Suunto Spartan Trainer change watch faces
Suunto Spartan Trainer review
Suunto Spartan Trainer Review
The Suunto Spartan trainer is the latest addition to the Spartan range by Suunto and follows not long after the released on the Suunto Spartan Sport wrist HR. Suunto has managed to pack most of the features of the previous Suunto Spartan sport into a smaller watch that has triathlon features.
Design89
Features83
Usability92
Performance82
Value86
Reader Rating0 Votes0
Pro's
Great price
Triathlon mode
Accurate wrist HR
Con's
Battery life could be better
No ANT+ support
Bands are not easily replaceable
86
Recommended

The Suunto Spartan trainer review is below, please leave a comment if you have any questions

Suunto Spartan Trainer review in Pictures

Buy the Suunto Spartan Trainer from Amazon

Key features

  • Light and thin at 56 g
  • Color display with 218 x 218 pixels
  • Battery life up to 2.5 days in real world use
  • over 80 sports such as swimming, cycling or running and multi-sport such as triathlon mode
  • Basic navigation features with POI
  • Waterproof to 50 meters
  • Bluetooth Smart support for chest HR, power meters, foot pods and more
  • Built in Wrist Heart rate monitoring for all day tracking
  • GPS/GLONASS tracking, GPS altimeter, coordinate system,
  • Movescount app for comparing performance post workout

Essential reading: Garmin Fenix 5 tips and tricks

Suunto Spartan Trainer Review – Design and screen

  • Small form factor will appeal to people with smaller wrists
  • Integrated Wrist HR
  • Bands can be swapped out, but require a tool to do so

On first viewing the Suunto Trainer looks like an Ambit series than a Spartan series With a clean design, it’s a fitness tracker that can pass for a normal watch day to day but still provide plenty of tracking details during physical activities. The big shame for me is the lack of customisation when it comes to the band, it can’t be swapped out very easily like you can with an Apple Watch or a Garmin Vivoactive 3. The model I am reviewing here starts at $279 (£219, AU$399) and 56 grams in weight, and two other models are available with metal bezels that cost $329 (£279.99, about AU$420) and bump the weight up to 66 grams, there is no difference in features other than that.

Suunto Spartan trainer activity profile

The body of the trainer is made of a plastic resin material and the band is silicon with a metal buckle. The screen is made of Polyamide, which essentially is plastic and is 218 x 218 display which is down from the Spartan Wrist HR, but it’s still easily readable when you are using it. You can also customise the watch faces and have plenty of options, but it does not have an App Store like featured on the Garmin Fenix 5 series which is a shame.

Wearability and comfort

Overall I found the Suunto Spartan trainer very easy to wear and its very lightweight. When wearing this for prolonged use I didn’t have any issues with irritation or a feeling of wanting to take it off. The biggest let down for me is the bands are not easy to swap out and this is a surprise given the direction of the fitness wearable market at the moment with people wanting easy customisation options.

Must read review: Garmin Vivoactive 3 review

Suunto Spartan Trainer Review – Menus

  • Simple menu design
  • Customisation is done on movescount.com rather than the watch
  • The display is good in sunlight

I found the menus easy to navigate and this is due to the simple nature of the design and with it being simple it also means that the menus are not as detailed as you might like

Using the up key you get to access the following menus;

  • Exercise
    • This is where you find all the sports tracking
    • It will also display last used activity at the top
  • Navigation
    • Simply, this is the navigation function.
  • Log book
    • This is the log of all activities
  • Stop watch
    • Well, it’s a stop watch
  • Settings
    • This is where you can change certain settings

Suunto Spartan Trainer stop watch

Using the down key you get access to the following menus

  • Activity
    • Steps, average steps, and HR data
  • Training
    • Training schedule
    • Snap shot of training log book
  • Recovery advisor
    • Gives you an indication of recovery needed
  • Sleep tracking
    • Widget to track sleep

Suunto Spartan Trainer activity summary

I did tell you that the menus were simple and whilst I have only given you an overview of the top level menus, there is nothing much to them to report. Lots of the customisation is done on the movescount.com web app and whilst some might find this useful, some may find this inconvenient when already out and away from a Computer.

Suunto Spartan Trainer Review – Activity tracking

  • Tracks steps
  • Integrated HR monitor
  • The display is good in sunlight

I don’t want to spend much time on this section because as with most wearable these days tracking of basic daily activities like steps, floors climbed and calories should be a given and this is no different for the Spartan trainer. The Suunto Spartan trainer can track daily activities such as steps, floors climbed, calories burned and even sleep and will monitor your heart rate/resting heart rate to monitor for over training or high stress. Whilst this is a useful feature to have, I didn’t feel I got as much information I do when using a Garmin Wearable and Garmin connect.

Must read review: Garmin Vivosmart 3 review

Suunto Spartan Trainer Review– Fitness features

  • Over 80 sports tracked with option to customise
  • Integrated wrist based HR monitor
  • GPS tracking with speed, pace, and distance

The Suunto Trainer Wrist HR can track 80 different activities from running, cycling, hiking, swimming to and much more, and uses GPS to track the user’s speed pace distance, and altitude. You can customise the data fields that you can see on the watch and this can be done on the movescount.com web app.

Suunto Spartan Trainer review end activity

Starting a sports activity is pretty simple, you simply navigate to the exercise menu and choose the activity you are planning to take part in. The Suunto Spartan trainer is plenty of options for customising the data fields and the data you are presented with, but as I have already mentioned 99% of the customisation has to be done at a computer and this is no good if you have gone out to hike and forgotten to alter the data fields prior to this.

