Suunto Ambit2 Review

For the uber mountain athlete who loves to geek out with gear and technology, we introduce to you the Sunnto Ambit2 GPS Watch.  This watch is meant to be your do all, be all watch for the athlete and outdoors person that wants a watch that aids them in hiking and mountaineering as well as training for triathlons, marathons, etc.  We understand that most people are either runners, cyclist, triathletes, hikers, mountaineers, and only a select few that do it all.  If you’re in that select group of do it all or if you just like to geek out on the latest and greatest technology, keep reading…

Suunto Ambit2 in the Outdoors

Suunto has long been known to many outdoorsy people as a high end reliable brand that makes quality time pieces.  In the last few years, Suunto has been dabbling in measuring how far you  run through foot pods, but the Suunto Ambit2 offers more accurate distance and also has a ton of other features.  As many people know, features used in an outdoors watch are often different from your typical fashion or sports watch.  Being able to know direction, altitude, temperature, sunrise, sunset, and barometric pressure can mean the difference between getting lost, getting too cold/warm, staying dry or getting wet, and in extreme situations, life or death. Yes, we understand you shouldn’t  solely rely on a watch for everything, but it should be able to be used to aid you in your adventure, or at least geek out after.  In the Suunto Ambit2, you get the features that you come to expect in a full featured outdoor watch including the following; compass, barometric altimeter, and barometric pressure (which helps knowing about storms rolling in).  From a GPS standpoint, The Suunto Ambit2 is able to make your typical full function outdoor watch into a data rich ninja watch(note, watch is not really meant for ninjas).  By using the GPS function in the Ambit2, you get to better understand where you have been and where you are going, which for some reduces worry and stress.  This is done through marking interest points such as a trail head, split in a trail, avalanche location, a photo location, waterfall, mountain summit, etc.  These interest points can be edited in MovesCount.com which we will talk about later in the review.  There is also an elevation graph that you can view on the watch which is a fun way to see what you are doing during your activity.  For GPS, knowing how far you have gone and how far you have to go is a great way of experiencing a hike in my mind.  This can really come in handy when managing your food and water on longer trips.

How the Suunto Ambit2 performs for the Endurance Athlete

When it comes to the endurance athlete, the Suunto Ambit2 has you covered for almost any sport.  The main focus in the Ambit2 under the endurance category is run, bike, and swim.  Since I am not a triathlete, I wasn’t able to test this watch out in the bike and swim mode, but I did plenty of testing with this watch on both trail and road for running.  The first time I put this watch on my wrist, I felt that it was a little heavy and cumbersome.  A few minutes after putting the watch on my wrist for my run, the weight of the watch disappeared and I was able to focus on enjoying my run. First, the Suunto Ambit2 delivers the basics of a running GPS watch.  This includes showing you the distance, pace, avg. pace, and speed.  If you step up the heart rate mode, you can also track the real time, average, and max heart rate.  While I didn’t test out the heart rate option, I was told by the Suunto sales rep that if you have a newer heart rate strap by say Timex or Polar, they should be able to work with this watch.

Suunto’s MovesCount.com

Where the Suunto Ambit2 sets itself apart from other GPS watches on the market is the apps you can add to this watch from the Suunto after market Website MovesCount.com.  There are hundreds of apps that you can add to the Ambit2 that includes calories burned, elevation gained, recovery time, marathon pacing, half marathon pacing, and number of different things you might want to see.  This is an open platform for outside developers to develop apps, so your options should continue to grow the longer you have the watch.  All apps are free for the time being and there is no indication at this point you will have to pay for them.  Outside of the apps platform, the MovesCount.com website provides you with a lot of valuable information.  It’s a one stop shop to see all your run logs that include a run map, distance you’ve run, average pace, ascent, decent, and more.  For those who like to get social with their stats, MovesCount also works with Facebook, Twitter, G+,  and email.  It is very similar to other online programs from Strava, MapMyRun.com, Run Keeper, etc.

General Settings on the Suunto Ambit2

While it’s great to have a watch that gives you information about your activity, most of us are using our watch 24/7 which means general watch features are important to most of us.  To begin with, lets talk about size.  The Suunto Ambit2 is a large watch.  For the ladies out there, this might be a little too much watch for you.  As a guy with larger hands and wrist, I found the watch to be a nice size.  I also find this watch to work nicely in professional situations for the people that have to dress up a little more for work. In the past, I’ve been very skeptical about Suunto watches because compared to other sport watches on the market, they were very complicated to use.  I am not going to go as far as saying this watch is super simple to use, but I consider it to be moderately easy to use as long as you read the manual or play around with the watch for 30 minutes or so.

GPS Signal and Battery Life

In every GPS watch, battery life and how well the watch picks up GPS signal are always important factors when considering one of these modern marvels.  The Suunto Ambit2 GPS watch has typically lasted about 10 hours for me while running and being involved in activities.  This I find to be pretty good, but I also wish this number could go up in the future.  As this watch tends to cater to the endurance athletes, letting it work for 10 hours plus for 50 mile races, 100 mile races, and Ironmans would be ideal.  When not using the GPS, I am usually able to get about 14 days of life, but to be honest it is few and far between when I don’t use the GPS feature in this watch so this is not as important to me. For the GPS signal, I have had mixed results.  The majority of the time, about 90%, I am able to get signal in a short amount of time.  The other 10% of the time, I have had times where the watch has taken over 30 minutes to find a signal.  This is something I would like to see improve in future.

Final Thoughts

The Suunto Ambit2 GPS watch is a tank of a watch with an arsenal of weapons for the runner, triathlete, and outdoors person.  With a price point of between $400-$600, most people have to be commited to their activity to make a purchase.  However, if you find yourself in this category, you will most likely be pleased with your purchase. For more information, please visit Suunto.com

Kevin_Fonger:

View Comments (1)

  • Thanks for a great review,

    Our latest software update allows for 5 sec measurement intervals giving the Ambit2 optimum 24 hours battery life and Ambit2S 15 hours with a minimum loss of accuracy in all but the fastest sports. Perfect for Ultras!

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