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Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor: Very Long Term In-Depth Review

Polar-H10-Heart-Rate-Strap-In-Depth-Review

There’s arguably no tech product in my arsenal of products that’s been used as much as the Polar H10 chest strap, yet I never exactly got around to writing an in-depth review on it. Or, even a short review. In fact, it only had cursory mention when it was announced five years ago. For the most part, the H10 predated when I did dedicated general-purpose heart rate strap reviews.

In fact, the H10 has been around so long that they’ve announced features, implemented features, and then those features have reached end of life. Such as the also-announced-on-launch-day GoPro integration some 5 years ago, which never made it past the Hero 4/5 cameras (through no fault of Polar). There have been more important features though, like when Polar added ANT+ connectivity to the H10 (via simple firmware update). That update also included dual-Bluetooth connectivity, allowing multiple connections.

And in fact, it’s been since around the timeframe that they added ANT+ & dual-Bluetooth integration a few years ago, that my usage has picked up. Prior to that, I only occasionally used it, as I generally preferred straps that could connect to multiple devices (which back then, it was limited to a single Bluetooth connection).

But over the last few years, the H10 and its little brother the H9 have crept further and further into my daily usage. Ultimately, earning itself a place in my mental list of acceptable reference devices for heart rate accuracy, as well as my product buyers guides. Which doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Like any device, it has its pros and cons. Which, I’ll dive into.

Note that in this case, this is a device I bought myself. I’ve bought far too many H10 straps, either as a bundle or individually. On my trip last week I somehow ended up with three of them in my suitcase. Seriously, I don’t even know how. It was like snakes on a plane, but with straps instead. But I have H10’s stretching back 5 years or so, and some bought this past year. If you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.

What’s In The Box:

Polar-H10-Box-Shot

Because I wanted to have this section be up to date, I went out and bought another H10. As if I didn’t have enough already. This one is grey though, and I like it – it looks prettier than all my boring black straps. It’s the same grey material as the Polar Verity Sense optical HR band.

Polar-H10-Unboxed

When it comes to sizing, there’s basically two sizes of the H10 you can purchase (technically you can also purchase just the strap portion in an XXXL too):

XS-S: 51-66 cm (20”-26”)
M-XXL: 65-93 cm (25”-37”)
XXXL Strap Portion Only: 76-116 cm (30”-46”)

For each of the H10 kits you can purchase either black or the swankier grey one. I’ve got both, they both technically are identical, but obviously the swankier grey one is sexier. I mean, assuming you can find a heart rate strap sexy. And clearly, since you’re here – you do. In the event you’re purchasing these straps in person in something called a retail store, the color is indicated by a tiny dot on the packaging.

So, back inside the box, you’ve got the strap portion folded up in an origami-style situation that you’ll never be able to replicate again. And then clipped into the cardboard is the transmitter pod:

Polar-H10-Close-Up-Sensor-Pod

Also, you’ll find some paper stuffs in there. It’s a manual that tells you not to do unsafe strap things, and to occasionally rinse it off (I usually do so in the shower briefly with water after each workout).

And thus, concludes our unboxing section.

The Basics:

Polar-H10-Usage-Basics

The first thing you’ll want to do is pop the pod into the strap. It simply snaps in place using two little button-like thingies. This by itself does not turn the strap on or off, but rather, the strap sensing electrical activity does. Meaning, there’s no harm in leaving the pod attached to the strap permanently (as I usually do).

Polar-H10-Close-Up-Back

Next, you can adjust the strap length using the small clasp towards one end of the strap. You want a strap reasonably snug. Generally speaking, most people wear it on your chest below the nipple, but some men will wear it above if it starts to slip down. The Polar H10 straps are pretty good about not slipping though, thanks to the tiny little anti-slip dots you see on the strap, which are both on the interior sides and back areas (note that the H9 straps lack these anti-slip dots):

Polar-H10-Strap-Dots-Back

Whereas those smooth sections you see on the strap are where the electrical sensors are, which is where it detects your heart rate. In most conditions, you’ll want to moisten these slightly at the beginning of the workout until you start sweating. You can use water, electrode gel, or my personal favorite: licking it. Seriously.

Polar-H10-Strap-Entire-Lenght-Back

After giving both pads a quick lick, you’re ready to snap the clasp on the strap and put it on. Alternatively, I suppose you can put it on first and then lick, though that’s slightly more awkward as you hold your shirt up to then appear to passersby to be licking your nipples. Obviously, I choose this route each time.

Now, since this is our first time using the strap you’ll want to use either the Polar Beat app or the Polar Flow app to update the firmware. We’ll dive into those in a second in the next section. The firmware update is actually super important if you believe the strap may have been sitting on a store shelf for a while, as it might not yet have the firmware update that adds ANT+ connectivity. So don’t skip out on that!

Finally, the last thing, before we talk apps and such, is the battery. The unit contains a CR2025 coin cell battery, which roughly has a battery life of about a year of usage. To access the battery, simply pop the back door off (a small flat-blade screwdriver works well), and you’ll see the battery compartment.

Polar-H10-Battery-Cover

At this juncture you’ll ponder how the eff to get that stupid little battery out of the holder without splintering your fingernails, and thus this is where I give you a lifetime pro tip on getting coin cell batteries out: Drop it.

Seriously, take that tiny coin cell battery/holder, and just drop it on the table or ground. I can often do it on the first or second attempt if you hit the angle just right, the battery will happily bounce out.

Polar-H10-CR2025-Battery-Repacement

Then, simply pop the new battery into the pod holder the correct way, and snap that into the transmitter pod. Congratulations, you’re now a certified IT professional.

The Polar Apps:

Polar-H10-Apps

Now as great as the Polar H10 is, it all gets a bit messy here in the apps section. The good news is that for the vast majority of people, you don’t need to use the Polar apps (aside from the occasional firmware update).

The reason I say things get messy is that Polar has essentially two apps that interact with their heart rate monitors: Polar Flow and Polar Beat

Polar Flow is where you can manage the Polar H10 within the broader context of your Polar account. For example, it’ll notify you of new firmware updates, show the status of the strap, and just generally be there for you to gaze at alongside other Polar devices (e.g. watches) that you might own. Further, you can view the workouts you created from Polar Beat, within Polar Flow – as well as training records longer-term. And as of this year, you can now record workouts in Polar Flow as well as Polar Beat.

Polar Beat is their older app that you can do all the same, plus some paid bits for extra features for Polar watch users (that aren’t in Polar Flow). You can toggle settings like ANT+ connectivity, and update the firmware here too. Recorded workouts here end up in Polar Flow. It looks old, it feels old, and in a lot of ways, it acts old. But it gets the job done. Again, most people here are probably using 3rd party apps like Peloton or Strava or whatever to record their data (or a 3rd party device).

I’m not terribly certain which app you’re “supposed” to use as the standard/default app for the Polar H10 as the main firmware updater app. So I’ll start with Polar Beat, simply because alphabetically it’s first. You’ll crack it open and create an account if you haven’t yet. Then, you can tap on ‘HR Sensor’ box to search for nearby heart rate sensors. Assuming you’re a normal person, you’ll only see one in the list:

IMG_5802 IMG_5804

Tap on that blaringly obvious ‘Pair’ button to get it paired up. That’ll cause your phone to confirm your dating intentions, and then the strap will be paired. All of this will take about 2.87 seconds. Now you’re done:

IMG_5805 IMG_5807

You’ll see the current firmware version, and be offered an update if it’s behind. More notably, you’ll see a toggle for the straps different sensor connectivity options. This includes ANT+, Bluetooth Smart (dual), and Analog (5kHz). The ANT+ one has unlimited connections, as does the analog one. Whereas the Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth Smart, aka just Bluetooth) has a maximum of two concurrently transmitting/receiving connections – though unlimited apps can be paired to it. By default, a strap will ship with it only permitting a single connection, so I recommend toggling that to dual, so you don’t get yourself in a pickle 6 months from now and have to troubleshoot/remember why.

IMG_5810

There’s no meaningful battery difference in leaving these all on. The chipset is designed to be super efficient at low energy transmission, so it’s not like you’re saving any appreciable amount of battery by leaving them on. In fact, Polar is the only company that still even leaves this as an option to toggle.

Next, with that all settled, you can do much the same in the Polar Flow App instead. Here’s that same strap showing up after pairing in the Polar Flow app, with the same options. Also, a prompt to update the firmware from Polar Flow for a different strap I have:

IMG_5815 IMG_5812

In terms of recording a workout with the Polar app and the H10, you’ve got two basic categories of options there: With the phone, and without the phone. With the phone is straightforward, since you’ll just keep your phone handy and then start the Polar Beat app. You’ll choose the sport from a gigantic list of some 100 sports, which have sport-specific calorie profiles. Additionally, the sport will decide whether or not enabling GPS makes sense.

clip_image001[15] clip_image001[12]

Once you’ve done that, you’ll see that it automatically connects to your HR strap and if applicable, GPS. Also of note is that in the settings you can connect to Apple Health (and Google Fit presumably like on Android). Whereas on Polar Flow you can connect to 3rd party apps like Strava as well. After tapping start, it’ll start recording the workout and show you some basic stats. You’ll also get a map shown if it’s an outdoor/GPS workout:

clip_image001 clip_image001[6]

Afterwards, you’ll get some summary information, including data by zones and a track of where you went:

clip_image001[8] clip_image001[10]

Now – what if you want to go without your phone? This is useful for scenarios where you want to record your heart rate, but carrying a phone isn’t practical, such as swimming, soccer/football, or perhaps just even running.  For that, you’ll need/use the Polar Beat app, as the Polar Flow app doesn’t support it.

To do that, you’ll do exactly the same as above to start the workout, then ditch your phone. The H10 will continue to record the workout in its internal memory. To end the session, simply either get back to your phone and tap the end button, which will cause the strap to sync the missing data back to the app. Or alternatively, remove the pod from the strap snaps, which will also end the workout (and keep it off). Once back within range of your phone, you can either rub the pod contacts to wake it up, or put it back on the strap. The Polar Beat app will download all the missing data.

clip_image001[1]

At that point the data is accessible like normal – both within the Polar Beat app, as well as the Polar Flow app.

