Best Suunto Watches for Runners

Last updated: September 14, 2021

GPS Running Watch / Suunto / Best Suunto Watches for Runners

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Suunto is a Finnish company that focuses on sports watches but also other tools such as precision instruments, diving equipment and compasses. Its of no surprise that they produce some of the best running watches available today.

Suunto is known for its great battery life and durability on its watches and is a definite contender to others like Polar, Garmin and Coros. Just how well does it stack up as a wristwatch for runners though? Read on to find out about the top models.

Best Multisport
Suunto 9 Baro
Suunto 9 Baro
Best Value
Suunto 7
Suunto 7
Best Battery
Suunto Core
Suunto Core
Best Outdoors
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Most Affordable
Suunto 5
Suunto 5

Best Suunto Watches for Runners Reviewed

Below are our reviews on what we’ve considered to be the Best Suunto watches for running. We’ve rated them based on features, durability, price and function for running.

1. Suunto 9 Baro GPS Multi-Sport Watch

Key Features

  • 79g (2.79oz)
  • Comes in 2 colors
  • 120 hours in full GPS
  • Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity

Reasons to buy

  • Touchless pay
  • Superb durability
  • Extra-long battery life
  • Great GPS and navigation
  • Solid off-trail and altitude monitoring

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive
  • Heavy and chunky
  • Not for small-wristed runners

If you’re someone with big pockets looking for a big watch to help you achieve your big goals, look no further than the Suunto 9 Baro.

One glance at this watch, and we guarantee you’ll come to the same first impression as we did: it’s big, and unusually so. The watch face almost looks like you can use it to play ultimate frisbee. At 50mm, it’s definitely wide enough to occupy most of the wearer’s wrist, so thinner-wristed people might want to check out the smaller Suunto 9 Peak instead.

In addition to that, it’s also pretty thick. Suunto watches have always had this characteristic chunkiness to them, but it’s more noticeable on the Suunto 9 Baro. It also weighs heavier than others, coming in at around 79 grams. At the very least, the aesthetics look subdued, clean, and modern.

For long off-trail runs, its durability and battery life work to its advantage. Although not as durable as the Titanium variant, the 9 Baro is still built to withstand whatever challenge you may encounter on the tracks.

In fact, it has many features that are made for off-trail adventuring and ultra-running, such as an accurate onboard GPS and navigation system, performance monitoring, and its stand-out feature: a barometric altimeter for trail runs. If you don’t mind not having this feature, you can also get the non-Baro version, which costs about a hundred dollars less, at minimum.

The Suunto 9 Baro has a strong set of smartwatch features as well. You get notifications, access to music controls, and even touchless pay. That’s not surprising considering the high price point, but the additional features do match our expectations. It also has a far better battery life than most smartwatches in the market, lasting an impressive 120 hours in full GPS mode.

In other words, if you’re looking for a solid GPS watch that you can take with you on any type of run, then you’re in luck – the Suunto 9 Baro can do that and more.

2. Suunto 7 GPS Sports Watch

Key Features

  • Titanium weight: 52g (1.8oz)
  • Stainless steel weight: 70g (2.4oz)
  • Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi connectivity
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 processor
  • 1GB RAM and 8GB of storage

Reasons to buy

  • Durable build
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Plenty of general fitness features
  • Can download and use offline maps
  • Capable smartwatch with storage and RAM

Reasons to avoid

  • Battery life is not as great as other Suunto models

Suunto 7 is not a subtle watch by any means. At first glance, the case may look too big, the design too aggressive, and the material too ‘techy.’

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to its subdued color choices and clean lines, the Suunto 7 looks powerful and smart. It can even work for a night out after work or a casual date with friends. As an everyday watch, though, expect that it will surely stand out.

Then again, the Suunto 7 was never made to be a showpiece. Instead, with its stainless steel or titanium cases, comfortable silicone or microfiber straps, and water resistance of up to 50 meters, it’s clear that this watch was made to thrive in action.

Function-wise, the Suunto 7 has all the basic sensors for altitude, heart rate, and resting states. These sensors are used in the training load and recovery programs that make smart suggestions for your optimal workouts. It also includes 70 different sports modes, including trail running, treadmills, and track running.

