Finding the best triathlon watch for beginners can be tricky. There are so many brands on the market that it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one. This is why it is important to weigh up your needs against the capabilities of the watch. This will enable you to make the best decision for your requirements and price point, while still getting the data to get you on top form. It’s all about progress after all.
For triathletes, personalised data and being able to measure each and every workout, split and distance straight from their wrist is vital. Every second of every training session is critical to really optimise performance. This may be the first challenge as a beginner: how much data do you really need? In the beginning, it may be best to avoid overwhelming yourself with complicated metrics you don’t need or understand just yet. Keep it simple.
On the other hand, you still need essential triathlon discipline tracking capabilities to ensure consistent progress as you transition to a more experienced level of training.
Best Triathlon Watch for Beginners - The Basics
Waterproof. A top priority should be your new watch’s water rating. Ideally, you’d want a watch that is highly waterproof for both pool and open water swims.
GPS. Accurate navigation is essential for route tracking throughout training and for race day. Any time you’re training outdoors, you’ll want to stay on top of how fast, how far, and how straight you are running, cycling or swimming. Additionally, the better your GPS features, the more fun you can have planning and tracking your routes - making training way less painful as a beginner.
Heart Rate. Tracking heart rate is incredibly vital in the interest of progressing from a beginner to an experienced triathlete. Not only will this metric give you a good indication of your overall fitness, it will also provide you with better insight to when your body needs time to recover or when you need to be pushing harder during training.
Lightweight. This will most likely be overlooked by most people looking to buy their first fitness watch. You’ll probably be distracted by all the bells and whistles - trying to weigh up all the fancy features of each candidate. However, never neglect how the watch actually feels on your wrist. An uncomfortable fit can easily compromise your training. Aim for a lightweight fitness watch that fits snugly on your wrist and won’t influence performance.
Software Compatibility. Depending on which software and third party apps you use to track your performance, you’ll want to make sure that your fitness watch is compatible. Strava is a popular app used by triathletes to compete against other runners and cyclists through GPS data and ultimately leads to increased motivation and performance.
With its flexible wristband and protective casing that can withstand the elements, this watch was built for the triathlete. Not only does it feature 80 sport modes with accurate feedback and metrics, it also allows you to track your daily heart rate throughout the day and during activity. For example, it can display a table of lap times showing average heart rate. Additionally, it can also show graphs of heart rate, elevation and pace - which are much easier to read while running.
The Suunto Spartan Trainer also comes with some very useful GPS features. The waypoint navigation allows you to save certain waypoints on the Suunto App or on the actual watch when you are at the location. It can then direct you to those waypoints with useful metrics such as distance remaining and direction. Although the watch doesn’t come with full navigation, it does provide breadcrumb maps. This is useful to see, for example, the distance remaining in your route loop.
Another cool feature of the Suunto Spartan Trainer, is that it provides heatmaps. This allows you to see popular running or cycling routes on the app, and then sync directly to the watch. Heatmaps are, therefore, a great way to enjoy your training as a beginner by mixing up the locations of your runs and cycles.
Furthermore, the watch easily syncs to the Suunto App and Movescounts, as well as Strava - giving you personalised access to training programs to keep you on top form. Many people also compliment the sunrise/sunset feature of the Suunto Spartan Trainer that allows you to see exact sunset and sunrise times from your wrist. This can be very helpful as a safety feature to ensure you complete your training before dark.
This watch also comes with various GPS modes in order to extend battery life: best, good and okay. However, many reviews recommend only using the GPS in best mode. In this case, battery life should last about 10 hours. In 24/7 tracking mode with mobile notifications enabled, battery life should last 7 days, and 14 days in time mode.
The Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR also enables you to receive phone notifications and track sleep cycles to optimise rest and make sure you are ready for those tough training sessions.
If you’re looking for the best triathlon watch for beginners that provides you with all the essential training and tracking features at an incredible price point - the Suunto Spartan Wrist HR is the watch for you!
Although there are definitely way fancier fitness watches on the market at the moment, we think the Polar Vantage M is an exceptional choice if you’re a beginner triathlete. Most importantly, this watch is excellent at tracking your running, cycling and swimming disciplines. Additionally, it also boasts a superior wrist-based heart rate monitor, excellent battery life, and an attractive design.
