Hiking is a wonderful pastime since it is actually accessible and free to anyone. Whether you’re a man or a woman, young or elderly, experienced or inexperienced, there’s a route out there for you.
A reliable watch should be topping the list of things to buy for folks interested in hiking. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no roads or street signs to direct you, having a reliable companion on your wrist ready to assist you not only in telling time but also in sharing essential information on the road should be one of the first items you cross off the list before embarking on your trek.
Hiking watches may provide adventurers with a variety of unparalleled features, ranging from GPS tracking and sunrise/sunset times to altitude and air pressure information. A quality hiking watch will make your time in nature more pleasurable, easier, and safer by assisting with planning, navigation, and weather prediction.
So, which brands offer the best value when it comes to hiking watches?
Suunto is one that’s certainly popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts. Hence, in today’s article, we will help you pick the best Suunto watch for hiking by reviewing 3 best-selling models in 2021.
When conjuring up the list of products, we made sure they all come with features essential for hiking enthusiasts, such as built-in GPS, ABC sensors, and rugged construction.
With that said, to cater to people with varying needs and budgets, all three models differ in some ways and are listed at contrasting price points.
So, which Suunto watch is best for hiking?
Without further ado, let’s go.
As an affiliate, Timepieceking might earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) for purchases made via links in the article.
At a Glance: TOP 3
- Best Value: Suunto Traverse Alpha
- Premium Pick: Suunto Traverse Alpha Stealth
- Budget Pick: Suunto Core
Best Suunto for Hiking (Top 3 Reviewed)
Traverse Alpha Black
In our opinion, there’s little to zero doubt about which Suunto watch provides the best value when it comes to hiking.
Despite not being the freshest release (the Traverse Alpha line was launched in 2016), it’s still by far the best dollar-for-dollar Suunto hiking watch.
The model is really packed with useful features. But most importantly, it’s one of few Suunto models that offer an exclusive watch mode for hikers.
So what is Suunto’s hiking mode all about?
Developed in 2015 and regularly updated to this date, the hiking (and trekking) feature is fuelled by a double-satellite navigation system. Instead of merely using GPS, the Traverse Alpha collection utilizes both GPS and GLONASS satellites for the most detailed insights on your whereabouts – even in demanding conditions.
Thanks to the hiking mode, you can keep track of your journey with essential stats like altitude and distance, and bookmark areas of interest along the way. You can always retrace your steps thanks to the automated breadcrumb trail.
Thanks to the FusedAltiTM technology, the watch correctly measures altitude, vertical speed, and total climb by combining barometric pressure data with satellite altitude. That means all ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer and compass) are on board. You can use them instead of the GPS in case you’re running low on the battery.
If you need to stay inconspicuous on your trail, the strong vibration for a popular feature for hikers, the Storm Alert, is another excellent perk worth mentioning. Additionally, the watch tracks sunset and sunrise times. Not without a reason, Traverse Alpha was named the Wilderness’ Gear of the Year in 2016.
Moving on from the hiking-specific features, Traverse Alpha also offers some essential apps for tracking your everyday health:
- 24/7 heart rate monitor
- calorie counter
Naturally, the model is fully compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. You can enable as many on-screen notifications as you wish, including emails, text messages, social media alerts, and more.
Like the vast majority of Suunto sports watches, Traverse Alpha boasts a solid, masculine design.
The watch is available in a few editions listed at varying price points. The Black version you see above is the cheapest available, mainly due to the inclusion of mineral crystal glass. The more expensive editions (like the Stealth Edition you will find further down the article), come with a much more durable sapphire crystal.
Traverse Alpha is a fairly massive piece, with a case measuring 50mm in diameter.
The case is made from composite while the bezel from stainless steel. The strap material is nylon. The combination of all three ensures extreme ruggedness. In fact, the Traverse Alpha collection has been built according to the 810G military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance (up to 100m).
For easy use in the dark, the watch is equipped with a LED backlight. There are quite a few ways to customize the display with free watch faces.
Traverse Alpha watches come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The battery life is good but not outstanding.
In the regular mode, the model can last up to 2 weeks. With the GPS mode switched on during your hiking trip, you can expect up to 100 hours of use. It’s true that some brands offer a much longer battery life but are also devoid of features designed exclusively for hikers.
Traverse Alpha Stealth
If you’re looking for the most complete version of Traverse Alpha, look no more. Suunto Traverse Alpha Stealth offers everything the Traverse Alpha Black does – and more.
Naturally, the Stealth version is equipped with the same hiking mode offered in the model discussed above. That means the most detailed route tracking with the help of GPS and GLONASS satellites, as well as the altimeter, barometer and compass sensors in case you want to switch to a more battery-friendly mode.
