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Best Triathlon Watches in 2022

 

After hours of research and reviewing more than 25 watches, we’ve found the best triathlon watches that are available today. Our picks include a variety of brands, prices, and features making it easy to choose one that covers your needs and budget.

The best triathlon watches on the market are typically bulging at the seams with bells and whistles. These watches also tend to be on the high-end of the price scale.

With so many features jammed inside, they require a longer learning curve to use properly. So we’ve included a few less expensive options that are easier to operate.

If we could only choose one, we’d go for the Garmin Forerunner 945. It’s lightweight and low-profile, has 16GB of storage on the watch, and syncs easily with third-party apps.

Let’s get into the full list so you can find one that suits you!

TOP 3 BEST AND FAVORITES

 

GARMIN FORERUNNER 945

 

  • GPS, Multi-Sport, and Quick-Release Kit
  • Speed/Cadence and Power Meter Compatible
  • Swim Tracking and Thin Design
Check Price

 

COROS APEX

 

  • Awesome battery
  • Great Value
  • Swim Tracking and tri features
Check Price

 

Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL

 

  • Easy set-up
  • Displays discipline-specific information
  • Excellent pairing and syncing
Check Price

Best Overall

1. Garmin Forerunner 945

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is a stylish-looking watch, and it’s also packed with helpful triathlon features. Garmin fans will appreciate this low-profile and high-function watch.

What We Like

The Forerunner 945 is a robust and feature-packed watch, making it especially great for triathlon use. It’s lightweight and thin so it will fit nicely and discreetly on your wrist. You won’t even know it’s there, apart from the fact that you’ll be excited to have all these features at your fingertips.

Like all Garmins, you can customize the watch face to suit you. If you’ve had a Garmin before, the same UX applies here. While it’s an extremely feature-rich watch, there are some specifics that stand out for triathletes.

Let’s have a look at the battery first up. Garmin claims that the watch will last up to 2 weeks in normal mode and 36 hours with full GPS. GPS and music should get you 10 hours. In total, there’s more than enough battery here for a full Ironman and won’t require recharging while you are training.

Speaking of, training is also made easy, with dedicated run, swim, bike, and triathlon activity modes. Not forgetting things like sleep tracking, heart rate tracking, and blood oxygen levels, all of which are great to keep an eye on and measure health by.

We’re also a fan of safety assistance, incident detection, and live tracking, which can literally be a life-saver on long runs or rides.

Other than that, you’ll have a bunch of other features including music storage of up to 1000 songs, downloadable workouts, top-notch GPS features, and 16GB of onboard memory for your training and racing data.

On top of its valuable features, it syncs super easily with apps like Strava and TrainingPeaks for quick data transfer and storage.

The only possible downside is that it may take a bit of time to figure out how to use all the features, which may be frustrating for some.

Why We Like It

It’s sleek, it’s stylish, and it comes with a full host of features for triathlons. The battery life is also one of the best on Garmin devices that we’ve come across.

What’s New

A bunch of new stuff has been added since the previous version, including: music storage and playback, contactless payments, pulse oximeter, new optical HR sensor, increased battery life, plus a bunch of smaller features.

Some of the user interface has also been redesigned to be a bit more user-friendly and easier to access than it was before.

PROS:

  • Lightweight, low-profile design
  • Excellent GPS tracking
  • 16GB of storage
  • Easily syncs and integrates with third party apps

CONS:

  • Takes time to learn how to use the watch optimally
 

Top Runner-Up

2. Garmin Forerunner 745

The Forerunner 745 is a tri-suitable watch with a ton of excellent features. It’s physically smaller and has a less powerful battery than the 945, but also comes in at about $100 less, so it’s up to you what works best for you.

What We Like

While not quite as feature-rich as the 945, the Forerunner 745’s dedicated triathlon activity profile indicates that it’s very much a triathlon-appropriate device.

This is incredibly handy, as it means you can switch from one tri activity to the next with a simple push of a button, rather than trying to switch activity profiles while you’re on the go (and it accounts for transitions).

As well as a handy all-in-one mode, you can make the most of your training thanks to robust run, swim, and cycle training modes. It can continue tracking your heart rate while you’re underwater, so you’ll be able to keep up with detailed metrics no matter what you’re training at the time.

