Best Cheap Triathlon Watches (2024)

I’m here to cut through the noise and help you find the best budget watch for triathlon.

You’re probably wondering what the best budget watch for triathlon is. From my experience, the answer isn’t just about finding the absolute cheapest option; it’s about striking a balance between cost and functionality. That said, while Coros Pace 3 offers exceptional value, other budget options like the Polar Pacer Pro or Garmin Instinct 2 get the job done without breaking the bank either.

At the end of the day, all we’re here for is something very simple – a cheaper triathlon watch that gets the job done.


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The 10 Best Cheap Quality Smartwatches Specifically for Triathlon

When I started this site, there weren’t too many options available, and the ones that were available were hella expensive.

Luckily, times have changed for the better with there being cheaper options available now. You can get a reliable triathlon-capable GPS sports watch / smartwatch at a very reasonable price (for a triathlon watch).

So, yeah, this list is comprised of actually cheap (for a proper triathlon watch) and very capable GPS multi-sport smartwatches suitable for triathlon (well, 90% of them are – I added an old timer at the very end there, which begs the question, “Do you even need a triathlon watch?“).

#1 Coros Pace 3 – Exceptional Value

At first, the “back in my day” time, there was no Coros Pace 3, there was just Coros Pace (1). And it cost twice, even three times as much as it does now. And I got a lot of hate for not putting that first at the time, because even though I knew it was good, for some reason it was far from “cheap” at the time I bought it.

But you see, something amazing happened. Instead of “discontinuing” the product line, Coros went and upgraded Coros Pace (1) to Coros Pace 2 and at the same time lowered the price (they actually lowered Coros Pace 1’s price already beforehand, but… “in the grand scheme of things”). And then something even more amazing happened. Coros Pace 2 became Coros Pace 3, which is right now, and is still at a low, low price of…

#1 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Coros Pace 3 Triathlon Watch

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Is Coros Pace 3 good for triathlon?

Absolutely, and here’s why. This thing has everything a triathlete needs – open-water and pool swim tracking, cycling, running, and the special triathlon modes. The customizable data display is a godsend for post-workout analysis. I’ve used it in multiple triathlons, and it’s spot-on with transitioning between sports, so no fiddling around during the race. Review: Coros Pace 3.

Is Coros Pace 3 actually cheap?

Well, “cheap” isn’t the word I’d use – let’s say it’s incredibly value-packed. Comparing it to its rivals, like the Garmin Forerunner 55 or 255, it’s a steal. More bang for your buck here. More functionality at its price point means you’re getting a high-quality triathlon watch without breaking the bank.

How long does the battery last on Coros Pace 3?

This is where it gets interesting. You get about 15-25 days of regular use, including nifty lifestyle features like sleep tracking. But for a triathlete, the GPS mode is crucial, and you get a whopping 15-38 hours there. Long training sessions or races? This watch won’t bail on you.

Is Coros Pace 3 data accurate and reliable?

Yes, the Coros Pace 3 nails it. The GPS and altimeter accuracy are comparable to watches that’ll cost you an arm and a leg. I’m talking less than a 5% discrepancy in distance/elevation accuracy. For rigorous training, that’s as reliable as it gets.

Is Coros Pace 3 comfortable to wear?

Oh, absolutely. The lightest sports-focused smartwatch I’ve had on my wrist. For someone with small wrists or for wearing under a wetsuit, it’s a dream. No more bulky, uncomfortable watches during long training sessions or races.

Would I recommend Coros Pace 3?

In a heartbeat. For multisport athletes, especially triathletes, this watch is a no-brainer. It’s the perfect blend of features, comfort, accuracy, and exceptional value for the price. Whether you’re a seasoned triathlete or just getting started, the Coros Pace 3 is going to be your best friend through every swim, cycle, and run.


#2 Garmin Forerunner 945

Looking for the lowdown on the Garmin Forerunner 945? As a triathlon smartwatch geek, I’ve got to say, this gadget is a solid choice for serious triathletes. Its GPS accuracy and multi-sport profiles are top-tier. But, it’s not just any watch, it’s a serious investment. Worth it if you’re committed, but weigh its price against your passion for the sport.

#2 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Garmin Forerunner 945 Triathlon Watch

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Is Garmin Forerunner 945 good for triathlon?

You’re probably looking for the real scoop, not some sugar-coated fluff. As a bit of a skeptic, I’ve seen my share of devices. This one? It’s pretty solid for triathletes. Profiles for swimming, biking, and running are spot on. The GPS? Freakishly accurate. And for open water swimming, it syncs with Form goggles like a dream. Here’s the kicker – tracking brick workouts and races is a breeze. So, for the triathlete who takes their training seriously, this is your weapon of choice. Review: Garmin Forerunner 945.

Is Garmin Forerunner 945 actually cheap?

Let’s talk money. At around the higher end, bordering expensive, the Garmin Forerunner 945 isn’t going to be found in a bargain bin. Is it the Rolls Royce of sports watches? No, but it’s definitely in the BMW category. Comparatively, it’s cheaper and slimmer than its highfalutin cousin, the Garmin Fenix 5. So, if you can find a deal at a discount, grab it. It’s not cheap by default, but for what it offers, it’s like getting a premium steak at a chain restaurant price.

How long does the battery last on Garmin Forerunner 945?

