Image source: Garmin

Garmin heart rate monitors compared: HRM Dual vs Swim vs Pro vs Pro Plus

Garmin has today announced its HRM-Pro Plus heart rate monitor. It represents a very modest upgrade on its predecessor. The company now sells four different heart rate monitors. In this article we pit the HRM-Dual vs Swim vs Pro vs Pro Plus.

The company may be known for sports watches, but it also dishes out GPS technology across a diverse range of markets, including aviation, marine, tracking and mobile apps. If you own one of its sports watches, you are probably aware that Garmin also makes heart rate chest straps.


HRM Dual vs Swim vs Pro vs Pro Plus: still better than wrist heart rate monitors

The value of such devices are that they are much more precise than something attached to your wrist. Garmin may be on version 4.0 of its Elevate heart rate wrist sensor, but this still trails heart rate chest straps when it comes to accuracy. This is particularly evident with high intensity exercise such as HIIT. That is why many cyclists and runners like to attach a heart rate strap before heading out to exercise.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Interestingly, Garmin has not yet dished out anything that works from the mid or upper arm. We say interesting, because other companies have gone down this route. Polar is one such example with its OH1+ strap, but there are other examples. In our mind, it is just a matter of time before Garmin gets into this space.


HRM Dual vs Swim vs Pro vs Pro Plus: technical specs compared

For now, you have a choice of four Garmin heart rate chest straps. This includes HRM-Swim, HRM-Dual, HRM-Pro and HRM-Pro Plus.

There’s is also Garmin HRM-Run which can be picked up on some retail sites, along with HRM-Tri. The first has been around since 2013, the second since 2015. So it’s safe to say they are packing older heart rate tech smarts. It is not a surprise, therefore, that both of these have been officially discontinued as they have been superseded by newer heart rate monitors.

You might be able to pick up some great discounts on HRM-Run or HRM-Tri but know that you are running a risk as the product as not sold in Garmin’s store any more. Always best to buy the latest technology.

So it comes down to the other four heart rate monitors. Here’s a table showing how their technical specs stack up.

HRM-Dual
HRM-Swim
HRM-Pro
HRM-Pro Plus
Release date
January 2019
July 2015
September 2020
July 2022
Weight
54.4 grams
72 grams
59 grams
59 grams
Module size
34 mm x 62 mm x 11 mm)
29.4 x 51.4 x 8.5 mm
29.4 x 51.4 x 8.5 mm
29.4 x 51.4 x 8.5 mm
Sizing range
25″-52″
(64-132 cm)
23″-57″
(58-145 cm)
23.5″-42″
(60–106 cm)
With optional strap extender: 23.5″-56″
(60-142 cm)
23.5″-42″
(60–106 cm)
With optional strap extender: 23.5″-56″
(60-142 cm)
Battery type
CR2032
CR2032
CR2032
CR2032
Battery life
3.5 years
(using 1 hour per day)
18 months
(swimming 3 hours per week)
12 months (Tri training 1 hour per day)
12 months
(tri training 1 hour per day)
Tool-free battery change
No
No
No
Yes
Detachable module
Yes
No
No
No
Water-resistance
1 ATM
5 ATM
5 ATM
5 ATM
Number of concurrent BLE connections supported
2
0
3
3
Number of concurrent ANT connections supported
No limit
No limit
No limit
No limit
Connectivity
ANT+, Bluetooth
ANT+, Bluetooth
ANT+, Bluetooth
ANT+, Bluetooth
Supports heart rate variability
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Running dynamics
No
No
Yes
Yes
Running pace & distance
No
No
Yes
Yes
Stand-alone activity monitoring (steps, all-day heart rate, calories and intensity minutes)
No
No
Yes
Yes
Swim interval heart rate stats
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Stores and forwards heart rate
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Pairs with Garmin Connect app
No
No
Yes
Yes
Real-time heart rate transmission via ANT®connectivity (2.4 GHz) when out of water
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
RRP
$69.99
$99.99
$129.99
$129.99

HRM Dual vs Swim vs Pro vs Pro Plus: functionality compared

As you can see, HRM-Dual is the lowest spec but also the lower priced of the four. It is an option for those on a budget who do not need swim tracking ability or built-in storage.

Moving up in the range we get to HRM-Swim. The main upgrades with that one are better water-proofing and a non-slip design when in water. The device also has the ability to store and forward heart rate data to compatible devices.

Garmin HRM Pro
Garmin HRM-Pro

Then we have HRM-Pro and Pro-Plus. These two are exactly the same apart from the colour options and battery changing mechanism. The latter adopts the ability to change the coin cell battery by twisting the module. So absolutely no tools are required which makes the whole process much easier.

As far as ability, the main upgrades over the first two devices are an increased number of concurrent BLE connections, Running Dynamics, support for native run power on compatible Garmin watches, running pace and distance estimates (both outdoors and indoors) and stand-alone basic activity monitoring. On top of that you get all the ability of the lower range Garmin heart rate monitors.

Garmin HRM Dual
Image source: Garmin

HRM Dual vs Swim vs Pro vs Pro Plus: the bottom line

Garmin has a nice selection of Garmin heart rate chest straps. Nothing that works from the upper or mid-arm just yet, but if you are serious about your running or cycling pursuits you will want one of these.

Top of the range are HRM-Pro and Pro Plus. We suspect Garmin will discontinue the first soon so best to go for Pro Plus. Particularly as it sells for exactly the same price and has the benefit of tool-free battery change. The main benefit of going for this chest strap over the older ones is support for running dynamics, along with running power. The latter works on some smartwatches natively, on other Garmin watches by using the Garmin Connect IQ store solution. 

If you want to save some cash, then HRM-Dual and HRM-Swim are your options. There really isn’t any other reason to choose one of these two. The second costs a bit more than the first but has better water-proofing, onboard storage and swim tracking ability.

Whichever device you choose, take comfort in knowing it will spit out accurate heart rate stats and work seamlessly with your Garmin watch. The other option is to go for another manufacturer’s strap. These will also play nice with your Garmin timepiece. Our device of choice is the Polar OH1+ but there are other good ones.

Check out the Garmin range of chest straps on the company’s website. They can also be picked up on Amazon (HRM-Dual, HRM-Swim, HRM-Pro range)

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