Last updated this post exactly a year back so it’s only appropriate to refresh the “Best heart rate fitness tracker” list for 2017.
We’ve seen the departure of a few wearable tech companies who called it quits and focused their efforts elsewhere; think Jawbone, TomTom and Mio Global. Those who are still around have pretty much upped their game and their product capabilities leaving consumers spoilt for choice. But buyers being buyers will always be picky and would only pay top dollars for their needs – think high performance versus all day activity tracking. Everyone’s needs are unique.
The purchasing of a heart rate fitness tracker is a very personal matter akin to buying a pair of fitting running shoes. Do your research, crawl through the reviews and put your money on the one that suits you best.
I’ve curated a short list of notable heart rate fitness trackers. The focus is an all round fitness tracking experience with GPS and wrist based HR measurement being pre-requisites.
The price ceiling is set at about $350 for this list so you won’t be seeing heart rate fitness trackers the likes of Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro ($549) or the Garmin Fenix 5X ($599); both awesome in their own ways. Not all the wearables are from 2017 – some are from 2016 but noteworthy nevertheless due to price cuts.
I know many readers to my blog are either recreational athletes or people who are simply starting new at fitness tracking. The sky’s not the limit here, we’re pretty grounded. And even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, rash buys usually result in returns where it’s possible to pick a barely used top of the line heart rate fitness tracker watch at a huge discount. Wait for it.
Garmin has officially reduced the price by a $100 so you can get it off retails channels at $349.99 or lower. You have to bear in mind this was roughly the retail pricing of the Forerunner 235 when that was first announced.
This watch has multi-sport mode, is decently sized so won’t make you look silly, advanced running dynamics and ANT+ connection. It fits well and wears like a normal watch. Plus it has connect IQ compatibility.
The only drawback is that it doesn’t have altimeter so the new update for running power with Garmin’s Running Dynamics Pod or compatible chest strap HR monitors won’t be seen on this wearable.
I was torn between the Vivoactive HR and the Forerunner 735XT but decided to go with the latter based on aesthetics. Garmin does have the newer Vivoactive 3 but I wasn’t impressed with the lack of button controls and battery life to place it over the Forerunner 735XT.
I’m not a performance athlete and while Garmin’s offerings are awesome, I had little use for those features. The Apple Watch suit me fine in terms of fitness focused features and made me realise the importance of keeping fitness tracking simple.
The fact that it’s a full fledged smartwatch with numerous app compatibility is icing on the cake. Lotsa icing.
The Apple health platform is hardly sufficient but it’s so easy to install another app and track your workouts on another platform. The watch also allows connection to 3rd party BLE HR monitors so that’s a big plus.
I love the functionality but have little love for the battery life though I have to admit it’s an improvement over the series 1. The Apple Watch Series 3 also has a robust contact-less payment feature is also one of only two wearables on the heart rate fitness tracking list to store and play music.
Other than the look, this offering from Polar is a serious contender to make anyone’s list for a running focused GPS watch. The RRP is a mere $229.95 and you can usually get it a tad cheaper.
In a recent update, Polar enabled all day wrist HR measurements for this wearable. Coupled with Polar’s advanced Sleep Plus tracking, it’s not hard to see why the M430 is a robust fitness focused watch suitable for all day wear. The only drawback is the ultra-sporty appearance.
Had it not been for an inadequate mobile app and minor design considerations, Suunto’s Spartan Trainer would’ve easily made my number 1 list for fitness focused watch. Pricing is competitive at just $279.
The Spartan trainer is a full fledged multi-sport watch with a dedicated triathlon profile. Throw in BLE connection with 3rd party accessories including running power meters, you’d understand why this is one of the, if not already, best wearables money can buy presently.
One look at Amazon’s reviews would reveal that this watch is good but not stellar; could’ve been if I might add. As for the reasons why, check out my full review of the Spartan Trainer. I passed this over for the Apple Watch because I found the all day activity tracking aspect lacking.
I’m only recommending the Fitbit Ionic because the watch in its current state is still an unfinished product waiting to get better IF Fitbit delivers on the app platform and sleep apnea tracking materialises.
Unlike Android Wear or Apple Watch, there aren’t voice command features on the Ionic, plus contactless payment is enabled but limited at present. There are a lot of things you can do on other smart watch platforms which you can’t on the Ionic at present.
All that being said, the Ionic does deliver a fundamental fitness tracking experience with the limited sports profiles; hardly excellent but it’s not bad. There are quite a few shortcomings for this wearable when it comes to fitness tracking but it easily trumps everyone else in all day activity tracking.