The device also calculates your recovery time based on your training load, which will help you to make smarter training and recovery decisions.

One of the things we really like about this watch is how easy it is to read in direct sunlight. You don’t have to squint while you’re in the middle of a race.

It does have a noticeably lower battery life than the 945, offering a week in normal mode, 16 to 24 hours in GPS mode, and 6 hours with GPS and music.

Why We Like It

It’s a feature-packed watch with a dedicated triathlon mode. While still pricey, it’s a less expensive option than the 945 if you want to stay with Garmin.

What’s New

The latest updates to the 745 include a couple of things, some of which are helpful for triathletes and some of which aren’t.

The addition of XC Ski Power won’t help your triathlons, but may be useful if you live in an area where you get to ski often as a form of cross-training or just for enjoyment.

Triathletes may be interested in the ClimbPro ascent notifications, which notify you as you approach a climb. This is helpful if you want to fuel up for a bit of added energy.

PROS:

  • Feature-rich multisport watch
  • Easy to read in direct sunlight
  • Recovery time based on training load
  • Dedicated triathlon sports mode

CONS:

  • Frustratingly short charging cable
 

Best Value

3. COROS Apex

You can’t beat COROS for value for money. The battery life is the absolute best feature, but the Apex is also packed with excellent, high-value functions that make it a joy to have on your wrist during a triathlon.

What We Like

First of all, the COROS Apex gets a huge thumbs-up for its nice price. It’s way more affordable than Garmin, and packs a serious punch in terms of features, so if budget is a consideration for you, this is a fantastic option.

Secondly, we have to talk about the battery life. COROS has become known for their long-lasting battery, and it’s especially useful for those who want to supplement their triathlons with ultra marathons and the like.

It’s important to note that this watch comes in 2 different sizes: 42mm and 46mm. Naturally, the 46mm has a bit of a bigger battery. Here’s what you can expect from each in terms of battery life:

  • 46mm: 100 hours in UltraMax GPS mode, 35 hours in regular GPS mode, up to a month in normal daily usage mode
  • 42mm: 80 hours in UltraMax GPS mode, 25 hours in regular GPS mode, up to 21 days in normal daily usage mode

You’ll get all your regular daily tracking data, plus handy features like interval training, heart rate zone training breakdown, nutrition and hydration alerts, triathlon-specific activity mode, and a handy auto-lock feature.

It also has a dedicated triathlon mode, so you don’t have to worry about how to track your event in separate legs. When you’re done, it’s super simple to sync to whatever app you prefer to store your data.

Why We Like It

It’s incredibly affordable and has unbelievable battery life! Triathletes who don’t need all the bells and whistles will find this watch to be more than enough.

PROS:

  • Simple, smart design
  • Incredible battery life
  • Allows for interval training
  • Gives you a breakdown of time spent in each heart rate zone

CONS:

  • No fancy features like payments or music
 

Top for Bike Training

4. Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL

Triathletes who place particular emphasis on the bike leg will enjoy this watch. It syncs up effortlessly with a Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer, and it has some handy features that triathletes will enjoy.

What We Like

The ELEMNT RIVAL is a very tri-specific watch, featuring bike, swim, and run activity profiles. One of the greatest features that triathletes will be appreciative of is their touchless transition mode, which splits your times and sport-specific data automatically for you as you move through your triathlon.

There’s no need for button-pressing while you’re focusing on your disciplines. Just start, do your thing, and stop it at the end of your race. The watch will do the rest. You can customize this and how it gets displayed in the accompanying phone app.

It’s super easy to set up and pairing to third-party apps or devices happens in a flash. No need to wait for this device, it’s incredibly speedy.

It offers up to 14 days in standby mode and 24 hours in GPS mode, which is on par with others and more than enough for triathlon use.

Great for triathlons, but take note that the features are pretty basic and it definitely doesn’t include fancy things like paying from your watch or even sleep tracking.

Why We Like It

It’s extremely customizable, greatly suited to triathletes, and pairs with a Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer.

PROS:

  • Easy set-up
  • Displays discipline-specific information
  • Highly customizable via the Wahoo ELEMNT app
  • Excellent pairing and syncing

CONS:

  • Much less feature-rich than others
 

Most Comfortable

5. Suunto 9 Peak

This compact, light, and stylish little watch may be small and comfy, but it still packs a punch in terms of features.

