Tested
By J. Travis Smith
on 5.15.14
Photo by Henry Phillips

The Suunto Ambit2 is the bigger, badder brother of the Ambit2 S — a watch we took to the pool, trail and bike lane before eventually naming it one of our GP 100 Best Products of 2013. But for outdoor adventure junkies — athletes who prefer trail runners and mountain bikes over trainers and road bikes — the Ambit2 picks up where its little brother left off.

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The whole Ambit2 series is the best in the business for datahead athletes. The watches count strokes in the pool, pedals on the bike and footfalls on a run. GPS lets you map your next workout, navigates you through a spiderweb of trails and sets waypoints for marking distances and altering pre-made plans. A heart rate monitor provides biometric data. It all gets uploaded to movescount, the one and (frustratingly) only online site where you can upload your workouts and plan your next trip.

The Ambit2 is identical to the Ambit2 S except for size, battery life and barometric readings; importantly means an exceptional user interface carries over nicely. The addition of the barometric pressure sensor and a bigger battery has beefed the thickness up another 16 percent (from 0.61 inches to 0.71 inches) and the weight another 24 percent (from 2.54 ounces to 3.14 ounces). This should be enough to scare away the ultralight crowd, and rightly so, as our biggest critiques of the smaller Ambit2 S were comfort and weight. The Ambit2 makes no effort to be forgotten on your wrist.

The increased battery life is designed for extended outdoor adventures and therefore longer times away from a wall outlet. Recording GPS location every 60 seconds will get you 50 hours of run time, doubling that of the Ambit2 S. But for more accurate data on your route, most users will cut the GPS data collection rate to once every second, dropping the battery life to 15 hours. This is a vast improvement over the Ambit2 S, which powered down after 8 hours of one-second GPS data collection, meaning participants in Ironman or other extended multi-sport competitions couldn’t use the watch on their most intense workouts.

For datahead athletes, the Ambit2 series is the best in the business.

The improved battery is also required to power the barometer, the Ambit2’s other big improvement. The barometer enables apps like Storm Alarm (another nod toward serious outdoor use) and FusedAlti calibration, which determines altitude via a combination of GPS and barometric pressure. More accurate elevation data means more accurate work out data, especially for climbers and backcountry trail runners who are constantly changing their elevation. But because barometric pressure is affected by both the weather (the basis for Storm Alert) and elevation, the watch needs to be recalibrated as weather patterns change for maximum accuracy, a potential issue unless you know the exact elevation of trailheads, landmarks and mountain peaks.

Strapping the Ambit2 to your wrist for a run around the city or a swim in the pool is overkill. This isn’t a watch for the weekend runner, and its price tag reflects that (especially for the sapphire crystal glass version at $600). Ultra-marathon runners will prefer a lighter, more simplified watch, but for serious climbers, bikers and backcountry explorers who need better data and the battery life to collect them, the Ambit2 is worth the extra weight.

ADVENTURE IS ONE CLICK AWAY

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