Suunto Traverse Amber ReviewAugust 30, 2016
- Most intuitive/simple in test
- Fastest location fix in test
- Movescount App
- Limited feature set
- Average battery life
The Suunto Traverse Amber is designed for backpackers, climbers, mountaineers, alpinists, and back-country skiers. The fact that this watch is not bursting with limitless features and unlimited customization makes is a solid choice for someone who simply wants an accurate GPS/Altimeter/Electronic Compass on their wrist. Our testers especially loved the ease of creating and importing routes using the Movescount App and the fun animated graphic videos of their hikes & climbs that could easily be created and shared directly from the associated app.
The Suunto Traverse Amber is housed in a composite case with a stainless steel fixed bezel, mineral crystal lens, and silicone wrist strap. After three months of heavy testing including thousands of feet of rock climbing, dozens of miles hiking, and two trips up Mount Rainier our test unit shows minor marking on the lens and housing.
Ease of Use/Intuitiveness
Of all the models we tested in this run the Suunto Traverse Amber had the simplest setup and shortest learning curve. Smartphone connectivity and a Mac or PC will definitely aid in setup along with greatly streamlining route planning. The button layout was especially intuitive and made navigating the few menu layers quite simple.
With GPS and GLONASS technology in the Suunto Traverse Amber our testers found that a satellite location fix could be obtained in most conditions in less than a minute, and with 50% skyview often in less than 15 seconds. In dense foliage location fixes occurred noticeable faster than some of the other models in our test. Location data was very accurate, to within 15-20 feet. Built-in shortcuts for saving your current location as a POI (Point of Interest) was a favorite feature.
The included silicone wristband was comfortable for all and would adjust small enough for our smallest testers (though one female tester claimed the watch housing was just too big for small wrists).
The list of features of the Suunto Traverse Amber is simple and relatively short when compared to other watches in this category. Along with all the features a multi-sport watch typically comes with Suunto adds an accurate GPS/GLONASS receiver, an altimeter, barometer, and electronic compass. While the simplified nature of this model is a boon for many end users, advanced users will want more options and will be willing to tolerate the increased complexity of use.
After the initial setup of connecting the watch via Bluetooth to a smart phone and downloading the Movescount software/app you can start plotting routes and easily customize your “in watch” settings. Route planning on the Movescount website was quite intuitive. Manufacture specifications claim 14 days of battery life in time mode, and 10 hours in the most accurate GPS mode (1 second recording). There are battery saving options that can lengthen the interval recording to every 5 seconds (15hr battery life) or every minute (100hr battery life) at the cost of track accuracy, especially at speed. Our testers preferred the more accurate GPS tracks and wished they could squeak out a few more hours of use between recharging, however they did find the 10 hour specification to be quite accurate under various conditions.
David is a self proclaimed snow & navigation geek and teaches all aspects of climbing and avalanche safety for Eastern Mountain Sports Schools in North Conway, NH. He tests GPS's for the Gear Institute.