Sport Passion   -  advice and training tips

Polar Grit X: in-depth review of an outdoor and adventure watch

by Philippe Baudoin © Copyright (published 14/05/2020)
outdoor multisport watch Polar Grit X

An affordable model that should appeal to fans of trail and performance

New in April 2020, Polar Grit X is an elegant, light and robust watch with a long battery life (up to 100 hours), offering full outdoor functions, a first at Polar. It will delight trailers, triathletes or adventurers. Designed for performance, it offers advanced functions for training, new navigation functions, slope analysis, and food and hydration assistant. Waterproof to 100 m, military standard, it is all-terrain. It has everything to appeal sports enthusiasts, especially since its price is quite affordable for the features offered. In-depth review and opinion.

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Characteristics of the Polar Grit X

Weights
64 g
Dimensions
47 x 47 x 13 mm
Screen
Touch, color, 240 x 240 px, 1.2"
Autonomy
40 h / 120 h / 30 d
(GPS / Eco / Watch modes)
GPS
GPS, GLONASS, Galileo
Real multisport
Yes
Recommended activities
Outdoor, trail, hiking, adventure, running, biking, mountain biking, swimming, (20 embedded profiles, 130 available)
Connectivity
iPhone, Android. Bluetooth wireless data transfer.
Cardio-frequency meter
Yes, wrist optics
Maps
-
Music player
-
Payment system
-
Telephony / 4G
-
Barometric altimeter
Yes
Barometer
Yes
Compass
Yes
Thermometer
-
Weather
Yes
Waterproof
10 ATM (100 m), usable for swimming and diving
Other
Racing power without external sensor, training tools (Training Load Pro, Running Program, FitSpark), planning and route guide, real-time coast analysis, refueling assistant, battery manager, weather, tool-less interchangeable wristbands, interface with Komoot
Other models
Polar Vantage V (high-end)
Polar Grit X is a multisport outdoor and triathlon watch perfect for trail, hiking, exploration, triathlon. It offers powerful tools for beginner to pro training and up to 100 hours of autonomy.

Polar Grit X at a glance and what's new

The new Polar Grit X is an outdoor multisport watch particularly well suited to trail, mountain (hiking, etc.) but also to triathlon. It is not an improvement of the Polar Vantage V but rather a model meant to complete the range.

If outdoor was not the brand's strong point until now, Polar, with this new model, has managed to be on the same level as Garmin, Suunto or Coros in this sector but at a more attractive price: only 429 € compared to 599 € for the Fenix 6 (the standard model), Suunto 9 or Coros Vertix. That's a difference of 170 €! Or 429 € compared to 499 € for the Coros Apex Pro, a difference of 70 €.

It is light, robust (military standard), more ergonomic than the Vantage series, more waterproof (10 ATM versus 5 ATM) and has a very long battery life (up to 100 hours). It is well-equipped with sensors (GPS, cardio optical wrist unit working underwaterand for fractional use, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer). It offers complete functions for sports including training assistance with a sports coach and running power without external sensors. It includes new functions such as HillSplitter (hill analysis), FuelWise (food and drink assistant), route planning via Komoot and turn-by-turn guidance.

It is the culmination of all Polar watches. It is the most complete, the most autonomous, probably also the most reliable thanks to its technical improvements. All this for a rather competitive price. It is difficult not to crack if you are looking for an outdoor watch for performance. Trailers will appreciate but also triathletes looking for a complete and not too expensive triathlon watch.

Mountain biker wearing Grit X
The Polar Grit X includes features that will appeal to mountain biking fans, whether for Sunday outings, training or competition

 

Complete outdoor functions

While the Vantage V has been designed for performance-oriented runners and triathletes, the Grit X and its new features now make it possible to go on outdoor outings in the mountains and off the beaten track.

As we wrote above, it is perfect for the trail but also for hiking, exploration and this thanks to the many tools it offers: barometric altimeter, real-time analysis of the coastline, navigation along a route with turn by turn guidance (turn after turn), management of food and hydration, weather over 2 days, huge autonomy.

Functions that add to the many features already offered by the Vantage V, including Programmed Workouts, Wrist Running Power, Training Load Pro, FitSpark, Nightly Recharge and more. In addition, Polar Smart coaching offers personalised training assistance to provide the perfect balance between training and recovery.

