Top 12 Best Triathlon Watch For All Budgets 2020 Reviews

A triathlon watch is pretty much an essential tool for the serious triathlete. Without one, it would be close to impossible to accurately track, record, and analyze your data to build a successful training program.

The best triathlon watch can help you achieve your goals…

And they can even tell the time!

We’re going to review the best mid, and high-tiered triathlon watches currently available. We’re featuring known and quality brands only. There are no cheap and cheerful alternatives on our list for a good reason.

We’ve also included a Buying Guide breaking down essential specs to look out for when making your purchase. So, let’s get to it and see if we can identify the ideal triathlon watch for you and your needs.

best triathlon watch

Top 12 Best Triathlon Watch On The Market 2020 Reviews


1 Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Garmin is the market leader in GPS bike computers and fitness watches. They were the first to come to market and show no signs of relinquishing their dominance any time soon. The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is just one of their market-leading and all-conquering sports watches.

Easy to read…

The watch has an 18% larger screen than its predecessor. It features a 47mm case with a 33mm screen. It’s an easy-to-read screen, even in strong sunlight.

The Fenix 6 Pro has plenty of different versions to choose from. The range includes multiple case colors, strap colors, strap types, including nylon, rubber, leather, and titanium. You can even get one with sapphire glass. You’ve got to hand it to Garmin, they’ve certainly covered all the bases for fashion, style, and practicality.

ANT+ or Bluetooth…

The Fenix 6 Pro can be programmed to switch easily between the three triathlon disciplines at the touch of a button. It’s able to display and record all your data using either ANT+ or Bluetooth. The watch can also be purchased with a wifi option.

It measures heart rate (HR) through its enhanced estimated wrist sensor. This is about as accurate a system as you can find on a fitness watch. It still, however, falls a long way short of a dedicated Tri Chest hear rate monitor (HRM).

More serious athletes are advised to get a chest HRM…

Other features of the watch include GPS and mapping ability. You can also store music and link it to some music streaming services. Great for listening to some motivational music whilst you train or compete.

Contactless payments…

Interestingly, the watch comes loaded with a contactless payments system, Garmin Pay. Clearly, for those times, you’re not competing or heading for a café stop on a training day.

The battery life is pretty good. If you’re using GPS and the wrist-based HRM, you can expect to get a full 36 hours of use. Just used as a Smartwatch, you can expect to get around 14 days.

The watch can be used with the excellent Garmin Connect app to store and analyze your data.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros

  • Large display.
  • Easy to switch between modes.
  • Good wrist HRM.
  • Music storage.
  • Extensive option of different styles.
  • Compatible with Garmin Connect.

Cons

  • Price.

2 Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 44mm) – Space Gray Aluminum Case

The great thing about the Apple watch is that it can do loads of stuff when synced to your phone and used as an ancillary screen. It can also do plenty when you leave your phone at home. And that’s all great. However, despite it having GPS and a few other sports-related features, it’s not a dedicated fitness watch.

Herein lies its weakness…

Like a lot of fitness watches, it does have a wrist sensor to measure your heart rate. Unfortunately, it’s too inaccurate to be of much use. This goes for the ECG monitor as well. A complete waste of time.

Like all triathlete watches, it will have to be hooked up to a heart rate chest monitor to get accurate readings. Well, you would if you could. But since this is only Bluetooth and not ANT+ compatible, you’ll have to choose your HRM carefully so as not to get left out in the cold.

The same goes for your choice of power meters…

The watch also only has 50 meters of water resistance. We don’t think this is enough. Yes, it’s fine for shallow swimming, but it allows no real wiggle room for much else. We think 100 meters is the minimum amount of water resistance for a sport’s watch. The point is that if you dive into the pool with your Apple watch, you might just come unstuck.

If you’re particularly serious about your training…

Other negatives for this watch are that there is no simple way to switch between the three triathlon disciplines. Furthermore, we don’t think the watch is sufficiently rugged to stand up to serious abuse and training.

Blimey!

Here’s some positive stuff…

Things it can do well include being able to record all your HR information and workout data. Once it has the data, you can sync this with your Apple fitness app and read a mass of well-displayed information.

The watch also clearly displays maps on a large and clear 34mm screen. You can also play music whilst you train or compete. Plus, with the watch weighing a mere 30.1gms, for the case only, you’re never going to get slowed down.

Battery life is another positive story…

With GPS activated, you can expect to get 18 hours of use.

