Suunto Vertical Review ⛰️ now with onboard Maps [2023]

Suunto Vertical reviewSuunto Vertical Review

The 2023 Suunto Vertical is my favourite Suunto watch and here’s a detailed review of it, warts and all, starting with a summary.

I love its looks and I love the many subtle improvements that have been made to its screens and menus. The wholly new onboard maps fill a massively important feature gap where previously Garmin and Coros were pulling ahead. Battery life is excessively, ridiculously, crazily long, and GNSS accuracy is the best on any sports watch…ever. And I mean EVER. I even love the buttons, the strap and the app.

Every silver lining has a cloud though. I found the heart rate sensor to be pants and I would definitely like a bigger screen area. Part of the ‘bezel’ now has a solar charging ring, I’m not entirely sure how useful this is in real life. It can’t hurt though, right?

Launch Price: €599/$629/£560 (Steel)

€799/£735/$839 (Titanium)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A supremely competent outdoor watch - with onboard maps
  • Price - 85%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 90%
  • Build Quality & Design - 95%
  • Features, Including App - 85%
  • Openness & Compatability - 85%


Suunto Vertical featured

Suunto Vertical Review – Summary

As a flagship device, the Suunto Vertical disappoints me only in terms of its below-meh level of heart rate accuracy. However, this disappointment is blown away by the best-ever GPS accuracy. GPS location is just one aspect of understanding your surroundings, Suunto now offers onboard maps, along with a wide range of sensors and apps that cover storm alerts, sunset alerts, ETA, barometric trends, temperature, and blood oxygen to provide a comprehensive understanding of you, in your environment and on your adventure.

The elephant in the room is Garmin which has always been at the forefront of feature-rich devices. However, in many ways, Suunto’s app store has already caught up and offered practical, add-on features rather than a plethora of “pretty” watch faces. Although Suunto could benefit from a few better watch faces! In some ways, Suunto’s approach beats Garmin as you only add the complexity you need via Suunto PLUS apps whereas having too many of those features pre-loaded means that Garmin watch interfaces are highly complex and sometimes very confusing to use.

The battery life has improved, providing market-leading longevity. With per-second GPS logging, multi-day trips are easily recorded, and on sunny days, the solar ring extends the already impressive battery life. However, the Vertical seems to have some issues with fast charging and reporting the correct battery level, which Suunto will promptly fix before you get yours!

The Vertical’s display could benefit from covering more of the available area, but it remains readable in many lighting conditions, and the configurable backlight further improves readability when needed. However, the sports watch industry is moving toward bright, high-resolution AMOLED screens. Many people are willing to pay a premium for prettier watches and shorter battery life. As a true adventurer, though, you will likely stick with trusted and efficient display technology and eschew these modern gimmicks.

Suunto’s app looks good and is good; its route planning is exceptional and benefits from 3D visualization and heatmaps.

The titanium/steel construction and 100% sapphire glass offer one of the best watch ‘shells’ possible. Suunto has tested this watch in real-world conditions to high levels of durability, and its performance exceeds the MIL standard accreditations it lists.

The Suunto Vertical is a highly capable sports watch with numerous training and physiology features. Although it lacks the increasingly less important ANT+, multi-sensor support, it may not quite match the Garmin Fenix in athletic sports that ‘need’ many boxes checked. However, many people prefer Suunto’s aesthetics and may not even use all the features that Suunto offers, let alone what Garmin could provide on top straight from the box.

I like it.

Launch Price: €599/$629/£560 (Steel) €799/£735/$839 (Titanium)


  • Distinctive, rugged aesthetics on an easy-to-wear 24×7 adventure sports watch.
  • Many sports profiles with the usual, wide range of customisation opportunities including zones, alerts, power management profiles, many metrics per screen, many lap types, and more
  • Suunto Plus ‘apps’ and 3rd party link-ups support a wide scope of sports/navigational uses
  • All key sensors – Barometer, Altimeter, GPS, SpO2, Magnetic Compass, temperature, and optical HR/HRV.
  • Support for sports sensors like chest straps, power meters, cadence/speed sensors, STRYD, CORE, ActiveLook Glasses/H.U.D, and more
  • On-wrist running/hiking power calculation
  • Improved menu aesthetics with clearly readable screens
  • Maps that support complex navigation in your adventures (routes, POIs, bearing nav, storm warnings)
  • 60 hours of high-resolution, dual-band GPS-tracking; 90 hours of single band; market-leading 500hr GPS battery life (Tour); even more with solar.
  • Battery management profiles; a full recharge within 90 minutes; and 10 hours of charge in 10 minutes.