One of the Suunto 7’s best features is navigation. With an accurate onboard GPS, you also have the option to download maps for offline use, making you less reliant on your phone and data connection. However, battery life is not on par with other Suunto watches. With all functions turned on, it can only last 48 hours (2 days) which is much shorter than other watches on this list, such as the Suunto 9 series.

Thanks to its 8GB storage and 1GB RAM, you can download music and play songs straight from your Suunto 7. You can also connect it to third-party apps such as Strava and integrations on Google Fit or Play. 

If there’s one downside we can say about the Suunto 7, it doesn’t have a lot of features specific to running. It’s still an excellent sports tracker that can help improve your runs, but if you’re looking for something more specialized, it might be worth checking out another Suunto watch instead.

3. Suunto Core non-GPS Watch

Key Features

  • 12-month battery life
  • User-replaceable CR2032 battery
  • Waterproof up to 30 meters
  • 64g – 120g (2.2oz – 4.2oz) depending on variation

Reasons to buy

  • Comes in 3 product variations
  • Impressive log storage capacity
  • Sensitive, weather-sensing barometer
  • Long-lasting user-replaceable battery
  • Accurate altitude measurements

Reasons to avoid

  • Relatively costly for a non-GPS watch

The Suunto Core is not a smartwatch. That’s not really surprising, considering that it was first released a decade and a half ago. However, it remains to be a super capable outdoor watch that you can take with you on your train runs any time you want.

One of the things that stood out to us is the design variations. The Suunto Core has three primary models: Alpha, Classic, and Premium. Each of these models is aesthetically different.

The Alpha is an aggressive outdoorsman’s watch – with a military-grade braided strap, red backlight, and ultra-durable design. The Classic looks a lot more traditional, with the typical ultra-wide screen, chunky Suunto aesthetics, and nylon strap. Last is the Premium, which sports a shiny, more sophisticated burnished metal finish to its bezel and a more subdued strap design.

Regardless of their minor differences, the strength of the Suunto Core lies in its three “core” elements that make it a great outdoor watch: a barometer, an altimeter, and a compass.

Performance-wise, the Suunto Core is an excellent watch indeed. The built-in altimeter measures the altitude of every one-meter interval – significantly more impressive than other Suunto watches available during that time, such as the Suunto Vector (3m intervals.) It also has the most accurate pressure gain readings – second only to the newer and more expensive Suunto Ambit 3.

The Suunto Core also has a feature called “Storm Alarm,” which relies on its sensitive barometric sensor to detect a sudden pressure drop that indicates a storm. Runners will also appreciate its 100-log capacity and built-in compass, thermometer, stopwatch, and timer. Its user-replaceable battery is impressive as well, lasting about 12 months before needing a replacement.

If you don’t mind not having a smartwatch and would just like a hardcore outdoor running or hiking watch, the Suunto Core is your best bet.

4. Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS Watch

Key Features

  • 75g (2.6oz)
  • Waterproof for up to 100 meters
  • Battery life in GPS 10 to 15 hours
  • 100 hours battery life in regular use

Reasons to buy

  • Feature-packed
  • Design exudes military vibes
  • Sturdy and durable build
  • Built-in GPS and Google Earth integration

Reasons to avoid

  • Expensive for its type
  • Nylon strap can be inconvenient
  • Underwhelming battery life
  • Minimal performance metrics tracking

Similar to the tactical Suunto Core, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is another outdoor watch that appeals to long-distance trail runners.

With its military-grade nylon strap, the Traverse Alpha looks very similar to the Core’s Alpha variant. We’re not a fan of it, though, as it can accumulate dirt and sweat over time, especially if you use it extensively while trail running. As for the bezels, they’re thick and made of tough-looking, textured aluminum to emphasize the rugged military vibe without going overboard. 

In terms of durability, the Traverse Alpha is excellent at its job. The watch face is made out of scratch-free sapphire glass, ensuring that you’ll have no problem taking this on off-trail hikes or runs. It’s waterproof, too, so that’s one less thing to think about when going on an adventure.

Performance-wise, the Traverse Alpha is a step ahead compared to the Suunto Core. Although it’s also not a smartwatch, it has two great features: GPS and Google Earth integrations.

