Normally I rely on the SheFlogger to tell me how out of shape I am. No longer. I unpacked the Suunto t6c heart rate monitor, a scary, glossy malevolent presence in my cardio-free home. I stared at it, and it stared back. "You fat fuck," I heard it say. After an hour of affirmational self-talk I fired it up and entered my vital stats. I had solid base data from a waterboarding session at Seattle Performance Medicine and I entered it in.
The chest belt is soft, not like some HRM straps that feel like a giant watch band around your nipples. It synced with the wrist unit seamlessly and I was off the couch. I won't bore you with all the spec details; the t6c does everything any other HRM does, and a whole lotta more. You can get a feel for it by downloading some of the training guides, the quantity and quality of which set Suunto head and shoulders above the competition. This document goes into the t6c's specialty, how it measures EPOC – excess post exercise oxygen consumption – and how to maximize training effect. The t6c utilizes your VO2max and lactate threshold numbers as well, so it's a party.
The t6c also has a built-in altimeter, something most other HRMs lack. Mountaineers, ski randoneers and tri-freaks will appreciate the ability to track vert until the cows come home. You can even strap it on and let it run all day to give you a baseline caloric burn guide, it's got the memory to hold it. And there's a women's version. Suunto has "pods" for every conceivable use, including a chest strap that can record data without the wrist unit for events where watches are not allowed. For teams there is all kind of functionality that lets a coach track multiple athletes simultaneously, seriously kick-ass. The software is a bit geekish, but with manual in hand you'll get it wired. Bottom line: the t6c is hands-down the best HRM for backcountry athletes serious about taking their game to the next level.