Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Fenix 5x Plus: Which Multisport GPS Watch is Right for You?

Garmin tactix charlie vs fenix 5x plus review

If you are looking for a multisport GPS watch, it’s hard to go wrong with Garmin. Some of the best GPS watches and fitness tools I’ve seen came from Garmin.

Serious fitness enthusiasts and outdoorsmen will require a premium GPS timepiece for training and while out on the field respectively. For today, we’ll take a look at two recent premium GPS watches from Garmin.

For this head-to-head review, we’ll compare the Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Fenix 5x Plus. Which premium multisport GPS watch is right for you? Let’s find out.

Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Fenix 5x Plus: Specs Comparison

Model: Garmin Tactix Charlie Garmin Fenix 5x Plus
Lens Material: Domed Sapphire Crystal Domed Chemically Strengthened Glass or Sapphire Crystal
Bezel Material: Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) Coated Titanium Stainless Steel or Titanium
Case Material: Fiber-Reinforced Polymer With Titanium Rear Cover Fiber-Reinforced Polymer with Metal Rear Cover
Strap Material: Silicone Silicone, Leather or Titanium
Physical Size: 51 x 51 x 17.5 mm 47 x 47 x 15.8 mm

Fits wrists with the following circumference:

Silicone band: 163-249 mm

Leather band: 166-229 mm

Metal band: 166-242 mm

Display Size: 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter 1.2” (30.4 mm) diameter
Display Resolution: 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels
Display Type: Sunlight-Visible, Transflective Memory-in-Pixel (MIP) Sunlight-Visible, Transflective MEMORY-In-Pixel (MIP)
Weight: 90 g 86 g

Titanium version: 76 g

Battery Life: Smartwatch mode: Up to 12 days

GPS/HR mode: Up to 20 hours

UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 35 hours

Smartwatch: Up to 12 days
GPS: Up to 18 hours
GPS and Music: Up to 8 hours
UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 42 hours
Water Rating: 10 ATM 10 ATM
Memory: 16 GB 16 GB
Connectivity: Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, Wi-Fi Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, Wi-Fi
Smartphone Compatibility: Android, iPhone Android, iPhone

Garmin Tactix Charlie Review

Back in 2018, the Garmin Tactix Charlie was released – a fitness watch that has more features than you will ever need. The Tactix Bravo is a beloved fitness watch and many were looking forward to the Tactix Charlie. Based on my experience, the Tactix Charlie is a worthy update to the Bravo.

Design and Construction

This third generation Tactix watch doesn’t look that much different from the Bravo. The rugged construction is still the primary design selling point of the Tactix Charlie. The Tactix Charlie truly looks like a proper tactical watch that will not look out of place on a SWAT team’s wrists.

Fortunately, the Tactix Charlie doesn’t only look the part, it’s built to be the toughest watch in Garmin’s arsenal.

The main draw of the Charlie is the Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated titanium material. With the DLC material, the Charlie is more resistant and durable than the Fenix 5X. While the DLC delivers in terms of toughness and robustness, it’s surprisingly a lightweight material.

The Charlie also features stainless-steel buttons, black titanium rear cover, and domed sapphire lens. These top-of-the-line materials help the Tactix Charlie a true outdoors GPS watch. This is the type of watch that you can wear regardless of outside conditions. Well, after all, it’s a GPS watch that’s designed for tactical purposes.

The 1.2-inch display does a great job of making things readable, even under the bright sunlight. This is a fairly large watch with a large display. For a watch that offers a ton of functionality, I won’t have it any other way.

Comfort and Wearability

When it comes to comfort, the Tactix Charlie doesn’t disappoint.

The watch comes with an all-weather black silicone band and is QuickFit™ compatible. The band feels comfortable even when things get a little moist. However, I was disappointed that you can’t swap the band with a NATO strap out of the box. It would be neat if it did come with another type of strap.

Weighing at 90 grams, the Charlie does have a bit of weight to it which is not surprising at all. This is a feature-heavy GPS watch with tons of features, so be aware that it has some bulk and weight. However, Garmin did a great job of keeping things lightweight despite the tactical nature of the Charlie.

As for the battery life, the Charlie offers up to 12 days in Smartwatch mode, 20 hours in GPS/HR mode, and 35 hours in UltraTac mode. This makes the Tactix Charlie equal to Fenix 5x in battery life but slightly less than the Bravo. The addition of the optical Heart Rate Monitor is the likely culprit here.

Just to be clear, the Charlie is not a touchscreen watch. While I do like touchscreen watches, they won’t make sense for an all-weather unit like the Garmin Tactix Charlie. With a 5-button navigation, operating the watch is easy. There’s a bit of a learning curve but if you have used the Bravo before, you’ll know that they are very similar in operation.

Features and Software

This is the meat of the Garmin Tactix Charlie. This is where the majority of your big bucks go.

For navigation, you can use the built-in GPS/GLONASS and the TOPO maps or the compass. Garmin is a world-leading brand in GPS devices, so you can expect the same level of quality as the Charlie. It’s also a proper ABC watch with altimeter, barometer and a 3-axis compass.

The full-color TOPO map is easy to follow and is preloaded into the watch. You can easily map your route and receive at a glance information while you’re training or on the field. The navigation aspect of the Charlie certainly lives up to Garmin’s standard.

As an activity tracker, Charlie offers plenty of options as well. As expected, the Charlie is loaded with advanced performance monitoring capabilities to help maximize your training. The new anaerobic training effect metric is pretty neat as it gets you an in-depth insight into your training and helps pinpoint the areas that need improvement.

Of course, you can’t talk about the features of Charlie without mentioning the Wrist-Based HR. The watch comes with the Elevate wrist heart rate technology. However, the heart rate monitor is perhaps one of the lowest points of the Tactix Charlier. After multiple tests, I find the HR monitor to be quite erratic and sometimes, a bit laggy. It simply can’t compare to HR monitors with chest straps.

Garmin Fenix 5x Plus Review

The Fenix GPS multisport watches are some of the best fitness smartwatches on the market. The Fenix 5x is one of my favorite GPS watches and the Garmin Fenix 5x Plus looks to be an even better iteration.

