Suunto Ambit3 vs. Garmin Fenix 5 || Core differences + ideal uses

The Suunto Ambit3 Peak (left) and Garmin Fenix 5X (right)

For a week I have been wearing a borrowed Garmin Fenix 5X, which is Garmin’s flagship multi-sport GPS sport watch. I’m a longtime user of the Suunto Ambit3 Peak (and, before that, the Ambit2), and this first-hand experience with a competing brand and product has been informative.

I’ve always been curious how the Ambit3 compares to the Fenix 5, and what would compel the purchase of one model over the other. The differences are more significant than I thought they would be, and to make an informed buying decision you need not immerse yourself in the minutia of product specs. It’s easier than that.

Product families

Before I compare the Fenix and Ambit models, let me give a quick overview of each collection.

The Fenix 5X is the most feature-rich of the three-watch Fenix 5 family. Versus the base Garmin Fenix 5, the 5X has a larger face so that it better displays pre-loaded 100k topographic maps. (The 5X is the only map-enabled Fenix watch.) The Garmin Fenix 5S is a shrunken version of the Fenix 5, with identical software but a smaller face and less battery life.

For the remainder of this article I will cumulatively refer to these watches as the Fenix 5. For a more in-depth explanation of their differences, read this preview.

Garmin’s fourth-generation Fenix series: the 5S, 5, and 5X.

The Ambit3 Peak is the top-of-the-line Ambit, followed by the Ambit3 Vertical. There is also an Ambit3 Sport and Ambit3 Run, but they have been discontinued and are being sold out. The Ambit3 Peak is more accurate and has a longer lifespan than the Vertical, while the Vertical has a vibration alarm and comes in a smaller package.

Again, for simplicity I will refer to these watches as the Ambit3. To better understand this family, and Suunto’s other GPS watches like the Spartan series, read this history.

Intended use

The Ambit3 is ideally suited for endurance sports like running, biking, and hiking. It tracks pace, distance, vertical change, heart rate (with a compatible heart rate monitor), and other key exercise metrics, with a surprising level of accuracy.

It’s almost exclusively an exercise watch, and is best thought of as workout gear: like my running vest or trail shoes, I put on the Ambit3 before working out and take it off afterwards. Between exercise sessions, it’s of little value.

The Fenix 5, meanwhile, combines the functionality of the Ambit3 with the design ethos and features of a smart device like the Apple Watch and an activity tracker like the Fitbit Charge 2. It is meant to be worn all day, which its relatively refined looks (at least for an athletic watch) makes generally permissible.

The Fenix 5X has a nice color display (with multiple face options) and clean looks, and it may pass muster as an all-day watch depending your work environment.

In addition to recording the details of your run or ride, the Fenix 5 will alert you after long periods of inactivity (i.e. “Hey, you, step away from your desk.”), track you sleeping patterns, and even tell you the distance to the 8th hole from your current spot on the fairway.

Through Connect IQ, more functionality can be unlocked by downloading free apps. For example, the Uber app will display the name of your driver, a description of their vehicle, and their exact ETA. There is a Suunto app store, too, but the programs are overwhelmingly exercise-centric.

Ecosystem

The Fenix 5 and Ambit3 are analogous to an iPhone and Google Pixel 2. Similar in function, but so sophisticated and different that it will take days or maybe weeks for an expert user of one device to become proficient in the other.

The Ambit3 is part of the Suunto ecosystem. It connects through Moveslink desktop software or the Movescount app, and recorded data is displayed in the Movescount online portal or the Movescount app. If interested, the data can be forwarded to an independent platform like Strava.

Screenshot of Movescount

In contrast, the Fenix 5 is part of the Garmin ecosystem. It connects through Garmin Express desktop software or the Garmin Connect app, and recorded data is displayed in the Garmin Connect online portal or the Connect app. If interested, the data can be forwarded to an independent platform like Strava.

