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. 😉


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


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:


…after disconnecting the clip it then becomes…


And then, I did the Indiana Jones Idol swap:


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.


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


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:


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?


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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  1. Bo

    Thanks for the tip. I haven’t had any trouble with my garmin soft strap, but will keep this in mind if I do in the future.

    • Thomas Dimopoulos

      Following this post i purchased a Polar soft strap via a website in Greece where I live
      As soon as i opened the parcel I found out that the strap is not the same as the one shown in the pictures you posted, but nevertheless i decided to give it a go and open the package. No wearlink+ sign on the strap also, I was disappointed and frustrated to have opened the package and the strap was not labeled “wearlink+”, meaning it is probably the simple Polar strap. But I thought i should give it a try anyhow, i turned on my Garmin 610, turned on the heart rate and, bingo!!, it worked.
      Next thing to try it training, which I did in an intervals training session, track running. It was great, no spikes, much more stable on the chest the strap itself and the smile came back on my face!
      Great post DC Rainmaker, you rock!

    • Dennis nel

      Hi there
      I won’t bore you with the details but I hate Garmin straps I recently bought a fr70 which includes there premium strap it’s actually not been to bad you need to wash iit after every ride though anyway I misplace it don’t know we’re and in depreration I got out some older Garmin straps low and behold it worked. I then found your article and recall your previous article so I also have a few polars wearlinks+ initially couldn’t get them going so gave them a good rinse and bingo .
      You’ve save me $90 and the dread in having to buy another Garmin strap
      You rock
      Regards dennis

  2. YES! This has been driving me nuts for weeks. I can’t wait to get a new strap! You rock, as always!!

  3. During the last three months I am suffering this problem. Sometimes it works and others not. I have the Polar strap at home so I will test it this week running and with the bike. I hope it works !!.

    Thanks for the tip.

  4. That will work for a few weeks, then the contacts on the Garmin strap will corrode, and you’ll be back at square one with the spikes, especially at the beginning of the work out. You can either buy another Wearlink strap, or, better, buy the old (solid plastic) Garmin strap. The old Garmin (non-premium) strap is the only solution that works consistently well. Too bad Garmin couldn’t figure out how to make a good soft strap!

    • TriGuy

      Does the old strap work with Garmin910?

    • Tal

      Hey there rainmaker,
      Thank you for your continues in depth reviews.
      Thought on asking for your advice.
      I have a 210 garmin I have been using along with the Soft strap (“premium”), I upgrade from the old 110 garmin and an old (non premium) strap.
      Recently had all kind of issues with the soft strap while using the 210. (HR spikes like you mentioned and also I find it less comfortable and less adjustable than the none premium strap).
      Thought on getting back to the none premium strap.
      For whatever reason, the old (non premium) strap would only pair with my 110 (that is, recognizes my heart bits) but not with the 210 and vice versa (the premium strap fails to pair with the 110).
      I have shutdown both watches, to no avail. I know for a fact that Garmin has a backward compatibility and the 210 should at least support the old strap.
      Any ideas ???

  5. Works with Adidas miCoach straps, and for the ladies Adidas Sports Bra (with strap integrated).

  6. great information – i have a Polar rs300x, it’s good for running but not much else. i’ll use the strap when i get the 310xt and/or edge 500

  7. I typically don’t run with a shirt on… in the spring summer fall seasons. Come winter I will see if I have this issue. Interesting fix?! Seems too easy to be true. Thanks for putting common sense to use and figuring this one out.

    As always you are the man!

  8. Hey Bike Geek – From what I’ve read with others who have used it and seen issues (few though) – simply wiping the contacts after use will fix it.

    link to forums.garmin.com

    • AusTony

      I gave up on the garmin premium soft strap after about 10 months of good use. I then remembered I had a Polar Wearlink which I tried and have been using for the last 12months and guess what…..its now starting to show the same symptoms as the garmin. Out of the last 10 rides, it would be useless for about 4 of those rides – spikes etc. Batteries have been changed recently also.
      I’m now on the hunt for the old plastic non premium style strap or may “borrow” my wifes Polar strap 😉

  9. Tom

    Do you have a link to the Garmin transmitter that you used? Many thanks

  10. I bought one of those strap a couple months ago to use it with my 310, I really love the accuracy but sadly I have an allergy of some sort to the material because each time I wear it I always have trouble with my skin after 🙁

    Wish I had a tip to fix that problem because I love the strap!

  11. I just got a new soft strap direct from Garmin. The readings were getting worse with each workout, so I attempted to start simple and change the battery (it was running the original battery still). In doing so, the transmitter never reconnected, and Garmin sent me a new one. In the meantime, I was using the hard plastic Garmin strap which worked great. I haven’t tried the new soft strap yet, but I may still pick up one of these Polar straps as well. Thanks for the tip!

  12. I’m also having problems with the Garmin “premium” soft strap, even with a replacement that Garmin sent me. I get HR spikes late in the workout when the shirt is really sweaty. I already bought a Polar strap, but haven’t had the possibility to test is yet due to a cold.
    It would be really interesting if you had the opportunity to test the Polar transmitter/Garmin strap combination as well. If that has the problems that the Garmin/Garmin combo has, we will be even more sure that the strap is the problem.
    DC Rainmaker – you’ve had contact with Garmin before. Can you get any comments from them regarding all of the problems we have with the soft strap?

  13. Thanks once again for your info. It’s a pleasure to read your blog. I am planning to buy a forerunner 110 online, with an option of either a premium soft HRM or the classic one. The soft one will cost $27 more.
    Which one would you recommend I choose? For me HR accuracy is the most important.
    Can I do this Polar/Garmin swap with the classic HRM as well?

  14. Well now I see that my second question has already been answered in your post. Should have paid more attention 🙂

  15. Thanks! I get the spikes from my Garmin which incidentally replaced a Polar HRM, so I have the polar strap already. Will try this on my next run/ride.

  16. I should have said the contacts ON THE GARMIN transmitter will corrode. I’ve tried getting all the rust off with vinegar but haven’t been 100% successful. What I find poor is that the contacts would corrode at all. My Polar straps are all corrosion-free after years of use.

  17. Tried it myself today…didn’t really solve the problem. maybe it is due to the crazy humidity that we are experiencing..

  18. Hey Ray –

    New Polar strap is on order through your link.

    I also have tried this with an Addidas shirt I bought in Germany that has a built in sensor. (It is a cool – but impractical – idea. Imagine a compression T with a built in sensor band…nice tight fit but who wants to wash something like that frequently with the sensors ) Anyways – it was designed for Polar, but my Garmin transmitter snapped in just fine.

  19. Thanks so much for this post Ray. Earlier this summer I completely stopped using my soft strap after it went wonky on every single workout. I’ve been using the old strap exclusively but it really isn’t very comfortable. I had read it was a design flaw in the strap. Given the number of complaints the premium strap has received I’m surprised that Garmin hasn’t addressed the issue other than by telling people to not wear technical tops or the other goofy possible fixes I’ve seen noted.

  20. Now I have tested the Polar strap + Garmin transmiter during a running workout on tuesday and a bike workout yesterday. The weather was very hot, so really sweating. It worked perfect both times, no sudden HR changes, no spikes.

    Thanks for the tip again !!

  21. Hi Rainmaker…

    The following was posted by me over at BikeForums.net…regarding the use of the Polar Wearlink+ strap with the Garmin transmitter…

    I’ve got an Edge 500 (moved up from a Forerunner 50, then Forerunner 405), and I use the Premium Heart Rate monitor with it.

    FYI, both straps work well, and I haven’t had any issues with the heart rate monitoring. What is a bit of problem is that at present, I’m a big guy…with a 48/50 inch chest. Both straps are very tight, and the premium is already starting to stretch/show signs of wear after just a couple of months.

    Right after I got the Premium strap, I happened to see a picture of the Polar Wearlink+ strap. I know that the transmitter units are not compatible (Garmin/Polar), but it certainly looked like the Garmin transmitter puck would snap right onto the Polar strap. The Polar strap is also available in sizes…up to an XXXL which handles a 60-inch chest!

    I thought, “Oh well, it’s worth a shot”, and ordered the strap from Amazon. It arrived, the Garmin puck snapped right on, and I put it on. SUCCESS! The Garmin Puck/Polar strap/sensors worked and I was able to get my heartrate on all of my Garmin units.

    It’s at this point that I finally get to the point of the thread…

    The combo works GREAT for about 2-3 hours, but then it stops transmitting successfully. I’ve tried re-applying conductive gels (two types), saliva, repositioning, etc.,…all to no avail. After 2-3 hours, it just doesn’t transmit consistently. If I can get it to start recording again, it’s very sketchy and eventually ends up dropping out again.

    My first thought was that I had a bad Polar strap, so I ordered another one…and experienced the exact same problem, so I’m assuming that there is just something about the combination of the two that is the problem.

    It’s not a deal-breaker as I CAN use the Garmin strap…it’s just not as comfortable as the Polar XXL strap. Obviously if I got to Garmin or Polar, their response is don’t use the combo.

    So, I thought I’d ask here…Has anyone else run into this issue?

  22. Great advise! I will follow closely the corrosion issues brought forward – other than that, this solution is perfect. I have tested it and it worked just fine.

  23. Brilliant blog BTW!!! I’ve literally spent days going through your reviews on your Garmin watches before making a final decision. 🙂

    One thing i did want to ask, the new Garmin HRM Comfort Strap. A sales person who was quite clued up on the Garmin products mentioned to me that once the new HRM monitor’s battery runs down it cannot simply be replaced, but one has to purchase the complete strap again.

    I really thought this was quite daft from Garmin as this strap is quite expensive compared to the original one where the battery can simply be replaced once opened with a coin.

    I know that the battery life on the Garmin HRM straps if used often lasts for about a 1year or more.

    So my question is, is this true about the new Garmin HRM strap? Or is the battery easily replaceable?

    PS: I was also told that the older Garmin HRM strap works much better because it makes much better contact with your body. In your experience of using the comfort strap, have you had any problems with reading or when you’ve downloaded data?

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. @Nadeem, hi, either your clued up Garmin sales guy does not have the precision screw set (#0) to open up the new HRM to replace the batteries, or he has a lot of spare inventories of the old Garmin HRM strap.

    Garmin may be dumb, but is not as daft as say Polar (which needed you to send back the HRM to replace batteries on some models).

  26. 3am

    Will Try it Tomorrow, i´ve got spikes every time i use the soft strap, bought the 310xt hrm just two weeks ago and was thinking about returning it till i saw this solution.

    Thanks for the great work


  27. Hi Ray,
    Informative as usuall…
    I found that with the new soft strap HRM my readings will not spike but rather be consistantly high – according to the readings I ran for a couple of hours yesterday with my HR at about 103%.
    Local Garmin have offered to replace the Soft HRM with the old type, which are mush less comfortable for me, so I still have a dilema about doing the trade-in or risking having problems come up later, when the strap will no longer be in “new” condition.
    What would you suggest?

  28. Anonymous

    I have polar device with wearlink+. It worked for 2 months very well (1 error with RR recording), then the quality of the reading went wrong, even I maintained very carefully 🙁 You can check the polar forum about the issue… many posts. So I do not think it is ultimate solution.

