Sunday, August 07, 2022

Polar Pacer Pro GPS Watch Review: Light, Thin, Long Battery Life. A Complete Training and Everyday Companion

Article by Sam Winebaum

Polar Pacer Pro ($300)

We are big fans of Polar at RTR. Polar is the original cardiac fitness monitoring company going back 40 years. Over the years, starting with chest monitors then watches they have built a complete ecosystem:  on watch, in app, and on the web for monitoring and tracking training, cardiac trends and recovery most often comparing current (be it overnight recovery or 7 day progress) to a 28 day moving average.

With the Pacer Pro we see the vast majority of the features of their flagship Vantage V2 with only slightly less battery life in a lighter, thinner watch with a new, faster processor and 1.2” 240 x 240 display 3mm closer to the Gorilla Glass 3 lens and this for $200 less.

Polar is now squarely in competition at $300 with the Garmin Forerunner 255 ($350, not tested yet) if not higher end models from each of those brands as well as the Suunto 5 Peak ($300). Polar’s nearly identical (weight, battery, features) Pacer but with no route guidance, power on the wrist, or elevation profiles and Hill Splitter is $200 and while we have not yet tested a real bargain going up against the Coros Pace 2.  For detailed descriptions of the Pacer Pro’s features please refer to our Vantage V2 (RTR Review)  as they are almost all identical with the exception of the Leg Recovery Test which is not included in Pacer Pro.   


  • Comfortable and accurate: thinnest (11.5mm) and nearly lightest (40g), full featured (silicone band) GPS training watch. 

  • Consistently solid wrist HR: 10 LED’s, the light weight, and a solid wrap of my thin wrist

  • New processor delivers rapid interface response.

  • Most complete and extensive multisport, cross training and run training, testing, and recovery tracking and analysis ecosystem.

  • Nightly Recharge stats, entirely on the watch, are both the easiest to evaluate at a glance and the deepest of any with not only sleep quality and quantity but ANS stats (HRV, resting HR, beat to beat interval, and breathing rate) as shown below.

  • Very small, easy to attach new magnetic charger.

  • Barometric altimeter, compass, turn by turn route guidance, route elevation profiles, and Hill Splitter, and detailed weather forecasts (from phone) make it a great trail run and hike option. Includes the excellent Komoot base map routing.

  • Power on the wrist. 

  • Zone training by power or heart rate. 

  • Guided Running Performance Test for determining  max aerobic speed, max aerobic power and VO2 max 

  • On watch guided mobility, core, and circuit workouts

  • Music control

  • Stylish and a solid value.


  • Consistently slightly optimistic as to GPS distances than competitors.

  • Auto pause in default 0 mph mode is overly sensitive to arm motion (1mph solves the issues)

  • Bright light legibility (when the transflective display is not fully reflecting) is not optimal due to font sizes and shapes and remains sub par (to Garmin’s fat 3 field digits) despite the display now being 3mm higher in the watch. Needs black digits on white background option

Right: Pacer Pro 2 Left: Garmin Fenix 6S Pro

Battery Test results

  • 24-26 hours GPS battery life in best mode (similar to Garmin 255 spec. not tested yet)

  • 15 days everyday mode battery life with backlight and continuous HR off, night Recharge HR on. Light phone notifications.

  • 7.7 day battery test: 6.5 hours of GPS tracked running in the period. 26% battery remained at conclusion.


My wife and I are huge Polar fans in large part due to the utility and practicality of the Nightly Recharge features. I can tell you for sure that an extra IPA will send my recharge into Compromised or Poor territory as will any sugary desserts before dinner! Having all the top level score data on the watch, no app required to review, with all the detail right below is unique as when you roll out of bed you know where things stand for the day.

The wrist heart rate monitoring on this now very light and thin watch has been excellent, not only the 10 LED’s and their magic but the thinner and lighter a watch is the more accurate it will be as it will confuse cadence with heart rate far less than heavier thicker watches do on thin wrists especially in cold low circulation weather . And light and thin means this is the most comfortable full featured GPS watch I have ever worn.

I wish for better on the run legibility through smarter font sizing/weighting and a black digit on white background option which as of yet I have never been able to find on a Polar.

GPS accuracy has been excellent if a bit optimistic, a few meters early per mile. 

Battery life is such that I just do not worry about charging that often, my clear barometer so to speak and dramatically improved in recent weeks to the listed specs, likely due to an update as this is a new platform.

With its altimeter, Komoot route planning with trail and road turn by turn directions, and Hill Splitter screen which tells you how much uphill or downhill you have covered and with the more than adequate battery life the Pacer Pro can take to the trails as well.

Used for decades by many world class athletes, Polar’s platform (on the watch, in the app which is so so, and especially on the web view) is as top level clear and easy to understand as you wish yet you can go deep, real real deep into your long term trends be they recovery, cardiac, or race (running index) predictions. 

Scared to move over from an older, battery impaired training watch from “another” brand. Don’t be! The Polar Pacer Pro will be a most useful and wrist friendly companion.

How does it compare to other Polar?

Vantage V2 (RTR Review)

At $500, the older Vantage V2 is hard to justify compared to Pacer Pro 2. It includes a touch screen which the Pace Pro does not have. In our testing its GPS best battery life extended 10 more hours to 35 hours while its everyday long term battery life test with an hour of running per day was about the same as the Pacer Pro in our tests. The Vantage V2 does include the chest strap based Recovery Pro test as well as Leg Recovery Test and has a 100M water resistance rating vs. 50M for the Pacer Pro. It weighs 10g more than the Pacer Pro at 52g.

Polar Pacer ($200)

The Pacer (not tested yet) has the same spec. battery life as the Pacer Pro and weighs about the same. It leaves out power on the wrist, turn by turn Komoot route guidance, and the Hill Splitter features. It is direct competition to the $200 Coros Pace 2 which is at the same price and which at 36g is 4g lighter with somewhat longer battery life (30 hours Best GPS, 20 days everyday). Given a choice I would pick the superior (while Coros is improving) Polar ecosystem and fit and finish of the watch itself.

Polar Pacer Pro and Pacer available now

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Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

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