  • Music control for your smartphone
  • Optical heart rate needs improvement
  • No contactless payments (try the Sunnto 7 for music, maps and payments)
  • Display/Bezel – Suunto needs to introduce larger display sizes with smaller bezels.

Suunto Vertical banner


Suunto Vertical is the company’s biggest and best outdoor watch. It boasts the latest generation of tech, partly shared with its smaller siblings, the Suunto 9 Peak and 9 Peak Pro. These 3 watches then represent the top-end of Suunto’s product range with the 5 Peak representing a smaller, mid-range offering.

Its competitors would be the Garmin Fenix 7X and the Coros Vertix 2, both of which are good outdoor watches. The former is a complex and uber-feature-packed watch with the Coros also coming in high on the features stakes. All 3 boast high-quality construction either as standard or as an option. Once you add the sapphire lens, titanium construction and solar charging to the Garmin, you won’t get any change from US$1000, whereas Coros and Suunto come in 20-40% cheaper.

I suspect few people will switch from Coros or Garmin to this Suunto and vice versa. So, the most likely buyer of a Suunto Vertical would be a new adventure watch buyer or an existing Suunto owner, most likely a Suunto 9 / 9 Baro owner from 2018 looking to upgrade to a more modern device with maps, solar charging and superior battery life.

Key competitor comparison (all have onboard maps and great battery life)

  • Garmin – more expensive, more complex, the most features, good app and good app ecosystem
  • Coros – better value, great features, not-so-great-app and limited ecosystem (but improving)
  • Suunto – better value, equally great features, a rich well-designed app and an already-good 3rd party app ecosystem.


Suunto Vertical – What’s New?

There are a whole host of changes and additions. Let’s start with the 4 major leaps forward which are

  • Proper, onboard maps
  • Even better battery life – 90 hours of GPS+Galileo recording
  • More accurate dual-frequency, 4 constellation GNSS
  • Solar Charging

I’ll cover those in much more detail in a minute but note that there are also these additions

  • Many tweaks to the menus
  • Ability to have two 3rd party apps per workout (like Garmin)
  • Refreshed and expanded the weather widget
  • New solar widget
  • New charging screen
  • Other widgets also refreshed
  • Good, tactile buttons
  • The Sapphire lens is 100% sapphire. Not simply a sapphire coating.
  • Nice looking, interchangeable, silicone strap that works well
  • New design details like a ridged Titanium bezel.
  • New charging puck, although it’s similar-looking to the previous ones.
  • A new watch face shows solar charging
  • Fast charging, 90 minutes from zero to hero.
  • Subtly different MIL-STD-810H ruggedness tests. Suunto claims to exceed these standards in any case.
  • Display-based flashlight for in-tent use rather than wayfinding
  • Voice feedback through earphones

Last, but not least, are general additions to most of the Suunto range via the smartphone app

  • Swim stress – based on CSS
  • Impact of your workout
  • Training load, Training Stress and Workout Intensity
  • Recovery, including ‘feeling’ feedback
  • Progress feedback to assess long-term improvement
  • A daily coach, updated after every sleep, workout, and every day
  • Workout planner with the ability to link to external services like TP
  • Race running or cycling Strava segments on the watch
  • Race apps tailored to specific events like duathlon, swim-run and
  • Various tests covering decoupling, aerobic abilities, FTP and Cooper Test


Deep Dive: Suunto Vertical Maps

Vertical is the first high-end Suunto watch to have proper onboard maps. It’s a critical feature for an outdoor watch to have and we can reasonably assume it will be on all the new high-end watches going forwards. Other, recent Suunto 9 Peak models may get maps as an update if they have enough space to store them but my guess is that they won’t.