Design and Construction

The Garmin Fenix watches are known for their big and bulky profile – the Fenix 5x Plus is no exception. Measuring at a whopping 51mm and weighing 86 grams, the Fenix 5x Plus is about 50% larger and twice as heavy as the Apple Watch Series 3.

That’s one way of saying that there’s no discreet way to wear the Fenix 5x Plus. Sure enough, you’ll get plenty of comments about how massive your watch is.

Despite its large profile, the watch still looks stylish. The black stainless steel bezel adds a sleek aesthetic to the watch. It looks good enough for daily wear. The black silicone band complements the rest of the watch and it’s easily interchangeable as well.

One of the highlights is the color sapphire display which does a great job of warding off scratches. Like the Tactix Charlie, the display is easily readable in sunlight. I’ve been wearing the watch during workouts and the display has yet to who signs of scratches.

Comfort and Wearability

The Fenix 5x Plus is about as comfortable as you can expect from a bulky watch. However, the Fenix 5x Plus is lighter than the Tactix Charlie. At 86 grams, the watch is not exactly light but Garmin deserves some props for not getting carried away with the weight.

The included silicone band is surprisingly comfortable, even after long periods of use. While training the band will accumulate moisture but I’m happy to report that comfort is not affected.

The watch does come with a sleep tracking feature but I’m not compelled to use it. While the watch is quite comfortable for a heavy-duty GPS watch, it’s not comfortable enough to sleep with it.

For the battery life, the watch will last you about 7 to 10 days with regular use. Due to the large number of features and functions (like playing music), I got about a week of heavy usage with this watch. If you are using both GPS and music, you will probably need to charge the watch by the end of the day. In this Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Fenix 5x Plus comparison, the former wins in terms of battery life.

Features and Software

If you have used a Garmin multisport watch before, it will be easy for you to pick up the Fenix 5X Plus. The 5-button interface is still here and requires a bit of learning curve for new buyers.

As expected, the GPS on this watch is solid. As long as you’re in a reasonably open area, the GPS lock-on is fast and easy, thanks to the GPS, Glonass, and Galileo satellites. The watch is also loaded to the brim when it comes to metrics. In fact, the watch is packed with so many features that I find myself learning a new metric or dynamic with continued use.

On top of the usual activity tracking and navigation features, the Fenix 5X Plus also comes with GarminPay which allows you to complete purchases just by using your watch. Another highlight is the ability to store offline Spotify so you can listen to music on the go.

If contactless payment and offline music playback are high up on your list, the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is an easy recommendation.

Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Fenix 5x Plus: The Verdict

We conclude this Garmin Tactix Charlie vs Fenix 5x Plus head-to-head with our verdict.

The Garmin Tactix Charlie and Fenix 5x Plus are very similar watches, even down to the price range. For the base models, the price is similar between the two watches. However, the Fenix 5x Plus comes with a Titanium version which is a lot more expensive.

So which high-end GPS watch is right for you?

Well, if you are looking for a watch with tactical applications, the Garmin Tactix Charlie might be more right up your alley. It’s one of the best military watches available.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more advanced watch in terms of features, the Fenix 5x Plus has the upper hand. The ability to play music offline and contactless payment are winning features in my book.

Regardless of your choice, both watches are durable, versatile, and offer everything but the kitchen sink.

Best Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor: Top Picks for Triathletes

Best Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor_featured

For triathletes, staying on top of their training is a major priority. With that said, one of the best ways to stay on top of your training is to use a heart rate monitor.

A heart rate monitor is an essential piece of training equipment for triathletes. This device allows you to reliably determine the intensity of your exercises. Therefore, you can work hard enough without overdoing it with each workout – effectively increasing your training efficiency.

If you are in the market for the best triathlon heart rate monitor, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we help you find the top-rated heart rate monitor that best fits your triathlon needs.

Best Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor

Key Features

Our Rating

Garmin HRM-Tri Specifically designed for triathletes, Adjustable strap, Soft rounded edges and covered seams, Stores and forwards heart rate data to your compatible Garmin fitness device 5/5
Polar H10 Built-in memory, Can be paired with a GoPro Hero 4 or 5 camera, Smart coaching when paired with a Polar wrist unit, Stay up-to-date with firmware updates, 400 hours battery life 4.5/5
Garmin Forerunner 310XT

 

Waterproof to a depth of 50 meters, Tracks bike and run data, 20 hours of battery life, High-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix, Easy-to-read display, ANT+ wireless technology 4/5
Wahoo TICKR X Battery life of up to 12 months, Built in memory, Personalized Heart Rate Training, Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ compatibility, Works with Wahoo RunFit + 50 Smartphone Apps 4/5
Timex T5K726 Ironman Target Trainer Flex-Tech digital sensor, Three-workout chronograph memory, Two interval timers, Hydration and nutrition alerts, Indiglo Light-Up Watch Dial 3.5/5
Scosche Rhythm+ Works with all Bluetooth smart and ANT+ Enabled devices, Green/Yellow Optical Sensors, 8 Hour Battery Life, IP67 Waterproof, Heart rate zone and training 3.5/5

Best Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor

1. Garmin HRM-Tri

The Garmin HRM-Tri takes our top pick because not only is it specifically designed for triathletes, its performance is off the charts as well. It’s no wonder why it’s the choice of professionals.

The Choice of Professional Triathletes

Garmin has always been about their attention to detail. Garmin has made some of the best triathlon watches available, so it’s not surprising that its dedicated heart rate monitor is a winner as well.

For starters, the Garmin HRM-Tri is one of the lightest and smallest heart rate monitors around. It is a chest strap design which is good for accurate results. It’s a good thing that this HRM device is very comfortable. The bi-fold adjustment feature makes it a breeze to find the right comfortable fit.

This device is capable of storing up to 20 hours of heart rate data which should come in handy for most triathletes. This way, you can easily review all your workout data and make adjustments as you go. Transferring the data to a laptop or smartphone is very streamlined as well.

On top of providing heart rate metrics, the HRM-Tri also provides other information such as running form and dynamics. Its accelerometer ensures a high level of accuracy. When paired with other compatible Garmin devices, it can even measure vertical oscillation and cadence.

