Suunto Ambit 3 Vertical
The latest release of the Suunto Ambit range is out and it’s an update on the hugely successful Ambit 3. Having used the previous model, which I was really happy with, the switch over to the new Vertical model was quite simple. Not that it’s a hard watch to figure out, quite the opposite. Especially for someone like me who struggles with technology at the best of times.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of an Ambit 3 on their wrist, I will give a quick rundown on some of the basic features they come with and then cover the updates.
Like any GPS watch, connectivity is the most important thing. Who wants to be standing outside for ages on a cold Winters morning waiting for a satellite to connect? Certainly not me. But with the Ambit 3, the average wait time was in the region of 4-5 seconds with maybe a second or two more on a bad day. So a big tick there.
All the screens are completely adjustable showing 3 parameters at once with the readings that suit you and the ability to switch through your saved screens while on the run. You may have a screen showing average pace, current pace and time, while the next screen shows time elapsed, heart rate and distance covered. There are a number of other options that you can choose from too, like current altitude, total ascent, descent, navigation, compass to name a few and a few optional extras that sync in with the watch too. It’s just a matter of what is important to you while you run.
All this data can be uploaded seamlessly to Suunto’s Movescount app that syncs in with all the 3rd party apps very well, including Strava, Training Peaks, Sportstracker etc. Connecting with this kind of thing is great if you want to keep track of your progress and compare it to your mates!
So the new version, the Ambit3 Vertical has taken this watch to a new level. The main thing they have done with it is incorporate an altimeter, so you can get real time tracking of your vertical gains. I used it recently in the Buffalo Stampede Marathon where there were 4 hills to climb and 2800 meters of ascent in total (see the picture). The great thing about the vertical reading was that I knew exactly where I was on each hill. In the days before the event, I made sure I memorized the altitude of each hill.
The first one was 800 meters, second, just over 1,000 meters, third was quite small compared to the first two so didn’t bother and the last hill was at 1,300 meters. When you can’t see the summit of the mountain you are climbing and your lungs are about to burst, your legs are on fire and you just want to stop, it’s great to look at your watch and get a reading of how high you are. I did this race a couple of years ago without a GPS watch and mentally, it was a killer. It felt so much better to know this stuff.
One thing to note about the altimeter is when I first got the watch, I wore it around for the first day, including a trip to the beach. I took a photo of the watch showing 52 meters above sea level (see photo) where I could see I was only a few meters above sea level. Before you think, what rubbish, they are able to be calibrated. But I never did that. After I went for my first run and connected it to Movescount, it seemed to calibrate itself. The next run took me to another beach where I checked the altitude again and it said 2 meters. Can’t argue with that!
It’s not just the current read out that is great with this model. Training for a race that involves serious hills, needs some specific training. Keeping track on the run of your ascent and descent is invaluable. Imagine getting home after a hard run and finding out you have only done 998 meters of ascent. Only 2 meters off 1000! Not a good situation to be in if you’ve got a touch of OCD. With this watch, you just keep going until the watch shows the right number and you’re done.
As I said previously, the satellite connection is pretty good with the Ambit3 with the old versions having the receiver sitting just below the face of the watch. With the new Vert, in an attempt to make it more aesthetically pleasing, they have hidden the receiver inside the watch. The downside, slower connection! But to counter this, the Vert is now able to connect to the Russian satellites, instead of just the US ones, with the result being slightly faster connection than the previous model (in my experience).
Other options this watch comes with is a heart rate monitor with a very comfy strap and removable pod so it can be washed without ruining the electronics and a USB charger that also doubles up as the cable for uploading all your data.
In the past, I have tried a few different brands and I have found the Ambit3 range to be the most user friendly and functional watch out there. The Vertical model is definitely a step up on an already great watch that I would recommend to any runner. Regardless of fitness level.