Revealed: The Best Waterproof Heart Rate Monitors 2016
Consider the best waterproof heart rate monitor to be more than a mere mic for your heart. And the best heart rate monitor should be waterproof since our guess is you are looking for one to measure that bpm mostly while you are active—could be in wet weather or while swimming. And fitness activity does come with a dampness to it that could otherwise mess a good heart rate monitor if it lacks the necessary coating against the sweat or consistent soaking.
From dedicated, powerful, accurate and downright useful chest-strap heart rate monitors, to multi-purpose fitness trackers and activity smartwatches that sport HRMs, here are the seven best waterproof heart rate monitors money can buy right now. And there is one fully waterproof, ear-worn heart rate monitor too.
We feel that taking a pulse rate shouldn’t feel like a surgical procedure was about to go down on us, so do trust that you won’t be finding awfully fitting, allergy-inducing HRMs on this list.Read on. Your heart will thank you for it.
Ahh! The heart.
Listen to it, and you’ll know when to take things easy and when to ramp up the action. The only problem is, last time we checked hearts didn’t speak.
Even when it thumps, it could be saying anything really, and there’d be no way of verifying what it means—until now.
Best Waterproof Heart Rate Monitors With Chest Strap
1. Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor (34.85 GBP)
As one of the best HRM chest straps on the market, the Wahoo Tickr is IPX 7 rated, which makes it waterproof up to a mere five ft. Essentially, the Wahoo heart rate monitor strap is only sweatproof (hand-washable) and weatherproof.
Wahoo admits that since its device runs on 2.4 GHz radio waves, it can record heart rate under water and so it is pretty useless for swimming. What we’d recommend the Wahoo Tickr for, however, is all-weather heart rate training, and if you are planning to sweat a lot too, just don’t dive with it. It also provides real-time heart rate recording and calorie tracking.
The Tickr HRM comes with an adjustable (from 24″ to 48″ while stretched) band and a battery that promises to go up until 12 months or training. Were it not for the belt, the Tickr’s 8.5 grams weight would make it easy enough to attach and forget you had one, which is not bad.
It also comes with Apple Watch integration, Bluetooth 4.0 and dual-band technology. So you can connect to third-party smartwatches and GPS devices to complete you heart training set up.
2. Polar T31 Chest Strap (29.50 GBP)
Polar Global claims the Polar T31 Coded Transmitter and Belt set is as accurate as a heart rate monitor as a medical-grade electrocardiogram (ECG) machine. The various user reviews we’ve checked out do not really disagree.
Polar also claims that its device is “fully water-resistant.” We found out that the Polar T31 HRM chest strap is waterproof up to 30 metres or 100 ft. And, unlike the Suunto Smart Sensor listed next up, it can actually register bpm in real-time while under water. However, while the chest strap takes your pulse rate, you need a wrist watch to keep all that data. Fortunately, the Polar T31 is compatible with other devices, mostly Polar’s FT series of smart wristwatches for swimming and whose displays can withstand underwater pressure up to 100 ft.
The battery is not user replaceable, but Polar reports it can last as long as 2500 hours worth of heart rate training.Check out how to use the Polar T31 waterproof heart rate monitor belt here [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhI4GYHeYf4]
3. Suunto Smart Sensor (65 GBP)
The Suunto Smart Sensor is really tiny, lightweight (40g) and powerful too. The company claims it is perfect for multisport, and it could very well be.
The Smart Sensor is waterproof up to 30 metres/100ft. It can also record your bpm without the strap, provided the apparel you sport is Movesense compatible. The strap is adjustable, the battery swappable and the software upgradable.
Also, the Suunto Smart Sense is perhaps the smallest Bluetooth, smart compatible HRM in the market right now. The connectivity feature also makes it compatible with gym equipment that supports Bluetooth Smart. You can also pair the Smart HRM chest strap with other devices so you can share, re-live and analyze your workouts later. One tool to match with is the Suunto Amber3 Watch if you like.
The analysis part is helped by Suunto’s own Android and i0S app, the Suunto Movescount App, which is quite packed with useful data analysis features so you can learn about heart rate training better and keep hitting those zones time and again.
For comfort and accuracy sake, the waterproof heart rate monitor comes in a range of sizes:
- S for Small (22-32″)
- M for Medium (28-43″), and
- L for Large (38-63″)
There’s a caveat, though: The Suunto Smart Belt will take and keep your heart rate data underwater, but it’ll not send those updates in realtime—only does so after you have re-emerged out of the water.
Check it out here:
4. Garmin HRM Swim (172.95 GBP)
Garmin released the Swim together with the Garmin HRM Tri, which is ideal for triathletes rather than swimmers only. The HRM Swim has a water rating of 5 ATM, which makes it good for a 50m-dive and the water pressure that comes with that much depth.
Perhaps most astounding of the Swim’s features is that it stores heart rate data underwater and forwards the data to a compatible wrist watch—the company obviously recommends the Garmin Forerunner 920XT watch. However, this is what Garmin states about real-time recording: “Once out of water, real-time heart rate interval summaries and stored heart rate are transmitted to the 920XT.”
The device stores swim interval heart rate statistics and ANT+, 2.4 GHz wireless communication protocol if you need to pair it with compatible equipment.
It also comes with a strap sizing range between 23 inches and 57 inches. Add to that that the strap is non-slip, and we think it should fit comfortably around different people’s chests.
The battery should also power past 17 months. That is if you engage in swimming for about 3 hours per week—we aren’t particularly cool with this, and users can expect a drastically reduced battery life if heart rate training underwater on a daily basis.
