Suunto Ambit 3 is the first truly versatile watch I ever owned. Maybe it was a little hard for me to believe that it can do everything it says it can do.
Hence, when I got it, I decided to put it through its paces. And I mean to test the s**t out of it.
It is good that I had an opportunity to go surfing with it in Portugal, trained for a triathlon, and went to the Himalayas to see all those ‘altitude tracking’ and ‘storm warning’ systems in action.
Heck, since I could not go to Antarctica, I even put it in my freezer overnight to see that it really can withstand the temperatures it claims to handle.
This is now an updated page (2021), but nevertheless as important as before. I feel that the new generation of sports and smartwatches from Suunto and other tracker watch companies fall short of what Ambit 3 can do.
The main advantage of this watch is that you can take it to the wilderness with you, and it will be your reliable partner telling you so many useful things. But all this would not be worth much if the battery would only last one day.
And that is the main strength of this watch – long battery life while being an exceptional watch and adventure partner. Hence this review, should you wish to seek one of these in the second-hand market.
Imagine you arrive to a new town, park your car and go for a long walk—no need to use the phone or google maps.
Once parked, I set my current GPS point, and after wandering around, I can just ask to navigate back. The watch will show me the distance and direction to any of the saved points. Even better for a new country.
For example, on my last trip to India, I saved my hotel’s location as soon as I arrived to Delhi. When I went for a walk with friends who knew the place, I ended up separated in the crowd – but hey ho, without a worry, I just followed my watch back to the safety of my hotel.
Briefly About Suunto Company
Established in 1933, Suunto always innovated in the field of precision instruments. It all started with the first liquid-filled compasses, made on an industrial scale, in the world. Which then further advanced to making instruments for yachts, diving computers and sports watches.
This company can claim to be the first to produce wrist-sized portable computers that now developed into different ranges to cover various sports. I like the fact that a lot of products are still innovative, high tech. They also have a research and development team next to (albeit shrinking) manufacturing plant, just next to its headquarters.
Suunto’s new range of smart sport watches is no longer made in Finland. Hence note that this review is for a watch that is no longer in production.
The choice of sports on the menu includes trekking, triathlon, running, cycling, swimming in the pool, open water swimming, indoor training and mountaineering.
It will track your heart rate (separate heart monitor), distance, location via GPS, laps (automatic for swimming pool), average/top/lowest speed and elevation.
In addition, to have it displayed in the Movescount app and the website, you can also synchronise your results with other apps like Strava.
I used Strava before I acquired this watch, so it was great to continue the system I prefer. The set-up, to be fair, was a little painful, but you only need to do it once.
I no longer need to get my phone out when jogging—useful, safer and more convenient way of doing sports.
Movescount website allows you to check out the area, see what others have saved, create your own or follow established route – as long as I save it on my watch before going for the actual climb/run/swim/ride.
Alternatively, set your destination on google maps, and the watch will feed (via Bluetooth) directions on its screen in text.
I found this feature useful when cycling long distances.
This watch tracks most of your activities and displays it in three places: the watch, movescount app (soon to be made redundant) and the website. All of which, of course, you can share with your friends or sports adversaries.
I like the feature where I can filter it by the date or sport undertaken. Also, I could see calories used up in the week – it adds up all the sports, walking and any other activity to show it all on one screen.
This little gadget has served me with two purposes when riding up those Himalayan mountains on a motorbike (I am not ready to climb them just yet):
I tracked my elevation and my progress for the day. It was great to see how high we were, especially when you keep going up and down throughout the day.
It was also useful for the awareness of altitude sickness – a severe condition that can lead to death if not addressed. It also was set to alert me on any potential storms coming.
Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable and change very fast. Getting stuck in a storm, rain, or snow is the last thing you want. Suunto watch would notice a sudden drop in atmospheric pressure and alarm me on that.
It serves as more than just a decent watch on a typical day.
It will show time in two zones if you are travelling. Of course, it will also display the day of the week, seconds, chronograph, and sunrise and sunset times based on your location.
Its oversized design gives you easy ‘sporty owner’ bragging rights if you are into that kind of thing.
And lastly, in watch mode, the battery will last for months and take less than one hour to charge.
Logbook – here, you can refer to the past exercises recorded, your performance etc. I guess it could be useful when bragging about your achievements.
Displays – you can decide what is to be displayed on your watch.
Navigation – shows you the distance to your set point or allows you to pre-set the route you need to navigate.
Recovery – calculates your recovery time based on the overall exercise you have done recently.
Exercise – allows you to record your exercise and performance. A long list of disciplines is covered.
In summary, I find this watch to be a very reliable partner to have when you are going on adventures. Especially on multi-day adventures, where you don’t want to worry about charging your watch every day. This watch has a lot of great functionalities not only to make your day easier, but to get you out of a pickle too.
Although it is a shame that Suunto stopped making these watches, I feel that mine will last for many years to come and hopefully, by then, there will be a similar equivalent on the market.
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