The WHOOP Strap 3.0 is a versatile and well designed wearable let down by an expensive subscription model.
Our verdict: 7/10 stars★★★★★★★☆☆☆
What I liked:
- Looks great
- Simple and intuitive app
- Good for contact sports (with optional accessories)
- Innovative charger
What I didn’t like:
- Automatic exercise feature is hit and miss
- No airplane mode
The Whoop Strap 3.0 burst onto the wearable scene in May 2019. It certainly has its work cut out for it, with difficult competition from the new Oura ring, the Biostrap and even more mainstream wearables like the Fitbit Charge 3.
Unlike mainstream wearables, the WHOOP is aimed more at athletes. It keeps it simple by measuring three key metrics: recovery, strain (your daily cardio load) and sleep. Also unlike competing products, WHOOP charges a monthly fee instead of one upfront fee.
WHOOP has introduced some new changes with the 3.0 strap which are discussed in the review below. These include:
- Improved battery life
- A “strain” coach
- Heart rate broadcasting to BLE-compatible apps and workout machines
I personally bought the WHOOP 3.0 because it seemed like one of the few wearables that could be safely and comfortably used in contact sports like jiu jitsu (more on my experiences with this below).
Table of contents
- First impressions, design and unboxing
- Using the strap: Strain, recovery and sleep tracking
- Accuracy and technology
- Using the WHOOP app
- Using the WHOOP Strap 3.0 in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
- Wearing the WHOOP Strap 3.0 everyday
- Battery life and charging
- WHOOP Strap 3.0 pricing: the weak link
- 2020 review update: four months of wearing the WHOOP Strap
- WHOOP Strap 3.0 verdict
First impressions, design and unboxing
The WHOOP Strap 3.0 comes in a simple black box and includes the following:
- The main unit and Proknit band
- The charging module with detachable USB-A cable
- A small clip bag
The strap uses a clasp mechanism to lock into place on your wrist. Setting up the band was easy, as is swapping or removing bands.
The strap has a simple style, and while it doesn’t have the same wow factor as a brand new Oura ring, it drew plenty of attention from colleagues and friends.
I also purchased the Hydroband for swimming and backup band duties, the Technica bicep band, and the padded bicep sleeve to wear the tracker during jiu jitsu.
The styling of the different items is consistent and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the design of all the WHOOP products and accessories.
WHOOP has a large number of different bands for sale on its store so there’s a higher element of customisation with it versus many other wearables.
Using the strap: Strain, recovery and sleep tracking
The WHOOP Strap 3.0 has three major data outputs: sleep, recovery and strain.
Sleep tracking using the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is simple. After waking up, you’ll be presented with a short questionnaire about what you did the night before.
According to WHOOP, the answers to these questions are not used to refine your data. Instead they are used by WHOOP to improve your experience and also to give you suggestions based on your answers.
Once you answer the questionnaire, you’re then presented with a percentage score showing how much sleep you got during the night versus how much you needed.
If you want more data you can also see:
- Your light, REM and deep sleep throughout the night
- How long you were actually in bed
- How many sleep disturbances you had
- Your sleep efficiency score
Recovery works similarly to the Oura’s readiness score. It’s a percentage score out of 100, and is calculated using your heart rate variability, resting heart rate and your sleep.
Similar to the sleep score, upon waking you’ll be asked a few quick questions.
WHOOP defines “strain” as a summary of your cardiovascular system strain during workouts and throughout the day.
The strap and app automatically flags workouts if they’re of a high enough intensity. This worked for me some of the time. The strap registered the sparring portions of my jiu jitsu classes, but not my weights routine. My weights routine is a short 40 minute workout which is still heavy and of a moderate intensity for me so this was disappointing. I had to manually log these in similar to what I do with my Oura ring.
Sometimes this automatic activity recognition would incorrectly flag random periods where my heart rate was elevated, even though I was doing nothing, and then asked me to log an activity.
Once the app flags an activity, you can process it and fine tune the time you were working out, plus select the activity you were doing from 50 different options. There’s a great selection of activities available including meditation and even less known sports like AFL (Australian Rules Football).
Accuracy and technology
It’s difficult to measure how accurate the WHOOP Strap 3.0 is without comparing it to professional equipment. Still, there were discrepancies compared to my Oura ring (which admittedly has almost a year of data to draw from).
One night during my sleep I developed a cold. As a result my sleep quality was terrible and I was constantly waking up because my nose was blocked. Upon waking I felt exhausted. Look at the difference between what the WHOOP Strap told me versus my Oura ring regarding my recovery and exercise readiness:
I dug further into my data. Both wearables showed me being in bed for 8 hours, but the WHOOP added about 50 minutes to my time asleep and almost 10% efficiency to the quality of my sleep. I certainly didn’t feel like I slept for almost 7 hours with a high level of efficiency.
One other nitpicky note I have about WHOOP is the lack of transparency around the product. The website is devoid of any details about the actual technology used in the product such as the sensors. I feel this should be shared with customers similar to how Oura does.
Using the WHOOP app
The WHOOP app is fast and pleasant to use. The design is sleek, simple and responsive even on my ageing Samsung Galaxy S8.
The profile panel gives you an excellent 30 day summary of your activities, strain, recovery and sleep. You can see from the prominence the app places on activities and strain that it’s aimed at athletes.
The overview panel shows your main metrics for the day, including any activities you’ve done. It’s uncluttered and much better than apps like the Oura ring.
There are other useful extras in the app too. You can easily get a real-time heart rate read out using the “Strap Status” function for example, and you can also manually add activities for other parts of the day.