The HRM-Tri is a must-have heart rate monitor for hardcore triathletes.

2. Polar H10

Polar is another brand known for its fitness devices and these include their heart rate monitors. The Polar H10 is a go-to option for triathletes who value accuracy above all else.

One of the Most Accurate Sensors

The Polar H10 is not exactly a device designed for triathlons but more of a “catch-all” heart rate solution. However, its performance and accuracy are more than enough to meet the needs of triathletes.

Much like the previous heart rate monitor, the Polar H10 features a built-in memory and is sufficiently waterproofed. However, the main selling point of this monitor is that it comes with Bluetooth support. In addition to the ability to connect with other supported devices, the H10 can connect to smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled devices too.

If you own a Polar wearable, you can connect it with the H10 for even better results. Otherwise, you can still use the Polar Beat app to transfer data to your smartphone.

Again, the Polar H10 is a masterclass in monitoring accuracy, thanks to its enhanced electrodes. The device is strapped to your chest and provides a good fit. There are silicone dots and a good buckle system to keep things comfortable.

The Polar H10 is powered by a replaceable battery with an impressive battery life of 400 hours.

3. Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

If you want reliable heart rate monitoring with a lot more freedom, it’s hard to go wrong with the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. It’s a wrist-based device but it certainly belongs on this list of the best triathlon heart rate monitor.

A Triathlete’s Indispensable Training Tool

The Garmin Forerunner 310XT is mainly a GPS training tool but it’s not afraid with a little dip in the water.

This swim-proof device will track your cycling and running data, and send it wirelessly to your PC. The 50-meter waterproof rating means that you can use it to swim in a pool or lake. It’s a fairly slim device so you don’t have to worry about it getting in the way.

The heart rate monitor is optional but it doesn’t mean that it’s just an afterthought feature. Based on our tests, the Forerunner 310XT did a great job of continuously tracking the beats per minute. On top of that, it can even compute calories burned but it’s more of an estimated data than an accurate metric.

There are times when the heart rate monitor won’t read properly but it’s usually fixed with a soft reset.

The Forerunner 310XT is not the most advanced heart rate monitoring device out there but it’s reliable, robust, and a great triathlon training tool.

4. Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor

Wahoo Fitness may not be as well-known as brands like Garmin or Polar but they do offer a robust heart rate monitor. The Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor is an excellent heart rate device that won’t break the bank.

Excellent Heart Rate Monitoring for Less

The Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor might be a fairly affordable option but it doesn’t that it is lacking in features. For triathlon training, you can measure your heart rate, rep count, calories burned, and provide training analytics.

Like all good heart rate monitors, the TICKR X comes with a built-in memory. This means that you can freely train without carrying a smartphone or any other device. Since the TICKR X is compatible with most fitness apps, it allows for incredible versatility.

Speaking of versatility, the TICKR X heart rate monitor can also several running analytics such as vertical oscillation, cadence, ground contact time, and more.

On the negative side, the TICKR X may not be the most durable heart rate monitor out there. I’m not sure it’s just a flawed unit but mine had some connectivity issues a few weeks after use.

Overall, the TICKR X from Wahoo Fitness is a solid budget-friendly heart rate monitor for triathletes.

5. Timex Ironman Target Trainer

The Timex Ironman Target Trainer heart rate monitor is considered a classic. However, it ranks low in our list of the best triathlon heart rate monitor because the competition just got hotter.

An Oldie But a Goodie HR Monitor

Don’t get us wrong, the Timex Ironman Target Trainer HR monitor is still a very reliable and robust training tool, despite being a fairly dated device.

If you have been working with Timex watches, you’ll find the Timex Ironman Target Trainer easy to use. Operating the device is an intuitive experience despite a large number of functions and features to access. The display is very legible even during intense training. However, it’s a big and bulky HR monitor.

As for the accuracy, the Timex Ironman Target Trainer did a great job of providing accurate readings. However, there are some times when the device struggles to find a signal. The Flex-Tech digital sensor helps with minimizing interference.

Other features include the Hydration alerts to ensure that you replenish at regular intervals. The Recovery Heart Rate feature is a useful indicator of your training and fitness level.

Ultimately, the Timex Ironman Target Trainer is an expensive HR monitor. However, it’s still a favorite among triathletes so take that as you will.

6. Scosche Rhythm+

If you are looking for a wrist-based HR monitor, the Scosche Rhythm+ is more than a decent option. It’s a feature-packed device and comes at a great price too.

Good Value and Very Solid Accuracy

The Scosche Rhythm+ is a solid solution for monitoring your heart rate all across the board. That’s right, you can even monitor your heart rate even when underwater. Triathletes can now keep their heart rate in check without needing a chest strap.

The Rhythm+ has 8 hours of battery life which could use a lot of improvement. If you are training daily, you’ll find yourself charging every so often which can get old pretty quick.

One particular thing that I like about the Rhythm+ is the heart rate zone. If you want to work with less intensity but longer, you can use the HR monitor to set it as such. This tool features advanced optical sensors for a precise BPM reading. With the Rhythm+, you can easily stay in your zone to ensure that you achieve your workout goals.

With that said, I have no problems recommending the Rhythm+ even to the most jaded triathletes.

Maximize Your Triathlon Training

With the right HR monitoring device, you’re on your way to getting the most out of your triathlon training. Hopefully, this quick buyer’s guide for the best triathlon heart rate monitor has helped you out.

Best Garmin for Triathlon: Get The Most Out of Your Triathlon Training

Best Garmin for Triathlon

When you are training to be a triathlete, staying on top of your performance is a must. If you are only guesstimating the number of laps or miles you’ve covered, it will be hard to tell if you’re progressing or not. So for today, we’ve made a roundup of the best Garmin for triathlon.

Garmin made some of the best GPS watches money can buy. For a triathlete like yourself, it’s hard to go wrong with a Garmin triathlon watch. A good multi-sport watch can accurately monitor your running, cycling, and swimming metrics.

Let’s get to it!

