Suunto Ambit Review

July 7, 2012
Suunto Ambit
GPS Accuracy
Battery Life
Satellite Acquisition Speed

The Good

  • High quality construction
  • GPS is extremely accurate
  • Good trail features like compass and barometric altimeter
  • 50hr battery life in GPS mode
  • Display on the unit is clear and crisp

The Bad

  • Training history on the unit is limited to the last workout completed
  • No virtual partner or workout assistance or multisport mode
  • Expensive at $500
  • A bit large for small wrists

The Suunto Ambit is an excellent backcountry GPS watch—extremely well made, with great battery life, and very high GPS accuracy. It’s best for mountain athletes who need basic fitness and pacing metrics, and provides top level nagivigation tools. Serious runners will note an absence of some training functions, and casual users will probable gasp at the price.


This summer, Finnish company Suunto introduced a GPS watch aimed at the ultra running community that retails for $500. It is a great looking, well-made product that incorporates some very nice features that are not normally found in GPS units.  

The long lasting 50-plus-hour battery makes it great for ultra runners tacking up 50k-100 miles in one bite. The device also incorporates Suunto’s “FusedSpeed” technology, which evens out a runner’s pace better than other GPS units. Some additional features are a barometric altimeter, a 3D compass, basic route tracking, and waypoint finding. It’s also compatible with ANT+ heart rate monitors, and can monitor heart rate zones, average heart rate, etc.

Signal Acquisition
The unit finds signals extremely fast.  The first acquisition came in at around 45 seconds and subsequent runs were in the ten-second range—that’s faster on the re-uptake than any other watch we’ve tested.

The “FusedSpeed” is a very good at determining current pace. Suunto combines the GPS data on speed (which is somewhat sluggish and takes a few seconds to figure out how fast you’re moving) with data on how fast your arms are moving that’s coming in from that watch’s accelerometer. The faster reaction time as I changed speeds was noticeable.

That said, the main running feature is that it calculates your current speed and distance. It won’t automatically log mile splits or average pace for the current mile split—features serious runners generally expect in a high-end GPS watch.

Data logging
When you are done running, you simply press stop and hold the button to save your run.  The watch then displays your activity from which you can review specific data.  You can only review the activity that was just completed and not old history.  Those old runs need to be uploaded into to a computer (PC or Mac) to review again.

The Ambit was extremely accurate.  Under clear skies on the track, I completed my standard 5000m test and it was only about 15m off—simply amazing.  I wasn’t convinced and completed several other known routes of mine and each time it was consistent.  Great GPS accuracy.

The Suunto Ambit is targeted toward ultra runners and explorers and for this group it delivers. Given the limited number of training features, it may not be that useful for casual or even hardcore road runners or triathletes looking for a multisport watch. Suunto certainly delivers a high quality unit, but it is very clearly aimed a certain athletic demographic.


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