Reviews of the Best Triathlon Watches Available

While it seems like triathlons should date back to the Roman gladiators, it wasn’t until 1974 in San Diego, California that people started a multi-sport fitness competition that tested the endurance levels of men and women on an official scale. There are, however, rumors that “three sport” competitions were being held in France in the early 1920s. Today, the makings of a triathlete is grueling and serious athletes give it their all to becoming a champion in this unique and lengthy sport. Participating in triathlons is a serious endeavor and athletes use the most advanced technology to help them achieve their fitness and endurance goals. Triathlon watches have helped countless athletes achieve goals, reach fitness levels desired and assisted them to maintain in the off-season. So what makes a triathlon watch the very best? Let’s review.

What to Look for In a Triathlon Watch

When it comes to choosing the best triathlon watch for your needs, you’ll want to consider the following features. Of course, a triathlon watch is going to track running metrics, swimming metrics, and biking metrics. But what else do they offer and what should you look for? There are a number of features to consider and look for, including whether or not your triathlon watch needs a separate heart monitor or if it has a good waterproof rating. Let’s review these three triathlon watches to determine which one is the best overall.

How Waterproof is the Watch?

There are varying degrees of “waterproofing” in smartwatches and other sporting watches. A triathlon watch, however, needs to have an ATM of 5 or more in order to be able to handle the amount of water exposure that it will endure during a triathlon. What’s more, when it comes to choosing a triathlon with stellar swimming features, you’ll need something that measures swimming efficiency, which is the metric used to determine swimming speed; and you’ll want to have an option for open water swim tracking, which means your triathlon watch has to have good GPS. There are lots of triathlon watches on the market that do not have an open water tracking feature so watch for that when you are shopping. You might also want to consider getting a triathlon watch that offers quick transitions between sports so that you don’t lose time while trying to change your tracking device on the go.

What Running Features Does the Triathlon Watch Have?

While run tracking is pretty standard on almost all smart watches and activity trackers, a good triathlon watch needs a few more things in order to provide statistics for improvement during training and trials. For instance, you’ll want to watch out for a triathlon watch that offers cadence, ground contact time and vertical oscillation. These are the features that will give you the most information that will allow you to improve your overall running time and efficiency. If you are unsure, cadence is how many steps you take per minute; ground contact time is the amount of time it takes for your foot to hit the ground each time you place it on the ground; and vertical oscillation is how much time it takes you to “bounce” up and down during your steps. The most important thing for a running tracking is to have a great GPS tracking system. This will come in handy while swimming too, so watch for that.

What Does the Triathlon Watch Track for Cycling Purposes?

A good triathlon watch will have the cycling feature built-in standard; there are some smart watches on the market that offer enough apps to put together a triathlon watch of your own, but a good cycling feature will allow you to determine effort through a power meter. You can add this on as an extra feature, but they are powerful and make a big difference for your cycling efforts. There are also a number of additional features that can be downloaded so you can add accessories to track even more options for your cycling training and endurance improvement.

Best Triathlon Watch Reviews

Here, we review the top three triathlon watches from Garmin, a top-rated sports and fitness activity tracking company that offers state of the art functions, apps, and support. While almost all triathlon watches can be worn for day-to-day activity tracking purposes, we are focusing on the best features for a triathlon athlete for this review. We focus on swimming, running and cycling, as well as few other key features that are important along the way.

Garmin Forerunner 920xt

First of all, the Garmin Forerunner 920xt is available in three different versions: European, Japanese, and an American version. This is awesome. What’s more, each version has its own distinct colors and design, which doesn’t add much to your performance obviously, but we like that the company took the time to make each different.

The running features of the Garmin Forerunner 920xt offer dynamic tracking for cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time; all of which are important for athletes to improve their performance and running efficiency. Some of the extras included in this watch are a VO2 max estimator, which can tell you how much oxygen you are getting during your workout, a race predictor, and recovery advisor, so you don’t get hurt during cool downs.

The swimming features of this triathlon watch offer swimming distance, pacing, stroke identification and adjustment, stroke counts, drill logging and resting timers, which is the total time between laps. Garmin’s Forerunner 920xt offers a high waterproof rating which makes it ideal for swimming longer. You can switch between open and pool swimming for greater accuracy in your training.

The cycling features on the Garmin Forerunner 920xt watch offers the triathlete a heart rate and power meter, VO2 max estimate, and is compatible with other ANT+ power meters for pedal sensing while riding.