Best Garmin for Triathlon

Key Features

Our Rating

Garmin Forerunner 935 Advanced running and multisport features, Built-in barometer, altimeter and electronic compass, Advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming, Built-in activity profiles ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Built-in mapping and navigation features, TOPO mapping, Advanced performance metrics, Wrist-based heart rate, Garmin Pay, Easily store and play up to 500 songs, Smart notifications ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Garmin Forerunner 35 Built in GPS, 5 ATM water rating, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, Vibration alerts, Activity tracking milestones, Virtual pacing progress, Step counter ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Forerunner 735XT 24/7 Heart rate monitoring, Built-in activities, Smart notifications, Multisport mode, Step Counter, Advanced Running Dynamics. Move Bar, Recovery Advisor ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Instinct Military standard 810G, 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, heart rate, activity and stress monitor, smart notifications, TracBack feature ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Vivoactive 3 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, VO2 Max feature, Smart notifications, 14 days of activity tracking data, Garmin Pay, Heart rate monitor ★ ★ ★ ½

Best Garmin for Triathlon

1. Garmin Forerunner 935

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a certified beast when it comes to multi-sport watches. I’ve checked out the newest version of Forerunner, the Forerunner 945, and I think it’s not worth the upgrade yet. This is still the reigning king of Garmin GPS watches.

Takes Your Performance to Another Level

The Garmin Forerunner 935 has been my go-to device for running.

Perhaps one of the best selling points of the Forerunner 935 is the excellent battery life. With every charge, I could squeeze in plenty of workouts before it needs to be charged again. With watch mode, it can last as long as 14 days in a single charge.

Furthermore, the Training Status is a godsend feature that will automatically evaluate your recent workouts. There are even performance indicators to let you know if you did have a productive workout or not. This is a key feature for triathletes who are looking to optimize their training sessions.

Of course, the Forerunner 935 offers some built-in activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming, and plenty of other activities. The watch can provide advanced metrics with just a press of a button. With the information at hand, you can tweak your performance to help you achieve a better lap time.

Ultimately, the Forerunner 935 is one of the best GPS watches that you can get in the market.

2. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

The Garmin Fenix 5 is one of the more popular watches from Garmin’s collection. The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a worthy upgrade to the original, thanks to its numerous impressive features.

A Worthy Upgrade

For starters, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a rugged watch. It’s clearly designed for more rugged activities and is appropriately referred to as a multi-sport adventure watch. Despite being a hard-wearing GPS watch, the design looks sleek and very high-quality.

There’s a bit of bulk to the watch but you won’t have a hard time wearing it all day with plain clothes. It’s utilitarian but sensible at the same time.

As expected, the Fenix 5 Plus offers a wide range of built-in sport modes. However, the watch does let you easily tweak the information that displays on the watch during workouts. The intuitiveness of operating the features is very much appreciated.

For triathlon, the running, cycling, and swimming metrics are all here and come with a rich feature set. For instance, you get advanced swimming metrics such as drill logging, stroke detection, and swim efficiency scoring. Most, if not all, of the monitored metrics are highly accurate.

It’s also worth mentioning that the watch can store up to 500 songs that you can listen to while training.

On a negative note, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus commands a hefty price tag which is hard to ignore. However, I have to say that it’s a worthy investment.

3. Garmin Forerunner 35

If you are looking for the best Garmin for triathlon that won’t break the bank, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is worth checking out. It’s a great option for triathlon beginners or those who simply run for fitness and fun.

Covers the Basic

As the budget option on this list, the Garmin Forerunner 35 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other, more expensive Garmin GPS watches. However, it’s still a very good activity tracker for all fitness levels.

The Garmin Forerunner 35 provides the expected features and functionalities without dialing it to 11. With this GPS watch, you get the usual features like intervals, auto-laps, daily alarm, notifications, and heart rate monitor. Again, nothing too crazy here but it gets the job done beautifully.

The wrist heart rate (Garmin Elevate) works great and I’ve had no issues with accuracy. The display is easy to read but the quality of the screen could be better. But that’s to be expected from a budget-friendly Garmin watch. The vibrating alarm is also another feature that works well and is a welcome addition to the watch.

Style-wise, the Forerunner 35 looks like your typical smartwatch. The square face reminds of the Apple watch which is not a bad thing at all.

If price or simplicity is your thing, the Forerunner 35 offers a tremendous value.

4. Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Another candidate for the best Garmin for triathlon is the popular, Garmin Forerunner 735XT. This multi-sport watch is very comparable to the Forerunner 935 with some key differences. This is a good watch to consider if you think the 935 is too expensive.

A Great Multi-Sport Watch With a Learning Curve

For starters, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a great option if you’re looking for a thin and lightweight triathlon watch. Whether you’re in the track or the gym, you’ll forget that it’s even there.

Although it’s light in weight, not so when it comes to features.

The Forerunner 735XT comes with built-in sports profiles. It supports a wide variety of activities such as running, cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, weightlifting, and cardio. A neat feature is the ability to track multiple activities as one which is obviously great for triathletes. All you need to do is to press the lap button so enable the feature.

As mentioned, there’ a bit of a learning curve to use the Forerunner 735XT. There are five buttons to operate which can be confusing for first-time users. However, if you have used other Garmin GPS watches before, operating the watch shouldn’t be that hard.

Once you get the hang of it, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT should cover most of your triathlon needs.

5. Garmin Instinct

The Garmin Instinct is your watch of choice if you are a triathlete who also loves to explore the great outdoors. Although it’s mainly a hiking watch, the superior GPS and mapping features are useful for triathlon training.

Tough Watch With Superior Navigation

When it comes to looks, the Garmin Instinct can be a bit polarizing – you either love or hate the look of the watch. If you are a fan of Casio G-Shocks, there’s a good chance that you’ll love the Instinct’s design.

With that said, the main draw of this watch is the navigation features.

The Instinct features a built-in 3-axis compass so you won’t need to guess your bearings while training. The TracBack feature is a great addition especially when you like running on a less-traversed trail. Basically, it allows you to easily backtrack to your starting point.

Also, there’s the ULTRATRAC battery mode which gives the watch a battery life of 40 hours. It’s a neat power-saving feature especially when I don’t like charging watches every so often.