The bottom line is that this is by no means the best triathlon watch for serious athletes. It has too many shortcomings. It is, however, a decent watch for the more casual fitness enthusiast, that wants to use it mostly linked to their Apple phone.

Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Pros

  • Weight.
  • Display size.
  • Good battery life.
  • Good App software.

Cons

  • Not sturdy.
  • Only 50 meters of water resistance.
  • Not ANT+ compatible.

3 Garmin fēnix 5, Premium & Rugged Multisport GPS Smartwatch

The Garmin Fenix 5 is the predecessor of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro we reviewed earlier. The good news is that this watch still retains virtually all of the quality features of the Fenix 6. However, for those looking to save a few bucks and still get an excellent fitness watch, the Fenix 5 makes an awful lot of sense.

What’s wrong with black…

The first thing about this watch is that now you no longer get the huge choice of colorways and the choice of titanium that you have with the Fenix 6. However, if you’re cool with black, and why wouldn’t you be, there’s no problem.

The watch has a diameter of 47mm. The screen size is 30mm. Though it drops a few millimeters to its successor, the screen is still highly legible and easy to read in sunlight. This is despite the screen resolution being slightly lower at just 240 x 240 compared to 260 x 260.

There’s still good value here…

The Fenix 5 is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. This model is not wifi enabled. It can, however, talk to every fitness and power monitor you can think of. It will also clearly display all the information and store it for future reading and analysis.

Good quality wrist HR sensor…

Like all good triathlete watches, it can be easily switched to record data for the three triathlon disciplines. Additionally, it has a good quality wrist HR sensor. It’s the same one that’s used in the Fenix 6. Consequently, it has its limitations.

Though we’d say, it’s undoubtedly one of the most accurate on the market…

This is a Garmin, so naturally, it has excellent GPS positioning and mapping functionality. Despite having a smaller screen compared to the Fenix 6, you don’t lose any mapping features or capabilities. You also still retain the ability to store music and link it to music streaming services.

Can you do without Garmin Pay to (ironically) save some cash?

The watch, like all their devices, can be hooked up with the outstanding Garmin Connect App. Unlike the Fenix 6 Pro, it doesn’t have Garmin Pay, which we honestly think we can live without.

Battery life is still strong, 24 hours for full GPS when the wrist HRM is in use. This is slightly less than the Fenix 6 Pro. It’s also slightly heavier, 85gms vs. 80gms. It is also slightly thicker at 15.5gms vs. 14.7gms.

Garmin fēnix 5, Premium & Rugged Multisport GPS Smartwatch
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros

  • Excellent value for money.
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible.
  • Can store music.
  • 100 m Water-resistant.
  • Easy to switch between modes.
  • Compatible with Garmin Connect.

Cons

  • Not wifi enabled.

4 Garmin fēnix 5 Plus, Premium Multisport GPS Smartwatch

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has a few extra features that depending on your thinking and budget, may be worth the extra cash.

Starting with a few positives…

This watch is still available in a good variety of different colorways and strap options. This includes the titanium option for both cases and straps. Just take a look at the orange strap and titanium case combo. It looks amazing!

The physical size of the watch is the same is as the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. It measures 47mm with a 30mm screen size. It is, however, a couple of grams heavier, weighing 87gms, compared to the Fenix 5 Premium that weighs 85gms. No big deal on that one.

Wifi-enabled…

The Fenix 5 Plus is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. However, it differs with the Fenix 5 since it is also wifi enabled. This means that not only can it talk to every fitness device and power monitor currently available, but it can also hook up with all wireless electronic devices.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has excellent GPS positioning and mapping abilities. Plus, it’s compatible with the latest Galileo satellite. It also has turn by turn navigation, a pre-loaded topographic map, and suggested routes feature.

16GB of memory means more data storage but also music…

The Fenix 5 Plus can easily switch to record data between all three triathlon disciplines. It, of course, shares the huge plus of being compatible with their awesome Garmin Connect app. Plus, you get 16GB of memory to store your data and a few tunes as well.

It has Garmin Pay loaded…

We still don’t think of this as a big benefit. However, it’s there if you want it!

Battery life is a little better than the Fenix 5. You can reasonably expect to get a battery life of as long as 20 days when used as a smartwatch, which is even longer than the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.