  29. So funny, Garmin sent me to your webiste when I was discussing this problem with them. I have been using the strap that came with my 305 with no problems (in conjunction with my 310XT). The soft strap that came with the 310XT was useless after about 1 month. Garmin sent me a new one at no charge, and it lasted about 1 month as well. I prefer the feel of the soft strap, but it’s useless to get 200+BPM all the time. I find it funny that the Garmin tech essentially suggested that I purchase a Polar Heart Rate Strap rather than one of their own! By the way, keep up the good work DC rainmaker – I really love your site.

  30. link to buy.garmin.com

    Looking at that picture, it looks like the new strap design. FYI.

    Not sure when Garmin will be offering this upgraded strap and transmitter. If it will even be a new part number. I’ve been waiting to upgrade my 405, but want to be sure I get the latest design.

  31. Anonymous

    Has anyone verified the fidelity of the HR values using the Garmin-Polar hybrid?

    My aerobic zone pace is faster by about 45sec per mile with the G-P hybrid.

    I am going to test the stock Garmin setup over the next few days to compare.

    Does anyone (DC?) have the ability to test the Garmin-Garmin vs. Garmin-Polar setup simultaneously to compare?

  32. I’ve been using the Wearlink+ strap with my Garmin transmitter for approx. 6-8 months now. I’ve been experiencing problems lately, and I recently changed the battery in my transmitter to try and solve it. Unfortunately the problem still exists, with the HR #’s dropping like a rock 2/3 of the way into a workout. As an example… link to connect.garmin.com
    Hoping that the NEW new premium soft strap HRM is available as a standalone item from Garmin soon, and that it works. I guess I could order the old plastic strap, but I haven’t caved in and done it yet.

  33. Sorry for my poor english (french people and english… ;-)) …

    I bought an edge 800 2 month ago, and everything was OK one month. Since I have regulary some drop, and yesterday completely no signal from the HR. I changed the battery in the strap and always humidify with saliva… Not better.

    Il decided yesterday to buy the polar strap. I’ll give you feedback after test.

    It is very desapointing to buy a so expensive item and to have so much issues… And so poor software… But luckly I tested ST3…

    DC, thank for your website : very usefull concerning all about GPS and other fun things.

  34. derekg

    Check out list of ANT+ compatible HRMs for Garmin FR watches:

    link to thisisant.com

    • Mizu

      Hey, thank you very much for this link!!

      I’ve found here that the “Geonaute digital coded soft strap HRM” (sold here in Decathlon stores) is compatible with my Garmin FR60.
      And as I looked around, I think their stuffs are the same as the Garmin ones. The footpod and the USB dongle looks the same (I haven’t tried them though) but the soft strap IS the same. Really.

      The strap isn’t sold separately so I bought the “digital coded” (ANT+) HRM.

      First impressions:
      1. It works out of the box (as it’s an ANT+ device)
      2. It works like it should (no spikes anymore)
      3. The sensor is a very little bit bigger than the Garmin’s
      4. The sensor fits more securely on the strap (maybe it has better contact – it has to be checked for a longer period)
      5. The Geonaute strap fits on the Garmin sensor (just like it’s own strap – because it is the same product) and I can pair it with the watch but I haven’t tried it during a workout. (Maybe you can buy the more cheaper “analog” sensor just for the strap and save more than 2/3 of the price of the Garmin strap – but surely the new Garmin strap is better than the old one, you decide)
      6. And not to forget: I have two years warranty

      An important info: in the local Garmin/Polar shop I’ve been told (and they showed me) that the very latest Polar strap (not the Wearlink+ but the new “Polar Soft Strap”) is just a little bit different (in millimeters) than the Garmin’s. And because of it the Garmin sensor just drops off the strap during workout. So watch out which version of the Polar strap you buy!

    • Romão

      I just purchased the “GEONAUTE Gcoded HRM chest strap”, that isn’t ANT+, but the strap is compatible with the GARMIN sensor. It’s just 15€, so its a cheaper solution. Works great.

    • Les.B.

      Are you in the UK? Farz I can tell, this is available in the UK but not in the US.

    • Romão

      I think GEONAUTE chest straps are only sold in a store called “Decathlon” that only exists in Europe. I purchased mine in Portugal.

  35. Problems with Garmin HR soft straps…
    I bought the Polar strap and it worked for some time. But, it stopped 2 hours into a group ride.
    I did 10k time trial into a head wind averaging 33k/h with average HR 72b/min.
    Would be pretty good if it was real.
    It was either no reading or very low reading. When I stopped the HR went back where to what would be expected.
    It was wind probably, have no idea. No regrets on buying the Polar strap, it was pretty cheap, but I prefer having occasional spikes.
    It is pretty sad thought that Garming delivered this crap with $300 computer.
    My first and last Garmin, they maybe good with GPS but otherwise it is crap.

  36. In your last picture you show three devices that appear to all be connecting to a single heart rate transmitter. Am I seeing that correctly. I stumbled across your blog researching wether you can use an Ant+ iPhone dongle AND an Ant+ compatible watch at the same time. Your picture seems to be proof that you can.

  37. Hi Marky-

    Absolutely. I do it all the time in testing devices. You can pair as many devices as you’d like to a given ANT+ sensor.

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. Thanks for the quick response. We’re over at the RunKeeper forum waiting patiently for them to add more HR features to their iPhone app. They introduced the Ant+ not too long ago, but other than tracking heart rate and uploading to their web UI, it doesn’t do much yet. In the meantime impatient users are migrating to other apps, or considering using 2 devices. Got a used Ant+ compatible HRM watch you want to sell for cheap? I tried using two straps, combining my Wahoo Dongle/Garmen Transmitter with my Polar F11 HRM + transmitter but the Polar HR readings were really erratic until I disabled the Wahoo. I just can’t justify buying another new HRM with 2 Polar sitting in a drawer.

  40. Yeah, I’m not sure why they haven’t added in the other ANT+ sensor data streams. It’s really rather simple…well…at least it was for the 60+ other App developers to do it.

    I’ve never had any issues running dual Polar/Garmin transmitters and receivers at the same time, but maybe I’ve lucked out.

  41. Ordered Polar Wearlink strap, but sadly I’m having the same erratic readings – this time very low all throughout exercise. Guess I’ll call Garmin to complain about my TWO erroneous Soft straps.

  42. This was great information. I was having some real “HR spike” problems with some as high as 200. I had one of the new post 2010 straps on my desk but had never used it. I used it the day after reading your blog and the spikes are gone and the HR plots on the Garmin look as they should. Thanks for the great post.

  43. jgiedt

    I’ve been using the Polar strap for a year now and it is comfortable. It didn’t solve my problems however. I still get hummingbird readings at the beginning of runs/rides that settle down about 1-2 miles in (runs). It really sucks to spend this much time and money trying to fix a poor design. I’m convinced there is more wrong then the strap. I’ve used two standard Garmin straps, two premium soft straps and the Polar strap. It’s still a problem.

  44. Yes bought new polar strap here in NZ for NZ$45 plus shipping (US$41 Amazon wouldnt ship out of US) and problem of 240bpm max cured – phew thought I had heart palpitations!!

    Different subject: Ray/Anyone notice recent greater differences in distant between ST & GC. Was always some small difference but now running 310xt 3.70 (1sec monitoring) and getting differences of 1-2km, biggest was ST30.8km GC26.4km.
    Will try ver 3.90 and report back.

  45. jojo72

    I tried the combo and had problem. My Heart bit rate drops after 8-10 km of running. I suspect it happens when I sweat and the strap becomes wet.

  46. Anonymous

    I have a Garmin 410 and use the Polar/Garmin HR combo. I see “normal” HR readings through about 7 miles then they drop off (today’s 1/2 showed 165 at mile 6 then 148, 105, 60, 50, etc until the end). Happens on all long runs. The question I have regarding this being sweat induced, would it be the contacts on the transmitted or on the strap sensors? Could you wrap the transmitter in a zip-loc bag (for example) to keep the sweat off the contacts to resolve the issue?

  47. The polar wear link worked for a a few weeks for me. On an especially hot day, with heavy sweating the spikes came back after about 5k.

    Is it possible that the spikes are caused by the the contacts becoming wet? Is it also possible that the wetness between the contacts short out the Garmin heart rate monitor? If so, have you ever heard anyone cutting up the strap (either the garmin or the polar) so that the electrical connectivity that causes the short is broken?

    Garmin is really frustrating in this area.

  48. JEdeS

    This is such a great web site, thanks, Rainmaker. I should have looked at this series of blog posts before I started tearing my hair out. I’m going out to look for a Polar HRM strap. My Garmin “Premium” HR strap is my third one. They’ve all now failed exactly the same way, all about 4 to 6 weeks after I buy them. The first symptom is a super high heart rate when I start a run or ride which drops to normal within a mile or two. After a week of this, I start to get spikes to 257 bpm. The easy way to check if you’ve got a defective strap: while it’s strapped on your chest, jiggle it up and down. The faster & longer you jiggle the transmitter, the higher your heart rate spikes. The Garmin “Premium” strap is just so poorly made or designed, it’s virtually useless after a month or two.

  49. Anonymous

    Still searching for a solution to HR drop-offs in second half of all workouts. I get the same result with the Garmin premium soft strap and two Polar WearLink+ straps (3 years old and 1 month old). I was optimistic that electrode gel (Spectra 360) would be my salvation, but not so. My next move is to buy the Garmin hard strap. I gather from a few commenters here and on Slowtwitch that it works a little better than either brand of soft strap, but it would be great to hear whether it really does.

  50. Anonymous

    Follow-Up to post on October 30, 2011 9:43 AM:

    I visited the Polar Repair center (5 minutes from my house). The watch/receiver checked out fine. The transmitter was low on battery and the strap (WIND+) was tested as “high impedance” (or something akin). The guy swapped it out for a new one.

    First run yesterday with the new Polar strap/Garmin transmitter worked flawlessly. Normal HR readings throughout entire run with no aberrations or spiking.

    In addition, I also got a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some Q-Tips to clean all the contacts. (Read somewhere this helps dissolve built-up deposits). I was also advised by the Polar guy to thoroughly rinse the strap and electrodes after each use. (Previously I would just air dry and run through the washer every week).

    Hopefully this will continue to work.

  51. stef

    It must be something with the strap building up electrolytes over time. As mentioned by others, maybe washing the strap thoroughly can reduce the problems?

  52. I also sufer from the loss of signal issue on my garmin 610 softstrap. However I have more or less fixed it by applying a bit of bodylotion on my chest and wetting the strap in water. I think there might be a Garmin made contact lotion around for sale, but I havent found it yet.

  53. wynhand

    Also bought the Polar wearlink strap and tried it with my Garmin transmitter. Worked perfectly for about 30 min of the workout and then HR started dropping down and after a minute or two there was no signal. The strap was quite saturated by that time. A real pity as I was hoping this solution to work. The search continues …

  54. Wearlink probem solved I think!!

    Gave up on the Garmin strap so I invested in a Polar Wearlink to use with my Garmin transmitter. No spikes of high readings but after a couple of hours heart rate readings would drop and then stop. This happened every time until I took a large pair of scissors and cut the Wearlink strap in two between the two studs where the transmitter attaches. I actually cut out about 1cm of strap so during the ride the cut ends would not touch at all.

