Suunto Ambit3 Vertical Review

There was a time when nearly all serious skiers, hikers, mountain guides, and climbers wore the same watch, a big chunk of digital technology called the Suunto Vector. They wore it because in 1998 the Vector was the only digital watch that featured what is now standard in adventure watches: an altimeter, a barometer, a compass (ABC), and a thermometer.

What the backcountry crowd appreciated most of all, however, was the Vector’s altimeter. With elevation tracking, the watch could record the vertical feet they’d climbed or descended. And for those into mountain sports vertical feet has always been the true measure of a trip.

Now, 18 years later, the same company has that same group of athletes and adventurers in its sights with its newest GPS-ABC watch, the Suunto Ambit3 Vertical. But in 2016, active people expect more from their watches — and the Vertical delivers. In addition to its ABC functionality the Vertical also logs daily activity levels, heart rate (when paired with a compatible strap), cycling power (with an additional power meter) and even dabbles in smart notifications (when paired to a smartphone over Bluetooth). Should it climb to the top of your shortlist?

Features and design

The Ambit3 Vertical is a large, sporty watch that screams adventure. The face features a 198 × 198 monochrome LCD under a mineral crystal lens that’s protected by a dark steel bezel. The watch, which weighs 2.61 ounces, is water resistant to 100 meters and features an adjustable, comfortable silicone band. The included Bluetooth heart rate strap is water resistant to 30 meters and works in the water. The Ambit3 Vertical comes in three loud colors (white, blue, and lime) and a more subdued all black version.