What's new with Polar Grit X?

The Polar Grit X includes all the features of the Polar Vantage V (except Recovery Pro and the orthostatic test) as well as the following new features. All of these features are described in detail later in the article.

  • Hill Spliter: real-time analysis of the coastline (ascents and descents)
  • Route planning and Turn by Turn guidance to follow a route proposed by the Komoot application and be guided in a detailed way
  • Battery manager for an adjustable autonomy from 40 to 100 hrs.
  • FuelWise, a refuelling assistant (food and hydration) with alerts and an evaluation of expenses during the trip.
  • Energy sources: information on the distribution of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins consumed during activity.
  • weather forecast for 2 days
  • Compass
  • Waterproof 10 ATM (100 m)
  • Interchangeable wristbands without tools

 

Who is the Polar Grit X for?

This new watch will therefore be of particular interest to lovers of trail running, mountain outings, but also running, cycling, mountain biking and triathlon (it is more complete than the Vantage V and less expensive!).

Detailed review of the Polar Grit X

Design and technical specifications

Thin Grit X outdoor watch
A thin and lightweight metal case and new buttons

The Polar Grit X is a nice, light watch (64 g against 66 g for the Vantage V), robust and water resistant up to 100 m (against 50 m for the Vantage). It measures 47 mm in diameter and 13 mm thick (46 x 13 mm for the Vantage V). It is available in 3 colours (black, white, khaki green) and with 22 mm tool-free interchangeable straps (new) available in silicone, braided fabric and leather.

The new Polar comes in a heavy-duty stainless steel case, with an amorphous carbon coating for the black version, and a reinforced polymer bottom. It is fitted with a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass with anti-reflective and anti-impression treatment and protected by a stainless steel dial. This model, like the Vantage Series, is rugged and certified to military standards (MIL-STD-810G).

Its transflective colour display is touch-sensitive and slightly brighter than the Vantage series. It offers the same size and definition as the Vantage V: 1.2" or 30.5 mm in diameter and an unchanged definition of 240 x 240 pixels.

The watch has 5 round steel buttons with a non-slip surface.

Sensors: power at the wrist and an improved optical sensor

The new Polar model includes all the sensors already offered on the Vantage series with some improvements and greater compatibility with external sensors. The watch features GPS, GLONASS and Galileo compatible GPS, a more accurate optical heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope and the ability to connect external sensors via Bluetooth.

Power screen

The instantaneous power measurement for running, already present on the Polar Vantage V, can be found. The measurement is made using the watch's on-board sensors (GPS, accelerometer, barometric altimeter).

As on the Vantage series, the optical heart rate monitor has 10 LEDs and 4 sensors that detect the correct contact of the watch with the skin. Unlike the Vantage, this model has orange LEDs for even better adaptation to different skin types. Remember that the optical sensor works underwater and can be used for fractional use, unlike most optical heart rate monitors today. Correction for inconsistent data is also provided during transfer.

Polar now offers the possibility to connect many sensors provided that Bluetooth is used (no ANT+ compatibility): cardio belt, power sensor, cadence and speed sensor for cycling, footpod, etc. But Polar goes further by allowing the connection of several sensors of the same type, for example 2 cardio belts or 2 cadence sensors. You can thus use 2 bikes (indoor and road bike), each with its own sensors (cadence, speed, cardio belt), which avoids complications especially for multi-sport activities.

Autonomy: up to 100 h but with certain constraints

The interest of Polar Grit X is also to offer a very large autonomy, up to 100 h, which makes it usable for long duration races (ultramarathon, ultratrail). In comparison, the Polar Vantage V offers only 40 h in GPS mode, the same autonomy but without the possibility of extending it if necessary (no Ultra mode). In comparison, the Fenix 6 offers 25 to 60 h depending on the model and 50 to 120 h in Ultra mode. Suunto 9 offers 25 h and up to 120 h in Ultra mode but with intelligent data extrapolation to improve data quality.

