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Gear

2016 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Watches

The four watches reviewed in the 2016 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.

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$500 (with heart rate monitor), Garmin.com
The draw: User-friendly metrics, reliable brand
*Best In Class*

Many companies have added swim and bike capabilities to their running watches, but Garmin has made a truly functional multisport watch that is feature-packed across swim, bike and run. While the GPS-enabled watch itself captures a plethora of metrics (like swim stroke count, run cadence and daily activity), it also contains external sensors that can be paired with several power meters, heart rate monitors and more. The device is sleek, comfortable, lightweight and displays sharp, colorful graphics.

$519 (with heart rate monitor), Suunto.com
The draw: For the “vert”-minded endurance athlete

As the newest watch in Suunto’s Ambit series, the Abmit3 Vertical contains several features that the climbing-obsessed triathlete will love. In addition to typical multisport stats, the unit provides a real-time and accurate altitude profile, a summary of vertical gain (by day, week and year) and the ability to plan routes on a topographic map. If you rarely pay attention to the elevation gain reading on your bike computer or in your Strava log, this watch may be overkill. Aesthetically, the unit is stylish enough for all-day wear.

$250, Tomtom.com
The draw: Affordable price, built-in heart rate monitor
*Best Value*

If you’re new to the sport or are intimidated by the price of most multisport GPS watches, this device from TomTom is a great option. The watch is capable of providing key stats in a pool, on the bike, on the trainer or road and on the treadmill. It also lets you set and train to workout goals and race against your past performances. The built-in heart rate monitor is accurate and is the star feature of this simple watch.

$520 (with heart rate monitor), Polar.com
The draw: Multisport watch plus fitness tracker

True to the company’s roots, Polar’s multisport watch places as much emphasis on overall health as it does on sport-specific tracking. While the watch isn’t the newest on the market (it first came out in 2014), Polar is constantly adding meaningful updates to the software and app that keep it relevant. With the V800, you can track your progress across swim, bike and run, and then make sure you’re properly recovering with the orthostatic test and sleep quality tracker.