Is less really more? When it comes to the new Suunto Traverse GPS Watch, I’d have to say yes. The origins of the Suunto GPS can be seen in the 2012 Ambit model which was quickly followed by the Ambit2 and Ambit3. This fall, a more svelte and paired down GPS offering arrived—the Suunto Ambit Traverse GPS Watch.
The new Suunto Traverse is a fully featured GPS watch designed for hikers, trekkers, climbers and skiers who value simplicity. Its simplicity in design, functionality and usability caters to the outdoor adventurer who doesn’t need a full-on multi-sport, wrist computer. The Traverse rid itself of the complexity and features that the average user doesn’t really need and added in some other must-have features and innovations like GPS/GLONASS navigation.
Glonass is the Russian equivalent of the US GPS system. By using both systems, the Traverse has access to twice as many satellites, which means it takes less time to fix onto them, makes bearing and coordinates more accurate, and saves battery power in the process. Other GPS features include, track back, points of interest, route planning and tracking of metrics like speed, distance and vertical. Suunto achieves all this GPS greatness without the need for the large receiver previously located on the Ambit3’s band. The new antenna is built into the watches bezel, and gives the Traverse a more streamlined design and fit with a smaller overall size. The Traverse does however continue to use FusedAlti, which combines barometric pressure data with satellite altitude to provide accurate altitude readings without the worry of insufficient GPS signals or air pressure changes.
Other unique Traverse features include: a backlight which does doubles duty as a flashlight, vibration alerts and information notifications, and a calorie / step counter. The watch also boasts 100 hours of battery life during navigation, and 14 days in standard time mode. Like the Ambit3, the Traverse provides sunrise/sunset times, storm alert, GPS time keeping, and mobile phone notifications via the Movescount Android/iOS app. What the Traverse doesn't offers that the Ambit3 does are the multi-sport features and accessory support.
The most welcomed new feature for this reviewer has to be the addition of a real-time breadcrumb trail view. This shows a graphical representation of your route in real time and provides the ability to re-trace steps when needed. The Ambit3 currently only has the ability to show a pre-designed route which is uploaded via movescount.com to the watch. This is a huge improvement for navigation and safety in the backcountry.
- Up to 100 hours of battery life with GPS recording on / 14 days in watch mode
- Altimeter; barometer; compass
- Breadcrumb of the track is always visible—no need to separately activate track-back feature
- Location or point-of-interest can be stored anytime with 1-button press from any view
- Water resistant up to 100m / 333ft
- GPS and GLONASS for route navigation
- Real time breadcrumb view of the recorded track
- Tracking for speed, distance and altitude
- Route planning in Movescount.com with topographic maps
- Altitude (FusedAlti™)
- Weather trend and storm alarm
- Sunrise-sunset times
- Daily activity tracking of steps and calories
- GPS time update
- Vibration alerts and alarm
- Mobile notifications
The main watch face is fully customizable, here it shows time, date and sunrise time.
Other main screens include altimeter, barometer and compass.
Breadcrumbs show your route in real time and aid in navigation, a huge new feature!
A real time elevation graph is easy to understand how your route looks for ascent and descent.
There are lots of metrics available after you have tracked a route such as total ascent and descent, maximum and minimum elevations.
The Step counter and calorie tracker show you total steps and calories as well as steps over 7 days and the entire month in a graphical format.
Notification on the main screen, here you see 3 voice mails and 5 texts notifications and below details of one of the missed calls.
Suunto has been at the cutting edge of the altimeter watch market for several decades. With the advent of the GPS watch Suunto once again became a leader, but other companies such as Garmin have been rivalling for dominance in the market.
Garmin’s new Fenix3 watch really pushed the boundaries of technology as well as the amount of ‘wow factor’ that you can cram into a reasonably sized wrist watch. With expectations high that Suunto would announce a new iteration of the popular Ambit GPS watch this fall, many reviewers were surprised to see a paired down and easier to use Traverse watch rather than a ramped up version. I for one think this was a good move on Suunto’s part. Most people don’t need all the features and complexities of the Ambit watch, with the exception of perhaps mountain guides and ultra-athletes. The new Suunto Traverse provides all the functionality this weekend warrior needs with its simplified interface and many new features that the Ambit3 does not currently poses. (Suunto just announced the new Abmit3 Vertical at the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show last month, however, it is more of an evolution rather than a revolution).
I’ve been testing the Suunto Traverse Watch for the past two months on various ski tours and away game ski trips. I’m really impressed with how seldom I’ve had to resort to the user guide to figure things out. Not only has the learning curve been rated a ‘green run’ in ski terms, it also offers several cool features that the current Ambit3 and even the Garmin Fenix 3 watch don’t. (To view a sample of recent ski touring data visit the Backcountry Skiing Canada Movescount.com page here.) The best new features that I now can’t live without are the GLONASS satellite system, improved battery life, flashlight mode, breadcrumb graphic display of your route in real time, vibration alerts, and the elimination of that large bulky GPS receiver built into the Abmit watch band. This is a long list of really useful and frankly cool improvements over the existing Ambit3 GPS watch. I’m also a big fan of the elimination of most features that I never really used anyway making for an easier user experience. It still provides altimeter, barometer and compass features, smart phone alerts, customization and route sharing via movescount.com and everything else I require for my backcountry skiing and hiking/climbing trips.
A sampling of some of the map data provided on the Suunto Movescount web site.
So what’s not to love? If you’re happy with your Ambit1, 2, or 3 and don’t require any of these new (and admittedly cool) features then this is not a watch for you. If you find that you’re just not using all the advanced features on your Ambit (and really have no idea what they do anyways) and you are more of a weekend warrior than hard core athlete, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade? The simpler user interface and more elegant watch face are a welcome additions to this new member of the Suunto GPS watch family.
Price: $589CAN / $450US
Weight: 80g / 2.82oz
Size: 50x50x16.5mm / 1.97x1.97x0.65”
Colours: Black, White, Amber, Graphite
Battery: Lithium Ion (100 hours battery life with GPS recording)
Ease of use 2/2
Size / Weight 2/2
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.
We built this backcountry skiing community for you, the passionate skier, and hope you enjoy the hard work we put into all the reviews, routes, videos, and posts we create. It’s been free from day one but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable resource. If you enjoy this website and value the content we create for you, then please support Backcountry Skiing Canada by donating today. Thank you!