The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a budget friendly multisport GPS watch built for triathletes.
Even though it was relatively expensive when it was first released, the selling price has dropped dramatically over the last couple of years. The result of this price drop is that it’s arguably the best value for money triathlon watch available right now, when places like Amazon put it on special.
However, just because a watch has dropped in price doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the alternatives.
Garmin Alternatives for Forerunner 735XT
Garmin Forerunner 935
The Garmin Foreunner 935 is literally the upgrade to the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. It has slightly better triathlon capabilities, more sports modes (including golf tracking), a much better battery life, and a barometric altimeter.
Obviously these extra features come at a cost. You should consider the FR935 if:
- You want a longer battery life
- You want significantly more sports modes
- You want a barometric altimeter
- You want a bigger and brighter screen
- You don’t mind paying a bit more
Garmin Forerunner 945
The Garmin Foreruner 945 is basically two steps up on the Forerunner 735XT. It’s also a fully fledged triathlon watch, but it also boast lot more technical features like music storage, body battery score, pulse oximeter and a super long battery life.
Personally, I would probably go for the FR945 over all the other watches in this round up. It basically gives you all the technology and features that Garmin has to offer, in a good looking watch, without costing as much as the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus or the Garmin Fenix 6.
Garmin Fenix 5 (Original)
From a technical standpoint, the original Fenix 5 is signifcantly more impressive than the Forerunner 735XT.
It has a lot more sports modes, the construction materials are much tougher, it includes a built-in barometric altimeter and it supports advanced running dynamics.
The only potential issue with the original Fenix 5 is that can be considered a little bit bulky by modern standards.
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
Although we are now entering a price bracket which is much more expensive than the Forerunner 735XT, it’s worth mentioning that the Fenix 5 Plus can do everything that the Forerunner 735XT can, plus a whole lot more.
Furthermore, because the Fenix 5 Plus is no longer the latest model in the Fenix range, you might be able to find a decent deal on Amazon, depending on the time of the year.
Garmin Fenix 6
At the very top of the Garmin triathlon watch range we have the Garmin Fenix 6. Admittedly the Fenix 6 is significantly more expensive than the FR735XT. However, if you want the best watch that Garmin has to offer at this moment in time, the Fenix 6 is at the very top of the pile.
Bonus tip, if you want to better understand the best Fenix 6 variant for your needs (there are over 20 different versions), this comparison chart might help you decide.
Polar Alternatives to Forerunner 735XT
Polar Vantage M
The Polar Vantage M is arguably the best ‘value for money’ triathlon watch in the world right now.
It might not have all the bells and whistles of an equivalent Garmin product, but it functions extremely well as dedicated triathlon watch. You should consider the Polar Vantage M if:
- You want a watch with a better optical heart rate than the Forerunner 735XT
- You want to use the wrist-based HRM underwater
- Your main interest is improving your performance as a triathlete
- You’re looking for a ‘sports watch’ rather than a ‘smart watch’
- You want to track more sports than the FR735XT offers (FR735XT = 14 sports modes, Vantage M = 130+ sports modes)
Polar Vantage V
The Polar Vantage V is essentially the upgraded version of the Polar Vantage M. The main difference is that it has a built-in barometric altimeter, and it can measure running power from the wrist.
For super passionate triathletes, it’s hard to ignore the Vantage V. It doesn’t come much better than this from and endurance sport tracking perspective. Polar flow is excellent, running power from the wrist is awesome, and it has a whole bunch of features like training load pro and recovery pro which can literally help you unlock new levels of performance in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon event.
Suunto Alternatives to FR735XT
Suunto Spartan Trainer
If you’re looking for a budget friendly triathlon watch from a tried and trusted wearable tech brand, you have to consider the Suunto Spart Trainer Wrist HR.
It tracks all the disciplines of a triathlon with ease, and it even earned a glowing recommendation from DCRainmaker after it’s release in 2017.
“They’ve nailed it. Hits the target audience perfectly, and does so at an awesome price” – DC Rainmaker
The only slight drawback of the Suunto Spartan Trainer is that the optical (wrist-based) heart rate only switches on when you are tracking exercises. This differs from the Forerunner 735XT, which tracks your heart rate 24/7.
The Suunto 5 is the official upgrade to the Suunto Spartan Trainer. The main improvements are:
- Significantly improved battery life
- 24/7 Heart Rate Tracking
- Enhanced design
- Fitness level tracking (V02 Max)
- Adaptive training guides
You could say that the Suunto 5 is sandwiched between the Forerunner 735XT and the Forerunner 935 in terms overall features.
All in all, it’s a very good looking triathlon watch, packed with sports modes, and the GPS accuracy is solid. You should definitely consider this option from Suunto.
Suunto 9 Baro
The Suunto 9 is basically Suunto’s equivalent of the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.
It might not have all the bells and whistles that Garmin is known for, but it delivers in some of the most areas, namely:
- GPS accuracy
- Battery life
- Robust design
- Hardware reliability
If you want a no-nonsene watch that won’t let you down during an ultra long trail run or a full length Ironman triathlon, the Suunto 9 might be the watch for you.
Coros Alternatives to Forerunner 735XT
The standard retail price of the Coros Pace is generally less than the Forerunner 735XT. For this reason, it’s definitely worth considering if you have a tight budget.
However, I would argue that you would be better served by the FR735XT of the Polar Vantage M, even if both of them are a bit more expensive than the Coros Pace.
In other words, with this particular watch, you get what you pay for, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The Coros Apex is a pretty good rival for the Forerunner 735XT. It has similar triathlon features, a longer battery life, and some people might even prefer the design.
Admittedly you miss out on the prestige that Garmin brings to the table, but if you aren’t overly committed to any particular brand, the Apex is defintely worth a look.
Coros Apex Pro
The Apex Pro is a step above the Coros Pace and the standard Coros Apex.
Personally I really like the overall design and the color options. It kinda looks like a cross between the Forerunner 935 and the Garmin Fenix 5, with a sporty yet rugged appeal.
The only slight issue with the Apex Pro is that it’s to expensive relative to the features that it offers, and this is mainly due to software limitations. The actual hardware (physical components of the watch) is pretty decent. It’s just that Coros are way behind Garmin on the software front.
Nevertheless, if you can find a deal on the Apex Pro, it’s definitely worth a look.
The standout feature of the Coros Vertix is the ridiculously long battery life. In full GPS mode it can last up to 60 hours. In battery saver GPS mode, it can last up to 150 hours.
In the world of Coros GPS Watches, the Vertix is literally the cream of the crop, and they are desperately trying to position it as a rival for the Garmin Fenix 5.
Unfortunately, Coros simply haven’t developed enough iterations of the Vertix for it to be considered a true rival for the Fenix 5, the Fenix 5 Plus or th Fenix 6.
The end result is that the selling price is way off.
Basically, you should only consider the Vertix if you have an issue with Garmin, Polar and Suunto, and you don’t mind paying more than you should. I appreciate that’s a bit harsh, but sometimes the truth hurts.
We’ve been through quite an extensive list of alternative options for the Forerunner 735XT. At this point, it’s time to reveal our top 2 picks.
- Polar Vantage M – You can’t go wrong with the Vantage M. It is relatively close in terms of price, and just as good (if not better) as a dedicated triathlon watch.
- Garmin Forerunner 935 – The FR935 is a solid upgrade to the FR735XT, and the GPS accuracy is very solid. You won’t be disappointed if you go with this option.