For triathlon races, a watch is a piece of central equipment for any athlete. Choosing between Apple or Garmin watch is not difficult once you know the requirements of the sport. Triathletes train for endurance and so they sought a gadget that aids them in recording their progress in running, swimming, and cycling.
Here is our quick statement on the question asked.
Apple watches are good enough only for tracking your basic fitness levels and for short-distance triathlons. While Garmin watches come with a built-in triathlon mode and make the best product for triathlon and other such outdoor activities.
Research and result-based comparison of the two brands would suffice to substantiate our above claims.
Apple vs Garmin Watch for Triathlon:
Both Apple and Garmin furnish different sport modes in their watches. You can switch to these modes for your swimming, running, and cycling activities which together constitute a triathlon race. However, the primary difference between the two is the level of operability.
In the Apple Watch, you can only have access to a single sports mode at a time. It means that you would have to record each of your activities independently. The watch does not transition to the second activity by itself when you finish the run for the first one.
On the contrary, Garmin watches have a triathlon mode custom-built for triathletes. Unlike the Apple watch, you are not required to switch the modes following your racing phases. Garmin watch does this for you by default.
The triathlon mode in the Garmin watch records your run, swim, and bike and transitions it into a single activity automatically. It also prevents you from the extra labor of saving and starting each activity manually.
Time is a crucial factor for triathletes. The triathlon mode in the Garmin watches comes in handy as it saves your time during the race. You keep all the focus on winning instead of worrying about changing the modes at the end of each run.
Garmin watches have a reputation for long battery duration. The high-end models may last up to 40 hours with a functioning GPS mode. Compared to this, the best Apple watch battery lives only for 18 hours. If put to extensive use, this further shrinks to 4-5 hours only.
As for race day, Apple watches will only do fine for short-distance triathlons. It would be unwise to put trust in the Apple Watch for anything spanning longer than 5 hours.
For mid-distance and long-distance triathlons, Garmin watches are highly suitable. Their long battery life ensures the smooth running of all the features for an extended time.
As triathlon demands speed, stamina, and strength, Garmin watches assist the athletes to undertake long training sessions with their exceptional battery timings to get them prepared for the final day.
Open Water Swimming Feature
This feature is indispensable to track the swimming part of your triathlon race. Both Apple and Garmin watches cherish water-proof construction and are capable of recording GPS data while you swim. They can monitor the metrics like heart rate, number and type of strokes, and your pace underwater.
Both brands offer a water resistance rating of up to at least 50 meters. However, some Garmin watches can stretch this ability to 100 meters or more.
For a tough sport like triathlon, you need a watch with a strong build-up. A watch that can withstand the harshness of the outdoor terrain throughout the race without breaking apart. Well, Garmin exactly offers you that kind of product.
The straps of the Garmin watches are made of high-quality material. The lenses are designed with scratch-resistant, highly durable Gorilla or Sapphire Glass while fiber reinforced polymer is used to craft its casing. The stainless steel bezel adds an extra layer of protection against any accidental rub.
On the other hand, Apple watches do not provide that level of durability. They are highly prone to scratches and can not bear even a slight touch of hardness on their screen. In triathlon, you would be taking unnecessary risks with an Apple Watch on your wrist. We would certainly not recommend you wear this gadget for such an endurance sport as triathlon.
Monitoring and Tracking Features
Top-quality Garmin watches like Garmin Forerunner 945 or Garmin Fenix 6 are jam-packed with advanced monitoring and tracking features. Consider Garmin Forerunner 945 for example. It uses a new ELEVATE heart rate sensor which provides highly accurate readings even underwater. The GPS chip in Forerunner 945 also manages battery life.
Other features include Pulse Ox ( blood oxygen level monitoring ), VO2 max, incident detection and Assistance, Live Tracking, Event Sharing, Training Load focus, and many more.
Also, Garmin watches have pre-programmed maps of routes that you can use for navigation. All of these features help you train effectively for your triathlon competition.
When it comes to Apple, you do enjoy the basic metrics for swimming, cycling, and running modes. However, Apple watches lose their appeal if you are a pro athlete and looking for that all-in-one timepiece.
To cater for advanced features, you will have to look for Apple watch applications. This becomes annoying in triathlon where instead of a single sport, you are engaged in a multi-sport activity. It is rather difficult to look for multiple apps to record and synchronize your training patterns.
When you are out there training for a triathlon race, accurate distance measurement for your run, swim and cycle is the most important thing. Without accurate readings, you can not train your body according to the competition requirements.
As Garmin produces purpose-built watches for these kinds of activities, their GPS trackers provide accurate speed and distance readings for a considerably long period.
Apple watches do support GPS and other tracking functionalities, but they are too sensitive to survive a long-distance triathlon race. Many triathletes have reported the wrong distance readings with Apple Watch in the later stages of the race. This certainly renders them undesirable for tough outdoor sports like triathlon.
It’s better to remain on the safer side with Garmin’s advanced performance measurements. Apple only does well in the domain of basic fitness metrics.
Wearing Comfort Level
For a venture as exhausting as a triathlon, you require a wearable that fits well around your wrist. Both Apple and Garmin watches make comfortable wear for any indoor or outdoor activity. There is one notable exception though.
With all the sweating on your hands and arms, you may find it hard to control the touch screen of the Apple watch during training or race. This might compromise your heart rate monitoring and other such related readings.
Garmin watches, although a bit rugged and chunky, do not present this problem. Along with a touchscreen, you can also use buttons to access your interface. This ease and comfort certainly give them an edge over Apple watches.
Our Final Recommendation
For a long time, Garmin has been in the business of providing top-of-the-line smartwatches for outdoor fitness enthusiasts and athletes. Watches like Forerunner 945 have “runner” in their title name. They are specially built for professionals or aspiring to be professional triathletes. With triathlon mode, you can not simply sideline them.
Apple watches are good for basic fitness training. Their watches do not specifically target triathletes who require a more sophisticated partner for spirited adventures.
In the race of outdoor smartwatches, Garmin easily outranks and dominates Apple with its supreme features. It brings a dedicated triathlon mode, a superior battery life, rugged outlook, advanced tracking and fitness features, and a more accurate GPS, all in a single package.
If you have just started your journey towards becoming a triathlete, you can pick an Apple watch. It is okay for beginner’s level training. You can also strap it for short-distance triathlon even without having a triathlon mode which is its biggest drawback.
For an advanced level of training and competition, a pure multisport watch like Garmin will be a far better choice.
Best Garmin Watch for Triathlon
Garmin Forerunner 945
The forerunner 945 is your ultimate watch for the triathlon. It is equipped with all the features that you can ask for in any outdoor tracking gadget.
Do not consider it a good watch only for running, as the name suggests; it is equally suitable for the other two parts of your triathlon, namely cycling and swimming. The triathlon mode makes sure that you do not miss out on any data in the 3 phases of your race.
In smartwatch mode, its battery lasts for about 14 days. With GPS mode on, the watch remains fully functional for 36 hours. The superb battery timing makes it an ideal candidate for full-distance events.
With a 1.2 inches display, this watch bears high-quality navigational features along with up-to-date monitoring sensors. The watch has incredible ABC ( altimeter, barometer, compass ) functionality and its training analysis is highly precise and accurate. In short, it is the most optimal watch in the market for triathletes and you must give it a chance on your wrist.