Best Triathlon Watch Reviews

Updated July 8, 2020

Athletes involved in multiple sports want to be able to track their progress in all those sports. Triathletes have specific needs for their sport, which involves concurrent segments of running, cycling and swimming to complete a race. Triathletes are also often training or racing in unfamiliar terrain and adverse conditions.

So a quality watch is essential for a triathlete who wants to get better. The best triathlon watches will have the capacity for athletes to monitor their improvement, track their health, and gauge distance and time. The best multisport watches should also include some type of GPS capacity, to allow for backcountry training, or to provide assurances when a race is in an unfamiliar spot.

Our triathlon watch review will look at our top picks among the best multisport watches.

But first, any triathlon watches review must include the following considerations when shopping for your top pick.

Best Triathlon Watches

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1 Garmin - Forerunner 935 Garmin Forerunner 935 Triathlon Watch
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2 Garmin - Fenix 6 Premium Garmin Fenix 6 Premium Triathlon Watch
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3 Suunto 9 Baro Triathlon Watch
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4 Polar Vantage Advanced GPS Triathlon Watch
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5 Coros - Apex Coros Apex Triathlon Watch
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6 Timex Ironman Classic 30 Triathlon Watch
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7 Garmin - Forerunner 735XT
Best Overall
Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon Watch
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1. Garmin Forerunner 935 Triathlon Watch

Highlights

The 935 is the quintessential triathlon watch from Garmin. It is designed for durability and it focuses on delivering useful information for the active person. The slick design is easy to pair with a casual and/or sports outfit because it’s an all-black, lightweight build. 

The screen is not sensitive to touch, but you can use the side buttons to scroll through the apps. The menu is built around the active person who practices a wide range of sports such as running, swimming, cycling, and more. On the back of the case, there is a heart rate sensor and inside it, a GPS+GLONASS module. 

It also has features that are useful to athletes looking to measure their progress. For instance, there is an UltraTrack mode (reliable due to the built-in gyroscope), and the possibility to follow metrics such as ground contact time and stride length. 

All these features also help you measure your training status, to indicate if you’re undertraining or overdoing it. In addition, it has a built-in barometer, altimeter, and electronic compass which can be extremely useful while hiking or running long distances. 

Forerunner 935 also features smart notifications, music control, automatic uploads and connects to the Garmin app for custom Watch faces and apps. It is compatible with most mobile devices (iOS and Android) and it works with other Garmin devices designed for tracking sports or it can be paired with external sensors (for more accurate tracking).

Lastly, the Forerunner 935 has a better battery life than other similar models from Garmin (up to 24h in GPS mode and up to 2 weeks in watch mode) and it comes with built-in WiFi.

Specifications

Material:
Silicone Strap, Fiber Reinforced Polymer Bezel & Case
Size:
30.4mm
Weight:
49g

Pros

  • Beautiful design that’s easily paired with lots of outfits
  • Lightweight & durable
  • Provides advanced dynamics for several sports
  • Ideal for monitoring one’s performance
  • Compatible with a wide range of devices

Cons

  • Not very accurate for swimmers
  • The screen is not too visible in dim light
  • The notification system is a bit finicky

Why We Chose This

The Forerunner 935 is a nice GPS altimeter watch with lots of features for athletes who want to measure and improve their performance. It is lightweight, durable, and it blends nicely with both sports and casual outfits. It packs a lot of advanced sensors, it has WiFi, and the battery life is decent when in full-work mode. Overall, it’s a nice timepiece with plenty of modern features and lots of advanced technologies.

2. Garmin Fenix 6 Premium Triathlon Watch

Highlights

This outdoor sportwatch has GPS, and other navigation features that make it ideal for multiple outdoor sports. The crystal is protected by a rugged stainless steel bezel (the top ring on the watch that surrounds the crystal) and the watch is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.

There are satellite navigation and tracking functions, along with a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter.

The GPS combines with GLONASS and Galileo to track your position more accurately than GPS alone, meaning you can hike or trail ride in more challenging environments.

