A solution to heart rate dropouts/spikes with Garmin HR Soft Straps

You may remember back a few months ago when I published my Top Tips to reduce HR strap issues.  That’s since become a pretty popular posts, especially amongst Garmin Premium Soft Strap HR users.

And for the vast majority of folks, those tips resolve their HR strap issues around erratic HR readings including drops, spikes and other funkiness.

But – there’s a small segment of the population which has occasional (or continuous) issues with the soft strap.  From time to time, I see these issues myself – I’m certainly not immune to the challenges that sports technology sometimes throws at ya.  Recently I saw a bit of an uptick in heart rate reading spikes – in particular while wearing some of my DriFit type t-shirts while running.  It was getting to the point over the last few weeks where I couldn’t even wear them because of the spikes.  I’m not clear on why the exact change, as the weather hasn’t turned to fall (which is when the issues typically crop up).

So…that’s when I remembered an e-mail thread with a reader in Australia asking if I’d tried out any of the Polar straps.  While I believe that Polar devices are currently lagging behind the competition – I’ve always agreed that their HR straps themselves are superior.  Unfortunately, the straps themselves aren’t natively compatible with Garmin.  Garmin uses ANT+, and Polar uses their own protocol (depending on coded or non-coded).

After a bit more information he noted that some folks Down Under were actually utilizing the Wear Link straps which were compatible with the Garmin’s.  So, up for a bit of experimentation, I ordered one off of Amazon and waited until Mr. FedEx arrived.

Luckily…he arrived the next day. 😉

IMG_9378

I was pretty skeptical that it would work out of the box, given the transmitter differences.

IMG_9382

And, after a whole bunch of testing – I found it didn’t.  No HR readings to be found. 🙁

So, back to the forums I went and did some more research.  Turns out…I was doing it wrong!  I needed to actually swap out the Garmin ANT+ transmitter (little button-on plastic piece) with the Polar Transmitter (same design plastic piece).  So, I popped them both off, which then looks like below:

IMG_9440

…after disconnecting the clip it then becomes…

IMG_9442

And then, I did the Indiana Jones Idol swap:

IMG_9443

You’ll now note that the Garmin ANT+ Transmitter is snapped into the Polar Soft Strap, and the Polar Transmitter is snapped into the Garmin Soft Strap.  At this point, we can take the Polar Transmitter/Garmin Strap combo and toss it to the side…its now sitting in the corner with the dunce cap on.

IMG_9454Dunce

Meanwhile, we can take the golden Garmin Transmitter/Polar Soft Strap combo and go back to our ANT+ device:

IMG_9456

You’ll notice we don’t even need to re-pair the strap at all.  This is because it’s our same good ole’ transmitter.  See, the transmitter itself is almost never the problem (unless the battery is dead).  But it’s the strap where the electrode sensors are that’s the root of all evil.  The strap is what picks up the readings off your chest, whereas the transmitter just relays that information.

And, because the transmitter is ANT+ – it’ll work with all existing ANT+ device, regardless of whether it’s a Garmin Edge 500, a Timex Global Trainer, or an ANT+ enabled iPhone:

IMG_9459

So, how would it fare in real world testing?  Well, if there was ever a place that gives me constant trouble – it’s Skyline Drive on a bike.  This is because I’ll easily hit 40MPH on the descents, which for me tends to cause high HR issues when the wind enters my jersey.  It’s pretty much a known quantity for my rides there.

So…off I went, cycling for 44 miles.  And when I got back and took a look at my HR graphs?

image

Not a single erratic/unexpected reading.  In fact, during the whole ride the readings were exactly what I’d expect them to be.  No weird issues up front like usual, no issues during high speed descents, nor any problems with the buffeting winds that I also experienced.  Just perfection.  And my browsing of various forums is showing the same thing for others who have switched over.

But…what about the costs?

Well, cheap.  Super-cheap.

Now I actually incorrectly bought the entire Polar strap including the transmitter – but you don’t need to.  You just simply need the replacement strap without the transmitter.

This replacement strap itself is available for just $17.  Pretty darn cheap.

It comes in two sizes:

XS-S (21”-38”): Amazon Link (simply choose size X-Small-Small)
M-XXL (27”-60”): Amazon Link (simply choose size M-XXL)

I ended up getting the M-XXL one as that seemed to easily cover me and works perfectly.  Note that it’s important you get the WearLink one – which has the little snaps to place your Garmin transmitter.  Just any old Polar strap won’t work.  Also note that you NEED the Garmin Soft Strap HR transmitter piece – meaning this won’t work with the old school classic straps, nor will it work with just the Polar pieces.  Mmmk?  Good.

Hope this helps some!

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418 Comments

  1. Strapper

    I also strugled with Garmin soft strap for a while. Sometimes HR values appear but the values was not reliable. I have used the Garmin strap only less than a year.I changed battery and washed strap and made all these magic tricks, but it did not helped. I bought new sport-tracker soft strap only 9.90 €. Garmin HR device suit perfectly to the strap and everything work well. My feeling is that this new ST strap is more confortable than the Garmin original one.well with Gahttp://shop.sports-tracker.com/heart-rate-monitor-strap-size-s-xl-60105.html

  2. Declan McDonagh

    So can I plug a Garmin transmitter (ant+) onto a Tom Tom strap (Bluetooth I believe)??

    Thanks

  3. Ciarán

    I’m on my third Garmin HRM strap. The first two were the HRM2-SS, and now the HRM3-SS (all replaced by Garmin FOC) has also failed. Failure mode as described in countless posts: connects to the (in my case) Edge 800 without issues, but then either stops reporting data, or has data that’s way too low.

    Surely Garmin must now realise that there are (still) some kind of sweat buildup issues with these straps when used over time?

    I wonder if there’s some cleaning solution that would dissolve the buildup completely. I noted that the major change between the HRM2 and HRM3 was that the latter is machine washable — but that still doesn’t seem to stop the sweat buildup issues.

    • notmensa

      I agree there is a major problem here that Garmin is refusing to acknowledge or address.
      Since December 2013 I’ve used 2 x Garmin straps/transmitters, Polar strap with Garmin transmitter, and a Wahoo strap/transmitter and still get a slow decline in HR readings after 30-40 mins.

      I’m not convinced the problem is with the strap/transmitter. The dropouts / declines are much worse when I’m using my elliptical trainer at home, in a room with multiple computers and electronics) – which suggests that there might be an issue interference. It’s also possible that the problems are in the watch itself. Whatever the case, Garmin is apparently unable or unwilling to address it, and instead manage it by replacing straps/transmitters.

    • For your December 2013 unit – which strap exactly are you using (HRM1/HRM2/HRM3?) and do you know when said strap was bought/made?

  4. Collin

    Would this still be an issue with the heart rate strap if I were to buy a 910xt today? Is Polar still ahead of Garmin as far as heart rate monitoring is concerned?

    • All new FR910XT’s that ship these days come with the HRM3, which if made after July 2013 (all of them bought through major channels now are), are FAR better straps than that before then. They include new firmware as well as some slight changes to the strap to reduce spikes/dropouts.

    • EmZo

      Hello just for reference, I have the HRM3 strap using it with my Garmin EDGE 810. I have used it about 7-8 months 3-6 times a week. Now I have significant spikes/dropouts. Changed the battery according to Garmin instructions – discharging the transmitter, and no success. The device pairs the hrm flawlessly than sho some random pulse for few seconds, like 72 than disappears and during the whole training about an hour no matter if I ride hard or relaxed it’s like shows 50-60bpm than disappears than again 50-60 than again disappears.
      link to connect.garmin.com
      I have ordered a new Sigma Sport strap (with the same 4gb clips) and going to test if will work with the garmin transmitter.
      Will report ther results later.

    • EmZo

      Again just for reference for EU users. After a test ride last night, I confirm that the Sigma Sport strap fits perfect with the Garmin transmitter (no additional adjustments needed) and it works fine.

      link to bike-discount.de

      link to connect.garmin.com

    • Lee

      I have the same issue. When I first put the strap on (with electrode gel now) It reads 72, drops, 72, drops, 72, drops for 5-10 mins then it will come alive for about 20-40 mins then drop back to 72 and then nothing.