Garmin fēnix 5 Plus, Premium Multisport GPS Smartwatch
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Galileo satellite compatible.
  • Turn by turn navigation.
  • Wifi-enabled.
  • ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible.
  • Good selection of colorways, cases, and bands.

Cons

  • No sapphire glass option.

5 Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit (Black)

The Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit is almost identical in functionality to the Garmin Fenix 5. It, therefore, seems appropriate to look first at the similarities. We’ll then concentrate on the differences and why you might prefer one over the other.

Like the Fenix 5, there are no extensive options of colorways or different case types and bands. You can choose between black and yellow. That’s it.

Though they do give you the chance to bundle in a Garmin chest HRM…

Although the wrist HRM is pretty good, it’s never going to give you the same accuracy as a chest HRM. We’d, therefore, advise, if you haven’t already got a chest HRM, to think seriously about going for the bundle.

Highly legible…

The watch is a good size. It measures 47mm and has a good-sized 30mm screen. It might not be the prettiest sports and fitness watch, but there’s no doubt that it’s one of the most legible. With its 240 x 240 screen resolution, it’s also easy to use, even in strong sunlight.

The Garmin 935 is not wifi enabled, though, much more importantly, it’s ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible.

The metrics are on par with other models…

Like the Fenix 5, you can quickly switch between modes and record your separate data for the three triathlon disciplines. Once you finish your event or training, you can then pour through the vast mountain of performance metrics. There’s no shortage, and the metrics available are as good as any produced by the Fenix 5 and Fenix 6 range.

We like the POI feature…

As you’d expect from a Garmin watch, it has superb GPS positioning as well as mapping functionality. It also has turn by turn navigation and Points of Interest (POI) on your routes, which we like. Unfortunately, there’s no ability to store music internally, which we don’t like.

So, what’s different?

The difference is in the case. The Garmin Forerunner 935 has a polymer rather than an all-stainless-steel case and bezel. The bezel of the Forerunner doesn’t contain any screws and looks more subtle.

We think it’s more aesthetically appealing, but that’s not as important as it’s weight…

The result of the polymer case is that it’s super light-weight. It weighs in at just 49gms compared to 85gms for the Fenix 5. Another result of the polymer case is that it has a water resistance rating of just 50 meters, which is a little on the low side for our liking.

In short, there’s no doubt that this is a great, light-weight watch…

You get all the good stuff of the Fenix 5 with the Forerunner 935, in a lighter package, and at a lower price. If you’re not going to be doing any diving into pools, and you’re not tough on your watches, this could be a good choice.

Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit (Black)
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Good value.
  • ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible.
  • Easy to use between different disciplines.
  • Produces excellent metrics.

Cons

  • Not as tough as an all-stainless-steel watch.
  • Only 50 meters of water resistance.

6 Garmin Forerunner 945, Premium GPS Running/Triathlon Smartwatch

The Garmin Forerunner 945 has everything the Forerunner 935 has but so much more.

The watch has a plastic polymer case. It weighs 49gms, it’s 47mm wide, has 240 x 240 resolution, and has the exact same look as the Forerunner 935. It also has the exact same 50 meters of water-resistance that we’re still not too thrilled with.

But, though they look the same, there’s plenty the Forerunner 945 can do that the 935 cannot…

The 945 has entirely new software to increase the features and functionality of the watch. For starters, it can store up to 1,000 of your favorite tracks from your favorite streaming service. It can also show POIs on your maps. Furthermore, it has popular route planning and a round trip creator like the Garmin MARQ.

Incident detection and assistance, awesome…

Other highlights include live events sharing, heat and altitude acclimation, future elevation plot, and ClimbPro. As if that’s not enough, it also has incident detection and assistance, which we think is possibly the most important of all the improved features.

One final feature we want to mention is the addition of the Garmin Pay contactless system. There’s plenty of you who love it. We just don’t get it on a triathlete’s watch!

Stores more metrics that you’ll ever have time to read…

As you will have already guessed, the Forerunner 945 is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. It can store more metrics than you’ll ever be able to read and digest in a lifetime. It can also be used seamlessly between swims, bike rides, and runs.

You can even use this watch for tracking your golf and skiing…

There is a significant price difference between the Forerunner 945 and the 935. However, increased functionality undoubtedly justifies the cost. If you like the lightweight design and looks of the Forerunner 935, but want some beefed-up software, the Garmin Forerunner 945 could be the watch for you.

