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10 Best Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback Monitors

Want to learn to induce the hyper-focused flow state on command?

Intentional heart rate variability training makes that a possibility. The right products give you real-time coaching to identify your roadblocks. Only then can you shift into high performance alpha and gamma brain waves.

Or maybe you just want to better understand how your heart rate fluctuates throughout the day.

Either way, I researched the top rated and frequently recommended heart rate variability tracking devices.

The best hrv monitors available online that I’ve found are:

How to Choose the Right Heart Rate Variability Wearable

Each wearable in this list is backed by large contingents of raving fans. Your ideal choice depends on your lifestyle:

  • Budget
  • Phone type
  • Preferred device form
  • Expected use case

To make comparison easier, I’ll break down the following for each device:

  • What makes it stand out
  • The type of sensor that collects data
  • How that data is transmitted
  • What apps it’s compatible with
  • If it’s water-resistant
  • The device’s battery

Since it will come up…

ANT+ is an old wireless protocol commonly used in wearables before bluetooth. Few modern phones support it, so you’ll need to either:

  • Buy an adapter for your ANT+ device
  • Choose a more modern device

Before we get started, there’s one final thing you must know.

HRV Monitoring vs HRV Biofeedback Training

Devices fall into two distinct categories. Based upon how they work.

  1. Passively
  2. Actively

HRV monitoring is more popular, but it doesn’t work as well (passive). HRV trainers are far more effective (active). Put differently:

  • HRV monitors show you the past.
  • HRV trainers show you the present.

This tiny detail makes a serious difference. Training shows you in real-time how lifestyle habits (breathing, moving, thinking, etc) impact your HRV scores. Only trainers help you spot the cause and effect so that you can visualize and untrain bad habits.

That’s what makes these the next generation of HRV monitors. I listed the best of each category separately below.

Top HRV Biofeedback Trainers (Active)

1. HeartMath EmWave2 

emWave2 1

Overview

Specialty: Standalone unit

Sensor type: Ear

Data transmission: Wifi, USB

App compatibility: Not required. Windows & Mac apps available.

Water resistant: No

Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion

EmWave2 is state-of-the-art at an affordable price. It generates clear feedback via color and tone. It has a breathing-coach built-in that automatically tracks your sessions and provides feedback along the way. Difference levels continue to challenge you as you improve. Perfect for getting into the zone, falling asleep quickly, or before stressful meetings. This is the best overall device.

If that’s not enough, emWave2 is scientifically validated by decades of research and thousands of glowing customer reviews.

2. HeartMath InnerBalance

innerbalance

Overview

Specialty: Value

Sensor type: Ear

Data transmission: Bluetooth or Lightning cable

App compatibility: HeartMath app

Water resistant: No

Battery: Rechargeable, 80-hours of usage (Bluetooth model)

InnerBalance is actually a cousin of HeartMath’s emWave2. It features the same high-tech sensors, but with two advantages: portability and price. Instead of a built-in breath and heart rate gauge, InnerBalance displays the information on your phone. Which is a double-edged sword. The device is more compact, but requires a phone connection. They offer both a Bluetooth and a wired version of the product.

If you’re new to active HRV biofeedback training or want the best value, this is your product. See why it’s used by NASA, Kaiser, Intel, Stanford, and medical researchers everywhere.

3. Lief

lief

Overview

Specialty: Discreet

Sensor type: Adhesive patch

Data transmission: Bluetooth

App compatibility: Lief app

Water resistant: No

Battery: Rechargeable, 1-6 days depending on usage

Lief Therapeutics is another newcomer that’s rapidly becoming the choice of clinicians, researchers, coaches, and health professionals. Lief is one of the few companies whose products use true HRV biofeedback. But instead of a cumbersome wearable or wired sensors, Lief gathers data via sensors embedded into minimalist adhesive patches. These sensors can hide under clothing and provide continuous medical-grade ECG monitoring.

Unlike other devices, Lief logs HRV trends throughout the day and vibrates in real-time to help you discover and reverse triggers. They’re also the only company to offer personal HRV coaches so that you get the most out of your data.

4. EliteHRV CorSense

corsense

Overview

Specialty: Portable

Sensor type: Finger sensor

Data transmission: Bluetooth LE

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Water resistant: No

Battery: Rechargeable, 6 months of use

CorSense is a product built by the folks at EliteHRV (who make one of the original and most widely used HRV tracking apps). I used EliteHRV for two years as I tested different devices and wanted to keep all my data in one place. CorSense is basically a convenient mini finger clamp. Like the others, it can capture live biofeedback as well as resting HRV measurements. Their claim to fame is that their HRV accuracy is equivalent to that of hospital-grade 5-lead EKG.

CorSense has a 30 day no-questions-asked return policy and a 90-day-warranty.

