Which Suunto?

Bushwalking gear and paraphernalia. Electronic gadget topics (inc. GPS, PLB, chargers) belong in the 'Techno Babble' sub-forum.
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TIP: The online Bushwalk Inventory System can help bushwalkers with a variety of bushwalk planning tasks, including: Manage which items they take bushwalking so that they do not forget anything they might need, plan meals for their walks, and automatically compile food/fuel shopping lists (lists of consumables) required to make and cook the meals for each walk. It is particularly useful for planning for groups who share food or other items, but is also useful for individual walkers.

Which Suunto?

Postby jules_p » Mon 20 Jan, 2020 2:08 pm

Hello, I've been looking for months but still cannot determine which Suunto is best for hiking. I need battery life and altimeter as a priority as i'm only interested in hiking features. Recently completed SCT wishing I had one and looking to have it for Frenchman's Cap in October. I'm circling the Suunto 9 Baro but would really love any advice at all. I have an apple iphone so hopefully they'll be compatible? Thanks, Jules.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 20 Jan, 2020 4:52 pm

I have a sunnto ambit 2 it's great. Main negative is you can't input new routes without a computer if your plans change. Eg bridge washed out and need to plan a new route mid trip.

With the newer baro models I believe you can use a app on phone to edit and create routes. There is also latest Garmin Fenix which seems to have the edge in features especially with maps on the large watch face. I think the baro 9 has maps now to.

With the suunto baro check if you can create routes on your computer and upload to watch. You can on the ambit and Garmin. But I'm not sure if baro9 is app only..

mobile phone route creation is good mid walk but for before trip planning it's much better to do on computer with the bigger screen.

Ive heard both Fenix and baro still have some bugs. If it were me I'd wait until closer to October before purchasing as more bug fixes and cheaper prices.. especially for Fenix which is very expensive currently.

I found the altimeter very accurate on the suunto ambit. I would assume (hopefully) that the baro models are just as good.

Battery life I'm not sure of as the new models are different. I get 5 days tracking on the ambit but only 1 to 1 1/2 days of full day navigation. But I don't use the watch to navigate full time. I might use it 4-5 times a day just to check my position relative to a waypoint. Rest of the time I'm in battery saving track only mode. There is lots of ways you can use the watch to help with navigation without turning on the nav functions. Eg in tracking mode you can still tell distance walked which is useful when you know by looking at your map that you need to decend a spur in 800m etc.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby jules_p » Mon 20 Jan, 2020 8:39 pm

Thank you @wildwanderer! It's interesting you mention Fenix because i haven't heard good things about their battery as a point of difference for the Suunto which is one reason i fixated on the Suunto...and geez the Fenix - which i nearly bought a while ago, are expensive. I know the Fenix is a brilliant watch though from running friends with a very user friendly interface. Since i'm not a runner though, i couldn't justify it and thought I'd drill down to a more purposeful partner. I was really hoping there would be a a perfect hiking watch out there - it sounds like i should look at the ambit vs the baro9 and keep an eye on them for a few months.

I had no idea about the route complexities and navigation check-ins being the best option - thank you for this, especially the battery saving functions.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby wildwanderer » Mon 20 Jan, 2020 8:54 pm

Suunto Ambit is a very good watch series however it's been discontinued by suunto and there is some question about the future level of support for the movescount website (which you need to plan routes, poi and update watch settings). Suunto say it will be de-prioritising the site but still keep the basic setting and route planning functions. The analysis functions are being discontinued but I never used them anyway..seem d more for running and triathlons. Ambits you can't route plan on your phone. They do however have excellent battery life. Ambit 3 has the longest battery of any navigation watch on the market. 200 hours at 60 sec tracking. My ambit 2 has 50 hours of 60 sec tracking by comparison. There would be good deals from 3rd party stores that still have stock of ambit 3.

I misspoke earlier. Apparently the suunto baro 9 does not have topo maps (on the watch). The Garmin Fenix does have on watch topo and a big enough watch face to read them.(especially the Fenix 6x.. it's a big watch)

At this point the Garmin is the superior watch and has quite decent battery life going by the specifications on the Garmin site.- On the Fenix 6x especially. Though you have to turn off all the unneeded functions like wifi etc etc to get good battery life according to the spec (good meaning for multiday hikng)

But yes the Fenix 6x is crazy expensive!! Might go down a bit in price later in the year or perhaps there will be some decent sale prices.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby Bubbalouie » Mon 20 Jan, 2020 10:39 pm

For what it's worth I got 5 days of hiking with navigation using a Fenix 6x in November. I'd suggest maybe 6-7 hours a day, it still had maybe 20% of the battery left at the end of that.

I've never used a Suunto so I don't have much of a frame of reference, but if you're after battery life I've found the 6x is pretty good.

The full topo maps are a nice touch too.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby Zapruda » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 5:58 am

I have had a enjoyed using a Suunto Ambit 3 peak for the past 6 years. I think it is the gold standard.