Garmin Forerunner 945, Premium GPS Running/Triathlon Smartwatch
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Can store 1,000 songs.
  • Incident detection.
  • Lightweight.
  • Improved mapping.

Cons

  • Only 50 m of water resistance.

7 Suunto 9, GPS Sports Watch with Long Battery Life

Suunto is a Finnish company that has been around since the 1930s’. They specialize in outdoor exploration equipment and have been in the business of fitness and GPS watches from the beginning. They are a quality brand that is considered to be every bit as good as Garmin.

We like the giant 50mm wide casing…

Taking a look at the Suunto 9 for the first time, we have to comment that this is a good-looking watch. It has much more of a normal watch-like design to it. We find it more aesthetically pleasing, and we like the giant 50mm wide casing. We also like the beautiful choice of colorways.

Sapphire glass…

Suunto 9 is a well-made solid watch that features sapphire glass. Despite its rather imposing size, it still manages to look elegant. It has 100 meters of water-resistance and impressive battery life.

In fact, it’s the best triathlete watch for battery life on our list…

You can get a truly astonishing 120 hours in Ultra GPS mode. You do, however, need to turn off the wrist HRM to achieve it.

The watch is not only easy to read because of its size but also because of its high definition 320 x 320-pixel screen. Another highlight is that it also has a touchscreen—a real advantage over a large number of competitive products. The touchscreen and the three physical buttons make this one of the easiest sports watches to navigate through the various functions.

Track performance of up to 80 sports…

Suunto 9 can track and store information for up to 7 days. You can even store information about recovery and heart rates during sleep. The Suunto 9 is compatible with all major third-party fitness apps such as Strava and Peloton. What’s more, it can be used to track the performance of up to 80 sports. Including, of course, swimming, cycling, and running.

There are plenty of metrics you can explore…

Happily, Suunto has moved data analysis to their new Suunto app, and away from the old Movescount app, that was a little clunky and confusing to use.

Suunto 9 is Bluetooth compatible. It isn’t, however, ANT+ compatible, and this is where we fall out a little bit with the Suunto. Not being ANT+ compatible is close to a deal-breaker for us. Most serious athletes will already be shaking their heads in disgust.

Suunto 9, GPS Sports Watch with Long Battery Life
Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros

  • Sapphire glass.
  • High definition screen.
  • Touchscreen.
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Elegant.
  • Tough.

Cons

  • Not ANT+ compatible.
  • Cost.

8 Polar Vantage V – Premium GPS Multisport Watch

Polar is another major player in the sports watch arena.

This is quite a light watch. It weighs just 66gms. It’s also quite small, measuring just 46mm. Compared to the Suunto 9, which measures 50mm, the Polar Vantage V feels quite insubstantial. As a consequence, you will lose some legibility.

But, this could be a much better option for people with smaller wrists…

The glass is not sapphire, but it is reinforced Gorilla glass, which is robust enough for most situations. The screen, like the Suunto 9, is a touchscreen. It functions reasonably well, though not perfectly, for the most part. You can do everything by just using the buttons if you choose. Handy in the event the touchscreen becomes difficult to use.

The Polar Vantage V is easy to hook up with your external HRM or power meter. Unfortunately, the big ‘however’ is that this is all by Bluetooth. There are moves afoot to include ANT+ compatibility, but it’s not available on this model as yet.

A bit of a deal-breaker for us though probably not for most…

Another couple of negatives are that it only has 50 meters of water resistance, and there’s no way to store music directly on the device. The negative relating to these two features is more to do with the fact that, for the price, we think we should rightly expect more.

Moving into more positive territory, the watch provides superb GPS tracking…

It also has class-leading software to analyze your data. Compared to Garmin Connect, which is great, Polar Flow is much more intuitive to use and undoubtedly more focused on the needs of an athlete’s training requirements.

Plenty of battery life…

The battery life of the Polar watch is up to 40 hours when in GPS mode. This is plenty. Once you get 20% of battery life remaining, you’ll get a warning. At 10% you’ll get a second warning and continuous HR monitoring will stop,

Polar Vantage V – Premium GPS Multisport Watch
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Light.
  • Easy to use.
  • Excellent Polar Flow software.
  • Good, well-planned workout support.

Cons

  • Not ANT+ compatible.
  • It cannot store onboard music.
  • Only 50 meters of water resistance.

