10 Best Fitness Trackers with Heart Rate Monitor Reviewed
When fitness trackers first came out a few years ago, they were essentially known as glorified pedometer. Over the years, however, they have become more sophisticated. Today, people want more and more advanced features packed into their best fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitoring is a key fitness component that people are now expecting to find in their activity tracker. Yet, not all fitness trackers offer heart rate monitoring. Among those that do, the reliability can fluctuate widely. So, we went in search of the 10 best wrist heart rate monitors of 2019. The most reliable, easy to use and all-around best heart rate monitor of 2019 we came across was the Adidas Fitbit Charge 2. Coming in at a close second was the Mio Alpha 2. Read on to discover who else made it on our list, and discover their features!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hours of researching:
Purepulse Continuous Monitoring
All-day Activity Tracking
Cardio Fitness Score
Top 10 Picks
1. Fitbit Charge 2
Purepulse Continuous Monitoring
All-day Activity Tracking
Cardio Fitness Score
Fitbit has got to be one of the most popular, if not the most popular, fitness tracker out there! Charge 2 is their best model yet (Charge 3 has more features, but the Charge 2 is still better)! It's their best selling watch, and you won't go wrong in giving it a try,Read more
Right off the bat, the Fitbit Charge 2 may not have that so many specialized features, like the Garmin Forerunner has, for example. So if you're looking for a watch that can offer you some pretty deep insight into your running habits, the Garmin may be a better fit for you. The Purepulse best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor reviews has got to be the best feature, and that's why you came here in the first place! It's continuous, measuring your beats every minute of every day. Charge 2 will also track the number of steps you've taken, the distance you've crossed, the floors you've climbed, how many minutes have you been active, and your hourly activity. The built-in GPS allows you to stay connected all the time, and you can easily record your running, biking, and much more. A personalized Cardio Fitness score shows you just how far you've come, and which steps you need to take in order to improve even more! SmartTrack recognizes the type of exercise you've engaged in right away, and you don't need to fiddle to select the proper mode. If you feel stressed, the watch will recognize this and offer you some relaxing guided breathing sessions.
The best fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor can easily be connected with a different device via Bluetooth, and then you can upload your data to the Fitbit app, which will give you detailed reports of your exercises. The most accurate heart rate monitor will also track your sleeping patterns, and your heart rate while you're asleep, so you just how well-rested you are. The band choices you have are lovely and elegantly designed, giving you the chance to stay looking smart while getting in shape.
2. Mio Alpha 2
Very Accurate Monitor
25 Hour Data Storage
Strong Battery Life
No Extra Tracking Features
The Mio Alpha 2 monitors, tracks and displays your heart rate data and your workout data but it is not your 24-7 activity tracker. It is designed specifically for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who want the most accurate heart rate monitor readings but don’t want to wear a chest strap.Read more
The heart rate monitor on the Mio Alpha 2 is the most accurate heart rate monitor, allowing you to dial in your training. The most accurate heart rate monitor will display your sports data including speed, pace, distance and time elapsed. It has a large display. There is a single button on either side to allow you to navigate through the settings and start your timer.
The Mio Alpha 2 is water-resistant up to 30 meters. The unit syncs via Bluetooth to an app. However, you can store 25 hours' worth of data right on the device. Because it has Bluetooth built-in, the Mio Alpha 2 can be paired with your favorite fitness app. You are not bound to the Mio Go application.
This most accurate heart rate monitor will give 20-24 hours of battery life if it is in heart rate mode for that entire time. If you just stick to watch mode, this will last for 3 months. It is USB rechargeable.
There are no Smartphone notifications and no GPS on this device.
3. FitBit Surge
The Fitbit Surge is a large unit that takes up quite a bit of real estate on your wrist. It is available in red, black or blue. The band is made out a soft, flexible, silicone material which is extremely comfortable. However, the top side of the most accurate heart rate monitor reviews is very thick and tends to get in the way, especially if you’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt.Read more
The Fitbit Surge has a touch screen that, along with the buttons along the sides of the device, allows you to navigate your way through the device's settings. The touch screen is responsive and is a nice size.
