The 8 Best Triathlon Watches of 2021

Monitor your training with accurate data

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Whether you're gearing up for a new workout experience or you're a seasoned athlete, taking on a triathlon is no easy challenge. You'll be busy crafting a training schedule, determining how best to fuel your workouts, staying committed to your workout regime, and prepping for transitions between swimming, biking, and runnin, A triathlon is both a mental and physical test.

Here, the best triathlon watches to keep you on track before and during race day.

Our Top Picks
You’ll get VO2 max and training status with adjustments for heat and training load focus, and receive personalized insight.
Best Budget:
Coros APEX at Amazon
This easy-to-use watch has a heart rate sensor and gives you the training data you’d get from a higher-end watch.
Best Budget Runner-Up:
Timex Ironman Classic Watch at Amazon
Ideal for triathlon beginners, it features a 100-lap stopwatch memory, nine interval timers, and a large display.
Best for Beginners:
Garmin Forerunner 735XT at Amazon
Simple to use, it allows you to switch between training modes for running, cycling, and swimming with just the push of a button.
Perfect for both amateur or experienced triathletes, it tracks your mileage, speed, performance while running and cycling.
Best for Trails:
SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak at Amazon
It comes with a built-in, accurate altimeter, barometer, compass, and GPS with 100-meter water resistance.
Best with Heart Rate Monitor:
POLAR Vantage V at Amazon
Featuring Precision Prime technology, Polar Vantage V’s reliable, precise heart rate sensor is just what a serious athlete needs.
If you're looking for all the bells and whistles, this option offers advanced training metrics and fitness level analysis.

Best Overall: Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin’s newest watch in the Forerunner series, the 945, has everything that a seasoned triathlete would want and more. The Forerunner 945’s performance monitoring features are what really set this watch apart from the others. You’ll get VO2 max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects, and receive personalized insight based on your results.

Whether you’re running on trails or riding the roads, you can use the Forerunner 945’s full-color mapping for at-a-glance navigation. The watch also lets you store up to 1,000 songs or sync music from streaming services and then listen with your Bluetooth-enabled headphones. The Forerunner 945 also functions as a smartwatch, so it’s great for a multi-sport athlete who’s looking for an all-in-one watch. With built-in safety and tracking features, the 945 can help you stay safe with built-in incident detection and automatic alerts sent to chosen contacts in case you need assistance. 

Best Budget: Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

If you don’t want to spend a lot on a sports watch, but still desire some high-performance capabilities, you may want to consider the Coros Apex. You won’t get music storage or payment options, but this easy-to-use watch still has a heart rate sensor and gives you the training data you’d get from a higher-end watch, including VO2 Max, lactate threshold, threshold pace, and stamina levels. The GPS accuracy is decent, especially for a value-priced watch, and the battery life is outstanding.

Best Budget Runner-Up: Timex Ironman Classic 30 Watch

Timex Ironman Classic 30 Watch

If you’re a total newbie to triathlons and also don’t want to make a big investment in a sports watch, the tried-and-true Timex Ironman Classic Watch may be the one for you. While it doesn’t have GPS functionality of heart rate monitoring, it does feature a 100-lap stopwatch memory, nine interval timers, and a large display. It’s also water-resistant to 100 meters. This watch has no frills, but it’s comfortable and reliable.

Best for Beginners: Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Garmin Forerunner 735XT Smart Watch

Another fantastic option from Garmin, the Forerunner 735XT is perfect for those who are just starting out with triathlon training and racing. Simple to use, it allows you to easily toggle back and forth between training modes for running, cycling, and swimming with just the push of a button. It’s lightweight and can be worn as an everyday watch, so it’s good for those who don’t want to wear a bulky, heavy sports watch. You can also sync it with your smartphone to receive emails, texts, and reminders. The battery life is decent and lasts up to 11 days in smartwatch mode and 14 hours in GPS mode.

Best with GPS: Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch

 Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch

With a dependable and accurate GPS navigation system, Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch is perfect for both amateur or experienced triathletes who want to track their mileage, speed, performance, and routes while running and cycling. It also comes equipped with an integrated barometric altimeter, which lets you track your uphills and downhills on the bike.

You can use the watch to create customized profiles for your various sports and get the advice and stats you need for each one. The heart rate monitor incorporates a smart Bluetooth Polar H7 heart rate sensor that you can use whether you’re running, biking, or swimming. Durable and reliable, this watch features a scratch-resistant glass with a high-contrast screen, so it’s easy to read in all different lighting conditions.