The maps are not routable. This means that they are effectively a layer or picture of the terrain and any active, breadcrumb route is overlain onto the image without any understanding of junctions or other points on the map. That’s OK though and perfectly normal. You can get the routing functionality on the Suunto app and, in any case, trying to enter an address into, say, a Garmin watch’s routing engine is a thankless task, best avoided.

One nice feature of the map is that you can open and keep it open without starting to log a sport.

The map layers give a screen focus at these levels: 500m>200m>100m>500m>25m. Another nice feature is how the zoom works between the layers. Press to zoom to the next level of detail or press and hold to zoom out – it works very well, especially with the tactile buttons.

Suunto Vertical’s maps also include contour lines. It’s pretty flat where I am most of the time in London and the contours add nothing but when tested in Surrey and Cornwall, they give a feel for their potential usefulness in more seriously mountainous areas.

Bearings, POIs, Pan/Zoom, compass and the ability to follow breadcrumb routes are all linked to the map functionality and there are 3 flavours of maps – normal, dark and high contrast.

Overall I’d say the watch by itself has more than enough to be a useful navigational tool. OK, you need to use the app for more complex route planning needs but that’s the place lace to do those in any case with other brands.

Deep Dive: Suunto Vertical’s Awesome Battery Life & Charging

The battery lives are so good that it would take half a lifetime to test them from fully charged to fully depleted. Suunto seems confident that, if anything, the true battery lives are even longer. I’d say that was a good starting point as all batteries degrade over time so this approach will keep you happier for longer.

The solar charge comes from a tiny 1mm ring around the outer edge of the bezel. It’s NOT the entire area around the display, although it will probably make you feel better to think that it is.

Al I can really do is state the impressive battery life claims which are these:

Performance Mode (4 GPS systems, dual-band)

    • 60 hours of recording (85 hours with solar @50k Lux)

Normal/Endurance Mode (4GPS Systems, single band)

    • 90 hours of recording (140 hours with solar)

Ultra Mode (4GPS Systems on/off for 0.5 seconds, single band)

    • 140 hours of recording (280 hours with solar)

Tour Mode (logging once every 2 minutes)

    • 500 hours of recording (30 days with solar)

That’s twice the battery life of the Suunto 9 Peak and three times that of the older Suunto 9 Baro.

Even better than that, the new fast charging mode should give 10 hours of GPS recording for a mere 10 minutes of charge time with a full charge taking 90 minutes.


  1. I couldn’t really verify any of this. When I was at a low level of battery, the indicated number of hours remaining (6) was miles off and I got 3 hours until the battery died although I looked at the map a few times and did have the backlight cranked up.
  2. I can’t get the watch to fully charge fully or quickly. Suunto is unsure why and this seems to be a me-dependent issue.
  3. Battery charge and solar gain are not recorded in the data and so I can’t show you either on any charts (Suunto has said that they are aware of this omission and would like to add it).
  4. In the solar widget photo, above, the widget does not seem to reflect the 4 hours of full, direct sunlight the watch definitely received in the middle of my garden, nor the runs and walks I’d done beforehand

Suunto Vertical Accuracy

Suunto was confident that this is the most accurate-ever GPS. But is it?

A: Yes.

These GPS test tracks all have the Vertical in RED and cover a selection of my road rides, trail rides, road runs and hikes.

10-Mile GNSS Running Over a Test Course Used Multiple Times

Suunto received the best-ever results with reflected signal in one part of the course being the only, minor concern.


Trail MTB In Cornwall – Coast to Coast and back, Suunto Vertical Review

Nothing to see here. All was good with Garmin Edge 540, Wahoo and Apple.



riding in the Surrey Hills

Nothing to see here, all is good.

Tour Mode Hiking in Cornwall

Tour mode grabs a GPS point every couple of minutes or so. Consequently, the GPS track is a bit rubbish if you are looking for accuracy. However, it pretty much grabs the gist of things if that’s all you need for a massively long multi-day hike. Personally, I’d never use it but I did this time…just for you

I’d call some of these parts of the track ‘walking up a coastal cliff face’.