The software is comprised of the following three layers:
Layer 1: time, date, steps, calories, distance, floors climbed, heart rate
Layer 2: activity monitoring, settings, alarm
Layer 3: Notifications
There is no home screen on this most accurate heart rate monitor. It does not revert back to the time. This fact, combined with the touch screen’s sensitivity can make it hard to maintain the clock window.
The FitBit Surge has an ambient sensor on its face which detects whether it is light or dark outside. It will automatically adjust the backlight as a result.
The Surge syncs automatically. It has a battery life that averages about 5 days. It is water-resistant up to 50 meters. It also has music playback controls.
The Surge collects a lot of activity data. This heart rate monitor seems very accurate. This device has a built-in GPS sensor, meaning that you no longer have to bring your phone if you want to map your run. The FitBit Surge is one of the best fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor.
4. Garmin Vivofit 2
Pairs With Other Chest Monitors
12 Months Battery Life
Does Not Sync Automatically
The Garmin Vivofit 2 can be purchased with or without the heart rate monitor chest strap. The best fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor can also be paired to a number of different brands of the chest strap.
The device syncs either via Bluetooth or a USB device. You’ll get around 12 months of battery life with this device.Read more
The Garmin Vivofit 2 will measure your steps and goal, calories burned, distance traveled, heart rate monitor reviews and heart rate zone, time and date and time elapsed. It is water resistant up to 50 meters.
The Vivofit looks great, has a stylish design and is comfortable to wear. It has a backlit display so you can see all of your data and the time at night. It has audible reminders for inactivity.
The Garmin application, Garmin Connect is not as user-friendly or attractive as that offered by such competitors as Fitbit. The Garmin does not have silent alarms, so it won’t wake you in the morning by vibrating against your wrist. It also does not have auto sleep recognition. This tracker with a heart rate monitor does not sync automatically like some of the other fitness trackers we reviewed; you have to do it manually.
Despite these negatives, the Vivofit is a very accurate heart rate monitor. It is one of the best fitness trackers with a heart rate monitor for running and comes with one of the best chest strap heart rate monitors that we have come across.
5. Polar Loop 2
Compatible With H7 Monitor
No Heart Rate Zones
The Polar Loop 2 can be purchased with a chest monitor or it can be paired with a range of other monitors. Coming in while, the Polar Loop 2 is a sleek stylish device that looks great on the wrist. It is water-resistant allowing you to swim up to a depth of 20 meters. You can wirelessly sync your device to your technology.Read more
Polar Loop 2’s battery life is about 8 hours. It will require an hour and a half to charge. The display is tap controlled. The array of 85 LEDs is a stylish white. They shine very brightly at night and indoors. However, outdoors it is somewhat difficult to see.
Displayed in the band are calories burned, steps, the time and activity progress. It will also estimate how much activity you need to complete to reach your goal.
The H7 chest strap which matches the Polar Loop does not provide heart rate monitor reviews. When you strap on the HR, though, your real-time heart rate is displayed on the band. This wrist fitness tracker is very accurate.
The Polar app provides you with an easy to digest analysis.
6. Xiaomi Mi Band 3
Colorful Band Choices
Band Stretches Out Fast
This budget-friendly watch comes to us from China. It's a very simple watch that is thin and not bulky at all, but still gives you all the information needed for you to successfully track your fitness progress.Read more
The controls are intuitive, and you only need to swipe up and down or left and right, with a few finger presses here and there to fully use this watch. The display is simple and monochromous, so if colors are something that you're looking for, the Mi Band 3 is not for you. It can connect to your device via Bluetooth, and notify you when you have an incoming call or message. The Mi Fitness app will inform you of your day and give you every piece of information you gathered displayed simply. An alarm clock can be set up, which will gently vibrate when the time is up.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 heart rate monitor is quite accurate, and it's only off by a heartbeat or so. The pedometer is also quite precise, and the watch also tracks the number of calories you've burned. It's also waterproof, so there's no need to worry if it makes contact with water. The battery life is extremely strong, lasting up to two weeks before it needs to be recharged!