Battery life is where the Forerunner 945 shows its endurance. In smartwatch mode, this thing can go for 60 hours. Need GPS? It’ll give you a solid 30 hours without music and 10 hours with your tunes blaring. There’s even a “power save” mode for up to 18 hours, but remember, life’s variables like cell coverage can play spoilsport. For an athlete, this means less worrying about charging and more focusing on training.

Is Garmin Forerunner 945 data accurate and reliable?

Accuracy is key, right? Nobody wants a watch that fibs. The Forerunner 945’s GPS accuracy is top-notch. Its heart rate sensor? Pretty reliable for most people. But let’s be real, no wrist-based sensor is perfect. However, when it comes to monitoring your performance – think VO2 Max and other geeky metrics – this watch is like having a personal coach strapped to your wrist. Trustworthy data? Absolutely, unless you’re comparing it to lab-grade equipment.

Is Garmin Forerunner 945 comfortable to wear?

Comfort is a big deal, especially for something you wear all day. The Forerunner 945 is lightweight (50g) and compact (47 x 47 x 13.7 mm). Wearing it is like having a feather on your wrist, especially compared to other bulkier models. It’s designed for the long haul – you can wear it all day without feeling like you’ve strapped a small boulder to your arm.

Would I recommend Garmin Forerunner 945?

So, would I recommend the Garmin Forerunner 945? For serious triathletes and multisport maniacs, it’s a resounding yes. Advanced training features, solid performance, and a comfy fit make it a no-brainer. Android users will particularly love its smartwatch features. But remember, it’s a pretty penny, so make sure it aligns with your wallet and your needs.

In essence, the Garmin Forerunner 945 isn’t just a watch; it’s a training partner for the serious athlete. Just weigh its price against your level of commitment to the sport.


#3 Garmin Forerunner 745

This watch is like having a coach on your wrist for triathlons, with spot-on tracking for running, swimming, cycling, you name it. It’s a robust tool, no doubt. But, and this is a big but, it’s not cheap and the battery life… well, it could be better. So, if you’re a triathlete looking for a specialized watch, the 745’s great, but keep your eyes open for other options too.

#3 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Garmin Forerunner 745 Triathlon Watch

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Is Garmin Forerunner 745 good for triathlon?

If you’re really into triathlons, the Garmin Forerunner 745 has got your back. It’s like a dedicated coach on your wrist. Running, swimming, cycling, and even brick workouts, this watch has specialized tracking for all of them. From my experience, it’s a robust tool that provides deep insights into your training. It’s not just tracking your activities; it’s analyzing them, giving you a clear picture of your performance and where you can improve. But let’s be real – it’s not the only watch out there. You’ve got choices, but for a focused triathlete, the 745 does stand out. Review: Garmin Forerunner 745.

Is Garmin Forerunner 745 actually cheap?

No sugarcoating here – the Forerunner 745 isn’t exactly wallet-friendly. You’re looking at a price tag that’s up there, especially when you weigh it against the Forerunner 945. The 945 offers more features, including a significantly better battery life, and the price jump isn’t astronomical. It’s all about what you value more: the specific features of the 745 or the overall value you get from a slightly more expensive model. If budget is a concern, this might not be your first pick.

How long does the battery last on Garmin Forerunner 745?

Battery life on the Forerunner 745? Let’s just say it’s not its strongest suit. You’re getting 16 hours in GPS mode and a week in smartwatch mode. Now, compare that to the Forerunner 945 which offers a whopping 36 hours in GPS mode. For long-distance athletes or those who forget to charge daily, this can be a real letdown. It’s not the worst, but in the world of endurance sports, every hour counts.

Is Garmin Forerunner 745 data accurate and reliable?

Accuracy is key, and the Forerunner 745 does a decent job. Running and swimming data? Pretty solid and in line with other Garmin devices. But here’s the catch: during those high-intensity workouts, the built-in heart rate monitor can be a bit flaky. My tip? Pair it with a chest strap for the most reliable heart rate data. It’s an extra step, but for precision, it’s worth it.

Is Garmin Forerunner 745 comfortable to wear?

When it comes to comfort, the Forerunner 745 scores well. It’s light, unobtrusive, and that silicone band? Pretty cozy. The 43mm case size is also a plus, especially if you’re not into bulky watches. I’ve seen a lot of female athletes and those who favor a lighter watch gravitate towards this model. It’s like it’s barely there, which is exactly what you want during long training sessions or races.

Would I recommend Garmin Forerunner 745?

Here’s the deal with the Garmin Forerunner 745: it’s a mixed bag. For triathlon training, it’s a powerhouse, packed with features. But that price and the battery life? They’re sticking points. It’s hard to overlook them when there are other models in the Garmin range that offer either more bang for your buck or longer battery life. It really comes down to what you value more in a sports watch. So, recommendation? It’s a cautious yes, but do weigh your options.

In the end, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is a solid choice for triathletes, with comprehensive sports tracking capabilities. However, its battery life and price might make you think twice, especially when there are other Garmin models with more features or better value. It’s all about what’s more important to you in a sports watch.


#4 Garmin Instinct 2 – Affordable

Let me lay it out for you: the Garmin Instinct 2 is a triathlete’s secret weapon. It nails the essentials – swimming, cycling, running, all with spot-on tracking. But, and this is a big but, the cost and battery life? They are… variables. Apart from that, it’s not just a watch, it’s a robust training tool. So, if you’re serious about triathlon, this might just be your new best friend. But, always weigh your options.

