Best Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors 2018

If your goal is to get fit, improve your CO2 max or to train in the fat burning zone, then you need to have an ongoing, accurate record of your heart rate while you are training. However, the majority of pulse monitors that are built into cardiovascular exercise machines are notoriously inaccurate. So, too, are fitness tracking devices. By far the most accurate way to monitor your heart rate is to use a chest strap monitor.

We’ve taken the top five chest strap monitors on the market and taken them for a test drive. That has enabled us to assess and rank them from best to worst. Coming in at #1 is the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor and Fitness Tracker, which proved to be the most accurate, comfortable, had the longest battery life and also counts calories. This was followed by the Garmin Premium. Significantly, the other three models to make our top 5 list were all from the Polar stable of heart rate monitors.

The Top Five at a Glance

The Top 5 Up Close

Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor

The Polar H7 allows you to get extremely accurate tracking of your pulse rate on your mobile device. In fact, this was the most accurate model that we tested. It makes use of low energy Bluetooth smart technology and T31 coded 5.4 kHz transmission, enabling you to connect with the majority of training devices.

We were impressed with the comfort of the strap on the H7. A lot of people are put off from wearing chest strap monitors because they find them to be too uncomfortable. You will not have that problem with this device - in fact, you will probably forget that you are even wearing it.
The H7 has a long transmission range of up to 10 meters giving you plenty of freedom to workout without being attached to your device. It also features a long life battery.

PROS

  • Very accurate
  • Bluetooth enabled to connect to smartphone
  • Comfortable chest strap
  • Long battery life

CONS

  • Learning curve to get familiar with the product
Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor

The Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor provides you with a very similar experience as the Polar H7. The main reason that it didn’t reach the top spot is that it is not quite as accurate the H7. We also found that the H7 was a little more comfortable and provided freer range of movement when performing plyometric training movements. 

That being said, the Garmin Premium does have a very comfortable soft elastic strap which will fit all body shapes as the chest strap is completely adjustable. After pairing the heart rate monitor with your compatible device you never have it do it again. 

PROS

  • Accurate
  • Comfortable
  • Pair once and then forget
  • Adjustable straps

CONS

  • Some users have reported reliability issues
Polar 92053125 T31 Coded Transmitter and Belt Set

The Polar 92053125 T31 is a chest strap device that transmits accurate heart rate data to Polar monitors and compatible gym equipment. The elastic straps on this unit have been individually coded. This ensures that they will only pick up your pulse rate and not that of other people nearby. This eliminates the common problem of cross-talk with other devices.

The design of this monitor is slim and lightweight. It is very comfortable to wear and is waterproof so you can get an accurate rendering of your swimming pulse rate. You will get 2500 hours of use out of the non user replaceable battery.

PROS

  • Slimline design
  • Range of color options
  • Coded transmitter to avoid cross contamination

CONS

  • Non user replaceable battery
Polar H1 Heart Rate Sensor

The Polar H1 Heart Rate Sensor features a slim and streamlined connector design that eliminates any poking or discomfort while wearing the device. This new, improved design features a user replaceable battery system to extend the life of the unit. The Transmission used is 5 kHz so there will be fewer cases of interference with other frequencies while you are out and about. 

The soft strap material of the H1 seamlessly adapts to your body shape so you won’t have any issues with restricted movement.

PROS

  • Soft and adjustable strap
  • Replacement batteries available
  • Very comfortable

CONS

  • Some users have reported reliability issues
Polar H6 Heart Rate Sensor

The Polar H6 Heart Rate sensor provides live and accurate heart rate reading to compatible devices, including Polar Beat. However it will not provide a heart rate to Polar heart rate monitors. It can be paired with any of the many free fitness apps to allow for the recording of your training pulse. 

The Polar H6 features a soft, comfortable strap and provides up to 300 hours of usage on a single replaceable battery.

PROS

  • Soft strap
  • 300 hours battery life
  • Paints with most fitness apps

CONS

  • Will not pair with Polar heart rate monitors

Conclusion

The current market for chest strap heart rate monitors is dominated by one company - Polar, as testified to by its products occupying three out of our top 5 spots. Our most preferred unit is the Polar H7, which is the most accurate, most comfortable and has the longest battery life.

Running a close second is the Garmin Premium, which also provides accuracy and comfort, while also providing a set once and forget feature for ease of use. Rounding out our top 3 is the Polar T31 which has a slimline design, a range of color options and a coded transmitter to prevent interference.  

Best Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors 2018
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