7. Garmin Forerunner 35
Designed For Runners
24/7 Heart Rate Monitor
Syncs Slowly With Pace Change
Garmin definitely creates very accurate watches, and the Forerunner was specifically designed with runners in mind. It has many special features that will give you deep insight into your running habits, and much more.Read more
First things first, it has an inbuilt GPS, so you always know where you're going. Thanks to the GPS, you will also know how fast you're going, and where you are heading. This heart rate monitor device will track your heart day and night, all the time, giving you accurate data whenever you need it. When connected to the other device, it shows your notifications, gives you music control and automatically uploads data to the Garmin Connect app. It will also track the number of calories you've burned, along with your pace, showing you just how much you've improved and what else you need to do in order to progress further!
8. Apple Watch Series 4
A Lot Of Features
Heart Rate Change Notification
Automatic Exercise Detection
Can Make Calls
Inaccurate Sleep Tracking
It's no surprise that the two biggest phone companies made their own smartwatches, and we will discuss the Apple watch first, followed by the Samsung competitor. The Apple Watch Series 4 is a simple, yet effective watch that will give you just the right amount of information you need.Read more
This watch has the biggest display yet, of all the Apple watches, so you don't need to squint to see the numbers. The best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor sensors are electrical and fast, accurate and precise, and always inform you of your heart rate. This device is definitely one of those. It will even notify you when your heart rate slows down or increases, or becomes irregular! It will detect when you fall down, and send an SOS signal if need be!
It will automatically detect when you've started working out, and start measuring everything you need to know while you exercise. Runners have a vast majority of features to use and track, like their cadence and pace. Personalized coaching will keep you on track to reach your fitness goals, and you will be able to share your progress with your friends online. It can make calls, send messages, play music, and access Siri, so it's like a tiny phone strapped to your wrist.
9. Samsung Gear Sport Smartwatch
Samsung Smart Connect
Pay On The Go
Needs Samsung Apps
Disguised as a regular watch, the Samsung smartwatch is there for you if you're tired of the square designs that most fitness trackers have and just want something closer to regular watches. The gorgeous design paired with the vibrant display definitely makes this watch a showstopper.Read more
This watch is ready to take on vast water bodies, thanks to its water resistance. It can withstand water up to 50 m deep, so don't worry if you jump in the pool with it or if the rain catches you by surprise. It has built-in GPS, giving you the chance to track your movement and pace.
Not only you can measure your heart rate together, but also your calorie intake so you'll always know just where you stand, regarding your fitness level. With the Samsung Smart Connect, you can match every Samsung device you can with it - all you need is a stable Bluetooth connection. We reviewed another Samsung model you might like. Check out the Gear Fit 2.
It's equipped with NFC, giving you the chance to make payments with just a simple tap. It has many features a normal phone would have, just like the Apple watch does. All you need is a pair of good Bluetooth headphones to make phone calls and listen to music!
10. Garmin vívomove HR
Dynamic Precision Hands
Elevate Heart Rate Monitoring
Needs Constant Calibration
This hybrid fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor is definitely the most gorgeous watch on our list, but just like we all know, beauty is not everything. It could stand to have just a little bit more features, but if you want to look both sporty and elegant, then the Vivomove Hr is the watch for you.Read more
The 24/7 heart rate monitoring is paired with the Elevate technology, giving you precise info about your heart all day long. Garmin knows just how stressful our everyday lives are, so a stress tracker and a relaxation timer remind you to take a break when they detect you truly need one.
