Polar Grit X in the test: Smartwatch for outdoor athletes

The Polar Grit X wants to convince as a smart watch all-rounder for outdoor enthusiasts. We take a close look at the design, usability and functions of the watch and clarify in our test whether the performance offered justifies the high price.

With the Grit X, Polar has launched a new smartwatch that is explicitly aimed at outdoor athletes. If you travel a lot in the great outdoors, be it on foot, by bike, on skis or completely different, the manufacturer promises a kind of all-round carefree package with the most important outdoor functions, a robust design and a wide range of training options. We test the Grit X as part of our sports watch theme.

Tests and articles on other devices have already appeared there, including the Polar Vantage M (test report), the Garmin Venu (test report) and the Huawei Watch GT 2e (test report). If you are not sure whether you are looking for a sports watch or a fitness tracker, we recommend taking a look at our guide.

The fact that the Polar Grit X is a smartwatch that is primarily designed for outdoor use can be seen from the outside. The watch case is made of stainless steel in combination with a glass fiber reinforced polymer back cover. The Gorilla laminated glass touch display is encased in a stainless steel bezel, on the edge of which there are two control buttons on the left and three on the right.

The Polar Grit X. You can see that the watch is made for sport.

The Grit X is certified according to MIL-STD-810G, specifically it should withstand falls from a height of 1.2 meters and cope with high altitudes, high and low temperatures, water, rain, dust and sand. However, the meaning of this standard is limited because a manufacturer can still advertise with the standard if the device has not passed all the tests of the standard. In any case, Polar states that the watch has been tested according to the standard and can withstand temperatures between -20 and +50 ° C. The watch is also water-resistant to 100 meters, so it is suitable for swimming.

The delivery of the Grit X includes the watch, a bracelet and a charging cable. No other extras are included in the pack, but Polar offers additional replacement wristbands and additional accessories for a fee.

When starting the Polar Grit X for the first time, we have three options for setting up the smartwatch: via smartphone, a PC or on the watch itself. If we choose the first two options, the Flow app plays the latest firmware updates directly on the watch – a process that can take several minutes.

The setup process of the Grit X has no other surprises: We pair the watch via Bluetooth with our mobile device, create a Polar account and connect the watch to the Flow app. If we set up the Grit X only via the watch itself, we do not need a Polar account, but then we cannot use all the functions of the Grit X either.

So that we can enjoy the full range of functions of the Polar Grit X, we have to create a Polar account and install the Flow app on our smartphone. The app offers a comprehensive and clear overview of our daily activities and health data. In addition, we can view our training and sleep records in the app and make general settings on the watch.

So that the Grit X transmits our training, health and activity data to the Flow app, we have to manually activate the synchronization. This works at the push of a button on the lower left control button of the watch, which we hold down briefly so that the data transfer begins. The synchronization then takes a few minutes, depending on how much time has passed since the previous synchronization.

If we do not initiate a manual adjustment, the watch will automatically synchronize once an hour or after training sessions, but only if the app is found within the Bluetooth range. Under certain circumstances, problems can arise here: Under Android, the control apps for clocks are frequently slowed down by the energy-saving mode and the synchronization stops in the background. Then the comparison only works if you have the app active on the phone in the foreground. A remedy can be to activate Polar Flow manually in the settings for the power saving mode.

Those who want to track their own activities beyond sporting training with the Polar Grit X can access an extensive arsenal of functions. The watch not only measures heart rate and distance traveled, but also allows specific activity goals to be set. We have the option to choose one of three different activity levels. The app does not give us detailed information about what the activity levels mean, but only makes recommendations based on our everyday activities.

Depending on how much we move throughout the day, a percentage bar fills in the app, which indicates whether we have already reached the selected activity level. If we click on the bar, the app shows us three ways of reaching our daily goal, for example with 11 minutes of football, 38 minutes of table tennis or 54 minutes of gardening.

If you move little during the day for professional reasons and spend a lot of time in a sitting position, the Polar Grit X can be set so that it displays a movement reminder at regular intervals. If we don’t move enough, the watch vibrates after a while and prompts us to move.

As befits a sports-focused smartwatch, the Polar Grit X offers a variety of different sports that we can record with the watch. These include classics such as running, cycling and swimming, but also exotic ones such as Finnish baseball, wheelchair racing or snowshoeing. A bit strange: We can also record climbing as a sport, but the app only offers this sport to us in the indoor version.

So that we don’t have to scroll through a long list every time, we can save up to 20 sports via the app, which then appear in the Grit X training menu. We also have the option to choose the Multisport option if we want to record several sports in succession in one training session.

In combination with the Flow app, the Polar Grit X offers a large amount of different tracking data and information, including:

  • Heart rate, distance, altitude differences, pace, calories burned
  • Energy sources: What is the proportion of carbohydrates, protein and fat in the amount of calories consumed in a training session?
  • Level of muscular strain (determined based on performance, duration and body weight)
  • Cardio Load (intensity of training compared to the average of the past 90 days)
  • Training benefits (what effect did the training session have for endurance and fat metabolism?)

All these data provide a comprehensive overview of your own training performance and offer various options for analyzing the training.

The app also shows the importance of the respective training for your own fitness level: If you train regularly, the app tells you whether the current training level is sufficient to maintain or improve your own fitness level. In addition, the Smart Coach function of the Polar Grit X recommends a sports unit to the user based on the previous training sessions for the current day and past weeks. In addition, the Polar Grit X offers a so-called refuel option, which reminds the user to drink something or to eat carbohydrates. This option can also be configured individually.

