Best Heart Rate Monitors: A Buying Guide

Awareness about personal fitness and its importance has increased drastically during the past years that even breathing exercisers are available in the market to make your lungs stronger. Also, with an alarming increase in heart problems and diseases related to our stagnant lifestyle, the awareness about how essential it is to look after our heart, body, and mind is widely spreading. You can witness many people wearing fitness bands around their wrists with connected applications in their smartphones.

Heart rate monitors are used precisely for the same purpose. They measure your heart rate and relay the information to you. Now it is up to you how you use that information. Some people use these monitors to track their fitness while some are advised by their physician to use heart rate monitors so that their heart rate activity is recorded and the doctor can keep an eye on it.

Heart rate monitors also come integrated into fitness tracking devices. Such devices provide you with an overall outlook about your physical health, along with your heart rate. However, in this buying guide, you will be informed about everything that you need to know about heart rate monitors before buying one for yourself – that is, we will be talking about standalone heart rate monitors. Let’s get into it.

What Does A Heart Rate Monitor Do?

A heart rate monitor observes the activity of your heart. It records your cardiac activity and shows it to you. It relays information about how fast or slow your pulse is going. This helps you to know when your cardiac activity is at a peak.

The resting heart rate is as important to know as the one when you are involved in some activity. The resting heart rate tells you how earlier your heart has recovered from an activity – signifying your stamina.

Who Uses It?

There might be two broad reasons why people would want to get a heart rate monitor. For some, it is of utmost need for tracking their fitness while they exercise and rest. For others, it might be a medical need. Several physicians suggest that their high-risk patients keep a constant check on their heart rate in order to sense any critical situation beforehand.

Heart rate monitors are also widely used by fitness enthusiasts to build their stamina. Monitoring your heart rate over a period of time while you exercise and do stamina building activity helps you know how far you have come.

For whatever reason you might be wanting it (though we pray it is not the second one and you are in good shape), you have landed at the perfect place. Let us first explore the types of heart rate monitors and then we will move on to the important points you should consider before purchasing.

Types of Heart Rate Monitors:

  • Chest Strap Monitors

This type of heart rate monitor is considered to be the most accurate one. This is probably because it is worn very near to the heart and is strapped at your chest. Chest strap heart rate monitors use electric waves traveling to and forth your heart. This data from the electric waves signifies your heart rate.

As it is a no-brainer that these straps need to be as close to your heart as possible, they must also be touching your skin all the time. So, they need to be worn under your clothes, securely strapped around your chest. Information from such heart rate monitors is considered to be very accurate.

However, these heart rate monitors pose a great hassle if they break loose. It is difficult to adjust and strap them back again when you are in the middle of something important. Imagine if you wear it to your work, and it comes loose during a meeting.

Yes, they might fall off as well. So, let’s accept the truth: these might be the most accurate ones, but they are a big hassle.

  • Heart Monitors as Armbands

This type of heart rate monitors uses optical technology to measure your heart rate. They use LED lights to observe the cardiac activity and then display it on the band or show it in your smartphone application. We do not see many standalone heart rate monitors of this type, as they usually come integrated with fitness bands nowadays.

This type of heart rate monitor is a perfect buy for athletes or fitness enthusiasts who want to avoid having something strapped across their chest. However, if you get a wristband heart monitor without a display, you better get used to taking out your phone every once in a while to check your heart rate.

  • Heart Rate Monitors Integrated With Fitness Trackers

Inarguably, this type of heart rate monitor is the most popular one. It also gives information about the number of steps and the amount of calorie you take, and not just the heart rate. Numerous fitness trackers also observe and record your sleep pattern. By tracking your calorie count, it helps you achieve that desired number on the weighing scale.

If paired with your smartphone, these heart rate monitors can securely save your data for any further use. This also helps the device in learning your pattern. Some of the fitness trackers also notify you when you achieve a milestone in your fitness. They notify you if you achieve your desired heart rate, or alarm you when it drops.

However, there is one downside to such heart rate monitors – wristbands tend to move around a lot during activity, and thus, readings might be compromised.

Points to Consider

  • Accuracy

As discussed previously, accuracy is the most important thing in recording your heart rate. It can significantly impact your health and fitness routine. So, look out for the most accurate heart rate monitors. The ones that calculate your heart rate by electric waves (the chest strapped heart rate monitors) are considered to be more accurate than the wrists ones using optical energy.

Nevertheless, you can make an intelligent purchase decision by combining the factor of accuracy and comfort for the best buy. If you think chest-strapped monitors are the most accurate but are uncomfortable to carry then choose comfort to base your decision on.

  • Comfort

Some people might be okay with wearing the chest strapped heart rate monitor to work and workouts as well. While on the other hand, some might go for wristband monitors as they are easy to adjust and access. By using the wristband heart rate monitors, you can easily view your readings on the LED display.

A chest strapped heart rate monitor is very impractical if you want to view your readings. Who would want to rush to the restroom every now and then to check the readings? Or better yet, who would want to excuse from a meeting if they detect the band slipping from their chest?

  • Integration with Other Devices

Connectivity is integral to survive in this era. If your heart rate monitor does not connect with your smartphone and store your information on the cloud, is it even a thing? This is an era of technology and interconnectivity. Always consider if the heart rate monitor you are going to buy connects to your smartphone or not. You can have all your readings stored in this way.

Also, check the charging process. Monitors that charge with a cable just like your phone are the ones to go for. You can also use your phone’s charging cable to charge them.

A word of advice: do not go for complicated chargers.

  • Style

For some, style tops anything else. If you are one of them, check out the latest most fabulous designs with LED displays. Newer models are even integrated with your smartphone and also notify you about new calls or messages.

Some are eerily thin and are top picks of minimalists. While for some, the bigger, the better. So, consider this feature before making a decision.

