Home > Feature

Review: Polar Vantage V

After five years without a considerable upgrade to Polar's GPS watch product line, Polar's new Vantage V and M are sure to turn heads

Polar is one of the most recognizable brands on the long course and short course triathlon circuits. Having recently released the Polar Vantage V and M models, their new multisport watch line, Polar has integrated activity monitoring with high-performance training features into a sleek new look. Gone are the days of the boxy Polar watch, here is the new Polar Vantage V and Vantage M.

The Polar Vantage V has a circular contour and is incredibly comfortable. Its wristband is made up of silicone which adds durability and comfort to the straps. Weighing just 66g, the Polar Vantage V is one of the lighter all-purpose, high-performance GPS watches on the triathlon scene.

Everyday life 

With its sleek profile, interactive interface and intuitive setup, I had the Polar Vantage V up and running in no time.

In the 21st century, triathletes of all abilities are interested in data and gathering lots of it. The Polar Vantage V quite literally does it all, from sleep monitoring to 130 different activity profiles.

I’ve always known sleep can have a significant impact on performance, but I never really knew how many hours I slept. After I synced my Vantage V to the Polar Flow App, my sleep from the previous night was quantified in numbers I could understand and analyze. I’m aware this technology is likely no different to what is seen in the newest activity monitoring watches, but combined with the added features in the Polar Vantage V, I was pretty impressed.

Besides the expected swim, bike and run profiles, the Polar Vantage V is also able to record your inactivity. As more research in the health and fitness industry emerges, we are continually learning how detrimental sedentary behaviour is to our health, regardless of the number of hours we spend training.

The number of sport profiles on the Polar Vantage V is staggering. When I first opened the Polar Flow App, I explored the sports profile page – a list of the specialized activities you can sync to your watch. With over 130 different profiles, you can make sure you are recording every piece of activity. And with 40 hours of battery life,  you will have no excuse for missing a workout.

Polar Flow App

Easy accessibility, pairing capability and access to software updates is a must when it comes to GPS watches. The Polar syncing platform and Flow App allows you to easily sync your sleep and activity files. You can also connect your Polar account to third-party training platforms to share with your followers.

Polar Flow App makes for easy activity and training monitoring. Photo: Polar

Training Features

As I entered my final two weeks of training for Ironman Arizona, I played with a number of the features on the Polar Vantage V. Being in a critical time of my training, I did not change my equipment or training approach. However, after exploring some of the watch’s features, I only wished I had gotten my hands on the Vantage V earlier as it would have been a great training tool. Some of the exciting features of the Polar Vantage V are Training Load Pro, Running Index, Recovery Pro and continuous HR tracking.

Training Load and Recovery Pro: After every training session, you are notified to quantify the training strain on your body. Plus, based on your physical features and previous workouts, Polar quantifies the strain a session had on your muscles and cardiovascular system. Plus, the Vantage V uses an Orthostatic test to provide you with recovery feedback. Three mornings of the week, you can pair your Polar HR monitor strap to your Vantage V and follow the prompts to get a full recovery analysis.

Running Index: Ever wondered if you are truly an amateur or a pro? With the running index, you can get feedback on your running form. Using HR, power tracking, cadence and pace, the Polar Vantage V calculates a running index for your runs. This can give you the motivation to adjust your cadence or even provide a nice confidence boost when you score an ‘elite’ rating.

Continuous HR Monitoring: Heart rate tracking is probably the easiest way you can track your recovery. Powered by Polar Precision Prime, the Polar Vantage V uses optical heart rate measurements with skin contact to give accurate readings. So, leave your heart rate strap at home because you won’t need it. I found this feature to be most beneficial when I woke up and wanted to measure my resting heart rate.

Swim metrics are incredibly accurate

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to do any open water tests with the Polar Vantage V. However, if the results from my pool swims are any indication of the Vantage V’s performance, you can expect accurate recording metrics. Not once in my pool sessions did the Polar Vantage V miss a length. Not only did it record all the sets I did, but it also allowed me to adjust the length of the pool I swam in. The one hiccup I found when using the Vantage V, was that it did not record kick sets.

Don’t forget about the bike

Cycling outdoors can be hit or miss with the fall, leaving many of us with late-season races training indoors. Despite this, the Polar Vantage V records all your numbers. With HR monitoring and easy pairing with other Bluetooth devices, you can make sure you get all the data you need for your training analysis.

Plus, with Smart Calories, the Polar Vantage V accurately estimates the calories burned based on your HR. It also gives you a score of the percentage of fat you have burned in a session.

Sebastian Kienle is a Polar athlete. Photo: Polar.

Run with power – power readings from your wrist

On the bike, the main metric of concern is power. Now, with the Polar Vantage V, can track power when running.

Since I was in the final few weeks of training before Ironman Arizona, I didn’t change my training approach with the new data. However, I did notice that the watch accurately quantified my efforts. Tempo runs averaged a higher power output than my long runs, and track intervals measured a higher output than recovery sets.

What’s pretty remarkable about the power reading on the Polar Vantage V is that you don’t need a pod. Gone is the frustration of setting up a foot pod on your shoe(s) or syncing a foot pod to your watch, all you have to do is run hard and watch the Polar Vantage V record your cadence and power.

Thanks to power and HR monitoring, the Polar Vantage V scores the overall training load of a session, as well as the muscle and cardiovascular load. As you do more or fewer workouts, the Vantage V determines the overall effect your training sessions are having on your body – detraining, maintaining, productive or overtraining.

Because I use my lunch break as a run workout, I’ve been able to get lots of data on the Polar Vantage V’s performance in the downtown core. Like most brands, despite the impressive GPS + GLONASS tracking technology integrated into the watch, tracking in the city is difficult. What is encouraging is that once I did get past the tall buildings, the Vantage V was able to catch up and record my progress. When I uploaded to the Polar Flow App, the file didn’t show my exact training duration from when I hit start but showed my run from the time the GPS picked up a reliable signal.

The roundup

After five years without a considerable upgrade to Polar’s GPS watch product line, the Polar Vantage V and M are going to get a lot of attention from the multisport community. Like any other training product, make sure you update your watch regularly when updates are available.

The Polar Vantage V is priced at $679.99, and the Vantage M is $389.99