This Suunto 5 Review is hard to write because I had some seriously high expectations going in to testing.
For years, I’ve been really impressed with the technology in Suunto GPS watches. Especially now that I spend more time on the Colorado trails, I love that it they could show me altitude and elevation gain and thank heavens a navigate me back option.
When this watch arrived, I ripped it from the box like a kid at Christmas and gave it a few nanoseconds to charge before firing it up and heading out to run. I mean, I was ecstatic!
During the first run, I realized a couple of things very quickly:
- I needed to take advantage of the Suunto app to customize my workout screens.
- I had a probably with the Heart Rate reading, which said I was at 180 in mile 1.
Finishing up I pulled out the app and thought simply getting that going might resolve all my issues.
I love that you can customize your screens for any type of workout and then label it so that it’s easy for you to find on the watch. Additionally, it will always pick up the most recent type of workout you did when you are ready to start, so that’s a time saver.
There are options for running, trail running, biking, walking, cycling, swimming and weights, which means you can adequately track your various types of workouts and see them in the app.
Inside the Suunto App you can build routes, which are then pushed to your watch and will help to navigate you along that path. For anyone asking me about ideas to run in new places, I’d say this is a pretty excellent feature.
Additionally, the Suunto 5 is designed to be your all-day fitness device for steps, sleep, recovery and heart rate.
Opening the app will give you a run down of your steps and activities for the day, so you can easily set a daily goal or compare days. You can also have it track your HR throughout the day, which is great for monitoring your recovery from workouts and well your stress, in case you aren’t sure if you’re stressed.
Suunto 5 Features
This is their newest middle of the line watch, which is for the person who loves a lot of bells and whistles, but doesn’t quite need to go all the way to the top notch Suunto 9.
- Battery life reported at 20 hrs in regular mode, but I can say mine has run for substantially longer than that. Perhaps because I turned off the all-day HR tracking.
- Adaptive training features will track your workouts and provide you with training plans
- VO2Max, stress, recovery and sleep quality tracking
- Altimeter for better measurement of your vertical gains
- Customizable screens via the app for over 80 activities
- 50m water resistant, so you can use this for pool workouts where it will count laps
- Breadcrumb trail for when you’re on the trails and suddenly can’t figure out which way is back
- Automatic sync to Strava and pairs with many other platforms
The main features you won’t find here that are in the Suunto 9 aren’t actually that many, which is part of what makes this watch even better for the price.
- Barometric altimeter
- Lesser battery life: 20/40h vs 25/50/120hrs (based on usage type)
- No touch screen (But I actually find this to be a bonus if you wear gloves in the winter)
Additionally, the watch is Unisex, which is normal, but the larger watch face and hard plastic around it could make it tough to tighten down enough for smaller wrists to get the accurate HR readings. I thought this could have been an issue for me, so I move the watch up my arm a bit on a few attempts.
Because the face of the watch has two hard pieces coming off each side (rather than attaching directly to the strap) it can feel bigger on a small wrist. I definitely felt like I was cranking the strap as far as I could to get that tight fit for the best HR reading.
I’m not tiny, but slim, so I’d say anyone who is petite or very slender might find that troublesome.
Wrist Based Heart Rate
Since I train by Low Heart Rate, this is the feature that is going to make or break a watch for me. Unfortunately, even after the set up on the next run I found my Heart Rate reading to be 190 again.
- I had the watch tight enough to leave marks.
- I tried different settings.
- I tried forcing my husband to wear it, but he was annoyed by the 160 reading as he walked downhill and took it off pretty quickly.
A couple other Suunto users sent me a few great tips to try and fix it:
- Before starting the watch, you’ll see a little flashing heart. This is like the GPS signal that flashes until it’s connected. So I started waiting until it was solid green before starting my workouts. No help.
- I went through a full factory reset and made sure all the hardware was up to date. No help.
- I tried it on a short run and a longer run to give it time to even out. No help.
- I tried it on the treadmill. No help.
After all of that I reached out to Suunto and their response was that I should wear a heart rate strap. Listen I get it, they can only do so much…but I have 4 other wrist based watches that all read within 1-2 beats of a chest strap, so that felt like a poor solution for anyone who has just spent over $300 on their new watch. (I received mine for review.)
Finally, I just couldn’t ever get used to which buttons to hit for which feature, which is probably a factor of using other watches? I kept hitting lap when I wanted to see a different screen or just getting to the exercise option I would go to HR and stress level.
Overall, I think this watch has some incredible features, but it wasn’t the one for me.
Which is TOTALLY FINE!! We all have different needs, which is why I try to give you my honest review of products and you can make a decision from there.
Any other watches you’re curious about? Let me know so I can be sure to provide reviews you need.
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