The reason you are out looking for the best Bluetooth chest straps for your Apple watch must have something to do with the short battery life or the data inaccuracy during vigorous exercise.
Let’s look at why it’s totally worth it to invest in an external heart rate monitor for your Apple Watch. (In case you have no patience for it? Jump straight to the Wahoo TICKR X short-review below.)
Apple Watch is the most successful product by the Cupertino-based giant after of course the iPhone. The latest Series 6 has all the powerful health and sports features you can ask for in a smartwatch: Heart rate, Blood Oxygen, ECG tracking and so far. It has a built-in GPS too. And yet, there are some caveats.
While the health and fitness data tracking is solid when there is the least movement involved, the accuracy takes a plunge when you get into active mode.
This problem is common with all wrist-based monitors as the quick wrist bending or quick movement manipulates the optical sensor readings. As the result, you are in the middle of a high-intensity workout, and the heart rate readings are all over the place. The algorithms kick in to salvage you from this disaster, but so far they have not been enough.
Apart from this, the notorious battery life of the Apple Watch makes things worse. During workouts, the heart rate monitoring steps up to recording every 10 seconds which puts a serious dent in already short battery life. We all hate charging the Apple Watch every day, but what can be worse than doing it twice a day after a lengthy workout.
You might have known this all along, but now your resolve should be solidified: a Bluetooth chest strap is the right apple watch accessory if you care about battery life during extended workouts or more accurate and quick readings.
Why chest strap, not armband? They offer faster readings and are in a stable position to accurately track blood circulation.
Let’s answer a few questions first.
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How to pair your external heart rate monitor with your Apple Watch?
First, make sure that your HRM is discoverable (most of them will be), then go into the Settings app on your watch. Tap on Bluetooth and tap on the name of your device under Health Devices when it appears so it can be paired.
Now all you have to do is wait for a confirmation from both devices, which should only take seconds. Congratulations! You’ve successfully paired an external HRM with Apple Watch.
Here are the steps in order:
The Chest Strap is discoverable and is in pairing mode.
Navigate to Settings>bluetooth> health devices.
Tap on the name of the device, and it would be instantly paired.
My Chest Strap won’t pair with the Apple Watch, What To Do?
The first thing you need to do is make sure that the strap’s sensor isn’t using the old legacy Bluetooth technology. If that appears to be the case, you are in bad luck as the Apple Watch doesn’t support this outdated technology. The supported connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0 all the way up to 5.1 or LE connectivity.
Also, if the chest strap can’t pair to multiple external devices simultaneously, there is a great possibility that it won’t appear on the Apple Watch. This often happens when the strap is previously paired with a different device, let’s say your iPhone, and grabs the signal instantly before the Apple Watch has the chance to pair with it.
A quick fix would be to turn off the Bluetooth connectivity of all other devices or simply unpair the chest strap. Even better, you should invest in a strap that can be easily paired with multiple devices at a time.
Finally, some straps need to be worn on your skin before you connect it to the Apple Watch or any other device. Make sure the device is in pairing mode which is often indicated by LED lights on the pod.
Best Bluetooth Chest Straps To Pair With Apple Watch:
Though all the external HRM in this roundup support Bluetooth Connectivity, many of them have ANT+ technology as a plus. From the original Apple watch all the way up to the latest Series 6, the company hasn’t featured ANT+ technology in any of its devices. This is completely in line with Apple’s Mission to develop a closed ecosystem.
The end-users suffer, as a result, as if ANT+ had been a part of the Apple Watch, you might have connected the watch with multiple devices at a time, and the data transfer would have been speedy.
Anyways, before you condemn me for digressing from the topic, let’s introduce our first chest strap.