Heart Rate Accuracy

The heart rate sensor can occasionally be accurate but, for me, it was usually unacceptably inaccurate most of the time. Heart Rate accuracy varies from person to person and from use to use. You may well be considerably luckier than me…or not. FWIW: I tend to get bad results with HR sensors from all brands and so I use a reliable chest strap HR sensor.


Elevation Accuracy

Elevation accuracy looks good.

The Tour Mode elevation plot doesn’t look great but is accurate for the data points taken

Noteworthy – Flashlight

The ‘flashlight’ simply turns the display fully on and cranks up the backlight. It gives enough light to rummage around in a tent and find stuff.


Noteworthy – Weather Widget

The widgets have all been tweaked but the Weather Widget has been tweaked more than most and now looks usefully cool and is refreshed every hour from your smartphone.



Take Out – Suunto Vertical Review

Suunto’s relatively new corporate owners have likely put the company on a good financial footing. With eco-friendly assembly in Finland, the company is also sending the right messages to its typical adventure customer base. Whilst the recent but smaller 9 Peak Pro addressed the ‘smaller wrist‘ market, Suunto Vertical appeals to typical, existing Suunto users and wholly new adventure watch buyers, which could make it more challenging for Suunto to sell this excellent watch in large volumes.

Another key takeaway from this review is that Suunto Vertical is gaining ground on the Garmin Fenix for the adventure features that count, although Suunto has a low market share. I would add that Coros Vertix 2 is roughly on par with Suunto Vertical, but Suunto’s superior ecosystem gives it a winning edge. The investment in the transformed app and easy-to-implement partner integrations over the last few years is impressive and clearly paying off, and the watch itself is no longer missing a key strategic feature – offline maps. Plus, Suunto has added small-scale feature boosts such as the ability to run 2 simultaneous Suunto apps (like Garmin, Coros has none), but the watch’s inability to pair two chest strap sensors or any ANT+ sensors may be frustrating for technically-minded endurance athletes/triathletes.

With the exception of a full-screen display, the watch and strap have properly addressed all the aesthetic and visible hardware components. Other than some buggy map rendering that will be sorted out soon, the watch runs smoothly and quickly.

The style of the menu interface and screens dates back to 2016. Before I got hold of the Vertical, I was thinking that it might need a refresh. Coincidentally, it has received one, albeit a subtle one. Maybe a wholly new look and feel will be appropriate in a few more years, so long as it does not distract from the generally good level of usability the watch has today.

Of course, there is always room for improvement, as is the case with any sports watch. The major feature sets are covered more than well enough.

Where next?

The obvious answer is that Suunto needs next-gen screen tech. But I’m not sure this would benefit the target market, as it would inevitably lead to a battery life hit and customers probably place a greater value on longevity. That said, it needs a bigger display area, even if only the same dullish tech is used.

Similarly, as a triathlete, I would be inclined to suggest that Suunto give me more of the feature that I would use, such as track mode, multi-sensor pairing, and ANT+ pairing. However, I’m not Suunto’s target demographic. Suunto can better serve its target markets by enhancing its physiology features and forming partnerships with companies in that area.

Overall, the Suunto Vertical is an excellent adventure watch that is worth considering for both typical, existing Suunto users and wholly new adventure watch buyers.

Price and Availability

Launch Price: €599/$629/£560 (Steel) €799/£735/$839 (Titanium)



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34 thoughts on “Suunto Vertical Review ⛰️ now with onboard Maps [2023]

  1. The mapping looks very primitive and seems not to display place names which is very useful when up in the fells. Also not cobtext aware so no dynamic routing which Garmin has been doing since the Fenix 5X.

    Solar ring looks twice the size of the solar ring on the Fenix 7x – have you measured gains in real world?

  2. hi
    in the review i touched on that the gains are not recorded into the fit file and that the displayed remaining battery was unreliable so its not possible to validate the manufacturer claims. i also touched on the dynamic routing which you correctly point out that garmin does.
    the solar charge ring is only about 1mm wide the rest is black space.
    I’ll mention the lack of place names and agree that would be useful, though it would crowd the screen somewhat

  3. Where did you get the information that the 1mm ring is the solar panel vs. the 3 mm inner ring (that everyone else thinks is the solar panel as it looks like one)?

