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Preview: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, plus Ambit development plans

By Andrew Skurka / January 13, 2017 / 15 Comments

Suunto had one major product release, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR. And I learned of future development plans (or, more accurately, non-plans) for the Ambit collection. Spartan Sport Wrist HR The first GPS sport watch with a wrist-based heart rate monitor was the Garmin Fenix 3 HR, which was announced 12 months ago. But according…

Preview: Garmin Fenix 5, 5S, and 5X (with maps!) GPS sport watches

By Andrew Skurka / January 12, 2017 / 72 Comments

The fourth generation of Garmin’s Fenix GPS sport watch will replace the current Garmin Fenix 3 and Fenix 3 HR. Release date is March 2017. The three models vary in both size and features: Fenix 5S Fenix 5 Fenix 5X You might be asking, What happened to the Fenix 4? The rep did not go into details, but…

Altimeter watches: Made obsolete by the GPS sport watch?

By Andrew Skurka / December 3, 2016 / 26 Comments

For over a decade I wore daily an altimeter watch like the Suunto Core, also known as an ABC watch because most models feature a barometer and compass, too. My favorite was the now-discontinued Highgear Summit, which had the three basic functions, plus a stopwatch with 100-lap memory, easily navigable screens, oversized type, and quick-glance…

Long-term Review: Suunto M-3G Global Compass || Fast, adjustable & ultralight

By Andrew Skurka / November 28, 2016 / 18 Comments

If I only occasionally needed to “find north” to roughly orient a map or to follow a short bearing, a basic magnetic compass like the Silva Starter would be sufficient. But I rely more heavily on my compass than that, since I often backpack in low-use areas where signage is unreliable and trails can be intermittent, as…

GPS sport watch settings & displays for backpacking

By Andrew Skurka / August 2, 2016 / 42 Comments

Most backpackers wear a simple watch, an altimeter watch like the Suunto Core, or no watch at all. My pick, however, is a GPS sport watch. In this post, I will explain how I customize the watch’s settings and displays for backpacking trips. The case for a GPS sport watch I used a simple watch…

Notes for next time: Gear, logistics, & snow travel || Glacier Divide Route

By Andrew Skurka / July 31, 2016 / 10 Comments

For my next trip on the Glacier Divide Route, what should I remember from this past one? Logistics The drive to Glacier National Park from Colorado is intimidating — about 15 hours, depending on the final destination. But it wasn’t terrible, and it’s eye-opening to know that I can reach Glacier in 1.5 days even if I’m…

Map & Compass: Adjust for declination & orient the map

By Andrew Skurka / July 16, 2016 / 14 Comments

Backcountry navigation is an art. The basics can be learned quickly, like dead reckoning, reading a map, and using an altimeter watch. But extensive practice is necessary to seamlessly and flawlessly apply these skills in the field, especially when under duress or in challenging situations, like off-trail in a heavily forested area with rolling hills.…

Long-term review: Suunto Ambit2 GPS watch || Training + navigating revolution

By Andrew Skurka / July 9, 2016 / 17 Comments

It’s rare that a product radically changes my outdoor experience or gear systems. I include the Therm-a-rest NeoAir, SPOT Satellite Messenger (long-term review), and Trail Designs Sidewinder (gear list) on this list, as well as the the Suunto Ambit GPS watch, which is the subject of this long-term review. In short, the Ambit helped take my…

Family tree: Key differences among Suunto GPS watch generations and models

By Andrew Skurka / July 7, 2016 / 27 Comments

Last updated: March 2018 Suunto has released twelve distinct GPS sport watches, beginning with the original Ambit in 2012. This number does not include additional bezel, glass, and color configurations. Because older watches are still being sold, and because new watches will likely be introduced, I thought it would be useful to explain in a…

Make your GPS watch last longer: Five techniques

By Andrew Skurka / November 8, 2015 / 24 Comments

Here is the situation: 1. The battery life of my GPS sport watch is, say, X hours. 2. The duration of my run, ride, or hike is expected to be greater than X. This is unlikely to be the case for the longest of long training efforts, since even entry-level GPS watches last 8-10 hours. But…