Wahoo TICKR X & TICKR: Most Comfortable Chest Straps HRM For The Apple Watch
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: No | Battery: Coin Cell (500 hours) | Max Pairing Devices: 3 | Sports Tracking: Running, Cycling | Weight: 1.7 ounces (pod + Strap) | Thickness: 12.01mm | Indication: 2 LEDs | Storage: 50 hours of workout data | Water Resistance: IP67 | Built-in GPS: No (relay on connected GPS)
Wahoo Heart Monitoring straps are compatible with 50 fitness apps including Apple Health, Strava, MyFitnessPal, and Komoot. Plus, these straps connect seamlessly to the Apple Watch & Apple TV via Bluetooth.
The TICKR X is the newer version, and it costs about $30 more than its older sibling, the The TICKR X . But the feature that gives it an advantage over its sibling, Running Dynamics Support, has no practical advantage for Apple Watch users as the latter doesn’t support ANT+.
Both chest straps are pretty identical in size and look. Their straps are soft, comfortable to wear, and easily swappable. At 47g, their weight meets the baseline. Also, there are handy LED lights onboard for your convenience.
These chest straps do more than just tracking heart rate. Wahoo has made them capable of tapping into advanced running and cycling metrics. Speaking of which, we get distance, pace, elevation changes, cadence, vertical oscillation, and ground contact time. They even count reps during strength training.
Though they are water-resistant for up to 5 ft, these straps cannot track heart rate underwater. For swimmers, this should rightly be a deal-breaker.
The expensive TICKR is of little benefit to Apple Watch Users. Why? Many of its advanced features rely on ANT+, and the watch doesn’t have it. Expanded storage from 16 hours to 50 hours is a plus along with new sports modes, but the $30 hike in price should put you off. In the end, the decision is yours.
Sync Data With Apple Health
Record Advanced Running Metrics
Can be paired to three Bluetooth devices simultaneously
Polar H10: Best Overall Chest Strap HRM For The Apple Watch
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: No | Battery: Coin Cell (400 hours) | Max Pairing Devices: 2 | Weight: Connector 21 g (0.74 oz), strap 39 g (1.38 oz) | Thickness: 10 mm | Colors: Black, gray, orange, turquoise | Indication: Vibration & LED | Storage: 1 Training Session | Water Resistance: Up to 30m | Built-in GPS: No (relay on connected GPS)
Like Wahoo Tickr X, the Polar H10 works across third-party apps including Apple Health, Cardio Mapper, Endomondo, ismooth Run, and Runtastic. Pairing the strap is a breeze, just follow the steps mentioned above.
Polar H10 is slimmer than the TICKR but surprisingly it is a little heavier. However, you would have no problem wearing it all day thanks to the soft textile material, slip-preventing silicone dots, and a secure buckle. It is suitable for swimmers, a big plus, and offers dual connectivity options.
There is onboard storage to record 1 full training session. The strap features a coin cell non-rechargeable battery that lasts for 400 hours. It is equipped with vibration and LED feedback which you can customize to inform you whenever you hit a milestone.
Its ECG-style sensor that relied on the electrical activity of the heart is more accurate than the optical sensor found on most wrist-based devices, including the Apple Watch. Accuracy is ensured by its advanced algorithm and extra interference-preventing electrodes.
There are several workouts and sports modes that you can access via the companion app on the IOS, but when paired with the Apple Watch, the accuracy of heart rate during intense workout sessions is the best you can get.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: No | Battery: Coin Cell (400 hours) | Max Pairing Devices: 1 | Weight: Connector 21 g (0.74 oz), strap 39 g (1.38 oz) | Thickness: 10 mm | Colors: Black, gray, orange, turquoise | Indication: Vibration & LED | Storage: No | Water Resistance: Up to 30m | Built-in GPS: No (relay on connected GPS)
The most compelling reason to ditch H10 for the older POLAR H9 strap is the attractive price point (it is approx $30 cheaper). Almost all other features overlap.
H9 replaced the H7 strap which surprisingly is still popular with the fitness buffs. Polar marketed H9 as an entry-level external HRM, but we have reasons to believe otherwise.
This strap like its pricier sibling can track heart rate underwater, offers a decent battery life, is almost the same size as the H10. Similarly, its accuracy for heart-rate-based training is unquestionable.
The key differences between Polar H10 and H9?