    As I said, problem solved. If this is a fix it’s because the fabric (between the two chest contact zones and behind the transmitter) absorbs sweat (including elecrolytes) during the early part of the ride. Eventually the material becomes conductive and the voltage differential between the chest contact zones decreases and becomes undetectable by the transmitter.

    I needed to sew each of the cut ends so the existing stitching didn’t unravel. I’d cut too much off to be able to use a sewing machine which would have been neater. So if you try this I suggest a single scissors cut exactly between the studs. On each side pull the fabric back and trim the cut ends of the clear plastic strut that you will find. Then there should be no problems sewing the ends by machine. I doubt you would need to cut out a gap in the fabric to avoid the ends contacting and causing this problem but if necessary trim a bit more so there is a gap.

    Good luck!

  55. Anonymous

    I can verify Singlespeed’s fix works!

    After trying everything listed in this post, I was never able to obtain proper readings on any run over an hour or so. The HR would register fine for the first hour then drop to 60-70 for the rest of the run. In fact, last week I did a 2hr run and the same thing happened, showing an avg HR of 60 for a 14 mile run.

    However, figuring I had nothing to lose (except having to buy a new strap), I followed Singlespeed’s directions. I cut the strap, (having no sewing machine I improvised with what I had available):
    – Sealed the ends with super glue (put super glue in the cut ends and pushed down). Did this twice.
    – Applied contact cement over the ends (hey it was near by) to creat a completely sealed end.
    – Put a layer of electrical tape over the contact cement (to make a smooth surface and prevent chaffing)
    – Sealed the electrical tape with clear nail polish (water proof?)

    I then let it all dry. Hooked on the Polar transmitter and the Polar unit received fine. Used it during my runs during the week at the gym and everything was normal.

    Today, I strapped on the Garmin (410) and the transmitter. It picked up the signal (a relief) and I was off. Everything was normal for the first hour. Then, much to my relief, it continued to transmit/receive “accurate” HR readings. No drop outs at all! After a 2:30 hr run – 18 miles, I had full HR readings throughout and an average in the 150’s.

    Thank You Singlespeed!

  56. Anonymous

    I used my Garmin textile strap for about 7 months on a regular basis – 4 to 6 times a week, most of it running for 1h or longer. Because of heart rate spike issues with the older strap, I was very careful with this one. After I each workout I hand-washed it with cold water und a bit of mild soap. I did not have any HR spike problems, so perhaps it has been improved since it first came out. Maybe I was just lucky. After said 7 months, it started to smell though, so I washed it thoroughly with a detergent for sports clothing a couple of times. It didn’t help with the smell and I got HR spikes a few times.

    I got a replacement for the old strap, but counting the time I had HR spikes and the time I waited for replacement, I had 3 weeks without HR readings. I didn’t want to repeat that, so I bought the Wearlink strap. After about an hour of more intense training, when I was really sweaty, I started getting HR readings in the 60s. I looked for that on the internet, looks like I wasn’t the only one experiencing this problem. I was very happy to read this fix. I cut out a roughly 5mm wide piece between the contact and sewed up the ends. There is a small strip of transparent plastic inside, but it was no problem to stitch through it. Two sweaty workouts done since then, got good HR readings! So thanks a lot!

  57. Tried swapping the Garmin soft strap/sensor with my Polar softstrap. Didn’t work. Maybe the transmitter was faulty. It’s been returned either way. Not sure I want to start cutting a perfectly serviceable Polar kit for the sake of some dodgey Garmin product.

  58. alex60

    Could someone tell me regarding the polar strap/garmin hrm solution offered if you actually cut the clear plastic or not?

  59. Transporter

    I won both Polar heart rate and Garmin heart rate watch. I cut the strap and it worked perfectly.

  60. Marple_dave
    Cutting the Polar Wearlink strap between the contacts fixes the problem whereby the Garin/Wearlink combo works perfectly until an hour or so into your workout. Then heart rate drops to about 60 and sometimes drops out completely. If there is no pick up from the outset and you have a nice wet strap and chest you have another problem, perhaps with the Garmin transmitter itself.

    It would be tricky to cut the fabric completely but preserve the clear plastic strut between the contacts. Cut it completely then tidy the ends as I said above. You don’t need the plastic strut to be intact.

    I’ve been using the Garmin transmitter/cut wearlink combo for a few weeks now without ever having spuriously low heart rates or other issues.

  61. Thanks Singlespeed. I think it may have been the transmitter (tried loads of combinations of strap/transmitter/wetness/tighness/jelly etc) and I’ve returned it to the supplier anyway. I am reluctant to cut a perfectly good, better quality, Polar wearlink strap. I still use the Polar at the gym and on the bike at the moment of course.

  62. Anonymous

    To follow up on my post above, I have been using the cut Polar strap for over 3 weeks now with no problems. Works great with both my Polar watch (625X) and my Garmin (410).

    As indicated in Singlespeed’s instructions, just cut it clean through (including the plastic piece) and tidy up the ends to your liking.

    Marple_Dave: trust the instructions, you are not ruining a perfectly good HR strap…simply modifying it to work with your Garmin! It still works just fine with my Polar watch when I run inside and use the elliptical with the added benefit of getting accurate HR readings with my Garmin.

  63. Cheers “Anon”. I’ll give it a try as a last resort but am pretty miffed beacause Garmin shouldn’t be sending out bad gear, particularly after all this time.

  64. Swapping out my garmin strap with the replacement polar strap worked wonders. I tried using the gel with my garmin strap, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. However, switching to the polar strap has completely resolved my spiking issues. Thanks for the tip, and keep up the great work.

  65. jojo

    question regarding Singlespeed solution:
    I had the same problem with the combo of Polar and Garmin (stop working after 10 km running) so I cut my Polar strap to 2 pieces. Now, my question is – why do I need to stick the parts back together? can’t I just use the Garmin transmitter to connect both sides without any sewing or gluing?

  66. jojo

    You don’t join the ends together again. You just need to tidy up each cut end somehow to stop the stitching unravelling. You could use fabric glue but I used a needle and thread. The two cut ends need to be kept apart to stop the heart rate plunging.

  67. Anonymous

    I also have just found this thread and put my Garmin transmitter onto the Polar chest strap. It never occurred to me before to look to see if it was feasible. My Concept II row this morning was the first time in years I have had a clean heart rate record. Works for the Garmin 310xt and the Fisica receiver on the iPhone. Brilliant, Thanks. Canberra rower.

  68. Anonymous

    In response to 31, yes I have verified the accuracy of the polar/garmin hybrid. My workout is on a rowing ergometer with precisely controlled power outputs and I know, from years of experience as well as knowledge of resting and maximum HR that it was exactly what I was expecting. Canberra Rower

  69. Simon Kay

    Brilliant, have had an issue with the Garmin soft strap for a few months now and been so close to purchasing a new one a couple of times, just came across your post – ran to my cupboard, got out the spare Polar cheststrap I had, fixed on the Garmin transmitter and hey presto, an accurate heart reading again.

    Thanks for the advice, I will post back after the first couple of rides to let you know how I have got on.

  70. Wonderful post Ray, as usual.

    I have one question that might be helpful to others as well. I just picked up the Edge 500 (without HRM), but have a current Polar HRM with the requisite – and working – chest strap. Since I only need the Garmin transmitter itself, is there a part number for this tranmitter (without the wonky strap) that I can use to order from somewhere online?

    Thank you.

  71. Hi Robbie-

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen just the transmitter piece available. But, any ANT+ heart rate strap transmitter would work, so, the cheapest one is see is the cheaper generic Garmin one ($40):

    link to amazon.com

    Sorry, wish I had a better answer.

  72. Thank you very much.

    You anticipated my next thought: if the transmitter isn’t available, what is the cheapest Ant+ transmitter/chest strap. Appreciate you taking the time to track down a link, too. Very helpful.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of your resourceful readers find a source for the Garmin transmitter. Possibly available through Garmin as a repair part.

    Thx again.

  73. Thank you for the solution! I had a polar strap and switched them out! you’re right,it does work! 😉 Hopefully no more spikes!

  74. Anonymous

    I tried this out after lots of high spikes at the start of every run with the garmin strap. It worked for the first few times, but unfortunately for the past few weeks I’ve been getting incredibly low readings with the polar strap. In a half marathon today, the readings were realistic for about 5-6 miles and then dropped extremely low for the rest of the run – anywhere from 90-139 when I should’ve been in the low 170s. Any ideas?

  75. Anonymous


    Did you cut the Polar strap in half like Singlespeed suggested? If not, look at his previous post discussing this. It solves the issue you describe (I had the same issue and by following his advice I have had perfect readings for all my runs (inside, outside, 1 hour-4hour).

  76. Wanted to thank you for the post. My Garmin soft strap died and I couldn’t get it working. Read your post, bought the polar strap, came home and tried it.
    Worked perfectly first time.

    Big thanks.

  77. It didn’t take long to find my way here. I’m glad I did, it’s been enlightening and interesting.

    I was using the saliva method – usually just spiting on my fingers and transferring it to the pads on my soft strap. It worked, for almost a year, and then I started getting those anomalous readings: too high, too low, spikes (the last, frankly, seemed to correlate with fast downhills and perhaps that means a flapping jersey).

    I also noticed that if I so much as touched the plastic unit on the strap, even through my jersey, the monitor on my Garmin 500 would show my heart rate at over 200, and it would take a few minutes to drop back down..

    I tried repositioning, I tried making the strap tighter, I washed the strap, and I scrubbed the contacts with vinegar. I was about to order a Polar strap when I decided to try one thing that wasn’t going to cost me much time and cost me no money.

    I made the strap wetter, by running the pads, and the area of the strap around the pads, under the water coming out of a faucet. Not the entire strap, the portion extending out about an inch from each pad.

    For the past three rides, I’ve had no spikes, no readings too low, and none too high.

  78. What is inside the starp, i have Wahoo Blue HR and it look exactly as the Garmin strap, will the Wahoo transmitter also work with the Polar elastic strap ?

  79. Hi DC Rainmaker… Here it comes a question directly from Portugal…
    If you use a Polar Wearlink+ Hybrid with a Garmin 910XT in swimming, can it read your HR?

    Best compliments,
    Marco Santos

  80. Hi,

    I brought the polar strap as I was having issues with my Garmin strap. All has worked well for a while, but this lately I noticed the strap stopped recording a true heart rate after about two hours. My heart drop to 30 beat per minutes whilst climbing a 18% hill the other day. Not likely!

    During a race the other week, the strap didn’t work at all after the swim, think it started again at some point during the run.

    Has anyone else experienced this issue?

  81. Ari

    I had the same problem. Garmin states it it caused by static generated by polyester shirts rubbing against the transmitter. I put a strip of 2″ wide masking tape over the transmitter. Problem solved. It has worker perfectly ever since.

  82. Grant

    look at posts #54 – #62. Cutting your strap according to the instructions fixes this problem.