Screenshot of Garmin Connect

In terms of functionality, my experience with both ecosystems has been positive. They’ve now each developed three or four generations of GPS watches, and in the process they have found and fixed most of the bugs. Software is updated automatically and doesn’t cause crashes; accessory devices pair successfully; and the platforms don’t go down.

Design and user interface

The Ambit3 is utilitarian: it works exactly as intended, but has little polish. Most notably, it has a two-color matrix display (which limits the styling of data fields and menu system), and the GPS antenna awkwardly protrudes from the bezel. When I asked my wife to describe it, she said, “It’s very plain, kind of ugly.”

The GPS antenna of the Ambit awkwardly bulges from the bezel. The Fenix 5 is more refined, although it’s still athletic-looking.

Similarly little effort has been invested into beautify-ing the Movescount platform, which has a dark background, small type, limited color palette, and always stoic imagery.

The Fenix 5 and the Garmin Connect platform are more refined and welcoming. The Fenix 5 has a high-resolution color display and clean look. When I showed it to my wife, she immediately said, “I like that one a lot better.” Garmin Connect has a fun, light, and colorful look, and celebrates everyday-looking people.

The Ambit3 and Fenix 5 record the same data during runs, rides, and hikes, but Garmin’s color display is more pleasant to look at and has more display options.

Critical specs and features

Exercise tracking

As previously stated, the Amit3 and Fenix 5 will both accurately track your run, ride, hike, and other activities. They record very similar data, including all of the most important stuff.

I give the Fenix 5 a slight edge in exercise tracking because of its optical heart rate monitor. I have not found it reliable enough for specific heart rate-based training or racing — it’s often off by 5-10 bpm at any given moment. However, the average HR is usually within 1-2 bpm, which makes it accurate enough for easy runs or unstructured training.

The Fenix 5 watches have optical wrist heart rate monitors. I’ve not found it accurate enough for specific HR training, but it’s accurate enough for easy days and unstructured training.

Activity tracker and smart watch

The Fenix 5 also serves as an activity tracker and smart watch. The Ambit3 really doesn’t try.

Battery life

Unless you’re into ultra-distance events (e.g. ultra marathons, 24-hour races, adventure races) or backpacking, the battery life of both watches is sufficient. The Fenix 5 models range from 14 to 24 hours with 1-second GPS pings, and 35 to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode, which is less accurate.

The Ambit3 gets the win here. The Peak is rated at 20, 30, and 200 hours when the GPS ping is set to 1, 5, and 60 seconds, respectively.

Navigation

The Ambit3 and Fenix 5 both have a barometer-based altimeter, which is useful for navigating in mountainous environments. They also have a digital compass, which is handy for finding north but not much more; and some other clumsy or frustratingly hidden features that I don’t bother to use.

The Fenix 5X is unique for having pre-loaded 100k topographic maps. For serious navigation I prefer paper maps on 11 x 17 paper, but I could see occasional value in this feature if running or day-hiking in an unfamiliar place.

Pricing

Overall, the Fenix 5 is “better” than the Ambit3, with superior functionality and design.

However, how valuable is that extra functionality and gloss? I can’t answer that for you, but personally I don’t feel like I’ve missed out for the past 36 years of my life because I didn’t have a watch that tracks how many glasses of water I have drank today.

If you decide you want the Fenix 5, you will pay a premium for it. Retail prices on the Fenix 5S, Fenix 5, and Fenix 5X are $550, $550, and $650, respectively, with a $100-$150 extra charge for a sapphire face and $70 more for a heart rate strap. Garmin controls their distribution tightly, and you won’t see them available for less in the usual places (e.g. Amazon).

The Ambit3 costs substantially less. The base Ambit3 Peak is available online for low-$300’s, and the heart rate strap bundle adds about $25.


Bottom line: My buying advice

If you want the better watch and can afford it, go with the Fenix 5. The 5 will work for most. The 5S will be preferred by those with smaller wrists. And the 5X may be worthwhile if you would at least occasionally rely on the pre-loaded 100k maps.

If you would like to have an activity tracker and/or smart watch in addition to a multi-sport GPS watch, again go with the Garmin. It may actually save you money, if you would otherwise buy one of these devices.