Activity features include enhanced wrist heart rate, built-in activity profiles, Vo2 Max estimates and more. The built-in activity profiles are for trail running, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, skiing, golfing and more.  There’s also performance metrics and training load balance readings, advanced sleep monitoring and the ability to read altitude acclimation at high elevations. Use the watch to track your training load balance, training status, and running and cycling dynamics.

A great feature is the customizable power manager, where you can monitor how various settings and sensors impact battery life, allowing you to adjust to extend your battery life. The battery has four modes with different performance life depending how you use it: up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 36 hours in GPS mode, up to 28 days in expedition GPS activity mode, and up to 48 days in battery saver watch mode.

The display is readable in sunlight and is “always on,” meaning you can easily check it while climbing or cycling. When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can receive notifications and use Garmin Pay™ contactless payments. Also when paired with a smartphone, the watch will sense an incident and send your location to emergency contacts.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel Bezel and Black Band
Size:
1.85 x 1.85 x 0.58 inches
Weight:
2.82 ounces

Pros

  • GPS combines with two other systems to provide accurate tracking capability.
  • A multitude of activity monitoring, including built-in activity profiles.
  • Customize what features you’re using to extend battery life.
  • Garmin is known for its GPS products.

Cons

  • Despite the ability to adjust battery modes, this watch will need lithium battery replacement on a regular basis if you use the advanced features on a regular basis.
  • The multitude of features may be too much for some users.

Why We Chose This

Besides the Garmin name being synonymous with GPS capabilities, this watch has a multitude of fitness features for the outdoor enthusiast. It has rugged construction with a stainless steel bezel to protect the crystal. A bonus is being able to monitor battery life and adjust settings to extend it.

3. Suunto 9 Baro Triathlon Watch

Highlights

This unisex training watch has GPS capability with an integrated heart rate wrist monitor and an atmospheric pressure sensor. It features support for over 80 sports. It’s ideal for cycling or running, and since it’s waterproof to 100 meters, it’s also ideal for swimming. 

It also has new outdoor features for mountain and snow sports, along with navigation system improvements and storm warning. Hikers, skiers and trail runners will appreciate the exact altitude measurement provided by the combination of Barometric and GPS altimeter. That’s what enables exact altitude profiles and helps to identify meteorological changes, allowing you to cancel your trek if bad weather is coming. 

Suunto’s value proposition states that this watch will take you from “the highest mountains to the deepest oceans.”

It features an intelligent battery system that allows you to adjust the battery mode. Switch between the three modes to get from 25 hours up to 120 hours of use from the battery. You’ll get real-time notifications on how much battery life is remaining, so you can change modes to save the battery before it completely runs out of power.

The Suunto website provides regular software updates.

The Glonass technology can be used in addition to GPS for improved tracking, providing quick and exact recognition of your position. There are also  tracking and route navigation options, with waypoints and real-time breadcrumb navigation features. 

There’s a graphic heart rate wrist display that shows heart rate even while resting, a step display and calorie display, including showing the last 7 days. The activity monitoring is 24/7. A colour display has 3 action buttons for toggling among the features. If you want even more detailed heart rate data, you can purchase separately the compatible Suunto Smart Belt.

The watch is used in conjunction with the Suunto App, which offers training insights and social features to stay motivated. It helps you track daily activities and workouts, plan routes, show activity maps, and calculate overall speed and distance using the GPS connectivity. You can also monitor sleep patterns and overall fitness levels, and share milestones on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Specifications

Material:
Black Face and Case With Silicone Strap
Size:
2 x 2 x 0.67 inches
Weight:
2.86 ounces

Pros

  • The 3 battery modes of the intelligent battery systems allows you to maximize battery life if necessary.
  • Extra features are ideal for those involved in mountain sports like hiking and skiing.
  • Glonass technology can be used in addition to GPS for improved tracking.

Cons

  • It might be trying to “do too much” by providing data for so many different situations.