    1. That was from speaking with 3 people at Suunto.
      I will double check and agree that the larger ring does look like a solar ring.

      Edit: yes you are right. it is the 3mm ring

      1. Why then, there is the same size ring/bezel in the steel model that hasn’t solar power?

  4. Polar – learn from competitors how to make hardware (battery life, screen size) and software (maps, solar, wifi, custom apps)! Great to see how Suunto improve itself, sad to see Polar still sticks to 1,2 inch dull screen with up to 5-7 days battery life (and up to 40h GPS, not able to charge during activity).

      1. Lets be honest, ignite3 is entry level fitness watch, not something to compete with vertix2, fenix7x and suunto vertical. Grit pro is a good watch but offer only up to 40h 1s recording… 5-7 days smartwatch mode compared to 60 days on this vertical and vertix2? I love Polar but this love is harder every month

      2. Hi,
        Polar Unite is the ‘entry level’ watch, Ignite 3 is definitely quite a bit more than that but i agree Ignite 3 is not comparable with Vertix Fenix and Vertical. Ignite was Polar’s last watch and likely the first of the next generation with AMOLED. I would imagine that they will release AMOLED versions of Vantage/Grit etc this year but have no specific intel to share on that.

        grit pro 40h 1s recording – that sort of performance is perfectly fine for triathletes/runners and the like.
        However I would accept that adventurers/trekkers might want significantly more juice in the tank so, yes, Grit X needs to be improved in that respect and others too.

      3. Polar messed their own catalogue with ignite3. Ignite 1&2 was low-medium, now with price for ignite3 bigger than Pacer pro its more medium shelf.
        I Hope Polar wont go for amoled for serious watches. For me… Too many signs show theyre finished. Im waiting for a other 1,2 inch screen with “powerful” battery up to 7 days smartwatch/40h GPS (its kinda funny how they would mamę vertix2, vertical battery if 40h single band GPS is powerful ????… ).
        Overall – Im happy for suunto fans but as a hardcore Polar user Im more and more concerned the next Polar flagship will be buggy, slow, lacking mapping with very weak (compared to competitors standards) battery life

  5. How well does Stryd integrate?
    You mention HR/HRV but I haven’t seen anywhere else mention it HRV readings (on demand or continuous/overnight)

    1. HR is now continuous, like S7, which should dramatically improve both sleep tracking stats’ accuracy and body resources. Rumors on the forums are HRV is coming at some point too.

      I’d imagine Stryd integration is unchanged. As in, you can connect Stryd and perform power-based workouts as would be the case with Sx series and S9P(P). If you have ActiveLook glasses, they now recognize Stryd being connected and display power in addition to pace and heart rate for running, which is awesome. Power data syncs to Stryd automatically, and the rest of the metrics would still require a manual sync via Stryd’s app I presume. Still, it works better overall than COROS that now sends only partial stats (no air power/LBSS and no merge) or Garmin that requires you to either use Stryd app and lose many features you bought the watch for, or use Stryd data field and lose the ability to execute custom power-based workouts.

      1. So you mean Stryd integration with Suunto is better than with Coros? I’m on the fence between the Vertical and the Apex Pro 2 and I want full Stryd data integration.

  6. @Ryan: You can either use Stryd as power sensor (I guess it’ll override in-watch power), or link it using Stryd SuuntoPlus App: you’ll then get a dedicated Stryd Screen during activity with Stryd Metrics, pushed to Suunto App (if memory serves me well).
    Sync to Powercenter is standard as usual.

    I still miss a drill mode on this watch, and maybe a bit more multi-sport capabilities (no swimrun/duathlon/customizable multi-sport ….)