#4 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Garmin Instinct 2 Triathlon Watch

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Is Garmin Instinct 2 good for triathlon?

So, you’re eyeing the Garmin Instinct 2 for triathlons? Smart move. This watch is like a Swiss Army knife for triathletes. It’s got your back with tracking for swimming, both in open water and the pool. And yes, it hooks up with power meters for cycling. Running? Of course, it’s covered. But the real game-changer is its dedicated triathlon modes. They aren’t just fluff; they’re crucial for serious triathletes. You know, those modes that transition seamlessly from swim to bike to run? That’s gold in a race. Review: Garmin Instinct 2.

Is Garmin Instinct 2 actually cheap?

Okay, let’s talk money. The term “cheap” is super relative. If you’re eyeing the Specialty Solar version of the Garmin Instinct 2, prepare to fork out double the cost of some other cheaper ones on this list. Ouch, right? But hold up, there’s a silver lining. The standard models are in line with other cheaper watches, definitely easier on the wallet. So, if you’re not hell-bent on solar charging, the non-solar versions are the way to go.

How long does the battery last on Garmin Instinct 2?

Battery life – the Achilles’ heel of many smartwatches, but not so much here. The Instinct 2 non-Solar model boasts over 20 hours of GPS juice. But the Solar version? That’s where it shines (pun intended). Under the right conditions, some say it’s like having an infinite battery life. Don’t get too dreamy, though. In my test, a three-hour run nibbled away 10% of the battery. It lines up with Garmin’s 30-hour claim for the Instinct 2, but let’s be real, “infinite” is a stretch.

Is Garmin Instinct 2 data accurate and reliable?

Accuracy is key, right? The Garmin Instinct 2 doesn’t disappoint here. Its GPS accuracy is top-notch, thanks to its fancy multi-channel GNSS. Heart rate tracking? Pretty solid during various sweat sessions. And for the sleep-obsessed, its sleep tracking is largely on point. But let’s be realists – no gadget hits 100% accuracy. Always room for a little error.

Is Garmin Instinct 2 comfortable to wear?

If you’re going to strap something to your wrist for hours, it better be comfy, right? Users seem to agree, giving the Garmin Instinct 2 high comfort scores. That’s not just people being nice. It’s about the ease of use and sturdy design. In a triathlon, comfort isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Ideally so good you won’t even notice it’s there.

Would I recommend Garmin Instinct 2?

Would I personally recommend it? It’s another Yes. But if you’re combing through other user reviews and data, you’ll see the Garmin Instinct 2 gets the thumbs up for its durability, battery life, and triathlon-friendly features from there, too. It’s not just a watch, it’s like a triathlon partner on your wrist. Durability, accuracy, comfort – it checks the right boxes for a multisport GPS watch.

So there you have it. The Garmin Instinct 2 is a solid bet if you’re in the triathlon game. However, no gadget is a miracle worker – always complement tech with solid training and preparation.


#5 Polar Pacer Pro – Affordable

If you’re eyeing the Polar Pacer Pro for triathlon, here’s the deal: it’s a dependable choice, covering all your bases like swimming, cycling, and running. It’s sleek, not too heavy on your wrist, and doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet. But, the battery life? It’s just okay, and it skimps on some high-end features. So, if you’re a no-fuss triathlete who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles, this could be your match.

#5 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Polar Pacer Pro Triathlon Watch

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Is Polar Pacer Pro good for triathlon?

You’re looking at a watch packed with features essential for triathlon. Think open-water swim, cycling, running – the works. It’s got a color display and a top-notch optical heart-rate sensor. Plus, it’s light and has a smaller footprint, which is a big deal when you’re comparing it to others in this price range. It nails the balance between sports functions and everyday usability.

But, there’s always a but, right? The battery life is a bit meh in smartwatch mode. And if you’re one of those triathletes who geek out over advanced features like running power, you might find it lacking. Bottom line? It’s a solid choice for about 75% of triathletes, especially if you don’t obsess over those advanced training/recovery functions. Review: Polar Pacer Pro.

Is Polar Pacer Pro actually cheap?

Cheap? Nah, not exactly, but it’s not expensive either. The Polar Pacer Pro sits at about the middle of the cheapest triathlon-capable watch and one that’s borderline luxury item, depending on where you buy it. But here’s the thing – for its features and category, it’s priced right. It’s a steal, especially for runners and triathletes. We’re talking competitive pricing in a market where you could easily spend way more for similar capabilities.

How long does the battery last on Polar Pacer Pro?

Battery life on this thing is a mixed bag. You’re looking at up to seven days with heart rate tracking and 35 hours with GPS. For the average Joe doing moderate activity, it’s a charge-every-six-days deal. The estimates are pretty spot on, but don’t expect this watch to be the Energizer bunny of smartwatches.

Is Polar Pacer Pro data accurate and reliable?

When it comes to accuracy, the Polar Pacer Pro is on point. It nails distance, pace, and heart rate tracking. The Precision Prime heart rate monitor? Solid. GPS receiver? Reliable. It’s not the fanciest gadget out there, but if you’re a runner who values simplicity and reliability, it’s a pretty good bet.

