Opting for a budget heart rate tracker used to mean compromising on quality, but as the technology has developed and products have proliferated there has been a corresponding rise in accuracy in even the cheapest heart rate monitors. When looking for a bargain it’s still advisable to focus your search on chest straps, which are more likely to be accurate owing to the tracker’s position close to the heart, but you can find reliable wrist trackers for less than £50. Here are the seven best budget rate monitors to consider, with options that suit all types of sportsmen.
The Wahoo Tickr chest strap tracks your heart rate and calorie burn during workouts and connects to popular apps like Strava to add that data to your activities. If you’re willing to spend another £25 it may be worth upgrading to the Tickr X (£64.99). The more expensive device comes with enough memory to store 16 hours of workouts without connecting to a phone and it also links to Wahoo’s fitness apps (RunFit and 7 Minute Workout) to offer guided HIIT sessions. £39.99, buy on uk.wahoofitness.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
German brand Beurer makes a range of cheap heart rate monitors that are available from Amazon and Argos. The PM25 hits the sweet spot between price and functionality – it’s waterproof and comes with a chest strap to ensure reliable heart rate data is beamed straight to your wrist during your workouts. £44.99, buy on argos.co.uk, check price on amazon.co.uk
Polar makes some of the best heart rate trackers and while the FT1 isn’t its fanciest option, it’s an excellent and reliable wrist-based tracker for less than £50, which isn’t something to be sniffed at. The large display is easy to read during training and you can define your target heart rate zones. £46.50, buy on polar.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
The H10 (£76.50) is Polar’s top-end chest tracker, but for those dipping a toe into the world of heart rate monitoring the H7 will certainly suffice. It tracks your heart rate during workouts so you can check you’re putting enough effort in and provides a summary of your training afterwards. It also connects to most popular fitness apps and many brands of gym cardio machines. £59.50, buy on polar.com, check price on amazon.co.uk
Wahoo Tickr Fit
Chest straps and wrist-based heart rate trackers are all well and good, but have you ever considered the large expanse of skin in between? Wahoo has, and the result is the Tickr Fit, which you wear on your upper or lower arm. We’d recommend the upper arm – the lower arm looks wrong somehow.
The Tickr Fit is an optical heart rate monitor, like the ones installed in wrist trackers, but should be more accurate because the upper arm is a bit more meaty than the wrist, allowing for better readings. As a result, you get closer to the accuracy of a chest strap with the convenience of a device you can slip on easily.
In truth it’s not going to blow a wrist tracker out of the water when it comes to accuracy, but the Tickr Fit is comfortable and easy to use, and should give better heart rate readings for cyclists in particular – whose braced wrists when riding can make for poor heart rate tracking. Fans of HIIT should also get a less laggy reading than from a wrist tracker. And the Tickr Fit is definitely simpler to use than a chest strap. In short, it fills the gap between chest strap and wrist tracker nicely, so if that’s the ideal niche for you, huzzah! £64.99, buy on uk.wahoofitness.com
Moov HR Sweat
It’s a little more expensive than the other options on this list but the Moov HR Sweat does offer something completely different to any other consumer tracker. You place it in a sweatband to monitor your heart rate through your temple, giving a more reliable reading than a wrist tracker. What really sets it apart, however, are the guided workouts on the Moov app, which are perfect for anyone looking to get into HIIT. £77.51, buy on moov.cc
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Thanks to all the water involved, swimmers can have a harder time finding a heart rate tracker that fulfils their needs. Waterproof wrist-based trackers can go a bit haywire in water and fail to get a proper heart rate reading, while chest trackers will often get pushed out of position while swimming. Fortunately Garmin has stepped up to the plate with this waterproof chest strap that’s fit for the pool or open-water swimming, and features a non-slip strap to ensure it stays in place even when pushing off at the end of the pool. £79.99, buy on garmin.com, check price on amazon.co.uk