Best Triathlon Watches in 2020

Natalie Cecconi
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If you are training to duathlon in 2020 (bike, run, run) or triathlon in 2020 (bike, swim, run) there is no doubt you will be training with a watch. While you can use any old watch or phone for basic timekeeping, a sports-specific watch is not only built to keep time accurately, but also includes dozens of features specifically designed to make your training easier and safer.

From simple functions like heart rate monitoring and step counters, to technical abilities like stroke analysis and running dynamics, a sports watch has made advanced training accessible to anyone, anywhere.

In this guide we’ll help you understand all the different features your watch should have, plus a review of some of the best sports watches available on the market from our top sports watch buyers guide.

P.S. If you are training for an Ironman event you will want to consider our other post on the best Ironman watches for 2020.

NameCategoryProduct
Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS WatchBest Overall
Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch
Suunto Watch Bike AccessoriesBudget Pick
Suunto Watch Bike Accessories
Garmin Fenix 6Upgrade Pick
Garmin Fenix 6

1. Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Our rating: 9 / 10


Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

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Pros:

  • Great Connectivity
  • User friendly
  • Solid and secure wrist charge
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • The touch screen can be sensitive at times
  • The strap is hard plastic and must be opened a bit to fit securely
  • With no GPS signal the watch functions as a normal watch

The Coros APEX is a premium multisport GPS watch, at a markedly affordable price. The biggest selling point of this GPS device is that it has multiple sensor connectivity; barometer, thermometer, altimeter, compass, air pressure, acceleration, and a heart rate monitor.

The watch itself is simple to use and very user-friendly. It is built with high quality materials; Sapphire glass, and solid stainless steel housing. Interestingly, the watch is strapped with a woven nylon material that makes it feel just like a regular watch.

The barometric altimeter provides an estimate of the current altitude, while the thermometer tracks daily and high temperature information. In addition to barometric and thermometer capabilities, the Coros APEX includes an integrated compass and on some occasions a storm alarm.

2. Garmin Fenix 6

Our rating: 9 / 10


Garmin Fenix 6

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Pros:

  • The Omni Directional EXO Antenna allows you to acquire GPS signals without having to move the watch
  • Long battery life
  • Improved Bluetooth features
  • Improved features for tracking hiking and swimming
  • HotFix satellite prediction to acquire GPS location within seconds rather than minutes
  • Ability to download routes from the Garmin Connect portal
  • Greater waterproof depth support up to 100 meters
  • The sleek design of the Fenix 6 is suitable for both men and women

Cons:

  • The Fenix 6 is heavier than other models in the Garmin Fenix series
  • Some feature sets are only available for Garmin Connect IQ apps
  • Not as great for indoor tracking
  • Expensive

(Fenix 6)

The Garmin Fenix 6 is a true triathlon watch, integrating multisport training and performance analysis. It includes an altimeter for monitoring climbing and weather conditions, altimeter and barometer for measuring weather patterns, and three-axis compass for tracking direction.

Using the Garmin Connect application, the Fenix 6 can share data with social networks to keep friends and family informed of your progress. It also comes with the Garmin Connect IQ application, which offers a variety of games and apps, many of which are free.

3. Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

Our rating: 9 / 10


Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

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Pros:

  • Easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Beautiful and large display
  • Music playback via Bluetooth
  • Protective outer shell
  • Regular software updates

Cons:

  • Can’t download additional watch faces
  • Small microphone hole makes it harder to use with your phone

The Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945, is a multisport watch built with an elegant design. The watch can track over 40 different running, biking, swimming, skiing, and golf activities. It features an ultra-wide display (240 x 240 pixels), dual-orientation display, Garmin Pay, and Group Track.

The Forerunner 945 is also an activity tracker. It counts steps, calories burned, heart rate, distance covered, stairs climbed, and stress levels. It also notifies you of text and call notifications via vibration.

It uses the Garmin Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology to accurately track heart rate without the need of any chest strap. It also tracks sleep quality via the Body Battery feature which uses heart rate data, sleep data, and stress data to determine the quality of your sleep.

4. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

Our rating: 8 / 10


Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

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Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Tracks GPS, HR, heat, altimeter, UTC date and time, compass, barometer, and more
  • Excellent color screen with anti-fogging properties
  • Comprehensive features that anyone is sure to use
  • The addition of water-proof properties makes it ideal for swimming
  • Has a TopoActive mapping feature to help keep you oriented
  • Wind data is also recorded by the watch
  • Distance and pace times sync via your smartphone to give you a complete picture of your workout
  • Compared to competitors, it has more options than the Garmin Forerunner 235
  • Durable design

Cons:

  • Some users have noticed the design scratches easily
  • Some users complained about the lack of pre-loaded street maps for open water swimming
  • Could be a little too much for a beginner

The Suunto Spartan Sport will help you reach your full triathlon potential by using a smart watch. It comes with a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, GPS, and performance tracking.

The display is large and easy to read even with a wet or sweaty hand. It comes with a chronograph and distance and pace training modes.