Why We Chose This

This watch might be better suited for a trail rider than a city cyclist, but it still provides all the data you should need for any sport. It has all the heart rate and activity tracking information, and with extra features like altitude measurement and notification of meteorological changes, this watch is great for an outdoor enthusiast.

4. Polar Vantage Advanced GPS Triathlon Watch

Highlights

This multisport training watch, designed for men and women, has a wrist-based heart monitor, using what’s known as Polar’s “Sensor Fusion Technology.” This provides heart rate monitoring for over 130 sports besides the common ones of cycling and running. 

The fitness tracker also monitors cardio load and perceived load, telling you how training sessions are straining your body. It provides insights into your sleep and helps you avoid overtraining and injuries. You can use the information to get practical tips on how to train, sleep better and regulate energy levels.

Using the Polar Flow platform on your desktop or mobile device, you can track your workouts, analyse your progress and achieve more. The watch also syncs to several training programs such as Strava, Training Peaks, and more. 

There’s an integrated GPS and Glonass, giving you accurate speed, distance and route tracking, and an assisted GPS for fast fix times, ideal for sports like cycling. The barometer allows you to track barometric altitude, incline, ascent and descent.

The connectivity is with a low energy bluetooth, and there’s a custom USB cable for charging and data synchronisation. It even has the time and date, and a vibrating alarm with a snooze function. The watch features an “always on” colour touch display.

While your heart rate is monitored right on your wrist, the watch is also compatible with Polar BLE heart rate sensors.

The rechargeable battery has ultra long life, up to 30 hours of training time with the GPS and heart monitor active. This durable watch is waterproof, allowing you to track swimming performance too.  There’s even special metrics for swimming, besides heart rate, including swimming style, distance, pace, strokes and rest times. A personalised, adaptable running plan also makes it perfect for runners as a true multisport watch.

Specifications

Material:
Durable and Water Resistant, WR30
Size:
1.8 x 1.8 x 0.5 inches. The display itself is 1.2 inches
Weight:
2.4 ounces

Pros

  • Has heart rate technology but it’s also compatible with Polar’s heart rate sensors.
  • A multisport watch that provides a lot of data for athletes.
  • Rechargeable battery with ultra long life, up to 30 hours of training time with the GPS and heart monitor active.

Cons

  • Needs to be recharged, likely daily if you’re using it a lot.

Why We Chose This

This watch will give you excellent data as a cyclist, but can be used for so much more. If you’re into triathlons, for instance, you can track cycling, running and swimming performance. The Polar Flow platform makes it easy for you to track performance over time.

5. Coros Apex Triathlon Watch

Highlights

The Apex is designed for multiple sports and outdoor adventures. Use it hiking or camping with its GPS and distance tracking functions, using three satellite technologies (GPS, GLONASS or BDS satellites) and proprietary algorithms, even working in dense woods. You can access a preloaded route when you’re in unfamiliar locations.

It also features a barometer, an altimeter, and a compass, to help you stay safe. Barometric readings will let you know if a possible storm is coming, and it doesn’t require the internet for the alert. You can also keep track of sunset so you know how much light is left.

It has a wrist-based heart rate monitor, and can be paired with an external one as well. Use it for training, with the ability to build your own workouts, create a circuit featuring over 200 pre-loaded exercises, or download a featured workout from the COROS website. It’s also water resistant up to 328 feet (100 meters).

Battery life can be adjusted, lasting up to 24 days of regular use, 25 hours in full GPS mode and 80 hours in UltraMax GPS mode.

You can integrate with several third-party training platforms, such as Strava, TrainingPeaks, Relive, Final Surge and Runalyze.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel Bezel Finish, Sapphire Glass, Silicone Strap
Size:
1.8 x 1.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight:
14.1 ounces

Pros

  • Features 3 satellite technologies for advanced GPS tracking ability.
  • It has a wrist heart rate monitor and will pair with an external one as well.
  • Adjust the settings to preserve battery life.

