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Suunto Traverse Review

It's has great GPS-enabled functionality but the battery life is terrible
Suunto Traverse
Photo: Suunto
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Price:  $419 List | $249.99 at Amazon
Pros:  GPS-enabled, decent accuracy, great graphs, fitness tracker, great display, built-in flashlight mode
Cons:  Very poor battery life, poor wrist band
Manufacturer:   Suunto
By Amber King and Ben Applebaum-Bauch  ⋅  Dec 6, 2018
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Altimeter Accuracy - 30% 7
  • Battery Life - 20% 3
  • User experience - 20% 7
  • Features - 15% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Suunto Traverse is a GPS-enabled altimeter watch that provides great climb and descent metrics. However, it doesn't truly stand out for any particular reason. It features an altimeter and barometric profile in addition to several fitness training features. But, the battery life on this model is a skimpy two weeks without GPS and 8 hours with it, so it's limited to short adventures. Although the features and the watch are great on their own, there are better value options out there.

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Pros GPS-enabled, decent accuracy, great graphs, fitness tracker, great display, built-in flashlight modeTracks many activities, easy to use, stylish, comfortableLong battery life, durable aluminum finish, great fit, precise, easy-to-use interfaceSolar powered, clearly labeled buttons, fairly easy-to-use interfaceInexpensive, simple, accurate, light, functional
Cons Very poor battery life, poor wrist bandShorter battery life, less accurate GPSAltitude and barometric graphs are sub-par, no GPS, lag on button pressesFeels big on your wrist, busy display and bezel, rigid wristbandLacks features, lacks comfort, no compass, ugly, poor display
Bottom Line It's has great GPS-enabled functionality but the battery life is terribleThis altimeter watch is loaded with features for the mountain athleteGreat for those looking for a classic altimeter watch at an affordable priceA simple altimeter watch with decent features, but plenty of room to improve its aesthetic qualitiesThis is an inexpensive altimeter watch that is accurate enough for curious backcountry travelers
Rating Categories Suunto Traverse Garmin Forerunner 935 Suunto Core Alu Casio Pathfinder PA... Casio SGW300HB
Altimeter Accuracy (30%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Battery Life (20%)
3.0
7.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
User Experience (20%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
Features (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
4.0
Comfort And Fit (15%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
3.0
4.0
Specs Suunto Traverse Garmin Forerunner 935 Suunto Core Alu Casio Pathfinder PA... Casio SGW300HB
GPS? Yes Yes No No No
Dimensions (Inches) 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.65” 1.85 x 1.85 x .55 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.57” 2.26 x 2.00 x .60 1.97 x 1.97 x .55”
Type of Battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Watch battery Solar, rechargeable battery Watch battery
Battery Life (w/o GPS) 14 days 2 weeks 12 months Continuous 3 years
Battery Life w/ GPS on 10, 15, 100 hours (based on settings) up to 24 hrs regular GPS, up to 60 hrs in Ultratrac w/o hr tracking No GPS No GPS No GPS
Altitude Range -1640 - 32,805ft (-500m - 9999m), profile graph None provided -500 - 9000 m -2,300 - 32,800ft (-700m - 10,000m) -2,300 - 32,800ft (-700m - 10,000m)
Altitidue differential? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Elevation interval 1m/3ft 1m/3ft 1m/3ft 20ft 5m/20ft
Barometer Yes, barometric graph Yes, barometric graph Yes Yes Yes, no graph
Barometric Recording Interval & Time (for the graph) Every 15 minutes for 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours Default every 2 hours (with baro activated, every 5 seconds for 5 minutes, then every 5 minutes), 24 hours None
Barometric Pressure Range 950 - 1,060 hPa (28.05 - 31.30 inHg) 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg) 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg) 260 to 1,100 hPa (7.65 to 32.45 inHg) 260 - 1,100 hPa (7.65 - 32.45 inHg)
Storm Alert Alarm? Yes No Yes No No
Compass Yes, tilt adjustable Yes None Yes None
Time Features Digital (12/24 hr format), stop watch, count down Digital (customizable faces), stop watch, GPS time, countdown timer Digital, dual world times, stopwatch, countdown timer Digital, world time (31 time zones, 48 cities), stopwatch, timer Digital, world time (31 time zones), stopwatch,
Time Alarm Yes, one daily alarm Yes, 10 daily alarms Yes 5 daily alarms 5 daily alarms
Thermometer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Resistance Range High: -20C to 60C/-4F to 140 F -20° C to +60° C (-4F - 140F) -20° C to +60° C (-4F - 140F) -10 to 60 C (14 to 140 F) Low: -10C/14F
Water Resistance Yes, 100 meters Yes, 50 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters
Interchangeable straps? Yes Yes No No No
Types of bands and material Silicon Silicone (leather options, as well) Silicone Plastic, cloth, metal Plastic, cloth, metal
Bluetooth connection? Yes Yes No No No
GPS, GLONASS, both? Both Both No GPS No GPS No GPS
Apps Suunto MovesCount Garmin Connect n/a n/a n/a
Charging Type Specialized cord Specialized cord Battery Solar charged battery Battery
Warranty Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (1 year)
Other Cool Features Bluetooth (3 m range) sunrise/sunset, sleep tracking, VO2 max, etc. sunrise/sunset sunrise/sunset None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Traverse is a GPS-enable altimeter watch that can also track routes, log data, and monitor fitness. Take it with you on short adventures.

