If you are a runner and have bought a GPS watch before, chances are that you have heard of Suunto. Suunto was founded over 80 years and they have a reputation for making high-quality sports watches which are regularly featured in guides everywhere including in ours. They offer a wide variety of GPS watches and, as mentioned, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you.
Suunto 3 Fitness
Released last year, this is meant to be an entry-level Suunto watch, if you consider $200+ to be entry level. You do get great value for that price and all in a lightweight, compact and beautifully designed watch.
The Suunto 3 Fitness comes packed with all the features you need – except for one: it is waterproof up to 30 meters, has an accurate optical heart rate monitor, and tracks your activity and even your sleep. It is only missing one thing: an integrated GPS. Note that you can connect it to your phone’s GPS to track your routes, although that means that you will have to carry your phone around on your runs.
As mentioned, it can track your activities on an endless list of sports. And all of that is centralized in their app where you can find all your activity logs and recorded activities. As a nice bonus it also monitors the quality of your sleep.
What is nice with entry-level watches from renowned watch makers, such as Suunto, is that you can benefit from all the software feature and sport knowledge that they develop for their higher-end customers. This means that you get an impressive adaptive training plan which uses your body, performance and health data to calculate training intensity and training days for you. It tracks your VO2 max and oxygen intake to help you improve your overall fitness level.
Who is it for?
Runners or multisport athletes who are on a budget. The watch really looks great and it is paired with the great Suunto app. At a similar price level we also recommend you take a look at the Garmin Forerunner 245.
Released a few months ago in May 2019, the Suunto 5 is a great mid-level running and triathlon watch. At $329, it offers really good value-for-money. Its main differentiating point is that it offers really solid battery life in a compact format. You can expect up to 40 hours of battery life in GPS mode; or 20 hours if you want more frequent logs of your performance, which is still really good.
It is lightweight with a 1.2” display and its size will fit most wrists, small and big. It is also quite comfortable which makes a lot of design sense since they heavily advertise their 24/7 tracking functions: it can track over 80 sport modes as well as daily activity, steps, calories, quality of sleep, stress levels etc.
It comes with an internal optical heart rate sensor and can track your usual fitness and performance factors but your recovery as well. And it uses all that info to suggest adaptive training plans with workout days, intensity and rest factored in.
It might not have all the features of its bigger brother the Suunto 9 (see below) or the similarly-priced Garmin 645 but it offers everything the average runner needs.
The screen is the main weak point: it tends to be dim (if not dull) and somewhat prone to scratches.
Who is it for?
The average runner, triathlete or multisport athlete who doesn’t want to spend $500 on a watch. If battery life is important to you, this is a solid choice. Otherwise you might want to take a look at the Garmin 245 or 645.
Everything about this watch is big: its display, its battery and its price. This is a full-featured premium watch which supports multisport and over 80 different sports. Find out why we think it is the ideal trail running watch. We especially loved the BARO version, which was our top-pick for Best GPS Watch for Trail. The BARO version features a sapphire crystal screen and titanium bezel. It also gives you the barometric altitude – as the name suggests – on top of the GPS altitude. We also like that it gives you advanced information about local weather.
The first characteristic that sets it apart is its touchscreen. It really makes it easier and quicker to use. Most of the time a few finger swipes will get you where you want, otherwise it also comes with 3 buttons. The screen is nice and readable.
It truly excels at tracking fitness. It can track the usual distance, time, pace, cadence, and heart rate with some beautiful graphs. But it tracks much more detailed data on your speed, performance, recovery, training load and more. It keeps track of time spent in each intensity zone and the total ascent and descent. A lot of powerful training and performance tracking features with some nice and useful graphs.
It has the three most important sensors for trail: altimeter, barometer and compass (which has tilt compensation). It also has a thermometer and a pedometer. Interestingly, the watch uses both the barometric and the GPS sensors to calculate altitude.
The battery life is excellent with 14 days in regular mode and from 25 up to 120 hours in GPS mode (with the Ultra battery mode). They also build in “intelligent charge reminders” which are quite convenient.
Who is it for?
Trail runners willing to pay the price for a rugged and feature-filled fitness tracker with plenty battery life to go on long trail runs.
As you will see, there are many versions (small variations really) of the Suunto Spartan. That’s because it quickly became a reference when it first came out mid-2016 and Suunto launched several iterations on it in the following years. The Spartan is a multisport GPS watch with a color touchscreen and GPS navigation.
It is a rugged and robust watch that will not let you down and can track you across 80 different.
We have already mentioned all the usual features that Suunto excels at. This watch pretty much does it all and in a reliable and time-tested manner.
Let us not forget to say that the battery life is really solid, ensuring that this watch will follow you on your longest adventures.
As mentioned, there are several (too many if you ask us) versions of the Spartan. So let’s take a look at all the options and what differentiates them. The original Spartan cam with a chest-strap for heart rate measurements. Most models now support wrist-based HR.
The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is now the classic Spartan watch and came to replace the now defunct Suunto Spartan Sport back in 2017. It has all the standard features, activity and performance tracking, training loads etc. If you want barometric altitude and some advanced weather data, then there is the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro.
There’s also the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR, which is a cheaper version of the Spartan. It does not have a touchscreen, and no compass or GLONASS compatibility. It also has a shorter battery life. The regular Spartan has a battery life of 10 to 40 hours in GPS mode, depending on the frequency of logs. The Spartan trainer only goes up to 30. Another small difference is that it is water-resistant down to 50m compared to 100m for all the other models, which is still very good.
Finally there’s the Suunto Spartan Ultra made with premium materials: Titanium Grade 5 instead of Steel and Sapphire crystal instead of mineral crystal. It offers an outstanding battery ranging from 18 to 140 hours (!) in GPS mode. It does have a barometer and advanced weather data including storm warnings, similarly to the Sports Baro. While it monitors R-R intervals it surprisingly does not offer wrist-based heart-rate and does not track steps or calories.
Honestly, we see no reason of getting the Ultra over the more recent Suunto 9. Even more so if you don’t like wearing a chest strap for HR.
Who is it for?
Anyone who for some reason distrusts the Suunto 9 and would rather go with a sure-thing. The Suunto Spartan has been around for years in different models and version and is a reference among GPS watches.