The Suunto Ambit3 Peak is at the front of the pack when it comes to altimeter watches. In addition to altitude and barometric pressure readings, it also comes with GPS functionality and a plethora of other helpful data-capturing features. Of all the watches tested, it consistently provided some of the best GPS accuracy along with easy-to-see altitude graphs and barometric data displays. In addition, the Suunto Movescount app allows you to create routes, then upload and follow them from the watch. It can also navigate to and from a variety of points using the GPS and compass. The Ambit3 Peak is not immune to the reduced battery life that comes along with GPS functionality. With the GPS activated, this watch will run for about 22 hours between charges. However, with the GPS function off, it can last a month or more.
Suunto Ambit3 Peak Review
Cons: Thicker profile, short battery life
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ambit3 Peak is a great all-around altimeter watch. Its accuracy, combined with its GPS capability, makes it one of our favorites. Though it lacks the battery life of some other models, this watch is relatively easy to use and offers useful features with a simple, clear display.
This watch is accurate. It uses both a sea-level pressure reference in addition to the current barometric pressure to calculate altitude. When hiking and running in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the altimeter kept us in the know (when appropriately calibrated).
It was typically not more than 300 feet off from the actual altitude. When properly calibrated and in the correct mode, it also had one of the narrowest ranges of altitude readings when taken at the same elevation at different times. Like other Suunto models, the accuracy increases when you turn on the FusedAlti function. This nifty feature provides an auto-correct to the altimeter with use of the GPS. It's the best of both worlds: the accurate readings of a GPS with the security of a traditional barometer-based altimeter in case you are under heavy tree cover or otherwise can't get a good signal.
The primary drawback is that there is still some room for human error. Since you can toggle between altimeter and barometer profiles, you have to be sure you are using the correct one at any given time. Essentially, if you are in altimeter mode, the watch assumes you are climbing or descending. If a storm rolls in, the device will misattribute the pressure change to gain/loss in elevation. Similarly, if you are in barometer mode and climbing or descending, the pressure reading will change while your altitude reading remains steady.
For a GPS watch, this one's battery life is pretty good. When set to low power mode with the GPS on, it lasts between 18-22 hours. When running a 100-mile race, this watch shut off at about 18 hours- so either be speedy or bring a way to charge on the go!
However, when leaving it by the window (with the GPS on), it lasted 22. Also, this watch will run for about a month between charges without the GPS function. If you're in the market for a watch that won't run out, check out the solar-powered Casio PRW-6000Y, Casio PAG240B-2, Casio GW9400, or the battery-powered Suunto Core Alu instead. If you're wanting a GPS watch with a battery that really lasts, the Coros Vertix is your best bet.
Out of the box, the setup is easy. The menu provides prompts to set up your watch correctly right off the bat. However, it was a little more challenging to figure out the deeper features without consulting the owner's manual or an online guide. The primary functions of setting the time and altimeter are super simple, but learning how to use the GPS and the other features took a little getting used to. The display quality was good, and we found the black-and-white fonts to be smooth and easy-to-read. We also appreciate the ability to toggle the backlight between night and normal, adjust display contrasts, and invert the display between black font on a white background or vice versa. In general, we think *Garmin* and *Coros* models have a better user interface, and we like their full-color displays.
We liked that it was easy to use with a pair of gloves because the buttons are spaced far enough apart and don't stick. The Suunto Movescount app can be used to upload and view your activities and daily data. It has a helpful map feature, and you can also upload GPS routes to follow. Some users found the phone syncing with the app to be a bit slow.
Comfort and Fit
This watch is much more rigid than other models that we tested, and the profile is also a little thicker. We do like the breathable wrist strap, but because of the inflexible piece that extends from the bottom edge of the watch face, it was hard for reviewers with smaller wrists to get a correct fit.
