Looking for a heart Rate Monitor


I'm interested in finding a heart rate monitor. Possibly a Polar, but there are so many models to choose from! Are there any that particularly stand out from the pack that are best suited for paddlers?

Mahalo for any feedback.

Submitted by King of Kailua on Sun, 11/09/2008 - 11:17pm

I've had the Polar S625x for 5 years and wear it most times i paddle. Unbelievably, both chest strap and watch still on the original batteries. Actually it's more of a training computer than just a HR monitor, full waterproof, big screen and numbers and down loadable to PC/laptop via infra red, so no ports to get wet.

Gives shit loads of info including temp, HR, Altitude, time, interval training, StopW, multi user, etc very professional piece of equipment, built to last.

Highly recommended, there is also an update model, but this one is still king and still available.

Cheers Rambo

#1 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 1:57am

I haven't actually used the heart monitor functionality yet, but I have the Garmin Forerunner 301 and I like it a lot. They actually have decent software for Macs now, you can create complex workouts (like pyramid sprints) and I think next season, I'll find having heart rate and distance really nice. Plus it's easy to see, you can customize the display however you want, and the start stop button is large, red, and easy to push.

I bought mine on amazon.com about a month and half ago, and it was just over $100. I just checked and they are up to $150, which is still a pretty good deal.

#2 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 6:14am

This site http://www.heartmonitors.com/polar/polar_overview_heart_rate_monitors.htm
claims that Polar has the only 100% waterproof monitor on the market. So I think I have to consider a Polar vs. the Garmin.

A geek aside..Is there an edit feature for this fourm that will allow html links to be tagged to a single word or phrase?</http://www.heartmonitors.com/polar/polar_overview_heart_rate_monitors.htm>

#3 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 10:50am

I had an older Polar F5 that died the second time I took it out on the canoe (watch was 2yrs old though and used for running). The watch took in some water and shorted. I did my own MacGyver, swapped out the battery and put extra silicone grease on the rubber sealing ring. Worked okay after that.

#4 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 10:46am

That's right King, you get what you pay for. I have always recommended a separate HR monitor and GPS for that reason, but not the only reason.

Garmins are a TOY

Cheers Rambo

#5 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 11:00am

What HR monitor is best for you depends upon how you train. Personally, I prefer a model that has the capacity to handle interval training. For my Intensity and Sprint workouts, I like to press one button and have my HR monitor walk me through my entire workout. That being said, there are a TON of models out there that handle interval training. I like the Garmin Forerunner 305 because it has it all... speed, duration, HR, distance, elevation, you name it. The software lets you quickly and easily design any kind of workout you can dream up. The only downside to the 305 is that it's not completely waterproof. If it was, it would be THE one to get. I'm on my 3rd 305, and all my previous ones were replaced by Garmin free of charge when they flooded. As long as you don't wear it swimming, it's good to go.

#6 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 11:31am

dmehling made a good point - the Garmins lasted me for years in the ocean and the many rinse with water to wash off the salt from the copper contacts until one day I took it out on a swim and it pretty much died.

#7 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 11:42am

I've owned about 4 polar hrm's and 1 garmin 305. I'll testify to both being excellent. Like Don says, it all depends on what you are looking for. If you don't need the GPS, go with the something in the Polar brand. I am still learning this Garmin (just got it), but I will say this: Once you get it down, it's usefulness and the training you can accomplish with it are pretty incredible. Go read about both Garmin and Polar hrm's, though. Amazon usually has great reviews on products, plus the lowest price you'll find anywhere online with free shipping. Also, Costco Hawaii has the Garmin 305 right now for $200. Good luck!

#8 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 12:41pm

As of yesterday the Gamin 305 was available at Costco for $199.00, which is a good deal. I use mine quite a bit, and have the three display screen set up for Time, Heartrate, and Hull Speed. there are other options as well, and being able to download and check progress including route is cool!

#9 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 2:49pm

I have a Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS simple but dose the job. nothing to do with heart monitor. My favorite toy is a 35$ I pod.

#10 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 10:14pm

I'm still leaning towards the Polars.

I have to reflect on the fact that the Polars are 100% water proof and the Garmins are not. Also, I'm looking for a robust hrm with few bells and whistles. Something I can train with and not be distracted by: I'd like to keep my mind on the ocean, planting my blade, and catching that next bump rather than the tricked out gadget on my wrist.