What We Like

The Suunto 9 Peak is made for comfort. We love how compact and light it is, and how it sits nicely on the wrist without getting in the way, feeling clunky, or even being noticed much at all, really. User experience is pretty comfy too, with intuitive menus and an easy-to-read screen.

Battery-wise, it performs pretty well. You can expect 14 days per charge in regular time mode, 7 days with mobile notifications and 24/7 tracking, and between 25 and 170 hours in training mode with GPS, depending on your training mode.

Customizable battery settings allow you to toggle between different modes to save battery life if you’re getting down the wire during an event or sometime when you can’t charge the watch.

There’s no specific triathlon mode here, but there is a multi-sport mode which offers a similar experience. There are also specific run, swim, and cycle modes for optimizing your training.

It’s important to note that there are 2 different models here: a titanium one, which is lighter but more expensive, and a stainless steel one, which gains half an ounce but has a significantly lower price point. They’re exactly the same feature-wise, it’s just the bezel that’s different.

Why We Like It

The Suunto 9 Peak is super comfy on the wrist. It’s light, compact, and not at all intrusive, while offering plenty of great triathlon features.

What’s New

The Peak 9 is the new version of the Peak Baro. Essentially, it’s a huge amount lighter and less chunky, but it does feature a bunch of other updated stuff.

Here’s a quick rundown of some important things: Thinner, lighter design, new HR and SP02 sensors, new magnetic charging cable placement design, faster charging, and an ambient light sensor.

PROS:

  • Lighter and thinner than others
  • Customizable battery modes
  • Intuitive menus
  • Fully recharged in an hour

CONS:

  • No structured workout support or maps
 

6. Garmin Fenix 7

A classic Garmin look and feel, with the ability to use maps as you train or race. Ideal for those who have a non-maps watch and wish they could use navigation features.

What We Like

The Fenix 7 is a great watch, which features a touchscreen that can be locked during sport mode to prevent accidentally taps while you’re on-track to hitting a new PB.

You should note upfront that there are three Fenix 7 models: Fenix 7 Base (7, 7S), Fenix 7 Solar (7, 7S, 7X), and Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar (7, 7S, 7X). The base is the standard version, which is what we’re basing this review on.

Every unit features mapping, although only the Sapphire watch will come with preloaded maps for your area. You’ll have to download your own on other units, which may take a little while to download onto the watch. But once it’s there, you can manage the maps from your wrist, which is super useful. Dual-frequency GPS helps to keep your routing accurate.

The watch also has a dedicated triathlon mode, so you can slap it on, choose your map, and get going with little worry. And of course, it includes all your regular health tracking so you can keep an eye on what’s going on in your body, as well as Garmin’s Body Battery.

Speaking of battery, your typical Fenix 7 should allow for 18 days of battery in smartwatch mode, 57 days in battery saver mode, 57 hours with GPS only, 40 hours with all satellite systems going, 10 hours with GPS and music, 136 hours in Max Battery GPS, and 40 days in Expedition GPS mode.

Why We Like It

The maps feature is excellent and is likely to be well-used by serious athletes. It has a decent battery life and all the other basic features you may need for a triathlon.

What’s New

The most notable upgrade from the 6 to the 7 is the addition of touchscreen features, although the watch still features the original 5 buttons.

Other new features include a real-time stamina meter for effort management during workouts, and an on-screen race predictor.

PROS:

  • Downloadable TopoActive maps
  • Dual-frequency GPS
  • Features real-time stamina meter
  • Enable or disable touchscreen on sport profiles

CONS:

  • Maps take a while to download
  • Maps may take up plenty of space
 

Top With Music

7. Suunto 7

If music sees you through the tough moments during your triathlon events, you’ll find the Suunto 7 to be an excellent companion.

What We Like

As well as regular watch features, the Suunto 7 allows you to store up to 8GB of music directly on the watch! This is a top-notch feature for those who can’t run without tunes in their ears.

You can connect headphones directly to the watch to listen to your heart’s content, and control the music via your phone. Super easy and convenient. There’s also a built-in mic if you need to take or make a quick phone call or use Google Assistant.