  • Added Features

When you arebuying the best heart rate monitor, watch out for the one that has Bluetooth or cable connectivity. This helps in transferring and securing your data on another device. Moreover, an added feature of a flashing digital display or a ringer for notifying your target zone is a bonus.

Some heart rate monitors also come with a stopwatch and a clock display. These features are an added advantage to your usual heart rate monitors.

Where to Buy
Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor
Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor for Men and Women , ANT + Bluetooth, ECG/EKG - Waterproof HR Sensor with Chest Strap (NEW)
Polar H10 HR Sensor BLE
Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband - Optical Heart Rate Armband Monitor with Dual Band Radio ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart - Bonus Pack Includes Additional Free Armband
Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor, Bluetooth/ANT+
Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor, Bluetooth/ANT+
Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor with Memory, Bluetooth/ANT+


Our Top Picks:

Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor

If you are an avid fitness trainee and want to go hours without having to worry about adjusting your heart rate monitor, this is the perfect pick for you. It does not pose any hassle even if you wear it for long hours of training or exercise. It has no unwanted seams here and there and has perfectly soft rounded edges. These qualities qualify it as one of the most sought-after heart rate monitors.

The next big thing about this Garmin heart rate monitor is its extended storage ability. It can store up to 20 hours of data, which means even if you are out of range of a compatible device to transfer your data to, this heart rate monitor can save your cardiac calculations for 20 hours. This is a must for all the fitness enthusiasts who lead a busy social life.

Finally coming to the most crucial point about this option, it has a strong battery backup. Based on calculated testing, it can last up to 10 months if you use it an hour a day. Now, if you want the battery to last a month without charging it, you can do the calculations and see for yourself!

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor for Men and Women (Latest Version)

Polar is a well-known name in the fitness industry. The foremost reason that this particular heart rate monitor made up to this list is its astonishing compatibility with almost every other device out there. Be it smartwatches of any brand or fitness applications such as Strava and Nike; you can connect this monitor with anything and have your information relayed and synched. How cool is that?

Additionally, this Polar H10 heart rate monitor has excellent compatibility with all types of Bluetooth connections. It also has ANT+ and 5 kHz, which means you can use two connections simultaneously or two Bluetooth connections simultaneously. However, there is one limitation if you consider. This heart rate monitor only comes with a chest strap – that is, if you are a person who likes wearing wristbands, then this might not be the one for you.

Polar H10 HR Sensor BLE

This heart rate monitor by Polar is another one of the greatest picks to look out for. It is a perfect little minimalistic heart rate monitor that is able to store your heart rate for one training session. It can be paired with the GoPro hero camera that records and stores your heart rate.

For the ones having difficulty in managing a wristband heart rate monitor throughout their workout or exercise or during work, this Polar monitor comes with adjustable chest straps. It clips securely around your chest to give you accurate data at the end of the session.

The only difference between this and the latest version (mentioned above) is that it has Bluetooth connectivity only while the latest one has both Bluetooth and ANT+.

Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband

As its name suggests, this heart rate monitor by Scosche is a powerful monitor that has amazing battery support. It is an armband heart monitor with Bluetooth connectivity. You can easily wear it to your workout sessions and not worry about the sweat ruining your heart rate monitor, as it is waterproof (up to one meter of penetration).

This heart monitor armband is available in six different amazing colors to choose from according to your desire. It has 8 hours of extended battery life and both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity for your convenience. It is compatible with smartphones, fitness equipment, fitness watches, and more.

Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor, Bluetooth/ANT+

Compatible with numerous fitness applications, the Wahoo heart rate monitor is your go-to monitor if you are passionate about your fitness goal. It comes with a personalized heart rate training ability that records your heart rate as well as notifies about your target zones.

It also calculates and tracks your calorie intake. So, if you have difficulty in controlling your diet while you are working your way to your aim, you should get this Wahoo heart rate monitor. The best thing about it is that you can record your workout data with the Wahoo Fitness App, and it will automatically upload it to your favorite training platform.

Polar OH1+ Optical Heart Rate Sensor, Bluetooth/ANT+

This one is the most convenient choice if you are looking for a simple, yet, accurate heart rate monitor. It comes with an optical sensor that easily straps around your wrist and records the information. It is available in three colors to choose from. You get both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity in this heart rate sensor.

This Polar Optical heart rate monitor is also able to connect and pair with various smartphone applications and other fitness trackers. It is water-resistant up to 30 meters and comes with a swimming goggle strap clip that makes it an excellent choice for swimmers who want to keep track of their heart rate while swimming.

Wahoo TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor with Memory, Bluetooth/ANT+

Wahoo heart rate monitor comes with memory storage and Bluetooth connectivity. It has a fantastic memory that stores your cardiac data to be sent to other devices later on. It syncs your data almost immediately once connected with the paired smartphone or application.

The Bluetooth connectivity makes it possible to connect this monitor with all types of phones or tablets. If you are on a fitness mission, you should get this monitor straight away as it can work with over 50 fitness applications such as Nike Run Club, Zwift, or Wahoo fitness. It is waterproof up to 5 feet and works on a coin cell that can last for up to 12 months. Some other things that Wahoo Tickr X offer:

  • Rep Counting
  • Running Analytics: Running Cadence, Vertical Oscillation, and Ground Contact Time

Final Words

Fitness should not be associated with medical conditions only. Older people with heart problems are not the only ones who need to keep a vigilant eye on their heart rates. Recording and knowing your cardiac activity is essential for stamina building as well as for all types of fitness exercises.

No matter how high or low your budget is for buying a heart rate monitor, we have put up this buying guide for you to be able to make a wise purchase decision within your budget and according to your requirements. The products are based on users’ experiences and will surely guide you to the most suitable pick!