If you’re a rowing enthusiast you might wonder if there are smartwatches to wear rowing and help with your training and performance. When shopping for such a device, it’s really important to know what features are best to look for in a watch you can wear specifically for rowing.
Being able to track your rowing data lets you see very clearly where you’re at in your session. It provides a great overview of your performance after you’re finished training.
Until very recently, rowing-specific watches weren’t a thing. Thanks to the smartwatch and fitness tracker world being so highly competitive, the need for innovation has brought light to this niche market. The watches discussed in this review are great for either indoor or outdoor rowing.
What does a good rowing watch look like?
There are plenty of wearables and smartwatches who cater specifically to active people. They’re typically for running, swimming and general fitness. More often than not, they come with a dedicated app too.
Rowing has got some focus now. This review will look at the features that should be considered when purchasing a rowing-friendly watch.
Importance of data
Tracking your data during your rowing session gives its user an accurate overview which aids improvement. It allows for analysis of things like heart rate, strength, speed and stroke rate. Without this information, you’re blindly going at your training without knowing where exactly improvement is needed.
Regarding indoor rowing or erging, you should be able to know your exact stroke rate and count, timing and heart rate. You’ll be able to find an app that will connect your smartwatch to the rowing machine you’re using for the ultimate data experience.
Regarding outdoor rowing, you are going to want something that offers a GPS function as well as telling you your heart rate, distance and speed. Obviously, the device needs to be waterproof.
Arguably a really important thing needed for tracking your training. A lot of sports watches come with a chest strap that needs to be worn around the body for the most accurate measurement. Luckily, companies have developed this and you’ll more than likely find this feature from just the wrist wearable. They offer the same level of accuracy as its predecessor and frees your torso for movement during your ride.
This isn’t an imperative function for all sports watches, ie, those that are based indoors. It is worth investing in if you’re into outdoor rowing. This means you can track your distance in the water. It’s also super-useful for directions.
This is a really key feature for rowing enthusiasts as it tells you exactly how effective you are at rowing. This data tells you how to best improve or maintain your optimal performance levels. It’ll also monitor your strength.
Without further ado, let’s look at some examples of great rowing watches.
Garmin Vivioactive Heart Rate version
$200 / £175
If you’re into watches that give you more for you money, this is a wonderful device. The large display is incredibly clear; great when rowing. It’s slimline, but not so much that it’ll get caught up your sleeve.
The wristband has a clasp that ensures a snug fit on your wrist. This is great when you’re aiming to row fast. It offers features like a heart rate monitor and a waterproof rating that can take water pressure up to 165ft. It’ll track your steps as well as distance and even has a sleep quality sensor.
Garmin Forerunner 245
$210 / £189
For a very similar price, this device looks a little better and offers a little more innovation. No two athletes are the same. This device helps you to set goals around your workouts.
This GPS watch has a heart rate monitor. It’ll also deliver data on pace, distance, time and a plethora of other bits of information. There’s activity tracking for things like steps and general daily activities.
It has wifi functionality so you can link up with your pals, even compete. You can share your results with one another, as well as use this information for your own personal improvement.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR
$300 / £279
Here you’ll find data delivered on your stroke count and rate, distance, timing and heart rate. The Fenix has everything you’ll need for rowing. It has precise data. This data accuracy, including that of your general fitness, can only benefit you in the long run.
This device offers freedom from straps worn around the chest. It’ll monitor your heart rate from your pulse on your wrist.
It has a feature known as Training Status. This monitors your performance and delivers a truly precise record of your productivity, peaks and over-training.
$199 / £179
Garmin doesn’t have the monopoly on the rowing watch world. Polar’s M400 is a wonderful bridge-gapper between run of the mill fitness trackers and GPS watches.
It’ll keep track of the number of steps you’ve taken, the quality of your sleep cycles and the number of calories you’ve burned.
It has a silicone strap with a special security loop so you won’t lose it when rowing, even vigorously. It has a large display, which is incredibly useful for readability at a glance. It’s also very comfortable.
These wearables have been evolving over many years and the tech involved is still being innovated for specific sports, like rowing. Companies are battling in competition with one another and so the devices hitting the market are getting better all the time.
Are there alternatives?
Certainly. With the important features mentioned above, a keen rower might want to consider a GPS watch. Take a look at our review of the best GPS watches to help your journey to purchasing.