Gear Shed

Q:

Outdoor Bluetooth Gadgets: Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor

What’s the deal with Bluetooth? My phone supposedly has it. Can I connect camping and workout gadgets with Bluetooth to my phone—and will they work?

Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor.     Photo: Wahoo

A:A big player in keeping track of workout data has been the small Atlanta, Georgia-based company Wahoo Fitness. Wahoo makes low-cost devices that use the Bluetooth system to talk to your cell phone, including affordable heart rate monitors, and speed and cadence sensors for your bike. What this means is that you can now mix and match this hardware with your favorite phone apps for workouts and hikes.

Back in the day, you were stuck with whatever kludgy software a vendor made. A Timex heart rate strap came with a Timex watch and Timex software. But Wahoo products let you use free apps from the open market such as Strava, MapMyHike, and iRunner. One caution is that right now the company’s products are easier to use with iPhones. If you are on Android—like me—chances are iffy that you will find compatible Wahoo components. For starters, instead of Bluetooth, you would use a wireless technology called ANT+ and connect your phone to a special adapter. (In an upcoming Gear Guy post, I'll explain how to do this.)

For iPhone users, the solutions are simple. Get the $49 Wahoo heart rate strap, put it on, and fire up your favorite workout app to track your heart rate.

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