Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro (P)Review

Development of the Suunto Spartan series continues, mainly in terms of the software, but also with a bit of additional hardware – as Suunto makes abundantly clear in today’s news item announcing the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro.

In software news, the “outdoors-focused” October update is coming up, now announced as scheduled for the 17th.

It brings a nice new outdoors watchface (with sunrise/sunset times and moon phases, see photo at the top), POI (actually, waypoints) starting to get added to route navigation, and more.

Sleep tracking, for example, will also come to the Suunto Spartan Ultra.

In hardware news, Suunto just announced the latest entry to the Spartan family after the Spartan Ultra, Spartan Sport, Spartan Sport WHR (Wrist Heart Rate), and Spartan Trainer: the Suunto Spartan Sport WHR Baro.

Full Disclosure: Suunto has provided me with one of these for (beta-)testing, so I can also tell you all about it…

Why a New Model?

Why a new watch in that already-wide lineup? Well, there actually was a gap to fill.

The Spartan Collection so far addressed sports people and athletes of a more general bend much more than it did the trail runners and mountain athletes that Suunto has a wide following among.

After all, it is only the Spartan Ultra that gives the altitude/ascent/descent (and barometric trend) data that somebody going for mountain sports will want to have. It alone included the barometric pressure sensor necessary to get the best of that data.

All the other models may have almost all the functions of the Spartan Ultra, most of them added optical heart rate (Suunto’s Wrist Heart Rate), but they measured altitude and ascent/descent only by way of GPS.

That only works in best GPS fix (1 second fix rate), which gets the best tracks at the cost of the shortest battery runtime and is still notoriously inaccurate as soon as GPS reception is less than ideal.

The Suunto Spartan Sport WHR Baro (SSWHRB) fills that gap of a watch with optical heart rate sensor as well as barometric pressure / altitude sensor.

Why Not a Spartan Ultra WHR?

Where the Sport WHR Baro is still no Spartan Ultra is mainly in two points alone:


The battery is smaller, hence the runtime of the watch is not as long as that of the Spartan Ultra.

The SSWHRB is rated for a maximum 10 hours of use with best GPS fix, whereas the SSU (Suunto Spartan Ultra) should record for up to 18 hours in best GPS.

The “Good” GPS Update

What one should know – and very much needs testing – is that the 1-second “Good” GPS fix also receives an update (and bug fixes) on the SSWHRB as well as the rest of the collection.

With that, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR battery runtime in good GPS fix (and with power-saving options active) should reach up to 20 hours (and 40 hours in the “Okay” 1-minute GPS fix) whereas the Spartan Ultra will go up to 35 hours in good GPS fix and 140 hours (?!?) with “Okay” GPS fix and all the various power-saving options in use.

(Spartan Sport should be able to get to 25 hours in good GPS fix and 80 hours in “Okay”.)

So, we have:

Best Good Okay
Spartan Ultra 18 h 35 h 140 h
Spartan Sport 10 h 25 h 80 h
Spartan Sport WHR Baro 10 h 20 h 40 h


With the smaller battery, the SSWHRB feels lighter (even though it isn’t), and it is quite a bit flatter and more comfortable to wear.

All that also makes it more stable on the wrist, it seems, and thus better in picking up heart rate via the wrist sensor than a watch with the weight of the Spartan Ultra plus an oHR added onto it would be.

(Optical heart rate can be heavily influenced by many factors, including quite simply the bounce of the watch itself; a heavier and bigger watch bounces more and is more difficult and uncomfortable to close tightly enough on the wrist for a good HR recognition.)


The materials of the Spartan Sport WHRB are also less premium than those of the Spartan Ultra; there is only the usual ‘plastic’ casing, steel bezel and mineral-crystal glass, no sapphire glas and titanium bezel options.

Looks of the Suunto Spartan WHR Baro

The SSWHRB is released in two models only.

The orange “Amber” version has a rather more simple bezel and an orange band; the “Stealth” version has what may be Suunto’s best-looking bezel to date, wrapping around the watchface in polished steel with cut-outs at the cardinal points, otherwise watch case and strap are a simple black.

The watch band is again in silicone.

Suunto Spartan Sport WHR Baro, Side View

That collects dust quite a bit and will probably again look used quite quickly, but it is very comfortable and helps secure the watch tightly against the wrist, as necessary for use of an oHR sensor.


Suunto Spartan WHR Baro, Back

This time, the watch band is not a special fabrication sitting flush against the watch body (as it is on the Spartan Ultra). Rather, it is a standard NATO watch strap which should be easy to exchange for a band of one’s choosing, if so desired – all the more so as this band comes with quick-release pins!

