In the sea of smartwatch-like fitness trackers, the Finnish company has created a travel watch. The Suunto Kailash GPS watch isn’t a fitness tracker, not a smartwatch, it’s a watch made for travelers who like to dive into their travel data. The idea is good and refreshing, while the execution ended up being a little wobbly, mostly due to firmware limitations and battery life.
That being said, Kailash is definitely worth the attention, primarily because of its great design and innovative features that might be the beginning of a new, travel-oriented Suunto line.
This tracker will collect all the data regarding your trip and aggregate it into your Adventure Timeline, which we’ll discuss further down. This will excite data nerds and intrigue everyone else, seeing how the feature itself isn’t so much as necessary, as it is fun and satisfying to look at, especially once you’ve had your fair share of travels with the watch on your wrist.
However, if you’re only after a good old fashioned activity tracker or a performance-oriented sports watch that can dive deep into your training load, fitness progress and training session, accommodating dozens upon dozens of different sport modes, it would probably be best to take a look at Polar Vantage V HR instead of the Kailash.
Staying true to its purpose, the Suunto Kailash provides automatic time and location update, with daylight saving time, via the GPS connection – provided that there is GPS reception at the place you’re at. You’ll also be able to see World time and Home time, eliminating the need to go online and see what time it is back home.
Other basic features of the Suunto Kailash include step counter, sunrise and sunset times, vibration alerts, as well as one that isn’t seen often: a flashlight. The display of the watch can turn into a flashlight because of an extra LED located behind the display. Needless to say, this is another feature that will surely be welcomed by avid travelers.
Additionally, this Suunto watch features a built-in pedometer, which a lot of people will find useful. The pedometer definitely takes the Kailash really close to being a fitness tracker, even though it isn’t marketed as one. With it, you’ll know the number of steps you’ve taken each day – even though there are no motivational alerts on the Kailash, this information could serve as a reminder to move in and of itself.
The Adventure Timeline will let you see the number of countries you’ve visited, the total distance you’ve traveled, how many days have you traveled, the number of cities you’ve visited, the furthest location you’ve traveled to from home, and more. Oh, and if you’re interested in knowing what exactly counts as a ‘visit’ – you’ll have to take at least a thousand steps in each place in particular for the Kailash to count it as visited.
You can access all of the information regarding the Adventure Timeline directly from the phone by pressing the 7R button, as well as inside the dedicated 7R app, in which all of your travel data is saved.
All of this data is collected via on-board GPS signal antenna as well as Bluetooth connectivity. The Suunto Kailash features integrated GPS and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System). GLONASS is a space-based navigation system which provides a decent alternative to GPS in situations when the latter isn’t available.
Once you’ve loaded your home location on the watch, the navigation tools available on the Kailash will track your movement. After you’ve gone more than 75 miles from home, the watch will consider that to be a vacation and will switch to the diary mode in which it will save the data collected during that time.
Another GPS-related feature worth mentioning is Find Back. This feature enables you to measure distance and see directions to your home from your starting point or a Point of Interest (POI), which is very useful if you like to plan your routes ahead.
If you do experience GPS issues, the brand advises to always keet the watch up to date with the newest firmware, as well as aim to sync it daily with Suuntolink on your PC or the 7R app on the iPhone.
Regarding its most basic function, we can report that the watch tells the time very accurately, without digressing from the same info given by traditional, high-quality watches.
Additionally, connecting your watch via Bluetooth enables you to customize and access your data within the app itself, without having to use the watch’s limited input methods.
There is no WiFi connectivity offered with the Suunto Kailash, which is to be expected, seeing how while this is an innovative watch, it isn’t a flagship by any means.
The name of the app fits the watch description and intended use perfectly, making it a great traveling companion in theory. However, the only people that are able to use the app are iPhone users, given that the app isn’t Android-compatible. Given the sheer amount of Android users, this is obviously something that limits the Kailash’s audience reach.
Upon pairing the watch to the app, you’ll be able to receive notifications from your phone, as well as access the Adventure Timeline. Here, you’ll be able to dive deep into numbers of days you’ve spent traveling, miles you’ve passed, as well as the number of countries and cities visited.
This trend of creating composite cases that blend functionality and contemporary look will probably become the developing route that the Suunto will take, seeing how it’s welcomed by users and how it can even compete with some traditional watches.
This travel-friendly watch features a glass-fiber composite body and space-grade titanium bezel that make it both lightweight and exceptionally durable. This means that you can take your watch literally anywhere – if you can sustain the circumstances and environmental conditions, the Kailash will as well.
If you’re a fan of the sea and like to visit places that boast amazing water scenery, you’ll be happy to know that the Kailash is water resistant up to 100m. All in all, this watch will last you for a long time, and you’ll probably swap it for another model due to firmware or battery issues, rather than because the materials have worn off.
The display visibility becomes really low in direct sunlight, but one of the ways to fix this is by switching the display view from negative to positive. This means that you can invert the display, so to speak, making the background black, and the letters white, or vice versa. This can help you achieve the optimal contrast when in direct sunlight.
The silicone used in the making of the band is flexible, meaning that it won’t break easily. It’s also worth noting that it’s tested so it won’t cause irritation on human skin or harm your health.
The face of the watch measures 50.4 x 50.4 x 14.7mm or 1.98 x 1.98 x 0.58in. Some of the users objected to the size of the face, claiming that it has ‘eaten’ their entire wrist. It has been suggested that the 40mm diameter would better suit more people, without significantly compromising display size.
By pressing the sapphire crystal-topped 7R button, you’ll get instant access to navigation view, from which you can select different options such as distance from home, define your POI, and more. After that, the watch will direct you and inform you about the distance between your position and the desired point on the map.
The most realistic battery expectation here is for the watch to last for up to two days with the GPS turned on; some people have even reported having to recharge it daily in order for it not to shut down on the second day. Depending on your activity, you might squeeze 3 days of battery juice from the Kailash, but that’s about as far as it will go, realistically speaking.
● Adventure Timeline
● Basic smartwatch functions
● Bluetooth connectivity
● Suunto 7R app, only compatible with iPhone
● Accurate GPS
● Great design
● High-quality materials, durable
● 50.4 x 50.4 x 14.7mm or 1.98 x 1.98 x 0.58in
● Titanium Grade 5 bezel, Sapphire crystal glass
● Comfortable silicone strap
● Below average battery
If it weren’t for the high price and short battery life, and if the 7R app was accessible to Android users, the Kailash would have gotten a resounding ‘yes’, just for being beautiful, innovative and audience-specific, if anything.