Now, this is the *singular* technical area that Polar could really re-work and improve. Specifically, the requirement to use the phone to start it. For example, while swimming that’s messy and sometimes impractical – especially for openwater swimming where you might want to leave your phone elsewhere in a safe/locked place, thus you’re starting the workout unnecessarily early, and the Polar app doesn’t have any way to crop/shorten the activity afterwards to remove the useless sections. Or, just the realization after you got everything ready to start the workout and remembered you forgot to start the Polar recording. The other challenge is the Polar H10 can only remember/store one workout at a time in memory (though doesn’t appear to have a specific duration limitation).

By contrast, arguably my favorite feature on the Wahoo TICKR X (which has downloadable storage as well) is the fact that the strap will *always* create a recorded workout in memory anytime you put it on. It then syncs that to the Wahoo app, and you can simply trim it afterwards in their app (which will even re-upload the trimmed version to 3rd party sites). Like most Wahoo things, it’s mind-bogglingly simple, quick, and clean to use. Unfortunately, I’ve had continued issues with their actual straps (latest version), and thus, I can’t recommend them at this point.

Still, this would be an update Polar could make that would significantly improve the end-user experience, both the recording side as well as the app trimming side. The trimming feature would also be handy just in general for Polar’s platform, so it could undoubtedly be re-used there too.

Of course, the reality is most people are probably just using 3rd party apps/devices with the Polar H10 anyway, so let’s talk about that now.

Connecting to Other Apps/Devices:

As outlined earlier, the Polar H10 supports three basic connectivity types using industry standards to do so:

– ANT+ heart rate (unlimited connections)
– Bluetooth Smart heart rate (two concurrent connections)
– 5kHz analog heart rate (unlimited connections)

For most people, you’ll use ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart, with more than likely Bluetooth Smart for smartphone/tablet/etc apps, and ANT+ for things like bike computers or many watches. In general, if your device supports both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, I’d recommend using ANT+ for the connectivity type. This is because it won’t take up one of your two Bluetooth channels. We’ll quickly iterate through some scenarios here.

First up, is pairing to a Polar watch. In this case the Polar Grit X Pro, but it doesn’t really matter which one – they all act the same here. Polar watches only support Bluetooth Smart sensors, so you’ll go into the sensors menu and search for a sensor. You’ll see the Polar H10 listed, along with the ID:

Polar-Grit-x-Pairing-H10-Strap

Speaking of which, the ID that’s displayed is the same one etched into the top of the strap:

Polar-H10-Strap-ID

Once you tap to pair it, it’ll save it for future use, and automatically connect. In the case of Polar watches, the little HR icon will change slightly to show a strap and the coloring will change to blue:

Polar-H10-Strap-Pairing

In fact, Polar actually saves your straps in your Polar Flow account and syncs them to all Polar watches automatically.

Here’s another Bluetooth Smart example – the Peloton (Bike or Tread, both are identical). When you go into the heart rate strap menu, you can see the Polar H10 listed in there. In the case of Peloton, it can pair to both ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart. So you can choose either. The ANT+ one is listed by the ANT+ ID (which is specified in the Polar Flow and Polar Beat apps).

vlcsnap-2021-12-16-11h57m02s769

Next, we’ve got an ANT+ pairing to a Garmin Edge bike computer. You can see we can search for heart rate sensors, and then there’s a menu to show the ANT+ sensors. Once we select that we’ll see the ANT+ ID of this H10 strap:

Polar-H10-Strap-Pairing-Garmin-Edge Polar-H10-Strap-ANT-Plus-Garmin-Edge-Pairing

After pairing it up, we can give it a friendly name of our choice:

Polar-H10-Strap-Pairing-Garmin-Edge-Naming

Next, while not really part of the three standards (we’ll get to analog in a second), it’s worthwhile noting that the Polar H10 is often used for HRV measurement. Here’s an example of it paired up to the Elite HRV app, taking an HRV recording:

Polar H10 Starting HRV Measurement Polar H10 taking Elite HRV Data

Finally, there’s the analog signals. While most companies don’t make devices to utilize these anymore, you’ll find this on older treadmills and other gym equipment. Generally speaking, you’ll move the sensor close-ish to the display, and it’ll pair up. Here’s my older treadmill, connected up to the analog signal, in a photo from a few years ago:

The analog signals were also popular for transmission within water, as those do transmit in water whereas the digital ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart signals don’t transmit through water more than 1-3cm. However, even Polar has stopped supporting that in their watches years ago. So their newest watches can’t connect via analog to the H10 (underwater or otherwise).

In fact, somewhat oddly, their watches (especially for their triathlon watches) won’t automatically download the data from the Polar H10 if in a swim. Instead, you have to use the watch’s optical HR sensor, which accuracy-wise is kinda iffy for swimming. It’s always surprised me that Polar hasn’t enabled an auto-offload of data from a chest strap (specifically the H10) to their watches, as Garmin has done with their premium HR straps (HRM-PRO/HRM-SWIM/HRM-TRI). Seems a no-brainer, especially for the swimming crowd.

Speaking of more triathlete type stuff, the Polar H10 doesn’t support any sort of Running Dynamics or broadcasting of pace/cadence/etc to watches (as the Wahoo TICKR X & Garmin HRM-PRO/TRI do). At least not by itself. You can however use a third-party app/platform, called RaceFox, to get some of the running form/efficiency metrics. However, that requires you use their platform and pay about $9/month, and so while there’s nothing wrong with the RaceFox platform, it’s Polar not following any of the industry standards here around running dynamics. Instead, Polar is sending their accelerometer data and apps like RaceFox can decode the data stream using Polar’s SDK.

In any event, Nemo and Roadrunners aside, the Polar H10 is basically the most versatile strap out there for general daily use from a connectivity standpoint. I’ve never had any connectivity-related issues with it, and if there’s any app that doesn’t work on it, I’m basically 100% sure it’s the app’s fault. After all, Polar was literally one of the first two straps to support the Bluetooth Smart heart rate standard nearly a decade ago (heck, they literally led the Bluetooth SIG that authored the protocol), so that means compatibility through one of the three standards is virtually guaranteed. Though, I also virtually never hear of any other strap company screwing up the heart rate profile these days.

Accuracy Comparison Data:

Polar-H10-Accuracy-Comparison

So I literally have 5 years of accuracy data from the Polar H10 strap, compared to dozens – maybe even a hundred – different devices and other sensors. And realistically, so does 95% of the Internet. This isn’t a new strap, and it’s not an uncommon strap. There’s very little debate the H10 is accurate in the vast majority of scenarios. Still, that doesn’t exempt it from the usual treatment and analysis. That’s why I have a semi-standardized structure – to ensure testing can be replicated and the results replicated as well.

In this case, I’m going to pick from 2021’s greatest hits of review data. This is interesting because I basically just went through and plucked out comparisons against most watches or wearable devices that were announced in 2021. But even more than that, there’s some good examples of when a chest strap, yes, even the Polar H10, can fail (even if momentarily). So, let’s dive into it.

Oh, and for HR accuracy testing I’m typically wearing two watches (one per wrist, never more than one per wrist as it can impact accuracy). Plus then often an optical HR sensor band on either my bicep or forearm (mostly a blend of the Polar OH1 Plus & Polar Verity Sense, but sometimes the Scosche or Whoop sensors). Note that the numbers you see in the upper right corner are *not* the averages, but rather just the exact point my mouse is sitting over.  Note all this data is analyzed using the DCR Analyzer, details here.

First up, let’s look at some intervals. Intervals are in theory where most people justify the cost of a chest strap over what’s provided inside their watch with its optical heart rate sensor. Now, keeping in mind that every manufacturer and even every sensor is different. Watch to watch they are different. So bucketizing all optical HR sensors is no different than bucketizing all restaurants as the same. Quality and edibility will differ.

In any case, this run is a pile of 800’s in the heat of Florida, about 4PM on a 90°F day. In other words: It’s miserable. But I’ve got a lot of stuff going on here. I’ve got two watches – the Apple Watch Series 7 and the Garmin FR745 using their optical sensors. Then I’ve got the Polar H10 using the Polar Beat app, and finally, I have a Whoop 4.0 strap on my bicep. Here’s that data set:

Whoop-Accuracy-Run800sFlorida

What you might notice though in the first minute or so is that the Polar H10 actually struggles to latch on. This is a somewhat common issue for chest straps in the first few minutes of any workout before sweat is produced. In this case, despite moistening the strap it must have dried more quickly than I expected. As you can see, it recovers quickly, but it’s something we don’t see any of those optical HR sensors suffer from. They suffer from other issues, but just not that issue this time. Except the Apple Watch (in purple), but that’s because Apple stupidly (or stubbornly) won’t pre-stage the heart rate lock before pressing the start button. So, every other wearable on earth acquires heart rate once you pull up the sport screen, but Apple waits till you press ‘Go’. It’d be the equivalent of not putting on your running clothes until after the race starting gun has fired. One could make an absolutely well-timed ‘emperor has no clothes’ reference here.

Anyways, after that point, you see all the sensors are basically spot-on. And in this semi-rare scenario, we don’t see any meaningful amount of latency from most of the optical HR sensors, though usually we see a few seconds or so. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to that.

I’m going to start out with what’s been one of the more challenging things for Whoop to deal with historically – cycling outdoors. It’s been ironic because Whoop sponsors one of the UCI WorldTour teams (Tour de France teams), yet the sensors would historically be useless there. Still, this 2.5hr ride with a Whoop 4.0 on my bicep (using the regular strap) proved immediately things have changed. Here’s that ride compared to a Polar H10 chest strap, an Apple Watch Series 7, and a Polar Verity Sense optical armband. Here’s that data set:

Whoop-Accuracy-Cycling

I could dive in closer on the above set, but frankly, it’s not worth it. We see only a handful of brief moments where the Whoop 4.0 pod doesn’t match the others, in all these cases undercutting for a few minutes. There would be likely a very minor difference in strain in terms of these short periods of inaccuracy, but not enough to meaningfully impact what Whoop is tracking at the training load level.