Over long miles of running (15+ miles), testers with thinner wrists felt some discomfort because of it bouncing against their wrist bone, but if you were hiking, running shorter distances, or had a thicker wrist, this likely wouldn't be a problem.
The Ambit3 Peak provides a variety of features well-suited for simple navigation and altimeter/barometer readings during a day hike, as well as fitness-tracking patterns over a longer period of time. Even though it doesn't have nearly as many features as the Coros Vertix or the Garmin Fenix 5x Plus Sapphire, it still provides a useful selection for most outdoor enthusiasts.
*Suunto (generic health and fitness app)
Altimeter and Barometer
In addition to providing a current barometric pressure and altitude reading, this watch comes with adjustable profiles. You can choose an automatic, barometric, or altitude profile to view. The automatic profile switches from altitude to barometric depending on your movement. If you are hiking uphill or downhill, it automatically switches to the altitude profile. If you're on the flats, it turns to a barometric reading. You can't have both profiles up at the same time though.
In addition to a profile that displays information in 15-minute increments, this model also shows graphs of the past 24 hours. These can be used to view basic trends in both altitude and barometric data and are easy to read. This watch also features a storm alert to help you determine if poor weather is moving in or out of your area. This is a great feature for those who plan on hiking or backpacking in the mountains.
Like many of the other GPS-enabled watches that we tested, the compass in the Ambit3 Peak is tilt compensated, meaning it reads accurately whether or not your arm is perfectly level. The compass provides a heading in degrees. You must calibrate your compass regularly, and be sure to set the declination manually. It also features a bearing lock and a coordinate check with the GPS function to help you navigate to a location or determine your current location with a paper map.
In addition to the GPS, you can navigate to a point of interest that you have logged manually or uploaded from the Movescount app. You can also use the FindBack feature that will help you navigate back to your original starting point. This is a great feature to have, especially if you need help retracing your steps. In addition to the compass, the watch also produces a digital map showing your route. It doesn't overlay onto a map though, so it shows a trend of where you've been and the direction you're heading.
Like all GPS watches, this one features all of the basic timekeeping functions: a countdown timer, one alarm, a stopwatch, and interval timer. It also has a time sync option with a GPS timekeeper. If you're needing a watch with the ability to set more alarms, check out any of the models in the Casio line or the Coros Vertix.
Within its fitness tracking capabilities, it can monitor exercise and daily activity levels, calories burned, and recovery time. You can customize sport displays and even use it for pool swimming where it will learn your swimming style. You'll be able to track specific sport performance, which is helpful if you're training for specific goals.
Suunto Smart Sensors
There are also accessories you can buy to up your fitness tracking. You can get a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor that monitors heart rate in real-time. In addition, you can see your heart rate in graph form, calories burnt, peak training information, and more when you upload the data to Suunto Movescount. You can also purchase a foot pod, power pod, or bike pod for more accurate data gathering.
With the inclusion of GPS, there is an array of data-gathering that this watch is capable of. When comparing the accuracy and reliability of the GPS to other watches, we learned that the Ambit3 Peak is typically more reliable and more accurate.
- Recording tracks and laps
- FusedSpeed: Wrist acceleration + GPS signal to determine running speed
- Interval workouts: guided interval workout and workout planner in Movescount app
- Logbook: logs of all your recorded activities
- View track: shows your direction, the next waypoint, closest POI, scale, etc.
- Waypoint navigation
- SmartNotification: Receive notifications (unable to scroll to see longer messages)
There is a lot to like about the Ambit3 Peak, but we still feel the price is a little high. At the same price point, there are GPS altimeter watches with more features in a more comfortable package. However, the features, coupled with the accuracy and reliability of this watch, still earn it a high spot in our value chart. If you're in the market for something of similar quality without a GPS, check out the Suunto Core instead.
This GPS-enabled option is a top choice for those looking for an altimeter watch with a little extra. It provides great accuracy and features many other tidbits that many outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate.
— Amber King and Ben Applebaum-Bauch