Who says that tech folk can’t be outdoorsy? This sturdy GPS smartwatch is the perfect geeky companion for all your fresh air pursuits.
As a Tech journalist I have to admit I spend most of my time staring at a computer screen (or a tablet screen, smartphone screen, TV… well, you get the picture, haha). But living in the great wilderness that is Somerset (it’s in the UK for any Americans that need to look it up) and with no fewer than three lively dogs to my name I also get dragged out of the house in all weathers to get wet, muddy and lost.
While I might not be your typical outdoorsman, however, I still like to think I could hack it in the wild, sharpening sticks, skinning seagulls and falling in rivers, that sort of thing. So I was keen try out the Suunto Traverse smart GPS watch. Very much a GPS navigation tool the Traverse is perfect for Hiking, Mountaineering, Trekking, Walking, Backpacking, Climbing and (less so in the UK as we have killed everything except the cows & sheep) Hunting.
If you are crazy enough to need that particular functionality, it has automatic shot detection to keep track of the number and location of your shots. When scouting, hunting-specific POI types allow you to mark trails and important locations. Sunrise and sunset alerts help to plan your day, while the customisable red backlight does not interfere with night vision. A location-based moon phase calendar with moonrise and moonset times also helps you determine the best fishing times, while the barometric pressure graph lets you to closely follow weather changes.
Built in are a digital compass, barometer, thermometer, altimeter and of course the GPS tracking and navigation features, including track back and find back features. The find back feature shows you the direction to your starting point while the track back features generates you a visual route back to your starting point. Great for pub crawls, was my first thought!
As an object the Suunto Traverse is solid and relatively attractive but does feel very big on the wrist (but maybe that’s a reflection on my girly wrists). Available in a variety of models and with different straps, the core USP of the watch remains its functionalities, which are pretty impressive. Firstly the battery claims an insane 14 days under general use and a useful 15 to 100 hours with GPS enabled depending on the settings you choose.
I got six days out of the Samsung Gear S3 I tested last week and thought that was pretty good. However the GPS is the key function here and can be used in conjunction with GLONASS to enhance the speed and accuracy of the watch’s location and activity tracker. The watch is made of tough plastic with a steel bezel to help protect the face, is waterproof down to 100m and is generally very hardy looking while remaining quite light at 80gs.
Connectivity is vital for all these features and the Traverse comes with USB plus power saving Bluetooth 4 and can quickly connect to your smart phone or peripherals such as a heart rate monitor. The feature that most impresses here are the Suunto Movescount iOS & Android apps and the accompanying website where all your data is stored and turned into intuitive and useful visualisations.
The website also enables you to plan routes before you set out, then synch them to the watch for use in the field. Both the site and the apps are very well designed and full of useful features that really enhance the experience of using the Traverse.
The apps also enable the Traverse to synch notifications from your phone or use the phone as a secondary display for the watch as you hike. These features are very impressive and well designed and make up somewhat for the biggest disappointment of the Traverse, the black and white, 128×128 pixel, Matrix screen.
Wow, I have to say, it is pretty horrible, in that it reminds me of my 1980’s calculator watch. I am sure this screen helps the battery last longer, and if you’re seriously into your retro looks this might well be an added USP, but I for one would eagerly sacrifice some battery power for a slicker interface.
Overall this is a feature-rich smart GPS watch for outdoor activity planning and tracking, not so much for general fitness tracking, and apart from the screen, left me feeling impressed. However I still need to work on my personal motivation, or lack thereof, to get out and about a bit more. For that, I count on my trusty hounds – Watson, Missy and Holmes!
Watch features include:
– Time, date, alarm clock
– Daily tracking of steps and calories
– Water resistance upto 100m
– Use buttons underwater
– Altimeter, barometer, compass
– Sunrise/sunset times
– Push notifications when synced with compatible smartphone
– Vibration alert
– Upto 100hrs battery life
– Growing feature set through Suunto Movescount App for iPhone/iPad
– Weight: 80g
– GPS and GLONASS satellite systems
– FusedAlti (combined GPS and barometric altitude)
– Breadcrumb trail
– Route and waypoint navigation
– Weather trend indicator
– Storm alarm