Now, let’s take these intervals indoors to a less hot climate for another interval workout on a treadmill.  In a nutshell, this was spot-on. We see one tiny couple second bobble around the 3-4 minute marker, but then it’s clean. However, all the sensors had minor bobbles in the first few minutes. Otherwise, the H10 responded very quickly and efficiently. Here’s that data set (compared to Garmin FR745 optical (wrist), Fitbit Charge 5 (wrist), Whoop 3.0 (bicep), Whoop 4.0 (bicep), and Polar Verity Sense (forearm)):

TreadmillRunPeloton

Where you see the Polar H10 (and the Verity Sense too) really excel is one of the last intervals. Notice below how the Polar H10 & Verity Sense, along with the FR745, quickly pick up the change in heart rate? The FR745 (in green) lags by about 3-5 seconds at first, but quickly matches it. We see meandering by the Whoop’s and Fitbit Charge 5 here too. This is a good example of separating good sensors from less good sensors. As you can see, it’s not just about optical or not, as the Polar optical HR sensors near perfectly matches the H10, and the wrist-based FR745 is very close, only lagging for a few seconds at the start, and slightly delayed by a few seconds on the cool-down.

Whoop-Accuracy-LastInterval

Next, let’s switch to some cycling, so here’s a Zwift workout. This is compared against the Polar Grit X Pro watch, a Whoop 3.0 band, and an Apple Watch SE. In this case, the optical reading of the Polar H10 and Grit X Pro was spot-on with everyone else I trust.

image

However, this again gives us an opportunity to dive into the slight advantages, once warmed up, of better sensors. Look at this last sprint I did, where my HR popped to 170bpm. Notice here that the Polar H10 (paired to the FR745, in green) and the Apple Watch SE both nail this sprint. Very quick responsiveness, whereas the other sensors lagged by about 10 seconds (including the Polar Grit X Pro’s internal sensor). Despite Apple’s startup stubbornness, once they do get lock, it tends to be one of the best in the industry – able to match a chest strap here almost perfectly.

ZwiftSprint

So let’s shift more towards scenarios that are better suited with a chest strap. And one of those is arguably lifting. For this, I’m pulling some of my wife’s data in, as it illustrates it super well. First, she did a 30-minute hard intensity Peloton workout. Then, she went to start lifting for another 30+ minutes. You can see here all the points in red that are spikes. These are legit spikes during high-intensity reps. However, these optical HR sensors placed on her biceps don’t capture that well. Instead, they just flat-line through it. Thus, all of those higher intensity timeframes are missed on the optical HR sensors, but are captured well on the chest strap.

Whoop-Strength

Essentially what we see is that neither placement nailed the fast high-responsiveness for short high-BPM bursts like the chest strap (just like some people see in running). That said, keep in mind that with lifting, cardio heart rate is usually a lagging indicator, and a lagging limiter in strength. Your muscles are more than likely to fatigue before your cardio system. So one has to consider what they’re using that heart rate for (e.g. calorie burn tracking, training load tracking, the fun of it, etc…).

Anyway, we could literally do this all day long with data sets over the past half a decade – and it wouldn’t change what we already know: The Polar H10 is largely very accurate. And in cases where it’s momentarily not accurate it’s either solved by application of moisture (water, saliva, HR gel, squished banana, etc…) until your body’s own sweat from a workout can take over. Once that occurs, I see very good responsiveness from the H10 across virtually every sport and workout type I’ve thrown at it over the years.

And more notably, I don’t see cadence-lock type issues from the Polar H10 in terms of running workouts where it’ll incorrectly lock to your cadence instead of your heart rate. While relatively rare for chest straps in the last few years, it can happen. And point being, I don’t see it occurring with the H10.

Ultimately, there’s good reason I continue to use (and even more recently expand) my use of the H10 in accuracy-related HR sensor testing: It’s accurate, reliable, and consistent. It’s really as simple as that.

(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool.  It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)

Strap Comparisons:

Garmin-HRM-PRO-Polar-H10-Wahoo-TICKRX

As usual, there’s always lots of questions between these three models:

Garmin HRM-PRO
– Polar H10
Wahoo TICKR X 2020

Now, let’s briefly look at the differences, but first, I’ll just give you the TLDR: If you’re a Garmin user, buy the Garmin strap. If you’re anything else, then probably buy the Polar strap. The reason is relatively simple for Garmin users, because while the Wahoo TICKR-X supports offline workouts, Wahoo hasn’t implemented the data offloading via ANT+ (they use their own internal app offloading process via Bluetooth Smart). And similarly, Polar hasn’t implemented any offloading to watch (nor any running efficiency metrics).

If you aren’t in the Garmin wearable ecosystem but still want data offloading, then you’re deciding between the Polar H10 or Wahoo TICKR X, with an edge to the Polar H10 for stability/accuracy in my recent experience. Whereas if you want more of the TICKR X running efficiency metrics (such as with the Wahoo RIVAL), or because you want their offloading, splicing, and sync to partners. Except, my challenge recently is I’ve continued to have drop-out issues with the newer TICKR straps – something mirrored by regular readers and friends alike – hence why I pulled it from the most recent round-up of strap recommendations. Plus, Polar’s strap is probably a bit more comfortable though for some people.

So essentially, unless you’re a Garmin watch user – go with the Polar H9 or H10 (note: If you’re a Garmin bike computer user, there’s no meaningful difference between a Garmin strap and another company’s strap). But yes, I know, I just pulled the Polar H9 into this fray out of left field all of a sudden. The simple differences are:

– Polar H9 only supports a single concurrent Bluetooth connection (but still supports ANT+)
– Polar H9 doesn’t have onboard storage (remember, that requires the Polar Beat app for usage)
– The Polar H9 strap doesn’t have the little bumpy traction things, though I often use the H9 and rarely notice the lack of them.

Make sense? Good.

Summary:

Polar-H10-Heart-Rate-Strap-Review-Summary

It’ll come as no surprise that the Polar H10 is an accurate and reliable workhorse in the chest strap category. In many ways, that was never really a question. However, as always, it’s something that’s important to validate, and also to understand if or when there’s any caveats. As noted, the caveats from an accuracy standpoint here are very minor, mostly limited to first getting warmed up and producing sweat. Other chest straps will generally suffer this same fate, and I noted easy moisture-driven mitigation steps to address that gap if you run into it. Wrist-based optical sensors don’t tend to have that sort of start of workout warm-up issues unless your skin is cold, which unfortunately is harder to mitigate.

So if the challenge with the H10 isn’t accuracy, then does the H10 have any issues at all? In some ways the only issue Polar has is Polar’s own product: The less expensive H9. That has essentially equivalent accuracy in my testing, and costs less. It lacks the H10’s onboard storage you probably won’t use (because it’s cumbersome to use), but also lacks the dual Bluetooth Broadcasting (that many also won’t use). And then when comparing the H10 to their similarly priced competitors, Polar is in a bit of a pickle in terms of those higher-end features. If you’re a Garmin user that wants advanced features, Polar can’t fill in that gap. Same goes for Wahoo RIVAL users that want those features, or just want better workout offloading.

Still, for probably 95% of the remaining people out there (which, is a lot of people) – the Polar H10 is one of the best straps on the market, and arguably one of the most accurate sensors on the market, but also one that is comfortable to use and easy to swap the battery without subsequent issues with the strap. And for those that don’t need the handful of extra features, the H9 can be had for a bit cheaper with the same level of accuracy in my testing.

With that – thanks for reading!

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126 Comments

  1. Eugene C

    The H10 is always my primary recommendation because most chest straps are accurate, but only the H10 comes with the Polar Pro Soft Strap. Nothing is more comfortable. The only nitpick is the CR2025, which doesn’t last a year with my training volume. Of course, 6-8 months of use is perfectly adequate, but I would be totally fine if they increased the size of the sensor pod to accommodate a CR2032 battery.

    I will say that somehow my H10 partially popped out of one button snap during a race, and in my haste to pop it back in, I accidentally popped it out completely and it fell onto the road. I finished the race rather than abandon to pick it up. I’ve since used a Garmin HRM-Dual sensor with the Pro Soft Strap.

    • Tim

      I came here to say the same thing about the battery. CR2025?! Arg. I have boatloads of CR2032 spares I keep handy but not 2025.

      May only need it infrequently, but when you do it’s annoying indeed (spoken from someone who went to replace my father’s keyfob and it had a similar issue. Maybe it was even a CR2025!)

    • Brian Reiter

      The HRM-Dual is a functional equivalent of the H9. It’s good except that the Garmin strap is hard and scratchy. The Polar straps are much better and happily compatible.

      My gripe about the HRM-Dual (and older siblings like the HRM-3 and HRM-Run 1st gen) is you have to a use jewelers Phillips head screwdriver to remove tiny screws to change the battery. This exposes the entire logic board when you replace the battery. There is a red gasket that you need to be carful not to damage when you separate the case and put it back together.

      The Polar system is a pry-open cap. No tiny screws to deal with and no gasket.

    • I’ve found in life, simply buying one of those coin cell variety pack packages is the way to go. Sure, I have the monthly pallet delivery of CR2032’s, but now especially with kids, having the rando-pack just makes things like this easy.

      (In related news, I just tried looking for something on Amazon without quite as much luck, but alas, maybe this is just a Dutch grocery store thing – they have great variety packs of about 20-25 batteries of perhaps 5-8 types.)

    • Brian Reiter

      You are weird.

      In Harare, I can buy either a CR2935 or CR2032 at any pharmacy, grocery store, or hardware store in a 10km radius. Even in Africa in a pandemic.

    • andre

      I had a Garmin HRM for some time, but had problems with it. Like taking a while to give accurate readings, even when wet or using gel, or suddenly getting crazy high readings during a workout. So I switched back to Polar again which is Bluetooth “smart”.

      Now that I started Zwifting, I am back to using the Garmin HRM again, since Ant+ is more reliable. I had to buy a new strap for that. My LBS only had the Polar “Pro” strap and at first I was a bit pissed because it is €24,95 where the old Polar straps were €14,50. But, since I use the Polar Pro strap with the Garmin HRM it works flawlessly. I have to wet it, obviously, but I have not seen erratic readings with it.

      So the strap is an important bit when it comes to HR accuracy.

    • CJ

      FYI: the Polar H10 will accommodate a CR2032 cell. I’ve been doing this for years.

      To back that up:

      The “20xx” part is the diameter in millimetres. (same for both)
      The “xx25” versus “xx32” is the THICKNESS in 10ths of a millimetre – they are only 0.7mm different.

      This causes the battery compartment door to sit slightly proud of the sensor but the o-ring still seals just fine. If it bothers you, you can file down a small spacer ring in the battery compartment door (ring shaped) – boom. Perfect fit, no need to buy CR2025 cells ever again.

