Review: Suunto Core – A Constant Outdoor (And Indoor) Companion

Most of us have something that comes along with us on every adventure: a dog, walking stick, certain hiking boots or shoes, or a favorite trail mix.  If you are in the market for a premium watch that can do just about anything, add another to the list: a Suunto Core watch.  Since 1936, this Finnish company has been at the forefront of major changes in both watch and compass technology, and the Suunto Core is a combination of the features that are the most popular on their many lines of watches.  Scuba divers, mountain climbers, campers, and urban warriors will all find something to love about this watch.

Each of the 13 different models of the Suunto Core have the same basic features, though they are made out of different materials and each has a unique look.  The altimeter allows you to follow your progress up a rock wall or how many more feet are left before reaching the summit (and will even log the changes in elevation for you), while the automatic switch to a barometer when you stop moving can help you decide what the weather is likely to do.  A built-in digital compass that is adjustable in order to allow for the difference between magnetic north and true north can help you find your way.  Another useful feature is the ability to find out sunrise and sunset times for over 400 locations around the world, meaning you can always know when to start and finish your outdoor activities (because we all know that time is less important than light on most adventures).  Of course, the Core also has the features that you would expect from a digital watch, such as an alarm, timer, and sports chronograph, with the addition of a digital thermometer.

With all of these things packed into one watch, you might expect it to be large with a lot of extra buttons.  And you would be wrong.  The Suunto Core is a pretty standard sized sports watch: not too big, not too small.  I recently reviewed the Suunto Core Lava Red, and it is not only sized pretty much perfectly, it is also lighter than most similar watches.  Using the Core is also a pretty simple process.  With just a quick look at the included instruction sheet even a novice user should be able to figure out everything they need to do to modify the settings to fit their needs.  While all of these things are nice, our favorite part about this watch is the included wristband.  At first, it seems pretty simple, but after extensive use you’ll start to notice that it never snags on skin or arm hair (which is joyous, by the way), and the holes are numerous enough to fit pretty much every type of wrist out there.  Because of this, the Suunto Core is extremely comfortable and will probably replace your everyday watch as soon as you put it on.  All of the features I was able to test worked just as advertised (after we realized that a previous tester had hijacked some of the settings).

So, what’s the catch, you ask?  This watch is a bit pricey, ranging from $269 to $549, depending on the style and materials used to create it.  While this is probably outside of the price range of the casual hikers and campers among us, it is well worth the money for more avid outdoorsmen.  And with many of the styles working well for both the outdoors and everyday use, you can think of it as replacing two watches, not just one.  Check out the other styles of the Suunto Core, as well as a large selection of other timepieces for several different sports at the Suunto website.

– David

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