Suunto Traverse Alpha Fully Reviewed

Although there is a significant amount of people who feel this way, not everyone who runs sees it as a goal in and of itself. Some people enjoy trail running as a pastime or form of exercise they can engage in while also pursuing other common activities performed in the great outdoors, such as hiking, camping, fishing, or hunting. For these people, legendary Finnish watch manufacturer Suunto designed their Traverse Alpha sports watch to provide all of the features required for their pastimes, all wrapped up in a high-performance and damage resistant casing. It’s easy to access and read all of the different measurements this wristwatch is capable of reading, and its stealthy low-profile design ensures wearers won’t raise any eyebrows or scare off any wildlife in the process.

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Where to Buy
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Where to Buy
Backcountry Link
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Pros & Cons
  • Extremely durable
  • Surprising amount of functions
  • Compatible with smart devices
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Cons
    • Intimidating design and features
    • High price
    • Key Features
      The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a sports watch, which means that it is designed to be easily accessible while the wearer is engaging in physical activity. For the majority of readers on this site, the most pertinent form of exercise with which this watch is compatible is trail running and hiking. The GPS functionality included in this product helps hikers, campers, and runners keep track of where they are and where they’ve been, which can be extremely helpful in case they get lost along the way. These GPS features also come in handy when hunting or fishing, since they can help wearers to mark ideal spots for pursuing their prey. In fact, the GPS tracking on the Traverse Alpha is so precise that wearers can use it to track the places where they’ve fired their hunting rifle, allowing them to easily trace their path after a hunt.
      Basic Features
      This Suunto sports watch had a digital face. Since it was designed by a company that specializes in Finnish military hardware, it provides wearers with the option to display either a standard 12-hour clock or a 24-hour military clock. The most basic display of the Traverse Alpha that is shown without pressing any of the five dials on either side of its face will display the date in the topmost portion, the time in the middle, and a projection as to when the sun will rise or set on the bottom. The sunrise/sunset counter is useful for hunters, although trail runners and campers can appreciate the convenience provided by this gauge since it can give them an indication of the best times to set up their camps or return to their vehicle.
      Advanced Features
      The basic features outlined above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Suunto Traverse Alpha. As a combination hunting/fishing sports watch with military applications, the list of advanced features provided by this product is vast. There are some standard sports watch functions such as an altimeter, chronograph, and compass, but the Traverse Alpha also tracks lunar patterns in order to identify ideal fishing times. Powerful GPS technology is baked into the package, allowing wearers to track their trail running path and mark animals for hunting as well as locations where they’ve discharged their weapon. These GPS functions are also compatible with Suunto’s Movescount smartphone app, which can go so far as to generate heat maps in order to help chart paths for running, hiking, and hunting. The aforementioned chronograph also tracks steps and distance, and the altimeter/barometer can provide storm warnings if inclement weather is on the horizon. With so many different features, this watch is extremely versatile and powerful but will likely be intimidating and confusing for the casual user.
      When it comes to keeping track of the time and date, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is accurate to a level of precision that would naturally be demanded of military hardware. The step tracking and other GPS-related functions are also very accurate according to customers who have left online reviews for this product. The sunrise/sunset tracker and weather alerts are a bit more susceptible to interference and may not be 100% precise, but no reviewers have mentioned any issues with these functions and their accuracy. The only aspect of this sports watch that has any noticeable issue with accuracy is its temperature gauge, due to the wearer’s body heat potentially throwing off its readings; however, this is a simple fix that only requires the user to briefly remove this watch from their wrist in order to recalibrate.
      Although not a smartwatch in the traditional sense, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is possibly the smartest nontraditional smartwatch on the market. Connectivity is offered in the form of GPS functionality and Bluetooth compatibility. For GPS, this watch is designed to provide accurate readings by connecting to both GPS and GLONASS. However, amplifying the accuracy of these readings can come at the cost of battery life, so wearers interested in preserving power longevity will likely not want to take full advantage of this feature. The same is true to a diminished extent when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity; pairing this product with a smartphone running the Suunto Movescount app will increase its functionality when it comes to mapping trails, but can also more quickly drain the battery.
      This sports watch is compatible with a smartphone app designed by Suunto in conjunction with the Traverse Alpha and some of their other sports watches. This app is called Suunto Movescount and it can connect with the user’s product via Bluetooth to greatly enhance some of its advanced features. With the aid of Movescount, users can track more intimate detail about their steps and running speeds and can even generate detailed heat maps for charting a path. It’s a surprisingly robust app that works beautifully with the Traverse Alpha, although many of these advanced functions can drastically increase the watch’s power consumption.
      Although it wasn’t a primary design feature for Suunto, the Traverse Alpha sports watch offers a decent level of comfort on the wearer’s wrist. It weighs about 75 grams, which is well within the average weight of a traditional men’s wristwatch. This ensures that wearers won’t feel an excessive burden on their arm from having the watch on their wrist even after wearing it for days at a time. When purchasing this watch through the manufacturer’s website, customers have the choice between either a silicone or nylon textile-based wristband. Both of these are highly water-resistant, but the silicone option will offer greater comfort for the wearer.
      The Suunto Traverse Alpha is predominantly designed with a military aesthetic. This means that its color options are limited to dark greens, grays, and blacks, although the silicone wristband can offer a bit more color. The face of the watch itself is designed so that the most important features are most prominently displayed, with all additional functions requiring the user to press one of the five different dials on either side. This gives the sports watch a utilitarian design style that won’t look as impressive as other high-end watches, especially since there is no option for a leather or steel wristband. This isn’t to say that the Traverse Alpha is ugly, just that it clearly was not designed to look like a luxury fashion accessory.
