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A better way to track your fitness
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LifeBEAM Hat Review – Go ahead, get your sweat on!
Today we’re going to be reviewing LifeBEAM’s smart hat. Its basically a hat with some cool tech that measures your heart rate and steps and it does all of this without getting in the way (like a chest strap). There is a sensor on the front of the hat that is powered with a battery pack on the back. This fitness devices works quite well and is suited for almost all activities but we’ve found a couple of activities that this hat might not work well in.
For our LifeBEAM hat review, we’ve given it a score of 4.2 Eh’s out of 5. If you rather track all your fitness using something on your wrist, check out our smartwatch reviews which include the Fitbit Surge and Apple Watch.
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(out of 5)
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- Continuous heart rate monitoring (without a chest strap)
- Certain fitness activities may not work well with the hat
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- Dri-fit hat is very comfortable
- Electronic unit gets in the way of exercises requiring you to lay on the ground/on a bench
- Very accurate heart rate sensor
- Step counter included
- Connects via Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+
- Tested with Endomondo, Polar Beat, Wahoo and MapMyRun (both iOS and Android)
- Connects with over 250+ fitness devices
- Will only be used during fitness activities
- Not recommended for 24 hour heart rate monitoring
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Fit/Comfort – Get rid of that annoying chest strap!
In term of the design of the hat, it does a pretty good job of keeping your head cool. The cap portion isn’t very rigid so if you’re a semi-casual cyclist, you can easily get away with using the hat under your bike helmet but do this at your own risk as you may be opening yourself up to injury if your helmet doesn’t fit 100%.
With that being said, if you’re really into cycling, you should probably check out the bike helmet version which uses the same types of heart rate sensors.
The cap is theoretically a one-size fits all but Aaron’s big head was almost too big for the LifeBEAM smart hat. As you can see in the video, the velcro strap is at its limits and if you’re wondering if the hat will fit on your head, Aaron wears 7.5 inch New Era hats so anything larger isn’t going to work with this device.
What does all of this mean? It means that with the LifeBEAM smart hat, you can say goodbye to all the hassles that come with tracking your heart using a chest strap. Goodbye to the awkward adjustments mid-workout, the itchiness that comes with the straps and the need to wet your strap before using it to ensure a good connection.
Cleaning the hat is simple but you just have to remember to remove the battery pack. Don’t throw this into the washer or do anything that LifeBEAM says not to do in the instruction manual.
Sensors – Better than anything we’ve used on our wrists
In terms of the actual sensors, there are two which are the step counter/cadence and the heart rate sensor (LifeBEAM counts calories burned as well but that’s derived from the first two sensors). The heart rate sensor can be found on the front of the hat and unlike the heart rate sensors found on smartwatches, LifeBEAM’s sensor doesn’t spew out a green light show when its on. The only way to tell that the hat is going is through the status light/sound on electronic unit.
The setup with the LifeBEAM hat works much better than the wrist-based fitness trackers in terms of heart rate tracking due to the constant connection the sensor has with your forehead. Devices like the Fitbit Surge and Apple Watch have a tendency to “mis-read” your heart rate because of your wrist movement during exercise. This doesn’t occur on the LifeBEAM hat and as you can see in the video, the Apple Watch is always playing “catch-up” with Aaron’s heart rate.
Compatibility – Works well with a multitude of devices
In terms of compatibility, the fitness hat can connect to your favourite fitness apps via Bluetooth 4.0 ad ANT+. We’ve personally connected the LifeBEAM hat to Polar Beat, Wahoo fitness, Endomondo and MapMyRun on both iOS and Android. It can also integrate with Apple’s health app though it only provides a data source for heart rate tracking.
In terms of actual 3rd party hardware, there over 200 devices that this hat will connect to so there’s a good chance that whatever fitness tech your lugging around while getting your sweat on is going to work.
Practicality – Useful in most circumstances
In terms of overall practicality, this isn’t something you would wear everyday unless you’re doing fitness stuff everyday. There is only a 17 hour battery life so you’re not going to get 24 hour heart rate monitoring which is something a Fitbit Surge or Charge HR will provide but in reality, who really needs 24 hour heart rate monitoring?
LifeBEAM does include a quality carrying case so you can easily bring it with you if you are travelling. It’s a bit bulky in our opinion but that’s just us(actually, its just Aaron).
Now at the beginning of our LifeBEAM smart hat review, we did mention that there are a couple of instances where this hat doesn’t fair well. We wouldn’t recommend the hat if all you do is lift iron and to a certain extent, CrossFit. The visor portion gets in the way of your shoulder presses, you lose a little bit extension while doing pushups on the floor and the location of the battery pack gets in the way of lying on the ground and/or bench.
However, if endurance sports are your thing, you should definitely get this smart hat rather than sticking with the slightly annoying chest strap!
Have questions about our LifeBEAM hat review? Please ask them on our Google+ page or on our Facebook page.