Technology has made great leaps forward in the 10 years since I first reviewed a Suunto GPS-enabled watch (the Suunto X9, reviewed in 2005 here). But one thing remains the same—Suunto still leads a lot of the innovation in smart watches.
The Suunto Ambit3 Peak represents the latest in wearable technology. The Ambit3 Peak HR blends classic features such as a barometric altimeter and magnetic compass with state-of-the-art features, including fitness tracking through a heart rate monitor, GPS tracking and navigation, and Bluetooth linkage to smart phones and tablets. That connectivity lets you see phone messages on your Ambit3, and you can use your phone screen to track your progress in real time and after an outing. The Suunto Movescount app also lets you store and share your adventures, plot your course on maps, and create movies of your outings, with tracks rolling through 3-D topographic maps.
I’ve tested the Ambit3 extensively for the last few months, including a short trip into the Yosemite Valley (see the movie above to see what the Movescount movies can do even with a very short day hike). With the GPS active, the Ambit3’s battery has averaged about 23.5 hours per charge for me. With it only used during specific periods—a scramble to a remote summit from a backcountry camp, for instance—I found the charge more than adequate for a 3-day backpacking trip. And because it is charged via a USB cable, it’s easy to pack a small portable power pack or solar charge to give the watch a boost on longer trips.
The Ambit3 settings can be modified on the watch itself or through the linked app. The feature set of the Ambit3 Peak is too rich to full to completely document here, but hikers, mountain bikers, climbers trail runners and adventure racers will find just about any option they want for their activity.
Suunto currently offers the Ambit3 Peak in three models: The $650 Sapphire HR boasts stainless-steel framed face and includes a heart rate monitor. The $600 Sapphire lacks the heart rate monitor, while the $550 Black HR drops the stainless face frame for a basic black frame along with a heart rate monitor.