  5. Bob DeCamp

    RE: My comment dated June 5 2014- The polar strap is working fine- the heart rate disappeared about a week ago while riding; I stopped and found the “search heart rate monitor” feature in the garmin 800, and it found it immediately and it started working again…. go figure… 🙂

  6. Sasha

    I have been using FR910XT since Jan, 2014 and I suppose I have HRM v3. It has “L” and “R” letters on its inner side.
    I had no spikes or other problems during the first 6 months of using the device. I wash and dry it properly every time.
    The problem now is that HRM data drop out after first 30 minutes of an activity.

    Here you can see a typical example of that
    link to connect.garmin.com

    I have very reliable HRM data during first 20 minutes and then it fails. The hotter the activity the earlier problem starts.
    Guys, would you explain, what do you mean by “cutting out the strap”?
    Can you provide pictures of your cutted strap?

  7. Josh

    I have the latest Garmin premium soft strap and it worked perfectly until recently. Now when I ride, I usually get what I would call partial dropouts. These are long stretches where my HR reads 39-55. For me, 55 is only attainable at rest with lots of concentration.

    Anyway, it never seems to drop to 0 which is why I am here. Does anyone have any idea why this may be?

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for all the tips.

    I’ve got a year old Edge 500 and just recently started getting irregular HR readings.
    I bought a new polar strap and still getting the irregular readings. On this mornings cycle I’ve clipped out the HR sensor while riding and at times I still got a reading popping up like 65bpm, 85bpm and so on.

    How is it possible for the Edge device to get a reading with the HR sensor disconnected. I was cycling on my own with no one around me with another garmin.

  9. Marc

    So what is the recommended HR monitor/strap for ANT+ I’m fed up with my Garmin softstrap HRM2. I realize there is a HRM3 but is that the best for ANT+???? I’d rather buy something that I don’t need to replace.

    • I generally don’t hear too many complaints on the HRM3 to be honest, especially if it was made after July 2013, when they added a bunch of logic to reduce spikes/dropouts.

      Now, that said, there are other straps out there that do dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, which I think is a better way of looking at things. For example, the Wahoo TICKR, or even some of the optical straps like the Scosche.

    • Matt Anfang

      What is the best Ant+ strap out on the market right now then would you say? I’m on my 3rd Garmin Soft Strap HRM3 and just frustrated. I do however want a long battery life for my 100 mile ultramarathons which can take 30+ hours. I like the optical ones but their battery life sucks.

      Any help is greatly appreciated! I love you website and reviews. I’m a mechanical engineer so I really appreciate all of the metrics and data. 🙂

  10. Richard

    Thanks to Singlespeed and others who tried and confirmed it, I also did cut my Garmin HRM soft strap.
    It instantly solved the issues I had for weeks: spikes in HRM or drops by 30/50 pulsations that lasted for the duration of the whole workout.
    It’s now been a month and the HRM still works normally
    link to dropbox.com

  11. Christof Schwiening

    I have had two of the soft Garmin straps fail. Yesterday I ordered a new Polar strap to use – shame really since when I got home I cut one of the Garmin straps to remove the mid-section of the strap (~1 cm) that sits behind the clip-on electronics. I then put the strap on, with the clip-on unit bridging the fabric strap – it now works perfectly. I went for a run – it worked. It didn’t fail and it didn’t come undone. Clearly the problem with the Garmin strap is that over time the resistance of the mid section falls short-circuiting the electrodes and reducing the size of the signal. A simple and cheap solution – why is Garmin not telling users about that fix? They must know what is going on.

  12. Christof Schwiening

    OK, a quick update. The Garmin strap that I cut has now failed and I am using the new Polar one. I decided to get out my voltmeter and do a quick bit of investigation. The resistance between the black electrically conductive plastic and the front metal terminals on the Polar strap is ~2-4kOhm with the resistance rising as you move further away from the metal terminal (presumably that is where the electrical connection is made to the conductive plastic). On the Garmin straps the resistance is ~500KOhm to 5MOhm – several hundred if not a thousand times higher. So, I guess the electrical conductivity of the belt has declined over time. I don’t know enough about these clever plastics to know if this is an inevitable leach of the conductive component or whether it is a poor electrical connection. Obviously cutting the strap reduced the shorting of the two sides – but the fundamental problem is of a poor electrical connection within the strap itself. So, cutting is only going to help for a while….

  13. Ted W

    My HRMrun strap that came with my Fenix2 worked fine. the issue I had was it digging into my chest no matter what I did. bandaid. bodyglide. nothing worked. even with the strap off center with the fob was under one o the nips. then, the strap just stopped working, like all other Garmin straps. Yes I rinse that. I even washed it as recommended. Th HRM starts off reasonable, but within two miles its reporting 80-100bpm. I know for sure it ought to be 160+. I used an old HR garmin strap. I used siccors and cut about 1/2 way from botton to top between the two snaps. I though this was the recommended way. but it did nothing. Im bummed. I like HR training. not sure what to try now. Which model of Polar strap is most recommended? Can someone post a clearer picture of a “cut” garmin strap, maybe I cut mine wrong.

  14. Justus S

    Been fighting my garmin strap off and on for a while. After some research and this post and comments I did a simple hand wash of the strap. I have never washed it, but would wear it as I would jump in my pool after hot summer runs. This simple hand wash took it from providing false readings 100% of the time yesterday to providing correct readings 100% of the time today. It makes sense why the salt in sweat building up would cause issues. I think the simple solution is to wash it after a run or when it starts to act up. There is likely a salt concentration level within the fabric that is the tipping point, so any time you sweat you are adding to this level from where the strap was at the start. It also makes sense that some of the comments in here say the polar strap works for a time then does the same false readings. This could also be the reason the readings get flakey many hours into an ultra too.
    Just my 2cents and n=1 experience. Hope it helps someone.

  15. Robert Black

    My original Magellan strap lasted about a month, no amount of washing would fix the damn thing, really frustrating so I dumped it and got a no name unit delivered from China for £6.65 and it just works perfect, 6 days a week for the last 5 months so far.
    I also purchased the Polar strap which the garmin and wahoo tickr pods fit on without issue. while I’ve had to pare back the rubber a little to get the Magellan pod to stay put otherwise it kept popping off.

  16. Patrick

    I’ve been through 3 HRM straps and am now on my 4th. I have a ForeRunner 910XT and Edge 810. I commute by bicycle and run several times a week so wear my HRM about 13 to 15 times a week.
    My first HRM strap was an all-black soft material strap which failed within 3 months by producing believable heart rate spikes within the first 5 minutes of use. I lived in a humid environment, Gulf Coast of Texas so sweated heavily so I knew it was not a skin contact issue. Thinking my skin was too dry/non conductive at the start of my workouts, I used BuhBump between the HRM strap and my skin, made no difference.

    Garmin eventually replaced my HRM strap and transmitter after first making me reset my devices and replace HRM transmitter battery, several times.
    The second strap was the “newer generation” black material strap where portions of the strap are speckled black and white. It lasted nearly 6 months and first indications of failure was significant drop-outs in the reported heart rate, just like I was cooling down or backing off on exertion. Say I was expecting a rate of about 145 BPM, the HRM would report about 105BPM, which for me is 50% of my max. Once I figured that this strap was failing, I got Garmin to replace it and all was good. Garmin replaced it with the same black-white speckled version. It too lasted about 6 months before starting with significant drop outs in the reported heart rate. By this time I was out of warranty with both my Garmin devices. I recalled that I still had an unused HRM strap from my initial purchase. I’d only ever used one HRM strap and transmitter. Garmin replaced my transmitter twice but I never bothered using the newer ones because using a new HRM strap addressed all the problems I’d experienced.

    I’d tried the “cut” method that others mentioned, didn’t work for me on my dead HRM straps. I’ve only ever hand washed and air dried my HRM straps. BUT, for my first 3 HRM straps, I’d unclipped the transmitter every time. I’ve become convinced that the straps are made with some weird conductive thread that fails in a sweaty corrosive environment and that unclipping the HRM transmitter, or stretching the HRM strap causes intermittent conductivity failure of the conductive fabric.