In practice, the watch displays the remaining battery life. If it is insufficient for the intended route, the battery manager allows you to extend it to 100 h at any time. To do this, the user can act on 3 parameters:

  • The GPS recording frequency : it defaults to 1 second for optimal recording. It can be changed to 1 minute or 2 minutes. Of course, the accuracy will be greatly reduced and the angles of the recorded track will be well rounded, especially for speed sports. Unlike its competitors, Polar does not extrapolate missing data from the watch's other sensors. Furthermore, the degraded GPS mode cannot be used for route guidance and Strava Live Segments. For other functions, and depending on the sports profile and the sensors used, wrist power, speed/altitude conversion and a few other functions may also be affected (wrist power uses GPS to estimate the speed of travel and calculate the kinetic energy of the runner).
  • The heart rate monitor: very energy consuming because of the LEDs, it affects a lot the autonomy. It can be deactivated for a substantial gain of autonomy. To continue to benefit from the heart rate monitor, a chest belt connected in Bluetooth can be used instead (the power consumption is much lower).
  • The display refresh rate: the displayed data will be refreshed less often, which can be a disadvantage if you regularly look at the displayed data (for split data for example! ). But for trail or hiking, this is not necessarily a big disadvantage.
UsageAutonomy
Training mode(*), GPS 1 second40 h
Max power saving mode (GPS 2 minutes, FC monitor off)120 h
Watch mode with HR monitoring7 days
Watch mode without HR monitoring30 days
Autonomy of the Polar Grit X
(*): GPS recording 1 second, optical wrist sensor on, normal display refresh

Functions: new features that make it a competitor and a serious alternative to Garmin, Suunto and Coros

First of all, the Polar Grit X watch incorporates all the functions already offered by the Polar Vantage V, the multi-sport and triathlon watch for the Pros, except for 2 functions that are not necessarily essential: the Recovery Pro function and the orthostatic test.

The following functions are described in more detail in our detailed review of the Polar Vantage V :

  • 130 sports profiles including 20 available on the watch. The Polar Grit X makes it possible to associate external sensors to each profile and can manage several sensors of the same type. It will thus be possible to ride a bike with its own sensors and then a home trainer with other sensors without having to reconfigure the watch.
  • Instantaneous power measurement at the wrist for running, a function exclusive to Polar that does not require any external sensor (Stryd, etc.). The watch uses the accelerometer, GPS and altimeter to evaluate power.
  • Training Load Pro evaluates the fatigue generated by the training from the cardiac load (training effort), the muscular load (calculated from the power at the wrist) and the felt load (evaluated by the athlete).
  • Nightly Recharge Screen
  • Nightly Recharge evaluates recovery at night. It is used in the FitSpark&trade function (see below) to provide an individualised daily workout.
  • Running program offers a personalized and complete training program over several weeks for a race objective to be reached (5 km, 10 km, half-marathon or marathon) and a given date for the race.
  • Training benefits is a function that gives, immediately after a run, an indication of the benefits of the training performed (e.g. maintenance or improvement of aerobic capacity, optimal training, recovery) as well as a motivating summary of these benefits.
  • Running Index to evaluate the VO2max, a performance indicator of the athlete
  • FitSpark Screen
  • FitSpark™ offers a personalized daily training program based on the night recovery. The idea is to encourage the user to follow the WHO recommendations for staying healthy: perform a weekly activity of 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of sustained intensity as well as muscle strengthening exercises twice a week.
  • Sleep Plus Stages for the detailed analysis of sleep, one of the best analyses currently on the market for sports and connected watches.
  • Serene, breathing and cardiac coherence exercises to relax, eliminate stress and benefit from positive health effects.
  • Connected Features: Smartphone notifications, Strava Live segments and more. These functions, which were not present in the first version of the Vantage V, have been added in subsequent versions of the software.

 

Man practicing Trail with the Polar Grit X
This new model is particularly well adapted to the Trail, both in terms of design, weight, autonomy and functions offered

 

In addition to these functions, the following new functions have been added:

Hill Splitter™: a real time analysis of hill ascents/descents

Hill Splitter Screen

Hill Splitter is a new function proposed by Polar to analyze the terrain covered in real time. The watch analyzes the route, detects the hills and displays data about them, such as distance travelled, ascent/descent time, vertical speed, elevation, number of ascents and descents made.