    • Alex

      I didn’t even know I was supposed to use CR2025 batteries with my H10.

      Have always used CR2032 without any issues.

      In the past I used the H10 for running and Garmin HRM dual for Zwift but the latter one lost connection way too often. Now I suck it up and use the H10 for Zwift even if the strap is still wet from the morning run. Way more comfortable than the Garmin one anyway.

    • While I do know people use the CR2032 largely without issue, I’ll note that just a week ago a reader sent me a note saying Polar denied a warranty request with them for using a CR2032.

      Just an FYI….

    • usr

      “FYI: the Polar H10 will accommodate a CR2032 cell.”

      Oh great, that comment might cost me 70€!

      (difference between a replacement strap for the trusty old HRM1G and the H10 everybody seems to praise as quite reliable. The Garmin that is already clipped to a separately textile band has never worked reliably for me, not even with this party straps. HRM1G is looking like something pulled up from the Titanic, but it’s still reliable)

  2. Dave Lusty

    “In fact, Polar actually saves your straps in your Polar Flow account and syncs them to all Polar watches automatically.”

    Garmin need to do this. It’s literally a case of syncing two strings of text per device yet for some reason every time I buy a new device I have to manually add in the many sensors I have (and then manually disable auto-lap for every frickin’ activity type..AGAIN).

    And thanks to you and your pesky site, this happens a lot and I have a lot of sensors. I’m already having nightmares about setting the Fenix 7 up and it’s not even announced yet! The worst part is that I only realise that I’ve not done these things mid run or just as I want to start an activity.

    Unfortunately, I think Garmin understanding usability is even less likely than Polar adding in music, wifi, maps, nice metal bands, and all the other cool things Fenix has.

    • Pavel Vishnyakov

      To be fair, Garmin is already doing it – when I got Edge 1030 Plus, it was able to get all my sensors that were linked to my Fenix 6 watch. So I expect that Fenix 7 will support at least that much (hopefully more to the point of “I want my Fenix 7 to be an exact copy of my Fenix 6”)

    • Correct. They kinda-sorta do it on the Edge series. But it’s a one-time copy, so it won’t keep things in sync after that.

      On the flip side, Garmin has like 932 different sensor types it tracks with the Edge, whereas Polar has basically four. Not that it should matter a ton here.

      But totally, agree, I’d love to see the sensor pool sync concept extended.

    • Henrik

      With Polar’s Finnish roots I’m actually surprised that they don’t have death or at least black metal bands.

    • Andrew M

      Well played, sir!

  3. Leo

    To bad you bought a new one to review and didn’t review a old used one.

    There isn’t much innovation in cheststraps so they last a long time. Which means I can only wear a “new” one a couple of months and wear a “old” one a couple of years.

    My garmin tri cheststrap is 4 years old. Still works, but the anti slip spots start to come loose. Now is 4 years okish I guess, but what I want to know for this kind of devices, besides does it work properly, how long will it last?

  4. Kaz

    I have both the Garmin HRM-PRO and a few H10’s.

    I use them with my Fenix 6x.

    I would advise AGAINST the Garmin HRM-Pro. The strap part of the HRM-Pro is the issue. No matter what I do the “protection” label by the clamp actually cut into my skin on long runs. So I rarely run with the HRM-Pro. Apart from that having the sensor “constant” mounted on the strap is not smart IMHO.

    I rather take the H10 and a Garmin Run pod if I want the Run Dynamics – but that then often results in the Run Pod taking a dive in my washing machine…

    So IMO – the Polar strap is miles ahead of Garmin’s strap. Polar is more comfortable for long distance usage. And it has a better “clamp” to lock it in place. Garmin’s seem cheap and nasty in comparison. And if you want Run Dynamics – then use Polar Strap with the very old Garmin HRM Run. Much better overall.

    • Dave Lusty

      I agree with everything you say, but Ray has explained the Garmin reasoning in the past and for people who have issues with removable ones I think it’s fine. I would like to see them offer replacement straps though as the electronics could easily be made portable even if the strap is fixed. Realistically though, even before Garmin did that their elastic straps were the same cost as the whole unit and we all bought Polar ones as replacements since Polar considered the elastic a consumable and made it cheap.

    • Brian Reiter

      This.

      I agreed with everything Ray was saying until he said that Garmin people should get a Garmin strap.

      They should not. The H10 is much more reliable and comfortable. It’s just the gold standard. If your goal is a ECG HRM that always works and is always accurate without a fuss, the H9/H10 is for you.

      Note that when you disconnect at least one of the buttons from the strap, it shuts off the transmitter and stops consuming battery.

      The Garmin all-in-one straps are expensive and failure prone and less comfortable. They don’t shut off when they are wet, so the battery dies sooner than Polar and the battery replacement is more fiddly. It is easy to damage the gasket and then the transmitter is toast a few weeks later. The only bonus for all of this is Running Dynamics which are borderline useless. If you want them they are mostly in Stryd (except left/right balance) or the Garmin RD pod.

      I have seen so many dead Garmin HRM-Run and HRM-Tri straps that either will no turn on and connect anymore or drop out or have become random number generators.

      I also don’t agree with the recommendation to get the H9 simply because the Polar Pro strap bundled with the H10 is so much nicer than the Soft Strap bungled with the H9. Polar also has published a study that shows the Pro Strap is significantly more accurate with reference to a clinical EKG machine — even with the H7 attached. If you compare the Polar Pro strap to a Polar Soft strap or Garmin strap the electrodes are just about double the size.

      I have an H9 and got a spare Polar Pro strap with it. I ended up giving away the H9 Soft Strap and getting another Pro Strap. It would have been cheaper to just get the H10 kit and a Pro Strap in the first place.

      The Polar Pro strap is great as a replacement strap for a Garmin modular HRM like the HRM-Dual or the original HRM-Run. I have used an HRM-3 pod on a Polar Pro and Polar Soft strap with no issues. I have a training partner who uses a modular HRM-Run with a Polar Pro strap.

    • Yeah, I guess I’ve used both the Polar Pro and non-Pro H9 strap and really don’t find that much of a difference. But, as noted above, for some people it’ll matter, others it won’t.

      Ultimately though, there’s no getting around the reality that if you want some of the Garmin added metrics (such as the Running Dynamics bits, Running Power, or more accurate swim HR), you’ll need the Garmin strap. I don’t think the number of broken HRM-TRI/etc straps is as high as people think it is, for the very simple fact that Garmin sells so many of them, that the overall number of breakages will be higher.

      I also think there’s a reality that people using the HRM-TRI/etc straps are spending *WAY* more time in the water (including salt water), and thus, more likely to not maintain it as well as those on land. Which is likely also why we saw Garmin include that fold-out hilarious cartoon “How to take care of your strap” children’s book inside the newer HRM-PRO – reminding people to actually rinse the darn thing off. Add all that together with even comments I’ve seen in the last few days that someone was bewildered I would rinse a strap off after a workout…and I suspect the answer lies in there.

      This is somewhat supported further by the fact that generally speaking we don’t see anywhere near the number of comments about the HRM-RUN as we do the HRM-TRI, despite being the exact same physical strap. It’s because HRM-RUN people aren’t spending half a dozen hours each week at the pool. And given Polar killed off HRM strap support in their newer watches for swimming, neither are H10 users either.

      Just my two cents…

    • Brian Reiter

      Maybe it is the pool killing the HRM-Tri straps. But literally I have 3 friends that have killed 3-4 of them in a couple of years. They seem last 6-9 months.

      Another possibility is that triathletes are much more into gadgets and quantification than the average runner. Or maybe both.

      In principal, I prefer the modular design because little wires break. It is just a better design.

      For example, I did damage a Polar Pro strap in a fall in a trail run where I also cracked a rib. When using that strap I started having HR drop from ~150 to ~60 for a minute at a time. I lost confidence in it and threw it out, but kept the sensor. That is less of a big deal than discarding an HRM-Pro that is going flaky.

      I don’t see why Garmin changed their design to be all-in-one other than increasing the ARPU on replacement straps.

    • Yeah, I’ll ask at some point what the advantage is of the all-in-one design over not. I don’t suspect it’s anything to do with financial stuff (Garmin has far better ways to make up that money, and they do).

      I know for me, the all-in-one straps tend to cut me less (cut into my chest) than not, primarily in the summer months when I’m sweather.

    • Brian Reiter

      Cut you? 🤯

      That’s no good. I don’t have cutting.

      FYI. Here is the research/marketing from Polar about their accuracy claims — which were largely about the Pro strap.

      link to polar.com

    • Yup! Here’s an old post on cutting (and the countless people that run into the same issue): link to dcrainmaker.com

      Still works today!

      As for the research, yeah, I’d say that’s more marketing. I haven’t seen *ANY* real-world data to support those vast differences in regular workouts (e.g. 2-3x the error amount). Which, is part of the problem with many research claims, they don’t provide the actual underlying data. Sigh…

    • Brian Reiter

      Huh. Interesting. I never experienced this problem going back to the 90s with HRM straps so I have something to really feel thankful for. My wife does occasionally comment that I have skin like an elephant.

      Now that I examine it closely, I can feel that the HRM-Run (red) is is quite rounded on the edge at the middle of the strap. 🧐

      Do you have this cutting problem with contemporary HRM chest straps or only the old Garmin ones and by extension the HRM-Dual?

    • I got cut again back in late October, while I was in Florida with family for two weeks. Basically summer conditions. It was mostly an H10, and at that point, I didn’t draw blood yet, but got to the ‘well scratched’ realm by the time I left. I was varying the position a bit to keep things from getting worse. The Garmin single-piece straps are really the only ones that don’t cut me for whatever reason.

    • CJ

      QUOTE: “ Maybe it is the pool killing the HRM-Tri straps”

      Hard no.

      I had “all the Garmin HRMs” for years. They NEVER saw water of any type – just gym, bike, run.

      They all died ignominiously for no damned reason. I love Garmin watches and computers but I’ll never buy another HRM from them. Polar H10 all the way.

    • Alex

      FWIW, I never used my HRM-Tri in the pool or salt water and it lasted less than a year anyway.

      Pretty sure I messed up that plastic ring during one of the super annoying battery changes.

      For a minute I was considering the HRM-Pro but even at 45% off that thing is pretty expensive for something that might brake within a couple of months.

