Simply put, I was looking for a reliable GPS watch that had a battery life longer than the 8hrs my previous watch lasted for. Additionally, I was looking for a watch that had a Barometer for accurate elevation data for navigating and exercise purposes. Anything beyond that, well that’d just be a bonus. The Suunto 9 Baro has exceeded all my expectations in every category and I cannot begin to recommend it enough.
Argue with me all you’d like, the battery on this watch is by far the best feature. The specs state that this watch can deliver 25 hours to 120 hours of recording time. Though I cannot verify the 120 hours, I can attest to this watch being able to record for 25 hours, at full power and the Best GPS settings. That amount of time is unheard of. And if you plan to be out for longer than 25 hours, or on a multi-day trip, just drop that GPS accuracy down from Best to Good or Okay (which just reduces the GPS refresh rate), to extend your battery life to 50 or 120 hours, respectively.
This was the main reason I bought this watch, as I mentioned before, because regularly my friends and I would have a big day ski touring in the backcountry that would last longer than 6-8hours and I’d hate having my watch die on me. Now, I can do a full week’s worth of activities and exercises without having to charge my watch. And when I want to do a big day in the mountains, I can go in with confidence that my watch battery will last me all day, and the recover hike the next day too!
Having a barometer means a few things. First, it is a device that measures atmospheric pressure. Since you’re not a meteorologist, predicting weather doesn’t really pertain to you. But what a barometer does really well is measure altitude. This watch gives you accurate altitude within +/- 10ft. The best part is that you don’t need to be in a sport mode, like other watches, to see your altitude. It’s constantly reporting your altitude on the watch face.
But that’s not all. On the Suunto 9 Baro, the GPS data is combined with the Barometric Altitude, called FusedAlti, which virtually eliminates the watch incorrectly tracking your position on a run, ski, or ride in the mountains. Standard GPS watches are plagued by this problem, where you look back at your activity and see your route constantly jumping up and down on a trail because the GPS data couldn’t keep track of where you were on the side of a mountain. The Baro fixes all of that.
Lastly, the Suunto 9 Baro combines with the internal thermometer to give you external temps, as well as a storm warning when the watch senses a drop in pressure right before a storm. This is super helpful for those who train in the mountains.
I alluded to the accuracy in the section above, combining GPS with Barometer for a dialed tracking result each outing, but I will say the GPS on this watch is fantastic. Using the App or the Web, you can plan routes ahead of time, download them to the watch, and use it to navigate a designated route. I’ve done this when ascending the Grand Teton because you need to start in the dark, hiking uphill with only your headlamp for roughly 5 hours. This watch feature came in handy.
The sport modes for the Suunto 9 Baro are identical to all of the other Suunto Watches, as far as I’m concerned. Not to say that it’s a bad thing, but that Suunto Sport Modes are fantastic. Especially, since each sport modes is customizable to how exactly you want it to appear on your watch face during the activity. For all the activities I do, like biking, skiing, running, etc: you can track speed, distance, vertical gain, descent, heart rate, lap times and details, average heat rates and speeds, duration, you name it. If you can record it or track it, then you can get it on a sport mode. You can even get rowing and running cadences. Suunto claims that there are 80, preset sportmodes, and an unlimited number of customizable combinations as well.
The price of the Suunto 9 Baro ranges from $499-$849 for Suunto 9 Baro Black and Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Leather, respectively. Comparatively, the Garmin Fenix 6 runs $600, so the Suunto can definitely be a cheaper option. Conversely, the Apple iWatch runs around $200-$400 for way more functions; however, the main selling point of the Suunto 9 Baro is the battery life, unlike the 7 hours of workout tracking on the iWatch. This watch is definitely a tool for the training and endurance athletes that require long battery life and reliable data collection, and the price reflects that.
The Suunto 9 Baro is big. I’m not going to lie. I love big watches, so I don’t mind; however, there is nothing about this watch that screams slick or streamline like your old-school timex. But this means that the watch face is big and very visible, especially with its 2″ diameter touch screen. It weighs 2.54 oz, which isn’t noticeable on a long run or ride if you were concerned about that. The band is also relatively thick, but all this means is that the thicker the watch itself, the bigger the battery, which means a longer battery life.
Additional Features (Heart Rate, Water Resistance)
Of course the Suunto 9 Baro comes with a wrist heart rate monitor. If you’re at all familiar with the technology, you know it only really works well if the watch is tightened down and your wrist is a little wet. That’s why, for activities I really want to watch my heart rate, I use a heart rate monitor strap.
And like any other good sports watch, it is water resistant. Though I’ve never taken it to 100m, for casual activities like surfing, swimming, SUP, and kayaking, I have no worries about this thing getting water damage.
I wear my Suunto 9 Baro all the time, quite literally 24 hours a day. I track every activity throughout the year, and have had zero complaints of it after a year of using it. If you couldn’t tell by my review, my favorite feature is the battery life. I’ve gone on long days in the mountains 15+ hours, multi-day backpacking and ski touring trips, and just lasting long weekends mountain biking in the Utah desert on a single charge. Beyond that, the barometer giving me such accurate altitude information is also unparalleled. You definitely won’t regret buying this watch, especially if you are a dedicated mountain althlete.
All photos courtesy of Suunto.com
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.