Having tried a couple of other manufacturer’s devices in the past and found them disappointing in a few respects, I was keen to play with the Suunto Spartan Sport watch which was kindly lent to me.
Now let’s be clear. I’m not a keen sports person desperate to know their current VO2 max or how long I can sustain exercise at a certain heart rate (although I know someone who would want all those features). But the Suunto gives you all this information and more, including how much recovery time you need to get over your most recent exertions (useful leverage to get the OH to cook dinner). It tells you heart rate measurement with calories, Peak Training Effect and recovery time. It supports interval training, gives lap tables, step count, is compatible with Bike Sensor and BLE power meters (for the cycling nuts amongst us). It gives 30 day training summary, and long term analysis of training loads, PTE’s and HR zones if you sync with Suunto Movescount app.
All very nice, and my obsessively sporty friends would use all that. But what I would buy it for is the navigation and GPS features. I walk. Whenever I can, and as often as I can in places where I can get myself lost (and have done in the past, despite having a navigation qualification!) But the Suunto gives an extra feature which I think is a game changer. The breadcrumb navigation (similar to a sat-nav) shows you whether you are on your planned route at all times. When I went out at the weekend, I didn’t take my map. I planned a route into Suunto Movescount app on my PC, which synced to the watch. I started the navigation (it picked up the satellites much more quickly than I am used to with my other branded device) and followed it for several hours without the need to check where I was or which direction I was heading in. It took me exactly where I wanted to go (the pub on the other side of the scrubland) and then got me home again without blinking.
I know, I know. You should never go out without a map and compass (the watch has a built in digital compass), and without knowing how to use them. But this little device gives a level of reassurance that I would find invaluable, especially if I were leading a group of friends on an unfamiliar walk.
The stats and route recording of where I’d been, how many miles, how fast I’d walked, how many calories I’d burned, what my heart rate was (all of which I get from my other branded device) is all very nice to know, but I’m sold on the navigation and compass and I have now put the Suunto Spartan watch on my Christmas list.