Lower profile multi-sport watches for every budget
It wasn’t that long ago that wearing a GPS-enabled watch meant strapping something the size of a laptop to your forearm. Okay, I’m exaggerating (a bit), but it’s only been in the last decade or so that we’ve seen smartwatches released with built-in GPS that anyone would even consider wearing on a daily basis.
This has also meant that triathletes are now downright spoiled by the number of great multi-sport watches that offer full onboard GPS tracking with a ton of other terrific features to help you train. Technological advancements have enabled manufacturers to design smaller watches that are easier to use and more comfortable, yet rugged enough for the months of training leading up to race day and the duration of a full Ironman.
Even though multi-sport watches' general dimensions have dramatically decreased, we come in all sizes, so you may still desire a sleeker and lighter watch that doesn’t look as bulky on smaller wrists. Fortunately, great options are available that don’t skimp on the features necessary to optimize your training.
Here are our top picks of triathlon watches for smaller wrists.
Garmin Forerunner 745
"The Very Best Multi-sport Watch for Small Wrists"
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a full-featured triathlon watch that includes all the key features and sensors found in the flagship Forerunner 945. You get a GPS watch built around a bright display, and Garmin’s brand of training modes and health analytics do it all while sitting smaller and lighter on the wrist.
The tradeoff – you guessed it – is overall battery life. You can expect about one week, on average, of daily use between charges and up to sixteen hours of battery life in GPS mode compared to two weeks and 36 hours, respectively, with the 945.
Unless you’re pushing right up to the seventeen-hour Ironman cutoff or doing a multi-day ultra running event, this battery life is plenty suitable for most triathlons. Garmin also offers a GPS setting called UltraTrac, which periodically turns off GPS to save battery power and increases its accuracy the longer you use it to track your outdoor runs.
Key features of the Garmin Forerunner 745:
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is proof that wearing a smaller smartwatch does not mean settling for fewer features. Garmin has managed to pack in all the best features from its flagship watch with software designed to compensate for any sacrifice in battery life. That’s the benefit you get from an established brand like Garmin with its deep catalog of products in different sizes and price ranges.
The Garmin Forerunner 745 is the ideal option for triathletes who want a svelte smartwatch that won’t look so gargantuan on the wrist. With all the features you need for daily wear, it’s also available in three colors that blend the watch body and strap nicely.
What you need to know: The Forerunner 745 offers all the functionality you want for your training sessions and race days, along with the features and comfort you need for daily life.
- Includes Garmin’s multi-sport training and racing modes and health tracking features
- UltraTrac compensates for shorter battery life
- Available in four colors
- Almost everything from the flagship Garmin watch in a smaller package
- More than double the price of the Coros Pace 2
- Doesn’t have the golf features of the flagship Garmin 945
- Shorter battery life than the Garmin flagship watches
$499.99 USD, amazon.com
Coros Pace 2
The Coros Pace 2 holds the distinction of offering the best value for a GPS-enabled triathlon watch. In terms of weight, the Coros Pace 2 is hands down, the lightest triathlon watch available. With the optional nylon straps, the total weight is just 29-36 grams (depending on which strap you select) -- that’s only a little heavier than a AA battery.
Coros offers a full suite of training modes for swimming, biking, and running, including an intelligent Track Run Mode that accurately records distances and pace times (taking into account the particularities of running on a track). It’s also been designed for quick and easy interactions with a dial and button combination for navigating menus and selecting options.
Despite its sleek size, the Pace 2 can deliver up to 30 hours of battery life in full GPS mode. Given how comfortable and light the design is, it also offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and a Night Mode for more comfortable use during evening training sessions.
Key Feature of the Coros Pace 2:
Simply put, you will not find a GPS-enabled multi-sport smartwatch that fits lighter on the wrist than the Coros Pace 2. If that’s why you're reading this article, then you've found your watch!
Convenience is also a core philosophy with a simple button and dial layout for menu navigation designed to minimize interactions during training. The Pace 2 also offers other sport modes for tracking your physical activities, but the main focus is on tracking your swims, runs, and bike rides.
Track Run mode is another differentiating feature that, according to Coros, offers the most accurate data for your lap times and progress when running on a track. Coros's heartbeat monitoring also runs through different algorithms correlated to your workout and training routines designed to spit out more accurate results.
What you need to know: If your top priorities are a small fit on the wrist and a small hit on the wallet, then the Coros Pace 2 is the perfect option.
- Lightest triathlon smartwatch available
- Optimized for battery performance
- Intuitive interface and design
- Great value at a lower price
- Lacks some features and sensors found in Garmin products
$199.99 USD, amazon.com
Garmin fēnix 6S
Garmin’s fēnix line is designed to be ultra-rugged for those folks who love to fling themselves down mountains on skis or mountain bikes. We’re talking durability well beyond the rigors and stress of a triathlon, which only means that you’re more likely to get your full money’s worth before this watch dies on you or needs to be replaced.
First, you’ll appreciate the customization offered by the variety of watch-face size and color options. The smaller 42-mm option comes in Standard, Sapphire, and Solar variants that each offer at least two color options. Pricing scales up accordingly, but you’ll be sure to find a size and style that fits your wrist and budget.
Once you’re all set up, you'll have an excellent Garmin smartwatch with every sensor and feature needed to track all of your outdoor activities, including and beyond triathlon training. If you’re a triathlete who also loves a weekend getaway to the ski slopes, the Garmin fēnix 6S is a no-brainer.
Key Features of the Garmin fēnix 6S:
The fēnix line is all about pushing training to the EXTREME, so ruggedness is the standout feature punctuated by the stainless steel bezel around the watch-face. Triathlon training can be rough and tumble at times, so you definitely want a smartwatch that can put up with some abuse and road rash.
If you spend most of your time outdoors, you may be interested in the Solar model that offers passive battery recharge from the sun. This is a good option for triathletes interested in extra-long races where you might need to use the sun's energy boost to get through a full day using GPS mode.
What you need to know: The Garmin fēnix 6S is the most durable multi-sport smartwatch you can buy that’s also available in options for smaller wrists.
- Designed to be durable and rugged for outdoor activities
- Boasts Garmin's great training modes and sensors
- Available in plenty of sizes and styles
- Most expensive option for smaller wrists
Starting at $749.99 USD, amazon.com
How to decide which triathlon watch to buy
It’s great that we’ve reached a point where there are more options available to accommodate the different body types of triathletes. The Coros Pace 2 is easily the lightest and most affordable option for smaller wrists. Still, if you’re interested in a Garmin product, either the Forerunner 745 or fēnix 6S should offer the features and functionality you’d expect in a slightly smaller design.
March 15, 2021