    SO, for my 4th older gen strap, all black stretchy fabric material, I’ve never unclipped the HRM transmitter. After each use, I get in the shower, wash my hair then with the shampoo on my hands, remove the HRM strap from my chest, and gently rinse off the sweat, NEVER stretching it out, nor removing the transmitter. I then hang up the HRM to air dry, never in the sun. This strap is still going well after over a year of use… Just thought I’d share what’s been working for me.
    BTW, I’ve checked with my Garmin devices and after about 15 minutes of my HRM being removed from my chest, the HRM no longer transmits anything so I believe the battery is not excessively used if the HRM transmitter is left on the strap, even when the strap has been fully immersed in water and then put out to air dry.

  17. Jay

    Ray, thanks for the tip. I have a Garmin 800 with their heart rate strap that has been giving me grief for the last few weeks. Yesterday I order the Wahoo TICKR dual heart rate monitor. It’s due to arrive today, but I got to thinking that DC Rainmaker may have talked about this already. Sure enough, this post came up. I’ve got a half dozen old straps, and I ended up using a Wahoo Bluetooth strap, since I’m using Ant+ and not using Bluetooth. It fit perfect!! It has the curved ends and is a absolute perfect fit. And it works. Thanks again!

  18. Johan

    Hi Ray,

    I’ve had a Garmin 910xt for about a year and a half – the strap worked for close to exactly 12 months. It died, I swapped batteries etc but was eventually given a new strap and device from my local store. I’ve synced it but the problem is that the resting heart (ie. me sitting here) is reading around 165-199bpm. I’ve attempted to “reset” the HRM by removing the battery, clearing it by placing the batteries in upside for a few seconds and placing in again but am still have the same problem. They are both HRM2-SS

    Any thoughts – i’ve tried the Garmin website but just get a standardised email back?

    Thanks!! Love your work.

  19. I have a Bryton HRM (also ANT+) and the strap broke. After reading this, I ordered a Polar SoftStrap (about £13) to see if it fitted. The Bryton HRM units have a smaller inset around the button dome, so you need to cut away about 3mm of the rubber surround on the strap. Then the Bryton unit fits well also.

    I really enjoy your site. Thanks for all the reviews & discussions

  20. Eddie

    Thanks for the post. Found a cheap bontrager strap at my LBS and solved my issue

  21. Kelly Latham

    Thank you DC rainmaker, yet again you come up with the goods. I love that when i have a technical problem with cycling gear i only need to go one place to find the solution. Wonderful.

  22. Steve

    These Garmin heart rate monitors are driving me crazy.
    I have tried both the HRM1 and the HRM3 monitors, and I have tried the latter with a Polar soft strap, all with the same results.
    I have tried soaking them, using Spectra 360 gel, and tightening the strap like a boa constrictor.
    I have wasted countless batteries.
    Yet I get the same result on both my FR70 and Edge800.
    When I move or adjust the strap, I get a momentary reading, and then it reads nothing.
    Yet when I use my Polar H6 monitor, paired up on my iPhone, I get perfectly acceptable results.
    What is the deal?
    I would use the Polar all the time, but it doesn’t work with my Garmin Edge.
    Any ideas?

    • Chris

      Hi Steve,

      Mine has just started having the exact same issues as yours after almost 2 years of running fine. When the circuit is connected(ie, both sides of strap are connected to body) it will get a once off reading and stop, if you break the circuit and then reconnect, the once-off reading will happen again. I have tried replacing the battery, discharging the sensor, moving the strap around all to no avail. Last thing to try is to update to the latest firmware on the garmin device, but doubt this will work as it was working previously and stopped, so my thoughts are that there is a problem with the sensor and it will need to be replaced(have ruled out strap as being the issue as I tried touching both connectors on the back of the sensor and the exact same results happened with a once-off reading.

    • Ted W

      check out the exchange on reply #191. ethyl alcohol. it was a last resort for me. costs a $1 or $2 at a drug store. not isopropyl but ethyl. I soaked me strap as written. it worked. My guess is there was salt or corrosion that hot water and soap couldn’t get rid of. ever since that bath, the only issue I continue to have is chaffing. why these things only chaff me after 6+ months of use I dunno. but the micropore tape works great so far.

  23. Bob Douglas

    I am not having a problem with spike. I just find the soft strap last between 4 and 6 months
    Connection becomes erratic, the heart rate drops like people have reported.

    I will try the polar strap
    If this does not work I will buy a different brand of HR monitor/strap

  24. Bruce

    What is the latest version of the Polar strap that is compatible with the Garmin ANT+ technology?

  25. Bob Douglas

    In the end I bought a
    Abody Chest Belt Strap for Polar Wahoo Garmin for Sports Wireless Heart Rate Monitor
    link to amazon.co.uk

    at 9.99 is is good value and works with Garmin 510

  26. tailrunner60

    I had a problem with no visible reading early in my rides and occasional drop outs in the middle (the Garmin Connect site would record 72 bpm). Most of the time after 20 minutes I would get readings that felt correct. I tried the Polar option but it only shortened the delay by a little. The Polar strap was well used so that may have something to do with it. After a battery change it was no better. As a last resort I used Methylated Spirit (basically ethyl alcohol) as some others here have recommended and although I had to reapply a day after the first time it now tracks perfectly with my old Polar model. I only bought my 220 just after Christmas and it was fine until about 2 weeks ago. Since this post began about 5 years ago and I assume that I have the latest model I am puzzled that an agile company like Garmin haven’t fixed this problem. I had been using Polars soft straps for many years without anything like this.

  27. Tailrunner – the clue is in the name – Methyl not ethyl. Ethyl is much better in a glass! Thanks for the tip though as other posters have suggested isopropyl etc and I do not have that but aim to follow your example with the meths.

  28. tailrunner60

    Christopher methylated spirit is at least 90% ethanol with methanol added to make it poisonous to drink. Here in Australia if my old chemistry teacher was right it is 96/4% mix. Elsewhere it may be different because all sorts of stuff can be added. So it may pay to check. I forgot to add in my post that for optimum performance your chest needs to be very wet. With the Polar monitors a quick lick to the strap used to be enough. With the Garmin I find that to get it going properly right from the start I need to apply significant moisture to my chest directly under the plastic part of the strap

  29. Tailrunner60

    I want to correct my last comment. I have now read the Material Safety Data sheet for the brand of methylated spirits and is >95% ethanol and >5% water. So basically it is moonshine with an additive to make it taste bad. So it is as pure Ethyl alcohol as you can get. Cheers

  30. Matt Anfang

    So… I just called up Garmin and they informed me that they are releasing a new strap update. It should address any issues that we all are having. I’ll know more soon. Usually the strap would work great for the first 3-5 months and then it would just start to flake out. Hopefully this is the fix. If not, I bought a polar strap too per DC Rainmaker’s suggestion.

  31. samz

    yep bought just the strap from polar and now my garmin works again

  32. samz

    here is the strap I have just bought. The membrane inside the garmin soft strap must breakdown as there is no problem with the unit itself. It must lose its continuity between the pads and the unit when the unit is clipped in. My 810 detects the unit all the time and shows a standard beat when first detecting. If it does not get an update from the strap it shows zero. Move it around it shows again for a while then dis appears. I was going to buy another garmin strap but I am scared it might show the same faults after a year. I am hoping for better longevity with my Garmin HRM clipped to my polar strap being picked up on my garmin 810. It cost 1/2 the price as well as I just got the strap only

    link to polar.com

  33. Steven

    I’ve bought a polar strap and it arrived today. It looks just like the pictures above but I can’t use it. The buttons on it for HRM are slightly different. When I click the garmin unit into the strap it just pops straight out again. The clip in just isn’t secure enough.

    Anyone else had this problem? Any ideas on a fix?

    • Kevin Dwyer

      I had the same problem,
      If you take a small craft knife and trim away the rubber until it is slightly below the connections on the belt then that will solve the problem.

    • Richard Dell

      I waited from last until this season to make the modification, wanting to document … A photo being worth a thousand words …

    • Richard Dell

      Polar above, Garmin below.
      Left on Polar unmodified, right on Polar trimmed.

    • Curtis Walkley

      Did cutting that away actually work? I just bought the same Polar strap, and my garmin transmitter pops off. I don’t know if I should send it back or modify it

    • Phil London

      I have got to the same point, frustrated with rubbish HR readings from half-IM last weekend. I am hesitating with the knife about to make the first incision… can anyone confirm the “cut away the rubber” move works??

    • Richard Dell

      Absolutely … works perfectly for me … see the photobucket link I posted above …. there are a few close ups if you use the “>” symbols to scroll through … you’ll notice one of the Polar “snaps” is trimmed, the other not.