However, the watch does not anticipate the route from a programmed itinerary, as does Garmin's ClimbPro function. The algorithm here is much less elaborate, but it has the advantage of working in real time without having to program a route. This feature is similar to Garmin's Auto Climb feature.

Hill Splitter is an interesting function for loop courses with hills to count, compare, estimate progress, have information on the current slope. Its interest is less when it comes to making a long ascent with many climbs and descents (mountain bike or hiking for example) because the interesting statistics are those concerning the whole ascent rather than the information of each ascent and descent. If you climb the Galibier pass from Valloire, Hill Splitter will detect 2 passes and display the data in real time, which is already very good. ClimbPro, which is much more sophisticated, will go a step further by anticipating the 2 climbs and displaying information on the difference in altitude and the distance remaining, the estimated time, provided you have programmed the route beforehand and follow it with the watch.

GPS navigation: turn-by-turn route planning and guidance but no mapping

GPS guidance

Polar still does not offer mapping but adds to its watch the possibility to plan and follow a route with turn by turn guidance directly on the watch and without the need for a nearby Smartphone. Simply choose your route from the thousands available or build your own route, load it into the watch and follow the guidance instructions. The watch then displays the distance to go before the next change, indicates the direction to take and gives an alert if you deviate from the programmed route.

For this new function, the Finnish firm has teamed up with Komoot, a company offering an application for Smartphone that allows you to plan and follow a route (hiking, mountain biking, trail), among the thousands available, directly on your phone. The app displays the route on a map and gives vocal instructions to follow it as well as practical information (surface, type of terrain, gradient, photos of users). Users can then share their experience with the Komoot community by publishing and sharing a new course, photos and the story of their adventure. The Komoot app is increasingly used on connected watches (Apple Watch, Samsung Gear) and bike GPS (Garmin, Wahoo).

The use of Komoot is free for a use limited to a region (in France, the region corresponds to a department) and paying if you want to explore several regions or the whole world.

Polar warns that, in order to function, the guidance requires a GPS recording frequency of 1 second. Therefore, it will not be possible to use it in power-saving mode.

FuelWise™ , the fueling assistant

FuelWise

Following the example of Garmin, which offers hydration monitoring, Polar innovates in turn by offering FuelWise, a refueling assistant. FuelWise takes into account the type of fueling and the calories brought and sends nutrition reminders to feed and hydrate when needed. The idea is to maintain an adequate energy level throughout the course. In this way, you can learn to refuel regularly and according to the intensity of your efforts and avoid cravings. Unlike Garmin, Polar only takes into account the effort made without taking into account the external temperature (we drink more in hot weather than in cold weather).

Energy sources

This function indicates the proportion of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins consumed during the effort. This allows you to evaluate your expenditure and better balance your diet according to the type of exercise and effort.

Battery Manager

Autonomy is the battle horse of sports watch manufacturers. It is one of the main eliminatory criteria in the choice of a sports watch. For a watch that wants to be outdoor, it must be as large as possible. Polar offers here a simple battery management solution with display of the remaining time and the possibility to play on 3 parameters described above (GPS recording frequency, deactivation of the cardio optics, display refresh) for an autonomy of up to 100 hours.

Compass

The watch displays a compass in the navigation screen, an indispensable tool for orienting a map and finding your way around.

Weather

This function is very useful for outdoor outings and displays the weather forecast for the next 2 days. This requires a nearby Smartphone and network connectivity. Data transmission to the watch is via Bluetooth.

Our opinion on the Polar Grit X: should you buy it?

Polar offers here a complete outdoor watch, better supplied than the Vantage V and for a cheaper price! The functions that were expected on the Vantage V, such as battery management, route import and navigation with guidance, have finally been integrated in this new model but will not be integrated in the Vantage. The Vantage V can therefore be expected to disappear from the road in favour of the Grit X.

Trailer carrying a Grit X
The Polar Grit X is a good choice for Trail, mountain bike, hiking, exploration but also the sports of the Vantage V (running, triathlon, etc.).