If you just need a multi-sport GPS watch, buy the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. I love mine, and you won’t be disappointed.

If you want a watch for backpacking or ultra-distance events, the Ambit3 is the winner again.

Need help in making a decision? Leave a comment.


Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested information, insights, and advice, and I have a long-term incentive to be a trustworthy source. I do not publish sponsored content or native advertising, and I do not accept payments in exchange for reviews. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products.

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby in exchange for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like REI or Amazon, at no cost to the reader. This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in , on January 24, 2018
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46 Comments

  1. Drew Murphy on January 24, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Are either of these useful as a backup GPS for thru hiking?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 25, 2018 at 6:47 am

      It depends: What features do you expect of a backup GPS?

      I wear the Ambit3 Peak on all of my backpacking trips. At 60-sec GPS pings, battery life is 200 hours, and it charges quickly with a portable battery like those from Anker. Most importantly, the Ambit will tell me the distance I’ve hiked today and from a past landmark (where I last hit the Lap button), vertical gain and loss, and my current altitude. To better understand the data that I glean from it, read this post.

      The Ambit will also tell me my current GPS coordinates, and it can tell me the distance and direction to any saved Point of Interest (POI), which I can load beforehand or save during my hike.

      However, the Ambit has no maps.

      The Garmin Fenix 5 models do everything that the Ambit does, but with less battery life.

      The Fenix 5X is unique in that it has pre-loaded topographic maps. This makes it more of a one-to-one GPS backup. However, battery life is only 35 hours at best when the GPS is turned on, so for it to last during a trip you either need to use the GPS sparingly (and give up regular access to the data that I mentioned earlier), charge it every few days, or limit yourself to short trips.

      • FiferJanis on March 1, 2018 at 2:33 pm

        So… for someone hiking 300 miles through a foreign country (but with B&Bs booked every night along the way), this should be fine for keeping you on the trail, giving you ETA to destination, planning eating/resting/time for sightseeing, and you can recharge it every night if you really need to, no SIM card/phone needed?

        • Andrew Skurka on March 1, 2018 at 2:57 pm

          For the functions you listed:

          YES
          No SIM card/phone needed.
          Recharge every night, assuming you bring the USB charger.

          KIND OF or MAYBE
          If you import your exact route into the watch beforehand, it can help you stay on the trail. Personally, I’d recommend maps.
          If you know how to deadreckon (https://andrewskurka.com/2017/tutorial-dead-reckoning-navigation-hiking/) you can project your average pace against the distance left to your destination.
          I think “planning eating/resting time and sightseeing” falls into the dead reckoning category as well.

          • FiferJanis on March 2, 2018 at 1:46 am

            For a general guideline, deadreckoning might work, but my numbers tend to change quite a bit depending on my mood, fatigue, music I’m listening to, hills, etc. I was also thinking, even if I didn’t hike, when I travel abroad, the thing that gets me most is when I just want a friggin’ map to navigate across town to the free hotel wifi. 😉 You can cache some google maps in your phone, but mostly using your phone is an exercise in frustration if you go without data. (Japan – get a pocket hotspot – super cheap! Everywhere else – not so much…) Ironically, my camera has GPS and an electronic compass in it. But no maps. I’ll be well-set for compasses, GPS, magenetic and otherwise, and I have paper maps and guidebooks (although heavy… may scan guidebooks into phone and just take paper maps). I was hoping more for convenience, fitness-tracking and a simple, “hey idiot, the carrot is 2 more miles this way” butt-kicking.



  2. Jeremy P on January 25, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Great review, thanks for the writeup!

    Not to nitpick, but wouldn’t the Suunto Traverse have been a more appropriate comparison, considering the price point of the Fenix?

    • Sean on January 26, 2018 at 11:20 am

      I remember when the Traverse came out. It’s… an odd duck. Less features than the Ambit 3 at a higher price point.

      The big deal about it was the integration of the antenna into the watch face bezel.

      Andrew looked at it a little and was kind of perplexed by it if memory serves.