      That Polar snap is trimmed kind of ragged. I may have (don’t remember) tried using small wire snippers to trim that one. The second one, with a sharper Exacto blade this time, the second Polar “snap” trimmed with much cleaner edges.And almost in one continuous peel (like 80-90 percent in one swipe, then a second cut for the rest)

      Make sure you have a good blade and it will go easy … and even if not, it may look ragged like my example, but I’ve had no issues.

      And … with the Polar I have not had a drop out due to excessive perspiration … the Garmin strap had worked about 45 minutes in grass cutting, then dies due to sweat buildup (probably shorting out against the metal screen shield)

    • Richard Dell

      Curtis, I tried it without trimming, hoping for the best, and was darn lucky to find the Garmin sensor in the grass as it popped off after 5 minutes or so … didn’t note it had gone missing till 10 minutes later (and found only by tracking the GPS location where the signal dropped out)

      Trimming went straightforward … much easier for the second snap, after my confidence was built.

    • Phil London

      Thanks Richard – I have cut and all seems to be OK so far!

    • Richard Dell

      I speculate (no experience) that the reason Garmin put the shielding in had to do with folks with “static” discharge from clothing over the strap .. just be aware … my issue was always sweat, which I think caused a semi-short to the shielding with time, I tend to wear cotton only so not likely to see the static issue.

  34. Ellen backlin

    I take an interval training class twice a week at Xsport fitness in Chicagoland. I also work there. I have my own polar straps and almost every time I take the class with their monitors and MY strap, the heart rate goes flying up to at least 100% then back to 60 or even 50 %. And I haven’t even started walking on the treadmill. When I am down on ground doing V ups for about work or flutter kicks, the monitor goes up again to 100 -120% or so. Once lately I put their strap on. It was wet and looser than mine. My heart rate was how it’s supposed to be. Red zone when I push myself and in the 80’s% or 90%. I’m also 55 and probably the oldest in any of the classes. Now I’m doing a 48 hour stress test to see if I’m okay. What the heck!?

  35. Steve

    I am having a related HRM problem. My HRM connection to my Garmin 1000 keeps cutting out. I paired it fine. But then it doesn’t recognize the HRM at the beginning of a workout, so I have to manually connect it. Then it will lose the connection again mid-workout and have to be re-paired. This may happen 3-4 times per hour. Very frustrating.

    I know the HRM is fine because it works with my Garmin 910 just fine – zero issues.

    I’ve heard other Garmin 1000 users have similar problems. Has anybody found a fix?

  36. Jose Barrios

    Bought a Garmin 920 XT about 2 months ago, the HRM-run strap worked fine for a few days, then drop out or simply lower readings, did about everything that was recommended, finally decided to email Garmin and a replacement strap was sent.
    I have been using that new strap daily for two weeks without any trouble.
    Is is fair to say that there are either batches or some number of bad straps that go into the market which are replaced later on? Funny marketing strategy.

  37. Greg

    Year 2015, I cant believe Garmin straps still have the same issues. Your prognosis is spot on.
    These straps only seem to last about 12 months before the erroneous data starts.
    I swapped the Garmin strap for the strap that came with Kinetic InRide set. It worked!
    Crappy strap clips but will do until I get a Polar strap.
    Thanks heaps !!!!

    • Frank

      Hi Greg. I am right with you. My first Garmin running watch was something this size if a shoebox and came with an HRM-1. The watch is gone but the HRM-1 still works great. My 420 came with a SS-HRM3. Many problems. Garmin replaced the whole HRM assembly twice. Then I got a fenix2 with an HRM-RUN and the SS. It is clear to me that the straps are crap. The transmitters are fine.

      In frustration yesterday, I popped my HRM-RUN off of its SS and put it on the aging strap that came with my Polar H7. Worked beautifully. Popped an HRM3 on the Polar strap. That worked beautifully too. Did it again today on two different runs. HRM-RUN on the Polar strap. Bingo. Problem solved.

      What is really strange to me is that the Garmin SS has a bunch of what looks like Kevlar fabric on it and cares about the difference between the left and right sides of your chest. The Polar strap has none of that and works like a charm.

      If I keep buying Garmin devices (and I probably will as the Polar equivalents are crap) I’ll skip their HRM’s and buy 3iii or nearly anything but Garmin.

  38. Rob

    After 5 months my Garmin strap stop working too. Unbelievable. Followed the advice here and bought a Polar strap. Works like a charm.

    As side note, my Garmin 1000 is sooooo problematic with my iPhone 6 and connecting. You would think for such a well known company and for how many units they have sold there would not be these kind of problems. This will be my last Garmin purchase.

    Thanks for the tip!

  39. Danielle Boessel

    I nvr used my hr strap (hr strap 3 from from garmin) cuz I had an old polar (prob from 2010-2011? It said wear link so I tried it. First couple runs were spot on. Then came the drop outs. In fact with the belt off in my hand it still registered a heart beat (albeit way off). Ugh. I have washed it, turned it backwards, worn above breasts etc and still halfway into my run (longer than 6 miles) it drops out completely or gets low. Any ideas on solutions ?

    • Les.B.

      This comment section has gotten so ridiculously long that solutions get lost in the haystack.
      Check entries 191-194. Scrubbing the strap between and around the snaps with rubbing alcohol worked for me to fix and maintain my strap. I now do it on a preventative basis.

    • Jose Barrios

      I had the same problem, my solution was two fold, started washing the strap with dish soap and moved the strap towards my left side. I haven’t had any drop outs since.
      Regards
      Jose

    • Joe Beyer

      Thanks for sharing your solution. I tried it and it worked great. The strap works like new. I placed a new post at the bottom of the thread referencing your original post so hopefully people will go to the end and see it.

  40. Frank

    Danielle, I am a little confused by your post. First, what device are you sending your hear rate signal too? If it is a Garmin device, the WearLink transmitter should never have communicated with it. Garmin devices only receive wireless sensor input over Ant+. Some of them will communicate with your phone over BTLE but that is it, If you are saying you plugged your Garmin HRM3 transmitter into your WearLink strap, that should have worked all of the time though five years in your gym bag may be challenging the Polar strap as well. If that is the case, go back to the new Garmin strap that came with your HRM3. It should be good for a couple of months anyway.

    I have to say, I am still happy with my current Polar softstrap/HRM-RUN or HRM3 solution. In fairness to Garmin though, I wire the Garmin Softstrap 4-6 times a week for months before it failed. The Polar strap is older but has always been lightly used until now. We will see how it fares with heavy use.

    • Danielle Boessel

      Frank-
      Yes I plug my garmin transmitter onto my polar strap. It used to work well before my Long runs got long. The drop outs I figured are from the excessive sweating and prob from dumping water to combat the humidity? I read some of these responses and began washing the strap after every use with dish soap and letting it air dry but it still happens on every long run. I will try using the garmin hrm3 strap since I’ve never even tried using it once. (I didn’t use it outright cuz I read all the problems assumed I’d have them too and dug for my polar strap to play switch-a-too.

    • Frank

      Danielle,

      Got it. In my rather extensive experience with the Garmin soft straps (I have had 4) they work perfectly for a while and then they don’t. Unfortunately, when they start to fail, performance becomes erratic. More unfortunately, the Garmin transmitters do the same thing then their batteries start to get low so you never know for sure where to point your finger.

      If you use an HRM-RUN put it on a polar strap as soon as the Garnin one starts to fail. If you don’t care about Run Metrics you are probably better off with a 4iiii V100 Viiiiva or a Wahoo TICKR.

  41. Dann Schmidt

    Love the solution offered here. THANK YOU! I thought I was ‘upgrading’ to the new softer Garmin strap, and it felt great, and worked great for a few months.
    I was pretty frustrated with it dropping readings in longer runs and rides. Then I read this solution, ordered a Polar strap (cheap!) and I’m back in business. Works like a charm!
    Thanks again.

  42. Bruce

    During a run yesterday, my HR ranged from a low of 38 to a high of 209 so obviously there is a problem and I need something more reliable. I have a 910XT and an Edge 800. I don’t know which Garmin HRM strap I have, but both units were purchased before July 2013 and came with HRM and straps. I have read almost all of this thread, but the thread is so long I really can’t figure out what my best option is at this point; buy a new Garmin HRM and strap (but will they work with an older 910 or 800); buy just a Polar strap and use my Garmin HRM (but which version of the Polar strap, particularly since I really don’t want to have to “cut”) or buy something completely different that uses ANT+ technology and will be compatible with my 910 and 800 and will download to Garmin Connect.

