Back in 2012, Suunto set a high benchmark in outdoor navigation watches with the Ambit, now in its third generation. While the Ambit series has comprised some venerable performers, not every outdoor user needs a high-powered, multi-sport wrist computer. For "aspiring outdoor enthusiasts" Suunto has added the Traverse – a simpler watch with key features like GPS/GLONASS navigation.
While the target Ambit3 customer is out bagging peaks, scurrying across ridge lines and spending days and weeks at a time in the wild, Suunto sees the Traverse customer as more of a casual hiker or micro-adventurist.
"In the past, outdoor adventures mainly meant challenging expeditions or climbing big mountains," explains Petteri Hernelahti, Suunto outdoor business line manager. "With the emergence of a new generation of active outdoor men and women, there has been a shift to more accessible adventures that focus on enjoyment and new experiences. With the Suunto Traverse, we want to help outdoor enthusiasts gain the confidence to explore. We have focused a lot on the ease of use with the Traverse."
So the focus here is on providing access to key functions without bogging the user down with features and menus that he or she will likely never need. Like the Ambit, the Traverse's primary feature set includes GPS navigation with track back, points of interest and route planning and tracking of metrics like speed, distance and vertical. The Traverse can also display a real-time breadcrumb trail view. Suunto promises that the watch is easy to use, providing quick, simple access to key features.
One big addition that the current Ambit series lacks is planned compatibility with Russia's GLONASS satellite navigation system. Suunto will add this accuracy-enhancing feature in a software update before year-end.
The Traverse also includes a barometer, unlike some Ambit3 models, and compounds barometric data with satellite altitude to deliver a more accurate "FusedAlti" elevation reading. The barometer also provides weather information, and alerts can be delivered via vibration.
Other Traverse features include a backlight with bright "flashlight mode," compass, sunrise/sunset times, and mobile phone notifications via the Movescount Android/iOS app. Suunto plans to add topographic maps to the Movescount app in time for the Traverse launch, improving route planning capabilities. The user will be able to look at the route on the topographic map before transferring the route, sans map, to the watch.
What the Traverse doesn't have when compared to the Ambit3 is all the multi-sport features and accessory support. It's compatible with Suunto's heart rate belt and apps ecosystem but offers more limited heart-rate and app support than the Ambit3.
Suunto says that a new antenna design gives the Traverse a more streamlined construction and fit. The watch weighs the same 2.82 oz (80g) as an Ambit3 Sport and offers up to 100 hours of battery life during navigation and 14 days in standard time mode. It is water-resistant up to 330 feet (100m).
While Suunto's perceived Traverse demographic may not be quite as seasoned as that of the Ambit, they'll have to be willing to spend just as much money. Available for preorder now, the Traverse is priced at $450, which makes it more expensive than several Ambit3 models, though less expensive than the highest priced models in the Ambit series. The Traverse is being hand-built in Finland and shipment will begin on October 15.