The Suunto Ambit(3) Manual, Part 2: Navigation Functions

In Part 1, we had a look at the basic (time mode) functions of an Ambit3, their use and (limited) customization.
A Suunto Ambit(3) is not just a watch, however, it is also a GPS device…

GPS / Navigation Functions

5: The Ambit as a GPS Device

This time, starting with a little intro to the Ambit’s use as a GPS/navigation device.

6: Navigation by POI

The first way of using an Ambit(3) for navigation: using POIs.

Such Points of Interest can be set up

  • in the device saving the current location as POI
  • n the device using the “define location” function
  • on Movescount (“Add new POI” on the “Gear” page under “Navigation”)

7: Navigation with Route

POIs all well and good, but where the Ambit comes into its own is navigating along a route. So, let’s get one started…

8: Creating Routes

If you want to use routes for navigation, you will first have to get routes.

Two basic possibilities shown here:

  • Find routes already in the Movescount library and save them to your
    routes (similarly to how you can save and publish tracks you recorded
    as routes, by the way)
  • Create (draw) a route in the Route Planner on Movescount

9: Route/Map Problems and Workaround

Having talked about creating routes, it’s necessary to point out that there can be some issues because of the (Google) map quality.
In China, where these videos are made, especially. (There is an offset between the actual position and the one shown on maps.)

Other programs (such as Google Earth) and GPS tracks from other people to import into the Route Planner of Movescount provide one workaround. Quick tip if you ever find yourself in need of some tweaking of a GPS track from someone else (to change its format, simplify it, etc.): Use the features offered by

10: ‘Quick Navigation’

Navigation can also be used when going out exercising. Option 1 for that: To use a custom/sports mode with ‘quick navigation’.

11: Activating Navigation while in a Custom (Sports) Mode

‘Quick navigation’ has a ‘move’ start by choosing a route or POI to follow, but navigation can also be activated while a custom (sports) mode is already active…

12: The Map in the App

Not exactly navigation (as in, to a pre-defined point or along a route), but the Ambit3 line can help in navigating also through its interaction with the map display in the Movescount app

13: Using the Navigation Logbook

As long as you have a ‘move’ (that used GPS tracking) still stored on your Ambit (2 or 3), you also have its track in ‘Navigation’ – ‘Logbook’ and can activate that and use it just like a route.

14: Find Back & Track Back

Of course, just as you can use a track from the navigation logbook, you can first of all turn right around along the track you just were on during a move, and “find back” (to your starting point, POI-like) or “track back” (using the track as a route) immediately.

15: (Workaround) Route in Practice

Out at the Great Wall’s Jiankou section, trying out the route planned using the GPS tracks / Google Earth workaround (as set up in the Manual video number 9, above). And, it works!

If you want to check out the route as it looks on Movescount, I’ve now set it to public so it can be found here; the track recorded while I was (also) using this route is here, but this path out to Zhengbeilou is only a small part of that (the one where the circle connects in the upper right corner, the track goes out and then back…

I am copying in the relevant part below. Please note that the way out was the one using navigation, hence using constant (“best,” 1 sec) GPS fix. The path back again from the Great Wall’s Zhengbeilou tower (which is at the lower right of the image) was recorded only using “good” GPS setting, i.e. a lower fix, which is (mainly) why it looks so jagged (apart, when I was back on the road in the upper left, there was also some GPS error):

Xizhazi to Zhengbeilou track
Xizhazi to Zhengbeilou track

There are also some issues to discuss, though: Setting up/starting the route to not get turned around; finding the exact path/turn when the zoom level is not high enough; (not) missing an ETA/ETE (to the next waypoint) function or altitude profiles for routes.

Next up: Training Programs/Planned Moves and Training Guidance

32 responses

  1. […] For the sunset, I went over and up to Zhengbeilou (“Sharp North Tower”). (That route is the one used for discussing the Suunto Ambit3’s navigation function here.) […]

  2. […] (after a look at the time mode displays and the navigation) to what is the true raison d’etre of the Suunto Ambit line: outdoors training, adventure, […]

  3. Robert Avatar

    first of all, thanks for taking the time to develop this exhaustive manual

    Second, I’m new with my ambit 3 peak , I mainly got it for swimming. I’m 49 years old, 92 kg and 1.80 m.

    I don’t know how to use the heart monitor, where to read the results and how to interpret them

    If you give me some hints I would be highly thankful

    1. That’s a longer issue, and a tad difficult because one’s heart rate is typically pretty low (certainly compared to running) when swimming.