Is Polar Pacer Pro comfortable to wear?

Comfort? Check. The Polar Pacer Pro is slim, lightweight, and won’t bug you if you wear it all day or even to bed. Its breathable wristbands are a win, especially if you’ve got smaller wrists or hate bulky GPS watches.

Would I recommend Polar Pacer Pro?

So, would I recommend it? For triathletes and runners looking for a solid, reasonably priced sports watch, absolutely. It’s great for training and daily use, especially if you’re not hung up on having the latest and greatest features. But, if you’re all about top-tier GPS reliability, long battery life, and extras like running power and music, you might want to shop around or be ready to shell out more cash.


#6 Coros Apex 2 – Affordable

If you’re sizing up the Coros Apex 2 for your triathlon endeavors, here’s the skinny: this watch is a tough contender. It’s armed with all the goodies you need for that swim-bike-run grind, and the battery life is a game-changer for those long hauls. But, fair warning, it’s not the cheapest option out there. So, if you’re all about hardcore training with a side of tech reliability, the Apex 2 could be your go-to. Just keep your budget in check.

#6 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - COROS APEX 2 Triathlon Watch

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Is Coros Apex 2 good for triathlon?

Let’s cut to the chase, you’re eyeing the Coros Apex 2 for triathlons, right? Well, I’ve been around the block with these gadgets, and I’ll tell you, the Apex 2 is pretty solid for the grueling world of triathlon. It’s packed with training and navigational aids that are crucial for the swim-bike-run routine. Its durable design and advanced features like top-notch GPS and HR sensors are what you need when you’re pushing your limits. Now, I’m not just spouting off specs here. This is coming from someone who’s seen these watches in action. And yeah, the big review sites like Trail Runner Magazine and GearJunkie back this up, but what matters is real-world use. If you’re into serious training, the Apex 2 won’t disappoint. Review: Coros Apex 2.

Is Coros Apex 2 actually cheap?

“Cheap” is a tricky word, isn’t it? The Coros Apex 2 isn’t what I’d call cheap, but it’s not outrageously expensive either. Priced at around the higher end of our spectrum, it’s a bit of a jump from the original Apex. But here’s the thing – for what it offers, the price is pretty reasonable. Sure, you can look at the Garmin Forerunner 955, which hovers in the same price range, and some might argue it’s got a few extra bells and whistles. But with the Apex 2, you’re getting a solid deal for a mid-range price. It’s about weighing what you get for what you pay.

How long does the battery last on Coros Apex 2?

Battery life – this is where the Apex 2 shines like a diamond in a coal mine. We’re talking a whopping 45 hours with full GPS usage. And if you opt for the Apex 2 Pro, that number jumps to an astonishing 75 hours. Fast charging? Yup, less than 2 hours for a full charge. In the world of sports watches, this is a game-changer. Long training sessions, ultramarathons, or just forgetting to charge your watch – the Apex 2 has got your back.

Is Coros Apex 2 data accurate and reliable?

Accuracy and reliability – the meat and potatoes of any sports watch. The Coros Apex 2? It’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one side, you’ve got users praising its GPS and heart rate variability measurements. But then, there are whispers that the GPS isn’t quite as sharp as its predecessor. It’s like that one friend who’s brilliant but occasionally drops the ball. You might experience spot-on performance or encounter a hiccup here and there. It’s a bit of a gamble.

Is Coros Apex 2 comfortable to wear?

Comfort is key, especially when you’re wearing something for hours on end. The Apex 2? It’s like that favorite pair of sneakers – comfortable, reliable, and you barely notice it’s there. It’s lightweight, with a design that won’t feel like a brick on your wrist. Plus, the nylon/Velcro band is a nice touch, handling sweat and weather like a champ. This watch won’t be the reason you’re shifting around during your marathon.

Would I recommend Coros Apex 2?

Would I recommend the Coros Apex 2? Well, it depends on you. If you’re a triathlete or an adventure junkie looking for a durable, reliable watch with killer battery life and all the bells and whistles for a triathlon, then absolutely. But, if you’re the type who nitpicks about GPS accuracy or you’re on a tight budget, you might want to shop around a bit more. There are other fish in the sea, after all. But for a solid all-rounder? The Apex 2 is definitely worth considering.


#7 Garmin Forerunner 255S – Affordable

If you’re in the market for a triathlon watch, the Garmin Forerunner 255S is a serious contender. It’s like your own personal coach, tracking everything from swimming to running with top-tier GPS accuracy. It’s a bit pricey, but considering the features, it’s a solid investment for any serious athlete. Plus, its battery life is impressive, making it ideal for those long training sessions or races.

#7 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Garmin Forerunner 255S Triathlon Watch

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Is Garmin Forerunner 255S good for triathlon?

Absolutely. You’re looking at a triathlon powerhouse in a compact size with the Garmin Forerunner 255S. It’s like having a Swiss Army knife on your wrist. Perfect for the multisport madness of a triathlon, tracking your swim, bike, and run with surprising accuracy. And let’s talk GPS – we’re talking about Garmin’s advanced multi-band GPS here. For a triathlete, it’s not just a watch; it’s your personal coach. Review: Garmin Forerunner 255S.

Is Garmin Forerunner 255S actually cheap?

