The Suunto Spartan Collection is the newest line-up of multisport watches, building on the success of Suunto’s Ambit series. After training for several years first with a Suunto Ambit 2, then an Ambit 3 Sport, and finally an Ambit 3 Vertical, I was pretty excited to get my hands on their top-of-the-line Spartan Ultra recently so I could put some of the new navigation features to the test.
First Look: Spartan vs Ambit
With an improved battery life (up to 26 hours at ‘good’ GPS resolution), a brand new waterproof color touch screen, and a more stylish profile that would be equally at home in the office as on the mountain, the Spartan appears to have been completely redesigned from ground up when compared to the Ambit series. Now with over 80 sport modes pre-loaded, it’s got a few extra bells and whistles like step/activity tracking, and a new and improved Movescount mobile app. But along with these and all of the standard features of previous Suunto models, the Spartan manages to feel much more approachable and user friendly.
Previous models like the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak may ultimately have fallen victim to feature creep and an overly complicated interface that left many users only using part of the power under its sapphire glass face. As a tech-savvy power user, being able to customize the various screens for each sport mode and to create custom apps was all part of the fun for me. I’m not sure what percentage of other users who know how to do this (yet alone would bother) might be, but I’m willing to bet it’s small. Many people I know weren’t even aware you could pre-load routes into the watch, not to mention the Findback and Trackback tools which have got me out of a bind on more than one occasion! These navigation features are not only the most under-utilized but are the most powerful features of the Ambit series of watches in my opinion, and the most important when it comes to safety for trail runners who spend a lot of time in the backcountry.
The Suunto Spartan has addressed this with a much more intuitive user interface, and a new approach to its use of navigation. It’s now easier to load and follow routes and to use the compass, and the Findback and Trackback tools have been replaced with the new fully integrated Breadcrumbs view. Let’s dive into each of the 3 ways you can navigate with the new Suunto Spartan Ultra.