To help you find the best heart rate monitor for heart patients and cycling and fitness enthusiasts, we have tried plenty of top models, testing them for accuracy, preferring products that boast high quality ECG measurement capabilities. We loved items that were easy to wear and to adjust, often via chest straps or wrist-based watch design, and those that integrated nicely with efficient and useful proprietary apps.
The best product we tried was easily the Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, which features an adjustable chest strap design, available in multiple sizes, and highly accurate ECG measurement capabilities. The electrodes on offer manage to stay attached even during intense workouts and the waterproof design is ultra-rugged, with a number of wireless connection options, including Bluetooth and ANT+, among others. Keep reading to learn more about the Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor and the other models on this list.
Top 7 Best Heart Rate Monitor
#1 Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Waterproof chest strap design with best-in-class electrodes, offering supreme accuracy, and a highly adjustable form factor that is available in a variety of sizes, each appropriate for both genders.
- Best heart rate monitor for Apple Watch
- Highly adjustable
- Range of wireless connection options
- Requires external battery, though one is included
- Internal storage on small side, only 1 fitness session
- Does not read body temperature or related metrics
The Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor features a unisex chest strap design that is available in a variety of size options, suiting many different body types, and boasts highly accurate readings, thanks to a suite of advanced electrodes. We loved how adjustable this monitor was, easily staying attached during intense workouts, and the full range of wireless connectivity options on offer, including Bluetooth, ANT+ and 5 kHz. It also integrates nicely with the Apple Watch, making it the best heart rate monitor for Apple Watch that we tried.
Though this item does a fantastic job at measuring heart rates, it does not measure body core temperature or other fitness-related metrics. Additionally, the internal storage is on the small side, with only enough to save data from one fitness session. The best fitbit will also help you stay fit.
#2 Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely light and compact chest strap design, weighing just 2 ounces, with integrated software that stores up to 20 hours of fitness data and provides dynamic feedback along on a number of metrics, including running form.
- Best for Swimming
- Extremely light, 2 oz
- Stores 20 hrs of data & dynamic feedback
- No Bluetooth
- Requires external battery, though one is included
- Strap is not quite as adjustable as top pick
The Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor is a waterproof design that excels with both swimming and running, with an extremely light form factor, weighing just two ounces, and the ability to store up to 20 hours of fitness data. On that note, the related software also provides dynamic feedback, which is particularly useful when running, as it measures cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time, among other metrics.
Though this monitor interacts nicely with compatabie ANT+ devices, it does not feature Bluetooth, which somewhat limits connectivity. Also, it requires an external CR2032 battery for the purposes of replacement, though it does come with one to start. The best exercise equipment will help you keep healthy with a great heartbeat.
#3 Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor
Award: BEST FOR CYCLING
WHY WE LIKE IT: Fantastic tracker for cycling, featuring integration with over 50 fitness apps, with highly accurate heart rate sensors and a range of wireless connectivity options, including Bluetooth and ANT+.
- Excellent app integration
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- Best for Peloton
- Waterproof, but only up to 5 feet
- Requires external battery
- Strap is not machine washable
This Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor easily integrates with over 50 fitness-related smartphone apps, allowing the efficient transfer of workout data. Much of this data is of particular interest to both cyclists and runners, making this the best heart rate monitor for cycling that we tried. The sensors are highly accurate and the wireless connectivity is on point, allowing integration with both ANT+ and Bluetooth-enabled devices. It also integrates nicely with Peloton exercise bikes, making this the best heart rate monitor for Peloton equipment.
Though this item is technically waterproof, it is only rated to work in up to five feet of water, so we wouldn’t recommend using this to swim. Additionally, the strap is not machine washable, whereas both of our top picks feature straps that can be placed in the washing machine. You might also want to invest in the best fitness tracker.
#4 Scosche Rhythm24 Armband Heart Rate Monitor
Award: BEST ARMBAND
WHY WE LIKE IT: Armband design that is waterproof, up to 10 feet, and measures a variety of metrics in addition to heart rate, including running cadence and heart rate variability, with Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity.
