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Suunto Spartan Trainer: An In-Depth Review [Updated 2018]

Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 5 stars
£219 to £279
  • 100%

  • Heart Rate functionality
    Editor: 95%
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 98%
  • Activity Tracking features
    Editor: 95%
  • Running functions
    Editor: 99%
  • Cycling functions
    Editor: 99%
  • Fitness monitoring features
    Editor: 99%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 99%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 95%

Well this is a refreshing change … Suunto have taken their best GPS sports watch ever, the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR, made it a bit smaller & lighter, dropped the touch screen display and almost HALVED the price!

The new Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR is a genuine BARGAIN of a GPS sports watch. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, the Suunto Spartan Sport can do is covered by the Spartan Trainer.

They even use the SAME base firmware.

This is the BEST Suunto sports watch since their innovative Suunto T6 way back in 2010. If you’ve been considering a Garmin Forerunner 235 / 735XT or Polar M430 / V800 then please take some time out check out the Spartan Trainer.

The Suunto Spartan Trainer has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic

Suunto Spartan Trainer review

Release Date (UK) > August 2017

Product it replaced > Suunto Ambit 3 Sport & Suunto Ambit 3 Run

Recommeneded Retail Price (when new) > £219 / £279 depending on case style

I loved the old Suunto Ambit range, all versions. I was disappointed when the Suunto Spartan Sport and Ultra came out as they were released too early, incomplete and buggy.

The Spartan Sport and Spartan Ultra are now solid 4/5 Star Review sports watches after several software updates.

This amazing new Spartan Trainer is EVERYTHING the Spartan Sport wrist HR version is (functionally) but nearly half the price. Released with clean, quick, reliable and bug free firmware. A perfect 5 Star Review from day 1

The Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR has been awared a 5 Star Review from CardioCritic

Who’s it For

Quite simply the Spartan Trainer is for everybody and anybody who takes their training seriously. It is suitable for athletes of all sports including Triathlon.

The watch can store up to 20 different Sports Modes customised from the Suunto Movescount website.

Each sports profile can be customised by adding a CUSTOM mode giving the user the option to select precisely what training metrics are displayed and how much data is shown on each training page.

Next Model Up

The models up are the Spartan Sport and the Spartan Ultra. The main differences can be found in the Ultra. Improved battery life (from 10 hours to 18 hours for GPS recording) and the inclusion of a barometric pressure sensor are the key differences.

The Spartan Ultra utilises a barometric pressure sensor making it more sensitive to pressure changes and also providing feedback on temperature.

Remember, all the watches in the Spartan range use the SAME firmware. There is very little functional difference. It’s more to do with case materials & water resistancy.

There is also the Suunto Spartan Sport HR with wrist based (no chest strap) heart rate sensors on the back of the watch as per this Spartan Trainer model.

Suunto Spartan Ultra barometric pressure sensor and 18 hour battery life (GPS & HRM turned on)

Spartan Sport HR very similar to this one with a high quality mineral glass watch face and 100m water resistant

CardioCritic Videos

This video is intended to show a potential owner of this watch what the Spartan Trainer does and how to navigate around the keys features.

We have produced 3 short videos – In-Depth Video Review – Triathlon Mode Explained and a review of the Watch Faces

Triathlon Mode Video

This is something I get asked a lot.

Can the Suunto Spartan range be used for Triathlon and time my transitions as well as each discipline? YES.

In this short video I demonstrate Triathlon Mode.

The SWIM is set to OPEN WATER. I’m not certain if there’s a way of setting it up with POOL SWIM, something I need to look in to.

Watch Faces Video

Another question we often get asked is how many different watch face designs are there and what do they all show.

This video answers those questions.

There are 6 different WATCH FACE designs and each one is available in 9 different colours.

Customization of Sport Profile Training Pages

In this video I demonstrate the options available for customisation of SPORTS PROFILES. Different people will want to see different metrics for the same sports.

What interests one person while cycling may not be of any interest to another athlete. The Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR (and all other Spartan watches) allow for Sport Profile Training Page customisation by adding a NEW Custom Mode.

In this short video I have demonstrated the various options available for changing training pages data fields.

I’m yet to fully understand why the Spartan Trainer is almost half the price of the Spartan Sport, it just seems to good to be true.

It does use a few cheaper options eg the watch face is polyamide as opposed to sapphire / crystal glass and the unit is rated to 50m water resistant against the 100m of the Spartan Sport and Ultra. But they are hardly major differences. The bottom line is this .. the Spartan Trainer offers EXCELLENT value for money.