Personally, I am a bigger fan of the Spartan Ultra’s integrated design, but I know that many people love exchanging their watch bands and I must say that the SSWHRB’s band feels better on the wrist somehow – which is tremendously important for getting decent oHR readings…

oHR Functionality

Having a Valencell oHR sensor on its back, the Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro offers the same functionality as the other WHR watches in the Spartan collection:

oHR in Training

For your training, you do not need to take a HR chest belt, it’s enough to just wear the watch. Against your wrist, tightly enough, where you don’t have tattoos,…, anyways.

Optical heart rate is very convenient, as long as you don’t freeze off your wrist in the dead of winter, trying to get your heart rate from there and see the watch all at the same time – sorry to emphasize that point, but this time is coming up soon again.

If you feel the need for more exact physiological data such as that which you get from HRV measurement, you will still want to use a chest HR belt, too.

That said, I have rather low circulation to my hands (they typically get warm, at best, 30 minutes to an hour into a run in the cold) but seem to be getting good readings from wrist oHR.

I’m currently working on the details for that, with a Garmin fenix5X as well as the SSWHRB, and I’ll add my results when I feel I’m done with that.

oHR Tracking

In daily life, the wrist heart rate can also be used to track 24-hour heart rate, including as part of sleep tracking.\

There, you get an overview graph of your last 12 hours’ heart rate on the watch, alongside the average and minimum HR, which is (somewhat) useful for tracking stress levels, health and recovery (as an elevated heart rate at rest or on average can point to issues).

Suunto Spartan WHR Baro Activity Screen (HR)


Sleep Tracking

In sleep tracking, oHR may be used to differentiate deep sleep from light sleep (though that can also be done via motion detection, as it must be done with the Spartan Ultra – no oHR there). It certainly is being used to track the average heart rate in sleep.

Just remember – but that will be something for the new manual, again – to turn on sleep tracking and to set the watch to “Do Not Disturb” before going to sleep so that the watch itself doesn’t “go to sleep” and turn off oHR measurement when it detects no motion 😉


With the outdoors update coming to the Spartan collection, there’s increased battery runtimes in “good” GPS mode, updates to navigation to (start to) use POI, storm alarm, and new downhill (sports) features which will be a lot of fun for trail runners and even better for Alpine skiing or snowboarding…

28 responses

  1. Mihai Avatar

    Hi Gerald,

    Thank’s for the preview.
    Do you know what GPS chip is used in this model and did you have a chance to test it in less than perfect conditions?


    1. I assume it’s the same SirfStarV (?) as in the other Spartan models (except for the Trainer).

      Caught a cold, so not getting out right now. Hope I’ll manage next week(s), though.

      1. Mihai Răducan Avatar
        Mihai Răducan

        Hi Gerald,

        Do you have an update on GPS performance in challenging conditions (eg trails in tall forest, steep slopes in the forest etc)? I’m on the fence on buying one…


        1. Working on more data; a bit of it ended up in my data comparison with the fenix 5X at

  2. The most critical software update feature for me is Workout Planner missing for Spartan. It doens’t exist for Movescount App not even for Movescount website to export personal workouts for watch. I don’t understand. For Ambit models exist.

    1. Yeah, there’s only that first step of intervals on-watch. Took quite long enough to come to the Ambit family, though. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait quite as long (3rd gen, iirc) with the Spartan collection 😉

  3. Indeed, Gerald!

  4. Recently i’ve suggested for Suunto software team these improvements:

    1. On watch:
    – on interval workouts: add fields warm-up and cool-down, the option for put pace alerts intervals, or hr interval alerts, etc; in summary on save move a way to see pace in each interval and not just the time;
    – race predictor with the fields mile, 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon;
    – VO2 max;
    – Customizable alerts;
    – in night moves is essential to get screen retroillumination with the movement of wrist;
    – more watch faces;
    – Power alerts from Stryd and import all metrics;
    – Stress score and training effect;
    – weather and alerts, music controls;
    – Altimetic values;
    – Sride length;
    – Galileo GNSS support (SirfStar V) for complement GPS.

    2. on movescount app (iOS and Android):
    – Workout planner to design personal workouts; Suunto have this for Ambit models. Why not implemented for Spartan more recent wacth? Its essential this ressource!
    – more details for moves with laps and spilts;
    – personalization options for export to watch;

    3. on movescount website:
    – workout planner to design personal workouts and export option to watch and calendar;
    – Real support from Stryd power meter for import all data recorded by sensor and not only power (power, pace, distance, elevation, ground contact time, form power, etc) to see on moves;
    – more reliable pace average on each lap;
    – Stride length field.

    1. Quite the list 😉

      I can see a few things I’d like as well, some things probably/possibly being worked on – and quite a few where it’s debatable whether they’d even be such a good idea…

      1. As you know competition are strong. Suunto’s hardware are very solid. But software much to improve in features and bugs.