Some of the extras include push notifications to the watch to let you know when you’ve received text, email, phone calls and voicemail. There is a metronome feature that can help you keep pace while training and you can share your progress on the social network available through Garmin, or on other popular social networks. The Garmin Forerunner 920xt is fully compatible with your smartphone or other mobile device and gives you metrics that matter to make you excel in your sport.

Garmin Forerunner 910xt

The Garmin Forerunner 910xt offers GPS enabled tracking for triathletes in a variety of sports. It offers a battery life of up to 20 hours and is water resistant for up to 50 meters. It is offered in both a base model and a triathlon model. The base model offers fewer options and it is advisable that serious triathletes opt for the model with more options. For review purposes, we’ll describe both to you.

The base model offers time tracking, distance, pace, speed, elevation, and heart rate. It can be used for all three triathlon events: swimming, running and cycling, but the limited nature of the tracking is where the base model falls flat. It does have a good battery life and the strap is large enough to fit a good size arm. It is water resistant and offers GPS tracking.

The triathlon model of the Garmin Forerunner 910xt provides speed and cadence sensors for runners, vibration alerts for notifications from your smartphone, the ability to race against your own previous times and other racers on the Garmin Connect network and more. It comes with a quick-release kit that offers a heart rate monitor, bike mount, expander strap, charging clip, USB ANT stick, AC adapter and more. The kit is not necessary when you buy the triathlon watch, but they are niceties that you may find yourself needing down the road. This triathlon watch is ideal for either pool or open water swimming; an important distinction for professional athletes. What’s more, the features on this watch make it perfect for other water sports including paddle boarding.

The watch offers seamless transitions between sports with an autoswitch feature with the flick of just one button on the watch. You won’t lose precious seconds during your transitions. For even more information and training options, the triathlon watch lets you track your body weight, fat, water, and more so you can get a full picture of your health.

Garmin Forerunner 310xt

The Garmin Forerunner 310xt is a flashy triathlon watch that is available in the color orange. It is bright and says you are serious about tracking your progress and efforts. With a waterproof rating of up to 50 meters, it’s ideal for the pool or open lake swimming. It offers 20 hours of battery life and comes with a one-year limited warranty.

The swimming features allow triathletes to track and run data on distances and pace and its slim design means it doesn’t get in the way of your strokes.

The running features provide a wireless heart rate monitor with a quick release function for transitioning between sports. While we wish it was a wrist monitor, it does offer insight into performance prep with calorie computation so you can increase your calorie consumption to be ready for the race. It offers GPS enabled tracking in and out of the water for the most accurate time, distance and speed.

All of the extras that come in the box allow you to track your cycling efforts as well. You can determine speed, distance, and oxygen levels. When preparing for your triathlon, watch for watches that have cycling features that aren’t extra. Some need you to buy extra options to have these features activated.

You get everything you need to start your training program once you buy this triathlon watch. It comes complete with everything you need including quick reference guide to set up your watch. An easy-to-read display on the watch means you can check your stats fast while on the go.

The watch offers several training features including the Garmin Virtual Partner, courses, workouts, location markers, and more. It comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts for over 1000 charges.

Overall Thoughts

While every triathlete is different, triathlons are generally all the same: running, cycling, and swimming. The order in which these events are completed may change, and the terrain may change, so it is important to have a variety of data and training efforts to fall back on. Triathlon watches can help you gather and save that data so that you can determine your performance and efforts ahead of time and after the races.

Our choice for the best triathlon watch, overall, is the Garmin Forerunner 920xt. This is a go anywhere and do anything sports watch, and it delivers on its promises. We love it because it offers a ton of features for tracking including running and swimming speeds, ascent and descent terrain measurements, grading and speed runs, heart rate, cadence, power meters and more. What’s more, this triathlon watch has a camera to record achievements and goals as you reach them so you can share them later on the Garmin Connect social media or other popular social media platforms.

The Garmin Forerunner 920xt offers the best waterproof rating, an accurate GPS tracking system, and options for upgrading your features should you need even more than it already offers. It’s modern and sleek and offers a model in several styles for several locations including Europe, Japan, and North America. The bright and eye-catching colors are really fun and add a bit of whimsy to an otherwise super serious sport.

If you are in the market for a new triathlon watch, or if you are just getting into the sport itself, start your efforts off right with a triathlon watch that can do and track it all. This is also a great smartwatch in general because it can provide updates and notifications from your smartphone or other mobile devices. You’ll soon find that you’ll be wearing this watch all the time, not just on the track, the road and in the pool.

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