Customization is excellent when it comes to setting workouts. You can choose to follow a predefined workout or create one using Garmin Connect – all of which can be done on-the-fly.

Wrapping up, there’s so much to unpack with the Garmin Instinct. It’s not your typical triathlon watch but it gets the job done and more.

6. Garmin Vívoactive 3

Hardcore ironman athletes will likely find the Garmin Vívoactive 3 to be a bit inadequate. It’s not specifically designed for triathlon but its a pretty good multi-sport watch for orienting yourself with training concepts.

Feature-Packed Multi-Sport Watch

Unlike watches that are designed for triathlon, the Vívoactive 3 lacks a way to transition from one activity to the next. However, the watch does support various sports profiles and you can even set custom workouts. For triathlon, it comes with unique tracking features for running, cycling, and swimming.

Furthermore, the Vívoactive 3 is not only waterproof but also comes with a compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer. Whether you’re working out indoor or outdoor, this watch has got you covered.

In terms of accuracy, the GPS and heart rate monitor are both fairly accurate. However, for serious triathletes, the gold-standard accuracy is simply not here. For steadier pacing, the watch is accurate. On the flip side, accuracy becomes erratic at higher intensities.

Overall, the Vívoactive 3 is more of a fitness tool but it packs enough features to be a reliable triathlon training companion.

Garmin Knows Triathlon Watches

This concludes our buyer’s guide for the best Garmin for triathlon. Garmin makes excellent GPS watches, so it’s hard to go wrong with any of our selection. Here’s hoping we have helped you find the best triathlon watch to help with your training.

Best Ironman Watch: Going Beyond Your Limits

Review of the Best Ironman Watch

We have spent several hours researching and interviewing high-performance athletes, looking for the characteristics that would differentiate the best Ironman watch.

For the top pick, we’ve chosen the Garmin Forerunner 935 due to its custom build geared towards physical activities. Coming in at only 49 grams, this watch is light as can be. Having a lightweight watch while exercising for long periods of time is essential.

It also comes with various features directed to set up training sessions to get you prepared for what’s ahead. You can program it to hook up with your phone as well, receiving texts and email reminders throughout the day.

It’s a close call, but among all of the best Ironman watches, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is definitely at the top. Closely following in second and third respectively are the Garmin fēnix 5S Plus and the Timex Full-Size Ironman Classic 100.

Best Ironman Watch on the Market

Triathlons are some of the most rigorous competitions that we compete in. While searching for the best ironman watches on the market, we knew that we had to take into account all of the various terrains and activities encountered.

Given their intense nature, finding the right watch for an Ironman triathlon required that the watch is capable of withstanding scratches, decent water pressure, and constant movements.

1. Garmin Forerunner 935

Garmin is well-known for producing top-notch GPS devices and watches for quite some time now. Creating a watch for true ironman competitions isn’t a task to take lightly, so they created a masterpiece in the process with the Garmin Forerunner 935.

Competition at Your Fingertips

It doesn’t matter if you’re training for the swimming portion, the running, or the cycling. The Forerunner 935 has everything you need through an easy-to-navigate settings menu for anything and everything you require to get ready to the big day.

Simply click whichever activity you’re doing, and it’ll get the full menu setup so you can track your progress. It even records your stride length while running or walking.

You can measure your heart rate on the go, keeping pace while constantly pushing yourself to get better. The built-in training monitor lets you know if you’re going to hard, or if you still have gas in the tank to spare.

Durable as Can Be

Since you’ll be more focused on what’s ahead of you during the Ironman, you probably won’t wonder to concern yourself with the construction of your watch. Don’t worry though. The Garmin Forerunner 935 is completely water-proof and  scratch-resistant.

You can literally drop it at any time and it’ll be fine. However, the straps going all the way around the watch help you keep it on your wrist with an adjustment that works for any sized arm.

With a battery life up to two weeks, this model blows most other smartwatches out of the water.  It’s your perfect all-in-one watch to get prepped for triathlons and other physical competitions, while also working perfectly for day-to-day living.

2. Garmin fēnix 5S Plus

The Garmin fēnix 5S Plus is a great solution for people looking for a smaller watch but still, want the best of the best for the Ironman competition. Don’t let the tiny size fool you, it still packs all of the modern tech you could need.

From the topographical map to the barometer, this watch perfectly customizes your runs or cycling sessions exactly how you need them to be prepared. Never miss a footstep, and keep your stride average logged throughout the day all within the watch.

Made from the Best Materials

The steel bezel protects your watch from being damaged through bumps, drops, and scrapes along the way. With a sapphire lens and LED lighting to keep it bright regardless of the time of day, you’ll have no problem seeing what you’ve accomplished.

A reflective coating on the face fo the Fenix 5S Plus makes it so you can still read it, even during intensely lit situations. Chances are it’ll be bright outside during the competition, so you need something that you can view while moving around constantly.

For Everyday Life

Although it’s definitely one of the best ironman watches around, this watch is so much more than that. It’s also fantastic for daily living, with all of the modern features you need to stay in contact with everyone.

Keep a list of up to 500 songs stored on the Garmin Fenix 5S Plus to get yourself pumped up while training, and message people back directly from the apps pre-installed on it.

Garmin even added their signature GPS system to ensure that you’ll never go off course. A map draws out exactly where you went so you can follow or adjust your route for tomorrow.

All in all, it’s easily one of the great ironman triathlon watches today. We almost made it number one, but the only drawback is the fact that it’s slightly smaller than the Forerunner 935. Not all people like small watches, otherwise it might be at the top!

3. Timex Full-Size Ironman Classic 100 Watch

Another great watch for Ironman competitions is the Timex Full-Size Ironman Classic 100 Watch.  Compared to the other watches on the list, it’s on the cheaper side of the spectrum.

However, the low price point doesn’t indicate a cheap build. In fact, it can withstand much more than plenty of watches twice its price. Packed with a 100 lap memory system and interval timers, it’s nearly essential for training.

Competition Ready

The swimming portion is a huge part of a triathlon. Generally being right at the start, you want to make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running.  The Ironman Classic 100 is waterproof up to 330 feet, which is far over others in its price range.