      The Suunto Spartan probably would be a better comparison than the Traverse.

      • Bob S. on January 26, 2018 at 1:43 pm

        I like the looks of the Spartan Sport in black/copper. I agree, it would be a better comparison to the fenix 5. You can get a fenix 3 HR sapphire for the same price as an Ambit3.

        I bought a Garmin vivoactive 3 a couple months ago. Great watch but it’s plagued with firmware problems. I like the touchscreen and I wonder if it’s a beta test for a fenix 6 that would compete with Suunto’s Spartan line?

        • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm

          Here’s why I didn’t compare the Fenix 5 to the Suunto Spartan line: because I’ve never worn a Spartan. I suppose I could do a spec review, but that’s not very useful.

      • Andrew Skurka on January 26, 2018 at 6:54 pm

        Correct. Never really understood the intended user for that one. I thought maybe I just wasn’t familiar that demographic, but I think in actuality that customer just didn’t exist.

    • Trygve T on January 4, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      Well, I bought the Traverse Alpha for these reasons:
      Breadcrumb trail
      Flashlight and red backlight
      Band long enough to fit over a jacket
      Good enough battery life – good for a week use with 12 hrs tracking each day in ok mode and I always bring a small USB charger anyway.

      But – only being used for hiking…

  3. Bob S. on January 25, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    I prefer to wear my watch over my coat sleeve in the winter instead of under it. Does Suunto supply a strap extender with the Ambit3?

    • Sean on January 26, 2018 at 11:23 am

      Nope.

      My main complaint about the Ambit3 has to do with it’s watch band. I blew one out in about 1.5 years of moderate daily use. It kind of was upsetting. Suunto’s replacements feel like highway robbery, and I haven’t found a 3rd party alternative that I like yet.

      Plus, their sapphire silicone watch band, which does fit, gives me an itchy rash on my wrist, and I had to swap it out for the original plastic/rubber style one it came with.

      • Bob S. on January 26, 2018 at 1:02 pm

        Thanks Sean

  4. Paul on January 31, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Andrew! Thanks for doing this comparison. I went through a similar exercise this fall before buying the Fenix3 HR. I’ve been very happy with my purchase, and use it daily. I came to the same conclusion as you did, and decided that I wouldn’t use the Ambit enough to justify the funds.

    On our 4 day trip, I brought along an extra capacity rechargeable battery, and charging cable. A weight penalty, but overall the fenix is more useful to me, considering I get only a couple trips in per year.

  5. Whin on January 31, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Can a GPX waypoint file be imported onto the Ambit?

    • Andrew Skurka on January 31, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Give me more context. What are you trying to do? Maybe there’s a better solution than the Ambit. It is wonderful for some navigation functions (e.g. dead reckoning, route tracking, finding north), but it’s clunky or incapable of other operations.

  6. Whin on February 1, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I have several years yorth of GPX files containing waypoints of favorite hunting spots/lookouts, camp sites etc that i would like to easily transfer on to my Ambit. Currently i re-enter the waypoints manually into movescount then transfer onto the watch but this is painfully slow and not always really accurate. I would have thought that it would be possible to import a gpx file directly into movescount but cant see any way to do it?

  7. Dan W. on February 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    The Iron Cloud watch looks interesting.

  8. Philip Zeccardi on March 27, 2018 at 4:35 am

    Excellent review. Thank you for doing this as I’m considering the Garmin 5x

  9. Gundrted on May 14, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Great comparison. I have been looking at the Garmin Fenix 5x and the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro. I will mainly be using the watch for running, trail running, ultramarathon training, mountain biking and hiking/mountaineering in Colorado. My friend who climbed Denali swears by the Suunto (Ambit3 or newer), but my Triathlon friends swear by Garmin.

    REI I will also have the Fenix 5x on sale for $550 starting this week. Considering both the 5x and the Baro will be the same price, any suggestions on which one to buy?

    To go back to something that you referenced in your article, I’m more of an Android guy than an iPhone guy.

