Best Suunto watch 2020: multi-sport fitness watches from Finland for tracking triathlon and trekking

The ultra-rugged alternative to Garmin and Fitbit, the best Suunto watches ranked

best suunto watch
(Image credit: Suunto)

Suunto is a Finnish multi-sport smartwatch manufacturer, most famous for their Suunto 9 watch. The best Suunto watches are famous for their sturdy build quality, long battery life and customisable battery management options. Should you decide to run an ultra-marathon, Suunto watches should be on top of your list of what to take with you on race day,  but they're also great when running in the park or hitting the gym.

• Check out today's best Suunto deals at Amazon UK

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You know you can count on Suunto products being precise since its origin story stems from the pursuit of precision: Tuomas Vohlonen, the founder of Suunto, started the business selling his patented liquid-filled compasses which provided "better readings and a new level of accuracy" then dry compasses at the time.

The company has come a long way in the last 80 years since it was established, and although they haven't got as popular as manufacturers such as Garmin or Fitbit, their products are held in high esteem in performance sport circles.

best suunto watch

The Suunto smartwatch range caters for many different needs

(Image credit: Suunto)

How to choose the best Suunto watch for your needs

Before buying your first Suunto smartwatch, there are a few things you might want to consider. Probably one of the most important criteria will be the price of the watch. Not everyone needs all the functionality the Suunto 9 Baro has to offer and therefore it might be harder for some to justify the higher price tag.

The Suunto 5 and the Suunto 3 represents a good balance between price and features, both being reasonably priced (with the Suunto 3 being cheaper, selling for around £150-200 in general) and offering your standard fitness tracking capabilities, like wrist based heart rate, among other features.

We highly recommend getting a model with integrated GPS, like the Suunto 9 or the Suunto 5, which will save you from having to carry around your smartphone if you want to track your route outdoors. Of course, if you prefer listening to music as you devour the miles, you might still want to have your phone on you since no Suunto watch offers music storage.

Mid- to high-end Suunto smartwatches track all the most popular sport activities in great detail, including running (e.g. average/max/lap pace in real time), cycling (e.g. speed) and even swimming (e.g. pace and distance).

Best Suunto watches, in order

best suunto watch: Suunto 9 Baro

(Image credit: Suunto)

1. Suunto 9 Baro

All the top features for a reasonable price tag

Specifications
Weight: 81 grams
Case material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide
Water rating: up to 100 metres
Display resolution: 320 x 300 pixels
Battery life: up to 120 hours
Reasons to buy
+Barometer+Sapphire crystal glass
Reasons to avoid
-Quite bulky

The Suunto 9 Baro is pretty much identical to the Suunto 9, apart from two key factors: the Baro has a barometer – as the name suggests – and also comes with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass at the front. For these two features, you will need to pay around 20% premium, but it'll be worth it.

The Suunto 9 Baro's extra features will be appreciated most by trail runners who scale mountains and would like to keep track of the altitude gain/loss of their runs. Even better for them, the Suunto 9 Baro features a storm alarm, so you can find shelter in time, or just skip outdoor training, as you wish.

The extra features offered by the Suunto 9 Baro don't compromise the excellent battery life, another bonus for people who not only like running in mountains, but also also do it for long periods of time each time. We understand that we are talking about a niche market here, but for those, the Suunto 9 Baro is heaven sent.

best suunto watch: Suunto 9

(Image credit: Suunto)

2. Suunto 9

The non-barometer version is still a decent offering, compared to the flagship model

Specifications
Weight: 72 grams
Case material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide
Water rating: up to 100 metres
Display resolution: 320 x 300 pixels
Battery life: up to 120 hours
Reasons to buy
+Amazing battery life+Large screen+Precise
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky

The Suunto 9 has pretty much all the features the Finnish brand has to offer, apart from, of course, the barometer. Not sure if it's because the lack of barometer, but the Suunto 9 is lighter than the Suunto 9 Baro (9 grams lighter, to be precise) and also cheaper than its more feature packed sibling.

For the price, you get a whole load of watch. And we mean a big watch, the Suunto 9 being one of the bulkiest smartwatch on the market. You will definitely feel it on your wrist as you exercise, unlike wearing the Garmin Forerunner 945. It has a certain appeal to it and reminds one of a diver watch more than a running watch.

Although it misses out on the barometer, it has quite a few other features nevertheless, like the wrist heart rate sensor, touch sensitive screen, vibration motor, water resistance up to 100 metres, and of course, a range of battery management options, with which the Suunto 9 can last up to 120 hours in tracking more.

As in the case of any smartwatch measuring heart rate on the wrist, it won't be as accurate as wearing a chest strap, but the average will be accurate enough for most. The digital compass and the GPS is precise, too, the latter utilising the combination of fours global positioning systems: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO and QZSS.

