Garmin Forerunner also features activity tracking that will record your steps, set your daily goals, record your heart rate data on the wrist, and record elevation with a barometric altimeter.
You can also upload workouts with the Garmin Connect App if that’s your cup of tea.
You do have the option of buying a quick release kit with this one to move the watch from wrist to bike.
In conclusion, this is a pricier GPS watch, but it’s worth it for the quality.
Why we love it:
– the overall blend of features
How to clean/care for a triathlon watch
If the watch band is removable, remove and wipe it down with a soft cloth, then let it air dry. If there is any gunk on the face of it, just take a slightly dampened Q-tip and wipe away the debris.
Alternatives to consider:
An Apple Smartwatch is a great alternative to a triathlon watch. It syncs with your smartphone and Bluetooth, so you can later reference your running records on your phone. A FitBit is also another alternative.
What’s the best triathlon watch?
An ideal triathlon watch will have all the bells and whistles, and will generally be a little more expensive. But hey – you get what you pay for.
Is every type of Smartphone compatible with each Smartwatch?
Most of the time, as long as your phone has Bluetooth technology, it’s safe to say that it’ll be compatible with your triathlon watch. However, there is always a small chance that your phone version might be too advanced for the smartwatch.
How far does the GPS reach?
This depends on if where you’re located in the world has any obstructions with blocking the GPS signal. The signal can be strong or weak depending on whether or not the satellites in the sky have good reception.
How far does Bluetooth reach?
In small gadgets like these triathlon watches, the Bluetooth range is typically 20 feet, with a range upwards of 30 feet – granted there are no interferences.
What kind of watch is best for a beginner triathlon runner?
You might not want to opt for the most expensive model as a first timer. The Polar Vantage M is a beginner’s triathlon watch that will provide all the necessary functions for a fraction of the cost of one that’s a more advanced model.
What’s the Ironman?
It’s a full distance triathlon, featuring a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run (marathon).
There is also a half Ironman, which is a half triathlon. So, everything from the full triathlon would just be cut in half.
With a good triathlon watch, you’ll be able to come out on top in your triathlons and enjoy your training more knowing that you have a great watch. Whether you decide on a Polar Vantage, the Garmin Fenix, or a Garmin Forerunner, your intuition will likely serve you right in whatever style you decide to go with.
How We Ranked
We’ve selected the triathlon watches with the most established brands, prices, and features that make it easy for you to choose one that fits your budget and your needs. We also considered reviews that have been written for these products on major consumer websites – after all, the customer has the final say and will say it how it is.
How we picked the best triathlon watch
We selected the best triathlon watch by considering the overall amount of features offered for the buck. In the end, we wanted to make sure the products we suggested are useful, safe, easy to maneuver, comfortable to wear, and that have accurate precision.