    • @Brian, thank you for that link
      I use the H10 most mornings for readiness/hrv readings. I take it as being the most accurate device for that and for sport when combined with its strap which stops slippage and has a large sensor surface area to touch the body. So I agree with what you say of the H10 over the H9

      I use the HRM-PRO (or TRI) as a partner for any high-end garmin watch partly because of habit and partly because of the swim hr caching that is supported to those watches. The accuracy is acceptably fine. As you say, the running dynamics are only of peripheral interest and use to very many people.

      Polar, for me, does (did?) have battery issues and either consumed coin cells at a high rate when in use or consumed somehow even when the pod was unattached at one end from the strap

      garmin straps (not pods) seem to sometimes have a construction issue where proper electrical contacts are not made until the strap is wet. this happens on some garmin straps but not on others that are identical. I keep buying them but it’s unacceptable that I should have to lick a new and defective strap every time to get it to work.

      Regarding @Lusty’s comments about the auto-pairing of registered Polar straps to new polar watches. I find this behaviour singularly annoying (and I expect Ray does too): I get to the end of a oHR test for a new Polar watch and, guess what, perfect results! Why? Because it paired to my OH1/Verity and, get this, it pairs to it on each and every sync so I have to unpair EVERY accessory at the start of EVERY Polar watch test. For that one reason, Polar can NEVER be my longterm main watch…just sayin’. In my testing now I’m using a Coros Pace 2 as a backup recorded of oHR…I don’t want the hassle of using a Polar watch.

      As said elsewhere, the OH1/Verity Sense if just about perfect as a reviewer’s secondary reference device except, bizarrely, when testing another Polar watch for the reason above!

    • Brian Reiter

      If you want something other than wrist oHR for swimming with a Garmin your choice is limited to HRM-Tri (discontinued?) or the HRM-Pro. You just have to accept that they are disposable. The price premium they charge for mediocre build quality irks me.

      I think the complaint about Polar watches automatically connecting to the HRM that you are also wearing is unique to gadget testers. For almost everyone that behavior is what you want. The more likely failure case in my mind would be someone putting on a brand new HRM for a run with their Garmin and failing to pair it at all.

      Garmin should do a better job of migrating settings between devices. They have improved but the new device experience is crap.

    • I also went through countless HRM-TRI and RUNs. At least 3 of each. They never survived a single battery replacement. I’m not that bad at things like that so my assumption is the design is just too fiddly. I rarely, if ever, swim with it and always rinse it in the shower.

  5. Antonios Tsakas

    I would like to know your opinion between H10 and polar verity sense

    • Dave Lusty

      I have both and the Verity is the one I use more as it’s just more comfortable for things like running and rowing. I’m still of the opinion that you can’t beat a proper electrode strap, but I wear them less and less

    • I love the Verity Sense (and the OH1 before it). And really comes down to preferences on comfort (where you want to wear the sensor), charging (how often you want to charge it), and whether or not you want the data sync bit (which, the Verity Sense does super well compared to the cumbersome way the H10 does it).

  6. Garry Munro

    Don’t know why but aches straps don’t work for me. Had the same issues with both polar and Suunto. They’ll be recording fine then at a random point, often 4-5 miles in, my HR will drop to something like 40-70 bpm and stay there a while then it might jump back up and repeat this the rest of the run. Tried reposition the strap up and down my chest and trying extra tight to loose but nothing consistently worked. Gave up and just use the OH1 now. Use H10 for HRV testing though so not a complete waste.

    • Michal

      It’s likely short circuit between two electrodes, caused by strap getting soaked in sweat. Optical HR is good and more durable solution. EKG strap lifetime is quite limited due to extreme conditions it has to work in. Optical HR sensors are closed designed, much more sweat resistant. I myself use H10 for HRV related measurements too. The main HR sensor is Wahoo Tickr Fit, very reliable for over 2 years of heavy usage.

  7. runner-33

    Just a quick info: Polar has added the ability to record exercises and to perform a fitness test in Flow app quite some time ago:

    Recording as of Feb 2021: link to support.polar.com
    Fitness test as of Aug 2021: link to support.polar.com

    The only reason for still using Beat is one of the advanced functions: Benefit Target, Running Index and Energy Pointer – these are only available with a Polar watch (the last watch featuring Energy Pointer was the A300 however).

  8. J D

    How long do Polar straps typically last? I the strap that came with my Edge 1030 lasted about 18 months of heavy use, then it’s replacement has barely gone over 3 months before I’m getting low heart rate readings again. I’m thinking of getting the H10 instead of wasting another $30 on a short lived strap.

  9. Rui Pereira

    Garmin user here but I replaced my old Garmin Tri HRM with a Polar H9. The fact that you can snap the pod off makes it much better longevity wise. When the strap goes south you just buy a new one (could even buy the H10 one to replace it). In my case I had to throw the Garmin when the strap went unusable.

    Another advantage is that taking the pod out is a way of shutting the band off. No battery discharge that way. I always noticed my old Garmin strap (and also my new H9) to be on even when I was not using them. That happens because of weird contacts (when rolled over for example) or because they are still wet from the exercise or the rinsing in the bath. You even get random HR beats that way if you start an activity, freaky! So by taking the pod out the battery will last a year even with frequent use. Otherwise it’s usually spent after 3-4 months. YMMV.

    • Brian Reiter

      The Polar H9 battery lasts about 9 months for me. The strap is good for a few years apparently unless you have a mishap that physically damages the wires inside like a crash or excessive bending or folding.

  10. marklemcd

    I have both the 9 and 10. I started with the 10 but I found I was burning thru the battery every 2 weeks or so. The reason, it kept turning itself on whether it was connected to the strap or not. I don’t know if I got a bum unit or what, but I got sick of constantly getting the low battery warning and changing it. I got another polar because I have tried both the Tickr and Garmin straps and the suck balls compared to polar.

  11. Thani AL-Thani

    Its the best the Joker I travel with it very assured that all the gym equipments with work with it and that a big difference between the H10 and the others,

  12. Heinrich Hurtz

    Not totally relevant but I’m still using the same old Garmin HR strap I got bundled with a 705 in Aug 2010. I’ve replaced the elastic strap a number of times and had to open and bake it out on the dash of my car once, but it keeps working reliably.

  13. Axel

    Had the Garmin HRM-Dual before. The Polar H10 is much better. Strap is so much more comfortable in my experience.

  14. Colin

    H10 owner for over 2 years. Have you needed to replace the strap at all? I’ve just replaced my one due to some drop out issues and general crazy reading within the past 2 months. I’m assuming and hoping it was just the strap getting worn out

    • jsl7687

      Just had to replace mine after ~2.5 years. I noticed the very occasional weird reading while running in the last couple months which could have been the beginning of it failing. Last week it finally gave up and I kept getting sporadic readings and dropouts during a workout, even with electrode gel. Switched the sensor over to an old H1 soft strap and it worked fine. Polar told me the average life is 12-18 months for the electrodes, but of course that depends on usage.

  15. Garos

    Hi Ray, thanks for this review.
    I currently use the built-in sensor of my 945 (for jogs) or a OH1+ (for tempo, intervals…).

    Do you think a chest-strap would be an upgrade in the reliability of Garmin’s algorithms? I think about those based on HRV (recovery, mainly). Are they more accurate when a chest-strap is used during workouts?

  16. Dan van Hemert

    A year long battery life! I wish. If only 🙄
    I average 16 hours per week training and every 5 weeks or so I’m replacing the battery.
    A very fair feedback on the H10, but couldn’t stop thinking of the battery life comment.
    On my 3rd H10 strap, been best purchase to use across Suunto and Wahoo devices.

    • Rui Pereira

      16 hours a week is heavy use but even so you should be able to get more life out of 1 battery. Next change try to keep the pod off the strap when off use and see if that increases the total hours.

  17. greg

    Any thoughts on this or the hrm pro vs. the viiiiiva?

  18. Gideon Den Hertog

    What I’d like to add to the review is that some improvements can be made to the strap. First of all the length of the strap. The M-XXL strap is more like a S-M strap. I’m of average length (1,87m) and weight (79kg) with an athletic/sprinter build and for me the M-XXL strap is (to) short. Annoyingly, that means that I have to buy an additional strap as Polar doesn’t sell the H10 with a ‘XXXL’-strap (which is obiously actually a L-XL strap). I’ve seen quite a few other people sharing the same experience about the length of the strap.

    Furthermore it would be nice if the strap would be a bit more stretchable, so it’ll adjust more to the size of the chest when heavily breathing. Making the electode strips a bit less long and/or making the rest of the strap more stretchy could do the trick.

    Coming from several straps that have the connection of the band on the front (wahoo) or near the front (old skool straps) I find the location of the connection of the band not very pleasant, for me it’s to far to the back.

    I do love the silicon dots on the back against sliding.

    Would be so great if they would improve the offline recording so that you wouldn’t need your phone to start it! I use this for speedskating.

    Finally I’d love a fancy blue strap!

    • runner-33

      Color-wise there’s a choice between black, grey, orange and turqoise – but blue, nope. But what’s the point of having it in a color, any color, if I might ask? For me, the strap goes under a shirt and the color seems pretty pointless?

    • Brian Reiter

      #1 color is fun.

      #2 I have a rotation of 3 straps and I take the strap in the shower with me and give it a once-over with soap and a rinse after a workout and leave it to dry. I have 1 or 2 workouts daily. I always start with a new strap. This is for sanitary reasons.

      I live in the tropics and I am prone to get fungus outbreaks and rashes. The note that Ray made that most people probably never clean their HRM straps is horrifying to me.

      The colors make them easy to distinguish: grey, orange, and turquoise.

    • Gideon Den Hertog

      Exactly like Brian says: it’s fun and it helps distinquish your strap from the strap of your other half, in the dressing those of you friends or your own if you have multiple. Furthermore in some circumstances you won’t wear a shirt, so it’s visible and thus a bit of fashion. Or you don’t want it to shine through your shirt, so you colormatch them. (For none match my skin color)

  19. Wojtek

    Hello Ray, do you have any experience or thoughts on using HRMs like Polar H10 to measure HRV? It seems to be na interesting method to evaluate fatigue, but I am concerned about accuracy and reliability of such measurements.

    • ChrisTexan

      H10and H9 actually broadcast the R-R intervals in millisecond accuracy, not just the “BPM” value.