Additional features such as the Storm Alarm and health-tracking apps (HR monitor, step & calorie counter) are also available.
So, at this point, you might wonder: what the Stealth edition has that the Black doesn’t?
In terms of the features, the most striking difference is the inclusion of two additional outdoor modes for hunting and fishing. Traverse Alpha Stealth is also equipped with the Moon Phase calendar while the regular edition doesn’t have this function.
The watch supports both Android mobiles and iPhones.
At first sight, the two Traverse Alpha editions described in the article might look the same.
However, as already pointed out during the review. of Traverse Alpha Black, the Stealth version comes with a much more durable screen. The dial window is made from sapphire crystal glass which is considered the most crack-resistant material in the market. It’s utilized by all renowned watchmakers but the use amongst smartwatch manufacturers is relatively small. Hence, it deserves to be appreciated.
Size-wise, the Stealth edition is exactly the same as the case measures 50mm. The case is again made from composite while the bezel utilizes stainless steel. There’s a slight tweak when it comes to the strap as the Stealth model uses a nylon band instead of silicone.
Unsurprisingly, the watch is also built to US military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance (100m). It also offers a LED backlight.
There’s no difference between the two Traverse Alpha models in terms of battery performance.
The battery is rechargeable and can work for up to 14 days on a single charge. Naturally, with the GPS mode on, the lifespan is considerably shorter, lasting between 10 and 100 hours depending on the number of features working in the background.
Closing today’s list of best Suunto watches for hiking is the most budget-friendly release. If you’re on the lookout for a reliable hiking watch that won’t cost an arm and a leg, you can’t go wrong with Suunto Core.
The gap in pricing between Suunto Core and the other two models is quite striking. It’s no wonder then that the number of fancy features is also considerably shrunk.
But that’s not to say the Core isn’t one of the best Suunto trekking watches around.
So, is Suunto Core a good watch for hiking dorks? Absolutely.
Although the model doesn’t offer as convenient navigation solutions as the Traverse Alpha, it’s still unlikely to let you down during your treks. As you might have already guessed, Suunto Core isn’t equipped with a built-in GPS. Instead, the territory data is provided by the ABC sensors that, naturally, are on board.
Two features that will also be appreciated by hikers are the Storm Alarm and Sunrise/Sunset times.
If you’re after insights into your everyday well-being, unfortunately, the Core model isn’t the best option. Unlike the two Suunto watches discussed above, the Core model isn’t equipped with any health-tracking sensors.
Although it might look like a smartwatch, it’s not. Hence, no on-screen notifications from your smartphone are possible.
It goes without saying that Suunto Core is as rugged as outdoor watches in this price region can get.
Although the case wears slightly smaller (49mm in diameter), it’s made from the same durable material – composite. In contrast to Traverse Alpha, Suunto Core uses an aluminum bezel and elastomer strap. Protecting the watch from cracks and scratches is mineral crystal glass.
When it comes to the Core model, the waterproofing isn’t as impressive. The watch can withstand a pressure of up to 30m. With that said, even a strong rain during your hiking trip shouldn’t pose a strong damage risk.
Hassle-free use after dusk is ensured by an electro-luminescent backlight.
In contrast to Traverse Alpha models, Suunto comes with a user-replaceable battery. If you’re not a fan of the regular charging process, the Core should definitely be appealing.
On average, the battery lasts 12 months.
Best Suunto Watch for Hiking: Conclusion
If you’ve been on the lookout for the best hiking watch for your adventures, we hope that today’s article has provided you with plenty of food for thought.
There are not many watch brands that offer better value on outdoor timepieces than Suunto. Next to Garmin, it’s definitely the go-to name for rugged and reliable GPS watches.
So, summing up, which is the best Suunto watch for trekking and hiking voyages?
If you’re looking for the best value, you can’t go wrong with the Traverse Alpha Black. It’s the cheapest model from the Traverse Alpha collection and yet it offers everything you need to stay safe on your track.
An upgraded version of the Alpha Black smartwatch is the Stealth model. The price difference shouldn’t exceed $80 and the Stealth version additionally offers sapphire crystal glass, a premium material ensuring the best possible protection against dial damage. The model is also enriched with two additional outdoor modes for fishing and hunting.
Finally, if your budget is limited at the moment, equipped with reliable ABC sensors, the Suunto Core is more than a capable watch for your adventures.
We’re also eager to hear your opinion on the matter. If the article has convinced you to go with any of the 3 models, let us know which one you’ve picked and why! Alternatively, if you’ve already worn any of them, do share your thoughts on what is the best Suunto watch for hiking based on your own experience. Let’s interact!