Gear Review: Suunto Core Watch is put to the test

Suunto Core Review by Bivouac Staff Member Peter Harris.

Bivouac Staff Member Peter Harris

My Suunto Vector is one of my oldest pieces of kit, and is still going strong almost eight years since I bought it. However the myriad of scratches on its tired plastic display are evidence of the fact that it’s nearly time to look to replace it, so I leapt at the opportunity to take a Suunto Core for a spin to see how it stacked up.

The Vector was a big watch at its time, and given the yellow colour I bought it in, looked somewhat like a small hamburger sitting on my wrist. Now though, with the evolution of smart watches, one looks like something of a misfit if any of their wrist can be seen beneath some behemoth’s screen. In light of that, the Suunto Core is actually quite discreet (putting to one side the bright green strap in the Core Crush model I tested)!

Suunto Core Watch Review

With the Vector no longer being made, the Core is the natural successor, and I was interested to see how it compared. In short, it’s a perfect balance of development, while retaining the basic necessities and straight-forward platform which made me feel right at home with the Core. Granted it helped that I’ve come to grips with my Suunto over the years, but with the addition of a ‘Mode’ button, and interactive menus, the Core is actually a more intuitive watch to use. With an altimeter, barometer, compass and obviously clock, it has everything I want in a watch, and nothing more. I won’t bore you with the details, but the Core keeps everything good from its ancestors, like log book functions, memory, pressure trends and huge variety of display configurations, and then improves a whole host of other things; with a louder alarm, save-able log entries, dual time, sunrise and sunset times and single-metre resolution on the altimeter, to name just a few.

The Suunto Core comes in a huge number of styles, but the operating platform remains the same across the board. I trialed the Core Crush, and immediately noticed some changes from my old Vector. It instantly felt more solid in its construction with a metal bezel and glass screen, and try as hard as I might to give both the display and seemingly fragile silicon-rubber strap a run for their money, it looks as good as it came out of the box. The downside, albeit it minor, to this solidity is the weight of the watch.  Now I’m not petite by anyone’s standard, but the first time I went surfing with it on, it was an honest struggle to stay afloat!

I didn’t let the Core off lightly – I well and truly put it through its paces over the month, with a number of surfs, a spot of climbing, and some respectable West Coast tramping and bush-bashing, and I struggled to find much to complain about. It’s the small details about the watch which could be a problem, but nearly every one is fixable in some way.  For example, I found the buttons could have a tendency to accidentally get pressed by the small fat rolls on my wrist, but that being said, you can lock the buttons when you’re doing such activities, which instantly does away with this complaint. Similarly, I found the negative display on the watch slightly difficult to read, especially from an angle, but again, the watch can be purchased with a positive display – which I would recommend.

On the whole, it’s difficult to find fault with the Suunto Core. Its functionality is exceptional, and without a GPS, its battery life makes it actually practical for use more than 5km from a power supply. It’s solid, reliable and provides everything I could want an all-round climbing, tramping, surfing, skiing outdoors watch to do, plus a couple of features I didn’t know I wanted till I got to use them. The only question I need to answer now, is what colour am I going to buy?

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