  10. Jeffrey Johanson on May 30, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    I would like to know how the Ambit 3 Peak compares the the Spartan Ultra now that the Ultra has gone through 7 software updates/bug fixes including the most recent 5/22/18 version.

    Early reviews of the Ultra were not good but it has made up allot of ground and Suunto seems to be clearly working on making the watch what it should have been in the first place.

    I have 60YO eyes so which one is easier for viewing? I hike allot (up to 30+ miles for a day hike), mtn. bike, trail run, XC ski and downhill ski. These are the activities I would primarily use the watch for. OHR IS nice but not mandatory since real accuracy is questionable. I would be removing the watch after days activity and not really using it full time as an activity tracker although I admit some of it is nice to have. I would never wear one of these to bed (heck I don’t wear my fitbit to bed)

    Garmin 935 and Fenix 5 series almost have to many features I’d most likely never use (I don’t think anyway) and I’d be worried about complexity and getting screwed up in menus.

    Thoughts?

    • Andrew Skurka on May 30, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Except for it’s slightly shorter battery life, the Spartan Ultra is a better watch than the Ambit3 Peak. With the Ultra, you get all the features of the Peak, but a nicer screen (color, more display options, touchscreen if you think there’s any value to that), vibration alarms, and the activity tracking and smartwatch features. The cost of the Ultra seemed like it was dropping quickly and approaching Peak territory, at least close enough to justify the marginal cost difference. But as I look today, the Ultra price seems to be back at MAP.

      In this conversation, I think it’s useful to also talk about what’s “better” versus what’s “necessary.” The Ultra (and Garmin’s Fenix series) have a lot of features that you won’t use or that don’t offer much value. The Ambit3 Peak, on the other hand, has everything you want and basically nothing else. If you can derive any meaning from this, I own the Ambit3 peak and I see extremely little reason to “upgrade,” even though I could get a very sweet price on the newer models.

  11. Jeff Johanson on May 30, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for the quick response!

    This comment does hit home

    In this conversation, I think it’s useful to also talk about what’s “better” versus what’s “necessary.”

    I’ll admit to falling into the more is better and gear junkie territory but this will be my first real GPS watch so it’s a tough decision. I’ll have to try them on also as I don’t have particularly big wrists and the Peak may not feel right for all I know.

    Is one easier to view than the other with quick glances?

    I can also get a pretty sweet deal on either unless I want to customize from Suunto.

    Appreciate your time and reviews!

    Jeff in MA

  12. Charlie on June 13, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    So, if you opted to get the hr strap with the Garmin, could you switch back and forth between optical and strap based HR depending upon if you were wearing the strap? What I’m driving at is if you could choose to opt for greater HR precision by wearing the HR strap in certain activities.

    • Andrew Skurka on June 14, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Yes, if you wear the strap it overrides the optical. Without the strap you’ll get the optical.

      • Charlie on June 15, 2018 at 11:44 am

        Awesome, thanks for the response. That’s what I suspected but I appreciate the confirmation. I’ve been a long time Suunto guy but continued issues with the HR readings with my strap have me looking over the fence. Your comparison was very helpful.

        Best of luck in your next adventures!

  13. James on July 3, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Hey Andrew,

    Considering the Ambit 3 but also have looked at the Garmin VivoActive 3. Don’t care much for music but compatibility but I’m looking for a multi-sport watch (for Tri) but more for just running and cycling. Garmin’s watches seem to have features that I am interested in like VO2 Max Estimate, Lactate Threshold, and Race Predictor. Does the Ambit 3 offer these features as well and if not, are there any Suunto multi-sport watches that offer these features.

    Thanks!

    • Andrew Skurka on July 5, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Suunto can produce some of that data, but honestly I ignore it completely. With regular training you will learn your LT and you can make educated predictions about your race times. The last several races I ran (5K, 3K, and 10K), I pegged my finish time within a 20-, 10-, and 30-second range, and was within that range each time.

      For running, the best estimates I’ve seen are from Jack Daniels, https://runsmartproject.com/calculator/.

