Credit: The Secret Studio
Gear > Tri-tech

Garmin Vivoactive 3 watch review

Does Garmin’s latest feature enough for triathletes?

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Our score




Garmin’s seemingly never-ending production line of training watches continues with a tool described by Garmin as a ‘GPS smartwatch with built-in sports apps and wrist-based heart rate’. Couple that with the Vivoactive 3 promo featuring singer Alesha Dixon and it’s clear this is more a fitness tool for the masses rather than a tri-specific unit like the Forerunner.

But that’s not to say it isn’t of use to triathletes. Its impressive GPS capabilities (swift and sustained satellite pick-up), wrist-based heart-rate readings and pre-loaded sports apps – including swim, bike and run – help you to track each and every session. It also charts your stress score, based on heart-rate variability readings, and links to third-party apps (including Strava and TrainingPeaks) for more detailed analysis.

In fact, its feature list is longer than an Ironman. The problem for serious triathletes, it’s like they’ve thrown the lot at the Vivoactive 3 but at the expense of gold-standard accuracy. The usual caveats apply to wrist-based readings – good at steady pacing, erratic at higher intensities – while for meaningful HRV data, you need to measure every day, first thing in the morning, for a block of time.

Still, as a gateway to these training concepts, it’s a worthy tool. Throw in notifications and pool feedback via accelerometers, and this is one divisive tool – great for newcomers, but not detailed or accurate enough for more experienced athletes. 

Verdict: not tri-specific but there’s plenty here for newcomers to multisport 79%

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