  83. Anonymous

    Dear Ray,

    I actually have a Polar 720i (wearlink+ strap)and I am interested in the EDGE 800, and my question is if the straps are compatibles for both of them and if would be possible to mount both devices in the bike with just on strap on the chest.

    Interesting blog. Many thanks

  84. Unfortunately not. While the straps themselves can be mixed and matched, the transmitter pods won’t work with each other. Meaning, the Polar transmitter pod won’t be read by the Garmin – and vice versa.

  85. Thanks mate! I recently upgraded from Polar CX800 to the Garmin Edge 800. I have been getting high heart rate readings since my second ride with the Garmin. I just took my old Polar one (quite worn out) and tried your suggestion and BAM! normal heart rate readings! Ill go and buy a new polar strap. Thanks again!

  86. I’ve found thee perfect solution. Rather than the Polar Wearlink strap, I got the Polar Soft Strap link to polar.fi and attached my Garmin snap on transmitter to it. It works faultlessly! The Polar Soft Strap looks the same as the Garmin one, but it isn’t. It’s much thicker elastic, so doesn’t ruck up like I found the Garmin one did, and it’s got slightly larger and more flexible electrode skin contact areas. Critically, I’ve seen no spike issues.

    One interesting thing written in the care instructions for the Polar strap is “Rinse the strap under running water after every use and hang to dry…Dry and store the strap and connector separately, to maximise the heart rate sensor battery lifetime. Keep the heart rate sensor in a cool and dry place. Do not store the heart rate sensor wet in a non-breathing material, such as a sports bag, to prevent snap oxidation…” Essentially, whether it’s a Polar or Garmin unit, expect the snap contacts to go rusty if you don’t clean and store the unit correctly after each use.

  87. Thomas L.


    this hint sound extremely helpful, unfortunately it didn’t did the trick to me.

    I use a Garmin ForeRunner 210 with the Garmin Soft Strap HR Monitor (2011). Now I bought the Polar WearLink+ Transmitter Soft Strap as suggested – but it doesn’t work anymore. Bummer 🙁

    The ForeRunner doesn’t find the sensor when attached to the polar strap.


  88. Sorry to hear the Polar Soft Strap is not working for you (I assume you’ve checked the transmitter is still working when attached to the old Garmin elastic strap). I bought my Garmin premium HR strap last year as an aftermarket strap for my FR405CX (which came with the normal Garmin strap). Mine is the newer version of the Garmin premium strap (the elastic continues between the studs for attaching the transmitter), but I think that’s the same as what is sold with the FR210/410 now anyway. I was never happy with the elastic on the Garmin premium strap as it was just too thin and crunched up. Hence the suggestion that the Polar straps were compatible got me thinking. I tried my Wife’s Wearlink+ strap with my Garmin transmitter and it worked, but she wanted the strap back! So, having read this article, I thought I’d experiment with the Polar soft strap; which after several weeks of at least daily use is still working well for me. I am fastidious with rinsing and drying both the strap and transmitter after every workout though.

  89. skbooksca

    Thanks DC Rainmaker for a) your blog and b) this particular post.

    Brand new FR 610 and the HR stopped working within the first 2 miles. What a bummer because its a great watch. Got a Polar Wearlink+ strap and attached the Garmin HRM2-SS transmitter and presto.

    One little problem and solution. The transmitter kept snapping out of one or the other of the two buttons on the belt. Solution: On the belt, just shave a bit of the rubber grommet surrounding the buttons down to the level of the button (~1mm). Just use a sharp utility knife. Transmitter snaps in place and stays there!

  90. Alistair

    My Garmin strap stopped working, so I bought a Polar Wearlink strap. This worked for several weeks and then it stopped working. Tonight I cut the Wearlink strap and everything seems to be working again.
    Has anyone tried cutting the Garmin Premium Strap?

  91. Dave B

    Just wanted to say thanks. Been frustrated with my Garmin Strap’s inconsistency for over a year. Just bought the Polar strap and snapped on my Garmin Transmitter and it seems to be working perfectly…and I’m not exactly sweating sitting at the computer. Unfortunately I didn’t realize Polar also has a soft strap now, as this one feels a little less comfortable than the Garmin Soft Strap. But time will tell. Now if I could only get my Edge 500 to work properly…

    PS. You saved me $40 and properly some frustration over another inconsistent Garmin soft strap.

  92. Garrubal

    Just came across this blog. Interesting way to try to solve the HR spikes on the Garmin. But does changing the strap to Polar really make a difference in the long term? I wonder if the Polar strap deteriorates over time just like Garmin’s.

  93. Hrudy

    Just purchased a Polar wearlink strap to replace my newer Garmin premium strap. The new wearlink strap looks different than the one I used to have for my Polar RS800CS Bike. Wonder if I will have to cut the strap per Singlespeed’s instructions.

  94. Greg

    Thanks man. Issues with the Garmin strap have been driving me batty. I tried all the suggestions – still no luck. Purchased the Polar strap…after getting a second Garmin that was reporting a 148 pulse whilst grinding out long climbs: 20-25 BPM lower than reality. I’m now getting good data. Interesting that the Garmin website is curiously quiet about this issue. Hmmmm.


  95. Garrubal

    Does anybody else have issues with the garmin transmitter wanting to pop out of the polar strap? I noticed that the holes on both straps have some text that says “original” and “prym 4gb”. However, the polar straps have the holes recessed compared to the garmin strap. Do I need to shave off some of the rubber that holds the metal parts on the polar strap for a better fit?

  96. art

    Garrubal, I just received the polar strap today from amazon and they must have redesigned it because the rubber that surrounds the buttons on the strap causes the garmin transmitter to pop out. I took a tiny scissor to it and removed some of the rubber and the transmitter seems to stay on now. Will test it out tomorrow on the treadmill and report back.

  97. Garrubal

    Art, thanks. Got my Swiss Army knife, took out the small scissors, and cut away the excess rubber. Fits a lot better than before. Will test tomorrow as well.

  98. art

    Tested the strap this morning and while it does work fine I do have to say that the polar strap is not as comfortable as the the original garmin. I’m never aware of the garmin strap when it is on, however with the polar strap it is not only bulkier but the seams irritate my skin.

  99. Siabot_Guru

    Well, I did the old switch-a-roo and haven’t had much luck. The Polar Strap is giving me massive dropouts through the later part of my workouts when they should be rock solid with the Garmin Premium Strap. I would have a HR of around Zone 3 or 4 and drop all the way down to Zone 0.2 or so.. Do remind everyone that the strap was redesigned and you have to trim the rubber around the contacts Flush so the Garmin Transmitter will fit.

    I was hoping the new strap would fix the HR zone Spikes which for some reason this year have been the worst they have ever been despite all the tricks Mentioned by DCRainmaker.

    link to connect.garmin.com

  100. DPort

    Thanks for sharing the information; your blog is a brilliant resource.

    My “Premium” HRM strap on the Edge 500 (Red & Black, premium price) lasted all of five weeks. It was never totally reliable but it gave me ball-part figures to work with. Now it has flat-lined.

    Garmin should really supply the Polar HRM strap with the Edge 500.
    Actually, why bother with the Garmin in the first place?
    How do I know that any of the data on my device is accurate; can I be sure that the other sensors are working?

    Has anyone had any luck getting a refund from Garmin?

    Thanks again for your blog.

  101. Alison

    Great and very helpful article… which I had looked at a few times before reading through all the comments and realising that there were even more gems and updates – I wonder if a formal addendum at the top with some of the new info [shave the raised edges and maybe cut through the middle] could be useful.
    I have just recently bought a new polar strap to try with the Garmin but was having trouble with the transmitter popping off- hopefully fixed now with the shaving trick. I switched to the Garmin 910XT from my previous Polar device because I was needing a new strap & clip every 9-12 months because of deteriorating function so i am interested to see how the Garmin/Polar combo goes with regard to duration of function! I have had some dropouts in longer runs [hot sweaty days currently here in Australia] but not sure if it has unclipped, so I will leave it intact for a few more outings before I do the slice & dice routine!

  102. jeffcaw

    For the past two years I had the “Premium” Garmin soft strap and experienced all the problems listed here. I did everything to try to fix it, electrode gel, spit, rotating it, swapping straps with a polar strap, getting Garmin to swap it out for free(yes their customer service rocks)…. but the one thing that finally did the trick…..drum roll please… was the day I threw that plastic piece into the woods on a trail run. Yes i admit I littered in a fit of anger. Save yourself all the angst and purchase the regular Garmin strap and HRM. It is mildly less comfortable but most of all it is reliable and accurate!!! Especially if you subscribe to Hear Rate Zone training, which I do. Sorry to hijack your blog (it is my shopping porthole) but had to share my experience.

  103. George

    Have been reading this thread while doing home work as to if I can justify spending £300 on a garmin 910XT
    My thoughts from reading this is that maybe the only reason it works better after cutting the strap is that it puts more pressure on the contacts because the two studs on the strap will then pull apart. Anyone have any thoughts on this view?

  104. James Wallace

    I tried the Polar strap out about a 18 months ago. It works fine on rides of about 1 hour for me. Unfortunately, the strap becomes saturated with sweat and then essentially shorts out. I measured it with my Fluke multimeter and it will conduct electricity when saturated. So I continue to use the original model of the soft strap, the one that unsnaps into a left and right half. I most likely will use the Polar strap to be donor elastic material when the other gives up the ghost. It continues to work on long rides without fail, as long as I completely rinse it and the transmitter pod after each ride.

  105. Marc

    I had the exact same phenomena, specially during winter time where it is very dry and cold -20C.
    I changed the Garmin strap for a Polar strap and still use my Garmin transmitter and it works perfectly fine with no more error on my Forerunner 310 XT

    Thank you so much, preserving my investmentGG

  106. Veronica

    Great post as usual!

    I have the Garmin 310XT with the Premium Soft Strap. Never had any issues with the heart rate – BUT – my major problem is that the strap gives me lacerations just under the heart rate monitor (quite annoying and hurtful).

    So when i read about the possibility to use the Polar Wearlink + Strap and the Garmin heart rate monitor I immediately tried it.

    I do get a heart rate, BUT it’s way to high (I’m just resting in bed). With the Polar Strap on my 310XT shows between 119-150, and then changing to the Garmin Strap the accurate heart rate of 70-80 is shown

    So for me, with the Polar Strap on I get the wrong pulse/heart rate.

    Has anyone experienced this?
    // Veronica

  107. Frank Baker

    Wow! After switching the Garmin strap for an old Polar strap it works perfectly. There are no spikes. The readings have real precision. Great job identifying this fix. I thought the first rule was switching a polar strap would not work! I had been using special heart rate jelly and washing the Garmin monitor with soap after each run and it never worked right. Now I wish I could use the Garmin transmitter in the water for swims with my 910 XT. At least the hear rate monitor is accurate now for running. Great job DC Rainmaker.

  108. Darren Wray

    Hello from the UK, I have read with great interest this post as my Garmin HRM2-SS is spiking, I know its the strap that is the problem, can you please help? I have found on ebay uk Polar part number: 91043550 this is different from your Amazon link part number: B000OL06A4, they both look the same l am wondering if B000OL06A4 is a USA part number? Please could you take a look and let me know if you think the ebay uk product is the same as your recomended strap? ebay link: link to ebay.co.uk, I would be very grateful, thank you.

