Suunto Spartan Ultra

Suunto Spartan Ultra
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4 stars
£380 to £640
  • 80%

  • Suunto Spartan Ultra
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: 28th July 2017
  • Heart Rate Monitor functions
    Editor: 95%
  • Heart Rate Accuracy
    Editor: 99%
  • Activity Tracking features
    Editor: 85%
  • Running functions
    Editor: 85%
  • Cycling functions
    Editor: 80%
  • Fitness monitoring features
    Editor: 80%
  • Ease of Use
    Editor: 95%
  • Battery Life
    Editor: 90%

This Suunto Spartan Ultra takes the Spartan Sport and gives it super powers. The main differences between the two models (apart from the optional Titanium bezel) are : battery life, barometric pressure sensor, thermometer & watch face glass material. For most people looking for a highly functional, competent GPS sports watch with Triathlon mode and the ability to switch between ANY of the sports profiles within the watch mid-session the Spartan Sport is ideal.

However, for those undertaking FULL IRONMAN racing distances or any other mega endurance events taking more than 8 or 9 hours then you will need to get this Spartan Ultra version with it’s extended battery life. Naturally, if budget no real issue, or you need/want the barometric pressure sensor and you like the titanium bezel & sapphire crystal watch face then you’re in the right place. The Suunto Spartan Ultra has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic (formerly HeartRateMonitor UK)

Ultimate GPS outdoor adventure / multisport watch REVIEWED here

Release Date (UK) > October 2016

Product it replaced > Suunto Ambit 3 Peak

Tristan’s comment > I own a Suunto Spartan Sport and I think it will be one of the best multisport GPS watches of 2017. However. I believe Suunto brought it out too early. Other products in this market place are very strong including the Polar V800, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT / 920XT and it’s predecessor, the Ambit 3 Sport (still a highly recommended multisport watch). Suunto are working flat out to resolve the certain key issues and have recently added full Android phone connectivity (as well as iOs). The next major update I am looking forward to is the ability to customise the training views for each sport profile …

Update > (Jan 2017) The Spartan Ultra now features training view customisation for NEW Sport Profiles. This is a vast improvement … but still not the FULL data field customisation I expect from this level of sports watch. When the Spartan allows the user set the number of data fields from 1 to 6 for each training page then I will raise this review to a 4.5/5 stars …

Update > (March 2017) another release of firmware for the Spartan watches sees a MASSIVE improvement in navigation. It is now possible to add, from the watch, POI’s (Point of Interests). Save your camp, home, finish line, navigational waypoint etc in to the Spartan Ultra. These POI’s can be used in Navigation mode with a breadcrumb trail illustrating the direction to the POI. Suunto have also enabled 4, 5, and 7 segment training page view to your own custom Sport modes.

Update > (April 2017) a MAJOR firmware update this one. The key NEW features of this upgrade include – Interval Training (create on the watch, ad-hoc) – POI navigation mid session (navigate to a Point of Interest during exercise) – Power Save mode in training with low colour option and display timeout options & Power Pod calibration support.

Who’s it For

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is for people who RELY on their GPS watch to monitor their performance, recovery and location. It’s for the athlete who does more than pound the pavement or eat up road miles on the bike. It’s for people who partake in several different sports, sometimes one after the other, in the same MULTISPORT session. It’s also very specifically for the TRIATHLETE with it’s dedicated triathlon mode. If your exercise / race times are less than 10 hours you may consider the cheaper Suunto Spartan Sport. This mode, the Ultra, features an extended battery life of 18 hours in standard GPS mode (1 second) and 26 hours in battery save mode. If you are short on time you may skip to my review conclusion and price checks here.

Next Model Up

There is no model up from the Spartan Ultra. This is the top of the range in Suunto’s outdoor GPS multisport watches.

This is it

Quick Links – lowest prices

PLEASE use the links below to check for the lowest online prices of the Suunto Spartan Ultra. 