The onboard GPS is accurate enough for any casual runner, while the Google Earth integration is useful for ultramarathoners and off-trail adventurers. By importing your data to Google Earth, you can use its various terrain maps to understand your surroundings better, saving you the time and resources required for scouting.

This watch also has an altimeter and barometer to monitor the weather and a tracker for steps, pace, and calories burned. At 100 hours, its battery life is admittedly underwhelming, however.

Battery life aside, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is a great option for off-trailers and ultrarunners looking for a tactical GPS watch.

5. Suunto 5 GPS Watch

Key Features

  • 66g (2.3oz)
  • Offered in 6 colors
  • Waterproof up to 50 meters
  • 12-day battery life in normal mode
  • 20-40 hours in training mode

Reasons to buy

  • Feature-packed
  • Adequate battery life
  • Solid GPS functions
  • Modern smartwatch features
  • Reliable adaptive training program

Reasons to avoid

  • Clunky hardware
  • Dim and easily scratched watch face

The Suunto 5 is a lightweight, feature-packed performance tracker that’s suitable for a lot of different scenarios – as long as it doesn’t involve social events, that is.

For one, the watch itself looks clunky. Although it’s not especially heavy or thick, the bezels occupy a ton of space. The watch face is supposed to have a diameter of 45mm, but the actual usable screen is much, much less. To make things worse, the display can be barely seen under normal light. The watch face is also easily scratched, unlike other Suunto watches.

Nevertheless, it does have a lot to offer, function-wise. One of its best features for runners is the adaptive training plan that responds to your specific goals. You can choose from Improve, Boost, or Maintain, and the watch will recommend a personalized 7-day training program to help you achieve that fitness goal.

Runners will also benefit from the accurate sensors that can measure the intensity of your workouts, provide guidance on your pace, and monitor a ton of other standard metrics such as stress level, body fuel, and VO2 Max. These sensors also work well in estimating your body’s expendable energy by monitoring your physical activity as well as sleep, recovery, and stress levels.

Sleep data could be troublesome to measure, though. Not because the sensors don’t work, but because the watch’s clunkiness can turn off many users from wearing it to bed.

Aside from that, there’s GPS navigation and marking, push notifications, a comprehensive companion app, and fairly adequate battery life.

Ultimately, the Suunto 5 is a decent smartwatch for casual runners. The only real downside is the bulky hardware design. Still, if you’re willing to put up with that, you get access to a professional-level athletic tracker for a reasonable price.

6. Suunto Traverse GPS Watch

Key Features

  • 80g (2.8oz)
  • Waterproof up to 100 meters
  • 10-15 hours in GPS mode
  • 100 hours battery life in regular use

Reasons to buy

  • Clean yet rugged aesthetic
  • Feature-packed for outdoors
  • Strong GPS and altimeter features
  • Comfortable and sanitary strap design

Reasons to avoid

  • Heavy
  • Mediocre tracking features

When it comes to looks, the Suunto Traverse doesn’t differ a lot from the Traverse Alpha.

The bezels on the Traverse are made of smooth stainless steel, unlike the textured ones on the Traverse. The strap is also made of silicone instead of textile, which makes it more comfortable in exchange for reduced durability. Also, its watch face is made of mineral crystal and has fewer backlight options than the Alpha model.

One thing that stood out to us, however, is the weight. At 80 grams, it’s 5 grams heavier than the Traverse Alpha and definitely on the heavier end of the scale. Ultra runners and marathoners may not appreciate this extra weight – especially if they have a smaller frame since the watch is larger, as well.

However, just like other Suunto watches, the Traverse has a lot to offer in terms of features. Similar to the Traverse Alpha, it’s more of an outdoor-oriented fitness tracker than a regular smartwatch. It can track speed, distance, and heart rate while you’re running, as well as log all training sessions.

While the Traverse Alpha has four outdoor sports modes, the Traverse only has running and cycling. This may seem pretty limited, but it’s already enough if you’re using it exclusively for running. It also has a built-in GPS, an altimeter, a weather indicator, a compass, and a step counter.

Disappointingly, it has the same battery life as the Suunto Traverse Alpha. This is rather surprising to us since it doesn’t have as many fitness tracker and smartwatch capabilities as the latter.

Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty reliable choice for a modern watch, particularly if you like running in outdoor trails.

7. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR GPS Watch

Key Features

  • 74g (2.6)
  • Comes in 2 colors
  • Waterproof for up to 100 meters
  • 336 hours (14 days) battery life

Reasons to buy

  • Good battery life
  • Clean, minimalist look
  • Fully customizable sports modes
  • Hybrid button and touchscreen controls
  • Solid onboard GPS and GLONASS navigation systems

Reasons to avoid

  • Relatively expensive
  • Touchscreen is not that smooth
  • Doesn’t sync as smoothly as other models
  • Doesn’t have rest and recovery monitoring and analytics

The Spartan Sport Wrist HR sports a somewhat minimalist design, with bezels thinner than most Suunto watches. It also comes with an understated yet still sporty silicone strap. The display is wide enough to support the hybrid touchscreen and 3-button controls, though it’s slightly laggy compared to other top-end products.

In terms of functionality, one of the Spartan series’ best features is the customizable sports modes. You can even customize the data, fields, and watch faces that you want to appear on your Spartan Sport Wrist HR.

If you don’t want to create your own, you can simply choose from the wide variety of preset options and sub-options on this Suunto app and then load them all to your watch. This is a useful feature to have if you want super hands-on data management in your runs.

Aside from that, the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR also tracks other important performance metrics for runners such as heart rate, speed, acceleration, pace, distance, and altitude. You also have your pick of GPS and GLONASS navigation systems depending on your need. Battery life lasts about 14 days (336 hours), which is pretty good for a smartwatch.

However, for a sports watch with a hefty price tag, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR doesn’t have sleep and recovery metric tracking, which puts it a step behind other sports watches in the same price range. 

If you’re willing to forego those functions, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR is one of the most customizable running watches on the list.

8. Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR GPS Watch

Key Features

  • 56g (1.9oz)
  • Waterproof up to 50m
  • Comes in 4 color schemes
  • Bluetooth Smart connectivity
  • 336 hours (14 days) battery life

Reasons to buy

  • Feature-packed
  • Excellent price point
  • Customizable field displays
  • Has all the basics of a sports tracker
  • Accurate GPS with a local route heat map

Reasons to avoid

  • Slow app sync
  • Needs app for customization
  • Inconvenient firmware updates
  • Laggy interface with unintuitive controls

With a much more affordable SRP than the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, the Suunto Spartan Trainer delivers just as much, if not more, value.

The Spartan Trainer is reminiscent of the Sport Wrist HR when it comes to design, just a bit more toned down. It still looks very sporty, so you might hesitate to go to the office with it, but it can still fit in most casual functions.

In terms of size, the Spartan Trainer has a smaller screen than the Spartan Sport. However, for some reason, there’s a one-second delay when executing commands, making the interface feel quite laggy. The button controls are also not as intuitive.

For something that costs much lower than the Spartan Sport, though, the Spartan Trainer offers incredible value. It has the same customizable modes as the Spartan Sport, plus over 80 pre-programmed sports modes. It also allows you to have field displays, letting you display the data you want during your runs.

It also has a great GPS navigation system. It’s accurate, syncs fast, and even provides a local heat map that you can use to follow popular routes.

Other than that, the Spartan Trainer also has decent rest and recovery tracking, step and calorie counters, heart rate, speed, cadence, and running/cycling power sensors. It has the same battery life capacity as the spartan Sport at 14 days.

Overall, the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR is an example of a sequel done right. If you’re a price-conscious triathlete or marathoner, you’re going to get a lot of value out of this smartwatch.

9. Suunto 3 Sports Watch

Key Features

  • 40g (1.4oz)
  • Waterproof up to 30m
  • Comes in different color schemes
  • 120 hours (5 days) with regular use
  • 10 hours in training mode

Reasons to buy

  • Affordable price
  • Sleek and lightweight
  • Lots of physical sensors
  • Intelligent adaptive training

Reasons to avoid

  • Shorter battery life than normal
  • Training plan is not customizable
  • No built-in GPS

If you don’t mind one core flaw that might put some serious runners off, the Suunto 3 is an incredible all-around workout watch.