Best for Trails: SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit Smartwatch

SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit Smartwatch

If you spend a lot of time running and biking on trails, you need a GPS watch that connects quickly and reliably to satellites and has a powerful, long-lasting battery. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch delivers on both fronts, with plenty of other special features that triathletes will appreciate. It comes with a built-in, extremely accurate altimeter, barometer, compass, and GPS with 100-meter water resistance. You can also connect to your smartphone to sync your activities and see calls and notifications on your watch. With a large display screen, you can easily view your navigation and stats, but you may not find it suitable for casual wear.

Best with Heart Rate Monitor: POLAR Vantage V Premium GPS Multisport Watch

POLAR Vantage V Premium GPS Multisport Watch

Triathletes who are seeking a high level of performance need a watch with an accurate heart rate monitor to give them the data they need to tweak their workouts and recoveries. Featuring Precision Prime technology, Polar Vantage V’s reliable, precise heart rate sensor is just what a serious athlete needs. The watch also features the Recovery Pro, which looks at your recovery between training sessions, and then gives feedback on how to recover better.

Another huge benefit for triathletes is the watch’s ultra-long battery life, which goes up to 40 hours of training time with the GPS active. Durable and waterproof, this watch can handle whatever vigorous training a multi-sport athlete has planned. It also features a convenient touchscreen color display and, if you don’t want to use the touchscreen, you also get five buttons on the sides to scroll through different functions.

Best Splurge: Garmin MARQ Athlete Modern Tool Watch

MARQ Athlete

If you’re in the market for a high-quality triathlon watch with all the bells and whistles, the Garmin Marq Athlete is a nice choice, especially if you need your watch to fill several different functions. You’ll get access to advanced training metrics, as well as fitness level analysis. The extremely accurate heart rate monitor tracks your fitness level, even at rest, and can evaluate your heart rate variability to calculate your stress score.

This watch also uses multiple global navigation satellite systems, so you’ll get more accurate tracking and navigation than GPS alone. You can use the Garmin Marq Athlete to access streaming music apps or your own music library, which has storage space for up to 2,000 songs. Like other Garmin watches, it also lets you receive emails, texts, and alerts right on your watch and allows you to pay using Garmin Pay.

Final Verdict

Ideal for any seasoned triathlete, the Garmin Forerunner 945 (view at Amazon) offers superior performance monitoring features and full-color mapping for navigating trails or roads. If you're new to triathlons and don't want to splurge just yet, the Timex Ironman Classic 30 Watch (view at Amazon) has fewer bells and whistles but is still reliable. It offers water resistance, a stopwatch memory, and a large, readable display.

What to Look for in a Triathlon Watch

Length of Battery

Triathlon training can require hours of workouts, especially for long-distance races, like the half-Ironman or Ironman. You will need a long battery life, and like any watch, battery life varies depending on the brand and model. Make sure your battery will last hours, ensuring you don't need to stop to recharge it—which would disrupt your training.

Measurements

For running, you need a watch that tracks distance, pace, calories burned, and heart rate. For swimming, your watch should be waterproof and track distance. For biking, your watch needs to track distance, biking pace (not running pace), calories burned, and heart rate.

You might also want a watch that measures sleep quality and stress levels. You can take this data and make lifestyle changes that dramatically improve your workouts and performance.

GPS Abilities

If you run or bike in remote areas or around buildings, you could lose your GPS signal. This makes knowing your distance and pace impossible. If this applies to you, look for a triathlon watch with a strong, built-in GPS tracker.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are triathlon watches different from running watches?

    A triathlon watch allows you to track time, pace, intervals, and distance covered in all three disciplines: swimming, biking, and running, rather than just running. This data can help you improve swimming stroke, pedal turnover, and running speed.

  • What are the benefits of a triathlon watch?

    Having a versatile triathlon watch will not only help on race day but in the months leading up to it in tracking your metrics and performance. A solid option will need to hold up against the elements as you move from discipline to discipline. Look for features like water and scratch resistance, a GPS, and a decent battery life to make sure your triathlon watch collects and stores all the data you need to maximize your training.

  • Is a triathlon watch a necessity for a triathlon?

    You don't need a triathlon watch to train and compete in a triathlon. However, the range of metrics a watch offers is exceptionally beneficial to your training. You can time your workout intervals, track your pace, and see how much distance you’ve covered in swimming, biking, and running. This can help you improve your speed in all three disciplines, as well as help you to pace yourself in a race (essential for endurance sports). Certain triathlon watches can also help you track sleep quality, stress levels, and resting heart rate, allowing you to see patterns and make necessary lifestyle improvements.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Certified running coach, fitness writer, and runner Christine Luff spent years vigorously researching and recommending appropriate fitness and athletic products for a variety of endurance sports athletes, from 5K runners to marathoners. She knows that the right gear can impact performance in a positive way.

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