Let’s be real: “cheap” isn’t a word I’d use for the Forerunner 255S. In around the middle of our established budget range, it’s not pocket change. But, here’s the thing, for what you’re getting, especially that multi-band GPS, it’s a steal. It’s like buying a sports car at the price of a sedan – pricey but worth it. In the realm of high-end sports watches, which tend to be the only ones capable of handling triathlon, it’s actually on the more affordable side.

How long does the battery last on Garmin Forerunner 255S?

Battery life? More like battery beast. We’re talking 12 days in smartwatch mode and 26 hours with GPS. That’s like going on a week-long hiking trip and still having juice left. But, remember, the more you use features like heart rate monitoring, the quicker it’ll drain. It’s all about how you use it.

Is Garmin Forerunner 255S data accurate and reliable?

When it comes to data, the Forerunner 255S doesn’t play around. You get customizable data fields and it tracks everything – from your runs to how well you’re sleeping. And the GPS? With Garmin’s multi-band chipset, it’s like having a homing beacon on your wrist. It’s reliable and accurate – something you definitely want when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Is Garmin Forerunner 255S comfortable to wear?

Comfort is key, and the 255S nails it. It’s lightweight, sporty, and feels like a feather on your wrist. Especially great for those with smaller wrists. You can wear it all day, every day, and forget it’s even there. It’s not just a watch, it’s a part of you.

Would I recommend Garmin Forerunner 255S?

Would I? In a heartbeat. It’s a triathlete’s dream: compact, packed with features, and that GPS accuracy is next level. Plus, it’s comfortable and relatively affordable for its class. It’s not just a watch, it’s an investment in your fitness journey. But remember, it’s all about what you need. If you’re serious about triathlon or fitness, it’s a no-brainer.


#8 SUUNTO 9 Baro – Affordable

Checking out the Suunto 9 Baro for triathlons? It’s a robust choice, like a personal coach on your wrist. With its precision GPS and barometric data, it’s tailor-made for the unpredictable nature of triathlons. However, it’s a bit on the heavier side and not exactly wallet-friendly. So, if you’re up for a serious investment in your athletic journey and don’t mind the bulk, this could be your powerhouse watch.

#8 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - SUUNTO 9 Baro Triathlon Watch

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Is Suunto 9 Baro good for triathlon?

Absolutely, the Suunto 9 Baro is a beast for triathlons. Here’s the scoop – it’s not just any watch; it’s like having a personal coach on your wrist. With over 80 sport modes, it’s a no-brainer for multi-sport madness. Plus, the GPS and barometric data? Spot on for nailing those elevation changes in cycling and running. It’s rugged too, which means it can take a beating and still keep ticking. Perfect for the unpredictable nature of triathlons. Review: SUUNTO 9 baro.

Is Suunto 9 Baro actually cheap?

Cheap? Not exactly. We’re talking about a watch that’s flirting with the premium league here. It isn’t pocket change, but for what you’re getting – a serious piece of kit for serious athletes – it’s not outrageous. Think of it as an investment in your athletic journey. You’re paying for quality and features that can up your game.

How long does the battery last on Suunto 9 Baro?

The battery life is where this bad boy shines. We’re talking up to 120 hours in Ultra Mode. That’s five days, non-stop. Whether you’re into endurance events or just hate charging your watch every night, this is a game-changer. And with the Tour Mode, you can push it even further to 170 hours. It’s like the Energizer Bunny of sports watches.

Is Suunto 9 Baro data accurate and reliable?

Accuracy? It’s like pinpoint precision with this watch. The FusedTrack algorithm is a masterpiece, blending GPS and motion sensor data for top-notch track and distance accuracy. For navigation and activity tracking, it’s up there with the best. In the world of GPS watches, the Suunto 9 Baro is like a GPS ninja.

Is Suunto 9 Baro comfortable to wear?

Comfort’s a bit of a mixed bag here. The watch is built like a tank – solid and water-resistant. But it’s not the daintiest thing on the planet. It’s on the chunkier side and can feel like a bit of a brick on your wrist, especially during those longer sessions. If you’re all about that light and sleek life, this might not be your cup of tea.

Would I recommend Suunto 9 Baro?

So, would I recommend it? Depends on what you’re after. If you’re looking for something that’s durable, has a battery that lasts for days, and is jam-packed with features and accurate data, then yeah, it’s a solid choice. But if comfort, a sleeker design, or a thinner wallet are more your style, you might want to look elsewhere. The bulkiness and the menu system complexity can be a bit off-putting for some.


#9 Wahoo Elemnt Rival – Good Value, Quirky

Eyeing the Wahoo Elemnt Rival for triathlon? It’s a solid pick. The touchless transition feature is a game-changer in triathlons, making it incredibly convenient. Plus, it’s more affordable compared to some big names out there. The battery life is impressive, perfect for long events. But, be aware of some heart rate accuracy issues, though updates seem to be smoothing these out. Comfort-wise, it’s great, but you need to wear it right for accurate readings. For the price and features, it’s a worthy contender for any triathlete.

#9 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Wahoo ELEMNT Rival Triathlon Watch

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Is Wahoo Elemnt Rival good for triathlon?