An Indiglo light on the side of the watch lights up the interface so you can see everything immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s bright or dark, your watch will light right up. The resin strap holds it all together, preventing damage or scratches.

Simplicity at its Best

You won’t find anything crazy or overly-challenging about this watch. It’s meant for quick access with a mega-large face and only 5 buttons to use. There’s little to no learning curve as well.

The only downside to it is that it doesn’t go as in-depth as the Garmin watches at 1 and 2. It’s also not as scratch-resistant, although it still beats out most watches at such a low price point.

Timex is a classic brand that’s built watches for Ironman competitions throughout the years. The Classic 100 is a fantastic model that nobody should look over despite the minor setbacks.

4. Amazfit Stratos Multisport Smartwatch

The Amazfit Starts Multisport Smartwatch might not come from such a popular brand, but it packs a punch. In a market where you either have to choose a sports watch or a smartwatch, this model delivers the best of both worlds.

A sleek design is housed by carbon fiber and a ceramic bezel for durability. Falls, crashes, and dives all require that you have something strong enough to take a hit, and this watch can. The 2.5D scratch-resistant glass is more than enough to keep out annoying, unwanted marks.

Futuristic Capabilities

Packed with Bluetooth 4.0, wifi capabilities, a powerful battery, and 4GB flash drive storage, the Stratos Multisport Smartwatch truly is one of the most advanced watches.

You can also make calls, check messages, play music, and much more. One of our favorite features of this watch is the 14 different sports and physical activity modes. It’s made for the gym, the swimming pool, the lake, the trail, or wherever else your training brings you.

A True Fitness Watch

The lightweight feeling is perfect for running, since it won’t bump and drag around. It tracks your heart rate, the calories you’ve burned, the distance you’ve gone, how well you’re sleeping, and so on.

An always-on display combined with the aforementioned rugged design make it so you can wear this watch all day long. Don’t worry about taking it off when you’re working, exercising, or doing any other strenuous activities. The solid construction makes it built to last.

Keep track of your Facebook account, and send messages through WhatsApp. Pick out your favorite apps and have them all quite literally in-hand around the clock.

The only downside to the AmazFit Stratos Multisport Smartwatch is the fact that the side button sometimes pokes your arm if you’re left-handed. It can be a bit annoying, but it’s nothing too big. You won’t have this problem as a right-handed person, though.

Some people also found that the backlighting isn’t as strong as other brands, though it still seemed to work under most conditions. Again, it’s only a real issue during intensely bright scenarios. Even in those cases, simply leaning in front of the sunlight will light up the watch.

Choosing the Best Ironman Watch for You

In order to choose which ironman watch is the best for you, you’ll need to figure out your demands. What do you want out of the watch? Do you want planning, mapping, smartwatch capabilities, or high water-resistance?

Many of the watches on this list have all of the above. In fact, all but the Timex Ironman 100 Classic have a few smartwatch functions. They’re all scratch-resistant, and they’re great for swimming with as well.

Some people want a more detailed interface with backlights, heart rate monitors, and plenty of training programs. Others prefer the sleek simplicity of the less intense watches. Before you pull the trigger and make a purchase, ask yourself what you want the most out of the watch.

All of the mentioned timepieces are excellently crafted to withstand the hardships of competition. It’s up to you to decide which of the four you’ll have on your wrist when the triathlon date arrives!

Best Triathlon Watch: Tools for the Elite Athlete

Best Triathalon Watches

If you are planning on participating in a future triathlon event, it’s safe to say that you are serious about making the most out of your performance. This means that you are determined to stay on top of your performance by keeping track of your swimming, running, and biking metrics.

If this is the case, you definitely need to invest in the best triathlon watch.

Obviously, you can’t just pick a regular sports watch or smartwatch and be done with it. You need a timepiece that can withstand the toughest activities and at the same time, enables you to accurately track your metrics.

Today, we will take a look at some of the best watches that can be used by serious triathletes. For this list, our favorite is the Garmin Forerunner 935 for its lightweight but tough construction, impressive battery life, and a wide range of smart features.

If you’ll keep reading, we have other recommended picks just for you.

Best Triathlon Watch

Key Features

Our Rating

Garmin Forerunner 935 Advanced running and multisport features, Built-in barometer, altimeter and electronic compass, Advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming, Built-in activity profiles ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Polar Vantage V Up to 40 hours, Running Power function, Optical heart rate monitor, Training Load Pro, Recovery Pro ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Fenix 5 Elevate wrist heart rate technology, Fiber-reinforced polymer, GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, 3-axis compass, smart notifications ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Suunto 9 Intelligent battery modes, Smart reminders, Supports 80+ sports and multisport events, FusedTrack Sensor, 100m water resistance, Average HR during sleep ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Forerunner 735XT 24/7 Heart rate monitoring, Built-in activities, Smart notifications, Multisport mode, Step Counter, Advanced Running Dynamics ★ ★ ★ ★
Polar Vantage M Polar Precision Prime heart rate monitor, Changeable wristband, Training Load Pro, Sleep tracking, 100+ sports profiles ★ ★ ★ ★
Suunto Spartan Ultra HR 80 Sport modes, Includes built in altimeter, barometer, compass, GPS, 100 meter water resistance, 26H battery life ★ ★ ★ ★
Polar V800 Built-in GPS, Sport profiles, 30 meter water resistance, Integrated barometer, Smart notifications, Inactivity alerts, 24/7 activity tracking ★ ★ ★ ½

Best Triathlon Watches

1. Garmin Forerunner 935

 

When it comes to GPS watches, Garmin is a brand that’s high on most people’s list – including ours. The Garmin Forerunner 935 is one of the best, if not the best, GPS watches that Garmin has released.

It’s far from an affordable option but it’s definitely a worthy investment for any serious athlete.

An Ironman’s Best Friend

The Forerunner 935 is a premium GPS through and through. The GPS and other navigation features are spot on.

However, the wealth of running and multisport features is what makes the Forerunner 935 a great investment. The watch provides you with the right tools to monitor your performance, training, and recovery. It actually monitors your training and will let you know if you are training productively, peaking or pushing yourself too hard.