    • Rainmaker

      Looks like the correct one. 91043550 is the actual Polar part number for the Medium-XXL sized one, whereas the B0000OL06A4 is the Amazon part number. Enjoy!

  109. OperationOne

    hi Ray,

    thank you very much for your precious info. no one have some statistics about Garmin Soft Strap vs. Polar Soft Strap durability? here the Garmin strap failed after 90 hours of work (95% run / 5% bike), and the Polar one failed after …110 hours (40% run / 60% bike). just get a 2nd Polar spare. thanks!

    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, I haven’t seen any stats around strap failure. THough, I will say that I’ve got way more hours on my HR strap than that though – so that seems a bit low. :-/

  110. Kelley

    Thank you so much for this information. I have been having difficulty with my Garmin strap simply because it is too big. Garmin doesn’t make an extra small strap; but Polar does. I happen to have a Polar XS strap. I cannot wait to see if this fixes my random HR spikes on my bikes and runs. Again, thanks for posting this information! Happy Training!

  111. Torbjørn Grønningen

    Thank you so much! This really saved my future workouts. I’ll purchase the WearLink strap ASAP. Thanks again! Have a good day! 😉

  112. gvaneynde

    Hello… I use edge 800 from september 2011 since then I replaced my strap 3 times … Now I find that Bontrager have also strap… I bought one for 10€ !!! Its great….using only 2 times … hoop that will be THE GOOD solution
    for the future 😉

  113. Derek

    Have you heard anything about the new Garmin HR strap (HRM3)? When you go to amazon for the garmin soft strap there is now a link to the newer model. You think it’ll be as good as the garmin transmitter + polar strap combo?

    • Rainmaker

      Yeah, I’ve been using it since December. Blah. Works better, but I still see issues. The issues tend to be in the first 8 minutes (when they occur), but after that it tends to be very stable.

      Wish I had better news.

  114. Otto Zemek

    Good piece of advise, thanks a lot, works pretty good ! Thanks !

  115. Michael Rudawsky

    what issues do you see in the first 8 minutes? on my old strap which is the only one I have sometimes in the first 8-16 minutes I get very high hr readings and then it drops to expected range

  116. Iya Santiago

    Have you tried using this strap with the timex transmitter that came with your timex global trainer. i recetly lost my strap but i still have the transmitter and I was thinking if the timex heart rate transmitter would be compatible with the polar wearlink straps

  117. Tommy Torwald

    Hi Ray!
    I got tired of my lousy Garmin strap, so i figured I’d try this solution. I ordered a Polar Wearlink Plus strap off Wiggle, but received something called “Polar Soft Strap”. After some googling, it looks like the Wearlink Plus (“31 coded”?) was superseded by H-series straps. Not sure what exactly it is that I’ve got in my hands, as mine neither says Wearlink, H1, H2 nor anything else either really. Just, rather generically, “Polar Soft Strap”.

    Do you have any insights on this, is the Wearlink unavailable now?

  118. Henrik THorén

    Excellent! I’ve been getting completely screwy HR-data for months, I’ve tried wetting the band, licking it, the gel thing, having it really tight, changing the batteries. I think I’ve tried everything and still I would have average heart rate of around 185 with peaks upwards of 240 on soft recovery rides preformed under virtually no physical strain at all. I just went out and bought a Polar-strap right away, popped on the ANT+ transmitter and sure enough, it works like a charm! Thanks.

  119. Bob

    A woman I coach normally has 165-169 as top levels when running intervals. During two different races when it was very hot and humid her pulse measurements showed over 180 most of the time. The most recent was during a half maraton when her pulse varied between 180 and 186 for over 20 minutes. She was probably running two fast for the conditions but… She was using a new Polar the last time. An older Polar a year ago during a 10 km race. Do you know what causes these high readings?

    • Rainmaker

      Generally speaking, which there’s strap interference you often see the HR match the runners cadence (tip to the Wahoo guys who figured this out). 180 seems relatively close to 90RPM (per foot, doubled).

      That said, has she ever done a VO2max test to validate her top-end HR range (a VO2Max tells you many things, but it’s often used to determine the top-end HR range).

  120. Bob

    Thank you. That can check. Her cadence does lie around 180. I’ve never checked how her cadence changes depending upon the changes in elevation. When she raced a marathon (her first 2:51.09) 2 weeks later her ratings were mostly as expected with a few hops. Is there some reason why hot humid weather would cause more interference? Or is it most likely that the belt is not sitting properly?
    As to the VO2 max test, I’m sure you know that such a test does not necessarily give the absolute maximum of heart rate. One obvious exception is when one has a heart flimmer.

    • Rainmaker

      Sometimes with super-hot and humid weather I see lots of sweat and a bit of buildup of sweat/liquid cause issues. I also see it with stagnant air & warm gyms and treadmills. I find if I just use my hand to brush off the extra sweat off the contact – the issues immediately go away.

      And yup, understand on VO2Max, though if she had numerous VO2Max tests showing a higher HR than normal, that would help establish a pattern.

  121. Bob

    Once again Thank You! Very helpful!

  122. Garrubal

    Rainmaker, I tried the Polar strap in the link. Worked fine, but started working erratically after about 6 months, and some stuff started peeling off. In any case, there is another Polar strap that work well as a hybrid. In Amazon, it’s listed as “Polar Soft Strap Set” and sells for $18.95. IMO, this strap is more comfortable. I have not experienced any spikes in about 3 weeks of usage.


    thanks !!!! Many weeks I tried everything but nothing worked properly with the premium soft garmin strap. I just ordered the polar !!! I hope it works !!!

  124. Scott Whalen

    I tried it with the Garmin HR unit from the Garmin 910 XT and Edge 500 but it did not fit the Polar Strap. Does anyone know if they changed the type of unit on the 910 versus earlier versions of Garmin’s HR Unit? My Garmin soft strap looks different than what is shown here. Any help is appreciated.

  125. trdjohn

    After a number of frustrating runs w/ my new FR610 and HR signal dropping down to unbelievably low HR I can say Singlespeed’s solution of cutting my old Polar Windlink HR strap did the trick on my latest sweaty polyester clad run, no more drop outs! Obviously only 1 run, but seems to have done the trick. Has anyone that had HR signal dropping out toward the end of their run try the new Polar Soft Strap? how did that work out for you, did that solve it? or did you swing the other way with spikes? Just curious….

  126. Cindy

    I purchased a 410 a couple of years ago and originally the HRM was working, but I only wore it a couple of times as I had bad chaffing issues. Threw it in a drawer, but have always used the watch w/o issues. Over the last few months, I wanted to give it another go as I really need to monitor my HR. First, it would not work. I replaced the battery. It would pair, but gave very low readings (35, max 70). I tried a friends Polar soft strap (w/her Nike+ watch) and it worked like a charm – immediately. I tried to use her Polar soft strap with my Garmin transmitter, very low readings (back to 38). I tried your above suggestion and purchased a Polar Wearlink, and still very low readings. I recently brought the new Garmin HRM strap and transmitter and still average readings of 40. Could the problem be my watch? Honestly, not in love with the 410 and want a new watch, but I want one that can work with a HRM for me. Suggestions?

  127. Thommy

    I use a Garmin Edge 500 on my bike. I occasionally have a-fib episodes, usually triggered by intense efforts. Over the past 20 years I have had occasional other rhythm issues. I recently starting seeing HR readings much higher than would normally correlate with my level of exertion. Although I was concerned about these high numbers, I usually would feel fine, about how I expected to for the level of effort and the wattage. My cardiologist prescribed an event monitor to try to diagnose what was going on. None of the high readings I was seeing on my Garmin device showed up on the reading from the much more sophisticated EKG files from the monitor.

    That led me to this thread, which lead me to buying a new Garmin fabric HRM strap with snap-on transmitter and, as recommended, a Polar soft strap. The hybrid set-up worked great the first two rides. Partway into the third ride, I started seeing a HR of about half what it should have been, though I felt fine. Shortly thereafter, there was no HR data being displayed on the monitor. When I got home, I put on the Garmin strap and snapped on the transmitter — instant, accurate reading. Maybe the strap wasn’t tight enough and hence not making good contact. I cinched it up a bit and strapped it on before my next ride: seemed to perfect for first 30 or 40 minutes, then, suddenly, no HR data displayed — stayed that way for the rest of the ride. Got home, switched to the Garmin strap and — presto! — I had a heartbeat again.

    Any one else had this issue? I’m sticking with the Garmin-Garmin set-up until it starts to fail.

    • OperationOne

      seems like a broken or defective Polar strap. happened here twice, with Garmin and Polar. the 2nd Polar spare at the moment is working like a charm. don’t worry and simply trash the broken one.

  128. Bryan Lewis

    My old Polar HR monitor that I’ve had for 10 years finally bit the dust and since I’ve shifted to more riding and less running I’m switching to Garmin device, have they made any upgrades to their newest HR straps or do you think this is still the way to go? Thanks for the help, this site has been incredibly helpful in researching!


    • The new HRM3 helps a bit. In general, I only see issues now in the first 8 minutes (when I see them). So it’s better, but not yet perfect.

    • Ted W

      Surely its been quite a bit longer usage of the HRM3 now. How do you feel about it now? Any news on if garmin is creating a new version? Guess the 920xt comes with the same strap. I just cant get mine to work any longer with my F2 despite cleaning, re-adjusting and other fixes. For me. it seems to work for about 2 miles, then actually stops working (just about the time I would probably be sweating)

  129. gvaneynde

    Comment sent in April
    April 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm #115
    Hello… I use edge 800 from september 2011 since then I replaced my strap 3 times … Now I find that Bontrager have also strap… I bought one for 10€ !!! Its great….using only 2 times … hoop that will be THE GOOD solution
    for the future
    After more than 3000 km still perfect n::-)

  130. Brooke

    How do I know if the HRM battery is dead? I have the Garmin 910XT (purchased Dec 12) and bought the foot pod, but not the HRM. Recently a friend gave me their HRM … the soft strap Garmin HRM. I synched it with my Garmin watch, but I am not seeing a heart show up on the screen, and no heart rate readings are displaying. I wet the contact points. Still, nothing. Is it the battery? The owner only used it 2 or 3 times. But it is 3 years old.


    • That sounds like a likely case of needing a new battery. Likely just enough juice to get initial pairing and then it dying out. The good news is that the CR2032 batteries are only a couple dollars. 🙂

  131. Michael

    I bought the Garmin transmitter & strap and Polar strap as recommended on the site in early June. The transmitter with the polar strap worked great for the first two weeks. Then after about two and a quarter hours it started reading much lower that it should and then quit displaying any reading. That happen for a couple of rides (using Garmin 500). Put the transmitter on the Garmin strap for the last two rides and it reads like it should. I don’t understand why this should happen. Same thing that happen to Thommy in comment above except mine took longer to start reading low (2+ hours vs. 30-40 minutes).

