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Suunto Traverse Review

It's has great GPS-enabled functionality but the battery life is terrible.
Suunto Traverse
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Price:  $419 List | $296.79 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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
#8 of 9
  • Altimeter Accuracy - 30% 7
  • Battery Life - 20% 3
  • Ease of Use and Interface - 20% 7
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Display quality - 10% 7
  • Comfort and Fit - 10% 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.

The Suunto Ambit3 Peak, and contains most of the same features as the Traverse (and more). It has better battery life and accuracy with higher quality construction. In addition, it is more comfortable and versatile. Even though we liked this watch on its own as an altimeter contender, we'd recommend checking out the Suunto Ambit3 Peak instead. For the same price, you get a much better watch with much higher value.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Suunto Traverse
This Product
Suunto Traverse
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $296.79 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$349.00 at Amazon$599.00 at REI$245.00 at Amazon$395.95 at Amazon
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Pros GPS-enabled, decent accuracy, great graphs, fitness tracker, great display, built-in flashlight modeComfortable, high quality, easy-to-use, highly accurate, GPS, many features, rechargeable batteryTouch screen, many features, consistent altimeter, clear graphsLong battery life, durable aluminum finish, great fit, precise, easy-to-use interfaceAmazing features, long battery life for GPS watch, awesome display, easy-to-use, colorful and clear font
Cons Very poor battery life, poor wrist bandThicker profile, short battery lifeShort battery life, inaccurate step counterAltitude and barometric graphs are sub-par, no GPS, lag on button pressesNot the most accurate altimeter, poor battery life in comparison to non-GPS, lacks comfort
Bottom Line It's has great GPS-enabled functionality but the battery life is terrible.The Sunnto Ambit3 Peak is the Editors' Choice because of its fantastic accuracy, reliability, and great features.This is an all-star watch for those who keep to the front country.This Best Buy Award winner is the best option for those looking for a classic altimeter watch at an affordable price.This watches is one of the best multi-sport fitness based watches available but the altimeter function is just average.
Rating Categories Suunto Traverse Suunto Ambit3 Peak Suunto 9 Baro Suunto Core Alu Garmin Fenix 3
Altimeter Accuracy (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Battery Life (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
5
Ease Of Use And Interface (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
6
10
0
8
Features (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
9
Display Quality (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
9
Comfort And Fit (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
Specs Suunto Traverse Suunto Ambit3 Peak Suunto 9 Baro Suunto Core Alu Garmin Fenix 3
GPS? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Dimensions (Inches) 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.65” 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.71” 2.03 x 2.03 x 0.67 " 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.57” 2.01 x 2.01 x 0.69”
Type of Battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Watch battery Rechargable lithium ion battery
Battery Life (w/o GPS) 14 days 30 days 14 days 12 months 6 weeks
Battery Life w/ GPS on 10, 15, 100 hours (based on settings) 20, 30, or 200 hours 7 days No GPS 38 - 50 hrs in UltraTrac mode, 20 hours in regular GPS
Altitude Range -1640 - 32,805ft (-500m - 9999m), profile graph -500 - 9999 m -500 - 9999 m -500 - 9000 m Information pending
Altitidue differential? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Elevation interval 1m/3ft 1m/3ft 1ft 1m/3ft 1m/3ft
Barometer Yes, barometric graph Yes Yes Yes Yes, barometric graph
Barometric Recording Interval & Time (for the graph) Every 15 minutes for 24 hours Every 15 minutes, 24 hours 10 seconds, 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours
Barometric Pressure Range 950 - 1,060 hPa (28.05 - 31.30 inHg) 950 to 1060 hPa (28.05 to 31.30 inHg) Information pending 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg) 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg)
Storm Alert Alarm? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compass Yes, tilt adjustable Yes Yes, tilt adjustable None Yes, tilt adjustable
Time Features Digital (12/24 hr format), stop watch, count down Digital, stop watch, countdown timer Digital (customizable faces), stop watch, GPS time, countdown timer Digital, dual world times, stopwatch, countdown timer Digital (customizable faces), stop watch, GPS time, countdown
Time Alarm Yes, one daily alarm Yes, one daily alarm Yes Yes Yes, one daily alarm
Thermometer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes w/ temperature chart
Temperature Resistance Range High: -20C to 60C/-4F to 140 F -20° C to +60° C -20° C to +60° C -20° C to +60° C (-4F - 140F) -20C to 55C/-4F to 131F
Water Resistance Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters
Interchangeable straps? Yes No Yes No Yes
Types of bands and material Silicon Elastomer Silicone Silicone Plastic, silicon
Bluetooth connection? Yes Yes Yes No No
GPS, GLONASS, both? Both GPS GPS No GPS No GPS
Apps Suunto MovesCount Suunto MovesCount Suunto MovesCount n/a n/a
Charging Type Specialized cord Specialized cord Specialized cord Battery Specialized cord
Warranty Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (2 years)
Other Cool Features Bluetooth (3 m range) notifications, points of interest, recovery time estimator, Activity monitoring, heart rate monitor, notifications, moon phases, points of interest, sleep tracking sunrise/sunset Snorkeling depth meter (resolution 0.1m)

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

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 started fully charged. The Traverse shows almost 50 percent less battery life than the Suunto Ambit3 Peak on this hike.
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.

Ease of Use and Interface


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.

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 like the Suunto Ambit3 Peak and the Suunto Core Alu. 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 well marked.
The buttons on the other side of the watch are also easy to use and well marked.

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 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.
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.

The profiles generated for the altimeter and barometer are similar to the Suunto Ambit3 Peak and much better than the Suunto Core Alu and the Casio PRW-6000Y. However, they 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.

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.

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 — not as many as either the Suunto 9 Baro or the Garmin Fenix 5x Plus Sapphire, but 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 you're going.
A basic graph is generated showing where you've been and where you're going.

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.).

Use Suunto Movescount to optimize functionality with this watch. This app will sync with the device and allow you to control settings from your phone.

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

Display Quality


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.


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

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. However, it is light, and aside from wearing it when it's hot outside, it's still nicer on the skin than the Casio SGW300HB.

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.
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.

Best Application


Given the short battery life of this watch, it is best used for day-long or short adventures. Take it with you on day hikes or weekend backpacking trips. Avoid it for anything longer than two weeks if you don't have access to a USB charger. Additionally, it's a great fitness training tool with a plethora of extra features.

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.
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.

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. If you're in the market for something less expensive, check out the Suunto Core or the Casio SGW300HB.

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