    Is there anyone out there who would be willing to condense the 326 posts that have been written since DCRainmakers original post that would summarize all the options that are currently available.

    Hopefully, I won’t be the only one who would benefit from this.

    Thank you in advance for your efforts.

    Regards,
    Bruce

  43. Cor R.

    @Bruce: Simply purchase a new Polar strap. I purchased mine from Amazon (<a href="link to amazon.com; title="Link to Amazon")

    The strap is not what connects the HRM to your 910XT or your Edge 800, the strap simply "connects" your HRM to your body so that the HRM can detect your heart rate.

    If your current HRM connects with your 910XT and 800 then you should have no issues when the new Polar strap arrives.

  44. Richard Dell

    as Cor R. said, purchase the Polar strap, and trim (cut) the outer most ring of rubbery plastic to allow the Garmin HRM to fasten securely .. works great! And easy to do, no need for too much precision .. see my pictures in post 306/307 …
    repeat of Photobucket link: link to i1262.photobucket.com
    Polar above, Garmin below.
    Left on Polar unmodified, right on Polar trimmed.

    easy to trim with a sharp pocketknife or exacto blade.

  45. Danielle Boessel

    Another option seems like purchasing a Scoche rhythm + that utilizes optical light and an arm band in lieu of a chest strap. Here is DC rainmakers review. I’m seriously considering this…
    link to dcrainmaker.com

  46. Cor R.

    Just to clarify, I did not have to do any trimming or cutting of anything in order to allow my Garmin HRM to fasten securely. I simply took the Polar strap out of the package that I received from Amazon and mounted the Garmin HRM…

    This configuration has been working for me for quite a while now and I have never had any issues with the Garmin HRM not securely fastening to the Polar strap.

  47. Bruce

    Many thanks, Cor R and Richard. This is just what I was hoping to receive. Let’s hope no cutting is required, but if it is, Richard, I will be sure to look at your pictures. Again, many thanks to both of you. Getting ready to order the Polar strap next. BTW, I really appreciate the link.

    Regards,
    Bruce

  48. Steve Skinner

    After lots of experimenting and frustration with polar straps, etc. I held my nose and bought another complete soft strap and sending unit from Garmin. Now working with my Edge 1000 just swimmingly. Guessing mine had some kind of defect.

    Previously the Edge would work fine with the hard strap but was in and out with the soft strap.

  49. Joe Beyer

    This thread has been active for about 5 years now, incredible. After getting home from a ride the other day where my Garmin Edge 500 heart rate monitor was reading anywhere between 20 and 255 and had been for months I set out looking for a solution. I found this thread and read through most of the responses. The one solution that seemed to fix the problem permanently for the least cost was given by Les Borean in September 2013. He recommended cleaning the strap, particularly between the snaps for the transmitter with rubbing alcohol (which is actually isopropyl alcohol) then washing with soap and rinsing. As my strap was still wet from riding I rinsed the front of the strap well with alcohol followed by a scrubbing with Dawn dish detergent, rinsed quickly under the faucet then dropped it in a bucket of clean water for about 5 hours. On my next ride heart rate readings were as stable as when the strap was new. I’ll clean it similarly after each use but for now it seems like the problem is solved! Thanks Les!

  50. Richard Dell

    Cleaning the original strap also worked well for me… but only for the first 45-50 minutes of exercise …
    I would certainly advocate careful cleaning of the Garmin strap before any more expensive alternative.
    I had done that for several months before switching to the Polar solution.

    But …
    It may be because I do not get the “cooling effect” of bike riding (since I am not), or that I sweat excessively,
    but I could almost set a clock by when the Garmin strap would quit working due to perspiration and salt buildup impacting the sensors.

    I have had not this trouble since switching to the Polar strap … I keep the Garmin strap in reserve, I suspect if I use with a static prone shirt (or whatever reason they originally added the shielding) I may need it !

  51. Amy

    Not sure what I’m doing wrong. Bought a FR 220 + HRM last week and wanted to break it in this morning. I have a Polar FT4 that I bought years ago, but it has the Wearlink+ logo on it. I popped the Garmin transmitter from the FR 220 HRM onto the Polar Wearlink+ strap and there’s no readings at all. My FR can’t find it. From everyone else’s posts, it sounds like all you had to do was simply pop the Garmin transmitter onto the Polar strap and it was good to go. My transmitter fits very snug into the Polar band. Any thoughts?

  52. Frank

    Several thoughts but first we need to work on narrowing down the cause.

    1. Did the Garmin transmitter ever work with the 220? Normally when you buy them together they are already paired but perhaps not in your case. Did you tell the 220 to perform a search for a new HRM? (Menu > Settings > Sensor > Add Sensor) Did you try the Garmin Transmitter on the soft strap it came with?

    2. Does the Polar transmitter still work with the FT4? If not, maybe your Polar strap is bad.

    I am also pretty sure that the Wearlink designation is meaningless. The Polar strap I am presently using came with my H7 transmitter and does not say Wearlink on it anywhere. It does not look like Polar still markets anything using that name. Not that your Wearlink strap will NOT work. It should work as well presuming it is working at all.

    First make sure the Garmin transmitter is paired with your watch. You can actually get it going without a strap. Just grab one snap with each hand and wait a minute or two and the transmitter will start transmitting (garbage) but your watch should pick it up.

    • Amy

      Frank, thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed reply! I messed around with it a bit this morning and was able to get the Garmin transmitter to work on my Polar strap. Prior to this, the Garmin transmitter and strap paired just fine with the watch, and I use my Polar HRM daily for boot camp workouts so everything with that (the Polar transmitter and strap) work just fine. I do all the routine things that Polar recommends to keep the straps clean and free of contaminants (rinsing, machine washing after every 4-5 uses on a cold, gentle cycle, etc.). Yesterday I wet the electrodes as I usually do and made no adjustments to the strap length or its position on my chest, and the Garmin transmitter was very securely attached to the strap. I’m not sure what magic I worked this morning but it works and I am happy with that! If I keep having issues, I’ll probably buy the $20 Polar soft strap since that seems to work well for everyone else, or so it seems.

      Thank you again for your response and your willingness to help!

  53. Bruce

    Following the recommendation from Cor R, post 329, and others I purchased the Polar Strap and tried it for the first time yesterday. While not a long run it seemed to work perfectly. BTW, not withstanding the advice from Richard and others that suggests some trimming is necessary, my Garmin HRM snapped solidly into the snaps on the strap. It is hard for me to believe that the HRM will pop out of both straps. As some one mentioned in a later post this thread has been going on for 5 years and this will be the 339th post. It seems to me that this thread could be summarized as follows. Any one disagree?

    1. The Garmin HRM doesn’t appear to be the issue as long as the batteries are good.
    2. The issue appears to be the Garmin strap which, for the average user, should work well for about a year before readings begin to fluctuate wildly, provided that the strap is cleaned regularly with soap and water and from time to time with rubbing alcohol.
    3. Once readings begin to fluctuate buy a polar strap at this link provided by Cor R (<a href="link to amazon.com; title="Link to Amazon") and snap the Garmin HRM onto the polar strap.
    4. Clean the new strap regularly and keep a fresh battery in the Garmin HRM.

    Regards,
    Bruce

    • Frank

      Hi Bruce. Thanks for summarizing. There are a few points I would like to add.

      When the batteries in ALL Garmin HR transmitters begin to fail, the signs of impending failure are all over the lot and include a) abnormally low HR; b) abnormally high HR; intermittent and complete failure to transmit. Why they can’t just send a LOW BAT message to your device is a mystery to me. See Post 395 here: link to dcrainmaker.com.

      In my personal experience, a strap that is going bad will usually begin with momentary dropouts and progress to more, longer drop-outs before it begins failing for entire sessions. The really frustrating thing is that it may work fine the very next day!

