Suunto Traverse vs. Garmin Fenix 3: Which Should You Buy?

By | July 30, 2018

The thing with smart wearables is that choosing the best is as much a discussion of personal taste as it is of specifications. The Suunto Traverse collection has a series of watches that are rugged enough for you to take them on your adventures. Meanwhile, the Garmin Fenix 3 is primarily a training watch. Both of these devices offer GPS and GLONASS reception, which means that you can get better location data to track your progress in any kind of environment.

Which one is the better buy?

Suunto Traverse

The Suunto Traverse has a round watch face that measures two inches in diameter and 0.65 inches thick. The watch uses different materials: the bezel is made of stainless steel, the glass covering the face is made of either mineral crystal or sapphire crystal, while the straps are silicone. You can choose from five available colors: black, sapphire black, white, amber, and graphite.

The models that use the sapphire crystal glass weigh a little bit heavier at 82 grams than the ones made with mineral crystal glass, which weigh 80 grams.

One of the things you would immediately notice about the Suunto Traverse is that it has a matrix display, making it look like a vintage digital watch more than a smart watch. The screen resolution is pegged at 128 pixels x 128 pixels and is easily seen. If you are outdoors and you cannot see the screen, you can just turn on the LED backlight.

A lithium-ion battery powers the Traverse, and you would need to recharge it every 14 days when used as a smartwatch. Battery life, however, is drastically reduced when you turn on the GPS function.

Some of the features of the Traverse include:

  • Functions as a clock. The Suunto Traverse gives you everything you have come to expect from a traditional watch. It tells you the date and the time, and it includes a countdown timer and stopwatch. It can also double as your alarm clock.
  • All-weather watch. The watch will work in any weather, from a -20 °C below freezing temperature, to a very hot 60 °C. It is also 100-meter water-resistant, which means you could take it swimming as it could be submerged in water for a prolonged period.
  • Mobile app. The Suunto Traverse can pair with your smartphone, allowing you to get notifications from your phone on your watch. You can use the mobile app to change the settings of your Traverse, and even take photos complete with relevant data. You can further use the mobile app to see all your data, making it easier to see and understand. You can also pair your smartwatch with other devices using Bluetooth, or transfer files with the help of a USB cable. With the Movescount app, you can easily connect with users of a number of sports and fitness sites such as Strava or MapMyFitness.
  • Weather tracking. One of the unique features of the Suunto Traverse is its ability to keep track of the weather. It will monitor sea level pressure and it shows you the weather trends. It can also tell the temperature and barometric pressure readings. It can warn you if there is a storm coming, as well as tell you when the sun would set or rise, and even when the tide comes in.

Metrics tracked by the Suunto Traverse

The Suunto Traverse uses a variety of sensors that allow it to track the data you need and want. It has a digital compass that is very accurate and has full tilt compensation, among other features. It has both GPS and GLONASS positioning systems that not only helps you know where you are, but also know how to find your way back and come up with the best route to take.

The Traverse also uses an altimeter that takes into account both GPS altitude and barometric altitude, as well as sensors that measure distance and speed. Furthermore, it has an optional heart rate monitor that you can buy along with the watch, allowing you to also keep track of your pulse.

So what exactly does the Suunto Traverse track? The usual stuff, such as the length of your exercise, heart rate, your location, as well as a host of fitness-related metrics. For runners, Suunto Traverse can keep track of your running pace and average pace, and it can perform lap comparisons. For cyclists, you can know about your speed and average speed in real time. For those who like brisk walks, the Traverse can also act as a pedometer and count your steps. The Traverse has the Suunto FusedSpeed feature that uses your location data and acceleration readings to calculate an accurate running speed.

Moreover, Traverse also keeps training summaries that you can see on the watch itself. With the mobile app, you can get training analyses that can help you do better.

Why buy the Suunto Traverse?

If you are a data nerd, then you would certainly love the Suunto Traverse and its endless stream of different types of data. For outdoor adventurers, they will find the Suunto Traverse very helpful in discovering and planning their routes, as well as in giving accurate weather information, thus helping you plan your adventures for the day. The Traverse is a great companion and can withstand even the roughest conditions.

The Suunto Traverse looks and works great as a smartwatch. It is packed with features that would make it indispensable for those people who love to go and rough it out in nature. The Traverse is able to gather a lot of data, but sorting through all of these and then making sense of the numbers is easier because of the analytics provided by the mobile app.

Garmin Fenix 3

The Garmin Fenix 3 is an outdoors sports watch that has a color screen that delivers fast and accurate tracking of the fitness metrics that matter.

The screen display has a resolution of 218 pixels by 218 pixels and measures 1.2 inches. Like the Traverse, the screen has backlights to help you see it under the intense light of the sun. It uses a domed glass for the lens, stainless steel for the bezel, and fiber reinforced polymer for the case, while the strap is made with TPU material.

Like the Traverse, the Garmin Fenix 3 also has a water rating of 100 meters. It can also track heart rate, but you would need to buy a separate heart rate monitor for this function.

The Garmin Fenix 3, however, has a longer battery life. It gives you 16 hours of battery life when the GPS is turned on. If you need more than that, you can extend battery life and still get location data with the UltraTrac mode. In this power-saving mode, you can get up to 50 hours of operation from the Fenix 3’s batteries.

Sensors used by the Garmin Fenix 3 includes GPS and GLONASS positioning systems, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, and barometric altimeter. It also delivers a range of clock functions, including time and date, GPS time synchronization, automatic DST, alarm clock, stopwatch, timer, and sunset or sunrise times.

The Garmin Fenix 3 is able to track or count your steps, monitor your sleep, count the calories burned and the floors you have climbed, calculate the distance you traveled, and the number of intensity minutes.

One thing that the Garmin Fenix 3 has going for it is the accurate way it measures your exercises. Pace is accurate and data is collected almost in real time. If you start climbing or walking uphill, the watch will show you elevation statistics automatically. With both GPS and GLONASS onboard, as well as the barometer, altimeter, and compass, you can get the accurate location data and navigation help. You can even set up a point of origin and then have the Garmin Fenix help you find your way back.

The Garmin Fenix 3 can also track different types of exercise easily, offering you several activity modes such as triathlon, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, climbing, running, hiking, and biking.

The Connect app

Suffice it to say that the Garmin Fenix 3 can collect a lot of data. With its companion app, Connect, you can get an easy way to view and understand this information. Using the app, you can review your past exercises, complete with all the relevant details.

Suunto Traverse vs. Garmin Fenix 3: Which one should you buy?

Functions- and features-wise, you would find that the Suunto Traverse and the Garmin Fenix 3 are somewhat similar. They are rugged devices that you can take outdoors. They gather the same types of data and even use roughly the same set of sensors to keep track of the same set of metrics. Even their weak points are similar too. Both collect a whole lot of data, but data analysis and coaching are rather limited. You will be shown graphs and visualizations of the data, but analyzing all these data will largely depend on you. Therefore, you might want to base your decision on two things: looks and price.

Garmin Fenix 3 sells for $449.99 (Check out the latest price here!), but Suunto Traverse only costs $265 on Amazon (Check out the latest price here!). So if you are looking to save money while also having an awesome smartwatch, then get the Traverse.

However, there are the small differences between these two that might help you swing for Garmin Fenix 3. The Fenix 3 has a more extensive list of exercises that it could track, a higher display resolution, and longer battery life. What’s more, it has a color screen in lieu of the monochromatic dot matrix screen on Suunto Traverse.

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