Wearable Tech/Watch Advice Needed

Hello Pain Cave Friends!

I’m looking to purchase my first Smart Watch and have been looking at Garmins and Suuntos, but need some feedback from you more experienced folks! I’m data oriented and having the data gives me the positive drive to continue getting fitter!

I’m interested in:

1: Wearing it throughout multiple types of workouts, including TR, ice hockey, home yoga/body weight exercises, occasional run (maybe swim and waterproof?). I wear a HR strap when biking, but not otherwise.
2: Getting a gauge on HRV and recovery information (similar to the Whoop band idea?)
3. Integration with bike computer/Strava other tech gadgets?

More importantly, in your experience, what else is needed and what else should I consider when doing my research?

Thanks as always for your suggestions and recommendations!


Hi Giorgio!

I have a Garmin Forerunner 935. I referred to Outdoor Gear Lab when looking at reviews.

It will detect ‘intensity’ minutes, and sometimes it does a decent job of categorising the activity. Walks, runs, and swims I’ve seen it detect without me explicitly starting an activity.

The 935 will be reporting your heart rate throughout the time you wear it. It does offer the ability to measure your HRV, but this requires 3 minutes of your time, and for you to wear your HRM. I have Garmin Connect reporting to Apple Health, so I can see trends over time.

935 can be used instead of a bike computer, but if you have a (newer) Edge device, you can set the watch to work as an extended display for the bike computer.

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For a more budget oriented watch check out the new Polar Ignite. I’m very pleased with mine. Syncs with Strava ( and therefore via Strava with most platforms) 24/7 HR plus HRV and sleep tracking. Battery life isn’t brilliant though.

I would recommend the Whoop strap. it is not perfect and sometimes the recovery score does not match up to how you actually feel but, most of the time it is helpful. I have completed workouts I would otherwise have skipped based on the whoop saying I was good to go. Sleep is super important for recovery and it is a constant reminder to strive for more and better quality. It is never a bad thing if it tells you to take a day off, and it records all stresses in life and factors that in. I would not use it to specifically analyze HR data, and currently the recovery score does show up in training peaks calender, but no analytics that I know of beyond what Whoop has on their app.

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I’ve been using Garmin Fenix watches for years now. They seem to check your boxes.

Garmin Fenix 3 HR user here. It depends on what you want to spend?

I purchased mine in Sept 2016 and wear it on a daily basis. It’s not perfect, but it still managed 11 hours of hiking recently. That’s without a heart rate strap and instead using the optical HRM.
The Sapphire glass is really good if you don’t want a scratched up watch face. Super tough.

Check out Apple Watch.

I have had the 935 for almost 2 years now and I dont see myself upgrading for a long while. I am a garmin fan and this is the best watch I have had and wear it 24x7. Only take it off to charge which is does very quickly.

Battery is great, its very light, muted looks which I like, just works everytime, psyio true up, quick release bands compatible, gps is suberb, found the on board hrm works for me on steady state runs but I use a hr strap as well. And now the price is right with the 945 out.

I’ve been wearing a Fenix 5x for about a month now, and I love it.

Logs bike workouts and steps, training stress, sleep cycle, you name it. Phone notifications, Garmin LiveTrack. Battery lasts me 10-12 days.

HR data isn’t near as good as a strap, so you’ll still want a chest strap for critical activities.

My main deciding factor on buying a watch was Bluetooth power meter compatibility. From what I found, this was one of the few that could pair with a power meter and is why I chose it over everything else.

I went from the Garmin 935 to the Apple Watch Series 4. I bought an Apple Watch for my girlfriend and her daughter and they liked it so I started getting watch envy and wanted to buy one for me. They are not athletes per se so they don’t use it for fitness tracking. I do use my wearable device for fitness tracking and certainly felt like the Apple Watch Series 4 with the EKG and other features would be a great upgrade.

The reality is I’m not that impressed with the Apple Watch for me using it from the fitness angle. I don’t think it really works for athletes which makes sense because it isn’t designed to be for athletes. I knew this going in but have been underwhelmed even with low expectations from the start. It does cover the basics but it isn’t like wearing a Garmin/Wahoo cycling head unit on your wrist. The Garmin 935 was much more like wearing your bike’s head unit on your wrist. I also liked the running features found in the 935 and don’t find the Apple Watch to be even close to comparable.

If you want the watch for fitness reasons avoid the Apple Watch and consider one of the Garmins. If you are interested in HR/Sleep other tech, the Whoop looks to be the best bet for now.

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Thank you All! I’ve found a great Suunto Spartan (https://www.suunto.com/en-us/Products/Sports-Watches/suunto-spartan-sport-wrist-hr/Suunto-Spartan-Sport-Wrist-HR-All-Black/) at around $230 and it seems comparable in most features to what you have suggested.

I also found this interesting App, Elite HRV for recovery analysis (without going full blown on the Whoop band).

Does anyone have experience with either Suunto as a brand and/or the Elite HRV app (with a Wahoo Tickr chest monitor).

Thanks again!