There’s also a sleep coach which tells you what time to get to bed to get your recommended sleep hours for the day, as well as a strain coach which will guide you through a workout to reach your target for the day.
The strain coach can also be turned off to allow you to simply track activities like meditating. This is a great way to use the WHOOP to track your heart rate during a meditation session.
Less useful is the WHOOP Snap+ feature. This is basically a set of data overlays that you can add to a photo or video. Maybe this is a useful feature for someone who wants to send their coach daily stats, but I found it less useful and a little gimmicky.
A new feature of the 3.0 is the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology which allows you to link with certain machines and apps. According to WHOOP, this includes machines and apps such as:
- Peloton bikes
- Wahoo bike computers
- Concept2 ergometers
Using the Strap’s HR Broadcast feature you can link your WHOOP Strap with the machine or app and see your heart rate data displayed.
Using the WHOOP Strap 3.0 in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
I find the WHOOP strap performed well in jiu jitsu using the bicep sleeve. In both gi and no-gi sparring rounds the sleeve only moved slightly, and was never in the way even during particularly intensive movements (read: me getting savagely armbarred by higher belts).
It was very interesting to finally see my heart rate during BJJ sparring rounds. You can see below how my heart rate was low during drilling at the start of the class, and then peaked at 167 during my wrestling rounds.
Wearing the strap everyday
The WHOOP Strap has a removable and adjustable band so it’s fairly comfortable throughout the day and when sleeping. The new Proknit band and the hydroband were both comfortable for extended use.
I found that the clasp was pretty stiff compared to the band, so when trying to open it I would sometimes just loosen the band while the clasp remained shut.
One advantage of the WHOOP compared to a wearable like the Oura ring is that your fingers are free when doing exercises like deadlifts, an admittedly small issue for myself but one that others might care about.
One downside which may be important to some is the WHOOP Strap 3.0’s lack of airplane mode. I personally like to put my Oura ring into airplane mode while sleeping, and it’s a shame the WHOOP doesn’t include a feature like this.
Battery life and charging
The new WHOOP Strap 3.0 has a claimed battery life of five days versus the older straps two days, which I confirmed during testing.
The real star of the show regarding the WHOOP Strap 3.0’s battery is the charging method.
The charging module is first connected to a computer via USB. Once charged up, you disconnect the module and then slide it on top of your strap. This will then charge it up without you needing to take it off. This is a great idea and allows you to go about your day while your strap charges.
WHOOP claims the battery charges within 90 minutes and I found it to be a little faster than this.
WHOOP Strap 3.0 pricing: the weak link
WHOOP charges a monthly fee to use the WHOOP Strap 3.0 and accompanying app. You can either pay this monthly or prepay and get a small discount. For most users I see this being the biggest hurdle.
Let’s say you wanted to keep and use the WHOOP Strap 3.0 for three years. Over that time you’d pay the following:
|Product||Price||Price over 3 years|
|WHOOP Strap 3.0 Monthly membership||$30 USD per month||$1080 USD|
|WHOOP Strap 3.0 – 12 month membership||$288 USD||$864 USD|
|WHOOP Strap 3.0 – 18 month membership||$324 USD||$648 USD|
|Oura Ring||$299 USD||$299 USD|
|Biostrap||$175 USD||$175 USD|
|Biostrap with shoepod sensor||$250 USD||$250 USD|
As you can see above, the cost of the WHOOP Strap 3.0 compared to other wearables like the Oura ring or Biostrap and the WHOOP Strap is significantly higher in the long term.
A note for Australians buying the WHOOP Strap 3.0
At the time of writing, WHOOP was not selling the strap in Australia. I had my strap sent to Australia using a third party shipping service, but in the time taken to write this review, WHOOP released pricing for Australians wanting to buy a strap.
Here’s the above table in Australian prices, with shipping to a Sydney metropolitan address.
|Product||Price||Shipping||Price over 3 years|
|WHOOP Strap 3.0 – 6 Month prepaid membership||$210 AUD||$20 AUD||$1280 AUD|
|WHOOP Strap 3.0 – 12 Month prepaid membership||$336 AUD||$20 AUD||$1028 AUD|
|WHOOP Strap 3.0 – 18 Month prepaid membership||$378 AUD||$20 AUD||$776 AUD|
|Oura Ring||$436 AUD approx ($299 USD)||$22 AUD||$458 AUD|
|Biostrap||$256 AUD ($175 USD)||$40 AUD||$296 AUD|
|Biostrap with leg sensor||$365 AUD ($250 USD)||$40 AUD||$405 AUD|
*USD to AUD currency conversion as of 7/9/19
2020 Whoop Strap 3.0 review update: four months later
I’ve now been wearing the Whoop Strap 3.0 everyday for approximately four months. I still believe all the points I mentioned in my original review, namely that the Whoop Strap 3.0 is a well-designed wearable with a great app. It’s still one of the only fitness trackers that can be effectively used for contact sports like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The ProKnit band and sensor have held up well in this time too, with no notable damage or failures.
On the other hand, since Oura released the Moments feature on Android, the Oura ring is even more useful as it can now be used for meditating and relaxing. The Moments feature is more useful and gives better data when meditating than the Whoop Strap 3.0 does.
WHOOP Strap 3.0 Review verdict: 7 out of 10 stars
The WHOOP Strap 3.0 is a competent wearable with an excellent app and charger. It’s easy to use and setup, is customisable and is great for wearing during contact sports such as jiu jitsu.
On the other hand, the pricing model means it’s significantly more expensive than other comparable products given the features. The accuracy of the data also didn’t feel as robust as the Oura ring.
Do you have a WHOOP Strap 3.0? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Let us know below.