Tested (part one): Suunto Traverse sports watch

By Justin Walker 21 December 2015
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Suunto’s new Traverse GPS/sports watch stands out from an increasingly crowded competition.

THE ADVENTURER IS spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a GPS/smart watch these days. With a number of brands and models on the market, it is now at the point where a new-release GPS watch needs to really stand out from the crowd to be noticed. Or, it needs to be from a highly regarded, reputable sportswatch brand – and that’s where Suunto’s new Traverse hits dead-on target. 

Suunto has been a leader in GPS/sports-watches for many years and now, and with the Traverse it has used its experience to produce a GPS timepiece that is directly aimed at outdoor enthusiasts. The Traverse’s style and design are surprisingly subtle in this new world of huge, chunky watch faces. Australian Geographic Adventure’s test unit, with its muted anodized stainless steel bezel (raised to protect the watch screen) and composite casing (making the Traverse nice and light on the wrist) is only brought to your attention by its bright orange wristband (there are other colours available; the band is easily swapped over). Impressively, the Traverse casing has a 100m water-resistance rating. 

The subtle external styling of the Traverse does, however, hide a huge amount of impressive navigational technology – and a stand-out, long-life battery (claimed to last for up to 14 days of regular use – this includes step tracking, altitude and barometric pressure updates and orientation of the inbuilt compass, or 100 hours of full GPS tracking use). The battery life is a huge advantage for those who are heading out on a remote hike for more than a few days, taking the worry out of needing to find a power outlet to recharge.

The navigational accuracy of the Traverse is assured by its use of both GPS and the GLONASS satellite networks that are used to plot your location and speed of travel. Information such as total ascent, vertical speed and altitude are measured via Suunto’s FusedAlti technology, which uses a combination of barometric pressure and satellite altitude for accuracy.

Keep it simple

The Traverse is brilliantly simple in operation. The five buttons are multipurpose in use, allowing the user to easily cycle through to the desired mode or function. The watch’s primary focus is soon realised when you go to the Activities menu and Trekking is the only one listed (you can add many more, such as running and cycling), and it is here that the Traverse really struts its stuff. Suunto’s Movescount software and app (for both iOS and Android smartphones) allows you to download trekking routes from other Traverse owners (or your own). You can view the route/track as a breadcrumb trail on your watch and, when back in civilisation you can transfer the data wirelessly to the app or your PC, and then retrace your hike via a 3D map ‘movie’, while checking out all the trek’s other key data, such as total ascent/descent, steps taken, calories burned, etc. 

For those who always want to stay in touch, the Traverse can also be linked to your smartphone to ensure you don’t miss that important text or phone call. And if you’re too distracted, the watch’s breadcrumb trail also enables you to easily retrace your steps if you miss a track junction or point of interest. 

We have had the Traverse now for over a month of testing and have, to date, found it to be very reliable, accurate and easy to live with, both in terms of taking advantage of its huge navigational capabilities and also as an everyday timepiece.

Keep an eye out for an additional review in our next issue; a long-term review of a few months is really the only way to learn if a product such as this can fulfill its design remit completely. So far, however, the Traverse has given us no cause to doubt it is an efficient combination of timepiece and navigational aid, ideally suited to the outdoor enthusiast.

RRP $549.95 www.suunto.com