- Best w/out chest strap
- Measures several metrics besides heart rate
- Compatible with Bluetooth and ANT+ devices
- Rechargeable battery, andgets 24 hours of use
- Needs app to access data, though lights do indicate what “heart rate zone” you are in
- Initial setup can be frustrating
This Scosche Rhythm24 Armband Heart Rate Monitor uses advanced optical heart rate sensors that deliver highly accurate information while negating the need to be strapped to the chest. As a matter of fact, this is the best heart rate monitor without a chest strap that we tried, thanks to the ability to measure several useful metrics, besides heart rate, including running cadence and cycling distance, among others. We also loved that the device features both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity options.
Though this does come with a rechargeable battery, we found that the battery life on offer was on the lower end, offering around 24 hours of continuous use on a single charge. Also, we found the initial setup to be somewhat frustrating, though once we got through those hiccups it worked flawlessly. The best smartwatch will also help you stay healthy.
#5 Letscom Fitness Tracker Heart Rate Monitor
Award: BEST BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: A budget-friendly smart watch design with a battery that lasts for 10 days before needing a charge and features the ability to track sleep and other metrics, in addition to heart rate.
- Excellent battery life (10 days)
- Large color touch screen
- Tracks sleep in addition to heart rate
- Not quite as accurate as top picks
- Not waterproof, though sweat proof
- No way to purchase replacement bands
This Letscom Fitness Tracker Heart Rate Monitor features a budget-friendly smart watch design that offers some high end functionalities, despite its relatively low price point. It boasts a 1.3” LCD touchscreen, which we found to be receptive, and a fantastic battery that will get you around ten days of use on a single charge. We also liked that it tracks sleep quality, in addition to heart rate, and performs a wide variety of smartwatch-related tasks, such as setting alarms and checking messages.
Though the heart rate monitor on offer does do a fairly decent job, we found it to be not quite as accurate as our top picks. Additionally, this is not a waterproof item, so do not wear it while swimming. You can compare this model to the best android smartwatch.
#6 L8star Activity Tracker and Heart Rate Monitor
Award: BEST BATTERY
WHY WE LIKE IT: Smartwatch design with some nifty extra features, including sleep monitoring and a pedometer, with a large LCD touchscreen and a fantastic battery that can get anywhere between 15 to 30 days of use on a single charge.
- Best heart rate watch
- Large LCD touchscreen
- Integrates with smartphone GPS
- Heart rate monitoring not as accurate as top picks
- Takes a while to calibrate while sweaty
- Does not connect to third party apps
This L8star Activity Tracker and Heart Rate Monitor is the best heart rate monitor watch design that we tried, thanks to a bevy of useful features, in addition to the inclusion of a pedometer, message storing and full integration with the GPS found on a smartphone. We also loved the rechargeable battery, which can get between 15 to 30 days of use on a single charge, and the ultra-responsive LCD touchscreen.
Though we found the proprietary FlagFit app to be useful, this product does not connect to third party apps, which is something of an oversight. Also, we found that it can take a while to calibrate the heart rate monitor while sweaty, something that could get in the way of workouts. The best running watches will also help you keep track of your heart rate.
#7 Letsfit Smart Watch Heart Rate Monitor
Award: BEST TOUCHSCREEN
WHY WE LIKE IT: Features a gorgeous LCD touchscreen that responds extremely quickly and efficiently, with a best-in-class monitoring app and a decent battery that gets around ten to fifteen days of use out of a single charge.
- Best app
- IP68 waterproof
- Battery gets 10 days of use on single charge
- On heavy side, at 5.6 ounces
- Bluetooth only, not ANT+ compatible
- Heart rate monitoring not as accurate as top picks
The Letsfit Smart Watch Heart Rate Monitor features full integration with the best heart rate monitor app we tried, which measures a large number of metrics in addition to heart rate, including steps taken, stress level and running cadence. We also liked that it is waterproof, with an IP68 rating, and that it includes a rechargeable battery that gets around ten days of use on a single charge. The LCD touchscreen is also both gorgeous and extremely responsive.