Absolutely. Speaking as a triathlon enthusiast, the Elemnt Rival is a gem. Its touchless transitions feature is a game-changer. I’ve used it in several triathlons, and the ease of not having to fumble with your watch while switching between swim, bike, and run is a massive relief. It’s like having an assistant who knows exactly what you’re doing and when. This feature alone makes it a top pick for any triathlete, beginner or pro. Review: Wahoo ELEMNT Rival.

Is Wahoo Elemnt Rival actually cheap?

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the price. Initially, I thought it was a bit steep. But when you compare it with the likes of Garmin and Polar, it’s actually more affordable. And guess what? The price has dropped quite a bit over time! Now it’s a steal for a triathlon watch with these capabilities. It’s not just cheap; it’s value for money.

How long does the battery last on Wahoo Elemnt Rival?

Battery life – this is where the Rival shines. We’re talking 24 hours of continuous GPS usage. That’s twice what some of its rivals offer. And in regular use? It lasts up to 14 days. That’s huge, especially if you’re training or in an event where charging isn’t always possible. And it charges fully in just about 90 minutes. Long battery life is critical in triathlons, and the Rival doesn’t disappoint.

Is Wahoo Elemnt Rival data accurate and reliable?

Here’s where it gets a bit dicey. While the Rival’s triathlon features are top-notch, its heart rate accuracy has been a point of contention. I’ve seen a mix of experiences – some swear by its accuracy, while others have had issues. However, Wahoo’s been rolling out updates, which seems to be ironing out these kinks. It’s a solid watch, but keep this in mind if heart rate tracking is a deal-breaker for you.

Is Wahoo Elemnt Rival comfortable to wear?

As for comfort, it’s lightweight and feels great on the wrist. It reminds me of the Garmin Fenix in terms of wearability. But here’s a pro tip: for accurate heart rate readings, you need to wear it snugly. Loose wear might affect the heart rate sensor’s accuracy. But overall, it’s a comfortable watch for long training sessions and races.

Would I recommend Wahoo Elemnt Rival?

So, would I recommend it? For triathletes focused on specific multisport functionality and wanting a long battery life, yes. The Rival’s price point, especially now, makes it a great option. But be mindful of the heart rate accuracy issues and the lack of certain features like sleep tracking. It’s not perfect, but for its price and features, it’s a solid choice for triathlon training and events.


#10 Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size – The Classic Stopwatch

Looking at the Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size for triathlon? It’s like an old-school coach for your wrist – simple, reliable, and surprisingly effective. With features like a 100-hour chronograph and 30-lap memory, it’s perfect for basic training and race day. It’s no fancy smartwatch, but for its price, it’s a dependable, rugged choice that won’t let you down. Ideal if you’re after something straightforward without breaking the bank.

#10 Best Cheap Triathlon Watch - Timex Ironman Classic 30 Triathlon Watch

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Is Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size good for triathlon?

Let’s cut to the chase – you’re a triathlete looking for a watch that can keep up with the basics. You need something that’s not just a timepiece, but a low-key training partner on the cheap. That’s where the Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size comes into play. Its features like a 100-hour chronograph and 30-lap memory are a godsend for the more basic training sessions. And that 24-hour countdown timer? Perfect for race day. I’ve been around the block, and I can tell you, for the very basics of triathlon training, this is a solid enough choice. Sure, it’s no high-end smartwatch, but for what it’s worth, it’s like having an old crumpy coach, muttering to his beard as a way of trying to motivate you, right there on your wrist. Review: Timex Ironman Classic 30.

Is Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size actually cheap?

So, you want a sports watch but don’t want to sell a kidney? I get you. The Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size sits much, much lower in price than all the rest ($$ compared to $$$). In a sense, if you value simplicity and are not about the bells, on top of being a reliable steal, this one comes with a hint of status from the old times. When you compare it to other sports watches with the same features, it’s like finding a diamond in the rough. It’s not the cheapest, but you’re getting more than what you pay for.

How long does the battery last on Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size?

Battery life – the Achilles’ heel of most gadgets. But guess what? The Timex Ironman Classic 30 nails it with about 10 years of battery life under normal use. However, if you’re like me and love the Indiglo function, expect it to dip to at least 2 years. Still, that’s pretty impressive. You don’t have to worry about charging every night, or worse, mid-race.

Is Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size data accurate and reliable?

Accuracy is key, especially when every second counts. The Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size is generally reliable. It’s not without its flaws – no watch is – but it holds its own in terms of timekeeping. It’s simple and straightforward, hard to mess up something as simple as the basics. For its price, it’s more than adequate. You’re not getting the precision, bells and whistles of a $$$ watch, but it’s dependable enough for training and competitions in its own, classical way.

Is Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size comfortable to wear?

Comfort, oh boy, is this crucial. The Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size, with its adjustable resin strap, fits like a glove on wrists up to 8 inches. It’s light, ergonomic, and doesn’t feel like a shackle. Whether you’re swimming, cycling, or running, it stays out of your way. And honestly, it’s not just for sports. I’ve worn it casually, and it doesn’t feel out of place.

Would I recommend Timex Ironman Classic 30 Full-Size?

Would I recommend it? Well, if you’re after an affordable, reliable, and simple sports watch that’s built for a triathlon, then yes. It’s rugged, has a long battery life, and the features it packs are great for its price range. But remember, it all boils down to what you need. If you’re expecting the bells and whistles of a high-end smartwatch, without a doubt you will be disappointed. However, for a no-nonsense, get-the-job-done kind of watch, it’s a solid choice.