      Basically, there are two places to watch the heart rate (HR): on the watch and in Movescount. On the watch, most modes will be set up to show HR; if not, you can always add it. Just remember that when you are swimming, you will not always be displayed the HR because the water blocks the signal. (It still gets stored and transferred from the HR belt to the watch, though, if everything works as it should.)
      So, checking the HR you had during an exercise may be more interesting…

      Normally, the things to watch would be HR zones you want to exercise in (especially if you are given recommendations for those if you go lactate testing and training planning); that’s more usually done for running (or cycling) than for swimming, though; the effects of an exercise are also reflected in the PTE (peak training effect) value you will get for the exercise.
      For PTE, the thing to look for would be that you do most of your trainings so they give you a PTE of 2 (maybe 3) and a few are a 4. What this would mean is basically that you are mainly doing base endurance training, with some high-intensity thrown in.
      But, all that is difficult to explain in such general terms in a comment, and it could even be misleading, as it depends on your aims and your sport. (And swimming is rather different from e.g. running, again.)

      You are welcome to ask in more detail, but my recommendation would be that either you don’t worry about your heart rate too much (as long as it doesn’t get into the 180+ bpm zone when you are swimming, and not at the very highest of intensities) or (better still, and) find a sports doctor who also does training planning and get personalized advise from them.

  4. Jacques Avatar

    Hey, I’d really appreciate your help with a technical question. Is it possible to see all my Points of Interest on a map somewhere? I’d really like to see them all together, and preferably in my workout summary. Do you know of any way to do this? Also, once I’ve created a Point of Interest, is it possible to show it in my route planner so that I can run between previously created POIs?

    1. That took me a while to think about…

      In Movescount (the website), the POIs are a bit hidden, under the “Navigation” settings/customization for one’s Ambit. There, you can also see a single POI on the map if you click “edit”. Otherwise, unfortunately, POI are not shown on any map in Movescount, such as the Route Planner’s map, and they cannot be somehow chosen to be shown.

      So, no, POI will not help with something like route planning (using them in route planner to draw a route between them). What may help somewhat, as a sort of workaround, is if you recorded the track between/including those POI on a move before. Then, you can save that track as a route, thus getting it displayed in the route planner (and editable). You’ll still, for all I know, have to set up the POI (as waypoints on that route) yourself, though.

      Interestingly, what you can do for running between POI is that you can pick a POI (also) stored on your watch as a location to navigate to. That will only give you direction and distance as the crow flies, not a map, but it is possible and may be useful. (It’s what I sometimes use when I’m in a new city for the first time: Mark the hotel as a POI, walk around, turn on navigation to that hotel to help with finding the way back.)

      1. Jacques Avatar

        Thanks very much, I suspected as much, but I’m glad it’s not just me being stupid.

  5. Matt Gee Avatar
    Matt Gee

    When navigating a route, is it possible to create a shortcut to the zoomed in navigation screen (which shows distance and direction to the next waypoint) ?

    Many thanks indeed – your videos are so helpful – Suunto manuals/website are very unhelpful indeed

    1. No, there’s either the overview of the whole route, the zoomed-in track (zoom adjusted automatically between a few levels) or that screen with direction and distance to the next waypoint. One after the other when pushing the view button.

      Yeah, Suunto and instructions… It’s a strange story 😉

  6. Matt Gee Avatar
    Matt Gee

    So sorry – one more question

    How do i get SUUNTO ambit 3 to display sunrise/sunset ? Do I have to select Altitude on Alti-Baro setting ? Currently it is set to Automatc as ideally i would like to see both air pressure as welll as sunrise/sunset, but I cannot seem to get SUNRISE/SUNSET TO display on any screen.

    Many thanks again for taking the time to help.

    1. Go to Alti-Baro screen, push View button (switches between bottom row showing reference altitude, time, temperature, next sunrise time, next sunset time).

      There’s also a time-to-sunrise / sunset app for sports modes, but that’s a different story again.

      1. Matt Gee Avatar
        Matt Gee

        But you can’t access this screen during a workout. How annoying. Now using app instead.

        1. Ah, during a workout. Yeah, no, during a “move”, you have to use an app. Frankly, I’m quite happy with the Suunto one showing a countdown to the next sunset or sunrise, but there should also be one that’s not half bad at showing the time of the next sunrise or sunset…

  7. Radek Avatar

    Hello,I would like to buy the watches but i didnt find clear answer. I want to use the navigation function for mountainbiking with downkoaded GPX files frm internet. Does this work and its also while navigating saving the ride(workout)? If its possible, how many GPX files i can upload into the watches? Thanks a lot.

    1. Matt Avatar

      Watch does everything you want. Think watch can store many gpx files. Peak battery life is excellent.

    2. You can import gpx (or kml) to the Route Planner on Movescount, add waypoints (those aren’t usually part of imported files), and use that route in your Traverse.

      There’s room for 250 POIs, 100 Waypoints, and 50 Routes with up to 10 000 points on the routes (total).

      If I’m not completely mistaken, you can see that on my video about the navigation (route creation)… This one, I’d hope:

      1. Radek Avatar

        thanks a lot for the answer! 🙂

        1. You’re welcome 🙂

  8. Johan Avatar

    Thank you for all information on usage in China. I would like a comment from you on information I’ve got from Suunto.