  132. Jose Barrios

    Hi, I own a forerunner 610 and also an Edge 800, lately I started to get drops from the HRM, about 4 minutes into running and between 15-20 minutes cycling, did the washing of the straps, gel, batteries in the receiver, got a hard strap and and called Garmin for support. The Garmin Rep send me a new strap free of charge, sorry to inform that it did not work. During the process, got a new Polar RC3 which never dropped the readings. So today I ordered the Polar soft strap to try it out.
    I do not get, how a company that knows it has problem with its products and there is a solution in the web, do not copy and enhance it.
    I will post if the Polar wearlink do not work for me.

    • Jose Barrios

      I tried the new Garmin strap, it worked fine pair with the Edge 800 once, after that started dropping after 20 min riding.
      Tried the Polar strap and it is doing the same, checked and replaced the battery in the transmitter just to be sure, will try it tomorrow, any ideas?

  133. bob

    Hi there, thanks for this solution – I bought a G410 in June last year and was really happy with it – for about 4 months when the HR readings starting going haywire. I scoured the net for an answer, tried battery, made, gel, scrubbing the strap etc, and eventually got a replacement via amazon, no problem. In May the new one started doing the same thing, I discovered the trick with reversing 6the battery and that seemed to fix it, until about a week after the warranty expired. I can’t tell you (although anybody reading this will have a good idea) how frustrating it is to have an intermittent reading, especially when you’re trying to train in a specific HRZ.

    Anyway, my new strap arrived yesterday and it’s solved the issue – it’s f***** great!
    Garmin really need to do something about this problem – looks like the answer has been out in the open for 3 years or more – if you’re reading this, Garmin, you have lost a repeat customer.
    Thanks again, Rainmaker,

  134. OperationOne

    update: my 2nd spare Polar strap has worked with Garmin transmitter 140 hours and counting, and no issues at all, at the moment (just for reference, original Garmin strap failed in 90 hours and a first Polar spare failed also in 110 hours). just bought a 3rd spare, better safe than sorry 😀

  135. I have tried this with a brand new Wear link polar (which I noted was continuous not broken in between the two sensors and the Ant+ connectors) and found that the Ant + on my Garmin 310XT was “recognised” but no actual reading. Anyone any idea why this would happen? Chris

  136. Ben Ryterband

    Thanks for the advice. Thanks for the images. I’ll try this pairing. During last century ride, my heartbeat was being monitored as one hundred less than normal. There had been 11% incline/declines and I was wearing lightweight merino wool base layer. This was the first time monitor readings failed. Another in the list of Garmin glitches and problems.

  137. mark hopkins

    I have been seeing issues with spikes and drop outs on my soft strap for a few weeks. Today i replaced the battery thinking that is the issue and plan to test it at lunch time on a 10k treadmill run. If it fails i’m off to Amazon…….

  138. Vlada Belgrade Serbia

    Hi Ray!

    It all looks nice and smooth on your problem solving post.
    Not in real life. Unfortunately.
    Just did exactly as you explained but I have NO HR readings on my forerunner whatsoever.
    Now, I have a spare strap for my Polar RCX5 (which is working flawlessly) but Garmin FR 210 – still not working.
    I’m not sure it will be too wise to buy another Garmin soft strap since it is invalid product for sure.
    Any thoughts on this one? New ideas? Anyone?
    Thank you.

    • Just to clarify a few things:

      1) Did it work before?
      2) If so, if you swap back to the other transmitter pod, does it still work?
      3) Does it pair at all (and show as connected)?
      4) Have you changed the battery recently? From a pure math standpoint, you do stand about a 1 in 365 chance the battery might die just that very day – given a 1-year battery life. 🙂

    • Vlada Belgrade Serbia

      I agree. Lets make it clear:

      my Garmin FR 210 worked just fine for nearly a year (HR readings included).
      Few months ago spikes started to appear (mostly at the very beginning of my workouts).
      Then spikes and drops started to appear more frequently throughout workout sessions (regardless of liquid and gel applied to the strap).
      Finally, I wasn’t able to read my HR on the watch. All I can see is heart shape icon blinking there (I guess – trying to read my pulse). No numbers.
      I thought battery on the transmitter must have been dead. Changed it last week. Nothing new happened. Still, heart icon blinking.
      I hit your blog. Seemed to me I’ve found the solution – transmitter is ok, the strap is broken/invalid.
      Went to the store and get me new Polar WearLink+ Transmittr Strap.
      Hope I clear it up.
      What do you think of the situation?

    • When the icon is blinking, it means trying to connect to the transmitter. It should show solid heart rate icon once connected to the transponder – regardless of what the HR value itself is (0, 100, or something odd).

      Thus, it sounds like the transmitter pod is actually having problems. Unfortunately, nothing in this post will help there. If you’ve swapped out the battery (sounds like you have), and assuming new battery isn’t also somehow dead, then I’d ring up Garmin to swap out transmitter pod.

  139. Vlada Belgrade Serbia

    …new battery somehow dead?! 🙂 C’mon! Ray, have a little faith 🙂

    Thank you Ray.
    I will buy new transmitter pod and we’ll see.

    I will keep you posted. It may help someone struggling out there having similar problems.

    • I buy CR2032 batteries in bulk (actually, a shipment just arrived yesterday). You’d be surprised at how often I get DOA’s. :-/

    • Vlada Belgrade Serbia

      Went to the shop (Garmin reps here in Serbia). Paid $35 for Garmin transmitter pod. Attached it to Polar WearLink+ Transmitter Strap and – it is working!
      So, I guess your assumption is correct – both Garmin transmitter and the strap were broken.
      Poor, poor quality of Garmin products. Broken after less than a year of average use.
      Plus NO warranty for new Garmin transmitter pod. Sales rep informed me Garmin issue no warranty for such “replaceable” accessories. What a customer policy!
      I hope my Polar RCX5 will serve me for long, long time.
      Garmin will not be an option. Ever.

  140. Adrian

    For those wondering if you can cut the Garmin premium strap, this is how I fixed mine. First of all I tried to use an electrode gel, but that was working only for about 30min, both on run or bike. I then came across the post suggesting to cut the Polar strap, and I applied the same reasoning to the Garmin strap. I cut clean the strap, leaving about 1cm gap between the two studs. I have been testing the solution for about a month now, in different weather conditions and work-out styles (short intervals or long ones), both running and riding. Finally the strap is working perfectly. No more spikes or deeps, and following the work-out effort variations perfectly. Give the method a go. The solution gel+cut worked for me

  141. RunningZee

    Got the FR410 last Christmas and already went thru 2 HRM2-SS straps and transmitters. Can’t get either to work. As an experment tried short circuiting the posts on the 1st transmitter with a paper clip on the posts for a minute or so(had put in a new battery but just a low reading 60 -something) and got started getting readings but they weren’t real accurate as it when I slowed down the HR went up. Wasn’t too concerned about the 1st transmitter since it went through the washing machine and Garmin was gracious enough to send me a free replacement with new strap as a courtesy. Now that the replacement has gone haywire in about 4.5 mos I think I’ll try the Polar strap since the Garmin Soft strap HRM2 is obviously defective. So does the Polar Soft strap work with the HRM2-ss?

  142. RunningZee

    I went ahead and ordered a Polar Soft strap ( Compatible with all versions of the Polar WearLink and H-Series (H1-H2-H3-H6-H7) transmitters ) for $16.95 with free shipping at

    Hoping this will do the trick.

  143. RunningZee

    I went ahead and ordered a Polar Soft strap. I hope this does the trick. It is compatible with all versions of the Polar WearLink and H-Series (H1-H2-H3-H6-H7) transmitters. The price was $16.95 with free shipping at

  144. Tstone

    Regularly washing the strap (with the transmitter removed) with mild soapy water seems to control the spike problem for me.

  145. RunningZee

    Just got the new Polar Soft Strap for 16.95 including S&H. Ran almost a mile (hard) and the Polar Strap worked like a charm. No problemos and NO SPIKES whatsoever. It was actually the prettiest and smoothest trend I have ever seen with my FR 410. The strap is about the same as the garmin. I think the Polar sensors look to be better quality. Only diff was the strap clip on the right clips upside down from the garmin. THANKS FOR THE TIP. It works like a charm!

  146. RunningZee

    Also the Polar snapped in perfectly and I did not even have to lick it or anything. It worked so perfect you would have thought it was made for the Garmin. THANK YOU POLAR! I will be buying Polar Straps and saving up my money for another GPS watch once the non-replaceable battery goes bad.

  147. Tstone

    So, today my heart rate spiked again and I thought the last time it did this I was wearing the same jersey. So as it climbed up to 245 bpm I quickly pulled up the jersey above and away from the monitor and it immediately corrected to 155. I think I’m on to something here. Don’t know if it is the kind of zipper it has or the fabric but there is a connection between spikes and this particular jersey.

  148. RunningZee

    32 miles later of running with the polar soft strap & with the garmin hrm2-ss I am glad to report I have not had one spike(even at the beginning. I think maybe the garmin soft strap shorts out between the two snap-in posts when sweating. The Polar strap sensor area has a solid sensor type material all the way acrossed the snap-1n posts which prevents a sweat short out. That’s what I believe may be happening. I think Garmin should re-design their strap.

  149. Les Borean

    I have had this problem with the Garmin old strap and now with the new soft strap, after a couple of years use. Will try the Polar strap, worth a shot for 18 bucks. Thanxx for the tip.

  150. Jorn Hammer

    I have just bought the polar strip and it works a treat…great solution…Thx for the tip

  151. Leo

    Having a Polar strap (the CS600X I used up to last year), an old “classic” Garmin strap (Edge 500 since last year) with no erratic behaviour, and now a “new” Premium soft strap (the Forerunner 210 I received today), which one should I pair both my Garmins with?

    • Eli

      The electronics of the polar strap will not pair with any garmin device but the snaps on it will allow you to take the electronics from the garmin strap and attach to the polar strap.

      Personally I’d go the easy route and just use the one from your fr210 with both garmin devices. If that is uncomfortable or gives bad data the take off the electronics part from the strap and put it on the polar strap.

  152. Luc Fournier

    I’ve been having problem with erratic HR readings on my Garmin 800 and found this page. Previously, I made several experiments to try to isolate the issue comparing the readings from my Polar HRM with the Garmin.

    After reading this page I visited local stores to find the Polar HR Strap and could not get the strap without the monitor at the local store. It is available on-line from Polar Canada. Incidentally, I cannot use the Polar strap I own as it is designed differently and does not fit the Garmin HRM.

    I went for a ride this afternoon and I repeated the experiments with the Polar HRM and the Garmin HRM working at the same time. At the start everything was fine but within seconds of my departure, the readings went wild on the Garmin unit. I continued for about 30 minutes then remembered that on this forum one person indicated he had put tape on the HRM and it solved the problem. I stopped and rummaged through my toolbag and found white electrical tape. I applied a few strips to the outside portion (not the side against my skin) then restarted. From that point, the Garmin and the Polar were in-step and remained in step for the rest of the ride. It is quite noticeable on the chart in Training Center.


    I’m not sure if this will be permanent but I think it is worth sharing as it is a 10 cent fix instead of $30+ for the other fixes.

    A few points to note:

    [INDENT]The strap I was using today is a brand new [B]Bontrager[/B] strap; I’m wondering if the Bontrager HRM users have the same issue.