      The Garmin soft strap has evolved. My first one looked like the one that came with my Polar H7—black elastic with rubberized contact pads Band #s 2-4 had added some kind of green/gold technical fabric that resembled kevlar in places on both sides of the band. Soft strap #5—which I found waiting for me in Miami last night—is designated model number 010-11254-02. It has the same fancy fabric but only on the outside, in front with a black vinyl overlay that creates a diagonal pattern. This one says the design is licensed under a patent held by Suunto. It think #’s 2-4 said the same thing. This one has ended marking the contact pads R and L but has the Garmin logo silk screened between the snaps which I guess could be an indication of which way is up. I don’t know if band orientation matters or not but have discovered that, if the “hard” strap (HRM-1) is worn upside down, it will deliver erroneous readings. Seems like it shouldn’t matter. Maybe I’ll run some experiments over the next few days.

      The Polar soft straps that are currently on offer work great and don’t require any trimming of any kind. they are also about half the price of the Garmin straps and come in colors.

      I have babied my Garmin straps in an effort to get more mileage out of them. This includes a brief cold water soak after every use and a gentle machine wash with my running clothes every week. The Polar band has never seen the inside of my washing machine. It just works better.

      I’ll document the performance/longevity of the new, new Garmin soft strap. I hope they have finally got it right but I doubt it. It is good that we have an inexpensive alternative.

      As anybody tried this even cheaper non-branded alternative? link to amazon.com.

    • Frank

      I did the experiments using the new, new Garmin strap and my HRM-RUN transmitter.

      Strap and transmitter right side up. Worked flawlessly: link to connect.garmin.com

      Strap upside down; transmitter right side up. Worked flawlessly: link to connect.garmin.com

      Strap right side up; transmitter upside down. HR worked flawlessly. Run Dynamics didn’t work at all: link to connect.garmin.com

      There you have it. More than you ever really wanted to know :).

    • Frank

      For the sake of completeness, I did one more experimental run. This time with my new, new Garmin soft strap AND HRM3 transmitter BOTH turned upside down.

      Once again, I got a perfect heart rate record: link to connect.garmin.com

      This makes me curious about two things I do not have the equipment with me to test:

      1. The immediately previous Garmin soft strap (with green-gold fabric on parts of both sides) was clearly marked L and R on the contact pads. Does it really matter or will this strap also work upside down?

      2. My one-off observation of the HRM1 providing inacurate (way low) HR when I accidentally put it on upside down. It would be nice if someone else with access to one of these normally bullet-proof HRM’s could corroborate my experience. In light of what I have found with the soft straps and two different Garmin transmitters, I have begun to doubt the veracity of my earlier experience with the HRM1.

  54. jonathan

    hi, I got my hr strap along with my garmin 510 watch…I also have a edge 500 but this where the hr keeps dropping out, for minutes if not longer…very annoying, is there a fix for this? thanks!

  55. Frank

    I don’t understand your post jonathan. Are you saying the new HRM that came with your 510 works with that but drops out with the Edge 500? If this is true, you can’t blame the HR transmitter or strap (yet).

    • Jonathan

      Yes forerunner 510 watch came with hr. I have a edge 500 too. But when using that hr with the 500 it drops….But on gps watch no problems. Still no blame? What happened?

  56. Patrick

    I had a ‘hard’ Garmin strap for a few years that seemed to work, until the battery got low. But I bought a new Garmin 800 with new soft strap as a bundle so I stuck the old hard strap in a drawer. Then the problems started. At the start of a ride (new soft strap) my heart rate would read 240bpm before I even climbed on the bike. As I cycled it occasionally dropped into the correct reading, but not very often and not for long. So I started using the hard strap but low battery issues mucked me up. I stopped using the HRM function entirely for a couple years. Then I though it was time to get it all going again. After changing batteries on both sensors, I found the hard strap works fine. The newer soft strap continued to read 240 plus bpm. So I bought a Chinese knock-off replacement soft strap, and that works just fine too. Garmin should be hit with a class action lawsuit for the ongoing heartache and expense they’ve caused to so many thousands of users with the dodgy design that they’ve refused to even acknowlege let alone fix. They still sell the same dodgy strap today.

  57. Bob Douglas

    The one I use is the Abody chest belt strap, available on Amazon UK, and not expensive

  58. Danielle Boessel

    My polar strap (not new) punked out. My garmin strap (new and not used till I posted to this thread- maybe a month ago) keeps dropping and the chaffing is horrible. I look like I was scratched in a clear circle. No amount of glide has helped- I guess it’s either upgrade to the 225 or get the optical heart rate sensor (like the Scoche rhythm plus) and add an activity tracker.

  59. Steve Weber

    Been using the Garmin unit on Polar strap for a while, only downside for me is the polar clasp keeps letting loose. Bought a “Sea to Summit” repair buckle at REI. The 1 pin 1 inch unit works great – thread the metal hook end through the fixed side, and the pin through the loop end – no more letting go.

  60. Eric

    Hi everyone!

    So this issue really frustrated me, but I have found a solid fix for removing heart rate spikes with my Garmin 210 and premium heart rate strap. It actually combines two solutions I found scouring the interwebs.

    First, as this article states, use the electrode gel. And be liberal. Apply it to not only the strap, but also the area around your sternum. Since I started this, I haven’t had any issues with the strap slipping or losing its position.

    Second, and more importantly, I hand wash and soak the strap after every use. I know it sounds like a pain in the butt, but if you value an accurate and reliable reading it’s not too much. Fill a small Tupperware container with hot water and basic dish soap. REMOVE THE TRANSMITTER FROM THE STRAP and then seal the strap into the container. Shake vigorously for a minute and then let soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Removed the strap, rinse under fresh water, and then dry the non-sensor part of the strap only. Hang and dry for the next use. All told, this adds maybe five minutes of work per workout, but I’ve yet to have a problem.

    To qualify my results, I am only running 45 minutes in both hot and cooler weather that is slightly humid. My premium strap worked fine the first seven uses, but then started acting erratically (spiking at the start and then again 20 minutes into each exercise). I ordered a MIO Alpha 2 as a possible alternative until I discovered this soak and dry method. I tested the cleaned Garmin strap on three runs with the Mio Alpha 2 and they were identical (with the Mio having some latency).

    I hope this helps…

  61. frank

    I have now been using my new, new Garmin soft strap almost daily for ten weeks. No electrode gel. No soap. It just gets a brief soak in cold water after every use and then hung up to dry. This is a different design than my first two soft straps (four contact electrodes on this one). So far, it hasn’t missed a beat. I’ve used it both running and cycling.

  62. Simon

    I would just like to say a big ‘thank you’ and give this guy a bloody medal.

    I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to get my HRM (Garmin Forerunner 610) to work correctly for a couple of years now. This solution is ingenious, effective and cheap (under £13 via Wiggle).

    Brilliant!

    P.S. I don’t think that I’ve ever written an online review before in my life, so you should be flattered.

  63. Alisha Shutler

    Thanks for the tip, Ray! Looking forward to trying this. I’ve been completely unable to use my Garmin HR strap for months now due to completely erratic readings, and my units (a Forerunner 305 and and Edge 500) are so old apparently Garmin doesn’t care to help me out. A $17 solution seems ideal.

  64. Marvin Dyke

    Hi Ray,

    Great reviews! I appreciate your thoroughness. GPS watches for running–I still have a Garmin Forerunner 305 and my “Enter” button is now failing me (having to push in with more force to register input), including the breakdown (tear) in the rubber covering (so the watch is no longer water resistant). I want to get the new Garmin FR 230. Will my HRM1 heart rate monitor from the FR305 work with the FR230? I believe it is ANT but not sure if this is the same as ANT+. Do you recommend I get the 230 bundle that comes with a newer “premium soft strap HRM” (I can’t tell if this is HRM3)? If HRM1 is compatible I could save the $50 and just get the 230 (watch only). Thanks in advance for your input.

    Kind regards,

    Marvin

    • Hi Marvin-

      Yup, no problems using your existing strap with the new FR230. There’s no technical difference.

      The only reason I’d recommend buying a new strap were if you were having comfort issues with the old strap (i.e. chaffing). Otherwise, I’d just wait till that strap dies before buying a new one.

      Cheers.

  65. Andrew

    Just wanted to say thanks for the tip! I bought the Polar strap for $17 and it works perfectly. You da’ man!!

