I am comfortable with HR training, but I have a circa 1993 Polar HR monitor and I hate it. The sensor works for cardio at the gym, but the watch display reminds me is very "Atari". I know that I want to get a GPS-enabled monitor. I've narrowed it down to either a Garmin 405, Garmin 305 or the Suunto Tri Pack (crazy expensive). Does anyone have any guidance/thoughts/comments?
I know that the Garmin 305 does not work indoors. So if you do any training on a treadmill or a spin class it won't connect. I have both the Garmin 305 and a Polar RS400. The Polar works great inside because it links to all the machines. It can also be used as a GPS if you purchase the foot pod seperately.
You've probably seen this but on the website for it https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=11039
it says for indoor use you can use the Garmin 405 along with a foot pod as well though it too is sold separately.
I have the 305 and love it. GPS does not work indoors but the watch has an indoor mode so you will still have Heart rate on a treadmill just no speed. Additionally I have the speed/cadence sensor for the 305 which I use indoors all the time since it is for the rear wheel and actually works on a trainer. The 305 is bigger then the 405 but I have a strong preference for buttons I can push and touch sensitive buttons scare me.
I have the Forerunner 405. I like it a lot, but Joe is right that the touch-sensitive bezel is a bit of a pain. This winter I've found that it's sometimes hard to get it to register a tap even with ungloved fingers and it sometimes registers unintended taps when brushed with a jacket sleeve or glove.
Could anybody recommend a relatively inexpensive HR monitor for someone who's never used one before? I'm about to go out and purchase one this week and wondering if there are any models that are particularly good for first-time users. Thanks!
You don’t mention these monitors but I have great experience using the Garmin Edge 305 AND the Forerunner 50 (w/ foot pod) together. I like the Edge 305 with its larger screen, more accurate altimeter reading, and generally better bike functions (than Forerunner 305/405) for the bike and the more compact Forerunner 50 for the swim and run. The latter is small enough that I can wear it as a regular watch too. Both units will work with the same HR strap. The combined cost of these monitors are not so bad because both of these monitors have been replaced by newer models so you can generally find good deals on them.
This option will not work if you must have GPS for the run.
To get started, any HR monitor will do. If you are going for an entry-level monitor, I'd recommend sticking with Polar or some other known brand. Polar basically only does HR monitors so they're all going to be good. Their entry level watches are $40-$50.
Remembering that the more options you have, the more it will cost, here are some options to look for in order from basic to advanced (i.e., cheap to expensive)
- Chronograph and HR monitor
- Lap button
- Average HR
- Time in HR zones
- Speed Sensor (GPS or foot-pod)
- Uplink to computer and training software
I'm a big fan of my Garmin 305. I'm not crazy about its size versus the 405, but like Joe, I also like the buttons (vs. the touch sensitive bezel). Also, I like the multisport function on the 305 (which allows you to transition from one sport to another with just a push of a button - it will even record your transition times!). Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that the 405 has the multisport mode. For indoor use, I use it solely as a HRM - you'll get your distance on a treadmill and on the bike, I have my bike computer (rear-mounted) for the trainer and I just guesstimate mileage on a spin bike.
With all that said, you don't need to spend $$$ for a HRM. You can pick up a solid Polar or Timex HRM for under $100. Don't worry about the GPS - 99% of the time, you'll have a tech junkie in your training group who is sporting a GPS who can tell you the mileage/elevation/average pace/yada yada yada - i.e., more information than you need to know. On the bike, an inexpensive bike computer (under $50) will do the job.
Both the 305 and 405 support footpods and cadence/spoke magnets, so you can use both indoors on either a treadmill or trainer.
I have both and have used them both indoors. However, for a triathlete, the 305 is really the best choice. As noted, it has multisport mode - whereas the 405 doesn't. Also, the 405 isn't entirely ideal for cycling or transitions.
Here's some full reviews I wroteup: