Chris HuntBASE Editor and Bristol-based adventure writer with a penchant for travel by bike, interesting coastlines and adventures that end in the pub.
Lightweight, small, sturdy and stylish, the Suunto 9 Peak is a solid all round fitness and wellness focussed smartwatch with a great smartphone app to match, although the interface and processing times can feel a little sluggish.
43 x 43 x 10.6mm
Titanium Grade 5
Lightweight and thin
All the features you’d hope to see in a smartwatch
Great accompanying app with detailed route design
Made in Finland with 100% renewable energy
Relatively short battery life
What I’m Looking For
To me, the best outdoors kit is usually the stuff you forget about when it’s in use. With the kit to the back of your mind, you can focus on the thing its helping you achieve. So something that’s comfortable and reliable is pretty much at the top of my list of requirements regardless of what it is.
I’ve never really been into the look of a massive watch – not least because I’m not the biggest guy and there’s nothing like a massive watch to make you feel like a child. To get the most from a smartwatch – you’ll need to wear it as consistently as possible so being somewhat stealth and unobtrusive is pretty high on the agenda.
Like most of us, my adventures fit around my work and day to day life in the city; so while I want something that’ll be sturdy and functional out on the hill or on the trail, it’ll need to blend into every day use without feeling overkill or like a desperate statement about how I like to spend my free time.
I’m always keen to streamline my systems (likely a minor obsession inflicted by honing bikepacking set-ups) so having a single device I can track activity on and also navigate with means I can do exactly that.
I’m keen to keep track of my all round fitness in the day to day and time to time I’ll enter a period of training for a particular event, so having a straightforward way to keep an eye on the key statistics while I go about my day is super useful.
There’s just something about titanium. It’s light and bulletproof with such an understated aesthetic. The Suunto 9 is available in a couple of options but the for me the titanium body is just so sleek. For an adventure smartwatch, this thing is mega light and while the face is still big, it’s got almost nothing else around it, keeping it looking low profile and suitable for any circumstance.
The build quality is really solid but without any protection around the face and a lot of bare glass and metal I wince at the idea of bashing it against granite on a climb or falling off my bike onto it. Luckily, I very rarely climb, particularly outdoors nor do I make a habit of hitting the deck on the road. That said, the face is sapphire crystal, the most durable and scratch proof material for watches and being titanium it’s hard, scratch resistant and hypoallergenic, it’s strong , durable and super comfortable.
Against some of it’s competitors, this isn’t obviously a sports or adventure watch – it has a much more urban or everyday aesthetic, which I’m into. And considering those materials, this thing should withstand a battering which is key for any adventure leaning smartwatch.
I’ve used the Suunto 9 Peak for the whole summer barely taking it off my wrist and it’s been a summer of riding bikes, from ultra-endurance multi-day bikepacking races, to e-mountain biking and cross country trails and multi-day gravel tours.
I tend to mix my riding with some basic local running both road and trail. I’ve been using a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt for years on the bike which was useful to cross-reference statistics from the rides. I got the chance to do some hiking in the Swiss Alps on unknown trails putting the navigation function to use, kayaking in the Gorges du Tarn in France and plenty of trail runs locally in Bristol and swimming in the Avon as well as in the sea in Cornwall.
I also kept the watch on between activities as a big part of this watch’s functionality is in measuring fatigue, sleep quality, daily step count and calorie consumption.
Considering those materials, this thing should withstand a battering which is key for any adventure leaning smartwatch
Who is this Watch for?
With a sleek Finnish design, designed to suit every day use from the city to the mountains, this makes a great all rounder for someone who wants one watch for every scenario. Suunto pride themselves in their use of responsibly sourced materials, constructing in Finland using 100% renewable, carbon neutral energy making them a great option for the environmentally conscious.
With more than 80 different sports modes, ranging from pilates to raquet ball, alpine skiing to surfing, this is a watch for anyone who wants to track their activities and well suited to those who are likely to dabble in a few. The watch is also available with a specific bike mount to enable you to put the device on your handlebars for the use of navigation.
This is a watch for someone who is after an adventure ready low-key sleek looking all-round smartwatch.
What Stands Out
The materials used on the face of the 9 Peak do give the watch a really smart aesthetic with no plastic shell or added bulk.
The watch is built from grade 5 titanium for lighter weight and supreme comfort, meaning it’s hard, scratch resistant and hypoallergenic and there’s not a signle sign of wear and tear in about 4 months of use.
While style is always going to be subjective, I really dig the aesthetic of this watch as a device that will blend into every day wear as much as it looks at home in the mountains.
The silicon strap is soft stretchy and comfortable to wear, although in warm weather can be hot and sweaty – though a better ventilated strap is available (£49). There is a neat pin closure to ensure the excess strap stays tidy – although I managed to lose mine when it ejected mid ride somewhere in the Cambrian mountains.
With an optical heart rate monitor, barometer and GPS, there is a lot to be measured with this device from your training progress, heart rate, fitness level, activity repetitions, blood oxygen, sleep, stress, and recovery.
Cross-checking basic stats against my cycle computer, readings were generally really close, but being a heatwave, I mixed a fair few of my rides with river swims. At this point the barometer went mental, displaying my elevation as much as 2000m out!
GPS devices do have issues with water so it’s likely that this is the issue and the inaccuracies do seem to be isolated to those couple of instances but it does make me wary of the watch’s accuracy in more challenging conditions.
Sport Modes & display
There are over 80 different sport modes to chose from so if you’re someone who plays a ton of different sports that might be a win. How useful these are as different options I’m not really sure as many of them are very similar but it’s great for looking back on your monthly activities.
Through the Suunto app you can quickly customise your own sport modes to show specific data according to the measurable you want to track on the go.
The 9 Peak also enables multisport tracking. By holding the upper button for two seconds you’ll enter a new menu where you’ll be able to swap sports mid activity. Great for a walk / run / walk or perhaps triathlon training.
Generally speaking the interface is pretty intuitive. The menu is navigable both via touch screen and with side buttons and there’s something particularly satisfying about the sharp click that accompanies each press of the buttons.
That said, scrolling through some of the features can feel clunky and a little disorientating, particularly with a double tap due to a processing lag. The menus also feel as they should be designed as a loop but instead once you find the bottom you have to scroll your way back to the top. Not a massive deal but it does feel quite dated for a watch in this price range.
Battery life isn’t bad but a lot shorter than its competitors with 14 days of use (not tracking activities) and just a few days back-to-back fully tracking bike rides and hikes. The charging time however is rapid but uses a unique charger meaning it’s one more cable to pack on an adventure (probably just the bikepacking OCD setting in).
Routing and Navigation
Suunto partners up with all the usual candidates for activity tracking and routing, making importing GPX files for navigation simple and straight forward.
The Suunto companion app is great and allows you to create our own routes quickly and effectively with 3D heat maps specific to your chosen activity and with detailed surface information giving you plenty of information to inform great route building.
Navigation on the watch itself is via simple breadcrumb trail. It works well at hiking speeds, but the basic display doesn’t give you any idea of surrounding topography. While it’s a great feature to have, it wouldn’t be a strong enough option to rely on solely without back-ups and paper maps. Great for simple on the go navigation when you just need a reminder of which turn to take though.
Sleep duration and quality tracking can be used in part to calculate the percentage of what Suunto call resources – a quick indication of how rested you are stressed or fatigued you are (similar to Garmin’s Body Battery).
Through the app you’ll find all the training insights and workout analysis you could hope for and can automatically upload activities to tools like komoot, Strava or Training Peaks if that’s where you like to keep track.
Suunto has also partnered up with Hammerhead to enable all workouts to be stored in one place to keep your training connected.
That didn’t seem like much of a big deal when I originally researched the watch, but now, operating my Wahoo alongside the Suunto, I can certainly see the benefit of integrating to one cohesive system to keep track of your activities and progression.
Value For Money
This is a very stylish and well built aesthetically pleasing Finnish designed smartwatch. And none of those things scream bargain. That said, the 9 Peak is available in a few different options and price points with the same hardware. From £409 to £849 depending on the case and strap options. The version I’ve been testing weighs in at £489, which is definitely not an insignificant price to pay but comes up pretty well against its competitors in the field Coros Vertix 2 (£599) and the Garmin Fenix 7 (from £599) albeit with a slightly clunkier interface.
It’s not been short of compliments on social runs as well as at the pub.
For those of you looking for something to accompany a world first polar expedition, your money might be better spent elsewhere. But, for multisport adventurers who need something to blend in with the every day – the Suunto 9 Peak is a great option.
While the overall score represents it’s clunky interface and slow processing speed (probably enough to turn off the more techy minded among you), this is a great fitness and adventure focussed smartwatch and it’s certainly not been short of compliments on social runs as well as at the pub. It’s light, feels and looks good, and has proved a great addition to my adventures over the summer with a tasteful low-key design providing easy quick access to routing and navigation in unfamiliar territory and valuable training insights along the way.
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