Performance Comparison


A look at the Traverse in GPS mode. It shows many great metrics:...
A look at the Traverse in GPS mode. It shows many great metrics: ascent rate, total distance, time, and more!
Photo: Amber King

Altimeter Accuracy


We like the FusedAlti function, which provided relatively accurate readings. In our altimeter accuracy tests hiking over 10,000 vertical feet, we learned that accuracy varied day-to-day with this watch. The Core and Ambit3 Peak provide more reliable readings and are consistently more precise. The Traverse was also fairly accurate, being off only by 50 to 500 feet with regular calibrations. That said, we still recommend this watch as the altimeter is quite accurate and will help you get where you're going. Just make sure to calibrate it regularly.

Battery Life


To be blunt, the battery life in the Traverse is really poor compared to the rest of the GPS watches that we tested. Using regular settings (a GPS point every 60 seconds) we found that the battery life only lasts about eight hours. In comparison, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak lasts almost twice as long. Additionally, even when not using the GPS, the watch lasts just two weeks. Unfortunately, this limits the use of this model drastically. As a result, it earned one of our lowest scores for battery life.

A comparison of both altitude, and battery life. Both watches...
A comparison of both altitude, and battery life. Both watches started fully charged. The Traverse shows almost 50 percent less battery life than the Suunto Ambit3 Peak on this hike.
Photo: Amber King

User Experience


Of all the watches tested, this is one of the easier ones to figure out. The menu and interface are the same as the Suunto Ambit3 Peak, but it has fewer features.

The buttons on the right side of the watch are well marked.
The buttons on the right side of the watch are well marked.
Photo: Amber King

We found that the buttons weren't as easy to press as on the other GPS watches tested because they are flat on the ends instead of convex. That said, it was still easy to use the buttons with a pair of gloves.

The buttons on the other side of the watch are also easy to use and...
The buttons on the other side of the watch are also easy to use and well marked.
Photo: Amber King

The large mineral glass display is easy to see, and the screen features large fonts. The color display can be inverted, and the contrast can be adjusted, which is great for viewing during both day and night. The backlight has three features for night-time use: normal, night, and toggle. In addition, this was the only watch to feature a flashlight mode that kept the display on at its maximum brightness until you turned it off. We like this for getting something out of our pack when a headlamp wasn't at hand. Overall, we are impressed with the display quality.

Features


This contender features many great altitude and barometric features. In addition to the traditional features of an altimeter watch (altimeter, barometer, compass, timekeeper, temperature), it also features many GPS-enabled options. You can track fitness patterns, navigate to selected points, create waypoints and points of interest, and much more. We liked the plethora of features with the Traverse. However, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak features all of these options and more.

Altimeter & Barometer


Similar to other Suunto watches, the altimeter and barometer are tied together. There are three altimeter-barometer profiles you can choose from that include automatic, altimeter, and barometer. If the automatic profile is selected, it can flip between the barometer and altimeter profile based on your motion. If you're moving uphill or down, it will go to altimeter mode. If you aren't moving, it will switch to the barometric pressure graph.

To ensure accurate altimeter readings, make sure to calibrate your watch as often as possible, especially in storms or changing weather.

This FusedAlti technology is a handy feature that calibrates using both sea pressure and the GPS function. Also, the barometric graph plots points to show either a rise or fall in barometric pressure. This can help determine weather patterns and show whether or not a storm is moving in or out of your area.