#11 Mon, 11/10/2008 - 11:24pm

Howzit King-

I know you said you were leaning towards Polar, but if you still wanna check out Garmin 305, it's $149.99 with free shipping on Amazon.com.

#12 Sun, 11/30/2008 - 10:26pm

I struggled about HRM's for a long time. I settled on a Garmin 305 and Garmin 50. The 305 is great for canoe workouts and is waterproof enough; I've dunked it plenty of times. I like the combination gps/hrm and downloadable graphing. For everything else I wanted an HRM that had downloadable functions and was just a simple HRM. Polar was extremely poor in this market. Be careful about what they say is "downloadable", for the lower end units you have to use thier website only. Otherwise you need to purchase the high-end ones that include all kinds of features I don't care about, and spend a lot of money. So for the money, I have been extremelly please with the Garmin 50 for dryland workouts (haven't tried it swimming yet but it's waterproof enough.

I believe Garmin hit a homerun on the 50 with a low-priced HRM-only (outside of typical watch functions) that downloads onto the PC for graphing/history.

#13 Sun, 11/30/2008 - 11:38pm

I just purchased the Garmin 305 and have only used it a couple of times, but am impressed with the capabilities. There is also an additional site not related to Garmin for uploading your information called zonefivesoftware.com. It is free and lets you customize your data a little easier.
My only disappointment is the heart rate reading is small and for me, hard to see right away. I would like to do a quick glance and read my heart rate as easy as seeing the time, speed and distance. Otherwise, great product and it is on sale at Costco with a coupon that they have at the checkout for $159.99!

#14 Mon, 12/01/2008 - 7:45am

Dave, I'm sure you already know this, but you can adjust the number of data fields and thereby the size of the data fields on the 305. You can also set up three different screens with different data fields on each and set the 305 to rotate between the screens at pre-determined intervals (like every 3 seconds, 5 seconds, or whatever you want) or on a manual basis by pressing the up/down arrows. Personally, for paddling, I like to see my HR, speed, lap duration and distance on one screen. Once you get used to seeing those fields in the same location all the time, you know right were to look for instant feedback. Also, I like to tape mine to my canoe (Hurricane) on the divider between the footwells, so I can see it easily with just a glance.

Once you get used to the 305, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

#15 Mon, 12/01/2008 - 9:09am

I paddle a Fusion, and (with help and suggestions from the group) I mount my 305 on the front iako. I just use a small piece of that foam used to wrap pipes, and use the wrist strap to attach it.

I also do the same as dmehling, and have a customized screen that just shows me HR, speed and distance. I love the pre-programmable workouts, and have found myself out on the water bitching about the hard workout my coach (me) gave me. I hate that guy!

#16 Mon, 12/01/2008 - 9:25am

"Once you get used to the 305, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it!"

Thanks Don! Feeling that way already!
I haven't spent enough time fiddling around with it to figure out the heart rate adjustment screen. I just got it Friday and used it Sat and Sun. Can't wait to get more workouts in to compare results!
I actually have a water bottle holder and have strapped my other timing/hrm devices to the holder on my Hurricane. I did wear the 305 on my wrist the 2 times I've used it.

#17 Mon, 12/01/2008 - 10:31am

I would not recommend wearing your 305 on your wrist when paddling. It may get submerged a little too much and wind up flooding. Then it's bye-bye 305. That's the one thing with the 305's... they are not fully waterproof.

#18 Mon, 12/01/2008 - 11:58am

I just went online to Costco .com, if you buy the Garmin 305 online it is only 159.00

#19 Mon, 12/01/2008 - 2:43pm

I am planning to get a HR monitor for Christmas. I presently have a Garmin 201 (GPS w/o HR monitoring). I've looked at Garmin's website. What is the major differences between the 301 and 305? Better features? Also, up to this point I've just trained "intuitively" as to what I think would make me go faster, longer, etc. NO heart rate monitoring. I've had some degree of success although sometimes I feel I might be "over training". To those w/ 305's, or other monitors, are there any good sources/sites which guide you in training using HR against the other parameters (speed, distance, etc.)?

#20 Tue, 12/02/2008 - 1:32pm

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