This was posted to the list on Thursday Apr 16, 2009 10:41 pm
Well, it's not a "First Ever" report, but it is rather long.
Polar is the top heart monitor brand, for good reason, and their prices show it. Fortunately, other companies purchase/license Polar product and/or technology, to resell under their own brands.
I found the Nike units to be the best, and lowest cost, of the rebranded Polars. (Around $35, e.g.: http://www.xcelwatches.com/servlet/the-2106/Nike-SM0013-dsh-081-Triax-C3/Detail) The feature set in the older unit I have is minimal (the chronometer has no lap capability), but my unit has lasted through over 3 years of steady use, and is still on its original batteries.
I've tried other non-Polar heart monitors over the years, and I found each of them to be unsatisfactory, for any of several reasons (battery life, range, durability, accuracy, compatibility).
An alternate route to consider is to go with a full-featured all-in-one wrist-mounted GPS system, such as the Garmin Forerunner 305 (or 405, or upcoming 310).
The Garmin 305 can be found for around $160, including the heart monitor (e.g. http://www.buydig.com/shop/product.aspx?sku=GRFR305, among others). The 405 and 310 are at least double this price. Personally, I prefer the 305 display and functionality over the 405, and I prefer the 305 form factor over the 310. Why pay more?
Wireless pods may be purchased for running (pace) and bicycle (speed, cadence). A quick-release bike mount is also available.
Unlike inexpensive heart rate monitors, the Garmin 305 stores several hours of data internally, and supports easy download to your PC. It comes with software that supports display and analysis of the collected data.
When you add in the cost of separate systems for all this, the Garmin 305 was, for me, a "no brainer". These days, my Nike heart monitor gets used only indoors, at the gym, where its Polar technology can be picked up by many pieces of gym equipment (such as elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, and stair climbers), many of which use the data to dynamically adjust the workout to keep me within my desired heart rate range. The Garmin 305 heart monitor, and all other Garmin pods, use an incompatible wireless technology (Ant).
The Forerunner 305 is also "waterproof enough" to use during the triathlon swim leg. Just today, I swam over a mile in Mission Bay with mine under my swim cap (between two caps). I collected a full set of GPS data, though it couldn't capture heart rate data since the heart monitor was under water (but did capture data as I entered and exited the water). The only caveat for the Garmin Forerunner 305 when used near water is that no buttons should be pressed while the unit is wet (wipe it off first). The 301 is completely waterproof, but that may not be very useful: If you want to maintain GPS lock during the swim, the unit will have to be in your swim cap anyway!
So, for heart monitor only, especially for gym use, I recommend Nike. For an all-in-one system for everything a triathlete does outdoors, I recommend the Garmin Forerunner 305.
> Any recommendation for a good heart rate monitor that is water resistant
> and allows for easy battery changes. Also, not too expensive. Maybe
> under $100?