Suunto 7 Experiences in the Mountains 2: Around the Traunstein

And the other of my ‘classic’ tours in the mountains, with the Suunto 7: The roads and trails from Gmunden up the Grünberg, past the Laudachsee, climbing the Hohe Scharte, and back around the Traunstein.

This proved interesting in various regards, quite different re. oHR and battery life of the Suunto 7, from the Sonnsteine trail before

GPS Tracks and Distances

As always, first of all, let’s play the popular game of checking out distances and tracks recorded by the devices I used here, to compare their performance.

Distance Recordings

With the distances recorded, the Suunto 7 continues to be an outlier that overcounts. Given all the turns on parts of this trail, it could have been worse, though.

Suunto 723.16 km
Suunto 9 Baro22.41 km
fenix 6X Pro22.36 km
COROS Vertix22.59 km

(Then again, given the many easy road sections, maybe it’s all similar just because there was a long distance with easy conditions for GPS.)

The other watches I used here are much more – and actually, quite surprisingly – in agreement; 230 m of difference over 22,000 m isn’t exactly much of an error.

Well, we have already seen that before; it used to be a similar problem with the Suunto 9…

GPS Tracks

In terms of where the watches – Suunto 7, Suunto 9, Garmin fenix 6X Pro, and COROS Vertix – recorded me as having gone, it’s all per the usual: Usually pretty good, sometimes a bit strange…

Zoomed out enough to see the whole route, nothing but the different lap markers is really noticeable:

(Well, maybe, if you look really close, there is one section…)

Let’s look at the “urban” conditions towards the start/end…

… and this looks quite usual again, with a little something off: The Suunto 9’s track is regularly off compared to the other watches’ tracks.

It’s not sure, but I blame it on my having “worn” this watch over my left hand, not on my wrist. Maybe that was it.

I said I did this tour to have a look at the device performance in the mountains, so let’s check out a section where there is a bit of a climb, going from the Laudachsee up the Hohe Scharte:

Not horrible, but some issues where the climb is…

And interesting issues they are:

The Suunto 7 has its – so far – usual problem with some faulty track recording where I took a turn. Its track, looking at the other parts, isn’t any worse, though. Differences come from the usual differences in how GPS signals were received and/or interpreted.

The Suunto 9 Baro seems to have “liked” this situation; the shift in track seen in the city is gone here; the COROS Vertix track is basically the same.

The Garmin fenix 6X Pro suffered a little signal loss here, for a bit.

An interesting bit of this whole route is also that there are tunnels through the Traunstein’s flank, by the lakeside:

The Suunto 9 did get a bit of a shift to the left here again (yeah, through which it put me in the lake). It did get a fix on the short section that’s a curve between two tunnels, at least – where the fenix 6X again didn’t manage.

Now, the Garmin fenix was on my right wrist, pointing towards the mountain face, so it had harder conditions – but the COROS Vertix which was also on my right arm did catch a GPS location fix there again.

I’ll say my usual: I can live with all of that, and it’s hardly conclusive. Still, interesting to see.

Pace Recording

We can have another look at the paces recorded here – which is actually somewhat insightful:

Of course, paces here (with the mix of road fast-hiking / running as well as mountain scrambling) differed greatly, squishing together the values that are similar.

It still becomes pretty clear that they are a particular problem whenever there are climbs involved, GPS signals get a bit wonky, automatic lap markings differ.

Sections which have easy GPS reception and a constant pace, on the other hand, get pretty similar pace readings (at least over the full kilometer) from all the devices.

Altitude Recording

Mountains, ergo a bit more of elevation change and more interesting altitude profiles than my usual easy conditions

As usual, even here, I didn’t bother to set reference altitudes, so excuse the differences between watches, check the similarity of the profiles:

The Suunto 9 is the one that started at a higher elevation reading than the others; the COROS Vertix is the one at the lowest.

Quite fascinating to see: At the climb up the Hohe Scharte, all watches came to very similar altitude readings (if still some 20 m apart; at the beginning, where the differences look the greatest, they are still only 60 m between Vertix and Suunto 9).

Back on flat ground at the final section of the tour, it was the fenix 6X Pro that showed itself at some 20 m higher an elevation than the other – now very similarly measuring – devices…

Ascent / Descent

The elevation changes counted cumulatively are as follows:

Elevation Change
Suunto 7+868 m-942 m
Suunto 9+872 m-980 m
fenix 6X Pro+914 m-952 m
COROS Vertix+932 m -989 m

Here, all the watches agree on the descent having been more than the ascent, which is definitely true (as I recorded myself going down from the Gmunden train station to the lake, but not back up from the lake to the train station).

The two Suunto watches are again close to each other; ascent seems to be counted rather differently by Garmin and COROS than Suunto does it, though.

Once again, that serves more as a reminder that watches interpret the data they measure differently, thus get somewhat different results.

Heart Rate

What was funny here is that this time, when it comes to recording heart rate through an optical heart rate sensor, the Garmin fenix 6X Pro had its issues.

Most noticeably right from and at the beginning, it showed considerably too low a heart rate. It never really got a long span with a correct reading this time around.

The Suunto 7 here had one span, in the middle of the first long climb (zoomed into in the image above), where it also got confused.

Throughout most of the activity, however, it captured my heart rate very well, compared to the Suunto 9 which got it from the Polar H10 heart rate belt.

The COROS Vertix (worn on my right arm, same as the fenix 6X Pro, just a bit above the wrist) also did a good job. It did have what is supposed to be a better position for oHR readings – and then again, two watches on the same arm, in proximity, are not supposed to get good readings… but why, then, did the Vertix get good readings, the fenix not?
(And the Suunto 7, in a normal position on my other wrist, get excellent readings most of the time, as well)

The zoomed-in view above also reinforces the impression that the Garmin fenix 6X Pro takes fewer HR readings (or sampled them differently?) than the other watches; I wonder what’s up with that…

Climbing up the Hohe Scharte, I was expecting issues with oHR, thus wanted to also take a closer look at the recording during this part:

For the most part, it’s just like the overall impression: Pretty decent performance from Suunto 7 and COROS Vertix oHR, bad results here from the fenix 6X Pro.

(Just a reminder: I had different results at different times; typical for oHR. At the Sonnsteine, both Suunto 7 and fenix 6X Pro were not good. On easy runs, it all depends on the particular run being looked at, too…)

Suunto 7 Battery Life

This time around, I thought that I would take considerably longer – and ended up finishing this tour in one of my fastest times ever.

There was still something new to say about the Suunto 7 battery lifetime: I was expecting problems soon, but there were none.

For this tour, I had downloaded custom offline maps for the Suunto app (on the Suunto 7), so that no smartphone connection would be needed for those. To save battery, I tried putting the Suunto 7 into airplane mode.

As I hoped, this shut down the WiFi and Bluetooth connections, while the Suunto app re-activated the GPS, in spite of airplane mode.

End result: The Suunto 7 battery still went down from 90% to 40%, similar to what it had done before at the Sonnsteine – only this time, I was not moving and recording the activity for just barely over 2 hours, but for 3.5 hours.

It’s still a fair bit away from the “up to 12 hours of GPS” that Suunto (stupidly, I think that may be achievable in road cycling, but not running) claims.

It’s more than enough for a slow city marathon or a mountain outing like this was, though – and again, I still had battery for smartwatch use the rest of the day, as well.

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