The various tracking options offer users who want to record and optimize their training independently and extensively, a wealth of helpful options. However, the menus and options can quickly overwhelm inexperienced users because they require some training and planning. Nevertheless, training tracking is one of the great strengths of the Polar Grit X.

As usual, external sensors, such as Bluetooth heart rate belts for the chest, can be coupled with the watch. It is also good that the watch can determine the position via GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and QZSS and can use several systems in parallel. In addition, complete tours can be done via the app Komoot plan and save the cards on the watch.

We only had one really strange behavior during the training: During a two and a half hour hike, the heart rate recording went crazy several times after a good hour and a half. The watch showed a pulse of 165, while the actual heart rate (measured by finger on the carotid artery) was a maximum of 100 beats per minute.

The problem could not be solved on the go, but after a while the watch started to function normally again. We were unable to reproduce the problem or identify a potential cause for the error. However, we found it extremely annoying, above all because it affected a central function in tracking the training and the watch displayed around 200 calories too much (compared to another smartwatch and Google Fit).

We asked Polar for an opinion on the error that occurred during the pulse measurement and were informed that this is an isolated case. So far, according to Polar, there have been no similar error messages from testers or watch buyers. Because we could not reproduce the error and the watch worked properly afterwards, we assume that our problem was actually an isolated failure of the pulse measurement. We therefore decided to point out the error in the test, but not to devalue the watch.

Although the Polar Grit X is a smartwatch, it has no telephony or music controls. We cannot accept phone calls, play music directly or control music apps on our smartphone.

After all, the Grit X has a function for push notifications. For these notifications to work, we need to run the Polar Flow app on our smartphone. Then we can activate the corresponding function so that the watch shows incoming calls, messages and app notifications and vibrates us about new notifications.

Sleep tracking is one of the features of the Grit X prominently advertised by Polar. The smartwatch uses so-called “Sleep Plus Stages” tracking, which analyzes the user’s sleep according to the quantity and quality of the individual sleep phases and evaluates it using a sleep index.

So that the Grit X can evaluate and compare sleep, we first have to set a desired sleep time in the Polar Flow app and wear the watch for three nights while sleeping. It then provides an overview of the sleep details via the “Nightly Recharge” display and shows sleep duration, continuity, interruptions, sleep cycles and sleep phases.

In addition, the app provides an overview and evaluation of the sleep analysis based on the sleep index and compares it with the average values ​​of previous nights. Users can also make their own sleep quality assessment, but this has no effect on the sleep assessment displayed.

The sensors for the pulse sit on the back, an external pulse belt can be connected via Bluetooth.

The detailed comparison options allow a good overview of your own sleep quality. Because the smartwatch and the app compare and evaluate sleep over a longer period of time, users get an overview of when they slept better or worse than normal. This enables them to draw conclusions about which living conditions have a positive or negative effect on their sleep.

The Polar Grit X also has an integrated alarm clock, which we can activate and configure directly on the display of the watch. We found the vibration of the watch to be sufficient and reliable, but the alarm clock can be switched off with a single push of a button – this can be a disadvantage for persistent refusal to stand up. We found the watch to be comfortable and not annoying when sleeping.

Polar advertises the Grit X with an “ultra-long battery life”. Various energy saving options are designed to ensure that the watch lasts as long as possible and that it does not run out of steam even on extensive outdoor tours. We found in the test: “ultra long” is a relative term. The Grit X lasted around a week in normal use with multiple workouts per week and sleep tracking enabled. Although this is quite remarkable, it is still significantly less than, for example, the Huawei Watch GT 2e (test report).

We can also only activate the energy-saving settings during a training session by calling up the associated menu during the session or in the default settings. The watch does not save the settings, instead we have to set them again for each workout. We found this to be quite cumbersome in the test – here a general option, for example in the settings of the associated Polar Flow app, would not have hurt.

The Polar Grit X charger is also the data cable for connection to the computer.

Polar currently offers the Grit X in various colors (silver with a green bracelet, silver with a white bracelet and black with a black bracelet) at a price of 429.95 euros. There are also silicone bracelets for 29.95 euros, textiles for 39.95 euros and leather for 49.95 euros.

The street price of the Polar Grit X currently hardly differs from the manufacturer’s RRP, only the version with a green bracelet is available from individual retailers for 422 euros. Accordingly, the price of the outdoor smartwatch belongs to the absolute upper class segment of sports wearables.

Almost 430 euros for a smartwatch is a lot of money. Anyone who calls up such a sum for a wristwatch must also provide a corresponding service.

The Grit X has a potpourri of helpful additional functions that make the watch a useful accessory, especially for hikers and other outdoor athletes: the smart coaching function, the option of route planning and extensive data analysis are unique features of a watch, which clearly stands out in this form from other smartwatches on the market.

However, we lacked the function in the test to control the music playback or, even better, to shift the music to the watch. So despite the integrated GPS, we have to take a smartphone or a music player with us for training. That makes Garmin more clever at the Venu (test report). It would also be good if Polar not only tested according to MIL-STD-810G but also according to the more specific IP test procedure.

The Grit X is more aimed at athletes who want to plan and go on tours in addition to normal training. Only then will the additional charge compared to devices like the Vantage M really pay off. If you don’t need it, you can also choose the cheaper option.

However, there is one commendable note: We retrospectively upgraded the Vantage M (test report) because Polar provided excellent software support and brought new functions and improvements long after the sports watch started. This should also apply to the Grit X and makes the watch fit for the future in any case.