  66. Jose Barrios

    I own a Garmin 920XT paired with a Scosche Rhythm plus to track my runs. Everything was fine until yesterday I wore a long sleve UnderArmour synthetic shirt my readings became a lot higher all of the sudden.
    It worked almost backward, walking my rate was 161 and after running a few minutes lower to 120’s then when I stopped raise again to 160’s.
    I had the same problem with Garmin chest straps and wearing synthetic shirts but did not know that the same happens to optical bands.
    Does anyone have any issues like this?
    Regards

  67. Tim Benjamin

    I just bought another Polar strap in March of 2016 after the first one I bought got left in a hotel room. It would appear that Polar has changed the strap somehow and it won’t fit the Garmin transmitter. I tried two different transmitters and returned the first strap to Amazon only to find the second one had the same issue.

    I bought this:
    link to amazon.com

    • Richard Dell

      Tim Benjamin, was the issue that the contacts were recessed slightly, with a rim of rubbery plastic making them not seat fully ?? I have posted picture here of how to trim the ring of excess material off, allowing the Garmin transmitter to fit. see photo link in Post 331 above.

  68. shawnda

    this was written about 6 years ago, do you have any updates or do you still have the same recommendations?

    I just bought the garmin 910xt and am in the market for a HRM. So, do I go garmin all the way or do I do the garmin transmitter and polar strap? ; )

    thanks!
    Shawnda

  69. Huub

    The latest version of the Polar Soft Strap that Amazon sells, are no longer compatible with Garmin transmitters. It’s been redesigned to literally push out the Garmin when you try to pop it in.

  70. Shawnda

    Thx so much! So, is there not a *good* stand alone HRM for the 910xt?! ? I just bought one used thinking id be able to get a HRM?

  71. Well since I started having problems with the Gtrap I have been using the
    Abody Chest Belt Strap for Polar Wahoo Garmin for Sports Wireless Heart Rate Monitor
    available from Amazon at £6.99

    link to amazon.co.uk

    No modification necessary , works as delivered

  72. Shawnda

    That one is from the UK. Did u order it from the UK?
    Is this the same?
    link to amazon.com

    Thx so much!!!

  73. andrea levario

    Do you think this Polar strap will work with the Garmin 220 transmitter? I’m having ALL sorts of problems with both Garmin ANT straps.

    p.s. huge fan of Pacers of Alexandria where you met the Mrs.

    • It should, though you may need to cut the little bits of plastic around the poles on the Polar strap (see comments above).

      Ahh yes, Pacers Alexandria – good times! Actually just saw Joe/Sonia a week or so ago when they were in town here. 🙂

    • Michael Swann

      I don’t know if the transmitter with the 220 is different to the one that comes with the Edge 520, but the Premium Heart Rate transmitter that came with the Edge 520 I just bought snaps on to a Polar Soft Strap without modification to the strap.

      The snaps on the Garmin transmitter I have are closer together than the snaps on the Polar transmitter, so it works quite well. The Garmin snaps appear to be a bit bigger, so time will tell whether this has any effect on the Polar strap, but I have another two new ones put away if I need them.

      I need to use a bigger strap, so I’m happy it all works well (for me at least).

  74. Graham Seward

    Just bought the Polar Strap, it won’t work with the Garmin Transmitter (although my garmin strap, from the Edge 1000 looks different to yours) the transmitter keeps popping off, will investigate more tonight for possible root cause

    This is the one I bought

    It’s possible the article is now out of date

  75. Wazza

    Hi I tried the polar strap with my garmin h/r monitor and although the fixing tags line up ok they do not click into place ,they keep popping out which is very disappointing . I tried two different monitors with the same result,could it be because I am in the UK and there could be a manufacturing difference
    Thanks Wazza

    • Stuart

      I’ve just received a Polar strap for the purpose of using it with my Garmin HRM transmitter. As you say, the HRM pops straight off the buttons when I try to push it in.

      But thanks to a pair of scissors and a bit of trimming of the rubber around the female press studs, it now fits. A little fiddly, yes, but it fits. I’ll be going for a long ride tomorrow (and a run on Sunday), so I’ll soon know if it works.

      It’d better; I have some threshold, baseline, and time trial tests next week, so if it doesn’t, I’m going to be out $AU90 for a new Garmin HRM – because the only place I can find that sells the straps on their own won’t get it to me fast enough.

  76. Duane Laabs - Nordic Skier

    Do you still need to do this with the straps in 2016?

    Also, what watch would you select for Nordic Skiing? Garmin 920xt or the Garmin 735xt?

    Have you heard of any applications being built for either watch?

    • Paul

      I bought the Polar strap, and have trimmed the surplus rubber off but am still not getting an HR reading on my 310XT. I replaced the battery in the Garmin transmitter, nothing. I was starting to think it might be the watch until it picked up another HR signal from a cyclist while I was out running. Any suggestions for anything to try before I buy another whole strap and transmitter?

    • Frank Young

      Wow. I just pulled up the manual for your 310XT and think I discovered that it does not support 1:1 pairing except on a once per activity basis. Sounds like your transmitter is simply not working. Two things to try. 1) Hold the transmitter in your hands with your right thumb on one contact snap and left thumb on the other. If it won’t work that way, it is the transmitter and not the strap. 2) try to pair your transmitter/strap combination with another, newer Garmin device.

      One kind of unbelievable thing to be aware of. Not all Garmin devices are compatible with all Garmin HRMs. For instance, my HRM-RUN and HRM-TRI will not work with my Edge 705 but my HRM-3 works with the Edge and my fenix3.

    • The Edge 705 is an odd duck that seems to have some weird HRM compatibility issues with some newer units. There was a time for example that it stumbled on the PowerCal straps.

      In theory it means that the device shouldn’t be listed as certified ANT+ compatible, but in reality for such an old device they’ll never bother to go back and de-list it.

    • Nordic Skier

      Has anyone tried out the new HRM from Garmin yet (see below)? According to Garmin that device is superior to the previous model. I am not sure if it fixes the issue with the strap that has been outlined here.

      HRM-Run™
      Part Number: 010-10997-12
      $99.99 USD

  77. Hashim

    Hi DC rain maker,

    We would like to ask you please guide me I would like to order Customise HRM Straps only on my own requirement.

    Do you know any good quality customise manufacturer who can make for us customise straps?

    Look Forward your opinion

  78. Josip

    OK, but what to do if you HRM (Garmin soft strap) drops because of lot of sweat?

  79. D Huen

    I recently purchased a Fenix 3 performance bundle that came with the original HRM-RUN and premium strap. Like many here I had problems with spikes and loss of HR measurement that was not solved by wetting the strap/washing. Nor did sweat make the strap work any better later.
    However, I have found another solution not described here. I took a cheap non-woven tear-resistant dish cloth of the kind that sells in supermarkets in multipacks and cut two strips, each slightly more than twice the width of the strap and long enough to cover the contacts on each side. These are then folded and creased lengthwise. After putting on the strap, I wet the strips and fold it over the strap so that one half of each is interposed between my chest and the contacts. Effectively, the strip now acts as a wet conductive pad between the contact and the chest. It works wonderfully!
    I think one problem with the conductive rubber surface of the premium strap is that it is extremely difficult to wet. The pad circumvents this and also avoids contact between my skin and the rubber to which I am sensitive. That it only happens to some people may perhaps be related to their natural skin resistance.
    I expect it will also work with medical cotton gauze pads and other similar materials that will not disintegrate on contact with water (tissue paper is a bad idea).

  80. pete

    I agree the Garmin soft strap is poor. It worked fine for a few months and then the spikes and dropouts became ever more frequent. I found that conductive gel made things worse. Besides, every hrm I have ever tried (6 in total) have worked straight out of the box on dry skin. One would expect better from a big firm like Garmin. Their Edge 800 has always been great though. I also have problems with erratic behaviour from their Virb elite action cam. I contacted Garmin about the erratic hrm and all I got was “the unit must be u/s” and as it was outside warranty then “tough”.
    I now have 3 different soft chestrap/ANT+ transmitters – Garmin, Polar and Coosport (cheap Chinese). I bought the Coosport when the Garmin faded. I bought the Polar strap last week on advice from this site when Coosport started producing more spikes.All items are interchangeable and hence I have tried tried all combinations of strap and tx, except I can no longer get the Garmin tx to pair with my Edge 800. The best (least spikes/dropouts) so far is the Polar strap with the Coosport tx. First use produced some early spikes, but second use was perfect. I wait to see if that combo will develop more spikes in time.