      I can’t remember the app, but here is an HRV app that talks to the H10 specifically in this mode (HRV4Training, maybe, also Kubios (started googling a little)?). (you can also record HRV/RR with a v800 watch, but that only helps those few of us that own one, LOL)

      For consideration – most HR pods broadcast once-per-second and simply broadcast the HR recorded during that “frame” of time. The app receives and records this number, which is variable to it’s recording frames, and does calculations to derive HRV from x to y is z.

      In addition to broadcasting standard heart rate “89, 91, 90” each second, the H10 and H9 actively broadcasts the HRV/RR that it internally calculates on millisecond accuracy internally to the receiver, so the receiver doesn’t have to “estimate” it.

      The H10 (only, with suitable app/v800 watch) also broadcasts ECG data in micro-volts if the SDK enables the advanced ECG mode. (The only one of the common sports sensors that I’m aware of capable of this but I could be wrong). How is this useful? Ask a doctor, LOL, I don’t know, but it’s basically converting the sports strap into a true 2-contact ECG device.

    • Rui Pereira

      Polar H10/H9/H7 are regularly used to measure HRV and usually regarded as the gold standard of mass market chest straps. You can count on it to be very accurate regarding HRV measurements.

  20. Peter Z.

    What gets me about all this is Ray says wrist based HRM is poor in water, so then I’d like to use a strap for swimming maybe. However, Polar straps won’t download to my Garmin watch, so that’s useless. Then Garmin has different straps for pool and open-water and I don’t really want to buy 2 (not sure why Polar can have one that works for both).

    I have a Polar OH1 that is supposed to record HR for later when attached to my goggles, but then it’s only stored in the Polar app.

    • ChrisTexan

      It doesn’t help since Polar dropped it, but their creme-de-la-creme combo was the v800/H10 combo. You could triathlon with that combo (swim, bike, and run) uninterrupted recording, recording each phase, transition, etc… that was the last watch model they released with GymLink, and it simply works/worked perfectly. (Garmin’s “sync after the swim” option was not bad either, but also, past-tense)

      I’ve kept 2 v800s and just replaced the battery on the older one (myself, not paying the $240 Polar wanted to do it!!!), because as you point out, no other brand’s combo works as reliably and accurately. Everyone (brand, not end users, LOL) wants to use watch-OHR for swimming, and it’s crap, and they don’t seem to care anymore. All Polar had to do was keep the GymLink broadcasts in their (at least top-end) devices and they’d be super-competitive, but with their poor OHR (and GPS) in swims… it’s just a mess, all the ecosystems are right now, IMO, at least for a triathlete if nothing else.

  21. susel

    Hi Ray,
    we all know that you’re Garmin Edge 530 user so I’ve question connected to Polar H10 and Garmin devices: when I’ve connnected H10 to Edge 530 I see in the workout analysis “Breathing” data. When I connect the same strap to Garmin Venu (1st gen.) watch I don’t have those data. Do you know which watches support “Breathing” data during workout when connected to chest strap?

  22. ChrisTexan

    A few notes to add (I haven’t read to comments, at work and all that, apologies for any repeats)…
    1. Regarding leaving the sensor snapped to the strap when not in use. Many users (myself included) will find this greatly impacts battery life (not just the H10, but all “H” series pods/straps I own)… not always, but sometimes apparently the strap, through either static, or electrolytic (salt in the strap reacting with the snaps/matrix potentially) reactions, will “stay on” or “come on”… no way to really notice it if you aren’t watching 24/7 with one of their apps, but it kills the battery in weeks instead of months (still not too dramatic, but…) solution is simple, unsnap ONE side of the pod and swing clear of the strap, this leaves it “open circuit” and still keeps them together.
    2. The “H9” comparison… I keep seeing this repeated in reviews, and you hit MOST but not all of the differences… and missed the key one that usually gets missed (conditionally)…
    – If buying a first-time H10 or H9 “new with strap”… the Pro strap (H10)… is a $15 upgrade over the “basic” strap… 2 crucial items you didn’t mention are:
    — that the Pro strap has extended contact points. Especially for larger chested people, this can be a huge factor in certain workouts like CrossFit, pushups in general, or anything where the chest is flexing away from the strap… on no-Pro straps, I often would have lift-offs that caused “dropout spikes” (0 bpm) during some motions (like planks)… not the end of the world, except instead of my “min HR” being 80bpm, it becomes 0bpm (which then skews graph scales, annoying)…
    — The Pro strap in most people’s usage, lasts at LEAST 3 years before starting to get unreliable… the basic strap lasts roughly 12-18 months for most people before starting to get less reliable, thus for every Pro strap, you end up having to buy 2 “basic” straps… (or buy a Pro strap to replace the basic, which you could have had in the first place and put off the repeat purchase another year or two)….
    So, for the $30-ish dollar difference between H9, and H10 (packaged with respective straps), you get – onboard storage, extra BT connection, more reliable strap connectivity (extended contacts, and you did mention the grippy dots which also do help a lot) better “future-programmable” device (RaceFox mentioned for example) that the H9 doesn’t have (I don’t typically bring up the esoteric programming differences, but the H10 as you touched on, has a full SDK around it that can extend the extra onboard features that the H9 simply doesn’t have electronically)… and most important, by year #3, you will have actually had to replace the first strap of an H9 at LEAST once, which means really the difference works out to like $15 (or if you buy the “Pro” strap to replace it, then it’s a wash, and you had to buy the replacement 1-2 years earlier than you would have with the H10).
    The H10 really is a hands-down better value proposition when you put ALL the features, AND the strap replacement costs into the mix, within 3 years you’ll be out the same, or close, money anyhow, but have an inferior pod and have been missing all those capabilities and extra quality.

    OH! I remember the other item… the ability to “turn off” broadcasting, in particular ANT+ and GymLink… isn’t just to be aggravating to remember to turn them on.

    Technically with new health regulations, the HR straps/devices with either old-school GymLink or ANT+ are broadcasting HR which is considered “Health data”… and while I personally don’t care who records my HR, technically by law, leaving open broadcasts on by default, is putting the user at risk of “releasing health data publicly”… a violation of most countries health regulations nowadays. So that option may seem to most of us users as silly, but it has a very legal legitimate reason to be there nonetheless. Eventually I won’t be surprised if “new” models (or revamped existing models even) of other brands have the option to at least disable/turn-off the open protocols (I’m sure there is some grandfathering clauses to allow previously shipped models to continue, but I’m not a legal expert on those matters, I just work in IT and in general know that every system that has health data, has to have a way to allow users to “secure/prevent release of” that data)

    • Gideon Den Hertog

      @ChrisTexan, thanks for your posts. I enjoyed the added information en knowledge.

      And Ray thanks for the review, forgot that in my previous post

  23. Yannick

    Thanks for the review Ray! I guess if tounused it for 5 years it was a form of review in itself, but now you can check that off your to-dolist ;).

    I migh have missed it, but a while back you said you had a review of several newer wrist/arm straps (such as Scosche Rhythm+ 2.0, the nw one from Myo, etc…) in the works and I would be really interested in getting a comparison. For now my Scosche Rhythm 24 is still going strong after 3 years, but I’m looking for options for when the battery life while inevitably start to decrease.

    A merry Holidays to all!

  24. Graeme

    Thx for another comprehensive review.

    Your overall recommendation was Garmin HRM-Pro for Garmin users, and Polar for everyone else. Yet – you also describe limitations of the Polar H9/H10 for swimmers.

    What would you say for a triathlete/open-water swimmer using a Coros Pace-2 watch, interested in getting more accurate HR data during swimming?

    • Yeah, honestly, there’s no good solution there. Basically, there’s an ANT+ standard for offloading data (in this case swim, but realistically the sport doesn’t matter) – and other platforms could leverage that. So technically COROS could do that, but I think most companies (including Polar/COROS/Suunto) kinda figure that their optical HR sensors check the swim box (despite generally be non-awesome in water) and that whomever is left isn’t worth the hassle.

      I know a handful of people use an H10 (manually triggered by a phone), and then manually merge the HR file after the fact. But honestly, that seems like a mess. I wish Polar would just support it on the H10 or at least Verity Sense (as it has a darn swim mode).

    • Sadly, I would say to them “buy a high end Garmin tri watch”.
      I came to that conclusion several years ago after spending VERY MANY hours and days looking at every weird and wonderful alternative. The conclusion won’t change unless Polar or Wahoo sort out caching.

  25. Brett

    How is the durability on the newer Polar straps? With the Garmin soft straps, I find the conductive pads peel off within a matter of months (had one replaced under warranty, then I gave up). I bought a Polar strap several years ago (which fit my Garmin pod) and the same thing happened (not as fast as with the Garmin straps, though).

    Frankly, my Garmin hard strap has held up the best, been using that (now for indoor workouts) for maybe 20 years now.

  26. John

    Do you know if that in-built accelometer is one day planned to put in use?

  27. Eli

    Thanks for covering HRV. Would be interesting to see Alpha 1 numbers for a workout when based on different straps (in that its a hrv based metric so the calculated value would be different if it gives different hrv numbers)

    No mention of the Polar equine app? Best way to get a ekg reading from a polar strap. Guessing fda limits Polar from claiming it can do it for humans so only available on the equine app

  28. Alan

    All I can say is it’s about time. Thanks Ray! This was long overdue. I have had issues with transfer of memory data to iPhone. But after a few firmware updates it has been ok.
    Used to be Polar Beat for recording workout and Flow to collate data over time. But now you can record workout on Flow app, too.
    And don’t forget that swimming with H10 and the trusty old A300 watch is one of the few ways to see HR in real time. Apple Watch is ok for this too.

  29. Jason Santeler

    I will preface this with that I only use a HRM for running. I have used the H10 and the HRM Dual one after the other in the same conditions. The HRM Dual is the more comfortable option for me and it’s not even close. The H10 chafed, the HRM Dual did not.

    After that I wasn’t using the H10 and my wife said she’d give it a try. She’s training for a marathon and I do most of her runs with her. We bought her the smaller pro strap as she is smaller and required it. She does not complain of chafing but the HR drops out constantly. She wets the strap before use and has it on properly.

    In summary, the H10 has been garbage for me, the HRM Dual is amazing…… until it dies on you 7 months later. But hey, Garmin will just send you a new one.

