Why I still like my Polar V800

I bought my Polar V800 back in 2014 (oh my!) and I am still using it every day. I had to exchange some parts over the years and it wasn’t cheap but it has been worth it. Two years ago, it even got an overhaul with health check, new battery, new ‘body’ and wristband. I am always happy to refurbish stuff and use it as long as I can. And the Polar V800 has everything I need for my training. It also feels super robust and has endured quite some beating during mountain bike crashes.

My Polar V800 use case

As said, I wear this watch 24/7. That means it’s tracking all my moves. Yeah, that might sound a bit scary but the minimal feature set makes it easier to control than newer devices. And I make sure, it only tracks the stats that I need.

The activity tracker

The activity tracker of the Polar V800 is super simple and provides all the information I am looking for. When I bought the watch, I already used other activity trackers for a couple of years (Fitbit & Withings Pulse). That the V800 has all those functions integrated into a GPS watch, was a game changer for me.

On the Polar Flow App I regularly check the ‘hours of night sleep’, ‘restful sleep’ and the steps. I also added a progress bar to the watch display. The bar is programmed to show the daily progress for 10.000 steps, which is my daily minimal goal. Thus, on days without training a quick glance at the watch shows the activity level of the day. If the bar is not full when leaving the office, I simply take a little detour on my way home.

The sport profiles

I customized the standard sport profiles to suit my use case. I currently have profiles for mountain biking, cycling (road bike and cyclocross), strength training, running, swimming and hiking.

My favourite view within the mountain bike profile shows the time, distance, ascent and heart rate. This comes in handy when climbing (which is not my favourite tbh). In my world it’s just a necessary task that’s part of the mountain bike experience. I regularly check the progress on our way to the top which helps me to count down the remaining meters in altitude and look forward to the rewarding downhill afterwards.

polar v800 with bluetooth chest strap

The training log

I regularly sync my Polar V800 with the Polar Flow App on my phone (Bluetooth). So everything gets automatically uploaded to the Web App and to my Strava Account.

I like Strava for the community features but I prefer the Polar Flow App to plan and adjust the training. Strava does not include all training results into its training log, which is a bummer. The biking and running session are displayed and summarized fine. But other activities like strength training are not fully covered. They only get shown as cross-training (XT) in the Multi-Sport Training Log. I prefer a fully integrated version where all activities have a category of its own. [EDIT: Strava just launched a couple of updates that will be rolled out during May and a more inclusive Training Log is part of it).] :)

Therefore, I use the Polar Flow backend as my ‘goto’ dashboard. There, I can add future training sessions and get an overview on all training results. In addition, the weeks are displayed with a summary of total time spent and distance. And the extra tabs include a view with recovery status and training benefit.

Feedback features on display

One feature I also quite like is the ‘status’ check within the watch menu. With one tap you can access your recovery status (undertrained, balanced, strained, very strained). It’s a simple and quick indicator of your current state. And to be honest, I am always surprised how it correlates with my ‘gut feeling’ for the level of exhaustion.

In conclusion, I really like this watch. When I was searching for pictures for this piece, I remembered that I even already wrote a blog post about the Polar V800 on www.lauf.training in 2014 (in german).

So far, none of the new GPS watches (of Polar, Garmin, Suunto etc.) felt like a huge step up. So I did not exchange my reliable training companion.

Just recently a new outdoor multi-sport watch appeared on the horizon – the Polar Grit X. The features look very promising but I am not yet convinced…we will see.

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