9 Garmin Forerunner 735XT, Multisport GPS Running Watch

If you like the Garmin Forerunner 935 but would like a slightly trimmed down version, you’ll like the Garmin Forerunner 735XT.

Most of the features are almost identical to the Garmin 945. However, the biggest difference is in the size of the watch. If you don’t like large sports watches and you find the 47mm size of the Garmin Forerunner 935 too large, the 44.5mm Garmin Forerunner 735XT might be the answer.

2.5mm doesn’t sound like a lot, but it does make a difference on the wrist…

Compared to the Garmin Forerunner 935, or the massive 50mm of the Suunto 9, the Garmin 735XT seems much less obtrusive. This is further helped by its smaller profile. Its depth is 11.9mm, compared to the Garmin Forerunner 935 that measures 13.9mm.

For any athlete with a smaller wrist, it’s all very appealing…

Despite its smaller size, the good news is that you don’t lose any of the screen size or legibility. The screen remains the same as the Garmin Forerunner 935 measuring 1.2”. The screen resolution is also the same at 240 x 240 pixels.

Like all Garmin watches, the 735XT is easy to use, and, importantly for triathletes, it is easy to switch between swimming, cycling, and running modes during the transition. Data display and collection is of the highest order. Plus, when you’ve finished your race or training, you have the same ability to pour over your training data and metrics using Garmin Connect.

ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible…

Although the watch is not wifi enabled, it is ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible. These are the two important protocols for a sports watch. We’re therefore not overly concerned when wifi is absent.

Unlike the 935, there’s no turn by turn navigation on the 735XT, which is a shame. You also don’t get POIs along your routes. Which we’re more able to live without. More positively, like all Garmin devices, the GPS is rock solid and accurate. This is something you can always rely on.

The 735XT has the same super light-weight polymer case as the 935. But, since this watch is a little smaller, it’s lighter too. It weighs just 40gms against the 935 that weighs 49gms.

This makes it one of the lightest GPS multisports watches on the market…

Less positively is that you get just 50 meters of water resistance, which we’ll always have a moan about. One final niggle is that the battery life in smartwatch mode is just 11 days compared to 14 days for the 935.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT, Multisport GPS Running Watch
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Price.
  • Small case size.
  • ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible.
  • Very lightweight.

Cons

  • Battery life.
  • 50 meters of water resistance.

10 Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Coros is very much a newcomer into the world of sports watches. They are better known for smart cycling helmets. The Coros Apex represents their very first and very recent foray into this competitive market.

So, is it any good?

The specifications related to its price are very much on a par with market leaders, Garmin and Suunto. We’re in no doubt about it being fair value. The watch is well-built and finished. It even has sapphire glass. So, we’d expect it to last the tests of time. Though how it will perform after a few years is, frankly, an unknown.

Bit of a learning curve…

The Coros Apex comes in 2 different sizes. You can either buy a 42mm or a 46mm version. The screen and the layout are very clear and easy to use for both. The Apex relies heavily on a rotary knob to change most of the parameters. It’s easy to use after a short while, though there is a bit of a learning curve.

If you choose the 42mm watch, you get a 1.1” screen. With the 46mm watch, you get a 1.2” screen. Both watches have a very welcome 100 meters of water resistance. No complaints there.

Overall, very satisfactory…

Coros has very much focused on core sports modes, and they do these well. As a triathlon watch, it’s easy to use and easy to switch between modes during the transitions. The maps are simple to follow, and the GPS gave us no issues at all.

The watch has a wrist HRM which is sort of OK, though not the most accurate. It’s never going to be anything other than a rough indicator for us. We find it hard to believe that any serious triathlete would use anything but a chest HRM anyway.

The Coros app is on par with Garmin Connect…

The Coros Apex has both ANT+ and Bluetooth capabilities. The storage and display of data through their Coros app is surprisingly good. It gets close to Garmin Connect for sure. The Apex is, of course, able to link up with all third-party training apps.

A big plus for the Coros Apex is its battery life…

For the 46mm version, you get 100 hours using the UltraMax GPS setting. In a normal GPS setting, you get 35 hours. In regular no GPS usage, you can get up to 30 days.

Unfortunately, Coros Apex cannot store and play music. This is a definite moan and niggle for us.

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Sapphire Glass.
  • 100m of water resistance.
  • Good software.
  • Easy to use.
  • Excellent battery life.

Cons

  • Wrist HRM is not the most accurate.
  • It cannot store music.