    I actually first ordered a Ambit3 Peak but immediately returned it based on your web page. I live in Europe but the watch was supposed to be a gift for someone in China. Also based on my experience with Chinese map offset on my Garmin eTrex I needed to do more investigations before a purchase.

    My thirst thought was that there is a special Chinese version of the watch, like with my Garmin GPS, but that is apparently not the case. It’s the same watch in China, so all your information should be relevant.

    I asked Suunto about the offset and map issues. What do you think about the replies below?

    “The GPS in Ambit3 works well also in China. All the watches are the same regardless of where they have been purchased. By selecting Chinese language you are unfortunately not able to set the time in the watch. The time can however be set manually or by connecting the watch to a computer, from where it detects the correct time.”

    “We kindly inform you that the GPS is accurate also in China. It is true that Google maps have an offset. Google satellite image is correct. In Movescount we have now a Map of China selection under the map. This map is accurate also in China.”

    Is the Movescount map useful, is it now working and can one live without Google maps? Do the maps in Movecount have enough details?

    Note: It looks like a great watch but if maps are censored and there’s offset problems it just feels like too troublesome.

    Thank you.

    1. There’s the problem that all maps have: For some parts of the country / some countries, they are not as good as one might wish (for going off roads, especially). But, that’s a problem of online maps not being topographic maps with high detail, usually, and it applies everywhere.

      That said, both Gaode Ditu and, by now, even Mapbox/OpenStreetMaps work very well also for tracks in China, both don’t show that offset that Google Maps shows:
      OpenStreetMaps (Mapbox) map with track of Suunto Ambit3-recorded run in Beijing

      This is how Movescount now shows me the track of a run of mine a year ago, in Beijing.

  9. Johan Avatar

    Thank you again. I guess the watch can be a good gift for someone in China. It’s not hard to buy also directly in China, just more expensive. Good to know it is now fully usable also in China and no limitations. The Google maps is a Google issue. The GPS looks very accurate from your trace too. Relatively stretched “green highlighted area” (I avoid calling it something else) for Beijing 🙂 Happy running!

  10. Peter Avatar

    Hi there, I am really interested in purchasing an Ambit(3) Running watch.

    Would you be able to please confirm whether or not the watch can be used for a GPS, much like a Garmin Fortrex 401, in order to get a grid reference (not just longitude and latitude). In particular, does it have British National Grid (BNG) and the Military Grid Referencing System (MGRS).

    Many Thanks.

    1. MGRS, BNG, WGS84 (which is the default), UTM (also in three different variants), two Finnish grids, IG, RT90, CH1903, NZTM2000

  11. Avi Chohen Avatar
    Avi Chohen

    Hi ,
    Any Idea How can I track few days as Hiking as it was 1 move ?
    Or should I track each day as new move ?

    Best Regards

    1. There are ways to track it all as one move (if you switch to a “sports mode” that is e.g. “Camp”, set up to just show time and not use GPS, whenever you’re stopped for the night). But, I’d really recommend recording every day’s move separately; it’s much safer that way.

      1. Avi Chohen Avatar
        Avi Chohen

        Hi Gerald,

        Understood ,Is there a way to merge moves ?
        Assuming they are from same sport mode.
        I want to have 1 big map From point A to B at the end of the hike 🙂
        Thank you very much for your support !

        1. That’s the problem. In Movescount, you can’t merge moves, so they’d stay separate. You could only name/tag them as the parts of one trip they were.

          If it’s just for a map for yourself (or to share with others), I’d recommend then exporting the relevant moves and combining them (well, or probably showing them all in one view) in e.g. a Google Map ( or Google Earth (or other program, that’s just what I tend to use).

          That way, you have the safety of recording per day, get the details for each day separately, and can show everything together… if you don’t mind not sharing the overview from somewhere other than Movescount…

          1. Avi Chohen Avatar
            Avi Chohen

            Got it ,will use this approach.
            I would like to merge all data but just the route will be sufficient.
            Thanks a lot for your help , much appreciated!


  12. Vialex Avatar

    Hi gerald

    Congratulations, really nice work!

    I have an ambit3 peak. I use it in mountainering.

    Is it possible to start a navigation of a track exported to ambit3, and record your move at same time???

    A few days ago i went to climb Midi mountain, and I had to choose between use ambit3 to follow the track and avoid to lose myself , or record my move.

    Thanks gerald

    1. Swarley Avatar

      Does anybody have an answer on this question? I am wondering the same…

      1. Ooops, did I miss that… for a year?!?

        Anyways, it’s very odd this should be a problem (to me, used as I am to that). There’s no problem at all, no need to choose. You just start the type of activity you want to record and (in options, there are different ways, this can be done, actually) activate the route you want to follow.

        This way, you get the activity recorded and the screens for that activity, as well as the navigation screens showing you the route, the next waypoint, etc.

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