I spent 30 days and nights with the Polar Vantage V2 Smartwatch, a feather-light fitness tracker that excels in heart rate training and recovery data. But the coolest experience happened after testing.
For me, it’s fun tracking the thresholds for exercise, sleep, and exercise – for a while. There’s an element of play that makes workouts feel more focused. But at some point I will scan the data for differences in feeling from the actual numbers.
Polar’s Vantage V2 goes beyond the usual multisport smartwatch basics with its new performance testing and recovery tracking. During the test, the wrist-based heart rate measurement turned out to be more sophisticated and less fussy than the ones I tested previously. Indeed, it made ours Best fitness watches of 2021 Heart rate training list.
Additionally, it has more casual features like text notifications, music controls, and customizable watch faces.
In summary: The Polar Vantage V2 smartwatch ($ 500) greeted me with a new breed of fitness tracker. It’s the first time that I feel comfortable all day, thanks to its slim design. The battery lasts for days, so charging was rare.
During a wide variety of training sessions, the Vantage V2 provided reliable monitoring with minimal snafus. But the best part is that the new elements of the recovery and training zones have made it my new training companion that goes beyond that rating.
I spent over a month doing this on my wrist fully exploring its various functions and collecting enough data to explore the fitness overview. Read on for the top takeaways as well as details on the core features.
Polar Vantage V2 smartwatch review
I wore that Polar Vantage V2 for 5 weeks in a row. Day and night I followed exercise, daily activities, and sleep. I mainly used this watch for running and mixed up a few resistance workouts. Additionally, I performed several built-in tests of the watch that can be accessed through the watch itself, as well as a test with maximum effort.
Taking an injury-related break in running made it easy to commute between the watch’s four training phases: Withdraw, Wait, Productive, and Overriding. I have a more personal training routine from a trainer at Team Run RunSo I skipped the brand’s Polar Flow training plan (more on that below).
However, a nice aspect of following a plan from Polar is that you will be automatically prompted to start the assigned workout from the Start Workout menu and save some scrolls to find the appropriate one.
The training phases can be weird at times, depending on your opinion. A friend commented on the watch’s results such as “Compromised” sleep or “Withdrawal” sounded like backhand compliments, but in the end they motivated me.
As soon as I put it on my wrist, I was pleased with how minimal it felt. The Vantage V2 weighs 1.83 ounces, making it around 28% lighter than my Suunto 9 (admittedly an older model). During the test, I was able to lift kettlebells without any interference from the bracelet or fear of damaging the dial.
The Vantage V2 has five buttons. Some screens have more wiping options than others. After more than a month, I’m still trying to remember how to access certain screens while I’m running.
Under the rushing water of the showers after the run, I discovered new screens and options. And strangely enough, on various occasions, the watch would switch to airplane mode and even set a countdown timer. The touchscreen is of course sensitive.
Polar Vantage V2 Technical specifications
- Construction: Aluminum case, gorilla glass display, silicone wristband
- Battery life: 40 hours of continuous tracking
- Battery life in energy saving mode: Up to 100 hours
- Connected GPS: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and QZSS systems
- Main features: 100 m water resistance, Bluetooth connectivity, HR sensor, touch display
- Weight: 1.83 oz. (52 g)
- Price: $ 500 (or $ 550 with an H10 heart rate monitor)
Important tracking and training functions
Setting up Polar Vantage V2 includes choosing which metrics to record and whether you want other features, such as B. SMS notifications (no) or prompts when you come across a Strava segment (sure, why not?). There is also a warning to stand up and move around if you sit or stand for too long.
Polar Flow, the companion app and website, shows all of the data in one place and tracks the ups and downs of your workout. For tracking, sports like running and cycling are broken down into more specific styles, and indoor training can range from powerlifting to “body and mind”.
The V2 (and Polar Flow software) keep track of an entire day’s activity and sleep. Keeping track of a day’s activities is great for those who work on their feet or always take the stairs. Over time, these small actions add up and put a strain on muscles that have already been strained during a run or exercise.