-Simple display
-Long battery life. I get about 12 days out of mine at the 200 hour setting.
-ABC
-GPS
-Compass
-Lots of others features.

Skurka's review - https://andrewskurka.com/long-term-revi ... ort-watch/
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby MrWalker » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 7:13 am

Zapruda wrote:I have had a enjoyed using a Suunto Ambit 3 peak for the past 6 years. I think it is the gold standard.

I've had an Ambit 3 for quite a few years and recently wondered if I should upgrade to something fancier. I checked out all the options and decided there wasn't anything anything better for bushwalking. Others might have nice features if you do lots of different sports.
Or you can pay double the price for a watch that moves most of the features onto your smartphone. Without a smartphone this doesn't help me much. :roll: And you would be limited by your smartphone battery life, instead of the extra long Ambit 3 battery life.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby Zapruda » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 7:29 am

MrWalker wrote:
Zapruda wrote:I have had a enjoyed using a Suunto Ambit 3 peak for the past 6 years. I think it is the gold standard.

I've had an Ambit 3 for quite a few years and recently wondered if I should upgrade to something fancier. I checked out all the options and decided there wasn't anything anything better for bushwalking. Others might have nice features if you do lots of different sports.
Or you can pay double the price for a watch that moves most of the features onto your smartphone. Without a smartphone this doesn't help me much. :roll: And you would be limited by your smartphone battery life, instead of the extra long Ambit 3 battery life.


Totally agree. I also recently looked at what new tech is out there and wasn't impressed at all. The simple display and lack of bells and whistles is what make the Ambit such a great watch. No deep diving in menus or complicated settings. Great for long walks.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 7:34 am

@mrwalker @zapruda.

100% agree. Ambit 3 is excellent. I was considering upgrading from the ambit 2 for the extra battery.

However now I think il get a Fenix 6x likely next year. I did encounter a limitation on the ambit which was the inability to edit or create or upload new routes without being at a computer.

I was in NZ last year and the bridge on my lowland route washed away, so I needed to take a alpine route as the alternative.

It was ok as I was able program the new route on orux maps on my phone but I was very concious that if my phone broke then I had no navigation backup. Usually my watch is my backup.

As it turned out when on the high route the clag descended with visibility at 10m and I needed to navigate entirely by the phone GPS/oruxmaps.

If I lost or damaged the phone then I would have needed to set up camp on a exposed ridge until the cloud lifted, not easy or safe with 60km/h winds and freezing temps. Or go back to the previous hut using the watches trackback. Not an appealing prospect as I had a plane to catch.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 8:03 am

@bubbalouie.

Was your 5 days battery life on the Fenix 6x using the on watch maps and GPS to visualize and navigate your route for 6-7 hours each day? If so that's very impressive!

How much of the watch functionality did you need to turn off?

Could you still use compass, barometer, alitmeter, time and distance walked from nominated points and save poi in that functionality state and maintain the same good battery life? Those functions are what I mainly use on my Ambit.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby Bubbalouie » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 8:22 am

wildwanderer wrote:@bubbalouie.

Was your 5 days battery life on the Fenix 6x using the on watch maps and GPS to visualize and navigate your route for 6-7 hours each day? If so that's very impressive!

How much of the watch functionality did you need to turn off?

Could you still use compass, barometer, alitmeter, time and distance walked from nominated points and save poi in that functionality state and maintain the same good battery life? Those functions are what I mainly use on my Ambit.


I don't use wifi on it at all.

It was in navigation mode with an active track, I'd periodically switch to the map screen to check my position or see where the next important to know about bit was (POI, track turn, creek/river etc) and then scroll back to my main screen. There was always an active heading bug (little arrow thing that shows on every screen that says what direction you need).

Keeping the topo maps visible for hours at a time will use a lot more battery, so you're better off scrolling to the map, using it and then scrolling to your usual screen (whatever that is).

Altimeter is always active, and using the compass is fine, as are recording POIs and doing laps. Track logging was pretty high frequency (I think once per second), I also had the HRM on (blood oxygen sensor off though). I also carried a Tempe, though admittedly my only point of interest for that is the overnight low.

I believe you can add am extra 30% if you adjust your power mode for hiking to disable the wrist HR and disconnect from the phone. I didn't test the theory as I like seeing the HR data, that 30% just comes from the watch estimating that you'll get 80 hours if you do that.

Other than that I was using all the features relevant to hiking, I hadn't turned anything off as such (I didn't customise the power profile for the hiking mode). I definitely wasn't using Bluetooth music playback and I'd put my phone in flight mode.

Incidentally, you can send a GPX route from your phone to the watch if you use and app (on the watch) like gimporter.
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 9:43 am

Thanks Bubbalouie. Thats very helpful info!

Now I just need to wait for that 50% off sale :lol:
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Re: Which Suunto?

Postby Bubbalouie » Tue 21 Jan, 2020 11:19 am

wildwanderer wrote:Thanks Bubbalouie. Thats very helpful info!

Now I just need to wait for that 50% off sale :lol:
If you have Bupa health insurance you can get 20% at least.
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