Thank you for your valued support .. Tristan

Wiggle sell this product onlineAmazon sell this product

>> Back to Top of Review

Pros

  • Hand assembled in Finland
  • Battery provides up to 18 hours GPS and HRM recording
  • Dedicated TRIATHLON mode for single button transition and sport change over
  • High quality polyamide case with scratch resistant mineral glass
  • GPS and GLONASS satellite support
  • Store up to 20 Sport Profiles in the watch
  • Chose from over 80 Sport Profiles on Suunto Movescount
  • Basic GPS navigation - follow breadcrumb trail routes
  • Manual addition of POI's (Point of Interest) navigational waypoints eg. Home, Camp etc
  • Bluetooth Suunto Smart belt (optional) store HR data while swimming
  • 24/7 Activity Tracker with steps and calories
  • Built-in accelerometer for speed / distance when in Treadmill mode
  • FreestyleMULTISPORT mode - press and hold a single button to change to ANY sport
  • 10 days battery life expectancy in time of day mode, 10 hours in HRM / GPS mode or 16 hours in extended battery mode
  • Bluetooth connectivity to iOs and Android for data upload and smartphone notifications
  • Connected to - Strava, Training Peaks, Preva and Sports Tracker
  • Cons

  • Would be nice if the Spartan supported Movescount Apps, in similar way to Garmin Connect IQ
  • IGNORE early criticisms ... the Spartan Ultra is now (following many updates) a very serious contender as an alternative to the Garmin Fenix watch range
  • Next Model Down

    The model directly below the Ultra is the Suunto Spartan Sport. The main difference is decreased battery life (from 18 hours to 10 hours for GPS recording) and the exclusion of the barometric pressure sensor found in the Spartan Ultra. This Sport model gets it’s altitude date from the GPS feedback. This Ultra model utilises a barometric pressure sensor making it more sensitive to pressure changes and also providing feedback on temperature.

    This new Spartan range replaces the Ambit range. The Suunto Ambit reached version 3 with smartphone notifications and Bluetooth heart rate monitoring. If you want to grab a genuine bargain and you’re not too bothered about the colour touchscreen display then you certainly should still consider the Ambit 3 Peak or Ambit 3 Sport (for Triathlon / multisport users)

    Suunto Spartan Sport

    Suunto Ambit 3 Peak

    Suunto Ambit 3 Sport

    Closest Competitor

    The product from other brands with the closest functionality to the Spartan Ultra are the Polar V800 and the Garmin Forerunner 920XT. Both offer true multisport functionality with multiple disciplines being recorded in one exercise file. Each has it’s own pros and cons over the others and we would, in all honesty, be happy to use any for the duration of a triathlon and the training leading up to it. For those looking for the ROBUST outdoor solution with ABC functionality (Altimeter, Barometer & Compass watches) then you may want to consider the Fenix range from Garmin.

    Note > since writing this review Garmin have released their brilliant Forerunner 935 for the elite sports person who wants the best feedback on their training, recovery and progression. They also have their Forerunner 735XT – another great watch with wrist based heart rate.

    Polar V800 as an alternative from Polar as their GPS sports watch for triathlon / multisport athletes

    Forerunner 920XT an alternative from Garmin for triathlon / multisport athletes

    Forerunner 735XT with wrist based heart rate for triathlon / multisport athletes

    Garmin Forerunner 935 released in May 2017 – ultimate GPS sports watch with wrist based HR

    Fenix 3 HR Garmin’s ABC watch with wrist based HR for the outdoor adventurer / multisport athlete

    Fenix 5 Garmin’s top of the range ABC watch with wrist based HR for outdoor adventure and beyond

    Barometric Pressure Sensor & Thermometer

    The inclusion of a barometric pressure chamber in the Ultra provides more accurate altitude feedback. The same sensor also incorporates a thermometer for accurate temperature monitoring. The Spartan Sport does NOT have these features.

    >> Back to Top of Review

    Battery Life – differences

    The Spartan Ultra has approximately 50% more capacity than the Spartan Sport. The stats provided by Suunto read as follows.

    Spartan Ultra

    • Time of Day mode only – 15 days
    • High Resolution GPS sampling – 18 hours
    • Battery Save GPS sampling – 26 hours

    Spartan Sport

    • Time of Day mode only – 10 days
    • High Resolution GPS sampling – 10 hours
    • Battery Save GPS sampling – 16 hours

    >> Back to Top of Review

    Sapphire Glass / Mineral Glass

    The Spartan Ultra comes with the highest quality sapphire crystal glass. This is the same material used in the Ambit 2 and Ambit 3 sapphire models. It is highly resistant to scratches and should remain blemish free even in the harshest environments. The Spartan Sport also features a scratch resistant watch glass, but this one is mineral crystal. Although not quite as robust as the sapphire crystal it is still highly resistant to scratches.