Another plus: with the Vantage V2, feedback is shown on the watch for all of my training and recovery so you don’t have to think about the numbers on the website later (but you can if you want).
My favorite aspect of tracking was that Cardio stress report. The table showed peaks in range after long runs that went down to sustaining after days of rest and short workouts, and yes, slipping into workout provided extra motivation on some cold days that I missed a workout.
Another diagram shows how the cardio load behaves in comparison to load and tolerance, with load periods leading to more tolerance.
Polar Flow’s Cardio Report shows phases of improvement, maintenance and impairment over a month
Polar Vantage V2: tests before and after training
A few simple tests track training load and recovery progress. Polar Flow recommends doing this either before or after training in order to determine the training load and training needs.
Leg recovery test: Bend over with your hands on your hips and jump straight up. You can bend your knees as you land, but keep your hands on your hips. It’s straightforward and feels a little silly in public. The results were usually consistent with how I felt, although at times my legs felt more tired than the results showed.
Fitness test: Sit back and let the watch check your heart rate. It will be returned with an estimated VO2 maximum which with permission will update your profile. This estimate is regularly below the VO2 maximum that was specified in the mileage test with maximum effort (see below).
Sleep tracking: First of all, sleep is the most important part of physical and mental recovery. This was something I looked at frequently almost every day. The recording seemed to like when I fell asleep or when I lay still for a long time, and it spits out more specific summaries of deep sleep, REM sleep, etc.
Entertaining feedback: some nights came back “compromised” because I never slept through the required 4-hour block. I noticed that I woke up briefly around 5:15 a.m. most days of the week. It turns out that my neighbor is going to work.
Benchmark performance tests
In addition, Polar has some tests to record your progress more precisely and to adjust your training benchmarks. The two main tests are cycling and running, which push you to your limits to determine your peak performance.
To go biking
The bike performance test is a one-hour threshold ride to update your training zones. Shorter versions can also provide estimates. This is well suited for establishing initial key figures or for evaluating performance in the middle of an already intensive training plan. Ideally, this is done on an indoor bike so conditions are consistent and a power meter is required.
It involves a warm up with short sprints to prepare the body for what lies ahead. Then there is a VO2 max result as well as FTP for a power to weight ratio, which informs and can update the personalized heart rate zones of the watch.
Since most of my workouts were runs and these tests are best done on repeatable courses, I decided to take the mileage test. There are submaximal options, but I chose the all-out test for this review. For a basic measurement, 85% of your maximum heart rate must be maintained for approx. 6 minutes.
The test includes a warm up, notifying you when your heart rate is revving, and vibrating to let you know you can begin the actual threshold test. After starting, the screen slowly but steadily increases its speed.
Another notification will be given once you’ve kept the sustained exertion above the 85% threshold. From there, you can increase your pace along with the watch or, as I did, turn it into a finishing sprint.
Advantages and disadvantages of Vantage V2
- Light, flat aluminum watch case
- The integrated Polar Flow software provides a detailed overview of the training data
- Polar Flow can be synchronized without any problems, even if the automatic synchronization is missing
- Customizable features
- Navigation mode
- Key / swipe navigation can be tedious
- Showering can trigger alarms or activate airplane mode
- For the price, some other features will be missing
Cardio aficionados and those who want a more holistic view of their training and recovery are the ones who get the most out of the Polar Vantage V2 smartwatch.
Heart rate tracking seemed superior to the previous generation, with no outrageous peaks or dips during exercise. This is my new running companion. It’s barely there while running and tends to keep going. I won’t be wearing it to sleep past rating but that’s a personal preference.
As with most smartwatches, the Vantage V2 is just the hardware. Polar Flow is the software and has a lot to offer. If you use other tracking programs like Strava, you should also have a look at the training overviews of Polar Flow.
Adventure news of the week: 100 km record, mile history and more
From inspiring to tragic, Adventure News of the Week presents a round-up of the top news in the world of exploration and adventure. Continue reading…