Suunto 9 BARO – Altimetry Accuracy over 200+ miles

I’m not going to be able to do any proper mountains until trips in the summer and after the summer. So all I have for now is a modest 500m ascent on MTBs over 13 hours on mud and trail with the new Suunto 9 BARO (non BARO version also available)

. Edit: added in another 100-mile plus ride with 2km climb

Ride 1

Suunto 9 altimetry

Something strange happened with the elevation at 10:10:26. At that point we were stopped, fixing a puncture.

At the same time Movescount, below, seems to show there was a notable air pressure change. So I’m not sure exactly what is going on there. The rest of the track looks good to me.

If I then add in the elevation track from the Forerunner 935 for the same ride you get the chart below. First up, ignore that it wasn’t auto-calibrated at the start for the correct elevation. But you can see that there is drift on the 935, probably linked to the atmospheric pressure changes mentioned earlier. Bizarrely the 935 ends up at the same elevation as the Suunto 9.

Climb/Descent Stats are:

  • The 935 recorded +628, -602m
  • The Suunto 9 recorded +606, -571
  • ‘Correct’ was +582, -567

Ride 2

Finally, and probably more definitively, here  is a 2km vertical and well over 100 mile horizontal ride comparing 4 devices ;-). Of interest to me was that this ride started away from home, I faffed around at the start before actually moving off and that seemed to give all the devices a relatively decent chance of working out the altitudes which were even relatively similar at the end where the ride finished in the same place. My uderstanding is that you need to wait AT LEAST a minute after getting a GPS fix in order to let your GPS fix also get a 3D fix for altitude/elevation.

The following results from all the devices seem pretty good and pretty consistent amongst themselves. Variations are somewhat masked by the number of data points over the 8 hours as well as by the number of lines on the chart. The Wahoo seem to have the most variation from the other with Garmin having the enxt most variation. Once again that leaves Suunto and Polar with what might be the most accurate tracks (I sense a trend 😉 ).

suunto wahoo polar garmin elevation

Let’s look at the exact same chart but this time comparing JUST the Suunto 9 with the ‘correct’ track


Climb/Descent Stats are:

  • The 935 recorded +1552, -1482
  • The Suunto 9 recorded +1776, -1767
  • The Polar V650 was +1786, -1773
  • ‘Correct’ was +1876, -1866


Take out: For my own purposes I’d be happy with any of these data. However for those of you with more of a need for precision I might tentatively offer that the FusedAlti of the Suunto and, perhaps, the quality of the internal componentry together deliver a usable track.

Best REI/Wiggle/PMC price is linked to. Prices are $599/£525/Eur599 and may well fall in 2019.

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4 thoughts on “Suunto 9 BARO – Altimetry Accuracy over 200+ miles

  1. I mean to be completely honest here, neither is on the mark but the swing is much larger between the “actual” and what the Forerunner 935 produced (approx 40m difference). The 9 is eerily close to the actual and that’s with a device out of the box before fine tuning (via hotfixes and firmware updates). Not to mention the 935 is over a YEAR old now.

    Color me impressed–just with the accuracy, the lacking package of Suunto at large and that demonstrable price tag is doing it no favors.

    1. The Suunto firmware DOES tick a lot of boxes now. Admittedly more are to be ticked and those that are ticked should have been ticked earlier.
      But going back to my ‘first runs’ post with the S9 (we’re all going to call it that aren’t we?), Suunto have identified a certain segment and have tried to address all its needs. Sure it’s missing ‘custom multisport profiles’ for me but it’s got ‘tested hardware quality’ and features that its target market want…i’m not really their target market.

      ssssh, don’t mention complex, structured workouts.

      oops. I just did.

      1. What I mean in with a lacking package are the nebulous things their direct competitor already has under their belt (App store/Smartwatch features etc…) Having an uber GPS isn’t going to bring many over solely on that merit, and again, that price tag is a hurdle too high to ask for it; at least for me, it is.

        Had Suunto took this product, and maybe the next one begins it into the realm that Garmin currently owns, then yes, absolutely. They would be offering their own take on the competitor’s devices and ecosystem but also are touting an OVERALL superior device in terms of accuracy, battery, and quality of life.

        Without those things, it ends up being the first evolution device from a company that is making a habit of piecemealing devices and features too frequently. I mean the Spartan Sport WHR Baro came out a few months ago, then they just released the S3 and now the S9 (which as a side note is going to get people confused with the Galaxy S9), what confidence do you think the consumer is going to have to pick this up when in potentially less than 3 months another evolution of this device may hit the market. Sure, that might not happen, but Suunto doesn’t make a good case for themselves otherwise.

        I’ve said this before but releasing new devices is a GOOD thing. It shows the company is healthy, but there is a fine line where that becomes redundant. You oversaturate the market and put yourself directly underwater with all of these devices. And it doesn’t make consumers excited to make the jump or even to dip their toe in their side of the pool at all when at a moment’s notice they are demoing the pool and putting up another one somewhere else!

        I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, I just can’t go and spend $650 American on a watch that might be obsolete in less than a fiscal quarter. There’s no device beyond my 935 in terms of functionality Garmin has released in the last year since it came out; maybe that’s the way it should be.

        Also, complex, structured workouts–If they end up like any of the beta things Garmin added to the 935….i’ll just wait a few years for something more–effective.

      2. Galaxy S9…ha !!!! good point.
        I kept thinking of BMW 9 series, 5 series 3 series etc.
        you’re saying some things about suunto that others have said regarding their piecemeal approach. so you obviously have a valid point in some quarters.
        I still reckon that movescount ‘serves a purpose’ and for those who want accuracy and mostly an on-watch experience (outdoord/mountains, etc) then maybe the brilliance of the app or the smartwatch notification aren’t on the primary list of must-haves. If your GPS/altimeter puts you ‘somewhere else’ you could die….for those people. #Segmentation
        $650…some people buy lots of gadgets. look at those who buy a new apple-whatever-it-is each year.
        still, i’m probably more like you with my 935. if push came to a shove; i’d agree with you.

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