  30. Sean K.

    Very happy with my Polar H10 strap. Best HRM strap for my use of CrossFit, running and on the bike. I’ve actually more than one H10. They’ve held up well. I do also own a Garmin HRM Pro, Dual and Wahoo Tickr X2. Since I use a number of different devices (watches, bike computers, etc), I like Polar H10 as my typical goto HRM strap.

  31. Vincent

    Thanks for the report. A few quick questions.

    Can all radios except the ANT+ be turned off?
    How does the 4iiii sensor compare in accuracy (latency)? I like Garmin for running but sometimes it feels like there’s some latency, thoughts? suggestions?

    Is there a best strap for HRV measurements?

    • pepe

      Movesense Medical HR pod is certified for medical use, but is much more expensive, and the number of apps not as great as Polar H10.

      Blog link link to muscleoxygentraining.com

    • Brian Reiter

      This blog is fascinating if terse. He seems to have discovered later that ANT+ retransmission causes artifacts when doing his high data-rate precision collection at but with Bluetooth there is high agreement between the Suunto Movesense pod and the Polar H10.

      You can’t really buy these Movesense pods at retail. They are available as dev kits for developing a product or apparently for medical research.

      He seems to find the H10 and Movesense medical are equivalent-ish in his testing when using Bluetooth for transmission. The Movesense does not support ANT+.

      Another interesting tidbit is the H10 has different sample rate for ECG mode vs RR mode. (R to R wave peak interval is HRV.)

      link to muscleoxygentraining.com

      – The Polar H10 with bluetooth transmission is a reliable, artifact resistant device for DFA a1 recording.

      – The Movesense Medical module closely matches and agrees with the H10. It has the advantage of tracking arrhythmia and manually correcting noise artifact in Kubios.

      link to muscleoxygentraining.com

      – H10 in RR mode (1000 Hz)
      – H10 in ECG mode (130 Hz)
      – Movesense in RR mode with new firmware (125 Hz)

      He also goes into some depth about why the Garmin Firstbeat running VO2max estimate is garbage. Which I love.

      link to muscleoxygentraining.com

    • Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve seen some of that before – and it’s clearly incredibly deep and generally well done.

      Except, then you get to peculiar statements like this: “So a source of error would be in the measurement of running speed (the equivalent of watts in cycling) from faulty GPS coordinates. If you can’t track your position with certainty, speed precision will suffer. Unfortunately, this is a major issue with wrist-based units and the Garmin forums are loaded with complaints of poor GPS performance.”

      Umm, this isn’t 2007 anymore. And frankly, even in 2010, most GPS units were more than accurate enough distance-wise for estimated VO2Max based on that data. If we look at the VO2Max estimates in Garmin (Firstbeat), we know that it’s not really tied to a very short-term duration, but longer period of distance. So short of us trying to pull this test off in Manhatten, it’s perfectly fine.

      Undoubtedly, there are limitations in GPS pace/distance in edge cases these days, but I’m pretty sure the literally hundreds of millions of people using GPS devices for pace/speed/distance in running have more than proven that in the overwhelming majority of cases it’s more than accurate – especially in this context where it was established ballpark accuracy was more than enough. If we were talking “Must be within 0.5%”, then sure, room for discussion.

      Thus, the statement multiple times that GPS speed/pace/distance is entirely useless causes me to pause and wonder how many other things are connecting dots that don’t exist…just my two cents.

    • Brian Reiter

      It’s more than just error from the GPS pace input. It’s the VO2max extrapolation algorithm itself has inherent limitations in precision that are significant. And it is worse for different pace ranges — it’s better at threshold than Z2. (You may notice that Garmin often lowers your VO2max for Z2 efforts.)

      I don’t think that Garmin accurately represent the the confidence interval of the VO2Max estimate to users. From their own Firstbeat white paper you can deduce it is in the ballpark of +- 4-6 mL/kg/min depending on sources of potential added error (such as incorrect max HR) when using a HRM strap.

      The difference between 46, 50, and 54 is huge (+-4). I have seen a study that show the VO2max estimate is ok on average across the study group but for individuals the deviation from measured by gas exchange can be significant.

      Many people noticed that their VO2max estimate changed a lot when changing from the f5 to the f6 or when different firmware comes out. I think this is also evidence that the estimate is not comparable across device generations and even firmware revisions.

      I think it is fine for what it is but I’m not sure what this very rough VO2max number can be used for. Kind of like the Running Dynamics, I this number is useful mostly for bragging over beers. I would like to be able to remove it and also the productive/unproductive/peaking/retraining assessment page from the end of workout summary.

      I think a bunch of other Garmin training numbers are driven by this number which is fine but it’s all a very rough guide. A lot of people I know fixate far too much on the “Productive” or not assessment.

    • Definitely – there’s lots of variability there in VO2Max – and how accurate it can be. As noted, +/- 4 units is a lot, but in some ways it’s not for ballpark. If someone scores a 62, I know that even in a 58-66 range (which is vast), that they’re a more capable athlete. If someone scores a 48, then, I know very ballpark wise what they are.

      I think it was kinda dumb for Garmin to put VO2Max on the MARQ bezel. But hey, that’s just me. Just as I think it’s also dumb to focus on VO2Max, since in most trained athletes, that’s basically a stable number.

      But my moment of pause was that specific line-item in that post being such an odd statement to make. Neither true in real-life, or even specific to Garmin.

    • Brian Reiter

      A phenomenon I see a lot is Joe gets and Bill do a workout together. Joe struggled a bit to keep up. At the end his f235 says 54, yay! But then Bill has his f6 that says 47. A third training partner may see 50. Hmmm.

      And further Garmin labels Joe as having Superior VO2Max while Bill is Excellent or Good.

      Actually those numbers are all within the same confidence interval but its not at all obvious because of the way that Garmin presents them.

      Garmin doesn’t try to present the uncertainty of the numbers. Instead, it presents false precision and the Good, Excellent, Superior gauge. The entire Excellent band is within the confidence interval so it’s entirely possible to be judged Good over Superior due to the lack of precision in the algorithm.

      I think that is a problem. Garmin needs a seminar with Edward Tufte and then a hard rethink on how they display information that is otherwise somewhat reasonable.

      It’s a tough one because I know people want to see the tenths place on the VO2max estimate. Nobody is going to be happy to see VO2max +- 5 presented as a smear or all the other derived Firstbeat data represented with huge uncertainty. Especially when the other manufacturers don’t represent the confidence interval either.

    • Rui Pereira

      In the current implementation VO2Max is mostly used as a way of checking if the the user is getting better or worse. Is he running with higher HR for the same GAP or lower? Based on that every run will make VO2Max go a little bit lower or higher. Very rarely will you go up or down more than 1 point because of that. Then depending if the training load is increasing or decreasing you get the status: productive, overreaching, etc.

  32. John 117

    Polar is like… eh, normal. Choosing it over maybe more detailed Garmin or more robust and battery – wise Coros. Maybe not the most feature – packed but “it just works” and now with grit x pro looks cool.

  33. youpmelone

    Long story short:

    DFA a1 is the future
    Only movesense and polar are reliable.

    Buy the Polar H10 because you can run fatmaxxer with it.

    out.

  34. Heather Riley

    I have paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia which happens sometimes during exercise. Basically my heart rate will speedup beyond what it should be based on my activity level or lack of activity. For example, I may bend down in the shower to pick up a shampoo bottle and it will shoot up to 140 bpm. My normal resting hr is around 55 bpm. I purchased the H10 because it is supposed to be superior to Garmin’s HRM, of which I have several. In my experience, the H10 seemed to get stuck when I experienced an episode of PSVT while on my treadmill. I was using one of polars apps to record the activity and my heart rate literally flatlined until my heart was back in a normal rhythm. Is this normal or to be expected? My old Garmin strap captured in real time, with my Fenix 5 plus, my abnormal heart rate as it went from about 140 to over 200 bpm in less than a few seconds while having a pretty bad episode of psvt. Should not the H10 be able to read that great of a jump also. I want something accurate that I can keep an eye on my heart rate when I exercise so I know when to do a vagal maneuver so I can go back into sinus rhythm.

    • Eli

      If you can try the polar equine so while you have an episode. See what your ECG looked like. Should look like: link to litfl.com
      If it doesn’t the strap doesn’t have a good connection or isn’t reading right. If it does maybe the peaks in the middle makes it hard to read your heart

  35. Markus

    I always get these dips with my H10, via ANT+ and BLE. Hasn’t really bothered me so far but it messes up DFA alpha 1 threshold assessments greatly. Because of the smoothing I don’t know if these are complete drop outs or not. I get these on my phone as well as on my win 10 box and my Bolt.

    Does anyone have an idea?

    • Markus

      Did some more digging on this. I think I’ve figured out what causes these dips: electromagnetic disturbances. I do not see these dips outdoors as often as indoors. And if I see them they occur in the vicinity of power lines.

      My pain cave is in the same room where the main electricity connection (or however this is called in English) is located.

      What I find puzzling, these are no drop-outs but dips. And BLE and ANT+ is affected equally.

    • jsl7687

      Interesting. The chest straps measures the electrical signal produced by your heart beat, so it certainly makes sense that there could be electrical interference from nearby sources. And it makes sense that BLE and ANT+ are affected the same; the interference is affecting what the strap is sensing, rather than the data connection between the strap and your device.

      I wonder if the dips coincide with something turning on/off in your house. I would experiment to see if you can reliably reproduce the behavior, but it seems like you’ve done that when being near power lines.

      How old is your strap? Has this happened since new? If this problem just started recently and the strap has seen a lot of use, it could be the strap is just more susceptible to interferences. Also, you could try using electrode gel to create a stronger electrical connection between the strap and your skin. A stronger signal coming from your body means less chance of the strap picking up interferences.

  36. miCoachFans

    hi Ray,
    i thinke product life of the Pro strap is 12~18 months. it depends on how often you use it. so you should change the strap once the data is unreliable.
    polar used more conductive rubber in Pro strap, maybe its the reason why data stability period of Soft strap is longer than Pro.

    • jsl7687

      My original H10 strap just started to act up after 2.5 yrs of pretty regular use (I’ve replaced the battery once and it’s currently “half full” to give an idea of usage). I inquired with Polar and was told the same life: 12-18 months. So I think I got pretty good life out of it and already ordered a replacement pro strap for $25USD. I confirmed the strap is faulty by putting the sensor on an old H1 soft strap I have.