Anyone in the market for a performance based GPS sports watch with off the wrist heart rate should consider it a strong contender.

Closest Competitor

Products from other brands with the closest functionality to this Spartan Trainer wrist HR are the Forerunner 735XT and Garmin’s top of the range Forerunner 935 both with wrist based heart rate acquisition, GPS and Triathlon mode.

Forerunner 735XT another from Garmin, this one with wrist based heart rate (aimed at Triathletes)

Forerunner 935 released in May 2017 – an amazing technical sports watch with wrist based HR

Differences – Spartan Trainer / Sport / Ultra

The Spartan Trainer does NOT feature the barometric pressure sensor of the Ultra.  Neither does it have the touch screen display nor the digital compass found on the Ultra and Sport models.

The Spartan Trainer is smaller and lighter and comes with a 218 x 218 pixel display. The watch glass is polyamide and not sapphire or mineral as found on the more expensive models. It’s swim proof at 50m unlike the Ultra and Sport that are both 100m rated.

The Spartan Trainer Wrist HR uses only GPS chips for location and navigation.

The Ultra and Sport use GPS and GLONASS.

Here’s a few pictures I took while testing the Spartan on holiday in France. Trust me here, this is the BEST Suunto Sports Watch E V E R with regard to value for money and comprehensive training features.

Spartan Trainer Wrist HR in time of day mode, chilling by the pool …

Data Fields per Training Page

It is possible to select between 3, 4, 5 and 7 data fields per training page and 2 or 3 column view for the LAP summary pages as shown below. Each data field can be one of over 100 different training metrics, everything from heart rate, speed, pace, distance and duration to 10 second power, average cadence, elevation, max speed etc.

Customisation of Training Page data fields in custom sport modes

Spartan Trainer Battery Life

The Spartan Trainer has a slightly inferior battery life of 10 hours GPS against the 18 hours of the Spartan Ultra. But, it’s BETTER than the Spartan Sport (at 8 hours). HOWEVER, for the regular athlete whether amateur fun runner or elite cyclist the Spartan Trainer’s 10 hours is perfectly adequate.

If necessary, the battery life can be extended to 14 hours in 1 second sampling and GOOD GPS mode or even 25 hours in battery save mode with 60 second sampling & GOOD GPS

Main Features


  • Battery life up to 10h with best GPS accuracy (up to 30h with power saving options)
  • 14 days battery life in time mode
  • Convenient wrist HR measurement
  • Compact size and optimal fit for sports and daily wear
  • 50 m water resistant


  • Ready to go: swimming, running, cycling, gym, hiking, and more
  • GPS tracking with speed, pace and distance
  • Customizable sport modes with graphs and automatic laps
  • Create intervals on watch and follow on-screen guidance
  • Find back safely with breadcrumb view of traveled route


  • 24/7 tracking of your daily steps, calories and sleep
  • Track your daily rest-HR value to know if you are stressed or over-trained
  • Personalize your watch with customizable watch faces
  • Get incoming calls, text and calendar notifications to your watch

The heart rate proved itself to be accurate and reliable. There were a couple of spikes at the start of ONE training session from 5, but nothing too serious.

Suunto are using the Valancell sensors for heart rate monitoring, one of the best on the market. (Garmin and Polar use their own technology)

One of the best features of the Spartan Trainer is the SUPER CLEAR colour display, the brighter the sun the easier it is to see.

Reviewed - the Suunto Spartan Trainer with Wrist HR GPS sports watch

Marketing Video by Suunto

Please watch our own videos of the Suunto Spartan Trainer on the CardioCritic YouTube Channel

Conclusion and Summary

I can’t say this enough times, the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR is simply brilliant.

It offers excellent value for money coupled with serious performance monitoring and recovery tracking. It’s the perfect size for those who don’t want their watch to dominate their wrist, at the same time the display is large enough to read easily while training.

The battery life is as good as any competitive products and the battery saving mode makes it perfect for those looking to train 7 days a week for up to 2 or 3 hours per day.

The display is precise and bright and can be read in ALL light conditions.

The Valancell Heart Rate monitoring is 95% accurate for more than 95% of the time.

It may drop out or spike on rare occassions (normally due to vibration e.g mountain biking) but this is something suffered by most wrist based heart rate monitors.

The build quality is exceptional with a light polyamide and glass fibre reinforced case attached to an extremely comfortable silicon strap.

The Spartan Trainer is available in various colours including black, blue and jade green plus various more expensive models with smart steel bezels.

It was a pleasure to test the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR and CardioCritic has no hesitation awarding it a 5 Star Review.

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