  5. Michel Avatar

    future release:
    I dont know if it ‘s possible but it would be nice to think to create a sensor that will detect an earthquake and prevent people who have their Suunto wrist.

    1. Would be nice, but earthquake early warning is still a pretty tough game. Not much time…

  6. Snack Avatar

    Can you suggest to Suunto to add jump-rope mode, and push-up counting support? What GPS is the Trainer using and is it as good as the Sport(HR or Baro)? Also, do you know if there will be a new/update Trainer as I’ve see an all white model, and an Orange model(like the Traverse and Baro), that also has numbers around the bezel vs the regular models.

    1. There were some special editions or other plans for the Trainer, maybe you’ve seen those (certainly with the all-white). Trainer uses a MediaTek chip, but I can’t say much to that model since I don’t have it..

      Modes, I can always suggest. Don’t think they’d be too interested / it would be too relevant to add those, though (for the likely work required). But, who knows…

      1. Snack Avatar

        Please do suggest that, cause that be a great feature to have for training. It’s not the all white or coral models but a different looking steel model(with maybe more features?). I saw this on another site, but the images look legit from Suunto?

  7. lolokch Avatar

    hey what do you think about GPS Accuracy?

    1. I think it’s not bad. Haven’t seen any crazy errors. Don’t follow it as closely as some people do, though 😉

  8. Jamie e Avatar
    Jamie e

    Quick question – the new outdoor watchface that is shown on the image displayed – what is the coloured bar around the bezel edge indicating? I don’t seem to have that on my Spartan Sport followign the update (or the ability to display sunrise/sunset)

    1. The ring shows time with sunlight (and dawn/dusk). Did you get a GPS fix since you updated? That’s the usual problem when it’s not being shown.

      Also check out my new blog at, there’s an overview of the Baro, including a video just on the outdoor watchface!

      1. Jamie e Avatar
        Jamie e

        thanks so much!

  9. Philip Avatar

    In your opinion, what are the possibilities that a future software update will add on the ability to have the current temperature read out on the watch? As I understand it, the same sensor that measures barometric pressure can also measure temperature. Maybe I’m wrong about that. I had an Ultra at one point but returned it. It seemed as though the functionality wasn’t even on that watch at the time. I’m currently using the amber model of the wrist hr Baro and love it, but would love to have the temperature as well.

    1. That shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, iirc, you could already add a temperature reading to a sports mode.

      But, I really wonder why people are after this so much. I have heard a desire for that from many people – but on the watches that offer a temperature reading, the usual response is a complaint that it’s not the real temperature (as body temperature influences the reading all too strongly)…

      1. Agree! I had a F3 with a temperature reading and its not realible. Because corporal temperature. Just with a external sensor is right. So i don’t understand why people want so much that.

  10. jessicawilkens Avatar

    Can you use the watch while it is being charged? I’m looking at getting one but I have a 50 miler coming up next year that will probably take me 16+ hrs to finish. Would I be able to attach it to a battery pack and put it in my pack and keep running for my GPS data or does it shut down while being charged?

    1. You can use it like that. No issues there with Suunto watches

  11. Valec Avatar

    My take is easy. Have Apple Watch series 1. Battery life sucks, no swimming possible, the optical heart rate monitor on it is useful only for activity tracking, but for dynamic moves and I don’t like the look of it.
    So, I have two options Apple Watch 3, which solves only swiming, or something else. That something else should be for road and mtb cycling 1-4 hours a ride, swiming, indoor workouts, ocassionaly paddle boarding and some nature walking – light.
    Price: not more than 400 euro (price of the Apple Watch 3)
    Design: I like the Suunto Spartan look
    Baro: would be nice, but not so important as hr
    Exact hr monitoring for sports.
    Activity and sleep tracking with hr is good, but not so important for me.
    Battery life – even sss is better than Apple…
    Sss I can get for 280 euro with hr belt
    Ssu I can get for 399euro with hr belt
    Ssswrist I can get for 377 euro
    Ssswristhrbaro is out of range.
    I already have a wahoo tickr hr belt.

    What would you recommend to me?

    Thanx for your time and opinion.

    Best regards

    1. Most cost-efficient and sufficient would probably be if you could get a Spartan Sport without even the HR belt; just use it with your Wahoo Tickr.

      WHR model would give daily HR, sleep HR, if you care about that.

      Ultra would be good if you sometimes went out for longer than 6 hours or so and could use the bigger battery for that (and it has the barometer/altimeter). Doesn’t sound like your kind of sports.

      So, Sport or Sport WHR – and I personally wouldn’t think that just having oHR is worth the extra 100 bucks if you don’t sound like you’d use it much…

      1. Valec Avatar

        I am just used to tap on my Apple Watch and check actual hr

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