Full list of sports watches with triathlon mode


It is not always clear which sports watches have a triathlon mode where you can just press ‘lap’ during each leg of a triathlon race. This mode is generally called “multisport mode” and these watches are referred to as multisport watches in the industry. But it happens that some watches labeled as multisport do not have this essential triathlon mode, like the popular Garmin Vivoactive series.

This is why I have decided to write a list of all the watches that have a triathlon mode. You can use this list to safely choose a watch without getting a bad surprise.

At the end of this article, I will give you some elements of comparison between them to help you narrow down your search based on your requirements.

Detailed list of all watches designed for triathletes

In the next paragraph, I will review the watches per brand. I have gathered the list of current models available as new as well as models that can only be found on the second-hand market. To make things clearer, I have highlighted in bold the models that came out in 2022.

If you directly want a detailed comparison of all watches with a triathlon mode, you can scroll down to the end of this article where you will find a table with all the information you need.

List of Garmin watches with triathlon mode

  • Garmin Forerunner 255 series
  • Garmin Forerunner 735XT
  • Garmin Forerunner 745
  • Garmin Forerunner 935
  • Garmin Forerunner 945 series
  • Garmin Forerunner 955 series
  • Garmin Fenix 3 series
  • Garmin Fenix 5 series
  • Garmin Fenix 6 series
  • Garmin Fenix 7 series
  • Garmin Epix (Gen 2)
  • Garmin Instinct 2 series
  • Garmin Instinct Crossover series
  • Garmin Enduro
  • Garmin Enduro 2

Within Garmin’s store, you can also find some additional watches that have a triathlon mode. I will just quickly list them here but I don’t consider them as real triathlon watches as they have been designed for sailing, diving, flying, etc and generally are very expensive with metallic bands. Not ideal for triathlon.

In case you wonder, these are the watches I am talking about:

  • Garmin Marq series
  • Garmin D2 Delta series
  • Garmin Descent series
  • Garmin Quatix series
  • Garmin Tactix series

List of Coros watches with triathlon mode

  • Coros Pace 2
  • Coros Apex 2
  • Coros Apex 2 Pro
  • Coros Apex
  • Coros Apex Pro
  • Coros Vertix
  • Coros Vertix 2

List of Polar watches with triathlon mode

  • Polar Vantage M
  • Polar Vantage M2
  • Polar Vantage V2
  • Polar Pacer
  • Polar Pacer Pro
  • Polar Grit X
  • Polar Grit X Pro

List of Suunto watches with triathlon mode

  • Suunto 5 Peak
  • Suunto 9 Peak
  • Suunto 9 Peak Pro

Other smartwatches with triathlon mode

  • Wahoo Elmnt Rival
  • Apple Watch Ultra
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 4

Note: since September 2022, all Apple watches that support WatchOS 9 now have a triathlon mode.

Criteria to help you choose a triathlon watch

The triathlon watches listed before vary in price from about $200 to $1100. The higher the price does not necessarily mean the best triathlon watch. Indeed, the higher the price the more features and sports they can do. So the difference with a cheaper watch is not always related to the triathlon features and might not be of any interest to you.

So this is the criteria you should review to select a triathlon watch:

  • Battery life

This is an important criterion depending on your objectives. If you are doing only short-distance triathlons, then any triathlon watch will do as you won’t need more than 10h of battery life when training or racing. But if you are looking to train and race for long-distance events, such as Ironman, or ultra-triathlons, then the battery life is really key. For an Ironman, it is best to have at least 18h of battery life, so you don’t have to worry, even if you are a fast triathlete.

For instance, Garmin Forerunner 745 has 16h of battery in GPS only mode while Garmin Forerunner 255 has 30h, even though Garmin 255 is cheaper than the 745.

  • Accuracy

Accuracy comes down to the GPS connection. You have watches that can connect to several GPS systems, like GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, Beidou, or QZSS. And you also have watches that can connect to several GPS frequencies (multi-band).

Single-band means that the GPS can only connect to L1 frequencies and not the new L5 ones. The L5 frequencies help have more accurate GPS tracking in cities with tall buildings or if you run in canyons. These frequencies are new and people have been running without them for years without complaining. Only 50% of satellites did cover L5 frequencies in 2021. So multi-band is a nice to have but not worth bothering with it for most people.

However, being able to connect to more GPS systems will help you have better coverage and a faster GPS connection. So I would focus on this when looking for accuracy at first glance.

