This Could be the Ultimate Adventure Watch!
Smart watches have become ubiquitous amongst the outdoors enthusiasts. From the weekend warrior who loves to run, hike or cycle to the serious mountaineer hanging off a 6000m cliff face.
As humans, we love data, we just can’t get enough of it, it seems. From knowing how many steps or calories burnt in a day to beating your personal best on your local trail (beating a friend is even better). It’s data, data, data, and I have to admit, it is interesting, especially if using it towards reaching a goal. Never
There are a huge amount of smartwatches on offer these days, ranging from the more fashionable Apple Watch, all the way to the extreme end such as the Suunto and Garmin watches. The type of watch you choose, is typically a reflection of the lifestyle you live.
But not all watches can claim to provide as much data as the Spartan
We’ve been using it for hiking and mountain biking for over a year and have been seriously impressed with it.
This watch ticks all the boxes in the eye candy department. With all the hallmarks of a serious adventure watch, it has that perfect balance of grit and elegance. With the “do the job right!” seriousness of an S.A.S soldier and a touch of James Bond gadgetry, glamour and sophistication. If it was a person it would be a mash-up of John
If you’re a fan of the pilot chronograph face or prefer a much simpler analogue-style, then you can change the watch face to suit the mood or scenario you find yourself in, making it appropriate for outdoor activity and still looking just as good on the wrist in the city and for work.
Size comparison between my previous Suunto Core (right) and the new Spartan HR Baro (left). Photo: Richard McGibbon
- Measurements: 50 x 50 x 17 mm / 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.67 “
- Weight: 74 g / 2.61 oz
- Bezel material: Stainless steel
- Glass material: Mineral crystal
- Case material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide
- Strap material: Silicone
Clean and intuitive GUI. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The Suunto Spartan
- Highly accurate GPS and navigational
- An epic amount of activity tracking and data tools
- Sleep tracking
- Sports modes (predefined and custom)
- Training and recovery
- Highly sensitive on wrist Heart Rate monitor
- Barometric altitude
- Storm alarm
- Notifications (Bluetooth connectivity)
- Touch screen
- Colour screen
Within each of the above categories are subsets and layers with more detailed options. It really comes down to what you’re going to be using the watch for and what your expectations are. Here’s a full feature list. Put the kettle on, you’ll be some time.
Activity Tracking, Navigation & GPS
One of the main reasons we buy a watch like this is to track activities and the combination of the default tracking tools combined with the huge amount of sports mode data, gives this watch
Out of the box set up is quick and easy by following some simple set up tutorials. You’ll be out on the trails in no time at all.
The Suunto Spartan uses a highly accurate GPS GLONASS software that provides exceptional positioning data. The watch features a powerful compass, (accuracy to 5°) breadcrumb feature and POI (Point of Interest) tools that make navigation a breeze.
For our mountain biking activities, we connected with the Strava App so we could upload our ride details straight after we’d finished, and make comparisons with our iPhone/Strava results.
It was interesting to compare the iPhone Strava results with the Suunto results. We found the iPhone would make some unrealistic Strava readings, whereas the Suunto Spartan would be right on the money, every time.
The iPhone resulted in some unrealistic times and even KOM’s which we know could never be achieved, even from the likes of Sam Hill. Unless you were in a jet fighter, those times could not have been achieved on bike.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that it is a much more reliable form of GPS than the iPhone. Yes, we had to deny ourselves some KOMS, but better that than have inaccurate (laughable) data.
Tracking & Navigation hit list:
- Satellite systems GPS, GLONASS
- GPS recording rate. Best, Good, OK
- Waypoint and visual route navigation
- Zoom levels in navigation
- Auto zoom based on route shape
- Breadcrumb trail in real time
- Route planning with altitude profile
- Outdoor maps by satellite, terrain and topography in web by Mapbox, Google Maps & Android
- Heatmaps to browse and show on Moves
- Route planning with heatmaps
- Personal route library synced to watch
- Routes to take into use from community in Suunto Movescount.com
- Point of Interest (POI) navigation
- GPS track analysis
- Track logging, viewing and sharing
- ETA (estimated time of arrival), remaining distance
- Battery life, GPS active
With over 80 sports modes pre-installed on the watch, the Suunto
Within each sports
During Sports Mode, you can display up to 7 fields on the main display, plus up to an additional 50 measurement parameters which can be accessed via a simple finger swipe.
- Speed and Average speed in real time
- Bike POD with speed/cadence support (Bluetooth Smart)
- Bike power meter support (Bluetooth Smart)
- Bike Power (W), average and maximum with power sensor, (Bluetooth Smart)
- Bike Lap and Lap Maximum Power (with power sensor)
- Real-time lap table with avg Heart Rate, avg power and avg speed
- Interval guidance with power, speed and heart rate on watch
Hiking / Trail Running Tracking:
- Running pace
- Suunto FusedSpeed™
- Running power with Stryd sensor
- Foot POD calibration (automatic)
- Lap comparisons
- Average, max, lap pace in real time
- Interval guidance with running pace/heart rate/distance (on watch)
In addition to both the above specific tracking, the watch still tracks all the default activity stats including heart zones (effort and time spent in each of those zones), climbing and descending, distance and breadcrumb mode if you’re riding or running/hiking.
