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Suunto 9 Baro Review

This watch stands out for its endurance event-ready battery life and touch screen but is a bit too expensive for its lack of features and functionality
Suunto 9 Baro
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $499 List | $499.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Sleek look, touch screen, extensive battery life and power saving options, onboard maps, battery charger that anchors well
Cons:  Lacks many features
Manufacturer:   Suunto
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 16, 2021
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70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Features - 20% 6
  • Battery Life - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 20% 6
  • Accuracy - 20% 8
  • Design - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The Suunto 9 Baro is known for its extensive battery life and endurance modes that'll keep you chugging for 30+ hours. It uses a large watch face with a touch screen option which makes for a sleek and stylish GPS watch. This isn't as heavily featured as other Garmin watches and doesn't have upgrades like touchless pay or music control. It does, however, use onboard layered maps, which are a nice addition. Overall, we wouldn't recommend this watch unless a touch screen in addition to extensive battery life is an absolute necessity, especially given the high sticker price.

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Suunto 9 Baro
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Suunto 9 Baro
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Price $499.00 at REI
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Pros Sleek look, touch screen, extensive battery life and power saving options, onboard maps, battery charger that anchors wellLightweight and thin profile, intuitive, fully featured, very accurateStellar battery life, nice size and weight, comfortable, easy to use, simple software platform, seamless syncing and updates, touchscreenLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low costSolar rechargeable, good feature set, all functionality is built into the watch without the need for the apps
Cons Lacks many featuresExpensive, hidden features that take time to set-up and get to know, blood oxygen sensor has questionable accuracyLarger knob is easy to push accidentally, can't be plugged into a computerNo mountain sports or navigational featuresButtons are easy to push accidentally, can't use a screen protector, small screen, can't modularize the features like other Garmin products
Bottom Line This watch stands out for its endurance event-ready battery life and touch screen but is a bit too expensive for its lack of features and functionalityThis elite watch stands out for its high-end features with exceptional accuracy and performance in a low profile designWith all the right features and monstrous battery life, this watch is one of our favorites for ultradistance events and explorationsA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting out of this world battery lifeA top recommendation for any adventurer heading out on a longer expedition that needs GPS and a rechargeable device
Rating Categories Suunto 9 Baro Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Apex Pro Coros Pace 2 Garmin Instinct Solar
Features (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
7.0
Battery Life (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Design (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
5.0
Specs Suunto 9 Baro Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Apex Pro Coros Pace 2 Garmin Instinct Solar
Model Tested N/A N/A Standard N/A Standard
Watch Face Material Sapphire crystal Corning Gorilla Glass DX Sapphire glass Corning glass Power glass with photovoltaic panels built-in
Bezel Stainless steel Fiber-reinforced polymer Titanium Alloy Fiber reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Case Glass fibre reinforced polyamide Fiber-reinforced polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicone Silicon Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon Silicone
Tools Required to Change Band? No Yes No No Yes
Size Tested One size only One size only 47mm One size only One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter or W x H) 50mm 46mm 47mm 43mm 46mm
Measured Thickness 16.5mm 13mm 13.4mm 11mm 15mm
Measured Screen Width 35mm 30mm 33mm 32mm 22mm
Measured Weight 2.8 oz 1.7 oz 2.0 oz 1.2 oz 1.9 oz
Measured Charging Time 150 min 75 min 80 min 80 min 140 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 25 hours 28 hours 36 hours 29 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Tme mode: 14 days
24/7 tracking and mobile notifications: 7 days
Training mode with GPS: 25h / 50h / 120h / 170h
Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days
GPS mode w/ music: 10 hours
GPS without music: 36 hours
Smartwatch mode: 30 days
GPS mode: 40 hours
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: 20 days
GPS mode: 30 hours
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Smartwatch: up to 24 days/54 days with solar*
Battery-saver watch mode: up to 56 days/unlimited with solar*
GPS mode: up to 30 hours/38 hours with solar**
Max battery GPS mode: up to 70 hours/145 hours with solar**
Expedition GPS activity: up to 28 days/68 days with solar*
*Solar charging, assuming all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions
**Solar charging, assuming use in 50,000 lux conditions
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Satellite Networks Used GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Maps? Yes - detailed Yes, detailed Yes - basic No Yes - basic
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Water Resistance (max depth) 100m 50m 100m 50m 100m
Music Control? Yes Yes No No No
Music Storage? No Yes - 1000 songs No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? Yes Yes No No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Blood Oxygen? No Yes Yes No Yes
Compass? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Main Software App Suunto Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App Coros Garmin Connect, widgets for other features
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Suunto 9 Baro stands out for its touch screen and buttoned design that features extended battery life, enough to make it through most ultra-distance events. The look is sleek and simple, using the Suunto app that has many integrations to choose from.