11 POLAR VANTAGE M –Advanced Running & Multisport Watch

There’s a lot of similarity between the Polar Vantage V, and the Polar Vantage M. They both have plenty of features, but ultimately, the slightly less advanced Vantage M will save you a significant chunk of change.

Lighter, but…

The watch is appreciably lighter than the Vantage V. The Polar Vantage M weighs a mere 45gms compared to the Vantage V that weights 66gms. The weight saving is down to the fact that the Vantage M doesn’t have a stainless-steel cover. This does, however, mean that the Vantage M is slightly less robust.

The watch features Gorilla glass, which is tough enough for most situations…

It has a color touchscreen that works reasonably for the most part. Like Polar Vantage V, the Vantage M can be operated entirely by using the buttons. It’s not a bad option to have for the times when you possibly have problems using a wet screen.

The Polar Vantage M is not compatible with ANT+, which will always feature as a rather large shortcoming for us. Not surprisingly, it is Bluetooth compatible. This is, thankfully, reliable, and easy to hook up to external devices.

One thing you will need Bluetooth for is to record and store running power…

Unlike the Vantage V, the M cannot read running power from the wrist. Consequently, it will need to be hooked up to a third-party sensor. Training Load Pro is also not available, so the training load also has to be run from a third-party sensor.

The only other difference between the Polar Vantage M and the Polar Vantage V is that, firstly, the M version has shorter battery life. It has just 30 hours in training mode compared to the V that has 40 hours. Secondly, the M version can use any third-party watch strap, whereas the V can only use Polar straps. That’s a plus for the Vantage M.

Polar Flow is tops for metric analysis…

As with all Polar watches, you get access to the excellent Polar Flow software. However, sadly, you still only get 50 meters of water resistance and no ability to store your music on the device.

POLAR VANTAGE M –Advanced Running & Multisport Watch
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Good value.
  • Polar Flow software.
  • Excellent workout support.

Cons

  • 50 meters of water resistance.
  • It cannot store music.
  • Not ANT+ compatible.

12 Suunto 5, Lightweight & Compact GPS Sports Watch

The Suunto 5 is a mid-priced fitness/sports watch.

The Suunto 5 is appreciably less expensive than the Suunto 9. There’s no doubt that this is also a much less imposing watch. The case diameter measures just 46mm, compared to the Suunto 9 that measures 50mm. This makes it more suitable for a wider range of athletes that simply find a 50mm watch too big.

Looks good…

In a lot of ways, we also find the Suunto 5 nicer to look at compared to the Suunto 9 because of the scaled-down size. Happily, it comes in plenty of colorways and strap variants to keep you on point as far as fashion is concerned.

Although the watch is only 46mm, it still has a high resolution 320 x 320-pixel touchscreen. Plus, when combined with the three physical buttons, it makes the Suunto 5 as easy to use as all the Suunto range.

It’s maybe even the best triathlon watch to find your way around…

The Suunto features sapphire glass, and it’s tough and sturdy. It’s a watch that will be sure to take some serious knocks and still come through. The only criticism we have in the build quality is that it only has 50m of water resistance. You probably already know how we feel about that!

Battery life leaves a little to be desired, but…

The battery life of the Suunto 5 will give a total of 40 hours in GPS mode. There are plenty of watches with better battery life than this. However, for a mid-priced sports watch, with a small battery, this is pretty good.

The only other difference now between this and the Suunto 9 is that the Suunto 5 has neither a compass nor a barometric altimeter. A couple of things we’d be prepared to live without to save some extra cash.

Ask yourself…

The Suunto 5 is Bluetooth compatible though not ANT+ compatible. It’s always a bone of contention with us and always a potential deal-breaker. Whether you can live without it or not is just something you have to decide for yourself. It probably, to a large extent, depends on what, if any, existing HRMs and power meters you already have.

Store up to 7 days of data…

The Suunto 5 allows you to track daily activity and recovery, track sleeping heart rate, and of course, measure, display and record a huge amount of your training data. The great thing is that you can store up to 7 days of data.

The watch is compatible with all third-party training apps such as Strava or Training Peaks. You can also analyze the data on the latest and improved Suunto software App.

Suunto 5, Lightweight & Compact GPS Sports Watch
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Great value for money.
  • High definition screen.
  • Easy to use.
  • Sapphire glass.
  • Tough.
  • Touchscreen.

Cons

  • 50 meters of water resistance.
  • Not Ant+ compatible.