Why you should be interested in the Polar Grit X

While this new Polar watch does not ultimately bring any real novelties compared to the competition, Polar has the merit of catching up on key functions. Moreover, the company did not offer to date any model worthy of outdoor use. For this use, one had to turn instead to Garmin, Suunto or, recently, Coros. With the Grit X, a complete watch is available for this activity.

We find this watch interesting for several reasons. First of all, let us recall that Polar was the pioneer in the field of cardio watches and the exploitation of heart rate and its variability. Since the release of the first cardio watch in 1982, the brand has been able to innovate and offer watches with reliable measurements. The Polar Grit X is the best watch of the brand today and its heart rate analysis is one of the best on the market.

Then, it has all the characteristics of an outdoor watch, in particular the trail: robustness (military standards) but also lightness and comfort, barometric altimeter, compass, guided navigation and thousands of available itineraries, weather forecast, water resistance 100 m, slope analysis tool, supply monitoring, great autonomy. As a result, it rivals the top-of-the-range watches from Garmin, Suunto and Coros but for a much lower price (70 to 170 € or more). Of course, it does not offer maps, but at this price level, this is normal and the itinerary guide seems to us sufficient.

Moreover, it is not outdone in terms of sports functions. It offers a sports coach with advanced training functions for both beginners and professionals for activities such as trail running, running, cycling, mountain biking and even triathlon, not to mention the many other outdoor possibilities (hiking, exploration, etc.). This watch is designed for performance and is suitable for all sportsmen and women, including professionals.

Its autonomy allows very long runs (ultratrail).

It is suitable for triathlon. But finding a triathlon watch at this price is not easy. One can turn to more specialized watches, such as the Coros Pace (less than 200 €), but there is no outdoor function and the training tools are less sophisticated.

Lepape matériel sportif et montres cardio

What's missing on the Polar Grit X

Polar could have offered a better resolution screen than the 240 x 240 px already offered on the Vantage V. That said, without cartography, the current definition seems to us more than sufficient. Garmin and Coros don't offer better or hardly (240 x 240 to 280 x 280 px on the Fenix 6 depending on the model, 240 x 240 px on the Coros Vertix). Only Suunto stands out with 320 x 300 px on its Suunto 9 Baro.

The HillSplitter function is quite basic and seems to us not very useful, at least not advanced enough compared to the PacePro function of Garmin (analysis on a given segment) or ClimbPro (analysis of the future slope on a programmed route). Polar will probably propose improvements in the future.

The watch is not compatible with ANT+ sensors, which may lead to spending more to acquire new sensors or even causing compatibility concerns for use on some devices that work with ANT+ (home trainer, etc.).

Polar does not offer any additional watchfaces or widgets to install, nor elaborate connected functions (mp3 player, contactless payment, Internet tracking, incident assistance, fall detection, etc.). But these are not necessarily the most sought-after functions, and at the price the watch is worth, one does not expect to see such gadgets either.

It is also regrettable that Polar did not provide for extrapolation of GPS data, in Ultra mode, to compensate for data losses, as Garmin, Coros (Intelligent Stride) and Suunto (FusedTrack) do. Also note that the degraded mode is not usable when using Guided Navigation, Wrist Power or Strava Live Segments.

Verdict

Given the outdoor features and sports functions offered, this is a rather attractive Polar watch at a more than reasonable price. We rank it among the best watches on the market for outdoor including trail and triathlon at the same level as Garmin, Suunto and Coros. We recommend it!

We liked
  • The design (light, robust, elegant)
  • Stroke power measurement without sensor
  • Training tools (Training Program, Training Load Pro, FitSpark)
  • New outdoor functions (HillSplitter, planning and route planner, FuelWise)
  • Excellent autonomy (40 to 100 h) and manual management
  • The excellent sleep analysis
  • The price
We liked less
  • No mapping
  • No downloadable widgets or watchfaces
  • No extrapolation of data in energy-saving mode

Price and availability of the Polar Grit X

The Polar Grit X watch is available for sale in specialist stores at the recommended retail price of 429 €. Discover it at our partners.

Buy Polar Grit X

Merchant
Price (from)
 
Lepape
429 €
i-Run
429 €
Amazon
395 €

Commercial links. Prices are not contractual. Please visit the merchant site.

Philippe Baudoin
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