Performance Comparison


This watch has a large screen with touch functionality. It's not the...
This watch has a large screen with touch functionality. It's not the most featured, but it does boast incredible battery life.
Photo: Amber King

Features


The features offered on the 9 Baro are everything you'll need for GPS tracking, fitness tracking, basic navigation, and gauging altitude. However, this watch is not nearly as robust as many of the other Garmin watches. You can't download workouts, pay wirelessly, or download music. For that reason, if you're a feature junkie, look elsewhere.

One of the included features is a heart rate monitor.
One of the included features is a heart rate monitor.
Photo: Amber King

The Suunto app is a simple platform that allows you to share activities, track your fitness, and optimize your watch with features. However, it's not a fully integrated ecosystem and is limited for that reason.

Notable Features:

  • GPS tracking for 30+ preloaded exercise modes with specific settings
  • Fitness tracking (stress recovery, steps, calories spent, analysis for the week, fitness levels)
  • Heart rate tracking
  • Training log
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Sleep tracking
  • Fitness levels
  • Music control (no storage for music)
  • Navigation (points of interest, routes, location, compass, onboard mapping)
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Touchless payment
  • Water-resistant to 10 ATM (100 meters)

For a full list of features, check out the tech specs.

Battery Life


Built with ultra-distances in mind, we are impressed by the amount of GPS battery life the 9 Baro has. You can get away using it during any ultrarace, and if you need extra juice, you can charge it on the go. Charging it took 150 minutes from 0% to 100%, which was much longer in comparison to the rest of the competition.

Suunto claims this watch will last 7 days in smartwatch mode (14 days in just time mode), and it has several training modes that will last anywhere between 25 and 170 hours. We used this watch out of the box with pre-programmed settings and managed to get 4-5 days when actively using it for GPS activities 2-3 times per week.

This watch has many different battery options.
This watch has many different battery options.
Photo: Amber King

For GPS tests, we let the GPS run down from 100% battery. It lasted 39 hours in regular settings without movement. We did this test to compare with other watches, and it earned second place, tying with the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro for overall stand-still battery life. During another test, in endurance mode (claiming to last 50 hours), we only got 36 hours while running it with all settings turned on, both moving and letting it rest during that time. In regular mode with all features turned on, we got 24 hours. One endurance runner who has the most 100-mile races won in a year, Walt Handloser, loves this watch and claims that he gets 40 hours of battery life for his 100-mile races by simply turning off the screen and heart rate monitor. Overall, we can conclude the battery does last longer than most when running GPS mode. The battery does take a little longer to charge than most.

Many runners love this watch for its excellent battery charger adaptor. For longer races (like 200-mile distances) where a GPS watch might need a recharge while still tracking with an external battery pack, the adaptor is an excellent choice. It's got a strong magnetic connector that won't jiggle loose and will stay in place.