Top HRV Monitors (Passive)

5. 4iiii Innovations Viiiiva V100 Heart Rate Monitor

viiiiva

Overview

Speciality: Price

Sensor type: Chest strap

Data transmission: Bluetooth, ANT+

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Water resistant: IP67

Battery: Coin cell battery, lasts 200 hours

The Viiiiva is a no-frills, passive chest heart rate monitor usually used during workouts. It’s budget-friendly, light, and has internal memory. You can go for a run and leave your phone at home knowing the V100 will capture your workout to its internal storage.

The V100 falls into the category of previous generation monitors. Thus it is ANT+ compatible and runs on removable batteries. It’s also IP67 dust and water-resistant.

6. WHOOP

whoop

Overview

Speciality: All-in-One

Sensor type: Wrist strap

Data transmission: Bluetooth

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Waterproof: Yes

Battery: Rechargeable, 5-day life.

WHOOP is possibly the most advanced wearable company around in 2020. Their “Locker” webpage is a hub for the latest high-performance research. Their HRV algorithm is more advanced than other passive monitors. One study found that after 4 months WHOOP members increased HRV by an average of 8 milliseconds. WHOOP’s primary product, the “Strap 3.0” is lightweight, waterproof, and accurate. It uses your personalized baseline along with a 3-axis accelerometer to capture profoundly accurate heart rate data.

The problem? As of this writing, the only option for purchase is actually rental. The device itself is free with a membership commitment. If you’re okay with that, WHOOP could be a perfect choice.

7. Biostrap HRM

biostrap hrm

Overview

Specialty: Fitness

Sensor type: Chest strap

Data transmission: Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Waterproof: Yes

Battery: Coin cell battery, lasts 300 hours

The biggest newcomer on the advanced wearable scene. Biostrap’s flagship is their brand new “EVO” product. It’s poised to dethrone Oura as the best biohacking wearable on the market. If you’re looking for an all-in-one wearable, it’s hard to beat. Otherwise, the Biostrap HRM has all the HRV monitoring features of their premium product at a fraction of the cost.

What sets Biostrap’s HRM apart from the others is the useful customer support, the aesthetics of the device, its reported reliability, their polished app, and likely the algorithm that processes your HRV data.

8. Polar H10 Heart Rate Sensor

polar h10

Overview

Specialty: Classic

Sensor type: Chest strap

Data transmission: Bluetooth LE, ANT+

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Waterproof: Yes

Battery: Coin cell battery, lasts 400 hours

Polar is the oldest name in heart rate monitoring. Even today, several of their products are common. Their H10 model is the most accurate they offer and the choice of many professional athletes. It’s waterproof up to 30 meters, has a basic internal memory for storing workouts, and a long 400-hour battery life. The device is decently accurate and compatible with third-party apps. But at the same time, it’s more finicky and less reliable than other HRMs. 

9. Polar H9 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor

polar h9

Overview

Specialty: Beginner HRM

Sensor type: Chest strap

Data transmission: Bluetooth LE, ANT+

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Waterproof: Yes

Battery: Coin cell battery, lasts 400 hours

With the Polar H9, you get basic heart rate monitoring. This is their newest and most affordable model. Compared to the H10, the H9 is cheaper because it lacks internal storage and the strap is made of lower quality material. Users also report that you must login to use the Polar app. If you’re unsure whether you’ll actually use HRM, this could be a good device.

10. Oura Ring

ouraring

Overview

Specialty: Minimalist

Sensor type: Finger

Data transmission: Bluetooth LE

App compatibility: Most popular apps

Waterproof: Yes

Battery: Rechargeable, 5-7 day life.

Oura is a household name among biohackers. One of the first wearables to track HRV during sleep, Oura recently updated their software to allow on-demand HRV tracking through a feature called “Moment”. Oura’s known for their robust and highly accurate HRV algorithm. The rechargeable battery easily lasts five days on a single charge. It’s waterproof, has Bluetooth, and airplane mode. I’ve used my Oura Ring for about three years and have been able to spot trends in lifestyle actions and HRV. If you’re looking for the most sensors and data crammed into the smallest device, nothing compares to the Oura Ring.

Choosing The Right Heart Rate Variability Device

The time between heartbeats contains a trove of information. HRV data is among the first and easiest (of 43+ biomarkers) self-quantification data new biohackers collect.

  • Are you overly stressed?
  • Did that last meal agree with you?
  • Should you exercise?
  • Is tonight a good opportunity for more sleep?
  • Are you getting sick or burnt out?

Picking up these subtle cues for HRV training takes today’s finest gear. There are two types of HRV devices, and your optimal choice depends on your goal:

  • Active biofeedback
  • Passive monitoring

If you just want basic data on your heart rate throughout the day, a passive monitor suffices. For that, I’d go with the Biostrap HRM.

Deep insight, however, takes next-generation technology. Active biofeedback gives you real-time coaching to crush stress while maximizing focus, attention, cognition, idea generation, and general brainpower. Nothing has more validation by research than the HeartMath emWave2.

Or you can go old-school. With enough meditation you can train yourself to enter the same states of optimal performance. Today’s technology can shave 40-years off that learning curve.

What’s your favorite HRV biofeedback device?

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