Field Tested: Suunto 9 Baro

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted in Overland Journal’s Spring 2021 Issue.

 

Finnish company Suunto has been in the game for over 80 years, making compasses, watches, and dive computers. I owned their Vector, the first outdoor, sports-focused wristwatch that incorporated an altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer in one chunky housing. For me, a watch needs to do more than tell time if I’m going to take it along on my outdoor endeavors. That’s why Suunto’s flagship wrist-based GPS watch, the 9 Baro, has consistently been on my wrist for the last month.

Weighing 2.86 ounces, the Baro feels solid without being heavy. The comfortable silicone strap is easy to swap out for a variety of other options, and it did a great job of staying in place on my arm during vigorous activities. The buttons, which are all located on the right side, appear to be primarily designed for right-handed people. But thanks to the touch screen (sluggish compared to a smartphone), this didn’t pose any major problems, even for this lefty. I was able to read the display, even in bright sunlight.

 

The GPS tracking can record your track for download to a phone or computer, display predefined routes that you upload to it via smartphone, mark POIs in the field, and even help you backtrack to apremarked location.

 

 

 

The Baro’s GPS tracking is arguably its most useful feature. It can record your track for download to a phone or computer, display predefined routes that you upload to it via smartphone, mark POIs in the field, and even help you backtrack to a premarked location. The default accuracy of this GPS unit was sufficient for my needs, but you can adjust the interval that the watch registers your position and even select from four different satellite systems (GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou). This effectively lets you prioritize between higher accuracy or longer battery life. Battery life is impressive—up to 120 hours of GPS use or 14 days in time mode. Charging is easily accomplished with the included magnetic USB interface.

Some of the other features that I found useful were the sleep tracking, heart rate monitor, and customizable sports modes. The sleep tracking is surprisingly right on and relays how many hours of shut-eye you got and what percentage was deep sleep. The heart rate monitor, which fluctuated in terms of accuracy, was useful enough for keeping my pace in check on long trail runs so that I didn’t hit a “wall” before getting back to my car. Customizable sports modes allow you to choose from a large selection of data fields to display during your chosen outdoor activity; it even has a paragliding mode for when I take flight.

$599 | SUUNTO.COM

 

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Matt is a paragliding pilot and adventure seeker living full-time in a 25-foot Airstream travel trailer pulled by a Ram 2500. His love of the outdoors has driven him to explore remote destinations across North and South America in search of the most aesthetic peaks and beautiful flying sites. IG: @m.b.swartz