  7. Honestly, big ticket items for me are:
    – bigger screen (as much as I love S9P form factor, I’ve been missing the screen size and higher resolution of S9B)
    – non-clicking buttons, finally (clicks are nice to scare off raccoons and deer from the backyard, but hardly the best idea when you try to check time in the middle of the night and have your spouse sleeping next to you — this is how you get moved out to the couch in the basement),
    – two S+ apps (though I’d love to have S+ app and a guide, so ActiveLook glasses can be combined with a structured workout — ultimate road runner dream for any area filled with old ladies driving tanks)
    – weather widget with actual weather forecast
    – backlight-based flashlight (yes, we all wanted 7X LED, but beggars aren’t choosers)
    – insane battery life made insaner with solar charging that appears to be less of a gimmick than Garmin’s

    Maps are OK: I don’t care much about “routability” given how shaky it is on Garmin, but details and names would have made them far more useful. Multi-band is good too, but comparing S9PP against A2P I’m not seeing much difference. Epix2 may be a tiny bit better, but we already splitting hairs here.

    1. Nick, Stryd is partner yes, but pace and speed cannot be set like “from the Stryd”. Those two metrics comes from the watch. (source: support at Stryd)

  8. Do we know how notifications work with an iPhone? On my Suunto 9 Baro I cannot modify which notifications are received on the watch and thus get way too many notifications from my phone, which is wholly annoying


    1. i couldn’t see it on the list of sports on the watch (just checked)
      its the sort of thing that should be on i reckon
      maybe someone has or will develop a suunto plus guide as that would be needed to do any of the Bluetooth connections to ebike features

  9. Well, well, well. This is very cool. Nice clean design and solid features. Good job, Suunto.

    I do think the topo map layer is sufficient for orienting in the field to a predefined route.

    I particularly like the environmental responsibility angle with carbon offsets. I hope more companies follow their lead and get on board.

    The most important missing bit I see is an elevation profile breakdown like climb pro which is very useful for pacing on a big event.

    Suunto looks like they did a better job implementing solar than Garmin on the 7X / enduro 2. And they had the good sense not to cover part of the photovoltaic strip with their logo (???? Garmin!).

    Honestly I’m getting confused about the different battery range claims from different manufacturers.

    When the Vertix 2 came out the range was mind blowing. Then the fenix 7X came out and just about matched it, sort of. Depends on the settings and the weather?!

    Vertix 2 is ~50 hours in multiband. Fenix 7X multiband 50k lux is supposedly 41 hrs. But with SatIQ maybe it is 77? (Or maybe it is raining and foggy and you use the map constantly and the range turns out to be 30 hrs.)

    This new Suunto Vertical clearly has phenomenal range but I don’t get the math on how it is longer than the enduro 2?

    I guess that makes sense if you use the 50k lux multiband (locked) 81 hrs spec from the enduro 2 but realistically using SatIQ would likely be a lot better because most conditions don’t require multiband and SatIQ does a great job managing that without sacrificing accuracy.

    That’s just good power management so I think this claim is a little dubious. But both have phenomenal range.

    All of this is a bit wooly. Suffice it to say the state of the art on range is amazing.

    1. I think the catch is in a footnote somewhere, that the Solar advantage implies 50k for the whole time, which doesn’t happen even in a best case scenario (summer in the tropics). The sun will come down at some point. 🙂

      I might be mistaken, but that was my feeling when I saw the table somewhere.

      1. I think you are right about those numbers from both Garmin and Suunto implying 50k lux the entire time of activity tracking. That can happen in a multi-stage event but not what you were probably thinking.

  10. Impressive Hardware. I really like this watch. But i don’t like the software. I still do not understand why you can use only two suunto plus options and when creating an own training you can’t use even one. The Suunto App has improved over time, but still needs some work.
    I can’t find an argument for this watch except the desing and the battery life. At the moment you can get a new Fenix 7 sapphire solar for about 650€ including the Garmin Ecosystem. It will be hard for suunto to get new customers if they do not drop the price significantly.

  11. Only one sensor per type when my 7 years old FR 645 (half the price of this watch at the time) supports almost as many as you like… I have 2 bikes, with speed and cadence sensors. According to Suunto, every time I switch bike I need to unpair the sensors from one bike and re-pair them to the other one?
    It is 2023 Suunto…

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