Finnish GPS pioneers Suunto are one of the leading players in the hiking and mountaineering watch market. In 2012, they launched the Ambit, a fully-featured GPS watch now on the third generation. It was an effective piece of equipment with a frankly bewildering range of features designed for all adventure sports enthusiasts from mountaineers to cyclists.
A later, key addition to the Ambit that moved it ahead of its rival Garmin Fenix, was the access to the wireless access Movescount smartphone app that opened up a range of third party applications that added even more functionality. So where does the Suunto Traverse fit in the range?
It’s been billed as a slimmed down watch both in physical size and features. Yet, it shouldn’t really be viewed as an ‘Ambit Lite’, but rather a watch that is designed specifically for hikers. While it is compatible with, for example, the heart rate monitor, there are fewer of the superfluous extras for hikers (although it should be said that running pace can be tracked, and cycling speed tracked through the GPS).
“The operating temperature can also be as low as -30C. It is all made and tested in Finland after all.”
So what does it have? It is, at its core, an ABC GPS watch; ABC standing for Altimeter, Barometer and Compass. GPS (and the Russian GLONASS system) allows accurate geolocation (and also supports the altimeter). Key features are the Trackback function that drops virtual ‘breadcrumbs’, meaning you can return along the same route should the weather turn or you become “navigationally challenged”.
Points of interest pins can be dropped, and the speed, distance and vertical ascent/descent are logged. Another key feature is the barometer that, as well as helping with a more accurate elevation reading, also provides basic weather information. If there’s a sudden drop in atmospheric pressure for example, it could mean a storm is coming. The watch can be set to to provide a vibration warning.