One of the first things you’d notice about the Suunto 3 is sleek and compact it looks. At 36 grams, it is indeed one of Suunto’s lightest offerings – perfect for runners who are concerned about weight.

It has a thinner-than-usual case that goes well with the plain bezels, understated strap, and sharp 43mm screen. Overall, it’s a very smart-looking watch, something that you won’t hesitate to wear even on a semi-formal night out.

Function-wise, its most useful feature is the reactive training recommendations. Light enough to be worn 24/7, the Suunto 3 can gather your metrics and program a personalized week-long training plan. It will warn you of inactivity, training overload, or training under load, as well as adjust to your availability. Aside from that, there are also sports modes, daily activity, body energy, VO2 Max, push notifications, and app syncing.

However, the Suunto 3 has no built-in GPS, which could be a big turn-off for runners who want to map their runs or measure pace and distance without their phones. It’s also impossible to create your own goals or customize workout plans. Lastly, its 10-hour battery life is quite disappointing compared to other smartwatches.

That said, if you’re a beginner who just wants to improve your time or overall fitness, the reasonably priced Suunto 3 is still a great choice.

How to Choose the Best Suunto Watch for Running

Suunto is a Finnish brand known for one thing: durability. The company makes plenty of products related to the outdoors, such as compasses, diving computers, and of course, sports watches.

Now that they’ve firmly entrenched themselves in the smartwatch and fitness watch scene as well, runners of all types can greatly benefit from what they have to offer.

When picking the best Suunto watch for your runs, it’s important to consider three factors: what type of running you do, what kind of fit you’re looking for, and what price range you’re willing to buy.

Running Type

The type of running you do will determine the features that you need from a Suunto watch.

For instance, if you’re a fan of outdoor, off-trail, or ultrarunning, the Suunto Core, Suunto Traverse Alpha, and Suunto Traverse watches will let you conquer whatever terrains you’re on without being complicated.

If you’re looking for something to track your data and monitor your performance, the Suunto 9 and Suunto 9 Baro have your back. Meanwhile, beginner runners would greatly appreciate how easy it is to schedule training sessions and measure metrics with the Suunto 3.

Design and Comfort

Suunto watches have a broad range of designs. This is especially important if you want to wear the watch 24/7, as you want it to be as versatile as possible.

If you want the sleekest, smartest, and lightest smartwatch design, the Suunto 3 Fitness checks all the boxes. With its easy weight and minimalist looks, it’s a smartwatch that you can wear all day long.

On the other hand, if you want to look like the baddest kid in the off-trail playground, the Suunto Traverse Alpha, Suunto Core, and Suunto 9 Baro will surely draw attention for their tactical and durable aesthetic.

Price

Lastly, Suunto watches can vary a lot in their pricing. Premium-priced watches include the Suunto 9 Baro, Suunto 9, and Suunto 7. They usually offer great features, including great battery life.

On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, you can already get awesome running features from the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR and Suunto 3 without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Suunto watches any good?

Suunto watches are ultra-durable products that you can use in various scenarios. They also have various reliable, accurate, and convenient features that will surely improve your runs.

Do Suunto watches have GPS?

Most Suunto watches offer built-in GPS functionality. However, some models, such as the Suunto 3, don’t have onboard GPS but can still be connected to a GPS-enabled device, like a smartphone.

What can Suunto watches do?

Suunto watches have a wide variety of features that can make your runs better. Suunto models are primarily made for outdoor runs and offer excellent onboard GPS navigation systems that you can even use offline. There are some with intelligent, responsive training programs that craft you a personalized plan from your metrics. No matter what kind of running you do, Suunto has something for you.

Is Suunto better than Polar?

Whether Suunto is better than Polar depends on the kinds of features that you want and your preferences. Polar watches occupy the smartwatch end of the sports watch spectrum, while Suunto watches straddle a special niche for capable outdoor watches that aren’t exactly smartwatches.

Conclusion

Suunto offers a great selection of capable, durable, and feature-packed watches that runners of all kinds can use to improve their performance. Whether you like conquering uncharted terrains, competing in ultramarathons, or simply beating your previous best, the perfect Suunto watch will bring more value to your running sessions.

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