  • Barometric altimeter

This is a nice feature to have but not necessary for all. The barometric altimeter will give a more precise estimation of the elevation in your activities. It is essential if you do trail running and hiking. It is a nice to have for cycling (unless you have a bike computer that can do it already).

  • Navigation

Navigation is not an essential feature for triathlon. During a race, routes will be clearly indicated so no need to have a track to follow on your watch. For training, it depends. If you only train with other people (like in a club), or if you already own a GPS bike computer, you probably don’t need navigation.

So who needs navigation?

  • Triathletes who enjoy trail running

Trail running is safer with a route to follow. It’s easy to get lost in the forest or the mountains, so it will help you follow the right trail. For trail running, a trace is sufficient for most people, especially if you run in the same area most of the time. Detailed mapping is a plus for most people. But it can become a must have if you run a lot in high mountains, and regularly in new areas.

  • Triathletes who want to try new routes

When you are training for a triathlon event, especially long-distance ones, you have to run regularly and generally even do a long run per week. It can get boring to do the same run route all the time. So with navigation on your watch, you can prepare a route and follow it without getting lost.

That’s how I use the most navigation on my watch!

  • Triathletes who also enjoy ‘touring’

Bike touring, hiking, or visiting places by running, are all activities that benefit from having a watch with navigation on.

  • Sensor compatibility

Most people will just need the watch to be able to connect to a cadence sensor, maybe a speed sensor, and why not a heart rate monitor strap. But if performance is key for you, then you should consider connecting a power meter, or a sensor for running power (like Stryd for instance). All watches won’t do it by default.

So first, make sure the watch will connect to your sensors (check compatibility Bluetooth / ANT+ as needed). If you don’t have a sensor yet, then Bluetooth will be sufficient, only old generation of sensors have ANT+. And then make sure it will connect to the type of sensors you want.

  • Dimension

You are going to wear the watch all day every day, so make sure the watch fits correctly. I have a small wrist and watches larger than 42mm are uncomfortable for me and look huge. This is why I bought the Garmin Forerunner 745 and not the Garmin 945 at the time, even though Garmin 945 has full detailed mapping.

Always go to a shop try a couple of sports watches of different sizes. I will give you an idea of what feels best and help you narrow down the options.

Triathlon watches I recommend (or not)

If you are looking out for the best cheap triathlon watch, I have got you covered with an article about the best triathlon watches on a budget.

If we are looking at mid-range and high-range watches, I recommend you have a look at these models in detail:

  • Garmin Forerunner 955

    The Rolls-Royce for triathletes with all the latest features (like multi-band), full detailed mapping, etc.

In my opinion, you can forget about the following watches:

  • Wahoo Elmnt Rival

    Expensive for the features embedded in the watch. Very limited features compared to its competitors, including cheaper watches.
  • Garmin Instinct 2

    For triathlon only, Garmin 255 is better for a similar price. But for long-distance trail running, it’s a different answer.

Comparison of sports watches with triathlon mode

In the table below, I have gathered an exhaustive list of sports watches with a multisport mode. Its purpose is to give you extra information to help you downselect watches for your need.

In order to help you select a triathlon watch that matches your need, I have listed some key characteristics of all watches with a triathlon mode here below. If you prefer you can download a printable version here.