If you’re a beginner triathlete, the first thing you need is a personalised training program that will most efficiently improve your performance. The Polar Vantage M easily syncs with the Polar Flow app and is compatible with all Polar sensors. This provides you with the perfect training plan for your needs and enables you to effortlessly upload all your training data at the end of each session.
Together with personalised training plans, the Polar Vantage M provides a running index that determines your running VO2 max and how your running performance is developing. You can even create a profile for any particular activity that includes target heart rate, power zones and speed. You simply load the activity, press start and use the watch as a reference to ensure you are training at the desired intensity. The watch will do the thinking for you by quantifying the strain of your training sessions and how it strains your body.
Waterproof up to 30 meters, the Polar Vantage M’s swimming mode gives you incredible insight into you overall performance. It automatically detects heart rate, your swimming style, distance, pace - as well as your strokes in the pool and in open water.
Other cool features include the Sleep Plus and Smart Cals features. Sleep Plus analyses the quality of your sleep by measuring the timing and amount, and uses that data to provide meaningful insight that can further optimise your training. Additionally, the Smart Cals feature tells you how many calories you are burning based on personalised metrics such as weight, height, age, gender and individual maximum heart rate.
Last but not least, is the excellent battery life of the Polar Vantage M. In training mode, with GPS and wrist-based heart rate acivitated, the battery should last about 30 hours - which is more than enough time to get you through a tough training session or race.
If you’re looking for the best triathlon watch for beginners that will give you incredible insight into all triathlon disciplines with excellent battery life and a beautiful design - the Polar Vantage M is definitely the watch for you!
Best Triathlon Watch for Beginners - Best Garmin
Garmin Forerunner 735 XT Multisport (R4999,90)
Arguably one of the most popular fitness watches at the moment, the Garmin Forerunner 735 XT Multisport is an obvious favorite for tracking triathlon disciplines. It comes with an accurate wrist-based heart rate monitor, that enables you to run freely while tracking your performance.
Along with a long list of useful metrics, the Garmin Forerunner 735 XT Multisport enables effortless tracking of indoor and outdoor triathlon disciplines. When paired with a heart rate strap, it records advanced cycling, swimming and running dynamics such as ground contact time balance, stride length and vertical ratio. Furthermore, it also provides valuable insight into your VO2 max estimate, lactate threshold, race predictor and recovery advisor.
The Garmin Forerunner XT Multisport also enables you to download personalised workouts from Garmin Connect, where you can track your performance and even compete against your friends - there’s nothing like a little healthy competition to push you even further. Interestingly enough, this watch was also the first to be compatible with Strava. You can create live segments that gives you live feedback during your training, and it also tells you how your current effort compares to previous workouts (called Suffer Score).
Another handy feature of the Garmin Forerunner XT Multisport is LiveTrack. This is a useful safety feature that allows your family and friends to track your location in real time. Furthermore, this watch also comes with a customisable screen and activity tracker that measures your steps, calories and sleep.
In GPS mode with heart rate activated, you can expect the battery of the Forerunner XT Multisport to last around 16 hours and 24 hours in UltraTrac mode.
If you’re looking for the best triathlon watch for beginners within the ultra popular Garmin range, with advanced running, swimming and cycling tracking capabilities - the Garmin Forerunner 735 XT Multisport is the watch for you!
Best Triathlon Watch for Beginners - Final Thoughts
We know there are heaps of fitness watches out there at the moment - which is why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to make the right decision within your budget. Yes, it is easy to get distracted with the top of the range, flashier fitness watches on the market - but as a beginner, maybe a better strategy would be to first get comfortable with less overwhelming metrics and your own capabilities.
In this case, we think the Suunto Spartan Trainer is the best triathlon watch for beginners at the best price point. Additionally, if you’re looking for the best overall triathlon watch - with excellent tracking and battery life - go for the Polar Vantage M. However, if you’re a stickler for Garmin watches and are looking for an incredible watch to effortlessly guide you guide you from beginner to professional athlete - the Garmin Forerunner 735 XT Multisport watch is a no-brainer.