Suunto T3d and Dual Comfort Belt heart rate monitor review
I’ve never been a runner. I’ve also never been one to keep track of my heart rate, calories burned, miles traveled or elevation gained. I’m an outdoorsman who focuses on the experience, not the workout. But after signing up for the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay, I suddenly needed to train. For real. Fortunately, the Suunto T3d Heart Rate Monitor has my back.
Before I got the Suunto T3d, I was using my cell phone as a stop watch. I had to carry the phone in my hand while I ran the streets of Salt Lake City. Thank God a now have a device like the Suunto T3d. It’s an extremely nimble guy with so many features and uses, that it would be mind-numbing to list them all off in this review. Then again, to narrow the Suunto T3d down to a sentence would take a wordsmith more talented than me.
Basically, the Suunto T3d is a personal trainer that you wear on your wrist. It’s a heart rate monitor, gives you data on calories burned, and shows you real-time “Training Effect.” It’s a term Suunto uses that determines, “a quick and accurate measurement of how hard your body is working at any given moment, so you can easily find that sweet spot for getting the most out of each workout.” There are five levels of training intensity from 1.0 (easy,) to 5.0 (maximum.)
When paired with the included Dual Comfort Belt, the T3d has been my essential running partner. The belt is a comfortable strap that wraps around the chest. It clips together with a small, plastic disk that sits on the sternum. The belt links wirelessly to the T3d and transfers workout data, which then appears on the watch display. I was unsure about wearing the belt at first for fear of it chafing, but it’s been very comfortable while running. In fact, after a workout I usually don’t notice it’s there and will forget to take it off at home.
All the data that transmits from the Dual Comfort Belt is displayed on the watch face. The most useful display for me has been the Training Effect. It’s only way I can tell if I’ve been improving with each workout. By keeping track of Training Effect as I run, I can see if I’m not pushing myself hard enough. This is a great motivator to get a kick in the pants and go faster, harder and break through to the next threshold.
Other essential information is also displayed on the T3d face. The current heart rate stays in the middle of the face, with other measurements displayed at the bottom including lap time, average heart rate, or calories burned. With the push of a button, you can cycle through these pages of data during a workout to get a complete picture of your training.
Another great thing about the Suunto T3d is how you can customize it to match your fitness goals. The watch synchs up with optional Suunto PODS for even more real-time data flow. I’ve paired my T3d with the Suunto GPS and Foot PODS and get speed, distance and cadence information along with heart rate and Training Effect. Both PODS have worked very well and will get their own comprehensive reviews very soon.
The Suunto T3d stores up to 15 workouts, so you can look back and track your progress. This works well, but an even better way to keep score is to use the Suunto Movestick and transfer all that data to Suunto’s online training portal at Movescount.com. Once all your training data is online, you can analyse your workout effects with easy to read graphs that illustrate your fitness improvements. Movescount is also a social media network where you can share your workouts with other users, and see what awesome activities your fellow Suunto owners are doing in your part of the world. Movescount is also a place for you to brag about your achievements, because if you don’t have proof, then it didn’t happen.
After months of training with the Suunto T3d, I’ve been impressed with its ability to keep track of my fitness levels. I also like the way it looks. The Suunto T3d isn’t large and bulky like other wristop computer out there. In fact, I wear the Suunto even when I’m not training because it looks and functions like a standard watch.
My only complaint would be that the menus are not very intuitive and can be difficult to navigate. Setting up the watch is a snap using the instruction manual, but over time, it’s easy to forget which button to push to change menu settings, synch up new PODS, or transfer data to a computer. Several times I got lost in the bowels of the menus and had to dig out the instructions to remember how to find the display I wanted to see. It takes a long time to become an expert T3d handler.
Although I don’t have much experience with other heart rate monitors in the market, I do think the Suunto T3d with Dual Comfort Belt has got to be one of the coolest devices anyone can wear during a workout. The information the watch provides in real time is vital to understanding your fitness level and whether your workout is really giving you a workout. I recommend the Suunto T3d to anyone who trains.
Oh, and the watch tells time pretty good too.