Ease of Use


Our testers felt like this watch took more time to understand, though the app is smooth and easy to figure out. The watch offers touch capabilities which some of our testers appreciated and others didn't. And with hidden tricks on the buttons to access menus and having to hold down one button for "back" functionality, this watch isn't as clearly labeled or intuitive as other top performers.

The touch screen is very large and easy to see, with touch functions working in cold and wet weather. We used the touch screen with compatible gloves and were impressed with our success. The buttons are also available if your hands are gloved for colder weather. The screen does lag a bit, which is noticeable. Many of our testers who are right-handed thought the buttons were harder to press than others (not as reactive), especially when exercising. Overall, it's a nice watch, but other options are a bit higher quality, don't lag, and are much easier to use without having to consult the internet.

The buttons are large and easy to press, but you can accidentally...
The buttons are large and easy to press, but you can accidentally turn activities on and off.
Photo: Amber King

The screen is big, but the fonts (depending on the face you choose) can seem dim and a little harder to see than others. When you touch the buttons or screen, the backlight comes on for a moment, which is a nice convenience, especially for darker training nights.

The app included is the Suunto app, which gives you access to a host of features. In the past, Suunto Movescount was a big part of the software platform, but Suunto is currently in the process of combining both apps together.

The app is pretty simple to use. When you open it, you immediately see the latest activities and stats for that month. You can go to the next icon and see a bigger overview of activities. The next is your location and an associated map. You can also access a leaderboard where you add friends and ranks. There are several app options under "partner services," including coaching apps, mapping apps, and more. The interface is clear and easy to use. For each, there may be the need to create individual accounts, and in some cases, sign-up for subscriptions. Overall, the app is clear and easy to use, but the watch itself has a steeper learning curve than most to fully understand.

Accuracy


Accuracy is middle of the road for heart rate and excellent for GPS. During our tests, we took this watch on several backcountry adventures, including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and trail running. During all of the GPS activities, tracks were never further than 10 ft off our course, including around corners, with distances reported being 99.5% correct.

Accuracy is great.
Accuracy is great.
Photo: Amber King

The heart rate monitor isn't as accurate as other models. This, we think, is primarily due to fit. On several bike rides, we noted breaks in heart rate (we wore two watches at one time, and other watches picked up these breaks). During our resting tests, the heart rate didn't deviate by much — only 3 - 5 bpm. When exercising, we felt like the readings were accurate as well. Overall, accuracy is good, but not great as the fit of the watch is large and has a harder time picking up data.

Design


The design of the 9 Baro is larger and clunky with a face diameter of 50mm a screen size of 35mm. It is very thick at 16.5mm and has a hinged design that requires quite a specific size of the wrist to fit correctly. The watch also got easily stuck on clothing, which lowered its design score. The Sapphire glass seems quite durable and still hasn't scratched after months of use. In fact, one of our testers told us a tale of tripping and falling right on the glass, with a little damage to the titanium bezel, but no scratches. Another point is when worn on the left wrist, the buttons can press and stop activities, so be sure that you're comfortable wearing it on your right wrist if need be. Overall, a decent design but a little big and bulky for the taste of most of our reviewers.

The design is easy to see in high light but tends to get stuck on...
The design is easy to see in high light but tends to get stuck on tighter fitting layers.
Photo: Amber King

Value


This is an expensive watch, though less expensive than the Garmin options that come with onboard maps. While it lacks many of the extensive features of Garmin, this is one we'd see the value in if you're seeking huge battery life and prefer a touch screen. Otherwise, there are much better options for a lower price.

Conclusion


The Suunto 9 Baro offers extended battery life for ultra-endurance sports with many features that are thoughtful and useful. However, we feel that the amount of features lacks for the price. That said, while most athletes will be better off with a less expensive watch hosting the same features, they'll be hard-pressed to find one with this level of GPS battery life that also features a touch screen.

We enjoyed running with this watch, but for the cost, we don't think...
We enjoyed running with this watch, but for the cost, we don't think the value is there unless you really want touchscreen functionality.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King