Different multi-sport options for all budgets and level of tech
With big wrists comes more real estate for a full-featured triathlon watch. It wasn’t so long ago that GPS watches, namely ones for triathlons, were huge and bulky. These days, not only are triathlon watches sleek and stylish for daily wear, but they also make the most of every square inch with big, bright displays and truly epic battery life.
Our top recommendation is a high-performance option from Garmin and a substantial investment, but we’ve also highlighted that a bigger size doesn’t necessarily mean a higher price.
Garmin fēnix® 6X – Pro Solar Edition
The fēnix® 6X Pro Solar Edition is a large form factor triathlon watch that offers a larger watch-face than its Garmin siblings. The solar charging included in this model boasts an already impressive battery life that will last to the end of a full-distance triathlon (140.6 miles between swimming, cycling, and running) with battery to spare.
Garmin’s fēnix® series is the pinnacle of multi-sport watches, bursting with different training modes for running, cycling, swimming, golfing, hiking, mountaineering, skiing, and more. Follow along with animated workouts right on your wrists for quick cardio, strength, or yoga sessions and then get out and enjoy the outdoors with built-in GPS, round-trip routing, turn-by-turn navigation, and other awesome features. There’s also a full suite of health monitoring sensors that track your daily activity, heart rate, and sleeping habits. There are even stress tracking and relaxation reminders designed to help with your mental health.
Garmin has included all the daily smart features you could want, including on-board storage for up to 2000 songs and support for Spotify streaming along with Bluetooth connectivity, so your music is never more than a few buttons away. You can build your custom watch, choose the right wrist strap to fit your style, and incorporate the fēnix® 6X as part of your look.
Key Features of the fēnix® 6X – Pro Solar Edition:
The watch-face is the focal point of any smartwatch, but the display on Garmin’s Solar Edition also serves to recharge the battery through the power of simply being outside. That is an enticing prospect for anyone interested in racing in ultra-distance events where everything, including your watch battery life, is pushed beyond its limits.
The solar display is protected by a bezel made of titanium, and the case is made with a fiber-reinforced polymer for a rugged piece of technology designed to withstand the elements. You’d expect nothing less from a watch designed to track a trek up a mountain, a ski descent down to the bottom, and a few laps in the pool to unwind, all with battery life to spare.
What you need to know: The Garmin fēnix® 6X is a full-featured sporting smartwatch that’s great for triathlon training purposes and well beyond.
- Solar-powered charging through the display
- Rugged design with titanium bezel
- Full package of sports training modes and health-tracking sensors
- Great daily smart features for everyday use
- Premium pricing
Starting at $949.99 USD, amazon.com
Wahoo Elemnt Rival
Wahoo is a relative newcomer to the smartwatch game, but with its deep roots in the cycling world, the Elemnt Rival is a solid triathlon training watch in a larger form factor. This is a training-focused watch that doesn’t include as many of the daily smart functions you’d find on the latest consumer smartwatches and other comparable multi-sport offerings. Instead, Wahoo focused on developing a simplified interface and connectivity for touchless transitions on race day.
One of the benefits of going with a slightly smaller watch is that you don’t have as much bulk on your wrist, yet you can still expect a 14-day battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 24 hours in GPS or HR mode. That’s more than enough for most athletes. And the standout feature is the touchless transition, which accurately tracks all three segments (swim, bike, and run) on race day with just a single button — a handy feature for beginners.
With a 1.2-inch display, the Rival is still plenty big and bright with an ambient light sensor to adjust the brightness relative to conditions. A simplified four-button interface controls navigation. The Rival is available in a black or white case with a matching wrist strap.
Key Features of the Wahoo Elemnt Rival:
The key differentiating feature for the Wahoo Elemnt Rival is the Touchless Transition mode that recognizes when you switch from swimming to biking to running without having to stop and press buttons on your watch. This allows you to focus on your race, knowing that all your data is recorded properly.
Also assisting with the ease of transition is the compatibility with Wahoo bike computers and popular data syncing services like Strava and Dropbox, so it’s best to look at the Elemnt Rival as a key piece of your triathlon training kit. Since most people already own an Apple Watch or fitness tracker, you don’t necessarily need to wear a triathlon-focused watch 24/7. That’s why Wahoo focused on designing the Rival to be a streamlined performer on race day while delivering great value for triathletes.
What you need to know: The Wahoo Elemnt Rival comes in slightly smaller than the other watches in its class and on this list, but what it trades in size and battery life more than makes up in price.
- Big and bright display that’s always easy to see
- Great integration with Wahoo accessories and third-party data
- Touchless Transition makes race day easier
- More affordable than other larger multisport watches
- Lacks the daily smart features and sensors found elsewhere
$379.99 USD, wahoofitness.com
Suunto 9 BARO Titanium
The Suunto 9 BARO Titanium is the Finnish brand’s top offering in a GPS multi-sport smartwatch and the spiritual successor to the popular Spartan Ultra. This is a more polished product that includes updated features like an optical heart rate sensor, more advanced GPS tracking, and more intelligent battery life management, along with the luxury of quick-release 24-mm wrist straps.
Suunto offers 80 different sport modes for recording different activities and training, including more accurate tracking of long runs and swims. The BARO model also includes barometric sensors that, along with the altimeter, can more accurately measure current weather conditions, which can help you avoid getting caught in a nasty storm while training.
We’re recommending the Titanium variant of the Suunto 9 in part because rugged build quality is always preferable in a multi-sport watch and because titanium is lighter. With all those sensors packed in, the Suunto 9 BARO is one of the heavier watches in this segment. In this case, it’s definitely worth spending a bit more on the superior and punishment-resistant model.
Key Features of the Suunto 9 BARO Titanium:
One of the coolest features of the Suunto 9 BARO is how it manages battery life while in GPS tracking mode during training or race days. There are three battery modes — Performance, Endurance, and Ultra — with the latter offering up to 120 hours of GPS and data tracking.
The Suunto 9 will also send smart reminders based on your activity history to ensure that you have fully charged the watch for your next swim, bike, or run workout. If it notices that the battery is running low during your exercise, it will suggest transitioning to the next most energy-efficient battery mode.
This will be music to the ears of anyone training for ultra-distance races, but it’s also just handy if you’re the type who forgets to recharge their training tech regularly.
What you need to know: The Suunto 9 BARO Titanium is a large, rugged multi-sport smartwatch that builds on the legacy of the Spartan Ultra with smarter features and swappable straps.
- Outstanding battery life efficiency and management
- Built with rugged materials for better durability
- Reliable GPS tracking for runs and swims
- No music controls or contactless payments
$599.99 USD, amazon.com
Which triathlon watch for large wrists should I buy?
The multi-sport watch market continues to grow, as the Wahoo Elemnt Rival just came into the space in 2020. It’s good news for you, the athlete and consumer, as it forces companies to continue creating and innovating.
Have you noticed a consistent theme? The seemingly endless battery life! If you need up to 5 days of continuous exercise tracking, the Suunto 9 Baro is your best bet. If you’re more interested in features and functionality, the fēnix® 6X Pro Solar Edition will deliver everything you need and more.
If you come from a cycling background, already have a Wahoo bike computer, and don’t require the most advanced health monitoring statistics, the Wahoo Elemnt Rival might be the watch for you.
Have larger wrists yourself? Let us know in the comments about the watch you use for racing and training!