Best Suunto watch: Suunto 7

(Image credit: Suunto)

3. Suunto 7

Wear OS-powered touchscreen watch with many casual features

Reasons to buy
+Offline maps+Loads of features thanks to Wear OS+Large and vibrant screen
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Laggy touchscreen-Confusing navigation (at least first)

• Buy the Suunto 7 at John Lewis 

The Suunto 7 occupies a strange space on the fitness wearable market: it is too expensive and overpowered to be a fitness tracker and to some degree, too casual to be taken seriously as a running watch. It is more expensive than many of the latest Apple Watch models and also its direct competitor, the Garmin Venu.

Yet, the Suunto 7 has plenty to offer: the sharp display, plenty of smart functionality, good heart rate sensor and built-in GPS, not to mention the offline maps and the really cool running/cycling heatmaps.

The controls are slightly confusing at first thanks to the combination of touchscreen and push button operation. On top of this, the lag of the Wear OS software can cause slight frustration, but it will only last a short period until you get used to the shortcuts in navigation.

On a scale from Garmin Forerunner 945 to Fitbit Versa 2, the Suunto 7 sits closer to the former but still gives the impression that it's the latter on steroids. One thing that pushes the Suunto 7 towards the Fitbit Versa 2 end of the scale is the battery life.

You will be lucky to go two days between two charges, which is not too bad for a Wear OS watch with a huge display, but it is not great compared to running watches like the Suunto 9 or even the aforementioned Garmin Venu which can last up to five days (it has a smaller display, mind).

The biggest issue with the Suunto 7 is its price; it might be an Apple Watch competitor, but I doubt many people would choose a Suunto over an Apple Watch. Once the price has dropped slightly (watch out for those sweet discounts here at T3!), I will be able to wholeheartedly recommend the Suunto.

• Read our Suunto 7 review here

best suunto watch: Suunto 5

(Image credit: Suunto)

4. Suunto 5

Feature packed but display could be better

Specifications
Weight: 66 grams
Case material: Glass fibre reinforced polycarbonate
Water rating: up to 50 metres
Display resolution: 218 x 218 pixels
Battery life: up to 40 hours
Reasons to buy
+Touch screen+Advanced training features
Reasons to avoid
-Small display resolution

What do we like in the Suunto 5? For one, it's a lighter, more compact version of the Suunto 9, so if you are concerned about the weight of the watch dragging your wrist down, definitely go for the Suunto 5.

Although it is lighter, it still features most of the features from its older sibling, like the up to two weeks battery life in 'Time' mode, the improved global positioning system, the intelligent battery modes, wrist heart rate sensor and more.

Some corners needed to be cut, though, to keep the price low, which is quite apparent when you look at the screen: it only has a 218 x 218 pixels resolution, which wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but for an unknown reason the messages are displayed with tiny little fonts, so especially if you are exercising, it could be challenging to read the screen.

But for everyday activity tracking – which the Suunto 5 was most likely designed for – it works just fine. And once you stopped running, the Suunto 5 will provide you handy metrics, like the advanced training load features (move summary with lap details, training logbook for long term overviews, training load with totals by sport, etc).

best Suunto watch: Suunto Traverse Alpha

(Image credit: Suunto)

5. Suunto Traverse Alpha

One for hikers, hunters and people who love tracking their fishing

Specifications
Weight: 75 grams
Case material: Composite
Water rating: up to 100 metres
Display resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
Battery life: up to 100 hours
Reasons to buy
+Great battery life+Built-in altimeter
Reasons to avoid
-Low resolution screen

The Suunto Traverse Alpha might have a lower-than-usual screen resolution, but how many other smartwatches out there can track fishing and hunting, eh? Not many.

As Suunto puts it: "Specific fishing and hunting features provide useful tools for your activity, including moon phase calendar, shot detection, sunrise alert, weather trend, and red backlight for nighttime use". And that, in itself, is probably enough for many sportspeople who probably felt left out before.

On top of these, er, special features, for the price, you will also get scratch-free sapphire crystal glass at the front, water resistant stainless steel casing, an up to 100 hour battery life in tracking mode and much more.

The only downside is the blocky display, but there is only so many details you can display with a screen resolution of 128 x 128 pixels. But in return, the backlight of the screen can be used as a flashlight in the dark!

best suunto watch: Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

(Image credit: Suunto)

6. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

Variation on a theme – in this case the Suunto 9

Specifications
Weight: 74 grams
Case material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide
Water rating: up to 100 metres
Display resolution: 320 x 300 pixels
Battery life: up to 40 hours
Reasons to buy
+Large display+Suitable for larger wrists
Reasons to avoid
-Only GPS + GLONASS tracking-No intelligent battery modes-No VO2 estimation

The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is a peculiar watch from Suunto. It is basically a slightly-less smart version of the Suunto 9, with the same screen and more or less the same built, but without the updated GPS or the intelligent battery modes. even the price is the same, so it's a bit puzzling why it's still on the market.

Not saying that the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is not a capable multi-sport smartwatch, on the contrary. For the price, you get a watch that looks and feels sturdy, has a large touchscreen display, is water resistant to 100 metres and will last for up to two weeks in 'Time' mode.

Since the intelligent battery management function is missing, you won't get the extremely good battery life with the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR but you'll still get up 40 hours of juice, even in activity tracking mode.

And between you and me, the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR looks slightly sleeker than the Suunto 9, so there is that, too.