Polar is yet another brand that has ambitious claims to the throne of the fitness tracking world. Even though they aren’t as popular as Fitbit or Garmin, they are equally good, if not better in certain aspects. The Polar Vantage V Multisport Watch may not be your cheapest option on the market right now but is so complete of a package that I would be doing it a disservice not recommending it to anyone looking to extract all the data from their workouts.
My verdict: People who train for triathlons often struggle to find a good multisport watch that can handle it all from cycling to running and swimming. The Vantage V, however, is perfectly equipped with handling all of your combined triathlon efforts by being accurate, reliable, waterproof, and thorough in its gathered metrics. Not only will it help you during your training sessions but it will also provide guidance during the rest periods which is something not many trackers do even in 2020. The noticeable downsides to it are that the OS is hard to get by and there are sometimes sync issues. If you look past that, though, this is a great item to add to your training gear.
Overview & Features
One thing I want to quickly mention regarding the price tag since a lot of people will deem this as expensive or more expensive than the competition. Just take into account that the Vantage V is their newest model, while other brands still have their old models in this price range. Furthermore, this particular version I am reviewing comes with Polar’s H10 chest strap which is in a league of its own when it comes to HR tracking. Now, let’s begin this review by talking about its tracking capabilities…
In terms of tracking, this multisports watch has over 130 sports programs you can choose. They are all pre-set and work very well with the specific type of activity they are meant for. Still, the custom tracking modes are no worse and rely on a full array of sensors to provide you with the most accurate data. This watch has a built-in barometer, GPS, accelerometer and a gyroscope giving it the capability to know exactly what you’re doing at any given point.
When cycling, it will give you route guidance, training load information, and if you pair it with other Bluetooth sensors across your bike, it will also include cadence and wind drag into its data.
In the training mode, with GPS enabled, you have full 40 hours of run time on a full charge which is enough even for people training for triathlons. The exact GPS positioning also relies on the barometer to give you precise information on your current speed, distance travelled, route tracking and more. The barometer actually helps the watch determine your altitude and it creates a live graph for your whole cycling session. It can also detect the incline and whether you are ascending or descending.
When swimming, it will detect your heart rate, swimming style, strokes, pace, distance, and rest durations. The distance and strokes are also going to be tracked when you swim in open waters. When it comes to running, the HR sensors do most of the job there. Let’s talk about that now…
Polar’s heart rate trackers have always been at the top in one shape or another. Despite the fact that you are getting their chest strap here, the wrist HR sensor is almost as accurate and has a few more tricks up its sleeve which are really seen for the first time here.
For one, it can track your running power which, up until now, had to be measured with the help of pod sensors that were attached or inserted in your shoes. Now, you can do all that by simply wearing the watch. The running power responds better and faster to changes in intensity compared to your heart rate. This is why power is a good guiding metric for people doing interval training or hill sessions. To measure the power, the Vantage V is using a custom algorithm which takes into account GPS and barometric data. By that, it can estimate your muscle load and the load put on your joints by the workout.
This is also the mechanism by which the tracker measures your training loads dividing them into three categories – muscle load, cardio load, and perceived load. All that creates a training report with an unmatched level of detail and is the only reason some people need to gt this watch instead of any of its competitors, like the Garmin Forerunner 935.
The Recovery Pro mode also enhances your efforts for healing your body after a heavy workout. It gives you advice on what to do next and on how to rest better taking into account various biometrics and the data from your last workout.
The heart rate sensor itself is a state of the art feature too. It works via the newest bio-impedance electrode technologies and combines that with its optical sensors. The chest strap is fairly typical but is also very accurate and really reliable for high-performance athletes. It has a silicone strap that is comfortable on your chest and provides a good fit even when you’re sweating up.
One last thing I wanted to mention regarding the HR sensors is that they also measure night-time metrics such as recharging and sleep stages, taking them into account into your recovery profile.
Design & Build Quality
I cannot really fault the build quality here as everything is made out of rigid and durable materials and is meant to last. Moreover, the entire watch is waterproof up to 50m as well as the chest strap, which is why they are both good to take into open waters.
The weakest spot is the display, though, so make sure you get a screen protector with your watch, just to be on the safe side of things.
There isn’t really much to be said about the display, apart from the fact that it is fairly visible even under direct sunlight and it is also a touchscreen, which is always a welcome feature. It is also quite colorful but all that deteriorates battery performance under normal everyday conditions. It doesn’t have an always-on time mode, which is somewhat disappointing.
The battery here is decent. Just like some Suunto watches are doing, the Polar Vantage V combines data from its other sensors to take the load off the GPS module. By doing that, it can extend the training time of the watch up to 40 hours with almost constant GPS-signal tracking. It works great for cycling, swimming, and running. With normal everyday use, the watch easily lasts more than a week and charges quite fast when that’s needed.
Software & App
The software part is where things get a little disappointing, at least for me. It is not that the OS is bad but it is just hard to navigate at first. Once you are used to it, it is completely fine. There are some syn issues with certain phones and those phones tend to struggle to connect and re-connect to the watch. that can be quite annoying if you are in a workout and lose the signal. When paired, though, it gives you the full array of notification and reminders synced from your phone, as well as media player controls and other app features.
Fitness trackers are often complicated and learning your way around them isn’t always an easy thing. If you want to learn how to get the most out of yours, click here to visit my article on the topic!
There are not many physical additional features that I want to mention, apart from the 5 buttons which make navigation rather easy. Still, there are some software quirks and features that I want to point out as they are quite unique. For instance, this watch comes with a breathing exercise program (Serene) which helps your body calm down and guides you through a meditation session.
The watch also has the option to provide you with feedback immediately after your workout pointing out where you did great and where you need more work. It also has a 5-minute fitness test program which can determine your fitness state and the state of your cardiovascular system.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Good build quality
- Excellent for triathlon training
- Accurate wrist HR sensor
- Comes with an HRM chest strap
- Decent battery life in training mode
- Packed with unique features
- Touch-screen display and 5 physical buttons
- It often loses sync with certain phones and has trouble re-syncing to them
- The operating system is a little hard to get used to
To learn how to better warm-up before a cycling session, head over to this article on the topic!
Conclusion and Rating
The Polar Vantage V Premium Multisport Watch is perhaps the best triathlon tracker out there mainly because of its accurate sensors and durable nature. While the price is a little steep and the OS is hard to navigate through, you have the hard buttons that are easy to feel when you’re swimming and the price isn’t actually that bad considering what you are getting. Half of the features this watch has are not even present in other brands with models priced competitively to the Vantage. In my opinion, this watch is all you will ever need, especially if you want to use it for more than just one sport.