Here we see the time and altitude displayed while the Traverse is...
Here we see the time and altitude displayed while the Traverse is logging data. Below you can see the battery life. This watch was completely charged at 8 am, and shows quite a loss of battery life on this short trip.
Photo: Amber King

The profiles generated for the altimeter and barometer don't compare to the Garmin Fenix 5x Plus Sapphire, which includes crisp, clear color graphs. In addition, this watch comes with a storm alert that will go off when there is a drop of 2 hPa (0.59 inHg) over three hours. In our experience the alarm does work, but it's not always accurate at predicting whether or not there is, in fact, a storm on the way.

A look at the altimeter graph produced during one of the logs.
A look at the altimeter graph produced during one of the logs.
Photo: Amber King

Another feature we like is the data log and the trip summary. It shows total ascent and descent, and also shows the speed at which you are ascending or descending if the GPS is turned on. When looking back at past logged events, it doesn't contain nearly the amount of data that you find with the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. However, we did like that it showed a summary profile of the altitude gain and loss.

Compass


The digital compass is tilt-compensated and provides you with a cardinal direction and reference to true north. Like other watches tested, you can manually calibrate the declination, and it also features a nifty bearing lock. All of the features are similar to other GPS watches.

The digital compass provides a directional reading in degrees.
The digital compass provides a directional reading in degrees.
Photo: Amber King

Timekeeper


Like all altimeter watches, the Traverse also features classic timekeeping functions. It has a countdown timer, stopwatch, one daily alarm, GPS time, and daylight savings time options. If you're in the market for a watch that has more alarms, check out the Casio options.

GPS


Of all the GPS watches tested, this has the fewest number of features. Though this watch is engineered to be a fitness tracker, it has some other handy navigational features as well — enough to keep you up to date on fitness tracking. In addition, like other GPS watches, it features both GPS and GLONASS networks for a better signal and accuracy.

A  basic graph is generated showing where you've been and where...
A basic graph is generated showing where you've been and where you're going.
Photo: Amber King

Check out this list of navigational features found on the Traverse:
  • Find back features help guide you back to your starting point where the first GPS fix was established.
  • Point of Interest (POI) icons that you can choose with your log. You can navigate back to these POIs, and they can be used while stationary or moving.
  • Check your coordinates.
  • Create routes with a route planner in the Suunto Movescount app and navigate those routes.
  • Logbook: shows the type of activity, distances, speed, and more.
  • Change map orientation.
  • A real-time navigational map is created to show your basic location.
  • Change GPS accuracy options to save battery life or get a more precise track: 1 sec (high), 5 sec (good), 60 sec (okay), none

In addition, this watch has many activity monitoring functions such as daily steps, calories burned (that is reset at midnight), 30-day step history (and yearly trends), and specific activity profiles (i.e., hiking, running, swimming, biking, etc.).

Both watches have similar displays. The top shows the Ambit3 Peak...
Both watches have similar displays. The top shows the Ambit3 Peak while the bottom shows the Suunto Traverse.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort and Fit


Even though this watch features a slim watch face and silicon watch band design that fits nicely around the wrist and over and under clothing, we did not like wearing it when it was hot outside. Unlike all the other bands tested, this one only features watch holes on one side of the band.

The silicon band is like many of the other bands tested and provides...
The silicon band is like many of the other bands tested and provides a nice tight fit around the wrist.
Photo: Amber King

While hiking in the heat with the watch against our skin, we learned that the lack of holes made our wrist sweaty and itchy. In addition, the band does not have the ergonomic insert like the Suunto Ambit3 Peak or the Suunto Core Alu. Instead, it feels floppy.

Unlike other bands, it doesn't have many breathable holes on one...
Unlike other bands, it doesn't have many breathable holes on one side, making it sticky. It also doesn't have the ergonomic plastic insert featured in the Suunto Ambit3 Peak for added comfort.
Photo: Amber King

Value


At a price of $419, we think it's a decent value, especially since you can find it on sale at a variety of dealers. However, we think the Suunto Ambit3 Peak has almost all of the same features of the Traverse with a much longer battery life, is worth the slightly greater premium.

Running around on the Red Mountain Pass at 12,000 feet is a great...
Running around on the Red Mountain Pass at 12,000 feet is a great place for the Traverse. Day hikes and short adventures are where it performs best.
Photo: Amber King

Conclusion


The Traverse is a GPS fitness trainer with a built-in altimeter and barometer. It has all the basic features of an altimeter watch, but the battery life is quite poor. If you're looking for a GPS watch, we'd recommend instead looking at the Suunto Ambit3 Peak that has all the same features, better battery life, and greater comfort.

Amber King and Ben Applebaum-Bauch