Here’s a Guide to Making a More Informed Choice When Going With a Cheaper Triathlon Watch

Now, I hear you, you’re probably wondering how come the “cheap” triathlon watches don’t look very cheap… The way I see it, triathlon watches are a tricky concept.

As the name implies, it’s 3 different sports in one – it’s not just one of them alone, it’s all of them at the same time, each with different challenges for the watch in terms of software and hardware. And then you add to that the requirement for the battery to last an actual triathlon race which is longer than just a run, a swim, or a bike ride alone… You might be starting to see why things are the way they are.

Here are some more questions I’ve tackled over the years regarding cheaper triathlon watches that you might find useful:


1. First Off, Just to Make Sure We’re On the Same Page: What Makes a Triathlon Watch?

A triathlon watch isn’t just any sports watch. It’s your training partner, packed with specific features tailored for triathlons.

Key elements include a triathlon mode, seamlessly transitioning between swimming, biking, and running. You’ve got to have a durable, waterproof design for those open water swims and a reliable GPS for tracking your bike and run courses. I’ve had my share of watches, and the moment a watch struggles with these basics, it’s a no-go for me. Call me spoiled, but it’s what it comes down to.


2. What Makes the Best Cheap Triathlon Watch?

The best budget triathlon watches strike a balance between price and performance.

You’re looking for something that doesn’t make you break the bank but still gets the job done. For me, the Coros Pace 3 has been a game changer. It’s affordable and nails the essentials and then some – accurate GPS, a solid triathlon mode, and enough battery life for long races. In contrast, cheaper models often cut corners here, like the Timex Ironman Classic 30 – great as a stopwatch but lacking in advanced triathlon functionalities.


3. How Much Do Triathlon Watches Generally Cost?

Triathlon watches vary widely in price, with $300 being a sweet spot for quality yet still affordable models, and with Coros Pace 3 you’re getting more than that at an even lower price.

The Timex Ironman Classic 30 is an odd one out, being below $$$, but with the good old Timex you’re only really getting a glorified stopwatch. The mid-priced budget options like Garmin Forerunner 255S and Polar Pacer Pro offer more triathlon-specific features. With the higher end ones that only really feel cheap if you catch them on a discount, like the Garmin Forerunner 945, you’re paying for premium features. In my experience, the extra you spend at the higher end of the budget window gets you more bells and whistles along with some more advanced metrics, but not necessarily a better triathlon experience.


4. Why Are Triathlon Watches So Expensive?

Triathlon watches are pricey, and there’s no skirting around it. It’s like they’re made of gold, but not really.

Without going too deep into it, the truth is, these watches are loaded with advanced features—think high-precision GPS, multisport tracking, and heart rate monitors. I’ve used the Garmin Forerunner 945, and let me tell you, the level of detail in its metrics justifies its cost. But here’s the kicker: sometimes, you’re also paying for the brand name. Like, the Garmin Instinct 2 costs a chunk more than the Coros Pace 3, but are you getting double the value? That’s debatable.

Multi-Sport Feature

5. Can Cheap Triathlon Watches Be Reliable?

Reliability in budget triathlon watches is hit or miss. Some are great, others not so much.

I’ve seen the Polar Pacer Pro hold up well in tough conditions, offering solid GPS and heart rate data. But then, there are ones like the Timex Ironman Classic 30, which, while reliable as a basic timer, lacks the advanced triathlon functionalities. It’s a dice roll with these budget watches. You could get lucky, or you could end up with something that barely makes it through your swim segment.


6. What Essential Features Should I Expect in a Budget Triathlon Watch?

In a budget triathlon watch, some features are non-negotiable.

A dedicated triathlon mode is top of the list – you need something that can switch between swimming, biking, and running without missing a beat. I’ve used watches like the Coros Apex 2, and it nails this feature. You also want decent battery life—nothing’s worse than your watch dying mid-race. And don’t forget water resistance; I mean, it’s a triathlon watch, not a paper towel. But be realistic—don’t expect the moon and the stars, like advanced navigation or ultra-precise metrics, at a budget price.


7. How Accurate Are GPS Functions in Cheaper Models?

Let’s talk GPS accuracy in budget triathlon watches.

You might think cheaper equals less accurate, but that’s not always the case. From my experience, the Garmin Forerunner 255S nails GPS tracking quite well for its price. However, when I compared it with a higher-end model like the Garmin Forerunner 945, there was a noticeable difference in precision, especially in areas with dense cover or urban settings. The takeaway? Expect decent but not top-notch GPS accuracy in budget watches.


8. Are There Budget Watches with Long Battery Life Suitable for Full Triathlons?

Yes, of course.

Most of the watches listed here boast an impressive battery life, long enough to last a proper triathlon race. The Timex Ironman Classic 30, for example, feels like it has lasted forever now… However, don’t expect older watches or those not meant for triathlon to last an entire long-distance race. Battery life is a balancing act in non-triathlon budget watches – the more features, the quicker it drains.

Best Cheap Tri Watches

9. What Is the Best Watch Strap Material for Triathlon?

The right strap material can make or break your triathlon watch experience.