The watch also tracks all the stuff you need to know about your health, like your sleep, your daily heart rate, your calories burned, training load and effect, fitness level, and recovery.

With a triathlon mode, separate modes for each discipline (as well as measuring heart rate while swimming), and offline maps, you can definitely use the watch for triathlons quite easily. It pairs effortlessly to apps like Strava and TrainingPeaks for you to store your data after your events.

The one downside is the battery life. It’s much lower than most, offering just 2 days in smartwatch mode, up to 40 days in battery saver mode, and up to 12 hours in training mode with GPS.

Why We Like It

It allows you to take a bunch of your favorite music with you on the go! Ideal for those who love listening to motivating tunes while competing.

PROS:

  • Download songs to the watch
  • 8GB storage capacity
  • Able to control music through your phone
  • Built-in microphone

CONS:

  • Minimal battery life compared to others (but to be expected when playing music)
  • No real-time resting heart rate data – only 15-minute intervals
 

Most Durable

8. Polar Grit X Pro

Despite being super durable, the Polar Grit X Pro isn’t clunky. It’s ruggedly designed but managed to stay light and sleek, while packing a lot of features into its small frame.

What We Like

Weighing just 64 grams, you wouldn’t say this watch is as tough as it is. You may be surprised to learn that this stylish-looking device has passed multiple military-grade testing standards, including drop, humility, and extreme temperatures. It can almost certainly handle whatever you throw at it.

You can make use of the touchscreen or the buttons, whichever you prefer and find easiest. It also works easily with third-party apps, although you can choose to use Polar Flow instead if you aren’t already a fan of a particular app.

You’ll get all your regular data, like heart rate, calories, sleep tracking, and recovery stats. You’ll also get a bunch of recovery tests to help determine what your energy levels are looking like for the day.

It comes with triathlon mode and excellent navigation features, including turn-by-turn route guidance, which can be super useful.

You can expect 7 days of battery with normal smartwatch use and 40 hours of use in GPS mode.

Why We Like It

It’s tough, feature-packed, and a super nice-looking watch to have on your wrist while participating in any event.

What’s New

The Grit X Pro has seen a whole lot of updates since the original Grit X.

Here are just some of the more interesting and important ones for triathletes: new route selection page, heart rate sharing, Power ZonePointer, a variety of health and fitness-related “tests”, music controls, Recovery Pro, and updated to Sapphire glass for increased durability.

PROS:

  • Rugged, lightweight design
  • Has buttons and a touchscreen
  • Impressive battery life
  • Plan your route ahead

CONS:

  • Pricey for the features
 

Best Non-GPS Watch

9. Timex Ironman T300

If you’re more into classic watches and GPS isn’t a factor for you, the Timex Ironman could be the perfect companion on your triathlons.

What We Like

This looks like an old classic, just slim and comfy on your arm. There’s nothing fancy here, but it does a great job of tracking your basic metrics. There’s no GPS on this watch, but it does include features that will be relevant and helpful.

You won’t be able to set it to triathlon mode or switch between different sports modes. But you will be able to monitor your time, distance, and intervals with an automatic interval rep counter.

Tap-Screen technology allows you to get data at a glance without interrupting your run or ride. A feature we really like is nutrition and hydration alerts, which will help you stay properly fueled throughout your triathlon.

Why We Like It

It’s simple without being too simple. Nothing fancy, but it does its job well and offers you basic data to work with to track and improve your triathlon performance.

PROS:

  • Slim design
  • Nutrition and hydration alerts
  • Tap-Screen technology
  • Automatically counts your reps

CONS:

  • No triathlon-specific features
 

Best Discontinued Triathlon Watch

10. Garmin Forerunner 935

Garmin no longer makes the Forerunner 935, but it’s still an excellent choice. If you’re okay with a watch that won’t get any further updates, it’s a great and affordable option.

What We Like

The Garmin Forerunner 935 has been discontinued, but it’s still an excellent choice and you’re likely to find it for a nice price too. It has very similar features to the 945, minus a few of the latest updates and fancier features.

You’ll get all your regular data, like cadence, VO2 max, pace, time, distance, elevation, training effect, stride length, interval training, and step count. The ability to upload maps and use them in a breadcrumb navigation style is invaluable.

