In the recent Suunto SPARTAN Trainer review, we looked at the first 5, ‘dressy’ variants. Suunto has reverted back to its outdoor heritage with 3 new OUTDOOR variants on the SPARTAN TRAINER.
The SPARTAN Trainer is a great entry-level triathlon watch. Does this new OUTDOORs version do the same for all you adventurous types?
This is NOT a review and you should look back to the original Spartan Trainer review for an in-depth look at the features and performance.
A solid, mid-tier triathlon watch suitable for beginners and the more serious amongst you. Packed with hiking functionality.
The Suunto Spartan Trainer reviewed here sits very well in the mid-tier of triathlon watches. It has solid capabilities, looks good and is nicely priced for what it is. It’s hard to justify the notable extra cost to move up from the Spartan Trainer to something like a Garmin Fenix 5S Plus. At this price, it only faces competition from the Polar Vantage M and Garmin’s somewhat older 735XT, which will soon be superceded.
It has a few annoying triathlon-related features which stop it being an effective ‘pro’ triathlon watch and these features would be lack of ANT+ support, lack of complex structured workouts and lack of support for L+R bike power meters. There are a few other peripheral triathlon features missing of that nature too which might be added over time through firmware.
Some will have concerns over the accuracy of GPS and oHR but, in reality, such accuracy is the same as found on your friend’s Garmin.
So, for a wannabe ‘pro’ triathlete it won’t do. But most people are not in that category and want a cool, well-functioned watch for the occasional triathlon and for lots of fitness, running and cycling training and the Spartan Trainer is GREAT for all of you. Couple with that the design and colour options available on the Spartan range and you can get just the look you want.
It IS a good triathlon watch and I would say it is a recommendation, albeit with the reservations I lay out above and in the detailed review that follows.
I do like the Spartan Trainer though !
This is a little tricky as around about the same time as this TRAINER OUTDOOR variant is launched there is also a notable piece of updated firmware for the SPARTAN range and for the MOVESCOUNT app (I have posted simultaneously on that). So there are lots of new functionalities included there, like improved connectivity and watch-based HR Zones. The watch-based HR zones is an interesting place where quite a few new functionalities could come from.
Putting those new firmware additions to one side all that has changed in the OUTDOOR version of the TRAINER WHR is the materials on the outer casing. So it feels a bit more substantial (slightly heavier) and looks, in some respects, slightly nicer if the ‘rugged’ look is your thing. Remember the TRAINER is the cheaper, smaller SPARTAN – ideal for thinner wrists.
- Colour – there are two new colours AMBER and SANDSTONE. My skin is fairly tanned at the moment and they seem to suit that skin tone very well.
- Bezel: Steel – the steel bezel was already on two of the original TRAINER variants but the new steel bezel is not
- smooth, having 4 lugs
- Lens: Mineral crystal & Polyamide case – as with the two premium version of the original TRAINER
- Strap: The material does feel different to my all-black TRAINER. Perhaps slightly more rubbery?
- The clasp and buttons also match the steel bezel’s material
- The outer ring around the display area has markings in per-second increments
- Weight 66g (compared to 56g for all-polyamide, non-outdoor variant)
- Price: as before, coming in at the upper end of the ‘premium’ TRAINER models at 329 € (compare to 279 € for the all-polyamide variants)
That’s all you need to know. The information below adds some context to the overall SPARTAN outdoor range and a few nice images.
Comparison – To earlier polyamide all-black version
Here are the original 5 SPARTAN TRAINERs with the two with premium materials to the right
So I have the black one and the mint green original one is currently doing the rounds, measuring every parkrun course in the UK by theparkrunnerette (link to: the5krunner.com). The two premium ones are a tad nicer IMO but I like the all-black one.
Both of the new OUTDOOR variants have the premium materials. Here is a slideshow showing them from a variety of angles. The SANDSTONE coloured one is a dummy unit, hence its screen looks a bit brighter than in reality.
Comparison to the SPORT WHR BARO
The more interesting comparison comes when comparing to the slightly larger and more expensive BARO version of the SUUNTO SPARTAN SPORT WHR (Review). You can see the broad similarity of the design of the bezel. The ULTRA and BARO have slightly larger screens also with a higher resolution
However, the SPORT WHR BARO & SUUNTO SPARTAN ULTRA (review) models both have GPS+GLONASS, whereas the TRAINER is only GPS. Generally, that’s no big deal but in forest or hilly areas GLONASS might well improve positioning.
The ULTRA and BARO both have the 3-button plus touchscreen format. The TRAINER is 5-buttons and no touchscreen. To be frank, 5 buttons are probably better for an outdoor watch.
You get a real compass on the ULTRA and BARO whereas the TRAINER provides direction based on movement and GPS signals. So that’s not as accurate.
The altimetry on the TRAINER OUTDOOR is GPS-based, like the SPARTAN SPORT and the SPARTAN SPORT WHR. Premium barometric altimetry is only found on the ULTRA and SPORT WHR BARO. It’s behind the little holes you can see in the cases in the images above/below.
Here’s that detailed review again. The outdoor model has pretty much the exact same levels of accuracy of HR and GPS as described in detail in this earlier review.
It’s a sensible variant on the existing well-featured and well-priced SUUNTO SPARTAN TRAINER WHR design. I like it both from an aesthetic and functionality perspective.
Had Suunto included a real compass and barometric altimetry that would have been nice BUT then this model would probably have significantly impacted on sales of the premium models.
As we have seen with the parallel (free) firmware releases for the TRAINER, this watch is only going to get better.
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