Outfitted: The tough and sleek Suunto Peak
Sport watches of the past had a tendency to feel like you were wearing a ten pound computer on your wrist; technologically amazing, but not ideal for outdoor activity. Several years ago I tried out an old Suunto Spartan GPS tracking model that ended up sitting in a drawer more than it saw trail action. In my opinion, the extra weight and bulk of having navigation and tracking capabilities didn’t seem worth it in the long run. After the Apple Watch came into existence, I pretty much forgot about that old beheamoth all together. When Suunto came out with their newer, sleeker, smaller Peak 9 watch this year, I decided to give the fitness watch another try.
Suunto makes no confusion about the fact that the Peak 9’s biggest feature is its small profile. It’s 36% lighter and 37% thinner than its predecessor. To date, I think this is the classiest looking sport watch among its top competitors like Garmin and COROS. Made in Finland, I also appreciate the fact that it can easily transition from trail to town with its sleek Nordic design. It’s thin enough for easy and accessible wear under a jacket sleeve and the adjustable band makes fitting it on top of your outerwear possible as well. The band also has a metal pin closure for extra security and fine tuning the fit.
The watch is available in stainless steel or titanium, but be prepared to pay extra for the tougher, lighter titanium bezel. The titanium version adds $130. A sapphire glass face makes for highly scratch resistant protection and a transparent face. The display has three adjustable light settings and an option to change the background to white although I feel the white greatly diminishes the classy feel. There are several digital face displays and colors to choose from along with touchscreen capabilities for most features. Three sturdy buttons on the side are the main navigation tools and I end up using those more than the touchscreen functions. One gripe is the quickness of the interface which seems a bit sluggish at times compared to other models.
A great added feature is the battery capability. There are five different options of battery mode that range from 25 hours with the most accurate and frequent GPS readings to nearly 170 hours when in tour mode. It’s really handy to be able to adjust this to suit your activity level and GPS needs when on multi-day trips. A great update from Suunto’s previous models is the magnetic cradle battery charger. I found the old one to be annoying and finicky, but there’s no room for error on this one. And the charger only takes one hour to get your watch to 100%.
With over 80 sport modes, relevant data is readily available for the exercise you choose and the watch easily pairs with the Suunto app to collect, track and store your fitness data. Frequent heart rate, blood oxygen level and barometric altimeter readings also make it a great tool to navigate your body’s adjustment to higher elevations. Another great feature of the app is the ability to import routes for safe planning and navigation with sport-specific heat maps and popular starting points.
Along with all the sport tracking, the Peak also follows your long-term trends such as daily activity, steps and sleep. You can also use the info in conjunction with other fitness apps such as Strava and Komoot. Although you can’t answer a phone call with this watch, you are alerted of incoming calls, texts and notifications.
As far as the competition goes, the Suunto 9 mostly stands out due to its size and weight. It’s beautiful to look at and almost feels unnoticeable on your wrist. As with many other GPS sport watches, the user experience can be a bit intimidating at first. There’s so much this little workhorse can do. I recommend watching the suggested YouTube videos on Suunto’s website to familiarize yourself with its capabilities. I’ve been wearing it for a month and am still learning new things every day. At a price that will definitely make you weak in the knees, it’s not worth purchasing this watch if you don’t take advantage of its extensive technology. But in my opinion, the look and feel of the Peak 9 make it one of the best available sport watches on the market.
Titanium model: $699, Stainless steel model: $569
Meg Simon is an Aspen-based freelance writer, graphic designer and founder of Simon Finch Creative. She can be reached at email@example.com.