Review | Suunto Ambit3 Sport HR

Last Christmas, after hours of research, I bought BG the ultimate mountaineering/sports/climbing/navigating toy; the Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR. It was bought primarily for the altimeter and navigation function. The fact it has a storm alarm on it felt like a novelty and the rest of the functions baffled me as to the amount one watch could do.

Shortly into the New Year after BG briefly tried out the navigation in the Lake District, took it out for a run and recorded a session of Insanity and I started to get a little envious of all the watch could do. I wanted to record my fitness too.

Fortunately for me I was blessed with a fair amount of birthday and Christmas funds and set out shopping for my own sports watch. When I announced this to my boss at work (overly-fit and Ironman several times over) he said ‘You’re not getting a Fitbit are you?’

It hadn’t even crossed my mind to get a Fitbit due the inaccuracy of them. I wanted a well respected and tested brand of watch and that’s why I chose the Suunto Ambit3 Sport HR. (Well, if Ueli Steck uses Suunto then everybody wants to, right?)

And I haven’t looked back.

The functions on this watch are never ending, so much so that I haven’t even finished trying out some of them. As mentioned I invested in this little thing of sporting beauty for recording exercise and the list of sports you can record is endless. From the obvious running, swimming, cycling, circuit training, etc to the more specialist such as climbing, alpine skiing, martial arts and even surfing this watch records everything. There’s the obvious pedometer too. You can add and remove up to ten different types of activity on the Suunto Ambit3 Sport watch and two multi-sport activities. Ten activities are more than plenty for most people and the sports included in my current list are ballet, running, trail running, weights, hiking, trekking and Insanity.

Further into the sports functions you can modify the screens on the watch for each individual exercise. These range from current heart rate, average heart rate, calories burned, distances, speeds, cadence and despite not buying this watch for its navigational functions, current altitude.

For outdoor activities such as running the watch can track calories burnt by using GPS but with the HR monitor in use this watch becomes so much more accurate. I had been using the Runkeeper app to track runs and hikes and without the HR monitor the watch gives very, very similar results to the app. Once the HR monitor comes into play everything changes as the results become far more custom to the individual. For example, I didn’t realise just how many calories an hour of beginners’ ballet class does burn! Apps and online calculators just estimate, this watch tells the truth. This is one reason why a Fitbit just does not compare. There are so many reports on how a sports watch with a HR belt is far more accurate than a wrist device. If I was spending a lot of money on a device for fitness I would rather have a true report.


And then there’s the extras that come with the watch. The navigation is something I haven’t yet put to the test. Apart from the compass and longitude/latitude co-ordinates on demand the watch allows you to upload a pre-planned route to it. The Ambit3 Peak also has this function and we used it on BG’s watch for the Hathersage Trail Run we did earlier this month. The altimeter is so far accurate within a few metres to the Ambit3 Peak thanks to trying it out on Pen y Ole Wen in Wales in January. There is a Points of Interest function and a Track Back function for when you are navigationally-challenged. I did not buy this watch for this function so to me this is a bonus. I am very much looking forward to recording the Tour du Mont Blanc in the summer on this watch.

So far the battery life has been more than sufficient for what I need it to be. The amount of steps I do in a regular day has shocked me at over 14,000, and even when not being used to record exercise it quietly records daily activity/calories. The amount of information the watch records about your fitness and performance still surprises me. From Performance Level to Peak Training Effect and Recovery Time this watch pretty much tells you everything. Graphs for heart rate, speed, performance and such are available on the Suunto Movescount app and online account once synced with either.

And a little treat in the form of your activity being made into a Suunto Movie is an exciting little perk…

If you are serious about improving or just intrigued about your fitness then this watch does the job. This is by far the best and most used investment I have made so far this year. Highly recommended!!



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