While I haven’t had a ton of experience with Suunto GPS watches, I can start out by proclaiming the Suunto Vertical is the best Suunto watch yet. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. I’ve seen similar sentiments from other watch reviewers both on the web and on YouTube.
And while my overall opinion matches the general consensus, there’s a lot of nuance to this review. It’s not as simple as Suunto vs Garmin vs Coros vs Apple vs Wahoo vs…I can’t think of any others right now but there’s a lot more. Many GPS watches are at parity in terms of feature set and it’s becoming more about what specific performance features are most important to you.
Let’s dig in and help you decide if the Suunto Vertical is right for your active lifestyle.
Release Date: May 2023
Price: $629 or $839
Weight: Stainless Steel 3.03 oz., Titanium 2.61 oz.
Sizing: 49mm face, two band sizes
- Rundown: The Suunto Vertical is Suunto’s high-end GPS adventure watch and delivers a feature set at parity with most of its backwoods-ready competitors.
- Battery life. I used this watch a lot. Runs, walks, hikes, races, and more. Hard usage every day including sleep tracking. I consistently got 2+ weeks of usage (336+ hours) and could have gotten more if I didn’t err on the side of charging it early. The Suunto Vertical over-delivers on its battery life claims. I love when my electronics give me better-than-expected battery life.
- Screen Quality. The screen quality is on par with Suunto’s main competitors, Garmin and Coros. Only Garmin’s high-end $1,000 watches and the Apple Watch can boast greater screen quality. For most athletes, it’s not worth shelling out the extra cash for a crisp screen and I think Suunto’s done enough here to offer a solid screen.
- Easy to download maps. Right out of the box, I was quickly able to download maps for the entire state of Georgia. And they were accurate for all my typical hiking and running areas. Getting topographical trail maps to work on most other platforms felt like a longer, slower process. Kudos to Suunto for prioritizing usability here. Oh yeah, they’re also completely free and work offline too.
- Solar. The solar aspect of the watch is similar to what Garmin is doing but I felt it was more obvious in terms of power added. If I’m buying a solar watch, I want to know how much it’s “paying me back” by adding charge while I’m in the sun. The Suunto Vertical puts that data front and center.
- Connectivity. Connecting to Strava, Training Peaks, and other platforms is a breeze. I do have to note that it doesn’t connect with Nike+ Run Club but neither do the Apple Watch or Coros. That’s on Nike more than the watch brands.
How’s the Suunto Vertical GPS?
Like most high-end GPS watches these days, the Suunto Vertical uses dual-band GNSS. If you haven’t used a dual-band watch yet, you’re missing out. They’re much more accurate.
In testing, I noticed small differences between the Suunto Vertical, Garmin ePix, Coros Pace 2, and Apple Watch Ultra. But nothing major that would indicate one was off from the others.
For me, the Suunto Vertical always measures 0.01-0.09 more distance than my Apple Watch but I don’t have enough technical testing capabilities to say who’s more right. And that’s such a small amount that it seems within the margin of error I would expect from any GPS watch.
Is the Suunto Vertical worth $629 or $839?
As long as you like what Suunto brings to the table, the answer is yes. At $629 for the Stainless Steel version and $839 for the Titanium Solar version, the Suunto Vertical is priced slightly higher than Coros, about the same as Garmin, and similar to the Apple Watch Ultra. The price is right in line with the feature set and the competitive watches.
- Thickness. The body of the watch is thicker than even the other biggest GPS watches (Garmin ePix and Apple Watch Ultra). The official measurements say different, but on wrist, the Suunto Vertical is the thick boy to rule them all. It’s also the heaviest. Not by much, but it’s something to be aware of if you prefer your watch to have a slimmer profile.
- Band options. It’s all the same band, just different colors. I’d like some more options here to customize the fit to my preference.
- Button Labels. Unlike Garmin, but similar to the Apple Watch and Coros, the Suunto Vertical does not have labeled buttons. This means getting used to the user interface takes a little extra time. But as with other watches, once you’re used to what the buttons do, navigating will feel natural. Below the article I’ve linked to a Suunto Vertical user guide from a YouTuber I trust. I’d recommend using that as you get acquainted with your new Suunto Vertical.
- Face Options: There’s not a lot of customization with the watch face. Hopefully, Suunto adds more faces (and widgets those faces can use) in a future update.
- Lag. There’s lag when switching between screens on the Suunto Vertical. It’s nothing egregious but it’s there. I imagine this will go away as the software gets refined, but as of now, it’s there and makes screen-to-screen navigation a touch slower than you’d expect.
Suunto Vertical Summary
The Suunto Vertical is Suunto’s high-end GPS adventure watch and delivers a feature set at parity with most of its backwoods-ready competitors. Some things, like maps and battery life, it does better than anything else out there. And the negatives can either be fixed by future software updates or may not matter to you personally.
The Suunto Vertical is truly Suunto’s best watch ever and Suunto fans should upgrade immediately. If you’ve never tried Suunto before, this watch should be considered alongside the other high-end dual-band GPS outdoor adventure watches.