Heart rate monitors are an essential part of most fitness routines. Whether you’re a beginner looking to get in shape or a seasoned athlete, these small and handy devices can give you an accurate assessment of your heart rate readings and a whole lot more. Some heart rate monitor watches have target heart rate zones and recovery zones, while others give calories burned and distance covered.
You’ll notice established brand names on our list, such as Polar,Garmin, and Fitbit, along with some noteworthy newcomers. Each of these watches does an exceptional job of keeping close tabs on your heart rate while providing a comfortable strap or band to wear during workouts. Here’s a look at some of the best heart rate monitors on the market today.
1. Polar A370 Fitness Tracker
The Polar A370 is a fitness tracker with continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring. At the end of each day, you can check in to see your lowest and highest heart rate data. It’s also GPS-enabled so that you can use it along with a compatible phone to track route, speed and distance. This tracker also provides smart notifications, such as incoming calls and social media messages. Sleep monitoring and tracking provides essential information about your sleep habits.The tracker is waterproof up to 30 meters, or 100 feet. It’s also equipped with a rechargeable 110 mAh battery, which yields an estimated four days with 24/7 activity tracking per charge.
Price: $154.50 – $266.40
- Continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring
- Provides lowest and highest daily heart rate data
- Monitors sleep and provides feedback
- Some complain of connectivity issues
- Several note it is essential the same model as the Polar A360 yet with a higher price tag
- Those with small wrists may find the band a bit too big
2. Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch
The Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch provides continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring, which also results in accurate information about the calories you’ve burned during your workout. As an added bonus, the heart rate data gives you an idea of the level of intensity for each workout. You don’t need a phone for GPS connectivity thanks to the built-in sports app. However, you can pair the watch with your phone to access smart notification and the smart coaching feature. The rechargeable battery yields approximately eight days with activity tracking, and up to 13 hours with GPS. This watch is specifically intended for use with running, cycling, swimming, golfing, skiing and paddle sports.
Price: $148.51 (41 percent off MSRP)
- Continuous wrist-based heart rate monitoring
- Doesn’t require a phone for GPS connectivity
- Ideal for use with multiple sports and activities
- Doesn’t automatically detect activity
- Several mention the sleep tracking feature could be improved
- A bit large/bulky for those with smaller wrists
3. Fitbit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
This Fitbit watch keeps track of your daily activities, including total active minutes, floors climbed, distance covered and calories burned. The heart rate monitor watch also provides wrist-based heart rate monitoring without a cumbersome chest strap. Other features include simplified heart rate zones so you can watch your exercise intensity during workouts and multi-sport tracking that covers biking, cardio and more.
Price: $149.99 (25 percent off MSRP)
- Tracks daily activities
- Simplified heart rate zones
- Wrist-based heart rate monitoring
- Some complaints about Android compatibility issues
- Have to remove watch face to charge
- No GPS
4. Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband
Track your fitness and overall well-being with this heart rate monitor. The OLED screen is easily visible and allows you to view calls, texts, and calendar notifications. The unit also uses simplified heart rate zones, including cardio and fat burn, to monitor your progress. Continuous wrist-based heart rate tracking lets you know how many calories you’ve burned throughout the day. Other highlights include interchangeable bands to suit your personality, guided breathing sessions based on your heart rate, and a personalized cardio fitness score.
Price: $129.00 (14 percent off MSRP)
- Large OLED display
- Continuous wrist-based heart rate tracking
- Personalized cardio fitness score
- Some find it a bit heavy
- Doesn’t have GPS
- Display isn’t touchscreen
5. Mio SLICE Heart Rate + Activity Tracker
The highlight of the slim Mio Slice is its PAI technology. In case you’re not familiar, PAI, or personal activity intelligence, is an innovative algorithm that compiles your heart rate data into a single number, or personal score. You can use this information to figure out the right amount of activity that you personally require to stay healthy. Slice also offers 24/7 heart rate tracking along with sleep tracking and smart notifications. Built-in activity tracking monitors your distance, steps and calories burned throughout the day. This tracker is also water resistant up to 100 feet.
Price: $66.98 – $209.42
- Water resistant
- Innovative PAI technology
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- Very basic app
- Several mention connectivity issues and crashes
- Screen can be hard to see in bright daylight
6. Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor
Polar makes some of the most popular heart rate monitor watches on the market, and it’s easy to see why. This watch is packed with features, including continuous accurate heart rate monitoring along with a backlit screen and room for just under 100 training files with workout summaries. The Smart Calories feature uses your personal data to accurately determine how many calories you’re burning during a workout. As an added bonus, you can also wear this watch when you’re swimming.
- Smart Calorie tracker
- Backlit display
- Alarm could be louder
- Different battery sizes for transmitter and watch
- Flimsy buttons
7. Nokia Steel HR
Nokia Steel HR offers continuous heart rate tracking, whether you’re working out or sleeping. It even comes with a separate feature for exclusively tracking your heart rate in workout mode. The watch automatically recognizes over 10 distinct activities. There are several automatic modes, including swim, run, walk and sleep. The tracker is water resistant up to 50 meters and automatically syncs via Bluetooth Low Energy. Users particularly appreciate the long-lasting rechargeable battery, which yields up to 25 days of use on a single charge.
- Battery lasts up to 25 days per charge with regular use
- Automatically recognizes over 10 activities
- Water resistant up to 50 meters
- Doesn’t offer GPS tracking
- Numbers on outside border can be tough to read at times
- Some wish it had more fitness-oriented features
8. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, available in a wide range of colors, is a multisport GPS watch for athletes. In fact, it supports over 80 sports, with pre-set sport modes, and can track both races and interval workouts. There are also triathlon and multi-sport modes. You can expect up to 40 hours per charge in power saving mode, and up to 10 hours in training mode. The watch also has a color touch screen and is water resistant up to 100 meters, or 300 feet. Use the training insights to keep track of previous workouts and to plan ahead with the included tools. As with other Suunto watches, this one is handmade in Finland.
Price: $364.98 (27 percent off MSRP)
- Includes 80 pre-set sport modes
- GPS navigation
- Sport-specific training modes
- Doesn’t monitor heart rate in the water
- Some find the app frustrating
9. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio GPS Fitness Watch
Key features of the TomTom Spark 3 Cardio GPS Fitness Watch include a built-in heart rate monitor and GPS tracking so that you can record your routes, distance, speed, pace and time, as well as view live stats during a workout. The Spark 3 also provides 24/7 activity tracking, which lets you know your heart rate, steps, calories burned and active minutes per day. The battery lasts up to three weeks with activity tracking, nine hours with GPS and heart rate monitoring and up to 11 hours with GPS tracking. It’s also waterproof up to 40 meters, or 130 feet. Large and small sizes are available.
- Multisport mode
- Water resistant construction
- Can store up to 500 songs
- Several caution the band wears out relatively fast
- Setup can be confusing
- A few caution the headphones cut out frequently
10. Garmin Forerunner 235
Garmin Forerunner 235 is a running-specific watch with wrist-based heart rate monitoring. Highlights include a built-in accelerometer that measures pace and distance both indoors and outdoors, and a large screen that makes it easy to view your heart rate, distance and more. When connected to Garmin Connect, the watch provides live tracking, smart notifications and audio prompts. You can also share information from various workouts on social media. The rechargeable battery lasts up to nine days with activity tracking and up to 11 hours when training.
Price: $282.38 (14 percent off MSRP)
- Built-in accelerometer measures pace and distance on indoor and outdoor runs
- Large screen for easier viewing
- Running-specific watch
- Some mention connectivity issues
- Some find the user interface complicated
- Battery life could be better
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