The first time Anna and I bought a triathlon watch, we had never heard about the triathlon mode. I got it by chance on mine, and Anna didn’t have it on hers. After doing dozens of triathlons, this mode became a must-have feature for both of us.
Having the triathlon mode in a watch allows you to record your swim, bike, and run into a single activity. It allows you to focus on your race and not worry about starting and saving each activity separately.
Unfortunately, not every sports watch has this feature. I hope this article for the Garmin watches will help you.
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
Here are the current Garmin models, which include the triathlon mode:
- Forerunner 745
- Forerunner 945 & 945 LTE
- The Fenix 6 series (6S, 6S Pro, 6, 6 Pro, 6X Pro)
- The entire Marq series (Driver, Aviator, Captain, Commander, Adventurer, Athlete, Golfer)
- Descent Mk1
- Quatix 6
- Tactix Delta
If you are looking at previous models, those watches also have this triathlon mode included:
- Forerunner 735XT
- Forerunner 920XT
- Forerunner 935
- The Fenix 5 series (5S, 5, 5X)
- The Fenix 5 Plus series (5S Plus, 5 Plus, 5X Plus)
- Fenix Chronos
In case I missed one, drop me an email at email@example.com
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
The Garmin watches above will have the open water swimming mode and the most commonly used training features. So I would not worry about that.
Apart from esthetic, three features differentiate those Garmin watches: battery life, music, and navigation.
Battery life used to be my second buying criteria, but the watches improved greatly in that area, so I would not worry too much about it for any distance up to a half triathlon. All current Garmin models that I listed above have a stated battery life of 16 hours or more. In reality, it might be a couple of hours less than that, but it still gives you plenty of time to finish your race.
If you are doing an Ironman or a longer event, the table below might help you:
|Forerunner 745||16 hours|
|Forerunner 945||36 hours|
|Forerunner 945 LTE||35 hours|
|Fenix 6S||25 hours|
|Fenix 6S Pro||25 hours|
|Fenix 6||36 hours|
|Fenix 6 Pro||36 hours|
|Fenix 6X Pro||60 hours|
|Descent Mk1||20 hours|
|Quatix 6||36 hours|
|Tactix Delta||60 hours|
|Marq series||28 hours|
Some of the triathlon watches will come with internal music storage, some others can start and stop the music (you still need a phone), and on some others, you won’t have anything related to music.
If you are interested in a navigation feature, really check the detail of it. It can either be a full detailed map on your watch or a simple line without any map, which is way less helpful for guidance.
MY TRIATHLON WATCH RECOMMENDATION
For triathletes racing up to half distance triathlons, I personally think the best watch is still the Garmin Forerunner 735 XT (Amazon affiliate link), which my wife has and loves (see picture below). It has all the features you really need for training and racing at roughly half the newest model’s price, the Forerunner 745, which has music storage and suggested daily training in addition (Amazon affiliate link).
For triathletes racing full-distance events or who want navigation guidance, I would recommend the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE (Amazon affiliate link) or, like me, wait that a newer version of this high-end model is coming out. At that time, you will have the choice between buying the new one if it brings good innovations or getting a heavy discount on the 945 😉