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The Wilder Blog

REVIEW: Suunto Spartan Ultra Limited Edition Copper GPS Watch

by Find Your Feet 01 Dec 2016

  Find Your Feet - Suunto Spartan Ultra running with me on the trails


I didn’t really need a watch.  I had always loved my Suunto Ambit 3 Sport GPS watch and it had become a trusted companion on all my trail running adventures.  But when the all new Suunto Spartan Ultra Limited Edition Copper GPS watch landed in our Find Your Feet store, all self restraint failed.  


See, the thing is, I don’t think there are many GPS watches out there that look this nice!  The first night I brought my new Suunto Spartan Limited Edition Copper watch home I happened to be going to a very formal cocktail function.  First a sneaky run, then a quick shower and out the door I whizzed, hair mostly done and yes, in a dress!  I didn’t get one comment on my dress or the fact that you never, ever see me in high heels.  Rather I received a multitude of compliments on… my watch!  The contrast of the copper trim and black casing just looks super eye catching and fitted into the jazzy evening.  


The new Suunto Spartan watches are really sleek and streamlined.  The GPS unit is now built into the watch rather than on the strap, an especially big perk for us girls with smaller wrists.  This was perhaps the biggest criticism with the Suunto Ambit Collection and the reason why I never could comfortably sleep with my Suunto Ambit3 Sport at night.  The relocated GPS is also one reason why the Spartan doesn’t look like a sports watch.  For sure, the watch face is large but ‘big is in’ and I find this makes the digital display much easier to read when I am moving, especially over technical terrain or at speed.  And if you have any concerns about the watch being big AND heavy, I can easily calm these concerns.  The watch is heaps lighter than my older Suunto Ambit3 Sport.


What I also loved about the new Suunto Spartan Watches is that you can adjust the face. Need a second hand? No problem.  Prefer a digital display? Too easy!  But please don’t get me wrong… this is NOT A GIRLY WATCH!  The other day my watch went missing and was finally relocated on Graham’s wrist.  


My greatest hesitation when I heard Suunto were bringing out touch screen watches was functionality.  A long time ago I had used a Garmin GPS watch with a touch screen and it was a nightmare, not too dissimilar to when you try to use an iPhone with wet, sweaty fingers.  But technology has changed a lot and the watch responds to sweaty or damp fingers very easily.  You can also opt to use the buttons over the touch screen technology any time.


When it comes to accuracy, I know that the Suunto Spartan GPS watches have copped some criticism.  But, to be honest, I have not had any issues.  For sure, I am not the most tech savvy person on the planet, nor the most meticulous about keeping records.  But I can guarantee that this morning’s interval session felt tough and my Spartan watch agreed!  I love that if you ensure your personal data is accurate, the watch can determine how much recovery you require from a session.  And if you do not listen to its wise advice (for instance I am told by my Suunto watch that I need around 38hrs recovery from this morning’s harder session) then it will keep accumulating recovery after each session.  I think I am up to about 45hrs of recovery from this week’s training.  This feels pretty accurate.  Today I am weary but once rested I know that by Saturday morning I will be raring to go again.


The other criticism that I have heard about the new Suunto Spartan watch collection relates to the accuracy of the altitude recorders.  I can confidently say that mine has been excellent and far more accurate than my Suunto Ambit 3 Sport watch which could be anywhere from 100-400m vertically out after a longer run.  With the Suunto Spartans, you can also choose to swap between a compass and barometeric altitude recorder to suit your needs.  To be honest I haven’t done this but it is interesting to know that the watch can allow this functionality.


The other thing I am loving about my Spartan Ultra GPS watch is the battery life.  My old Suunto Ambit3 Sport was great for what I needed at the time (it had up to 10hrs battery life) but now that I am venturing further afield my watch can continue to be my companion.  The Spartan Ultra watches have up to 20hrs battery life on the most accurate 1 sec GPS recorder.  Don’t need one this long?  Then opt for the Suunto Spartan Sport GPS Watch which has 10hrs battery life.  You can always change the accuracy setting of the GPS recorder if you need to go for longer - I think you can get up to 100hrs battery life on the Sport or 200hrs on my Ultra.  If you are not actually using the watch you can get around 2 weeks before you need to charge it, a simple affair with the new magnetised USB charger.


In summary, this is my ideal watch.  It can meet my most technical needs out on the trails but then I can live in it, sleep in it and feel proud of it on my wrist.  The new updates by the Suunto developers appear to have mended any of the earlier teething issues and so I am confident to honestly say, ‘Suunto, you have really nailed it!’


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