It includes a tool that gauges your fitness age, and even VO2 max. Of course, it has the most basic smartwatch features, like step tracking, the number of calories burned, distance crossed and so on and so forth. The dynamic handles will move away to reveal the masterfully hidden display, through which you can choose to play music, view your notifications and connect with your device to stay updated all the time. The battery can last up to five days when used generously, but in battery saving mode it can last up to two weeks!
Criteria Used for Evaluation
We’ve all seen people with those chest strap heart rate monitors. Because these units are worn directly over the heart, they are generally pretty accurate. However, they are also wildly and cumbersome. Fitness trackers with heart rate monitors are far more user-friendly - but are they as reliable?
Activity trackers use an optical sensor that is placed on the wrist. It is not near your heart, so it is not sensing the electrical activity within your heart. Rather, it is sensing the flow of blood through your capillaries. It measures one pulse with each heartbeat.
When studies have been done with a range of optical heart rate monitors against EKG heart rate monitoring, results have varied widely. There is usually a difference of between 25-45 beats per minute. Quite a few monitors will not be able to measure your heart rate while you are exercising. It may take up to two minutes after you stop before it can get a reading. This is obviously not going to do you much good when trying to monitor your active pulse rate.
According to Dave Wright, CEO of MyZone, a delay of anything more than a couple of seconds in the best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor makes the data irrelevant.
The thinking for this is HIIT sessions are for guiding people to their targets. If you're doing 10-20 second intervals and there's a delay of 10 seconds, it's beyond unacceptable.”
The harder and faster you exercise, the less accurate your heart rate monitor will be. That’s because the majority of activity trackers use heart rate monitors that measure blood flow through the wrist capillaries optically. When the blood flow speeds up beyond about 160 beats per minute, it becomes very difficult to get an accurate reading.
Another problem with monitoring heart rate from the wrist is that this area of the body doesn't have that much tissue, but it has a lot of bones and tendons, and all of that is combined with poor blood flow. This also impacts upon accuracy.
The situation becomes even worse when you are trying to monitor your heart rate during exercise. When doing Cross Fit or training with weights, the head, and the upper arm are ideal pulses monitoring sites. The wrist is not.
Optical wrist monitoring is, however, a convenient way to monitor heart rate. It has gotten better over the years, but still has a way to go. If you’re a serious trainer, you don’t want to be relying on optical activity tracker pulse monitors for your exercise data. Members of the general fitness community, however, can use them with relative confidence.
Ease of Use
Fitness trackers are actually quite easy to use, once you get the hang of it at least. There might be some unknown functions and buttons, but they're thoroughly explained or they're pretty straightforward, and there's not much thinking to be done here. The question is - how can you use your fitness tracker for more accurate results?
We've already discussed accuracy, but we talked about how the best heart rate trackers works, and what makes it accurate or not, not how to make it even more accurate, if that is possible. Before everything else, you should know that the readings can be affected by many things all at once, and when you see that number on the small screen strapped to your wrist, it may not be so precise - it's more like an estimate of your heart rate, an accurate estimate though. If you want even more precise results though, your best bet is to pair your fitness tracker with heart rate monitor with a chest strap heart rate monitor.
The very first thing that could be affecting your results is where you wear your watch. In fact, this can be the factor with the greatest impact! The correct fit is what makes your reading accurate or not. Your tracker should rest at least one finger above the wrists. Make sure that the watch is snug, but not too snug so that it restricts your movement. The watch should always hug the skin, and you should not be able to see the little LED light shining through and illuminating the skin. The story changes during exercise though. The trick here is to place the tracker as close to the wrist as possible while keeping it from sliding around when you get sweaty. A good starting point is to try wearing it 2 fingers above the wrists, as opposed to only one when resting. Yet again, make sure that the watch sits tightly, but don't let it cut off your circulation.