  14. Helen on July 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    6 months ago I bought a Garmin fenix 5s as a replacement for my Suunto Ambit (1st generation, since 2012). Up until then, all the watches I looked at didn’t add enough value to upgrade. Initially I was quite happy with it, especially the huge improvement in size and comfort. The daily activity tracker, optical heart rate and communication with my phone was kind of cool (Ambit3 has bluetooth, mine didn’t).

    Now that I’ve started seriously training for a mountain running race, however, I find that the fenix 5 just really doesn’t deliver on the things it’s said to measure. The optical HR seems to always lag behind and has also been clearly off more than once, meaning I effectively can’t use it for HR based interval training without the extra HR strap (then it does better, but there goes the advantage of optical).

    Where things really go wrong, however, is if the GPS is challenged even just a little by trees, buildings etc. (pretty good in completely open terrain). I’ve also heard others having Garmin add whole km’s to their race (also affecting reported pace). Where I train trails is partly forested, so GPS not perfect on any device, but Ambit handled that pretty well.Things get really bad with the altimeter though. It’s pretty much useless. I live in a flat area where my mountain training means running up and down the few small hills we have many times, so it needs to be accurate. I know how high the hills are. Ambit manages. Garmin is consistently off by 10-20%. Barometric altitude shouldn’t have a problem with trees, that’s the whole point of having it, so fenix has no reason to fails so badly. It even has me ascend and descend up to 6 meters per lap on the track. They might as well have left it out and made the watch flatter. I’m not an ultra runner, but even as a serious trail runner and hiker the fenix just really isn’t a good enough sports watch.

    I’ve been researching this some more, and found many complaints about the GPS and altimeter of the fenix 5 series. Seems like everything that has been coming out after the Ambit3 peak has gotten worse on both battery life and GPS quality for both Suunto and Garmin. Even the Ambit 3 Vertical, where they built the GPS antenna into the watch, at the cost of battery life and accuracy. They only add smartwatch features like colored touch screens (how useful is that in rain and/or with gloves?), fancy looks and lots of toy daily life monitoring. The price goes way up, but the quality of actual measurements suffers.

    So if you’re looking for a comfortable, daily watch and occasionally jog in a park without too many trees, I’d say Garmin. If you need a watch to perform during sports: I don’t trust my fenix’s accuracy enough to take it into the mountains, so just bought an Ambit 3 peak. That seems to be the last model that prioritized accurate data over looks and additional electronics. The GPS antenna may be ugly, but apparently there’s only so much size reduction you can do before it really no longer works properly. That also seems the case for the 5S barometer.

    P.S. for map-based navigation I find my phone with pre-installed offline maps works as well as a handheld GPS

  15. Janis on July 17, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    I found out the hard way that if you upload your route beforehand and follow it, that’s ok, but if you want it to navigate, it will bring you 5 miles out of the way into the middle of nowhere after dark onto unmarked streets off-grid so you’re having to knock on doors at 10:30pm in foreign countries begging for directions/ride to your hotel because your watch got you lost… *sigh*

    • Helen on July 22, 2018 at 7:14 am

      Ouch, that couldn’t have been fun. Which watch was this? To be honest I didn’t even know you could navigate without uploaded route (except track back), I use a phone with offline map for that.

  16. Roberto on August 16, 2018 at 8:19 am

    Hi, I have Suunto ambit 3 peak and I al very satisfied by it. I use it for Cycling races ,MTB races and back country Ski . But i don’t know if it is possible and if Yes how can I visualize my estimate vo2 max? Thank you!

    • Andrew Skurka on August 16, 2018 at 3:04 pm

      What is your goal in knowing your VO2 max?

      I don’t know how to compute it with the Ambit, or even if the Ambit does. My understanding of VO2 max tests is that they are highly scientific and best done in a lab.

      FWIT, I’m a fairly competitive runner and I’m remarkably good at predicting my finishing times, and I’ve never had a VO2 max test performed. I don’t know what it would do for me that data from normal training runs and workouts doesn’t already give me. Plus, I already know that mine is not as good as Kilian’s.