  81. Michele

    hello! I have a problems with a garmin premium strap.
    downhill from the end of high wrong values ​​. how to solve ?

  82. Norm Goody

    I’ve had the same ongoing issues with the straps, as well. I just kept buying new ones but now I see a solution.

    HOWEVER, I recently bought the TRIATHLON and POOL SWIM straps. On both of these straps, the HRM module is “bonded” (permanently) to the strap rather than snapped onto it. In other words, there is no “buying/swapping” a new strap if/when it fails. Not only that, these things were EXPENSIVE!

    Granted, I don’t use them “every” day but I wonder if anyone has had issues with these specific straps, yet?

  83. Kim Allsopp

    Awesome. Thought I was looking at shelling out more hard cash on technology that really should last longer. Edge 510 barely 18 months old & already refurbished because it crapped itself. Heart rate sensor was found but no heart rate display, so was just about to purchase a new strap – in OZ around $100 AUD; wasn’t going to be impressed with that. Then found this post from DC Rainmaker who I have read before on different things by chance on this issue. Happened to have a soft polar strap as part of a bundle with Computrainer (transmitter had crapped itself, but didn’t throw strap away – yay). Paired with Garmin transmitter as DC suggested & bingo, heart rate back. Thanks DC.

    • 384

      Hello Friends,

      First, I apologize for my English, I’m Chilean. I hope to be clear enough.

      I have an Edge 500 and an Edge 705 and, as all of us, a lot of problems with the HR lectures. Before them, I’ve used a Polar CS400, always working as a swiss clock.

      1. I’ve tried the Garmin premium strap, the polar premium strap and the modified as suggested Polar wearlink strap.

      2. The transmitter is the HR3

      3. None of them gives good results with any Edge, nor the 500 neither the 705

      When I’ve read the Rainmaker comment:

      “The Edge 705 is an odd duck that seems to have some weird HRM compatibility issues with some newer units.” (post #384)

      I decided to do another test to isolate the strap problem: I put the Polar Wearlink transmitter in the Garmin strap and check the signals with the Polar CS400. The readings are good and stable.

      I think definitively the problem is the compatibility between the newer transmitters and the old edges.

      Regards from Chile,

      Roberto

  84. Marcin

    Thank god I’ve found this site before buying expensive strap. I just cut my new polar strap around the pins. Will run some weeks and come back with info.

  85. John Ambold

    This was some great advice (like usual), I just ordered a replacement strap because I decided to do more heart rate training and sure enough my numbers are crazy for the first mile. Today my first 2 miles average HR was 180 and occasionally 190…..since I’m 65 my max is around 155/160. If I were running that hard, Id be having a heart attack…

  86. Beto

    Funciona tambem inversamente, ou seja, cinta garmin com transmissor polar? Pois uso MOnitor e transmissor Polar, porem a cinta Polar está com problema

  87. Bill

    ill try that thank you v much DC! 😉

  88. Meleni

    Thank you so much. You’ve solved my ongoing and deeply frustrating problem of seeing my HR flat lining as soon as I hit the hills on my bike when I was anything but flat lined! My Garmin is now working at treat again with the Polar strap. Can recommend this solution 100% if you’re having issues with your Garmin (or Suunto) heart rate belts. Hugely grateful!

  89. Lee

    This is driving me crazy. It doesn’t seem like there’s a point in collecting data when it’s getting constantly skewed with errors. I ran the original Garmin hard strap for 6 years with no issues until it one day just died. I have been using the latest Garmin Soft strap last year didn’t have any real issues. The last few months has been horrible. I get maybe 40 mins of heartrate data before it drops. It takes the strap 5 minutes to come online. I went and bought some electrode gel to see if that solves the problem. With my strap I would put it on. My 820 instantly recognizes the monitor. It stays at 72 and goes off, 72 then goes off. When it goes off the 820 still says it’s connected it’s just not reading a heartrate. I start riding (outside and on trainer this happens) The heartrate comes alive reads awesome for 30 mins then drops out and nothing. I’ve washed the straps, cut the straps, nothing. I’ve tightened them, loosened them. I thought maybe I’m getting too sweaty? But these same straps read heartrate through an hour of spin class where I was creating a puddle on the floor.

    Today I tried a brand new strap. put on some electrode gel, Boom heartrate data instantly. I’m thinking wow this is it. 35mins into a trainer ride heartrate drops and holds at 116, then 110, then 90. Meanwhile I’m doing intervals and can barely pedal so my heartrate is probably 180. Seriously what is the flipping issue. I’m going to try one more thing tonight. I have a new sensor that clips in going to give that a shot with the new strap. After that I’m going back to the hard strap.

  90. betop

    Also works in reverse, IE, garmin belt with polar transmitter? Because use and MOnitor Polar transmitter, but the Polar strap problem?

  91. I really like the tutorial. I bought the Polar soft strap and the Garmin transmitter. One problem though: The transmitter keeps falling of the strap whatever I do…

    • Dave

      Same issue here…

      Anybody a solution?

    • Pure ZOOG

      You’ll find the plastic surrounds to the metal popper studs are about 1mm too high on the Polar straps, so the Garmin sensors don’t snap in properly. I get a sharp scalpel and carefully remove said 1mm so the plastic is then level with the top of the metal stud. The sensor then snaps on securely.

  92. Hi there, I was trying to use your amazon links to purchase and it looks like you need new links, the current ones aren’t working. Thank you

  93. Dan

    I know this thread is pretty old and this may have been discussed, but the Polar wear link site says that the strap should be machine washed after every 5th use. I have never done this and it seems like the performance has degraded over time.

    link to support.polar.com

  94. Raymund woo

    Awesome !

  95. Stuart

    An update on this.

    I have way too many of the Garmin soft straps in my collection; they all seem to have this problem, and it consistently seemed to start happening 3-6 months after first use.

    A Garmin representative was kind enough to sell me an HRM-Run (the type with the non-removable, red-ringed transmitter) at a discount. That was in November last year.

    Now, in mid October? If I fail to wet the strap before I start running, it’ll spike up ridiculously high. But if I do wet the strap, it’s perfectly good. (Cycling, there’s absolutely no issues, wet or not, strongly suggesting that the issue is static electricity from the strap rubbing against the running top.)

    If I remember, I’ll update again in a year’s time to report on how the HRM-Run is travelling after two years of use.

  96. Carl Chapman

    Do someone know if the Polar PRO Strap is compatible with Garmin HRM-Run (HRM3) house?

  97. Jason Fisher

    My garmin just started playing up, significant drop outs in heart rate, I had an old bluetooth HRM that I used before I brought the garmin, the strap has the same connections as the garmin.

    Thank you, hopefully this fixes my problem

  98. John Leo

    Always my first go to website for information with the technical gear. Thanks so much.

  99. Tom Skowyra

    I’m sure glad I found this post. I was having all kinds of problems with my Garmin HRM after about 3-4 yrs use. First thing – I put in a new battery. No help – still flaky. Finally I tried my wife’s Garmin strap. Success. Went to buy another Garmin strap until I was hit with sticker shock (they want how much for a strap?). Found this post, and realized my wife had an old Polar strap. Tried it – success! Decided to buy a Polar strap for myself. Just used it today without any problems. Thanks DCR!

  100. Nick Williams

    I had the same problem. I washed the soft strap and then cleaned the chest pads thoroughly with methylated spirits. First session afterwards it was perfect! Next session it was a bit slow responding and by my third session it was back to very slow and useless again.
    I then found an old Wahoo Blue fitness strap and fitted the Garmin Transmitter to it. Amazing, works so well now, reliable and non glitchy. So in summary ditch the Garmin strap but keep the Garmin transmitter.
    Thanks everyone for the hints.

  101. SteveC

    This thread is still useful 9 years later. I’ve never had a Garmin HRM last more than about 18 months. The best one for me so far has been the HRM3 (with the removable transmitter), probably because you can stick the strap in the washing machine. Interestingly enough, I’ve never really had problems with flakiness — one day they just up and die on me.

    Anyway, I just did the Polar strap swap. It completely fixed the Garmin HRM, which proves it’s the strap, not the transmitter. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Garmin transmitter has a left/right orientation, so if it doesn’t work on the Polar strap one way, flip it around.

    Here’s a current Amazon link ($22):

    link to amazon.com