There are more things to keep in mind before you attempt to measure your heart rate with the wrist trackers. First, you must warm-up to get your heart going before you set off to exercise. By doing this, you ensure that your trackers have a stable reading throughout your whole session. If you notice that your tracker has stopped measuring your heart rate, it's a good idea to stop briefly (for about 10-30 seconds) until the tracker gets a reading again, and then you're good to go. As we already said, make sure that the your fitness tracker isn't too loose or too tight around your wrists. A watch that sits too tightly around the skin can cut off the blood flow, and it won't be able to detect the subtle changes it needs to in order to make an estimate.
Your skin also has to be taken good care of for the tracker to work the right way. Remember to take the tracker off your wrists from time to time, and wash the band and the watch (if it's waterproof) with water and a bar of mild dish soap. Dry them well before you put them on your wrist to avoid trapping moisture. You should do this every time you're done with a particularly strenuous session at the gym! If you use sunscreen, lotion or any other cream that might leave a residue, make sure that a very small amount, preferably none at all, gets trapped under your strap, and if it does, rinse it off with mild hand soap and dry completely. Also, by wearing the best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor for a long time on your wrist may irritate your skin, so you must let your wrists have a break from time to time. Make sure that there are no particles trapped underneath the band, as they can irritate your skin even more! Even tattoos can affect the trackers' ability to make an accurate assumption!
So, using the wrist heart rate monitor is easy enough, but there are still some rules that you have to follow if you want an accurate assumption.
The battery life of your tracker is an essential feature that we simply have to include. The battery life of the tracker is usually good, or very good, but depending on how much you use it, how well it was made, and everything else in between, the battery life will change, and you will need to charge your watch more or less every two weeks or so. This shouldn't be so inconvenient, but it can be if the tracker decides to go to sleep in the middle of your exercise! It will usually give you a warning beforehand though when the battery is low, so you will know when the time is right for you to charge your watch.
There are still some things that you can do to make the battery life of your watch last longer. The battery life you see advertised is actually showing you how much it would last if you used the watch as little as possible. Of course, the more features you use, the faster the battery life will diminish, but you didn't buy the watch to use it like you would a regular one, so it's vital that your fitness tracker can withstand your every whim. Some settings can be adjusted to give your device more life with just one charge. If you can change the amount of backlight the watch gives you, and make the screen shut off as soon as you stop using the best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor. Believe it or not, the tone of the keys and the alerts can also influence the battery life, so again if you have the option to turn these off, do so. If your watch is connected to a different device all the time, you could potentially see the battery dying off faster, and all day heart rate tracking can also spell an early grave for your battery. Your clock will inevitably shut down, so it's important that you keep track of the battery life, and have your watch charged and ready to go at all times!
Your wrist heart rate tracker is not only that - in fact, but it can also do a lot more than just measure your heart rate, making your life easier, and giving you all the data you need after you're finished working out.
As we said before, fitness watches are pedometers before everything else. This means that they will measure your every step, more or less accurately, and you will know at the end of every day just how much steps you've taken (if you wore the watch all the time). This is useful info when you want to know just how to fit your stay outside of the gym! Your watch can also probably be connected to a different device, either via Bluetooth, wi-fi or ANT+. This is great when you want to transfer your exercise data to your phone app, or when you want to listen to music, connect a chest strap heart rate monitor and much more. When connected with your phone, the watch can notify you about any notification that reaches your phone, either by vibrating, creating light or making a sound. This way you stay connected throughout the whole duration of your stay at the gym. A wrist watch can also gauge the number of calories you've burned, albeit not so accurately, so take this info with a grain of salt. There's much more that the best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor can do, so give them a try to find out how special they are!
Every good fitness tracker should be at least moderately water resistant and not only that, but it should also resist dirt, sand, and every other element of nature to some degree! And it should be able to resist your sweat as well, since that is what it will have the most contact with, and sweat can be quite damaging to some devices.