 

The 935 also lets you set built-in activity profiles for different activities like running, cycling, hiking, strength training, swimming, and more. For triathletes, switching to another sports profile is as easy as pressing a button. Like all good smartwatches, the 935 syncs with your compatible smartphone that will let you access more training and social features.

If you are a serious athlete, the Forerunner 935 will easily become your best friend. It’s a feature-packed and comfortable triathlon watch that’s definitely worth the price tag.

2. Polar Vantage V

 

The Polar Vantage V is a great looking watch with enough features to impress even the most hardcore athletes.

It looks like the previous Vantage M model but it’s a little bit heavier, and for good reason. The Vantage V comes highly recommended for those who are trying to train at the highest level.

A Fully-Featured Training Tool on Your Wrist

The Polar Vantage V managed to catch my attention because it’s a good-looking, well-designed watch.

Unlike other smartwatches, the Vantage V comes with a circular watch face which means that I can wear them casually without telling the world that you are wearing a fitness device. The buttons are also fairly low-profile so the watch doesn’t look bulky and it doesn’t get caught on pockets, sleeves, etc.

 

One of the best features of the Vantage V is definitely the Running Power function. This gives the user to have another data point which comes in handy for a more accurate training session. I also love the fact that the touchscreen feature can be disabled during training mode. Touch screens are great but they can get rather touchy when training due to factors like sweat, moisture, inadvertent contact, and more.

Overall, the Vantage V is a high-quality fitness watch with amazing features for training at the highest level.

3. Garmin Fenix 5

 

You can’t really make a list of the best triathlon watch without including multiple products from Garmin. The next watch that we have for you is the Garmin Fenix 5.

The Fenix 5 is actually very similar to the Forerunner 935 in terms of features. However, the Fenix 5 has proven to be the tougher watch between the two.

For Athletes of All Levels

The Fenix 5 actually comes in three different versions: 5S, 5, and 5X. Each model comes in a wide range of color options, lens types, and strap options. Aside from the size and weight, the three versions are almost identical except for the 5X (the most expensive model) having the mapping feature.

The Fenix 5 is a top-notch watch and that’s mainly attributed to its wealth of great features. Activity tracking with this watch is a breeze and very accurate. This a full-featured triathlon watch which means that you can use it for swimming both in the pool and open water locations.

 

The watch can be programmed with multiple profiles and you are allowed to switch profiles on the fly. If you have the HRM-Run heart rate monitor (the chest strap add-on), you can track metrics like ground contact time and vertical oscillation.

As mentioned, it’s a heavier, tougher alternative to the Forerunner 935 which makes it more suitable for tougher activities.

4. Suunto 9

 

I am a big fan of the Suunto brand. In fact, one of my favorite pickups lately is the Suunto Traverse Alpha. The brand has a great handle when it comes to sports watches, so it’s not surprising that the Suunto 9 GPS watch has made the list.

Beefy Features with the Bulk

The Suunto 9 is quite similar to Garmin’s Fenix series in the sense that it’s a rather hefty watch that boasts a lot of features. Throw any outdoor activity at it and it will track it. This watch can track over 80+ sports.

The Suunto 9 stands out for having an impressive battery life. Depending on your settings, the watch can last from 25 up to 120 hours between charging. Even when the battery starts to run out during your training, the watch will suggest that you can change settings easily in order to conserve battery.

 

For running, the watch utilizes motion sensor information with GPS technology. This enables the device to conserve battery without sacrificing quality. Swimmers will have no problem wearing this as it can be used for pool and open water swims. Switching between activities is as easy as pressing a button.

If you mind the weight and bulk, this watch might not be for you. This watch definitely has a weight to it. However, the number of great features and impressive battery life make this a solid triathlon watch.

5. Garmin Forerunner 735XT

 

We have yet another candidate from Garmin and it’s the Garmin Forerunner 735XT.

The Forerunner 735XT is very comparable to the 935 except for some key features like the barometric altimeter sensor and golf tracking support. However, it’s a very competent triathlon watch and presents a good alternative if you think that the 935 is too expensive.

A Reliable Multisport Watch With a Learning Curve

Triathlon athletes will surely appreciate the 735XT’s thin and lightweight profile. Whether you are running, cycling, or swimming, the watch feels like it’s barely there.

However, it comes with advanced features that will satisfy any serious athlete.

The Forerunner 735XT is preloaded with profiles for many different activities. It has data support for running, cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, strength training, paddle sports and cardio. The 735XT features a multisport mode which allows you to track different sports as one activity. You just need to press the lap button to switch to next sport. Battery life is a decent 14 hour with GPS enabled.

 

As stated, there’s a bit of a learning curve to use the 735XT. Working with the five watch buttons can be confusing and learning how to use the watch properly will take some time. I highly recommend you spend some time reading the manual first.

Once you get past the learning curve, the watch offers plenty in terms of customization.

6. Polar Vantage M

 

The Polar Vantage M is highly recommended for athletes who are looking for a mid-range triathlon watch.

The Vantage M looks quite similar to the V but it’s definitely the cheaper option between the two. However, this doesn’t mean that you should skip on the Vantage M as it offers plenty of features for the hardcore athlete.

The Mid-Range Option for Elite Athletes

The Polar M400 and M430 were very popular multisport devices which is why the Vantage M had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, this follow-up by Polar was not a disappointment.

What I love about Polar watches is the comfortable design. The Vantage M is very comfortable and lightweight – you can wear this 24/7 because unlike the heavier Vantage V, you’ll never feel the need to take it off. The Vantage M doesn’t have touchscreen features but has physical buttons instead. Using the physical buttons is fairly straightforward.

 

As for the sports tracking, you can expect the same tracking experience with the Vantage V. The watch supports up to 130 sports profiles and you can load 20 to the watch at any given time. Triathletes will have a lot to love with this watch as it offers the most insightful metrics for running, cycling, and swimming.

However, the Vantage M is strictly for sports tracking and training insights. If you are thinking that this is a potential alternative to the Apple Watch, we have to stop you right there. As far as syncing goes, you are only limited to notification support.

All in all, the Vantage M is an exciting multisport tool that won’t break the bank.