    > > Back to Top of Review

    CardioCritic’s Video Review

    A quick 12 minute walk through of the Suunto Spartan Ultra

    Please Read the Suunto Spartan Sport Review

    As the Spartan Ultra watch is so similar to the Spartan Sport I have only written one detailed review. Please take 10 or 15 minutes to read my review of the Suunto Spartan Sport to get a real feel for this great outdoor GPS multisport watch.

    Suunto Spartan Review - impartial product test by Tristan Haskins

    Suunto Spartan Video presentation

    Tristan’s Video Review

    If you are considering purchasing a Suunto Spartan Sport or Suunto Spartan Ultra then please give 15 minutes of your time to watch my own video review of this GPS multisport watch. As with all my video reviews the intention is to give the viewer a REAL LIFE experience of the product with no smoke, mirrors or scripts. In this video I have attempted to walk the viewer through all the main screens and try my best to give an impression of how it would feel to own and train with the Suunto Spartan Sport or Ultra … what it does well and what it could do better. PLEASE NOTE – new Suunto Spartan Ultra video added above.

    >> Back to Top of Review

    Suunto’s own Video

    This is one of Suunto’s own marketing videos. As always it’s very professional and gives an outline of what the Spartan range is all about.

    Spartan for Multisport users

    The Spartan Ultra is aimed at everyone and anyone who participates in MULTIPLE sports, whether running, cycling, swimming, rowing, climbing, football, whatever, the more the merrier. There are TWO great features for those partaking in multisport events / training. From ANY one of your 20 pre-loaded sports profiles (there are 80 to chose from) you can simply PRESS and HOLD the top right hand button to change the session from a single discipline, let’s say RUNNING to a multisport sessions, for example, switch to WEIGHT TRAINING. You can switch the SPORT PROFILES as many times as you want, eg. WEIGHTS to RUNNING to INDOOR ROWING to CYCLING.. the result is ONE training session with a detailed post session breakdown of each segment/sport. Each time the sport is changed, the displays changed to those relevant to each sport.

    >> Back to Top of Review

    Dedicated Triathlon Mode

    For TRIATHLON, it gets even better and easier. The Spartan Ultra has a dedicated TRIATHLON sports mode. When in this mode pressing and holding the TOP RIGHT button switches from SWIM to T1 to BIKE to T2 to RUN to FINISH. At the end are presented with a breakdown of each discipline’s results, swim time, speed, etc, T1 time, Bike speed, time etc, T2 transition time and finally Run pace, time etc. This video shows, in a rather rushed manner, how the Triathlon mode works. Remember > for those of you thinking of doing a FULL IronMan then you will want to consider this ULTRA model over the SPORT as the Spartan Ultra will record for up to 18 hours in maximum sampling rate, the Spartan Sport only 10 hours.

    >> Back to Top of Review

    Suunto Spartan Display Brightness – video

    This is my own video to show just HOW BRIGHT the Suunto Spartan display is . I read some online reviews saying it wasn’t as clear as the marketing photos made it out to be … sorry, totally disagree, it’s super clear in all light conditions

    >> Back to Top of Review

    Suunto Spartan Photo Gallery

    The following images were taken while making the video review of the Suunto Spartan Sport. The display views on the Ultra are identical.

    For more details on the Suunto Spartan Ultra, please read my review of the Suunto Spartan Sport

    Conclusions & final thoughts …

    From my extensive experience of the Spartan watches I can confidently recommended them as top of the range GPS sports watches. Yes, it was released too early and yes, it had some issues when it was first released. HOWEVER, all that criticism can be put aside. The Spartan Ultra is now a reliable, robust, attractive and functional GPS sports watch. I am still hoping to see the introduction of a couple of features like Movescount App support (similar to Garmin  IQ Connect Widgets and Apps) ..

    However, Suunto are continually improving the firmware. Just this week (March 2017) we have seen improvements to Training Page customisation and significantly the ability to add navigational waypoints from the watch. In my opinion the Spartan Ultra is now a viable alternative to the Garmin Fenix.  With the Suunto Spartan it’s all about functionality and build quality. There’s not much out there that comes close to the quality of the Suunto Spartan Ultra. Would I recommend that you buy one? Yes I would. It still has some minor issues, but Suunto are making the Suunto Spartan Stronger every week

    >> Back to Top of Review

    CardioCritic on Social Media

    CardioCritic.com earns revenue from affiliate sales. The Price Check buttons link to our affiliate providers including Amazon, Wiggle, Chain Reaction, Merlin and ProBikeKit