Best Triathlon Watch Buying Guide

Water Resistance

There’s a lot of confusion about water resistance. 30 meters of water resistance doesn’t mean you can take it diving down to 30 meters. The same is true for watches with 50 meters and 100 meters of water resistance.

30 meters of water resistance is good enough for washing the dishes or being caught in a rainstorm. 50 meters of water resistance is good enough for swimming in shallow water. 100 meters of water resistance will allow you to dive into shallow water, swim, and snorkel.

triathlon watch

So, what does this mean for a triathlete?

If you’re doing your swims in open water, like the sea or a lake, 50 meters of water resistance will be fine. However, if you are doing your swimming in a pool, and you make a diving start, the force could cause things to come unstuck. It probably won’t, but it just might.

With 100 meters, you’ll be fine in all circumstances…

Most triathletes never report a problem with a watch that has 50 meters of waterproofing. However, we think this is an absolute minimum. We feel much more comfortable with a watch that has 100 meters of water resistance.

Battery Life

We figure that 17 hours of battery life should be a minimum requirement for a triathlon watch. This is because 17 hours is the time limit for the Ironman. Now, we accept that a large proportion of triathletes are not going to be doing an Ironman, but a triathlon watch should at least have the capability.

The 17 hours of battery life should also, preferably, be in full GPS mode. If the watch has battery saving options to extend the battery life, that would still be fine.

Of the watches we reviewed, the best battery time for a triathlon watch is the Suunto 9. It can deliver a whopping 120 hours in Ultra GPS mode. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Connectivity

Ideally, a sports watch will be able to connect with third-party devices through ANT+ and Bluetooth. Bluetooth is becoming increasingly popular, but ANT+ is still dominant in the world of HRMs and power meters.

Increasingly, sports watches only offer Bluetooth, which we feel is a mistake. Since ANT+ is still hugely popular, and since a large number of athletes already have ANT+ only devices, we believe having both is the sensible option.

Now, some watches do also offer wifi compatibility. It’s a nice option but not a must-have.

Music Storage

Most of us want music storage on our watch. We don’t want to use the watch as a connection to our phone to access music. We strongly believe that the best triathlon watch should have its own capacity to store music.

This is where watches such as the Garmin Fenix 5, 5 Plus, and 6 Pro all score heavily.

best triathlon watch reviews

Software Support

Having good software support is a vital part of the sports watch purchasing decision. The truth is that you’re not just buying a watch, but you’re also buying into the brand’s software ecosystem. Most of the brands offer excellent software analysis and support. However, we think Polar Flow narrowly beats Garmin Connect for analyzing all your metrics and data. It also gives first-class workout support.

The latest Suunto app is worth an honorable mention. The Suunto app replaces the outgoing Mouvescount app, which was a little clunky in comparison. We’re pleased to say that now Suunto is very close to both Garmin and Polar in the software war.

Before We Announce Our Winner

If you want to take your training to the next level, there are some incredible products we think you may be interested in. Check out the Best Cycling Heart Rate Monitors, the Best Bike Computers, the Best Aero Bars, the Best Flat Pedals, and the Best Triathlon Saddles on the market.

The Best Bike Repair Stands, and the Best Bicycle Tool Kits reviews will show you how to make pre-race adjustments to your bike like a pro.

Then, if you’re traveling far to your triathlon, see our Best Bike Travel Cases, and the Best Bike Locks reviews. Then, learn about an ideal pre-race warm-up tool in the Best Bike Rollers reviews, and you’ll wonder why you never used one before.

Right, back to triathlon watches…

Final Thoughts On The Best Triathlon Watch

So, there you have it. 12 great watches for the triathlete.

Undertaking a triathlon is no easy matter. Keeping track of your fitness and training programs can be just as hard. This is where the very best triathlon watches can help. A watch that can display and store your data for future analysis can be invaluable. Having maps and a few tunes to listen to is nice to have too!

Of all the watches we’ve reviewed, by quite a narrow margin, we choose the…Garmin Fenix 5

… as our top pick. There’s a lot to like about this watch. Including the hook-up to Garmin Connect for starters.

We, of course, also love the rock-steady GPS. We also love the fact that it has ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility. It’s also got 100 meters of water resistance and can store your music too. We’re sure you’ll agree that this easy to use and great value watch ticks all the boxes for the serious triathlete.

Enjoy your training.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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