What Separates the Best Watches for Triathletes From the Worst?

Apr 03, 2024
best watches for triathletes

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To excel in triathlon, you need to be a tracking fanatic. Miles matter. Times matter. Splits matter…it all matters. Every detail counts in the pursuit of peak performance (or just trying to finish the damn race, in general). One way to do that is by investing in the right type of wrist wear. Let’s learn about what separates the best watches for triathletes from the worst.

7 Components of the Best Watches for Triathletes

What is it that makes a watch suitable for triathlon? The price tag can be substantial when it comes to buying any kind of fancy tech, so we want to make sure it’s worth it in the long run and meets the demands of our training and competition. Make sure whatever watch you buy, it has most (if not all) of the following.

GPS Tracking

Accurate GPS tracking is essential for monitoring routes, pacing, and distance covered during training and races. The best watches for triathletes have advanced GPS technology that provides precise location data, even in challenging environments such as open water swimming, dense urban areas, and even remote off-trail terrain. 

Water Resistance

Every triathlon starts in the water, making water resistance a non-negotiable feature. Look for ones with robust water resistance ratings, ideally suitable for swimming in both pools and open water. Beyond water resistance, swim metrics such as stroke count, SWOLF score, and lap tracking can provide valuable insights into your swim performance and technique.

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Heart Rate Monitoring

Heart rate monitoring helps you to gauge exertion, fitness improvements, and overall training intensity. The best triathlon watches feature accurate heart rate sensors that provide real-time data during workouts and races. Advanced performance metrics such as VO2 max estimation, analysis of your training load, and recovery monitoring help triathletes to fine-tune their training.

Battery Life

Long-lasting battery life is an essential selling point for triathletes who engage in extended training sessions and competition. The best watches for triathletes can withstand the demands of Ironman-distance races without needing to be recharged; multiple days and/or up to 20 hours. Look for watches with customizable battery modes and other power-saving features, as well.

Durability & Comfort

Triathlon watches are subjected to rigorous conditions, including exposure to water, sweat, rough handling and varying temperatures. Look for watches constructed from high-quality materials that are tough, but don’t compromise on comfort. Lightweight design, breathable straps, and scratch-resistant screens enhance wearability and long-term resilience to wear.

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

Data & App Integration

Tracking data and being able to organize it in online platforms helps triathletes to understand their training and progress. Many of the best watches for triathletes have a companion mobile app provided by the manufacturer to help sync workout data directly from the device itself. It’s worth navigating these interfaces in-store to see which one feels the most intuitive to you.

Triathlon Watches & Recovery

All of the metrics that a good triathlon watch provides are not just for performance, but recovery, as well. If you’re picking up injuries or feeling aches and pains cropping up around the body, the data you’ve collected will be able to show you where training might be going astray. You can adjust accordingly, and even build recovery right into your programming.

(Credit: Adobe Stock)

How Do I Choose a Triathlon Watch?

It’s going to come down to a combination of factors. You want to make sure the watch has everything you need to succeed in your training, but what that entails is going to be different for each individual. The needs of a beginner triathlete are different from those of a professional, and there’s no need to extend yourself unnecessarily. 

There are some trusted brands that have proven their reliability over the years and amongst triathletes for their dependability, quality and performance. Some of those include:

  • Garmin
  • Apple
  • Suunto
  • Polar

All of these brands offer different tiers of products to accommodate the budget you’re willing to allocate to a good triathlon watch (which, of course, you can use for other activities, as well). Expect something like the following when familiarizing yourself with the market:

  • Entry Level: $100-$300
  • Mid-Range: $300-$600
  • High-End: $600-$1,500
  • Luxury: $1,500-$3,000+ (no, we’re not joking)

Closing Thoughts

Selecting the best watch for triathletes involves careful consideration of their features weighed against the cost. With a bit of careful testing and shopping around, you can find a watch that not only meets your training and racing needs but also enhances overall performance and enjoyment of the sport. Don’t be afraid to look for second-hand options or even factory refurbished models.

Are You a Triathlete in Pain?

The fanciest watch in the world doesn’t replace a broken body. If you’re a triathlete struggling with injury or just looking to feel better in your training and competition, join us here at Dynamic Triathlete! We offer the world’s best app and online platform for stretching/mobility, strength training and injury prevention for triathletes. Sign up for a 7-day free trial—click here!

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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