You can check whether your tracker is resistant or not by looking at its resistance mark, or looking at whether it even has one. This mark is made out of two letters and two numbers. The letters are just the name given to the mark, and nothing more. The numbers are where it's at! The first number tells you how resistant your device is to dirt, dust, sand and so on and so forth, and is usually six, indicating a very high rating. Some trackers have special military grade marks, which tell you just how resistant to being dropped down, hit, thrown and everything else in between they are. The second number tells you how resistant your device is to water. The highest number it can get, at least for now, is 8, showcasing that you can keep the device 100 meters underwater for 30 minutes or so. This doesn't mean that it's completely resistant, and salt water can still be very damaging even to the best wrist heart rate monitor, so make sure to not expose them to water so much!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
You must make sure that your band sits comfortably around your wrist. This is because, first things first, you will be distracted by a band that does not fit you well, and you might need to make frequent breaks to adjust the band, which can affect the quality of your workout session. A band that is too tight can cut off your circulation, so the readings may not be so accurate either, while you can lose a band that sits too loosely around your wrist, and the device can fail to read your heart rate. Luckily, the fit can be easily adjusted, just like you would adjust a regular watch, and the clasps keep your watch tightly and securely strapped to your wrists, so you don't need to worry about losing it!
The release date of your device truly matters. Why is that, you may wonder? Technology is constantly advancing nowadays, and the newer your watch is, the likelier it is that the readings it will make will be accurate. Old fitness watches didn't even have the ability to track your heart rate, and the only way to know what your heart rate was by measuring it manually. Luckily, the technology today allows us to enjoy a very convenient and moderately accurate device for measuring or heart rate sitting neatly on our wrists, and it only needs a few lights to do its job!
Other Factors to Consider
The heart rate monitoring side of activity trackers is a work in progress right now. Even though chest straps are more reliable, technology is bound to make them more convenient wrist model more accurate. The most reliable and convenient monitor point, though, may well prove to be the ear. So, in the future, we may be hearing rather than reading our heart rate.
In the meantime, we must content ourselves with the best of what’s currently on the market. So, if you’re after a reliable heart rate monitoring fitness tracker, look out for Adidas, Mio and the Fitbit Surge. If you want even more accuracy, choose a chest strap enabled Polar 2 or Garmin Vivo. Meanwhile, check out this article about the best waterproof fitness tracker review.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can I use my heart rate tracker during my workout?
You probably came here for this very reason, so the answer to your question is yes! These trackers were simply made for things like these, and you would be missing out if you didn't give wearing them when you workout a try. You just need to make sure you are wearing it properly when you exercise in order to get the most accurate readings.
q: Are these devices really accurate?
Well, they are as accurate as they can be. Since they use light to monitor your pulse around the wrist, these measurements can actually be quite off. Your heart rate can be affected by many things, ranging from the place you wear your device, to your height, weight and fitness level. If only something is amiss, the measurement can be way off, and you will end up with a result that is off by 20 or even 40 beats, which is unacceptable! You must make sure that you've done everything by the book, and your measurements will be correct.
q: Does the brand I end up choosing matter?
Some brands are better, that's true, but if the technology is okay, and the construction is good, the brand you end up choosing may not matter so much. Fitbit and Garmin tend to be among the favorites, but that doesn't make them inherently the best. There are many obscure brands that are excellent and budget friendly too, as the Mi band, and you should give them a try as well.
q: Is a chest strap heart rate monitor better?
Well, yes and no, depending on how you look at it. A chest strap heart rate monitor is much more accurate than the wrist heart rate tracker, simply because of its location - it sits close to the heart. However, chest heart rate monitors are uncomfortable and tend to slide around, and can also press on your skin and leave marks. Wrist trackers are much comfier, but they are not so precise. In the end, it all boils down to what you prefer more - accuracy or comfort!
q: Does the location I wear my tracker at matter?
The best fitness tracker with heart rate monitor should be worn around your wrist, of course, but the location on the wrist itself matters too. When you're not working out, the band should sit one finger above your wrists, and it shouldn't be too snug or loose. The best wrist heart rate monitor needs to sit around 2 fingers above the wrists, without moving around, so it can measure your heart rate precisely.