Top Ear-worn Waterproof Heart Rate Monitors
5. Finis AquaPulse Waterproof HRM (85 GBP)
If you find chest straps and smartwatches cumbersome, the Finis AquaPulse Heart Rate Monitor is a hands-free alternative that speaks your heart rate directly to your ear.
The device detects blood flow through the earlobe using infrared technology, a sensor that monitors capillary blood flow. Then the information is transferred to your inner ear via Bone Conduction Technology, the kind to be found working on Google Glass. AquaPulse makes announcements every 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120, and 300-second increments, depending on how you choose to set it up.
The Finis HRM also packs a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery that will last about 6-8 hours. The battery can be recharged by plugging the integrated USB directly to a USB port on your computer.
Note: Finis seem to have discontinued the AquaPulse
Best Waterproof Wrist Heart Rate Monitors
6. Mio Alpha 2 Heart Rate Watch and Activity Tracker (103.02 GBP)
The Mio Alpha 2 heart rate monitor is waterproof to 30m/3 ATM/100ft. It also packs a customizable display and configurable heart rate zones so that you can make every move and second work for you. The Alpha 2 also comes with an LED heart rate zone indicator. Checking on it will help you know when you need to up your game and when just to maintain—something most HRMs don’t provide.
The Alpha 2 has an accompanying Android and IOS app known as Mio PAI app. Both apps run Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI), a new health and fitness metric from Mio.
Mio claims that the new metric is scientifically proven to help users add up to 10 years to their life from the information it gives, assuming it is accurate.
Relevant: Wet and Worry Free: The Best Waterproof Fitness Watch
7. Garmin Vivosmart HR (103.78 GBP)
The wrist-based heart rate monitor from Garmin has a water rating of 5 ATM. That makes it a waterproof heart rate monitor to 50 m.
Vivosmart HR comes with a capacitive, 160×68 pixels touch screen. That is useful if you are not into pressing buttons, which is also a rarity for waterproof gadgets—unless you have a waterproofing case to throw around it. But that would make it bulky, not to mention wildly inaccurate as a wrist-based HRM.
Vivosmart HR pretty much performs like a smartwatch. It can sync to your smartphone and display updates such as email, text, and other alerts provided you pair it with a compatible phone. Additionally, it comes with step counter, sleep monitoring, and goal-setting functions, not to forget ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart connectivity for sharing data. Users can also share progress via Garmin’s online forum to know where they stand among friends and competitors alike, and keep heart—if they need to. As for size, it comes in two band sizes: regular and X-large, with the regular one weighing only 32 grams. That also includes the lithium-ion battery, which can run up to 5 days on a single charge, and is rechargeable.
If you need more features such as GPS support, the Garmin Vivoactive HR provides that on top of waterproof heart rate monitoring.
Check out the Garmin Vivoactive HR in action here:
Waterproof Heart Rate Monitor Buying Guide
Apart from the ability of an HRM to record, store or transfer your heart rate data underwater, what else can you use to find the best waterproof HRM?
Here are considerations to make.
How a waterproof HRM fits is vital. Not only does it matter that the wearer is comfortable with the HRM’s fit, but how accurate the device measures the heart rate is highly dependent on how it contacts your body. It should be as close to the ticker as possible, just not too tight.
Check if the manufacturer includes a swappable strap, for example. Or, if it’s a chest strap, a stretchable belt that should cover your wrist or chest size without any fitting problems.
2. Heart Monitoring Accuracy
How accurate the HRM you choose will make or break your workouts.
Some experts claim that wrist-based, optical HRMs aren’t as pinpoint accurate as the good ole’ chest strap. Unlike two years or so ago, however, you don’t need to strap one around your chest if you aren’t so much interested in taking electrocardiogram machine-level of accurate heart rate—which happens to be most people.
If you don’t, there is a less invasive, strap-free, wearable way to get that pulse. We’ve listed contenders in both categories.Be sure to check real, user reviews to ascertain which HRM works, and which simply don’t get it.
3. Water rating
What water rating to choose will depend on which activity you intend on participating.
If for example, you are a diver, your best bet should be on a 5 ATM rated (waterproof up to 50m), or IP57 and above (IP68 is best). Both waterproofing ratings are good for over 100 feet dives.
But if you are only concerned about training in wet weather, or swimming in the pool, or just need a sweatproof HRM, you can confidently go for less. These are cheaper, too.
The main point to consider here is about value.
The best doesn’t have to be the most expensive. In fact, the best waterproof heart rate monitor to you is one that packs the features you’ll need for your workouts. Additional features are cool but will only serve to pump up the price of the device.Granted, the cheapest waterproof HRM around isn’t enough for even casual heart rate training. In fact, those come with a myriad of inaccuracy issues and dubious optimal bpm zone data.
So do check both your heart rate training needs and budget before hitting that “Buy Now” button.
5. Other Features
See if there are any outstanding features for the price.
Are there heart-related specs to help log your bpm and serve you the data in useful ways? That could be by letting you know if you were training at an optimal heart rate, for how long and what that could mean. Also, it could be learning how much recovery time you need before reactivating again. Mostly, these types of functions rely heavily on the kind of software that backs the HRM. So be free to test if the software side of the heart rate monitors works as advertised.
Heart rate monitors are popping up everywhere, and especially attached to wearables, these days. We sourced the above seven from all three categories of heart health wearables: chest straps, fitness bands, and activity smartwatches. Hopefully, you find one that accurately listens to your heart and motivates you to hit that zone no matter how wet or submerged you are.