  37. jsl7687

    Does anyone keep the H10 sensor connected to the strap all the time and notice poor battery life? I asked Polar about this and was told “Leaving the sensor attached to the strap will drain the battery and harm the device.”

    Is this true?

    My original H10 strap has finally failed and I’m curious if it’s the electrodes themselves or the connection between the sensor and strap. I disconnect one side of the sensor after every workout and always worried about the constant pulling on the snap button and possible damage. But I got ~2.5 years out of the strap so I suppose that’s pretty good.

    With the new strap I’ll experiment with the sensor connected all the time to see what kind of battery life I get.

    • Brian Reiter

      I think the booklet that comes with it says to disconnect the sensor when not in use and this will turn off the H10. It makes sense that disconnecting it would turn it off and that would save power.

    • jsl7687

      You’re correct, the manual states “…store the strap and the connector separately to maximize the heart rate sensor battery lifetime.”

      In his review, Ray said:
      “The first thing you’ll want to do is pop the pod into the strap. It simply snaps in place using two little button-like thingies. This by itself does not turn the strap on or off, but rather, the strap sensing electrical activity does. Meaning, there’s no harm in leaving the pod attached to the strap permanently (as I usually do).”

      It does make sense that disconnecting it would turn it off and save power. What Ray said also seems to make sense as well.

    • Brian Reiter

      Depends on what you mean by “harm”. It definitely wastes the battery.

      I suspect it also has potential for galvanic corrosion of the electrodes — depending on how voluminous and salty your sweat is that might or might not be much of a big deal. I always remove and rinse the thing because I sweat like a looney toons character.

      I live in a tropical climate and Ray lives in Amsterdam. That may influence a difference in our perspectives.

  38. Steve Fleck

    Ray,

    Long time Polar user and obviously H10 (and before that H9) strap user as well. I was intrigued by this quote of yours “The unit contains a CR2025 coin cell battery, which roughly has a battery life of about a year of usage” – we get no where near that length of use. Granted we are probably heavy users in the 7 – 8 hr range at a minimum per week, with longer weeks with long bike rides or xc-skiing sessions topping 20 hours. At the most we get about a month out of a battery.

    Steve

    • Brian Reiter

      I have that kind of load but I get around 9 months of battery life.

    • Steve Fleck

      It seems we are replacing batteries about once a month or every other month. Two units being used at that level in the house – my wife and myself.

    • jsl7687

      Steve, do you disconnect the sensor from the strap in between uses? This may answer my question about battery life with leaving the sensor connected all the time vs. disconnecting after each use. It’s unlikely you have two faulty units, so this has me curious.

    • Steve Fleck

      No – we have been leaving the unit connected to the strap. Is that a suggestion to prolong battery life? If so that is easy to impalement, but units might get mixed up! – easily fixed with some colored tape! 🙂

    • jsl7687

      Interesting! That certainly does suggest leaving it connected does deplete battery life like Polar says in the manual. In his review, Ray says he leaves his connected all the time so I would be curious about his battery life experience.

      I would definitely suggest disconnecting after each use to see if your battery life improves. When I am done with a workout I just disconnect one side of the sensor to keep the sensor attached to the strap but electrically disconnected. You could do the same to prevent mixing your units up.

    • Brian Reiter

      You can just disconnect one side. Disconnecting turns off the unit. Otherwise if the strap is saturated with electrolyte and water (sweat) the transmitter won’t turn off until the strap dries enough to stop conducting electricity.

    • pepe

      And rising the strap in cold water after each using (with sensor disconnected), and once a week at < 30º Celsius – 86ºF with soft liquid soap. Not using deodorant or using one that doesn't stain or leave marks, helps also in keeping it in perfect conditions for longer.

    • Steve Fleck

      Thank you everyone for your input. So helpful!

  39. Igor

    I bought a H10 sensor less than a year ago. In this time period I trained regularly, about 5 to 8 hours a week with the strap on, and chewed though at least 4/5 batteries.
    Also, in recent times I started to experience mid ride/run drops, although to be precise, they aren’t exactly drops in the sense of no HR, rather, I get readings that are way off. E.g. running a 10%+ slope, actual HR in the high 170s and the monitor shows 90 something.
    It might be also due to the fact that in winter I tend to run with a belly warmer, that I “hook” to the sides of the strap to keep it from falling, but in that case I would assume the readings to be off for the whole duration of the workout, which isn’t the case.

    • jsl7687

      Igor,
      Do you disconnect the sensor from the strap when not in use? If not, doing so will likely improve your battery life (see the thread above started by Steve Fleck).

      Regarding the poor readings, this is what I started to experience with my strap when it began to fail. At first I noticed the occasional “hang” where the reading would freeze for 30s or so, but eventually recover and work normally (not sure if this is related to the strap or my device but it was one weird behavior).

      Then I started getting low readings like you describe. e.g. running at 150 bpm but the reading would slowly decrease down to 120 bpm. When that would happen I would shift the strap around on my chest and it eventually started working again. I never experienced that before, but I was getting into colder weather so thought maybe it was lack of sweat causing bad skin contact.

      I picked up some electrode gel to use and that seemed to help for the next few runs. But then one day on the indoor rower I couldn’t go more than a couple minutes without it acting up, even with the gel. Swapped the H10 unit over to an old H1 strap I have and worked flawlessly. That confirmed my H10 strap had failed.

      If you have good electrode contact with adequate moisture and you’re still having this issue, there’s a good chance the strap is beginning to fail. I managed 2.5 years out of my strap, but in that time probably only averaged 2 hours/week. It seems a little premature for yours, but not out of the question. Polar says 12-18 month life on the straps, but of course depends on usage.

    • Brian Reiter

      Unfortunately straps can’t be damaged or just wear out physically. This is a big problem for the Garmin all-in-one design. It’s a feature of the modular design that you can replace the strap.

      The pod itself has no moving parts and should be robust over time.

    • Igor

      Hi jsl,

      regarding disconnecting the sensor from the strap I now do, religiously. But to be honest this started recently, after some digging about the sensor’s expected battery life. Before it was a bit hit and miss. The current battery has been there for a while now, so yes, that probably played a big role.

      I didn’t know the life expectancy for the strap was so low. That’s a shame to be honest, as I don’t believe these can be recycled in any manner.

      I just checked a run done yesterday, I had my belly warmer secured by the back of the strap, so no way did it interfere with the reading, and you can see how it drops towards the end of the ride at 80/90BPM level, which isn’t something I would experience while running . It might well be as you suggest a matter of lubrication. It was a descent section where I was taking it easy, and the day was coldish, about 6/7°C so it’s plausible that my skin was generating much sweat.

    • Brian Reiter

      You can make a note to be gentle with the strap. I think they have fine leads internally that are susceptible to fatigue failure and shorting. It’s not just Polar but the whole flexible ECG strap concept. Try to avoid bending the rubberized sections sharply.

      The good thing about the design is that you can replace a failed strap at a relatively modest price. With the HRM-Pro, it’s a whole new strap and sensor at a premium price. That’s just frustrating.

  40. San

    Hi Ray

    My usage for H10 is running and HIIT sessions, and it tracks my HR flawlessly even during colder months, which is the issue I had with Tickr V2. The Tickr V2 sensor doesn’t work well when it’s below 10°C and produces a flatline result when working out, and it is not a strap issue as when training indoors the Tickr performs as normal.

  41. bruce sinclair

    hi
    the following refers to h10 monitors, the last 4 weeks in a row i hit 191 doing the same work out, today i used my spare h10 that i have had in the cupboard for around a year, it read max 186 but i was going harder , why such a difference / now i am going to have to go and buy 2 more and do my own expeiment.

    • Graeme

      That is about 2% error, which would appear to be within the expected range, depending upon what activity you are doing.
      Check out the Polar white paper
      link to polar.com
      (NB: this does not appear to be peer reviewed, so the comparison potentially contains bias, however even Polar consider 4% accuracy as ‘Excellent’).

  42. Marcos

    Hi,

    Do the straps loose the rubber conductivity? is because of that? Because visually I can’t see any harm but my Wahoo always need a fresh strap while my Viiiva runs perfect on the old ones.
    Sensor should go to sleep mode after a while without electrical signals. You can check this on the sensor settings of your device. Status goes from connected to searching, meaning the sensor is no longer radio transmitting.
    But my Viiiva does consume battery out of the strap and in sleeping mode (second in a row with this problem) which makes me have to take battery out every day… real mess.
    I’m getting tired of problems with HR sensor mid workout…
    I was about to buy a H10 but after reading this tread I’ve just realized it the same sh…

    regards,

    • jsl7687

      Marcos,
      I’m not sure what the mechanism of failure is of the electrodes. My guess is the repeated flexing eventually causes some damage/change in resistance which throws off readings. Or perhaps the interface between the electrode and rubber pads begin to break down/separate which causes bad connections.

      I experimented a bit with my H10 and the strap to see when the unit goes into sleep mode and when it stays ON. Here were the configurations and results:
      1. H10 sensor disconnected from strap = Sleep/OFF
      2. H10 sensor connected to DRY strap & DRY rubber pads = Sleep/OFF
      3. H10 sensor connected to DRY strap & WET rubber pads = ON
      4. H10 sensor connected to WET strap & DRY rubber pads = ON

      Based on this and configuration #4, I can totally see poor battery life as a result of leaving the H10 sensor attached to the strap after a workout. The unit will say ON until the fabric strap dries out completely, which could be multiple hours. Your best bet for optimal battery life is to remove the H10 from the strap in between uses. I just undo one side of the sensor so it stays attached to the strap, but electrically disconnected.

      Personally I have been very happy with the H10 and would recommend it to anyone. It has worked flawlessly for me up until a few weeks ago when I was getting bad/inconsistent readings, which I determined was a result of the strap failing after 2.5 years (2-3 hr/week avg use).

    • jsl7687

      Follow up: 3 hours later and configuration #4 is still activating the sensor. The strap has been sitting in a warm house and feels ever so slightly damp.

  43. PD

    Anyone have experience with the H10 not working properly after a battery change? I ask because I’ve had this HRM since April 2021 and it is no longer working properly. For about the first 15-20 minutes of a ride it works fine but then the readings start to drop dramatically until the signal drops off completely.

    Is this a maintenance problem on my end or do this things just not have a long shelf life? I ask because I have a handful of dead sensors here at home that all seem to stop working properly not long after I changed the batteries in them.