    I usually wear synthetic jerseys not cotton shirts and they may be electrically conductive or create static that affects the HRM;

    it is interesting to note that other riders reported solving the issue with the Polar strap – is there something about electrical conductivity between the strap, the HRM and the shirt that makes it act weird?

    Since the HRM and strap worked previously with the same shirts, is there a coating on the HRM or some material in the strap that wears-off?

    Is the HRM becoming more sensitive with age?

    If the tape resolves the issue, Garmin could probably provide a cover for the HRM made of rubber or some other insulating material to resolve this issue.[/INDENT]

    Will keep you posted with field results, maybe I will need to get a new strap.[/QUOTE]

  153. RunningZee

    You may have solved the issue with the static electricity from the tech shirts that Garmin talks about in their manual by putting the electrical tape on outside. But then if you have to rinse it after after each runs wouldn’t the tape come off?The issue I found with Garmin’s soft strap (with HRM2-ss ) is the spiking and erratic readings that started for me after about 4 months of use, plus it almost always spikes at the beginning of run. The problem for me was with the strap itself. You can order the Polar soft strap online for 17-18 bucks and the Polar strap seems to work flawlessly (at least for me) with my Garmin FR 410.

    • Luc Fournier

      I was pointing out that for some people the erratic HR readings may be resolved with simply taping the HR monitor and that the 10 cent solution should be tried before assuming the need to replace the $20 strap. I had purchased two other straps previously, albeit Garmin and Bontrager instead of Polar, without solving this issue. Originally my HR spike were under control with the new straps but came back later and recently they did not go away. It is but one more tool in the toolbox until Garmin wakes up and designs a problem free product.

  154. Les.Bo.

    I recently had my second Garmin HR strap fail on me, so I got the Polar strap. The Garmin HR module snaps right into it, and the combo works well with my Garmin 500 ‘puter. I hope the Polar strap lasts better than the Garmin ones.

    • This is me again about a year later.

      In a word: NOPE

      The Polar lasted a year, just like the Garmins. Then drop-outs.

      I am an electronics nerd, and I decided to get to the bottom of this strap problem. I took some measurements on a defunct Polar strap, but didn’t come up with anything compelling. I really needed to check a new one to see what the normal parameters were.

      I figured that there are probably contaminants in the strap that get slightly conductive when exposed to saline solution (sweat). Since this seems a high-impedance circuit, it would not take much conductance to create a problem. A short circuit, as opposed to an open connection.

      I figured that if there is a contaminant, it is not being washed away with soap. So I tried cleaning the strap with methyl rubbing alcohol.

      IT WORKED!

      So I have a solution to the strap drop-out problem. Give the whole strap a good cleaning with methyl rubbing alcohol, then rinse it well with water before the alcohol dries.

      I was getting drop-outs every ride. After the alcohol cleaning I’ve been on 2 rides and nary a drop-out. Would be curious to see if this solution works for others.

    • Ted W

      So the methyl rubbing alcohol method. To clean id you just rub it in? soak it? submerge the whole strap. Only clean the grey areas? I cant get my Garmin HRM3 strap to work anymore and I was going to try this.

    • Ted W

      just notice you said methyl alcohol (aka wood alcohol) rather than isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. all can be called “rubbing” but some are a bit more hazardous. to double check that you used (wood) methyl alcohol?

    • Les Borean

      OOPS. It’s ETHYL rubbing alcohol. Don’t go out and get moonshine!

      I used ethyl alcohol, so I know that works. For all I know Isopropyl might work just as well, or maybe even white vinegar.

      I soaked the whole strap and scrubbed by hand for about a minute, then rinsed. Did this twice.

      Be careful not to bend the sensor pads or between them where they connect to the snaps.

    • Les Borean

      Responding to my own comments, I found that concentrating with the alcohol around and between the snaps seems to work well. Scrub the area well with the alcohol then wash with soap. The rest of the strap probably does not need to be treated

  155. RunningZee

    The Garmin Soft Strap version 2 that comes with the HRM2-SS causes one a lot of headaches ! This is something I don’t need when running! So far so good with the Polar Soft strap. It just seems to be more stable the solid sensor material that goes against your chest in front seems to be much more superior to the Garmin. I went through 2 straps myself in about 7-8 mos. That just isn’t going to cut it. It really should be recalled IMO.

  156. Ron G

    Lost my polar strap/ garmin transmitter combo at my last tri. Reordered the strap and used my wife’s garmin transmitter (she doesn’t care abt HR). This time, it wasn’t a perfect fit. Kept popping out. So I trimmed the plastic around the snap-in pods using her nail clippers. Good to go now.

  157. ken

    Ive had spikes, dropouts and general noshows for years with garmin soft/hard sraps.,and even avoided powerlines as recommended by garmin(by training indoors).to the point where I could no longer look at a gamin transmitter without convulsing and relied on my trusty polar but with the accompanying irrtitation of non contiguous data with garmin on the bars and polar on my chest…now you have offered a solution.This is the performance data equivalent of measuring higgs boson.Thaaaankyouuuu.
    ps.Im going to use the serious mound of garmin straps as roofrack ties.

  158. chamav

    Has anybody measured the electrical resistance of each stripe to see if there is any difference? I guess it should be zero in both cases, but it would be interesting to know.

  159. Will Thomas

    Hi, I’ve just bought the new Garmin forerunner 620 in the hope that the HR issues that I constantly have will be fixed. They haven’t as I guess the HRM softstrap is the same.
    Has anyone tried the polar strap with the new Garmin HRM-Run transmitter for the 620 as it has cadence, vertical oscillation sensors that I obviously don’t want to lose the readings on?


    • Have you tried it yet?

      The transmitter pod is actually different. And, depending on which strap you had previously, the new one had some different threading in it – though it looks very similar.

  160. Les.B.

    I have been using the Polar strap with my Garmin HR module, linked to a Garmin 305 and a Garmin 500. The arrangement has been working perfectly for about 6 months now. But my Garmin straps in the past worked well too for a number of months before giving up. Time will tell if the Polar strap works out better.

  161. Will Thomas

    Yes I’ve tried it and on my third run using the new product my HR reading shot up into the 220 bpm until I stopped running.
    I’m inclined to send the whole thing back to Garmin and ask for my money back as accurate HR readings are key for me.
    However, if I can get the new transmitter to work on the polar strap I’ll do that. But I don’t want to lose all the new features, vertical oscillation etc.

    • Marco

      Why would you loose those readings? At the end the strap is just picking up your heart rate, the one collecting the running dynamics data and sending it to the watch is the hrm run sensor.

      I am at the moment using a wearlink strap with a hrm run sensor with my fenix 2 and works perfect.

  162. OperationOne

    my 2nd Polar strap + Garmin pod worked flawlessly for all 2013, 340 hours of work (56% bike, 44% run). previous Polar strap and the original Garmin one worked only for around 100 hours each.

  163. Kevin Doyle

    Had all sorts of problems with a recently purchased Garmin Softstrap & transmitter – albeit it was second hand. Constantly registered in the 200+ range during activities and was rarely anywhere near the correct resting heart rate – when it was, it was all the more maddening as I was then trying to work out what I’d done differently. Certainly not a case of put it on and get on with your run! Tried many of the above suggestions re moisture on the strap etc, none of which seemed to work. As a last resort ordered one of the polar soft straps as described and hey presto, worked first time and been using it in anger for the last 2 weeks. You could argue I just picked up a faulty used strap but since the polar one is cheaper and I scan be confident that I will get reliable readouts from the resulting combo at a cheaper price, I’m not going to worry!

  164. RunningZee

    As long as I lick the salt off the polar soft strap(Yea gross!) or wash it there are no spikes at the beginning. Polar strap is a 100 times more stable than the factory defective garmin soft strap IMO.

  165. Rich Lovelock

    Will my old Polar Wearlink strap/transmitter work with a Garmin Edge 810 or do I need to buy a Garmin ANT+ belt/transmitter?

  166. Mark

    This may be an odd solution, but it’s been working for me for a few weeks. I’ve found that with the mark 2 soft strap (doesn’t break at the monitor widget, doesn’t have left/right markings) it’s a lot more prone to spikes and drop-outs if it’s been allowed to dry out. While wetting it thoroughly before use reduces the problem, what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks is putting it in a zip-lock bag before it dries out. This means that when I put it on, it’s moist. But no spikes whenever I’ve remembered to do it.

    • RunningZee

      Thanks for the tip. OK now I have ditched the garmin soft strap for the much more superior Polar soft strap(which only cost 17 bucks at that). I noticed the Polar was starting to get a few spikes at the beginning of the run but I have used your tips to stop that altogether .
      Here’s how:
      Instead of rinsing the strap after the run(which I have not been doing that regular) I started rinsinsing it with water just around where the rubber/plastic sensing material is right before running. BINGO the spikes have stopped!

  167. DJ Bird Bear

    Hello Ray,

    Long time reader, first time commenter…I received the 910xt as an Xmas present, and I really like the watch, but I am not that enthralled with the HRM strap. Does the 910xt still work with the Polar strap? If so, which strap do I purchase?

  168. Prime

    Been using Garmin Forerunner 410 for 2 years, around 6 months ago it started acting up and doing a similar thing. It would start off reading my heart rate, and then after a few km, it would drop to 80 bpm (where I knew it was in the 130 to 150 range…). I started running without it for a while, then I tried some things I had read on forums. ie replacing the battery in the transmitter including holding it in upside down for a bit to short/out and drain any juice… That did not help…
    So I did some more reading and found your post here from 2010…
    So I purchased a Polar strap , and it fixed me up, I am back in business… Thanks!

  169. Blueman1964

    Excellent outcome. After having an old Polar 720 and strap sitting in the drawer (the memory failed), and having been using a Garmin 310 and about to buy a third strap due to persistent problems I came across your article. Swapped around within 2 minutes and my problem was solved. Excellent advice and an excellent outcome. I’m about to set out on 3 weeks cycling New Zealand and this will be a welcome (and cheap) workaround. Thanks very much.

  170. Les Borean

    The problem with this technology (measuring HR with voltage probes) is that the system is attempting to detect a very small signal, which makes it susceptible to problems due to physical environment, noise, etc.

    The emerging technology in HR measurement is optical measurement. Such a device is reviewed here at DCR:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Time is near to scrap all chest bands in favor of optical wrist bands.

    If you want to sample the optical tech, there are smartphone apps that measure your HR using the camera lens to detect minute changes in the skin color as the heart beats.

  171. Kris Johnson

    Does anyone know where you can still purchase the old style Wearlink straps?

    All I can find are the soft strap replacements .. Uggggg An I cannot get them to work longer then a couple months which is the BS

  172. Monica

    Got my garmin soft HR monitor a month ago and it never appeared correct HR and calorie wise- said I would only burn 60 or so Calories in 4-5 mile runs…I’m a slow runner but not THAT slow…was reading about potential issues and saw where static could be an issue…so I sprayed my HR band with static cling…it WORKED!!! Try it!

  173. RunningZee

    Not sure if it was static or sweat that caused my Polar Soft-strap to experience spikes at the last mile of an 8 mile run last Thursday. This is the first time it has done that since I got it on Aug 12,2013 (see post above on this date). I am showing I ran about 460 miles on the Polar with no spikes during the run. It did spike some at beginning of runs before I started rinsing it before the run. Anyhow I will buy a new Polar Soft strap if this continues as I need accurrate HR readings for a 1/2 marathon in April.Hoping to get more out of the Polar by washing it better/ maybe tightening strap some??