      • Roberto on August 18, 2018 at 7:28 am

        Hi, I am a fairly athlete too,ex prof of mtb. There are many methods of training,your is One, the mine is another. For me the vo2 max is very important , the calculation that does Polar is sufficently satisfy to know the own recovery and performance status. I asked only if it is possible to have the vo2 max as data on ambit 3 Peak,not If It is helpful or no. Thank you

  17. Helen on August 16, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    In Movescount Suunto shows VO2 estimates along with heart rate, pace, altitude etc. It doesn’t come up in the options to show this on the watch display though (maybe with extra apps?). VO2 seems to be calculated from heart rate, I’m not sure how accurate this really is. What I do to determine my max heart rate is run as fast as I can for long enough and check how high it went, and repeat this a few times. Probably not 100% accurate, but good enough to estimate training zones. Maybe that would also work for VO2 max?

  18. Roberto on August 17, 2018 at 3:51 am

    Hi Helen, I have the same problem with vo2. Offline you want there is the estimated vo2 in the visualization but vo2max no. I saw that there are domenica apps with vo2 max. I don’t know how It is calculated by Suunto. I come buongiorno Polar instruments and there was a test that It was really good. My vo2 max by lactate analisys was 67 and the Polar gave a result not so different. Analizing the Suunto data After a training It seems that vo2 estimated is very lower than Polar, I don’t know why. During the races never io 53 /54 the vo2 estimated,very strange this .I have to study if there is a method to have a vo2 a Little more right. Bye

  19. Roberto on August 17, 2018 at 3:54 am

    Sorry for some strange words bit i wrote by mobile and there is the automatic corrections that makes some mistake

  20. Helen on August 18, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Let me know if you figure out how/if Ambit3 can do this, I’d be interested to know more.

  21. Greg on August 20, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Andrew,

    Thanks for posting the review. I really appreciate the way you review running watches. Rather than test each of the 1,000 random features or modern sports watches once during a casual activity your reviews tend to focus on what it is like to use the 5 key features of the product during 100’s of hours of actual training.

    I think this focus on providing a cursory review of all features has resulted in less reliability of core features in the last couple generations of both Suunto and Garmin watches.

    I don’t care that my watch tracks my sleeping habits, and pushes Instagram notifications if its altimeter glitches while I am lost on an Alaskan peak and it’s recorded time jumps by ~1yr at midnight during an ultra race that is going wrong (both of which have happened on my 5x plus)

    I’ll be returning my 5x plus and returning to using an Ambit 3 peak. I hope Suunto or Garmin releases a product whose core GPS/altitude recording functions are as reliable and accurate as the Ambit 3 before the GPS antenna falls off this time (my previous Ambit 3 fell apart after 5k mi) or Suunto stops supporting data upload.

  22. Javad on March 31, 2019 at 2:48 am

    I’m thinking of getting a Garmin Forerunner 935. It’s cheaper and lighter than Garmin Fenix 5 while providing mostly the same functionality. It gives up some ruggedness which I’m thinking a screen protector can get it back. Have you had a chance to try it?

    • Andrew Skurka on April 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      I have not, sorry.

  23. Matthew Bergh on June 15, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    This has been an excellent thread. I have the ambit3 peak. It was my first GPS watch and I nailed it out of the gate but it leaves me wanting. Color, music, metronome the HRM run by Garmin to show you oscillating. Just some neat stuff. I’m always on the fence about upgrading but is it downgrading by GPS standards? I also have a problem with splurging on gadgets. I bought the garmin Epix because it was loaded with features and it was fun. Maybe it wasn’t accurate but I enjoyed my run. I ordered the 5x Plus for the fun of it. Can I like two watches? God, what a waste of money.
    Have you ever used Stryd?

  24. Anas on July 5, 2019 at 2:01 am

    Hello andrew.. is the ambit3 peak still relevant for the incoming year 2019-2020?? Because the price is quite reasonable for me right now??…

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