Cons

  • The offset knob is a little awkward to use.
  • Coros is not as well known as some of the other brands.

Why We Chose This

Coros has made a good quality watch that can be used in a variety of fitness settings. Take it hiking or camping and be confident in the 3-satellite GPS capacity. Use it for training with its wrist heart rate monitor, ability to load training programs, and the water resistance to 328 feet. You can integrate with third-party training platforms and pair with an external heart rate monitor for more insight.

6. Timex Ironman Classic 30 Triathlon Watch

Highlights

The Ironman Classic 30 from Timex is a beautiful timepiece that features a lightweight body and a solid build. Equipped with a 16mm adjustable resin strap (fits an 8-inch wrist circumference), the watch feels comfortable on the skin. 

The size of the case is just right for both men and women, and the display is sealed for water resistance (up to 100m or 330 feet). Also, the acrylic lens is durable and doesn’t scratch easily, and the digital display is gray. Furthermore, the watch is designed with an Indiglo backlight that’s not too bright and only lights the numbers, which is easy on the eyes.  

In terms of features, you get a 100-hour chronograph with 30-lap memory, 24-hour countdown timer, a customizable alarm (daily, weekday or weekend alarms). The watch can be set in two time zones and has a day, date, and month calendar feature.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel

Pros

  • Lightweight and solid build
  • Resin strap for added durability
  • Easy access to all features
  • The display is easy to read
  • Water-resistant
  • Available in a wide range of colors and patterns

Cons

  • The battery is a bit difficult to replace
  • The backlight only stays on for a second or two
  • The start/split button can be hard to press

Why We Chose This

While it’s not recommended for diving, the Ironman Classic 30 is perfect for water sports, hiking, jogging, and any other activities that may get you wet. Furthermore, the case is large enough to get time information at a glance and the watch is extremely comfortable to wear in any situation.

7. Garmin Forerunner 735XT Triathlon Watch

Highlights
Best Overall
Garmin - Forerunner 735XT

The Garmin name is synonymous with GPS, so this multisport watch fits the bill with GPS and GLONASS capacity and much more.

It has a wrist heart rate monitor to track your performance, and comes with advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming.

It can also be paired with a Running Dynamics Pod, HRM Run or HRM Tri Monitor, to provide more in-depth data. Check your VO2 max estimate, use it as a race predictor and recovery advisor, and pair it with a chest strap heart rate monitor to read your lactate threshold. Use the information to improve your running form with running dynamics data such as ground contact time balance, stride length and vertical ratio.

You can also use it to do live tracking, receive smart notifications, and do automatic uploads to Garmin Connect. The Garmin Connect IQ store offers free watch faces and apps for customization, as well as training plans, and the ability to track your progress with personal bests, activity reminders and more.

Adjust the settings to adjust the battery life: in Smartwatch mode it’s up to 11 days; in UltraTrac mode without the wrist heart rate it’s up to 24 hours; and in GPS mode it’s up to 14 hours.

Garmin rates the watch at 5ATM, meaning it will withstand a pressure equivalent to a depth of 165 feet (50 meters). It can handle splashes, rain or snow, showering, swimming, diving into water, and snorkeling.

Specifications

Material:
Chemically Strengthened Glass and Silicone Band
Size:
0.47 x 1.75 x 1.75 inches
Weight:
1.6 ounces

Pros

  • This watch has everything you need for training for any sport, including tracking activity, and connecting to get notifications.
  • You can adjust the settings to preserve battery life.
  • GPS and GLONASS capacity to track in difficult conditions.

Cons

  • If you want more advanced data, you have to connect to a second device, like a chest strap heart rate monitor, which is not included.
  • Water resistance is not high enough for extreme conditions.