Polar H9 lacks onboard storage, and can only be paired to one device at a time. For many, the lack of these features is a deal-breaker, and rightly so. On-board memory allows you to leave your phone or even the Apple Watch at home, whereas the latter might lead to connectivity issues.
Also, it misses out on the new Pro strap, which is designed to offer a more comfortable fit. H9 sticks with the strap used on the older H7 tracker and for many users, the comfortability is not up to the mark.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: No | Battery: Coin Cell (Approx 12-18 months) | Max Pairing Devices: 2 | Weight: 2.1 oz (59 g) | Thickness: 8.5 mm | Colors: Black+Yellow | Indication: No | Storage: 20 hours | Water Resistance: 5 ATM (Up to 50m) | Built-in GPS: No
Straps by Garmin are usually expensive but they never compromise on quality. The Garmin HRM-PRO strap works across a range of different fitness tracking apps, smartwatches, and fitness equipment(treadmill). You can connect it to Apple Health, Runtastic (Pro), UnderArmour Record, and Wahoo RunFit among a range of other options. The attached video shows how to connect the strap with Apple Watch 6.
In the design department, the strap is well-built, to say the least. The sensor is integrated into the strap, which you cannot replace like the competition. The strap is soft and comfortable and the whole unit is sturdy enough to take mild abuse. Also, there are two adjusters on the strap to ensure a tight fit.
The strap is waterproof enough for both open and pool swimming and tracks data underwater. However, repeated exposure to chlorine can speed up the wear and tear of the strap.
It uses both ANT+ and Bluetooth technology to pair with other devices. The Battery is long enough to last for years, but if completely drained, it can be easily replaced. It has onboard storage so you don’t have to wear the Apple Watch if you like it this way.
Though the strap doubles as a run tracker allowing you to monitor advanced running features (stride length, ground contact time, cadence, and vertical oscillation), you need to pair it with a Garmin Watch to unlock them.
For Apple Watch users who don’t want to overspend on an advanced chest strap just to find themselves locked out of powerful features, Garmin HRM pro is a big no. But then you can use this strap as a standalone tracker.
Running Dynamics (But needs to be paired with Garmin Devices)
Garmin HRM-DUAL: Affordable Alternative to HRM PRO
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: No | Battery: Coin Cell (Approx 10-16 months) | Max Pairing Devices: 2 | Weight: 1.9 oz (54.4 g)| Thickness: 11 mm | Colors: Black | Indication: No | Storage: 20 hours | Water Resistance: 1 ATM (splashed and sweat resistant) | Built-in GPS: No
Garmin HRM-DUAL undercuts the HRM pro, and makes an attractive alternative for those looking for a cheap Bluetooth chest strap HRM for Apple Watch. Though it lacks the special features of its sibling, It’s reliable, accurate, long-lasting, and comfortable.
Design-wise it is essentially the same as the HRM Pro. The part of the HRM that reads your heart rate is built into the strap. The reading is first sent to the sensor which in turn sends it to the connected Apple Watch. One of the best things about Garmin Straps is the seamless connectivity they offer with the Apple Watch.
One disappointing thing about the sensor is its So-So water resistance. You cannot take it to pools or open water swimming.
The battery performance is decent, enough to last you 2-3 years if you use it for 1 hour a day. For more aggressive users there is an option to replace the battery after each year. Like many other straps in this roundup, you can use it for long workouts, whether an ultramarathon or a full day of cycling.
The performance of this chest strap, as we can expect of a Garmin product, is reliable and accurate. The data syncs well over Bluetooth with your Apple Watch, and the band never loses connectivity.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: Yes | Battery: three to six months between charges | Max Pairing Devices: 1 | Weight: N/A| Thickness: N/A | Colors:violet, sunset orange, black, and green | Indication: LED | Storage: Up to 36 hours of exercise data | Water Resistance: Up to 100m
This versatile HRM monitor can be worn as a chest strap or an armband. It switches between the optical and ECG sensor depending on the style. The single module comes with three different straps to wear in different styles.