Watch models Garmin Forerunner 255 Garmin Forerunner 255 music Garmin Forerunner 255S Garmin Forerunner 255S music Garmin Forerunner 735XT Garmin Forerunner 745 Garmin Forerunner 935 Garmin Forerunner 945 Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE Garmin Forerunner 955 Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar Garmin Fenix 3 Garmin Fenix 3 sapphire Garmin Fenix 3 HR Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Garmin Fenix 5S Plus Garmin Fenix 5 Garmin Fenix 5X Garmin Fenix 5S Garmin Fenix 6S – standard edition Garmin Fenix 6S – pro solar edition Garmin Fenix 6 – standard edition Garmin Fenix 6 – pro solar edition Garmin Fenix 6 – pro and sapphire editions Garmin Fenix 6X – standard edition Garmin Fenix 6X – pro solar edition Garmin Fenix 6X – pro and sapphire editions Garmin Fenix 7S – standard edition Garmin Fenix 7S – solar edition Garmin Fenix 7S – sapphire solar edition Garmin Fenix 7 – standard edition Garmin Fenix 7 – solar edition Garmin Fenix 7 – sapphire solar edition Garmin Fenix 7X – solar edition Garmin Fenix 7X – sapphire solar edition Garmin Epix (Gen 2) Garmin Epix (Gen 2) – edition Sapphire Garmin Enduro 2 Garmin Enduro Garmin Instinct 2S – standard edition Garmin Instinct 2S – camo edition Garmin Instinct 2S – surf edition Garmin Instinct 2S Solar Garmin Instinct 2S Solar – surf edition Garmin Instinct 2 – standard edition Garmin Instinct 2 – camo edition Garmin Instinct 2 – surf edition Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Garmin Instinct 2 Solar – tactical edition Garmin Instinct 2 Solar – surf edition Garmin Instinct 2 – dezl edition Garmin Instinct Crossover Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar tactical edition Wahoo Elmnt Rival Coros Pace 2 Coros Apex 2 Coros Apex 2 Pro Coros Apex Coros Apex Pro Coros Vertix Coros Vertix 2 Apple watch ULTRA Polar Vantage M Polar Vantage M2 Polar Vantage V2 Polar Pacer Polar Pacer Pro Polar Grit X Polar Grit X Pro Suunto 5 Peak Suunto 9 Peak Suunto 9 Peak Pro
Triathlon mode ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Open Water Swimming ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Wrist HRM ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Battery life (GPS only) 30h 30h 26h 26h 14h 16h 24h 36h 35h 42h 49h 20h 20h 20h 19h 32h 11h 24h 20h 14h 25h 28h 36h 40h 36h 60h 66h 60h 37h 46h 46h 57h 73h 73h 122h 122h 42h 42h 150h 80h 22h 22h 22h 28h 28h 30h 30h 30h 48h 48h 48h 30h 25h 31h 31h 24h 30h 45h 75h 35h 40h 60h 140h 12h 30h 30h 40h 35h 35h 40h 40h 20h 25h 40h
Battery life (GPS all-systems) 25h 25h 20h 20h 31h 34h 26h 30h 30h 40h 48h 48h 77h 77h 32h 32h 96h 30h 45h 90h
Battery life (energy savings) 54h 54h 44h 44h 24h 21h 60h 60h 50h 80h 110h 50h 50h 50h 42h 70h 25h 60h 35h 35h 50h 64h 72h 93h 72h 120h 148h 120h 90h 162h 162h 136h 289h 289h 278h 278h 75h 75h 714h 300h 54h 54h 54h 114h 114h 70h 70h 70h 370h 370h 370h 70h 111h 553h 553h 60h 75h 75h 100h 100h 150h 240h 17h 100h 100h 100h 100h 100h 100h 40h 50h 70h
GPS type (Single vs Multi Band) Multi Multi Multi Multi Single Single Single Single Single Multi Multi Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Multi Single Single Multi Single Multi Single Multi Multi Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Multi Single Single Single Multi Multi Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single Single
Bluetooth? ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
ANT+? ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Barometric altimeter ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Compass ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Oxymeter ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Route navigation? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Trace or Map Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Map Map Map Map Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Map Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace none none Map Map Trace Map Map Map Map none none Trace none Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace Trace
Price $ $$ $ $$ $ $$ $$ $$ $$$ $$ $$$ $$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$ $$$ $$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$ $$$$ $$$ $$$ $$$$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$$$ $ $$ $ $$ $$ $ $$ $ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$$ $$$ $ $ $$ $$ $ $$ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$ $$ $$ $ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$$

Note: I didn’t include all Apple watch models in the table above, only the most relevant one for triathlon. Accurate information on battery life with GPS is not available for the other models.

I hope it helps you in your search for a triathlon watch. Do not hesitate to leave a comment if you find an error or missing information.

Things you need with your smart tra...
Things you need with your smart trainer

2 thoughts on “Full list of sports watches with triathlon mode

  1. Just a minor clarification regarding the Apple Watch Ultra – it’s not the only Apple Watch with a Triathlon mode. *Any* Apple Watch running WatchOS 9 technically has a Triathlon mode now because Apple added multisports into the available workout types in the Workout app. My aging Series 4 is now a “multisport” watch thanks to this addition. I don’t think my old watch has the battery life left to do anything more than a Sprint triathlon though, haha. With its larger battery and dual-frequency GPS the Ultra is going to be the best Apple Watch for triathlon use, but it’s not the only Apple Watch that can track triathlons. Love the site by the way.

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