      While it may not look like it at first glance, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is a surprisingly durable watch. This makes sense when considering the fact that it was designed with military applications in mind, but the small face with a thin fabric or silicone wristband doesn’t necessarily imply resilience. Still, that small face has been outfitted with sapphire glass that is designed with excellent scratch resistance, and the textile wristband was made predominantly from nylon, an extremely sturdy synthetic fabric used for parachutes. Although not as sturdy as the nylon option, the silicone band is still plenty durable and can withstand complete submergence in water. Speaking of water, the Traverse Alpha is designed to handle underwater depths up to 100 meters and heights of nearly 10,000 meters, making it fully functional in some of the most extreme environments.
      The face of the Suunto Traverse Alpha is on the small side, but all measurements and readings are easily read thanks to its excellent use of the limited space. This does come at the cost of relegating several advanced features to alternate screens, which must then be accessed by pressing one of the many dials along its side. This may take some getting used to, and casual users may need to consult a guide in order to learn which dial provides what display, but it feels intuitive after a short adjustment period. The only major drawbacks to the design of this watch’s face are that the display can be difficult to read in some weather conditions and more detailed information can only be accessed when the Traverse Alpha is paired with the Suunto Movescount companion smartphone app.
      As previously mentioned, the Suunto Traverse Alpha comes with either one of two different wristband styles: nylon textile or silicone. The lack of traditional luxury watch options such as leather or steel may be disappointing to avid watch collectors or individuals interested in this product as a fashion accessory, but the truth is that these materials are beneficial for the watch’s intended purpose. The nylon-based option provides customers with the benefits of improved durability as well as additional color options, but it comes at the cost of comfort. Alternatively, the silicone version only comes in one color and isn’t as resilient to damage as its textile counterpart, but it handles water much better and will feel more comfortable on the wearer’s wrist.
      Sizes Available
      There are no options for different sizes when it comes to the Suunto Traverse Alpha. Regardless of what color or wristband the customer chooses, all versions of this sports watch are essentially one-size-fits-all. If a customer with a smaller wrist is interested in trimming the band of this watch to remove excess slack when fitting it to their arm, the nylon version will be their best bet, although the silicone model can also be adjusted in this way with a bit more effort.
      Ease of Use
      This is not a casual sports watch by any definition. Considering that it was designed by a company that also creates products for the Finnish military, it makes sense that the Suunto Traverse Alpha stresses high-end functionality over accessibility in its design. What’s unfortunate for the casual user, however, is that this makes accessing many of its additional measurements and features more obtuse. While most ordinary watches and sports watches will usually offer a maximum of 3 dials on average, the Traverse Alpha has five dials that are placed on either side of its face. These all serve different purposes in terms of accessing and configuring different measurements. When coupled with the added functionality of the Suunto Movescount companion app, the entire process will most likely require the customer to consult their user manual and supplementary online documentation.
      Power Source
      The Suunto Traverse Alpha is powered by a single lithium-ion battery that can be recharged via USB. Without using any advanced features and simply operating as a timepiece, wearers should expect an approximate battery life of around 14 days. The bad news is that this battery life drops from a few weeks to a few hours if the wearer decides to take advantage of its GPS and GLONASS functionality, but the good news is that there are many options available to further prolong this battery life by reducing the brightness and disabling some of the advanced features.
      Suunto is a high-end brand that sells their products at premium price points. It isn’t unusual to see some of their products listed at prices greater than $1000, with products in the $600 to $800 range considered a value buy. Fortunately for customers on a budget, the Traverse Alpha has been discounted due to time on the market where it is now easily found at prices below $400. Due to the fact that it doesn’t look much like a common luxury wristwatch, it makes less sense for fashionable individuals to purchase this product solely as a status symbol. For that reason, this slightly more affordable asking price is perfect for people who would truly get the most out of this product: hikers, hunters, fishing enthusiasts, and all-around outdoorsy types.
      Although it doesn’t come with a bevy of accessories, the Suunto Traverse Alpha offers compatibility with smartphones thanks to the Movescount companion app. This app is available on Android and iOS devices and it pairs with the user’s watch via Bluetooth, offering expanded functionality for some of its base features. Some of these expanded features include an activity tracker that will log previous exercises as well as chart the user’s speed, steps, and distance traveled. Impressively, Movescount also allows users to identify trails on which they can run through complex heatmaps that span the entire world. Although this app will cause both the user’s watch and smartphone to drain battery power at an accelerated rate, the added functionality is a welcome feature to many satisfied customers, as is its ability to help users update their watch’s firmware to fix issues and improve battery life.
      Key Features

      • 12-hour or 24-hour digital clock

      • Tracks date and estimate sunrise/sunset times

      • Altimeter with barometer and weather predictor

      • GPS and GLONASS connectivity

      • Connects to smartphone app via Bluetooth

      • Lunar tracker for fishing

      • Shot tracker for hunting

      • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery

      Bottom Line
      This was mentioned previously, but it bears repeating: the Suunto Traverse Alpha is not a casual sports watch. It was designed with military applications in mind, which means that it offers functionality far above that of a typical sports watch that can be intimidating to the casual trail runner or camper. Although there is a minor learning curve when using this device, the results are exceptional and can vastly improve the user’s experience, whether they’re interested in hiking, trail running, fishing, hunting, or just exploring the great outdoors. All in all, this smartwatch is a sound investment at a terrific price.
      Where to Buy
      Backcountry Link
      See Deal
      See Deal
      By Mike Valverde
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 27. 2021

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