Once you have completed the activity you are presented with a “survey” on how it went and then given a summary of the activity with a training peak effect and recovery time. Once the data has synced to the movescount app and uploaded online you can view the data in more detail. Whilst the Suunto Movescount app online is good and has lots of ways to look at the data, the Movescount app on a smartphone is lacking and needs some big improvements.

I used the Spartan Trainer mainly for running, cycling, swimming and gym work and I found it easy to use and simple. The data presented on the screen was easy to read, but again I did find it annoying that I could not change a data field or screen on the fly and this is something I am used to with the Fenix 5x.

The other big surprise given the price of the Spartan Trainer is the addition of multi-sport tracking and this namely being triathlon mode. Whilst I didn’t get to use the tri mode on the device I did have a chance to play with it and it works in the exact same way as the other wearables in the Spartan range. So if you are into triathlons or multi-sport’s then this is a good choice given the price

Sensor support

The Suunto Spartan trainer has support for Bluetooth smart, but not ANT+ support. There are 4 types of sensor:

  • Chest strap/HRM
  • Footpod
  • Power meters
  • Bike pod (speed/cadence)

A very annoying limitation and its the same across the entire Spartan range is for dual-sensing power meters, like the PowerTap P1 or Favero Assioma and others. The Spartan trainer will only pickup a single side of this.  This results in the power simply being doubled, as opposed to correctly capturing both legs. So if you own a PowerTap P1 or similar or thinking about it then you may have to avoid the Spartan trainer to benefit from the full dual sensing capability.

Suunto Spartan Trainer review how was it

Suunto Spartan Trainer Review – GPS performance

  • GPS and GLONASS support
  • Comparable with other devices in terms of tracking
  • Good running pace tracking

As I have already mentioned I used the Suunto Spartan trainer mainly for running, cycling which involved using the GPS and I found the pace, distance and tracks to be on par with the other devices I used for testing. The devices I used for cycling, in particular, were a Garmin Edge 1000, a Garmin Fenix 5 and a TomTom Adventurer and I got consistent performance for the GPS across all the devices, so I was fairly happy.

Suunto Spartan Trainer – Wrist Heart rate performance

  • Great for running and walking
  • All day activity is good
  • Cycling and anything involving the wrists is a no go

The wrist based heart rate monitor tracks your heart rate 24/7 and also track burnt calories. I have found that Suunto wrist based HR monitors to be pretty accurate for most activities. Based on my tests I found for running, walking and general day to day the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist based HR sensor to be fairly accurate. However when it came to cycling or anything involving using the wrists such as gym work the HR sensor was way off, but this is the same with most wrist based HR sensors in my experience of testing the devices.

Below is some of the tests;

Treadmill running

First up is a test whilst on a treadmill, I was using the following setup

  • Purple – Suunto Spartan sport with chest strap
  • Blue – Suunto Spartan trainer using wrist HR
  • Yellow – Garmin Fenix 5x using wrist HR

As you can see from the start the Spartan trainer is slow to catch up with the rise in HR readings, but once it did it was consistent with the chest HR sensor

Suunto Spartan Trainer run HR test

 

Spinning class

2nd test is whilst spinning, I was using the following setup

  • Purple – Suunto Spartan sport with chest strap
  • Blue – Suunto Spartan trainer using wrist HR
  • Yellow – Garmin Fenix 5x using wrist HR

As you can see the Suunto Spartan trainer HR failed to keep up from the beginning again, but then had trouble all the way through the spinning class, but so did the Fenix 5x to some degree.

Suunto Spartan Trainer HR test spinning

Cycling

3rd test is whilst out cycling, I was using the following setup

  • Purple – Garmin Edge 1000 with chest strap
  • Blue – Suunto Spartan trainer using wrist HR
  • Yellow – Garmin Fenix 5x using wrist HR

As you can see the Suunto Spartan trainer wrist HR is way off and this is always the case with wrist based HR sensors.

Suunto Spartan Trainer cycling HR test

So from the tests above (I did more) that the HR sensor is accurate for all day tracking and running activities, but when it comes to anything involving the wrist or cycling its a no go, however, it did perform ok when spinning.

Suunto Spartan Trainer – Battery

  • 2.5 days on average battery
  • 8 hours on average with GPS
  • Battery charging time around 1.5 hours

I found the battery life to be ok on the Spartan trainer and only lasting one day shorter than the Suunto Spartan sport but much less than I get with the Fenix 5. Whilst this is still a good performance for a GPS sports watch and will suit most, those running iron man or ultra marathons it may not be suited.

The other difference in battery features is the charging, the charge is a crocodile style clip and on the Spartan Sport its a magnet and to be honest I do prefer either, so its all down to personal choice.

Suunto Spartan Trainer – Conclusion

THe Suunto Spartan trainer is excellent GPS sports watch given Suunto have packed all the same features as the Spartan sport into a smaller wearable. The fact it has over 80 sports activities to track and the ability to use it for triathlons makes it a great option for the price and Suunto have certainly filled the gap in terms of a device that is mid range but packs great features. That being said I still think it’s let down by the fact you can’t customise the device on the watch itself and it does not have ANT+ support. Overall I can recommend the Suunto Spartan trainer to a cost conscious person that is serious about fitness and fitness tracking

 

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2 Comments on "Suunto Spartan trainer review – Multi-sport GPS watch packed with features"

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Tanya
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How does this compare to the Vivoactive 3 or the Fenix 5s?

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