Suunto Traverse Review – Embrace Your Inner Mountain Nerd


For better or worse, I have a tendency to pay little attention to nerdy (but important) mountain details like elevation, route finding, vert skied, GPS location, vert travelled, and all that jazz. I’m not even a big fan of bothering to remember trail head names if I don’t need to. My favourite kind of mountaineering is on volcanoes – you look for the top of it, point your nose in that direction, and give’er. Or classic couloirs, where the same goodness applies.

But the stars aligned and I ended up with a kick-ass new Suunto Traverse GPS watch, and I gotta confess it’s bringing out the inner mountain nerd in me. This sucker ain’t my father’s oldsmobile, it’s way cooler than the previous altimeter watch I had for years (and never used).

Sure it can be creepy at times. Like it keeps pinging me every time someone texts or instagrams me, and I honestly don’t even remember entering those details into the watch. Go figure, maybe its just sucking info through my skin, but either way, this ‘watch’ can do a hell of a lot more than just tell the time.

I’ve had it for 2 months and still don’t know how to use half the features, but each time I go for a tour I’ll promise to test drive a new feature. I haven’t taught it to do the dishes or clean my house yet, but it’s pretty dialled for everything else.


  • Compass – An obvious but important feature that has already done me proud a few times.
  • Style – It’s pretty cool looking for a mountain nerd tool. I might even be able to wear this in the city and pass it off as a fashion accessory, but the snow boots and Gore-Tex will blow my cover.
  • Recording Adventures – This is pretty damn slick and easy. All I have to do on a big ski day is hit ‘Record’ at the start and ‘Stop’ at the end. Even I can handle that. Next thing you know I’ve got a dashboard mapping out my entire day from vert climbed to average speed, a map of our tracks and a count of how much time we were stopped, slacking off and talking smack. You can even stalk me on
  • Video Recap – Another press of a button later, I’ve got a video of our route, including any iPhone photos I took along the way, synched up by the timestamp on the photo. Well played Suunto.
  • Other Good Intel – The weather trends and barometric pressure are obvious on any watch like this but super helpful. Plus there’s easy Points of Interest, sunrise/set, you name it.
  • Route Mapping – I haven’t gotten into this much yet as I’ve been hitting familiar zones. But it looks plenty easy and intuitive to map out a route the night before on your computer and then give’er the next day. Now, that would require planning my day more than 10 minutes before it starts, but hey, old dogs can learn new tricks right?
  • Say goodbye to Fitbit – If you’re a nerdy city person worried about how many ‘steps’ you get in a day, the good news is you can say goodbye to your Fitbit and just use this watch instead. You’ll be less dorky and might be inspired to just go hit the mountains instead.
  • Accurate Info Sources – We just love the tech words here, but the watch uses GPS and Glonass satellite navigation to pin down your speed and location, and (tech feature name alert) FusedAlti for your altitude, ascent and ascent speed. That’s a buzz word way of saying they use both GPS and barometric pressure to get the intel you’re looking for.
  • Water resistant to 100m – Somehow I know that’s going to come in handy, like it or not.
Some of the stats it spits out after a good adventure.

Some of the stats it spits out after a good adventure.

Nifty map of the day. Bit of a bummer that I couldn't teach my watch how to drive our car to point B for us.

Nifty map of the day. Bit of a bummer that I couldn’t teach my watch how to remote control our car from one parking lot to the next.

How to plan your route:


  • Battery Life – This is taking some getting used to. At first it seemed like I had to charge it nightly, but I realize I might have just been playing with too many features and not charging it before big outings. I’m getting the hang of it and haven’t had a dead battery since, but it’s takes some getting used to compared to old altimeter watches that would last for a year. What do you do on a big multi day traverse? I’ll have to do some reading to learn about big trips and battery conservation.
  • Say No to Social – I guess I can turn notifications off, because I don’t need my mountain tools to buzz me every time someone tags me on Instagram (cause man that happens a lot ;). Funny, that sentence was literally interrupted when my phone, computer, and watch all started beeping to tell me I had an incoming call. True story. Jesus I’m not Batman here, just a phone will do fine, and if I miss a call the world will keep spinning (I think).
Weird, it knows I'm male and what I think about. Creepy.

Weird, it knows I’m male and what I think about. Creepy.

If an anti-mountain-nerd like myself can have fun with this watch, I’m pretty sure anyone can. Two thumbs up for Suunto’s Traverse watch.

Oh, gotta go, someone’s Instagramming about me again. It better be good…


The Breakdown

Mountain Info Gathering
Bells and Whistles

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