Comfort and durability are key. I’ve had straps like the silicone ones on the Garmin Instinct 2 that are comfortable and hold up well in water. Then there are watches like the Wahoo Elemnt Rival with its quirky design but less durable strap. In contrast, the nylon straps might be durable but can get uncomfortable during long swims. My take? Go for silicone or rubber for a blend of comfort and longevity. Avoid leather or metal – trust me, they’re no good for triathlons.


10. Do You Actually Need a Triathlon Watch?

Let’s cut to the chase: do you really need a triathlon watch?

Honestly, it depends on how serious you are about your training and races. If you’re just dipping your toes in the world of triathlons, a basic sports watch might suffice. But once you start getting serious, a dedicated triathlon watch, like the Garmin Forerunner 255S for example, becomes invaluable. It’s not just about timing; it’s about tracking your progress across all three sports effectively.


11. Can You Use a Regular Sports Watch for Triathlon?

Using a regular sports watch for a triathlon? Well, you can, but it’s like using a sedan in a rally race. Sure, it’ll drive, but it’s not optimal.

Regular sports watches tend to lack the integrated multisport features of a triathlon watch. For a very obvious and rough example, I once tried using a basic Timex Ironman Classic 30 in a sprint triathlon. It worked for timekeeping, but I missed the seamless switch between swim, bike, and run modes that you get with a triathlon-specific watch like the Coros Pace 3. Replace Timex for any other regular sports watch or a smartwatch in that price range and you’re sure to run into issues of some kind along the way.


12. How Do I Ensure Water Resistance in a Budget Triathlon Watch?

Water resistance in budget triathlon watches is a mixed bag.

Some, like the Garmin Forerunner 745 or any of the watches listed here, are champs in the water, but others can be more like a paper towel in a rainstorm. Always check the water resistance rating – ideally, you want at least 5 ATM (50 meters) for swimming. But here’s a tip: even if the watch claims to be water-resistant, don’t assume it’s invincible. Rinse it with fresh water after swims to prevent corrosion, especially in saltwater.


13. What Is the Typical Warranty or Guarantee for Cheaper Triathlon Watches?

Warranties on budget triathlon watches? Expect the basics. Most brands like Garmin or Coros offer a standard one-year warranty, which should cover you for manufacturing defects. But don’t expect these warranties to bail you out if you accidentally run your Garmin Instinct 2 over with your bike in the most unfortunate way imaginable. Cheaper watches might have more limited warranty coverage. Always read the fine print!


14. Can I Find a Good Triathlon Watch Under $200?

Finding a good triathlon watch under $200 is like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s tough, but not impossible.

The Coros Pace 3, for instance, hovers around that price and offers exceptional value for money. It’s got most of what you need for triathlon training. But be warned: at this price point, you’re often trading off advanced features and build quality. Don’t expect all the bells and whistles of a Garmin Forerunner 945.

Best Cheap Tri Watches

15. Is It Worth Buying a Second-Hand Triathlon Watch to Save Money?

Going for a second-hand triathlon watch can be tempting, especially when you’re budget-conscious. But it’s a gamble.

I’ve seen good deals on watches like a discounted Garmin Forerunner 745, but it’s buyer beware. You might save upfront, but there are risks, like unknown wear and tear or outdated technology. And forget about warranties. So, if you’re considering a second-hand SUUNTO 9 Baro or something, weigh the potential headaches against the savings. Sometimes, it’s worth paying a bit more for peace of mind.


16. What Are the Trade-Offs of Buying a Budget vs. a High-End Triathlon Watch?

Alright, let’s get real about budget vs. high-end triathlon watches.

I’ve used both, and the differences can be stark. With budget watches like the Coros Pace 3, you’re sacrificing some fancier features. Think less sophisticated data analysis and simpler construction. But, hey, they do the job. High-end models like the Garmin Forerunner 945? They’re feature-packed, offering advanced metrics and better build quality. But, and this is a big but, do you need to drop that much cash when starting out? Probably not. It’s all about balancing your needs and wallet.


17. How to Maximize the Life of a Budget Triathlon Watch?

Maximizing the life of your budget triathlon watch takes a bit of effort.

First, treat it with care. Even if it’s advertised as rugged, like the Garmin Instinct 2, don’t toss it around. Keep it clean, especially after swims in chlorinated pools or salt water, which can corrode the materials over time. And don’t forget about software updates; they can keep your watch running smoother for longer. A little TLC goes a long way, even for budget watches.


18. How Frequently Do Budget Triathlon Watches Need Replacing?

The lifespan of a budget triathlon watch is a bit like running shoes – it varies.

Generally, I’ve found that budget watches like the Polar Pacer Pro can last many years if not a decade if treated well. But, these watches can wear out faster with heavy use, especially in harsh conditions. Higher-end watches tend to have a longer lifespan, but they also come with a steeper price. So, if you’re rolling with something like a Garmin Instinct 2, expect to replace it a tad bit sooner than its pricier counterparts. It’s the trade-off for saving some bucks.


Extra Reading

(links open in a new tab)

What Is a Triathlon? | post | TriathlonsWay
Why Get Into Triathlon? | post | TriathlonsWay
Triathlon Safety Measures | post | TriathlonsWay
How Does a Triathlon Work? | post | TriathlonsWay
Do You Need a Triathlon Watch? | post | TriathlonsWay
Is a Cheap Triathlon Watch Worth It? | post | TriathlonsWay
What Are the Benefits of a Triathlon Watch? | post | TriathlonsWay


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