But you’ll also get a triathlon-specific profile, as well as separate activity profiles for each discipline so you can focus on each during training.

Why We Like It

It’s got all you need to train for, run, and track triathlons, at a nice price tag. It’s also a pretty nice-looking watch!

PROS:

  • Customize workouts with alerts
  • Can upload GPX files
  • Intuitive menu
  • Impressive battery life

CONS:

  • No support or updates to come
 

How to Choose a Triathlon Watch

Triathlon watches are able to track swimming, cycling, running (and often many other!) activities. They differ from running and swimming watches by including several tri-specific features.

You don’t need every single one of these features when buying a triathlon watch. But the more the watch includes, the more you’ll get out of the watch. And you’ll have an easier time during your race or workout, allowing you to focus more on triathlon training/racing than fiddling with your watch.

Multi-Sport

The key feature we want in a triathlon watch is multisport. This simplifies making transitions from one sport to another. With a single button push, you can switch from swimming to cycling to running, etc. This allows you to do two things.

First, it marks a split time at the transition, helpful for reviewing later on. Second, it changes the information displayed on the screen to that specific sport (i.e. speed changes from miles/hour to min/mile when switching from cycling to running).

There are workarounds for watches that don’t have this feature. You can simply stop the activity, change the settings, and start a new timer at each transition. Besides being time-consuming and cumbersome, you also lose the ability to review the workout as a single activity post-race.

Quick-Release

A couple of these watches also have a quick-release system that easily moves the watch from your wrist to a handlebar mount. This is almost a must-have if you typically ride with aerobars.

If you don’t mind looking at the watch on your wrist while you ride, this feature isn’t a big deal. Another option is to buy one of these foam handlebar mounts and manually strap it on. It just takes a little longer and is more of a hassle than the quick-release kit.

Cycling Accessories

The best triathlon watches are also compatible with common cycling accessories including cadence trackers and power-meters. These allow more data to be tracked while cycling.

Swimming

Every triathlon watch needs to be waterproof – that’s obvious. But what’s helpful are watches that can track distance, stroke count, and additional swimming metrics. Typically, watches with swimming features track distance in open-water swims and in the pool. They’ll track pool laps, stroke count, and can sometimes automatically figure out which stroke you are using. And this is while you wear the watch on your wrist.

The way to track swims with a GPS watch that do not have swim features is to put the watch under your bathing cap. This keeps the watch above water enough to maintain a GPS signal. The problem with wearing it on your wrist is the watch loses the GPS signal when it’s submerged in more than an inch of water.

Battery

If you plan on competing in longer events like the full Ironman, consider the battery life of the GPS watch. Depending on your fitness level, the watch might not last the entire race. Even the better GPS watches like the Garmin Forerunner 745 and Suunto Spartan Sport have batteries that last in the 10-14 hour range. This might cut it close for some athletes in long triathlons.

Thin Design

Finally, a good triathlon watch should be fairly thin. This just makes it easier getting a wetsuit off at the first race transition.

FAQs

The best triathlon watches aren’t necessarily the same for everyone. Here are some questions we see quite a lot on the topic, which can help you make the best decision for you and your needs.

Can You Wear an Apple Watch During a Triathlon?

Apple watches are great in many ways, but they are lacking specific triathlon functions. You can wear yours while participating in a triathlon, but you won’t get as detailed or robust data as you would with another watch.

What App Do Triathletes Use?

Triathlon apps are a personal thing! However, TrainingPeaks remains the most popular workout app amongst triathletes, as it allows you to organize workouts, share them with your coach, and customize your training.

Strava is another excellent and popular choice. It’s great for sharing workouts with others and motivating your friends with whom you’re connected on the app.

How Do I Record a Triathlon on Strava?

You’ll need to connect your smartwatch or fitness tracker to Strava in order to upload race data. You can’t record directly into Strava.

It’s super easy, though, and most watches and trackers are compatible. It only takes a few minutes after your triathlon to upload the data on your watch.

Is Fitbit Good for Triathlon?

We can’t recommend Fitbit for triathletes. Like Apple watches, they don’t have triathlon-specific features, which means recording your data may be more complicated and less accurate on a Fitbit than on other devices.

The Wired Runner
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