Data is great, especially when your exercise of choice is an endurance-based sport. Running can offer so many actionable insights: distance, speed, cadence, stride length, elevation, altitude, and power.
Oh, and, of course.
Perhaps the most important metric to monitor while you exercise, your heart rate can offer valuable insight into your heart rate monitor for you is so critical -- if you don't like it, you won't wear it, and you won't have any data to help yourself improve.and . That's why choosing the right
Chest straps are one of the most accurate ways to get heart rate readings, and many newer, high-end models measure many other metrics in addition.
How to choose a chest strap heart rate monitor
When it comes to choosing a chest strap heart rate monitor, many of your purchase decisions will be based off of personal preferences, such as how skinny you want the strap to be.
Strap width: This factor comes down to personal preference, but before you buy, consider whether you'd be more comfortable with a slim strap or a wider one.
Module size: Some chest straps use tiny modules (the plastic puck-like part) that don't extend over the edges of the strap. Others, however, use larger monitors. This also depends largely on personal preference, as well as how tight your running shirts are.
Internal memory: If you don't like to hold your smartphone when you exercise, opt for a monitor that can store your workout data on its own. You can later transfer data to your phone via your monitor's companion app.
Metrics: Consider what all you want your monitor to, well, monitor. Higher-end models capture everything from run cadence to stride length, while more basic models might only capture your heart rate.
Battery life: A longer battery life is always more convenient -- no one wants their monitor to peter out during a run. Make sure to check the description for battery life before purchasing a monitor.
Without further ado, here are seven chest strap heart rate monitors that are great for runners.
These products and services are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
Polar's H10 chest strap heart rate monitor is a refinement of the popular H7, which many runners heralded as the gold standard for heart rate monitors when it came out in 2013. The H10 features a 400-hour battery life, comfortable strap at a medium width and built-in memory for one training session.
What buyers say: "Best heart rate monitor I have ever seen! Physical therapist and doctor recommended."
The Polar T31 is not so much a heart rate monitor in and of itself -- meaning, it doesn't do all the fancy things that other devices on this list do. The T31 is actually a transmitter that works by capturing your heart rate with a waterproof ECG and sending it to your fitness watch. It can also connect to treadmills for indoor runs.
What buyers say: Reviewers praise this heart rate transmitter for its accuracy and ease of use, plus its ability to connect to multiple third-party machines and devices.
Can't stand carrying your smartphone on your run? Fret not, as the Shanren Beat 20 stores data for up to 100 training sessions, which you can later transfer to your phone via the Shanren Sport app. This strap also offers a unique vibration alert feature that warns you when you're approaching the max heart rate you set in your app.
What buyers say: "It is extremely user-friendly, easy to read and understand, lightweight."
Another phone-free chest strap, the Wahoo Tickr X connects to just about anything, including phones and tablets, Garmin watches and more than 50 fitness apps. This monitor features a wider, soft strap that adjusts from 23 inches to 48 inches.
What buyers say: Reviewers praise this unit for its accuracy and ease of use, but do warn that it could be more durable.
A super thin chest strap with an impressive year-long battery life (if you run for one hour, once a day), the Garmin HRM-run features a small, lightweight monitor that captures six cool running metrics: cadence, vertical oscillation ("bounce" in your run), ground contact time, left/right balance, stride length and vertical ratio (oscillation height to stride length).
What buyers say: "Best HRM chest strap! The fit is comfortable. It performs flawlessly and never loses connection."
If you sprinkle in other forms of training -- specifically, biking and swimming -- you should check out the Garmin HRM-Tri, which captures all the data that triathletes need to know and reports it all back to any compatible devices you sync it to.
What buyers say: "Easily the best chest strap heart rate monitor that Garmin has made" and, quite simply, "Best thing ever!"
If you're looking for a budget buy, this is it. The CooSpo IP67 chest strap uses ANT+ technology and Bluetooth, which allows it to sync and work wirelessly with probably any device you already have. Coming in at just $30, buyers love the value for the price.
What buyers say: "Great alternative to name brand units for less money," and "Great price and will easily pair with all popular devices and products. Strap feels comfortable and transmission is very accurate."
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.