    Bottom Line
    1 Polar strap went 460 miles w/o any major probs
    2 Garmin straps combined went 626 miles (had many spikes during those miles too)then had to be RETIRED.

  174. notmensa

    I’ve had nothing but problems since buying the FR610 in December 2013. The HRM starts out OK, but after about 20 mins the readings drop, usually in the middle of a hard HIIT interval.

    It went back to Garmin via the retailer about 4 weeks ago. Garmin returned it after two weeks with NO information about what (if anything) they’d done. It wasn’t in any packaging so I’m guessing they did nothing.

    I attempted to use it twice since then, both times on the Polar strap. Same issue. Last workout, the readings dropped to 50% max HR, stayed there for a while then slowly dropped to 23% max HR.

    I contacted Garmin online support (email) and they suggested taking the battery out, flipping it and putting it back. I did this today, multiple times, and now the watch and HRM won’t even pair. I tried three different batteries today and nothing worked. So I am very unimpressed and annoyed at this clearly defective product, and Garmin’s terrible customer support in Australia.

    • Yeah, I wish I had more for you there. Other than to commiserate that Garmin Australia support is without a doubt really horrible. Which is so strange, because the US side is incredible (smart people, usually ‘make it right’, etc). The Garmin Europe side is a bit of a blend of the two, sometimes hit or miss.

    • notmensa

      Well, the story does get better..

      I contacted Customer Service (again) who did agree it was odd I wasn’t told what repairs were done, but still insisted I take the HRM back to the retailer. I refused, and eventually they agreed to just replace the HRM system. I’ve sent it back but haven’t received the new one yet. (In their defense, it could be sitting in my PO box waiting for me.)

      But, in the meantime, my brother-in-law put me onto the Wahoo Fitness HRM Ant+ version. I paid $55 + postage, it arrived in 3 days, and paired with no problems to the 610. I’ve now used it for 4 workouts with NO dropouts or spikes. Hooray for Wahoo!

      Since then, the only drama was on Sunday when the 610 had the battery level fail software glitch, and had gone flat, despite being turned off. I’ve done the software update so fingers crossed…

    • Tal

      Hey there notmensa – what you describe is precisely what happened to me a couple of days ago. After 45 min of running and after HR went as high as 160bpm, all of a sudden it went down to 90 bpm, remained like that for a few minutes and funny thing is that as I was accelerating it went lower and lower till it reached 58 bpm…
      After I was done running, I turned off and on the watch, then replaced the battery, and could get any pairing. Never had such problems with the old strap….will try to get the Polar strap as DCM suggested….

    • notmensa

      Hey Tal,
      I only tried the Polar strap because I already had one, I didn’t have to buy one. I got the same dropouts using the Polar strap. This led me to conclude the problem was with the Garmin transmitter, not the strap. For that reason, I’d honestly suggest just buying the Wahoo Fitness Ant+ strap/transmitter and giving up on the Garmin strap/transmitter!

      Here’s the link on Amazon:
      link to amazon.com

      You only need the iPhone adapter if you want to pair it with an iPhone, which I don’t.

      I’d already done a full reset of the watch as part of the troubleshooting so didn’t need to do it again to pair with the Wahoo transmitter.

      Good luck!


  175. Philipp

    Does the Garmin Tactixs work with the Polar strap?

  176. caz

    Stupid me. I checked this thread about a year ago because I was having the same dropout problems as everyone else. Got the Garmin soft strap to use with my 310XT. It worked fine for a few months and then started quitting after about 30 or 45 minutes once it was saturated with sweat.

    So I got electrode gel and it didn’t help.

    Was ready to toss the strap and try yet another one when I came across this thread again. Decided I had nothing to lose by cutting the strap between the chest electrodes. Tried it today and it worked flawlessly for my entire 75 minute run.

    So yes, it seems to work the same on Garmin as Polar straps. I wonder why the manufacturers don’t design them this way from the start. Probably because of the “gym membership” syndrome – I’ll bet most people stop using their straps after a few workouts when the novelty wears off and they never run into the problem. Or they run into the problem and give up using them.

    • Kris Johnson

      Have to admit that I had nothing to lose by trying this an cutting the the strap between the electrodes an removing a bit between them.

      It actually worked .. Yeah I was kind of surprise or should I say shocked.. Have two more that were ready for the garbage that will not be cut.

  177. mih198830

    My english not so good. May be some photo or bit more explanation. I badly can imagine and understand. What you guys mean “cutting the the strap between the electrodes an removing a bit between them”. Please. I have same problems with strap. May be it will help me too.

  178. RunningZee

    Duh can’t a Garmin Engineer figure out how to keep the 2 electrodes from shorting out when it becomes full of sweat? The polar strap is coated w non-conductive material acrossed the electrodes to help minimizing the shorts. It’s time for a RECALL!

  179. Awesome man, thank you very much for sharing this idea. I bought Polar strap for my Garmin Premium sensor and it works like charm. I tried it on 3 hours MTB hill ride and even though I sweated like pig 🙂 sensor worked perfectly. Garmin engineers should think about their creations 🙂

  180. MatskevichM

    Ray, Want ask little suggestion from you.
    I owner forerunner 210, 310xt.
    I have option to buy Polar wearlink + strap for 20$ or buy HRM3 strap only (I think its new 2013 after july model) for 35$ ?
    What your opinion to choose?
    Maybe old polar staff no so bad and it cost less..

  181. OperationOne

    i have just sent back a defective polar strap, my 2nd one that failed early (this one malfunctioned in around 60 hours, running + bike). polar strap + garmin transmitter is still a very good solution to avoid erratic readings, but i’ve encountered 2 bad straps out of 5 from Polar.

  182. RunningZee

    Here’s what I have been doing lately with Polar Soft strap and have no spikes, even in beginning of run. (I am still running with original Polar Soft Strap( Purchased for $16.95) with the Garmin Transmitter and the 405 forerunner.) Before I run I take a damp paper towel and only wipe the black rubber/plastic side. I ran 12 miles yesterday and had a perfect heart rate trend. A few months back I was rinsing the strap before a run and had experienced an erratic spike a few times. I believe that if the fabric side of the strap gets wet it can experience a spike by shorting out/ The garmin soft strap naturally gets soaked in sweat and shorts out due to NO non-conductive material against chest like the Polar. Again solution I found is to only wipe down the polar with a damp paper towel on on rubber/plastic side before the run. Try it.

  183. Hi!
    I’m having big problems with both the garmin hard and soft strap and the polar strap. I have bought new ones + new transmitter and it never works when I’m wearing it but when my girlfriend’s wearing it it works perfectly. I simply can not figure out why its’s not working on my body, I even tried to wear is on my back instead of on my chest because I read on the internet that that would solve the problem but it does not…
    Can anybody help my? I really want to start using heart rate when I run…

  184. Laura

    No, that’s the one thing I have not tried out yet – but I just find it odd that it works perfectly when my girlfriend is wearing it (without gel) and doesn’t when I am…

    But thanks for the help – I will try gel 🙂

  185. Tse-yong

    Are there significant differences between the Wearlink strap mentioned above and the one used for the Polar H7 HRM? Bought the Polar H7 before thinking of looking for a solution for the spiking problems I was having with my Garmin HRM2-88. Turns out I can’t use the H7 since it’s Bluetooth, meaning I can’t use the HRM in conjunction with a pedometer or cadence sensor.

    So tried your solution above… which seems to work but the connection is not so robust as the connections on the polar strap bulge a bit more as the Polar H7 is a little thicker. So the Garmin fits in the Polar strap but the connection doesn’t seem very robust and am a bit worried the Garmin transmitter will pop out

  186. RunningZee

    Could be that the Polar strap solution does not work with the latest & greatest in 2014? It worked great for the older models such as when this thread was started. I use the polar strap fine with FR 410 HR transmitter.

  187. Chad

    I’ve been using the wahoo strap with my garmin ANT transmitter for months and haven’t had any HR drops/spikes. It’s $19.99 and free shipping. link to wahoofitness.com

  188. Harry

    Hey man. I notice that the original article dates back to 2010. Have there been any new devices that work together as well?

  189. Greg

    @dcrainmaker, what options would you suggest on wearable technology in place of any of the HRM straps on the market? I have an 800 and go through a couple straps per year (haven’t tried Wahoo or Polar). With the latest advancements in wearable tech, I’m wondering if it just makes sense to pony up for newer technology (vivoFit), just don’t know if it’s more dependable. If wearable can last a couple years, it’s cost neutral or positive.

    • The Vivofit wouldn’t really be a good fit here, since it’s not a HR strap but more of an activity monitor.

      That said, you might want to try out the new HRM3 (any unit made after July 2013). If spikes/dropouts are/were an issue, this resolves the vast majority of them.

  190. David

    I have the soft Garmin ANT+ HRM strap and was going to cut the strap after the sensors and simply use skin tape to place it on my chest. I hate the wrap around elastic strap, it either falls down or when tight enough cuts my skin. Any thoughts on cutting and taping?

  191. David

    follow-up to my cutting idea…any thoughts on the optical HRM, e.g. Tomtom’s about to release a GPS multisport with integrated HRM. If these are even close to my 910xt, I’m getting one.

  192. RunningZee

    Just got my New Polar soft strap for $16.95 w free shipping. Other one gave me 688 miles of running. I am ready for the OKC 1/2 marathon in another 11 days!

  193. Agni

    Since I tried to use my Garmin strap from my Forerunner 210 to my 610, I was either dead or having a heart attack according to the strap, I reset it, changed the battery, but zilt!
    This might work, many people say so, so I am investing in a polar strap! Great advice, thank you!

  194. Fish

    Hi Ray,

    Your links to the straps on amazon seem to be broken. Can I just confirm this is the polar strap I need link to amazon.co.uk

    And is the hrm that comes with the FR610 the right garmin one?

    • Hi Fish-

      I think the challenge is actually that they auto-correct to the right country store based on your location- so in your case, Amazon.co.uk. Usually it works out, but this looks like the rare case where the SKU was slightly changed. I’ve tweaked the US SKU, so in theory it should re-align now to the right international SKU’s.


    • Adam Spiers

      I know this is ~15 months later, but I’m also in the UK and the links don’t work for me. Perhaps you could just share the exact product name?

  195. Bob DeCamp

    I use Garmin Edge 800- the heart rate went crazy and/or disappeared, replaced battery in transmitter.
    Finally ordered Polar soft strap replacement strap. Got it and the transmitter would not stay plugged in, so I called HRM (dealer online) and asked about it NOT saying “Wearlink” on it. He said they no longer make the Wearlink strap. He would not tell me it was OK to modify the strap, but due to low price and trouble of returning I decided to modify on my own, and “eat it” if it did not work. I used a razor and shaved about 1/32″ of rubber off around the plug receptacles on the strap. The transmitter plugged in solidly, and works fine. Thanks for the tip!

  196. Patrick Lemieux

    Merci!!!! You rock!