7. Suunto Spartan Ultra HR

 

The Suunto Spartan Ultra HR is a solid go-to option if you think that the Suunto 9 has a crazy price tag.

Despite being the more affordable option to most of the watches on this list, it’s far from a stripped down training tool. In fact, this is one of the best watches for any Ironman participant.

Great Versatility in One Package

As its most basic, the Spartan Ultra HR supports over 80 different activities. Plus, it comes with built-in ABC features and a GPS. For each sport, you can track metrics such as time, distance, pace, and elevation. You are also provided with in-depth data such as peak training effect and workout recovery time.

Since it comes with a GPS, the Spartan Ultra HR will let you map out your paths for a run. For this, you can use Suunto’s Movescount app which enables you to import routes and import a GPS file. There’s even a neat “heat maps” feature where popular routes are shared. With this feature, you may even discover a new or better path for your runs.

 

The Spartan Ultra HR earns decent marks when it comes to accuracy. Recording metrics such as distance and time are often on point. However, the GPS can be slightly spotty at times but nothing major that it becomes unusable. The GPS does considerably drain the battery.

The Spartan Ultra HR is a high-end activity tracker that offers plenty of versatility.

8. Polar V800

The Polar V800 is not exactly a new and shiny model. In fact, it’s certainly the oldest triathlon watch on this list. However, don’t let that discourage you because this watch packs enough oomph that makes it a top choice for athletes.

A Great Watch for Multisport/Endurance Events

When compared against the newer, sleeker models, the V800 is starting to look outdated. The chunky stainless body with rubber straps certainly doesn’t do the watch any favor. However, it more than makes up for its build quality. This is clearly a watch that can take a good deal of punishment.

Although it’s an older model, we’re happy to report that the V800’s GPS is still as zippy as ever and can deliver mapping with good accuracy. One of the best features is the new Running Program. This feature creates programs based on the watch’s coaching features.

This gives you the ability to create more personalized routines.

 

To get the most out of the V800, it’s highly recommended that you use it with the Polar Flow app. However, weirdly enough, you can’t create programs using the mobile app and it must be done using the web app.

Battery life will get you 13 hours of training with GPS enabled and about 50 hours in low power mode.

The V800 is definitely starting to show its age as far as design goes but if you care more about accurate stat tracking and a zippy GPS, it’s a solid all-around choice.

How to Choose the Best Triathlon Watch?

 

Triathlon Watches

As stated earlier, you can’t just choose a sports watch and use it for triathlon training. That’s a surefire way to ruin a perfectly good watch.

Here are the factors that you should consider when buying a triathlon watch.

Multisport

Multisport Watches1

Of course, you want a watch that features a multisport function.

Multisport watches can switch from one sports profile to the next with just a press of a button. For instance, you can easily switch from running to cycling by simply pressing a button. By switching to another sports profile, the information displayed on the screen will be related to that specific sport.

Without a multisport feature, the user will have to manually stop the activity, tinker with the settings, and start a new profile. As you can imagine, this is hardly ideal especially when you’re trying to shave seconds off your performance.

Water Resistance

Since you will be swimming during a triathlon event, it goes without that you need a water resistant watch. However, that might not be enough.

It certainly won’t hurt to get a triathlon watch that can track swimming metrics such as distance, pool laps, stroke count, and more. Swimming watches will typically work in both pools and open-water swims.

Battery Life

Suunto Battery Life

Nothing is more frustrating than running out of battery while you’re in the middle of your triathlon training.

Therefore, you should consider getting a watch with sufficient battery life. Preferably a model that will last longer than your daily exercise routine.

Fortunately, most smartwatches and activity trackers these days have decent battery life at the minimum. It’s still worth considering what sort of event that you are participating in. If you are competing in Ironman, you need a watch that can go for hours without being charged. On the other hand, shorter events like sprint triathlons will only require a watch with decent battery life.

Data Transfer and Connectivity

Suunto Sync

Any serious athlete will review their metrics after every training session.

In this case, you need a watch that can transfer data easily. The watch should feature a painless way to transfer data to a smartphone or computer. This enables you to review your metrics and analyze which areas you need to improve. Or perhaps, you can even share your results via social media.

In terms of connectivity, most smartwatches use Bluetooth or even Wi-Fi. However, there are also models that can only be connected using a physical wire.

Price

Do you go for a watch that’s cheaper but doesn’t have to offer in terms of features? Or do you break the bank and get a deluxe smartwatch with all the bells and whistles? Or maybe, you could settle on a mid-range model that strikes a good balance between the two?

This will all depend on your allocated budget and needs.

If you are a long-time triathlete, you probably have a certain price point in mind. However, for beginners, it might be a good idea to invest in an entry-level to mid-range model and upgrade later.

Frequently Asked Questions

Triathlon Photo

1. How much waterproofing do I need?

When it comes to sports watches, there are varying degrees of “waterproofing.”

For a triathlon, make sure that you get a model with an ATM of 5 or more. However, waterproof capability is not enough. Try finding a watch that measures swimming metrics such as swimming speed and efficiency. Also, watches with swimming features indicate whether they can be used in open water, pool or both.

2. How long should the battery last?

This will depend on the type of activity that you will be doing and how long your usual training session lasts.

Multisport watches with many different features such as GPS will likely run out of juice faster. Fortunately, most modern smartwatches can last from 10 to 20 hours even when in training mode. When checking for battery life, make sure that you read customer reviews and see if the battery life does hold up.

3. Do I need to have a touchscreen watch?

While it’s certainly cool to have, I don’t touchscreen features are a must when it comes to the best triathlon watch.

Don’t get me wrong, touchscreen navigation makes it a breeze to use and navigate the watch. Plus, it’s a bit of a future-proof function since most gadgets are touch-enabled these days. However, touch input can also be a nuisance since you can inadvertently swipe the device during training and stop whatever it is you are tracking.

Final Thoughts

We’ve tried and tested the top triathlon watches in the market and the definite top pick is the Garmin Forerunner 935. It commands a high price tag but it’s definitely worth the investment for any serious athlete.

If you have any questions about triathlon watches in general, feel free to comment down below.