5. Suunto Watch Bike Accessories

Our rating: 8 / 10


Suunto Watch Bike Accessories

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Pros:

  • Easy setup
  • Works great for cycling vs. running
  • Garmin Connect app is useful for quick and easy review

Cons:

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Hard to see in sunlight

We chose the Garmin Fenix 5s on our list of the top triathlon watches thanks to its helpful GPS features, designed for both indoor and outdoor training.

The watch is fully waterproof up to 100meters and has a battery life of up to two weeks. It`s also ruggedly built and comes with an inbuilt cardio monitor to keep track of your heart rate.

It gives you the opportunity to keep up with your training for a number of sports such as swimming, biking, and running.

6. Suunto 9

Our rating: 8 / 10


Suunto 9

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Pros:

  • Small and sleek
  • The battery life is surprisingly long
  • You can easily view your performance in real-time
  • Automatic heart rate
  • Diver Mode

This is our highest rated triathlon watch by far. There are a ton of metrics it tracks, which can be overwhelming for a workout fiend. However, the metrics are accurate and we mentioned this in the review.

It has a fantastic GPS, as well as the easiest wrist heart rate monitoring system you will ever use. However, if you are someone who has never used a heart rate monitor before it can be a little bit confusing.

Inside the price you get a watch that is rechargeable, lightweight, and one of the only GPS watches available in the market today that gives you such a long life. This makes it ideal for athletes who end up training a lot longer than they had planned to in order to master a skill.

7. Polar Vantage V

Our rating: 7 / 10


Polar Vantage V

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Pros:

  • Great training partner
  • Accurate GPS
  • Wide variety of indoor and outdoor modes
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • No integration with MyFitnessPal
  • Lack of Apple HealthKit and Google Fit
  • Expensive

Our recommended watch for triathletes in 2020 is the Polar Vantage V. It packs in some great features for training both in and out of the water. It has excellent GPS tracking, a sleek heart rate monitor, and comes with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor modes. It is easy to use and comes at a decent price.

If you want a watch that helps you to train harder, recover faster, and be the best athlete you can be, then read on to discover why this is the ideal fitness watch for you.

8. Timex Full-Size Ironman Sleek 150 TapScreen Watch

Our rating: 6 / 10


Timex Full-Size Ironman Sleek 150 TapScreen Watch

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Pros:

  • Great budget option if your looking for features more than features
  • Touch screen interface
  • Multiple watch face option
  • Multi-sport tracking capabilities
  • Swappable watch bands

Cons:

  • Not too durable
  • No GPS
  • Strap doesn’t buckle

If you’re looking into purchasing a triathlon watch but want to spend as little as possible – this is probably your best bet. Yes, you don’t have the luxury of GPS, but for the price you do get a lot of watch faces, multi-sport functionality, and solid overall performance.

Typically, the basic versions of Timex watches are rather large and heavy. The Timex Ironman Sleek 150 is no different, which is why we like it. The size and weight are noticeable, but not obnoxious.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best watch for triathletes?

Triathlon watches are GPS enabled sport watches with special features specifically designed for the demands of triathlon training and racing. Here are the key features:

What watch do pro triathletes use?

If you are an athlete in training, races that require you to swim, cycle and run, probably give you the biggest adrenaline. Therefore, it would be nice if you could track your progress and improve it. For that, you need to have everything under control.

The watch is every triathlete’s main tool. It follows your sleep, heart rate, and it even reminds you when you should train so you can be prepared. Each and every detail is a part of your training and if you are taking it seriously, you need to invest in a good and reliable watch.

Depending on the manufacturer, your watch can tell the time, distance, and your heart rate. It can be a smart watch that tells you text messages and phone calls.

But which one should you prefer?

What is the best Garmin multisport watch?

When choosing the best triathlon watches you have two choices of heart rate monitor strap or optical. The optical heart rate is a sensor that is not on the wrist and instead sits on the upper chest. The Garmin Tactix Bravo watch, the Garmin fenix3, the Garmin 920XT, the Garmin 935, and the Garmin Fenix 5 are all great watches.

When doing triathlons heart rate can make a big difference. If you use an optical sensor it will measure your heart rate differently from the heart rate strap. For example, when you are doing a swim and then going into a run you would have to make sure you turn on run mode and not the multisport mode. This is because the optical sensor would not be able to get a heart rate during the swim.

Do I need a triathlon watch?

If you are serious about doing triathlons, then the short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one.

Triathlon watches can provide invaluable training information to athletes who are serious about improving their times or are trying to stay motivated during a long season.

However, many triathlon watches also have valuable features for beginning triathletes and athletes participating in other sports.

If you don’t know how your heart rate differs at different levels, wearing a triathlon watch is an easy way to learn, and its numbers are something to emulate when training for other sports.

When you are training on your own, a triathlon watch can motivate you because you can track your progress. When you participate in triathlons with groups, you can track everyone’s progress.

Conclusion

How many watches do you need for your triathlon? You can easily survive with just one watch, after all, you cannot use the same watch for swimming, biking and running. When choosing the best triathlon watch, you need to consider its function and features. Here is a list of the best triathlon watches.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS WatchBest Overall
Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch
Suunto Watch Bike AccessoriesBudget Pick
Suunto Watch Bike Accessories
Garmin Fenix 6Upgrade Pick
Garmin Fenix 6