Though this product is certainly light compared to, say, a smartphone, it is still the heaviest watch we tried, at around 5.6 ounces. Additionally, the heart rate monitoring capabilities on offer are not as accurate as what is found with our top picks, though it does a decent enough job.
How We Decided
To help narrow down to the above list we focused, first and foremost, on heart rate monitoring capabilities, favoring products that produced accurate results via optical heart rate sensors and those that were precise enough to create a reliable ECG measurement. We also liked items that could complete its monitoring tasks during intense workouts, even when the skin tended to be sweaty.
We also made sure that we included a number of items that were perfect for a large variety of exercises, including cycling,running and even swimming. To that end, many of the above products monitor many metrics in addition to heart rate, including running cadence and steps taken. For swimmers, we included several waterproof monitors, with waterproof certification up to 10 meters, that are ideal to wear while taking some laps in the pool.
As far as additional functionalities, several of our picks also double as smart watches, meaning they can perform a number of useful tasks that go above and beyond health and fitness, including sleep tracking, message storing and programming alarms, among other tasks. Finally, we liked well made items manufactured using durable and long-lasting components, including long-lasting batteries that get as much as 20 days of use on a single charge.
Best Heart Rate Monitor Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Monitor Type
Heart rate monitors come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, each varying in functionality and efficacy. Generally, monitors that attach to the chest via strap are considered to be the most accurate, thanks to the proximity to the heart itself. Optical sensors, that measure heart rate via skin analysis, are often worn around the arm and, though slightly less accurate than chest monitors, are a great alternative for consumers who do not feel comfortable with something strapped around their chest. Smart watches often do a decent job at monitoring heart rate, via a similar design to armbands, though they can struggle with accuracy. We made sure all of the watches on the above list were up to snuff.
- Additional Metrics
Many of the above heart rate monitors go above and beyond simple heart rate calculations. Our top picks, for instance, excel with a wide variety of fitness based metrics, including cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time and heart rate variability (HRV.) Other monitors can accurately measure sleep, steps taken and offer specific information catering to cyclists and swimmers.
- Other Features
In addition to being equipped with high quality sensors and electrodes for the measuring of fitness metrics, many of the above products pull double duty as standard pedometers. Some can also measure sleep quality and the smart watches we featured go even further, allowing for the reading and storing of text messages, music playback and even, in some cases, video games.
- Waterproofing and Water-Resistance
Don’t just buy anything that says “waterproof” or “water-resistant” on the packaging, as there are several factors to consider. If you are looking for something that won’t malfunction thanks to sweat or a quick, and accidental, trip in the rain, then anything with water-resistance IP67 or IP68 certification should be sufficient, as these items can be submerged in a meter or a meter and a half of water for up to a half hour. If you are looking to go swimming in a pool or the ocean, however, you are going to want something more extreme. Look for extremely waterproof, not water-resistant, products, such as our number two pick.
Heart Rate Monitor FAQs
What is the most accurate heart rate monitor?
Of all the products we tried, our top pick was the most accurate heart rate monitor, thanks to a suite of advanced electrodes and a chest-strap design. Generally speaking, chest strap heart rate monitors produce the most accurate results.
Which fitness tracker has the best heart rate monitor?
Fitness trackers tend to be “jack-of-all-trade” devices, so you are likely to not get quite as accurate a result as a dedicated heart rate monitor. Still, all of the fitness trackers on the above list produced precise and accurate results, despite being placed on the wrist and not near the chest.
Are heart rate monitor watches accurate?
Heart rate monitor watches usually use optical sensors to measure the heart beat. This creates a fairly accurate result that should satisfy the lion’s share of consumers. If you are looking for extremely precise results, however, you may want to invest in a chest-based monitor that uses electrodes to measure the heart rate.
What is the best heart rate monitor on the market?
We tend to think that all of the above products are excellent. If we had to pick just one, however, we’d go with the Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor, our top pick. This model offers extremely reliable and precise heart rate monitoring and comes in a highly adjustable package that is appropriate for most body types.