Heart Rate Monitors for Paddling???

I recently decided to get a heart rate monitor to use for cycling, gym time and for paddling.

I am not very happy with the one I ended up getting unfortunately (Polar F6). Not very user friendly and unbelievably you can’t use any other features while it is in the exercise mode (can’t even tell what time it is!).

I am considering ditching this one and getting a different one and was wondering if anyone can make a recommendation.

The biggest variable about one for paddling seems to be the chest strap. I am not sure if all of them are water resistant. Through my research online it seems that most do not specify whether the strap is water resistant which I assume to mean that it is not. I have only seen a couple of units that actually state that the chest strap is water resistant.

This is important to me since I would like to be able to roll when using the unit. If it’s not water resistant than I am not really interested in it.

I don’t need a ton of features, but a nice mix of useful features and user-frienliness would be nice.

Any advice would be appreciated.



Polar F6
You may have the right piece of equipment, just give it a chance. The transmitter is waterproof, the wrist unit is water resistant, and you can change the exercise display to show the time. Just follow the instructions on page 17 of your manual.

Haven’t used one of those in a little while but it would seem that the chest straps on most of those ought to be pretty water resistant. I mostly used them for spinning and lady-like or not, mine got drenched. BTW, I’m surprised the Polar stinks. I thought they were the cream in that area. Good to know for future purchases. Have you tried contacting any of the manufacturers to see what they recommend? Good luck and let us know what you find- Toddy

I’ve used my Polar
in the pool while swimming laps. The manual says that it might not read your heart rate in heavily chlorinated water, but does not say taking it in the pool would damage the product. It did read my heart rate while in the pool. Given the fact that you are supposed to moisten the back of the strap before using, and the fact that when I use it running or on my rower I sweat profusely, I don’t think water resistance is an issue for the strap. It is the watch unit that is more likely to fail in water. My experience with water-resistant watches–both cheap ones and expensive ones–is that once you take it in for the first battery change, the water resistance of the unit is likely to be compromised. Even if the battery change is done by an authorized watch repair person.

Polar F6
I second DuluthMouse, you need to read the user manual very carefully.

I also think that the unit is not easy to control, I had to consult with the manual to switch to DST for the second time since I bought it!

I have an F100 and when excersising the top line can show lap time, calories spent or time of day by hitting the top right button.

I think all newer Polar units are waterproof.


My mistake…mine is an F11.

Thanks for pointing out the part about the time display. I went back and read the manual more carefully and did figure out how to get the time to display while in exercise mode.

Still though I am disappointed that I cannot use a stopwatch or timer while exercising (like for intervals, etc). I can keep an eye on the overall time that has elapsed for the workout, but is not as useful.

I also find that this model is not particularly user friendly. I have figured it out now for the most part, but it seems to have a whole bunch of garbage you don’t really need, and lacks some of the basic functionality I would like…and is a bit hard to figure out.

I’ll give it some time.

Seems like the Suunto models offer some pretty good features in what appears to be a user friendly package, but I am not sure if the chest strap if water resistant and from the reviews I have read, they seem to lack reliability.


seems like many of the

– Last Updated: Mar-17-08 5:44 PM EST –

serious fitness paddlers on the wavechaser listserve use gps/hr monitors. maybe post a question over there? i hardly ever find these gizmos user friendly when playing around with them and the manual. it helps me to sit down with others using them and to gradually introduce using new features as i get used to the basics:)

Excellent training tool
Heart rate monitors are excellent training tools for tracking your progress in all sports, including paddling. Mine has never objected to being wet. A basic Polar model is all you need to measure heart rate, and staying within your target working zone. The more expensive ones with all the bells and whistles take more time/focus to learn to operate. Work on one feature at a time. Stick with it and you will be glad you did.

Timex Ironman
Bought mine from Campmor and it does what I want. It tells me my HR, split times for intervals, day/date/time and a handy “review” feature.

Oh yeah, the chest strap is waterproof, too.

The manual is small and the print is smaller.

I still haven’t figured out how to work all the features, but I don’t need all the features. As I need another, it’s back to the manual with a gin & tonic to steady my nerves.

MHR and appropriate range?
I have a Polar FS3 (very basic model) and use it for running - 2.5 miles three or four days a week. My maximum heart rate is 191 and when I run I stay in the 80%-90% range. I’m not a fitness paddler and can’t imagine wanting to paddle over any long distance with my heart rate in that range. I’ve often thought of using my heart rate monitor while paddling but am not sure what range would be best. My Polar user’s manual indicates the 60%-70% range for “light” exercise might be the right range. Any suggestions, ideas, personal experience?

Why HR?
I guess it depends on what you are after. When I am paddling, I find the GPS speed readout very helpful for giving me feedback on the efficiency of my stroke. When I get a bit sloppy, it shows up in my speed. HR is great when on the elliptical, but for a 8-12mi paddle an efficient stroke is my concern.

Sounds like you’d buy an iceboat to use
on Biscayne Bay and then complain it didn’t work.

fitness training