The straps are available in different colors and are easily adjustable. They are also quite comfortable to use both as an armband and as a chest strap. The module has buttons to make adjustments and LED lights that indicate your current zone based on the typical color code for heart rate zones.
This strap feature a large battery that lasts for 3-5 months but is rechargeable.
Luckily, there is storage for a max of 36 hours of workouts, so it would still work if you don’t want to tow your Apple Watch and the iPhone while out on a run. The water resistance is phenomenal at 10 ATM, a gold standard for both chest straps and smartwatches.
This device has been tested with several Garmin and Polar sports watches, Apple watch series 6, and a couple of other fitness machines. The connection doesn’t drop and data sync is spotless.
The accuracy of the ECG sensor is in line with the popular chest HRM in the market. We assure you that it would be better than your Apple Watch during intense HIIT sessions and vigorous running.
Cheap Bluetooth Chest Straps for Apple Watch:
The following chest straps are a steal but come with caveats here and there. First off, the information about them is limited, and secondly, nearly all of them are uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.
CoolSpo H6: Best Budget Chest Strap HRM For Apple Watch
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Rechargeable: No | Battery: Coin Cell (300 hours) | Max Pairing Devices: 1 | Weight: N/A | Thickness: N/A | Colors: Black | Indication: No | Storage: No | Water Resistance: IP67
Surprisingly, this budget HRM chest strap also offers ANT and Bluetooth connectivity. The pairing with the Apple Watch is a breeze, also it syncs to Zwift, Peloton hardware, Polar devices, Map My Ride, Wahoo Fitness, Endomondo, UA Run, Garmin devices.
It features a coin cell battery, common in this kind of strap. What is impressive in this budget buy is 300 hours of solid performance.
In the design department, the strap is soft and comfortable. The color choices are limited. It is waterproof for up to 5m in water but doesn’t track heart rate while swimming.
Well, you won’t get anything but a reliable HRM reading out of this chest strap, and if that is your primary concern, the value it offers is unmatchable by the expensive chest straps discussed above.
Dash Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor:
Along with the Apple Watch, you can use this strap with a ton of different apps including Wahoo, Strava, Endomondo, IpBike, and Polar Beat.
The strap has a sturdy design with a plastic hook clip to adjust it to the right fit. The pod is a little thicker and for some downright annoying. The plastic build feels a little cheaper. To activate this chest strap, you would have to moist the electrodes.
The battery life is a bummer as you would get around 150-200 hours of it. Compare it to the Wahoo and Polar straps which offer double than this. However, you can easily swap the drained coil cell with a new one.
In the performance department, it doesn’t let you down in any way. The heart rate tracking is both reliable and in line with the Polar H10 readings.
Choosing Chest Strap HRM For Apple Watch:
The following factors should be taken into consideration before you buy a Bluetooth chest strap heart rate monitor to pair with your Apple Watch.
Strap and Module size:
Many companies offer different sizing options to cater to a wide audience. The strap length and width should be in line with your chest size, a wrong size would definitely lead to discomfort. This is the foremost reason why people return their chest strap right after it arrives.
The module should have a thinner profile and hide well under your running shirts.
This feature is optional, and should not be a deal-breaker. Why? The strap would be paired to the Apple Watch and would deliver the data in real-time.
Chest straps with internal memory are quite expensive and allow you to store maximum heart rate, heart-rate variability, and target heart rate. You won’t have to tow the Apple Watch with these types of HRM straps.
Most advanced metrics in the chest straps can only be synced via ANT+, and only a few smartwatches support this technology (including the Garmin). Apple Watch doesn’t have ANT+, so even the lack of advanced metrics should not be an issue.
But if you want to future-proof yourself, invest in a premium strap that supports advanced running, swimming, and cycling metrics including HIIT workouts. Remember, Chest HRMs is the most accurate one in the market.
Most Bluetooth chest straps have a coin cell non-rechargeable battery that lasts for months or even years. It is highly rare for a strap to have a rechargeable battery. Whatever the type may be, make sure that the battery is user-replaceable.