Last year, after several months of indecision, I treated myself to a sports watch and I had my eye on Suunto. Of course, there are more established brands out there that can make a safe choice but I had a secret craving for this brand because of its stylish design, so I gave it a go.
Here is what I pick up along the way, my list of top 4 best Suunto Watches, each with highlight features for certain purpose, so I hope you will find something for you here too.
|Suunto Core||View on Amazon|
|Suunto Traverse Alpha||View on Amazon|
|Suunto Spartan Sport||View on Amazon|
|Suunto Ambit3 Peak||View on Amazon|
Suunto Core – Best Suunto Watch for Military
- Ability to lock the screen, and the reading for either the altitude or the barometer
- Consistent readings and tough crystal
- Easy to read display, navigate
- Battery lasts for only a year
- The features function incorrectly in low temps with a low battery
|Case size||49.1 x 49.1 x 14.5 mm / 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.57 “|
|Glass material||Mineral crystal|
|Water resistance||100 ft|
The Suunto Core is arguably the most well-known computer military watch. After nearly a decade since its release, it’s still the most sought-after item in this field and one of the best Sunnto watches. This watch is praised for providing a thorough solution for any outdoor activities, but after going through countless user’s reviews, I think it leans toward serving tactical enthusiasts.
The Suunto Core features an “intelligent storm alarm”, which can predict stormy weather 2 hours in advance. This alarm might come in handy for any outdoor activities since it will allow you enough time to find or build a shelter before the storm hits. The intelligent storm alarm can be turned off when stealth is of prime importance.
The weather trend indicator is another useful feature. It analyzes recorded data from the barometer over the past 3-6 hours to forecast the weather. Its prediction is strikingly accurate so you can count on it to prepare gears for your upcoming expedition.
The Suunto Core’s altimeter will measure your elevation up to 30,000 ft, record how far you have ascended or descended, and store this information for future analysis. The altimeter has a unique feature called a “start-from-zero function”, which singles it out from other watches on the market. It allows you to keep track of your ascent/descent without your current altitude into consideration. This is a very useful feature catering to mountaineering and hiking.
The depth meter can sense if users are underwater to display the depth measurement. The Suunto Core also comes with the sunset and sunrise predictors and basic features of tactical watches such as date display, dual time display, multilingual functionality, and an alarm system.
The Suunto Core is the least water resistant watch on this list: 100 ft, bad news for anyone who wants to bring it along for diving. Its functions also are a bit off in cold weather at low battery.
Suunto Traverse Alpha – Best Suunto watch for hiking, hunting, and trekking
- GPS and POI navigation
- Can track speed, distance, and altitude
- Storm alarm and weather trend
- 300 ft water resistance
- Battery life is not as expected
- Slow to connect GPS and weather
|Case size||50 x 50 x 15 mm / 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.59 “|
|Glass material||Sapphire crystal|
|Band material||Textile material|
|Water resistance||330 ft|
This is the one I’m having right now. Back in 2014, one of my friends purchased the Ambit 2 from Suunto and it has been running without a slip since then. When Suunto released this hunting specific watch, I knew I had to get it. Don’t get me wrong, the Suunto Traverse Alpha isn’t specifically for hunting only, its features can make it outdoorsmen best friend.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a GPS-embedded watch which offers a wide enough range of the travel-supported features and long battery life. The Traverse Alpha is able to provide lots of valuable information, the time, and route tracking, compass bearings, GPS coordinates, and lap counting.
After bringing this watch on all of my hunting trips for the past year, I cannot recommend it enough. It has withstood rain, snow, and temperatures from 10 degrees up to 120 degrees but came out from them all intact. The Suunto Traverse Alpha is durable enough to stand up to anything the weather throws at it.
The only drawback I notice at the Suunto Traverse Alpha is the battery life. Of course, it doesn’t run out after just 24 hours but it cannot last until the end of a 7+ excursion. I use the tracking feature for several hours every day and have to bring along a portable charger.
Here comes the feature that I cherish the most. The Traverse Alpha can help you mark hunting/fishing specific POI’s. Found a good bedding area? So mark it as a “bedding area”. You found a trail? Mark it as “trail”. This makes the waypoints on Google Earth much easier to understand when you look at it later.
GPS has always been the battery draining factor but the Traverse Alpha has a solution for that. It comes with three different settings in GPS tracking mode: best, good, and OK.
The “best” mode means the watch will record every second and the battery will last for about 10 hours; at the good one, the course of time increase to 10 seconds and the battery life will be bumped up to 15 hours; and the OK mode will take record every minute so the battery can last for about 100 hours.
One other useful feature that I usually use is the automatic shot detection. If you are recording route, the Traverse Alpha can detect every time you fire your rifle and mark the location of the shot. I sometimes use the flashlight mode when I’m unable to find my headlamp in the dark.
Unlike the Ambit3 which picks up the signal even faster than when it records my heart rate, the GPS can take a long time to connect. However, it’s still a good companion when hunting, trekking, and in my case, hunting.