Why We Chose This

Garmin is known for its GPS systems, but this watch will do GPS plus a lot more. Add GLONASS capacity to ensure tracking in difficult conditions. Use it to measure your performance in a number of sports, from cycling to running to swimming, with a water resistance to 165 feet. It has wrist heart rate technology and you can also connect to a chest strap monitor for more in-depth data. Get notifications to your watch and customize the watch face and add apps at the Garmin Connect IQ store.

Triathlon Watch Buying Guide

Design

The best multisport watches are made to withstand inclement weather and tough conditions. That means they need to be made of durable materials, including the case, watch face covering and the strap. They should also have enough water resistance to allow for swimming, otherwise it’s useless to a triathlete. And finally it should feature a display that’s bright and clear enough to see while running, cycling and swimming, if you want to check your location, distance and progress during training or in a race.

Features

The best triathlon watches will have specific features that are ideal when training for three sports or more. Let’s take a look at the key components of the best multisport watches:

GPS

While some watches will provide you with tracking information when paired with a smartphone, the best triathlon watches will have standalone GPS capacity. This will allow you to train and race without carrying a phone. It also allows you to venture into uncharted territory. If you plan on doing a lot of backcountry training, or races in new locations, you may want a watch that has multiple satellite capabilities, such as GPS plus GLONASS or GALILEO. When conditions are challenging, connection to an additional satellite is important.

A quality GPS watch should also come with the ABC components that work with GPS to help keep you safe: an altimeter to track elevation; a barometer to measure barometric pressure and warn of potential storms; and a compass to let you know your direction.

Some also have extra functionality, like tracking sunrise and sunset, so you know how many hours of daylight you have left to complete your training session. 

Wrist-Based Heart Rate Monitor

A triathlon watch review wouldn’t be complete without a discussion of performance tracking. That’s why the best triathlon watches feature a wrist-based heart rate monitor. You’ll be able to use the information as part of your training, to display improvement, and monitor your body to ensure you get proper rest days and don’t over-train.

The information gained from your triathlon watch can also help you track your activity outside of the training arena, for instance counting steps and distance, and encouraging you to move when you’re between races and stuck at a desk. While the wrist-based technology is not as accurate as in-depth as a chest strap monitor, it does give many athletes the information they need.

Connectivity

As mentioned, you do get more advanced data from a chest strap heart rate monitor, so the best multisport watches will connect to other technology. That means if you’re serious about getting as much information on your training as you can, you’ll want a watch that easily pairs with a chest monitor. That allows you to get deeper insights, such as VO2 max estimate, a recovery advisor, lactate threshold and more. 

You may also want your watch to connect to your smartphone, so you can receive notifications. Or, you might want integration with third-party training platforms. Some watches can be customized based on connectivity to the company’s app store. Finally, some watches have a music function with connection to bluetooth speakers, allowing you hands-free music while you train.

Water Resistance

If you’re planning to do a triathlon, you need a watch that can withstand getting wet. Check for water resistance that allows for more than just a splash of rain. While the best triathlon watches aren’t necessarily ones that you could wear diving, you should have a watch with a minimum water resistance of 165 feet (50 meters). And if you do plan to swim in the ocean as part of your training, check to make sure the watch can withstand being worn in salt water.

Battery Life

Whether you’re training or racing, there’s nothing worse than the battery of your watch dying while you’re still on the course. That means battery life is an important factor. If you plan on competing in endurance triathlons, like the long-distance Ironman races, it’s even more important.

It’s a good idea to choose a watch with settings that allow you to reduce functionality in exchange for longer battery life. In the case of a watch that plugs in to charge, that means you can make adjustments if you need to, while you’re not able to charge the watch. Considering most triathlons last at least a few hours, you should find a watch that will keep its charge for 6-8 hours with all the functions operating, including GPS. 

Brand

This isn’t a deal-breaker to most people, but there are some people who want to stick with a well-known brand. In the case of a multisport watch, that could mean the brand that excels at one specific component. For instance, if GPS is the most important factor for you, then your top choice may be a brand known for GPS capability, like Garmin.

For others, the brand name won’t be as important as the features and functions on a specific triathlon watch.

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