As we transition from one season to the next, I thought to write up a few gear reviews of products we used all winter and found to be perfect.
Possibly the most important thing about Gear Reviews is knowing who is doing the review. Do they have any idea what they are talking about? Are they being paid to promote the gear? Who am I to talk gear and why should you listen to me?
My resume… 25 years of fulltime work in the outdoor industry as both a professional photographer and athlete. I am in the mountains 320+ days a year, on bikes, backcountry skiing, climbing and running. I live and work in the mountains, the Swiss Alps, and I am in outdoor gear every day. Yes, we work for many brands and get most everything for free, but we get a lot of gear from all different brands. In the next few posts I will only promote what I have found to be exceptional. Also, I’m an uphill kind of guy…
Ueli Steck’s Choice for Training
This winter was the first in our new home of Interlaken, Switzerland. The town is loaded with people who charge hard. None more so than alpinist Ueli Steck, who has become a friend and training partner. We trained together over the winter by ski mountaineering on a local big peak. Ueli is famous for his training methods and is on a very strict and carefully designed program by a coaching team. The entire process is measured through Ueli’s Suunto Ambit watch, from which data is transfered each day for records and monitoring.
I asked Ueli about the Ambit as I saw him using it so often. The battery life, ease of use, customization, and precise measuring were clearly all big factors in his use of the watch. Yes, he is sponsored by Suunto, but Ueli will only use what works, and works perfectly.
When an Ambit landed in my own lap – I put it to use on ski tours.
First up, the fact that you can customize the interface is huge – and you do so using not the watch, but plugging it into the computer and free Suunto Moveslink App, then working on it through a browser – it’s a no brainer. Suunto also offers users the ability to create custom Apps for the system, so you may browse what is already available for your activities and needs and then download the app into your own device.
Users are able to activate different sport settings and then customize the screen for each. I have a Ski Mountaineering/Backcountry Ski, Running and a general “Mountain” category. For each sport I have completely customized screens on the watch which I can work through for the data I want.
For Ski Mountaineering I am mostly concerned about heart rate and rate of ascent, similar for running, but for my general Mountain sport I am after speed, distance and altitude. The watch comes loaded with many sports and you can add to or delete and customize as necessary.
Suunto Design and Accuracy
Next, the watch is dead accurate – I have done ski tours using the GPS, zoomed in on the computer at home and seen where I wandered off the skin track to shoot photos or visit trees. Meanwhile the battery surprised me by lasting two full days on a ski tour where it ran most all day, both days. Suunto claims 15 hours on a full charge while GPS tracking, my experience would support this. Finally, it is not a big, ugly brick on your wrist, but a nicely designed watch with a very pleasing face that you’ll likely not wear just for sport but for every day use.
Suunto and Strava
For Strava people there is one extra step to get your data uploaded. I discovered Strava does not recognize the Suunto – so I upload my Suunto to Movescount, then simply export it as a .gpx file to my computer. Back to Strava and an Upload New Activity from computer. All data is imported without issues. For non-Strava users, the Movescount site itself is an elegant and clean interface that serves as a training and record keeping database.
Full info about the Suunto Ambit can be found at Suunto’s Website