Heart Rate Monitor
The integrated Heart Rate monitor on the Spartan watch is incredibly accurate. The data we received was as accurate as any paired chest strap that we’ve used. What this means is that you can do away with the chest strap altogether and still get highly accurate data.
However, you can still pair a chest strap with the watch if you desire to get even more accurate readings and other benefits such as the Suunto Smart Sensor, which gives you the added advantage of heart rate memory.
In addition to tracking heart rate during exercise, Spartan
The Suunto Spartan heart rate sensor is incredibly accurate. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
Clean & Intuitive GUI
Navigation is simple with the physical buttons on the side that navigate to the main menus, and tapping or swiping the screen opens up subsets of those menus.
The main menu options are:
- Heart Rate
- Training Plans/Goals
- Sleep Tracking
What we really liked is
The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro offers 80 sport modes! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
As well as weather proof, i.e dust and grime, the Spartan
Clean and intuitive GUI. Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The Suunto Spartan is waterproof to 100 metres! Photo: ©Richard McGibbon
The Suunto Spartan watches have all the usual app connectivity, such as:
Strava, TrainingPeaks, MapMyFitness and more. If you enjoy drooling over stats, then you’ll love what the Suunto Spartan has to offer, not limited to just within the watch itself but all of the additional connected apps.
If you need to edit specific datasets for your training program you can simply log into the Movescount website, connect your phone to your computer and edit the data sets in each of the sports modes.
In addition to editing the sports modes you can also log all of your activities, select from a huge choice of free training programs (apps), upload or create your own training programs via training calendars and of course analyse your activities, in great detail.
The new Suunto App is where you can view your training, activity and sleep summaries, stay connected with notifications, and customize what you want to see on your watch during training and adventures.
The activity-specific heatmaps in Suunto app show you where the most popular routes are, all around the world. Discover and plan your new favourite routes in your home city or while you’re traveling somewhere new. Sync them directly to your watch and GO!
The new Suunto App keeps you synced with your activity data whilst on the go.
At the end of the day, uploading data after your activity is super easy with the USB cable that slaps on the back of the watch. Insert the USB into a laptop or desktop and this will boot up the Movescount program automatically.
Log into your Movescount account and you will be able to access a ton of data from your activity, view your history via a calendar and explore and download hundreds of user-generated sports modes and training plans.
In addition to
Battery Life / GPS Accuracy
In standard time mode (no activity tracking), the battery life will last up to 14 days. When using the 24/7 tracking and mobile notifications it will last up to 7 days. The battery life is quite impressive, considering the amount of live data you can track.
We tested the battery levels from a Sunday morning to the following Friday night with all the tracking tools switched on and also recorded my exercise routine for that week and two MTB rides on the weekend.
Exercise during the week was:
- Gym x3, wights and circuit training (45mins -1 hour per session)
- Saturday and Sunday MTB rides of around 2-3 hours each.
However, even when the watch was on it’s last legs with only 6% battery life remaining, it seemed to really slow down in terms of dropping any further. Without using any of the tracking tools and keeping it in just standard time mode, it lasted for 5 hours on the last 6%!
We ran the battery completely empty and the charge time from dead flat (blank watch face) was about 2hrs, but when the watch has even the smallest of % left, the charge time is considerably quicker.
If you need to prolong the battery life you can do a couple of things. You can use the power save mode, which is very handy if you’re out on a remote hike and need the watch for crucial GPS use. Or you can choose to adjust the interval rate of the GPX fix.
The GPS fix determines the accuracy of your tracking data – the shorter the interval between fixes, the better the
The GPS fix rate directly affects battery life. By reducing GPS accuracy, you can extend the battery life of your watch.
GPS accuracy options are:
1 sec fix rate with full power
When set to Best, your watch is using GPS at full power all the time. In full power mode, the GPS is able to filter out interference and get the best fix. This results in the best track accuracy, but also use the battery the most.
1 sec fix rate with low power
By using Good, you can still get GPS fix every second, but the accuracy is reduced because the GPS is not in full power mode all the time. Between fixes, the GPS goes into a low power mode for a short time, as illustrated below.
This extends battery life, but it means the GPS has less time to find a good fix and filter out interference. So the resulting track is not as accurate as with Best.
60 sec fix rate with full power
Whenever you navigate a route or a POI, the GPS accuracy is automatically set to Best.
Above: GPS accuracy GOOD, below; GPS accuracy OK.
Where to Buy / Price
Price: Anywhere from $650.00 – $799.99,
For more information on the new Suunto Spartan range and to purchase, head over to the Suunto website.