Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Watch

The Polar RCX5 heart rate monitor and watch is proof that you don’t need GPS capabilities to be cool. This baby can do some really cool stuff besides just monitor your heart rate. It has a few features to help you improve your endurance, get the most out of your workout, and can be used by runners, swimmers, or any other endurance athletes. Click here to buy the Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Design

The screen on the RCX5 is pretty big, allowing you to monitor several things at once. It doesn’t mess around with having lots of small numbers or indicators- it features a few key metrics that you’re looking for including heart rate and time elapsed.

The band is comfortable, not too bulky or thin.

For you fashion-minded people, keep in mind that this model only comes in 2 colors- red or black. Those should be generic enough to keep most people happy, but I know some of you love your pink, purple, etc. If that’s you, this isn’t the watch for you.

Designed with the standard four buttons, Polar was able to fit a lot of functionality into this gadget while still keeping it simple to operate and customize.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Usability

Polar RCX5 Running Watch

As mentioned earlier, the RCX5 works great for swimmers as well as runners. Most GPS watches don’t tend to work well for swimmers, so this is an improvement in case you were disappointed in the lack of GPS capabilities.

This watch comes with all of the standard capabilities of most watches- an alarm, backlight, low battery indicator, key lock, etc. A lot of people choose to wear it all the time, just to save money and have that constant heart rate monitor available.

To help improve your performance, the RCX5 has a few cool features that help act as a coach. We’ll talk about the specific features in a minute, but a few examples are training diaries, speed/pace trackers, and your running index.

Finally- you do NOT need to worry about charging this watch on a weekly basis. Unlike GPS watches, this model will run for 8-11 months before the battery dies. If you’ve ever had a GPS watch die mid-run, you realize how nice this little tidbit really is.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Features

One really neat feature is called Race Pace. This allows you to set a target pace into the watch, for a certain distance. So for example, maybe you want to run a 5K in 20 minutes. You can program that into your watch, and it will tell you as you’re running if you’re matching the right pace.

The Polar Fitness Test helps measure your current VO2 capacity. It does this through a five minute test, and then doing a few calculations . As you may know, VO2 capacity is an important indicator of how well your body takes in and uses oxygen.

The calorie calculator helps you determine how many calories you’re burning with each workout. For folks who are trying to lose weight and burn more calories than they take in, this is extremely useful. The thing is, I always recommend reducing the number calculated by about 10%. It’s always better to be conservative with something like calorie intake/expenditure.

There are 2 Heart Rate maximum settings. The first is simply calculated by your age. Even though this works okay, the better setting is the maximum heart rate determined by the Polar Fitness Test. This is much more accurate, as it is based on how fit you are- not just your biological age.

As mentioned earlier- this model does NOT come with a built-in GPS capability. However, it does have the ability to “talk” to different sensors created by Polar, one of which is a GPS sensor. In a way this makes the RCX5 more of a “swiss army knife” of watches/heart rate monitors- you just have to pay a a little more for the sensors you want to use.

There are a few other cool features like automatic start/stop, auto-lap calculators (if you’re running on a track for instance), and training programs based on your goals and current fitness level.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Reviews

As always, I try to check out product reviews online before I make a purchase. While looking into the RCX5, here are a few reviews I found on Amazon.

The first is from a satisfied customer who gave the product a 5/5 stars:

“I had high expectations but this device exceeded them. First of all, the quality of material is impeccable. Second this watch picks up the heart rate signal regardless of if the electrodes are wet and maintains an accurate signal. All of the programmable training modes are great and having a data link dongle in the box is icing on the cake. Also you can swim with this thing on. Simply a great hr device.”

Here’s another with a 5/5 star review, although they’re willing to point out a small flaw with the lighting:

“Great features, in particular: multiple views and ability to synchronize with Polar website, download customized training plans for several sports and equipments. Size is pretty flat and non-bulky. Very legible except in the dark where the built-in face lighting is too weak to be useful. I paired it without any issue to the WIND speed sensor on 2 bikes. The chest band is very functional, easy to wear and clean.”

I want to throw in just one more review- a negative one, from someone who gave the RCX5 just 1 star:

“I bought this watch 3 months ago and today it died. It is not a battery issue (new battery). When you buy this watch, and the various sensors, you are making a huge money commitment. Without the watch, the sensors are useless, so if you want to go with a different brand, they are no more than junk. It appears the only way to possibly get the watch fixed in the USA is to mail it to the one service center in the country. No idea on how long that would take. There is very little customer service information on the web site and the email address for the US representative turns out not to be accurate. Think very hard before purchasing. I wish I had gone with the Garmin 910XT, cost is not that different when you add in the external GPS sensor and the swim data is really useful. Most of all, it would probably not die after 3 months.”

Personally, it sounds like this person received a lemon. It also doesn’t seem like they’ve looked into receiving customer service, because they said they weren’t sure how long it’d take to get it fixed.

Still, it is important to see that not everyone is happy with the watch. Granted- I don’t think I’ve ever seen a product with zero negative reviews, but maybe there are some out there.


If you’re looking for a watch with built-in GPS capabilities- the Polar RCX5 isn’t for you. Likewise, if you want something extremely inexpensive or has every feature available, this model isn’t for you.

But if you’re in the market for a high quality heart rate monitor, and a few gadgets to help you train for your next race, this may be a good option. Just make sure that you buy the watch online at someplace like Amazon.com, because chances are you’ll save at least 20% on your purchase.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this review helpful! Click here to buy the Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor from Amazon.

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