Suunto Spartan Sport – Best Sunnto watch for gym, cycling, running, and swimming
- Large display
- Supports many sports
- Minimalist app
- Heart rate monitor is less accurate
|Case size||50 x 50 x 13.8 mm / 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.54 “|
|Glass material||Mineral crystal|
|Water resistance||330 ft|
Boasting 80 pre-set sports modes, the Suunto Spartan Sports HR is for serious athletics. 80 modes is a large number and I bet you are wondering how you can navigate through so many features to land the one you want. Thanks to the touchscreen, you can do that in a blink of an eye.
Suunto provides the Movescount App and Movescount website to personalize the watch. For example, you can rate the activity you’ve just finished, adjust the training plan, and create your own sports modes and routes. The Suunto Spartan Sports HR has a decent battery life, which is 10 hours in training mode and 40 hours in power saving mode.
Suunto needs a good fit on the wrist to get an accurate heart rate, which you may think will leave rashes or cuts. But the Spartan Sports Wrist HR is comfortable enough to leave nothing on your wrist even after a long 20-mile run.
The Suunto Spartan Sports HR is advertised to be suitable for sports like swimming, cycling and running. But most users also have a positive experience when using it in other sports too. Generally, the Suunto Spartan Sports HR is comfortable and reasonably lightweight at 74g, partly thanks to the silicon traps that reduce the weight significantly.
One of the well-loved features of the Suunto Spartan Sports HR is how fast it picks up GPS data. Many describe it does it even before it gets your heart rate. Once you start a run, it will display your overall time, pace, the distance you have covered, and your current heart rate.
The display is black text on a white background, which is legible in both darkness and direct sunlight. You don’t have to worry about the display fogging up in the cold because the mineral crystal glass and polyamide case can prevent this incident. While other watches such as the New Balance Run IQ requires you to shake your wrist to see the display, the Suunto Spartan Sports HR display is on throughout the course of the run. After each mile, the watch will vibrate to inform you your current heart rate and pace.
After a run, you can count on the Spartan Sports Wrist HR for almost all data you will ever need. There’s a lap time for each mile, pace, time, distance, a graph of your heart rate and some other stats such as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and recovery time. Pressing the middle button on the watch to switch to other views and back to the home screen. You can also record how you felt about the run by entering smiling or frowning faces.
However, it has some shortcomings. The heart rate and the GPS aren’t always as accurate as that of the Ambit3. So if you really need the two figures to be precise, this watch isn’t a wise choice, otherwise, I haven’t found anything else that is negative about it. The Suunto Spartan Sports HR is still a good watch for outdoorsmen.
Suunto Ambit3 Peak – Best Sunnto watch for fitness, and triathlon
- Waypoint and trackback feature is good
- Accurate heart rate
- It isn’t cheap
|Case size||50 x 50 x 18 mm / 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.71 “|
|Glass material||Mineral crystal|
|Water resistance||330 ft|
The Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR is able to give very accurate data readings, which makes it suitable for fitness and triathlon. The speed and distance are tracked by GPS while elevation is provided by the Suunto Fused Alti™, a pressure, and GPS based altimeter.
The watch has built-in compass and GPS, which enable it to perform route navigation. It can connect to GPS/satellite and is able to record up to 100-waypoints and store up to 50 routes so that you can track back whenever you need to.
If you’ve done some research on GPS watches or have one, you may know that loss of connection can happen to almost all watches, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about that problem occurring to the Ambit3. Somehow it’s able to maintain a connection even when you are on a high ground or at a fast speed.
For running enthusiasts, the Ambit3’s screens can be customized, display only the information that of greatest interest to you. For example, you can switch between four screens: heart rate, pace, vertical, and cumulative during a marathon.
This watch is a perfect compensation for the Suunto Spartan Sports HR with its ability to store more accurate heart rate. While the latter pick up this information at your wrist, the former has an accessory called the Smart Sensor Belt, which can be packaged with the watch or purchased separately. This device enables the Ambit3 to measures your heart rate with greater accuracy.
For anyone who is into backpacking or other outdoor activities, the Ambit3 can be of great help too. It can perform some GPS functions like showing coordinates, recording waypoints, and navigating to pre-programmed landmarks. The information you pick up along the way can be stored and be helpful for future endeavors. The Ambit3 can create a GPX track of a route that you can share or publish later.
Whether you define the Ambit3’s battery as long-lasting or not depend on the GPS ping interval that you set. With the interval of 1 second, it may last for about 20 hours, with 5 seconds, the watch can make it to 30 hours and with 60 seconds, it can run for 200 hours. If you need it for longer trips, you can quickly recharge it with a portable battery in no time.
Suunto has always had an edge in designing rugged-looking and multi-purpose watches. These features are typically geared towards the outdoorsmen. They include altimeters, barometers, and compasses and in some advanced models, even GPS and tide clocks. And it’s succeeded.
It’s taken the game one step further, the brand has established a good reputation with the sports community. Suunto is moving toward making tougher, smarter, and more versatile timepieces that do far more than just keep track of the day and hour.
These top 4 best Suunto watches I’ve listed above, each can serve a certain type of outdoor activity. Whether you are a hunter, runner, swimmer, or ranger, you can find at least one Sunnto watch that is suitable for you.