The Best Chest Strap HR Monitors for Super-Accurate Workout Data

A man running with a chest strap HR tracker
Polar

While fitness trackers are all the rage, an older gadget might be a better help if you’re looking to hit your fitness goals: a chest band heart rate tracker. They’re cheaper, more accurate, and rarely need a battery change.

These are more niche athlete gadgets and can’t easily be found on the shelves of Best Buy or Academy. But for those who want a simple and effective way to get super-accurate heart rate data, they can’t be beaten. We’ve selected the best on the market.

The Best Overall Chest HR Tracker: Wahoo TICKR

The Wahoo TICKR chest HR tracker
Wahoo

For anyone who wants to make the switch to a chest strap heart rate monitor without breaking the bank, the Wahoo TICKR is the best option. This super-simple tracker runs on a cheap watch battery for months (or even years), and connects to most exercise equipment via the ANT+ wireless standard, with Bluetooth available as a backup for most phone exercise apps. (Wahoo makes its own app, but the tracker works with almost any app that supports external hardware.)

Its simple hardware and snap-on, adjustable strap are just about foolproof. It helps that it’s tiny: The low-profile tracker can easily fit underneath even tight workout clothes. For an accurate upgrade without the frills, you can’t do any better.

Best Budget Chest HR Tracker

Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor, Bluetooth/ANT+

The Wahoo Tickr is inexpensive, unobtrusive, and easy to use. It's also among the least expensive wireless trackers on the market.

The Most Accurate Chest HR Tracker: Polar H10

The Polar H10 tracker and chest strap
Polar

Runners and cyclists adore the Polar H10, thanks to measurement accuracy that consistently beats the competition. Its electrocardiogram sensor, waterproof design, and dual Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity (both at the same time, if you need it) means it can be used in almost any situation.

The user-replaceable battery is rated for 400 hours of active tracking, and it can save a workout session in local memory if you don’t have your phone or tracking gadget handy. It also works on the semi-proprietary 5 Khz “Gymlink” wireless standard. And yes, despite the Polar branding, the H10 is more than happy to work with third-party apps.

Most Accurate Chest HR Tracker

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar's H10 is the gold standard of basic heart rate trackers, and it works with Bluetooth, ANT+, and GymLink.

A Premium Alternative Chest HR Tracker: Garmin HRM series

the Garmin HRM-Run chest HR tracker
Garmin

Polar might be the go-to pick, but workout enthusiasts who are dedicated to a particular training style might want to check out Garmin’s flagship chest strap, too. The HRM comes in three premium variants: HRM-Run, HRM-Swim, and HRM-Tri, with design choices balanced for runners, swimmers, and triathlon athletes, respectively.

The HRM-Run, for example, uses motion detection to guess at your cadence and stride length, while the HRM-Swim has a slightly “sticky” strap that won’t slip down your torso after an hour in the pool, and its body resists chlorine corrosion from pool water. The HRM-Tri is smaller for fitting under a tri-suit and tracks both running and swimming data.

These variants are more expensive than the H10 and have a little more drift in their heart rate detection. They also lack Bluetooth wireless, so your phone needs to support ANT+ if you want to use it as a workout companion. But the extra data might be worth it if you’re looking to make improvements to those very specific metrics.

Best Alternative Chest HR Tracker

Garmin Garmin HRM-Run

Garmin's HRM-Run, HRM-Swim, and HRM-Tri trackers offer specific features for athletes focused on one discipline.

Michael Crider Michael Crider
Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read Full Bio »

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