[leadin]A flashlight mode, vibration alerts, and battery life up to 100 hours in GPS mode distinguish a new watch from Suunto. The Traverse watches were made for hikers and ‘everyday adventurers.'[/leadin]
There is a calorie and step counter, and the watch can sync with a phone to give notifications of incoming calls and texts. It has a suite of GPS-enabled tools for advanced wilderness navigators and newbies alike.
All these features add up to a product aimed at a broader demographic than Suunto has ever approached.
We put the Traverse on for a demo at a recent trade show. The watch is sleek-looking, comfortable, but solid and functional, a set of traits Suunto has nailed. It weighs 2.8oz and is made of a glass-fiber reinforced composite case with a mineral-glass lens and stainless steel bezel.
The watches are made in Finland and come to market later this month. They will cost a premium $450 apiece.
Watch As Light
The “flashlight” mode? Basically, Suunto added a strong backlight component that can be turned on to provide enough illumination to read a map in the dark. It’s a nice little trick.
But that is a minor feature on a watch that can serve as a gauge for fitness activities as well as a backcountry tool.
It supports both GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems, the latter a Russian-developed navigational satellite network that is seeing wider adoption. (GLONASS support will be available at a later date via a software update.)
The watch can measure altitude, distance, and other stats, logging points of interest along the way.
Suunto’s FusedAlti feature, which we have tested on other models, combines barometric pressure data with satellite-procured altitude to “create an accurate reading without the effects of temporary errors caused by insufficient signals or air pressure changes.”
It sounds complicated, but in our tests the results — more accurate altitude data — come as simple readouts in meters or feet, and it works.
Suunto also includes an automatic breadcrumb trail feature that “ensures the ability to re-trace steps when needed.” This was added for anyone used to a GPS in the outdoors, and it can come in handy, though we recommend knowing how to use a compass and a topo map, too.
Who should buy this watch? For anyone in need of a wear-everyday GPS watch that can do duty in the wilderness, the Traverse line is a fit.
Its phone connection and features like the step counter make it more usable off the trail, and the improved GPS battery life is a boon for anyone tired of running out of power on an adventure before the weekend ends.
The Traverse watches are not inexpensive. But we’ve used Suunto products for years and have concluded the premium price tags are worth it if you need premium performance on a piece of gear attached to your arm every day.
–See more about the Traverse line on Suunto.com.