Suunto Traverse Alpha Watch Review

A hunting-specific GPS watch that’s built like a rock and packed with useful features.

The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a GPS/GLONASS watch that’s built from the ground up with hunting and fishing in mind.

That said, the watch works just as well for hiking and backpacking. It can even be used as a fitness tracker of sorts (although it’s too expensive to solely be used for this function).

Although there’s a lot to love about the Suunto Traverse Alpha, what is most notable to me is its incredibly rugged construction, very accurate GPS, overall ease of use (especially once you’re familiar with it), and huge range of useful features.

Comfort★★★★★
Weather Resistance★★★★★
Durability★★★★★
Ease of Use★★★★
Features★★★★★
Battery Life★★★★
Overall Value★★★★★
Final Rating33/35

Table of Contents


Our Opinion on the Suunto Traverse Alpha

Suunto GPS Watch

Let me preface this review by saying that I’m not big into fishing and hunting. But that’s exactly what the Traverse Alpha is designed for.

However, I’ve used it extensively while hiking and backpacking on marked trail systems, in the backcountry, and on private hunting land. Almost all of the features are just as beneficial for hikers as they are hunters and anglers, especially in the backcountry.

As anyone who spends ample time in the backcountry knows, all your gear and equipment must be incredibly durable if you want it to last more than one season. Suunto takes this knowledge to heart by giving this watch an extremely robust design built only with the best quality materials.

On top of that, the GPS functions work with pinpoint accuracy. The GPS navigation system accurately tracks and records your location and progress no matter the terrain. It enables you to easily follow a planned route or find your way back to your starting point.

Everything about this Suunto watch is built specifically for hiking, hunting, and fishing, so you can rest assured it performs very well for all three individual activities.

Comfort

The Suunto Traverse Alpha is so comfortable you’ll barely notice it on your wrist.

At 2.65 ounces, this GPS is quite lightweight. The watch face measure 1.97 x 1.97 x 0.59 inches which is relatively large, although it never feels too bulky in the field.

The wrist band is made from nylon which is very comfortable and durable. The downside is that it can get smelly, especially if you are field cleaning while hunting. Luckily, it can be removed and washed. Replacement bands are also available.

Weather Resistance

Suunto has built their Traverse Alpha to hold up well in all weather conditions.

I’ve used it in very rainy weather with no issues. The watch holds up well to the elements and is easy to use in cold weather thanks to its large buttons. The large watch face is easy to read even when it’s obscured by rain.

This Suunto GPS watch is water resistant up to 330 feet.

Durability

One of the biggest benefits of this GPS watch is its durability.

While the vast majority of outdoor watches are durable, Suunto takes durability up another notch with the rugged construction of the Traverse Alpha.

The watch itself is built from stainless steel and sapphire crystal. The nylon band is equally rugged and durable. Suunto tested the watch according to military standards.

I’ve only had the Traverse Alpha for a few months now, so I can’t honestly comment on its longevity. However, after frequent outdoor adventures, the watch still looks all but brand new and doesn’t have a single scratch.

Ease of Use

Personally, I found this watch a little confusing to use at first compared to other GPS watches I’ve used in the past.

Luckily, Suunto offers great resources. There are a variety of informative educational videos available online as well. In all honesty, it probably only took me about a half hour of messing around until I was comfortable using the watch. So, the learning curve is actually quite short.

Once familiar with the Traverse Alpha, using it is simple. Unlike the more basic Suunto Traverse, this more advanced model has separate modes for trekking, hunting, and fishing which makes unlocking the full functionality of the watch even easier.

In fact, a lot of the features were created specifically with ease of use in mind. For instance, you can actually mark POIs (points of interest) with what they actually are rather than with a generic market like on most other GPS watches. For example, you can mark a watering hole as a “watering hole” rather than a generic POI. This makes it far easier to go back through your data and figure out what is what for future reference.

Another thing that’s great about the Traverse Alpha is just how easy it is to quickly transfer trail routes, POI coordinates, and other data via Google Earth (explained in more detail in the video above).

Features

The main selling point of the Suunto Traverse Alpha is just how many features it has packed into it, all of them created with hiking, hunting, and fishing in mind.

First and foremost is the very accurate GPS. Not only does this make for accurate navigation for speed, distance, and route but it helps ensure accurate time, elevation, sunset, and more. When doublechecked by marking a POI and viewing on Google Earth, the Traverse Alpha is accurate to within a few feet.

The POI (point of interest) feature is also worth noting. Specific POI types are available for hunting and fishing (such as marking a water source) that you can then look up later on the watch or on Google Earth at home.

Other key features include real-time breadcrumb navigation, automatic shot detection, a red backlight, flashlight function, altimeter, barometer, weather trends, compass, step tracker, calorie counter, and so much more.

The watch is compatible with iOS and Android for mobile phone notifications. I have mine paired with an iPhone and it works well for simple alerts.  

Battery Life

The Suunto Traverse Alpha has a good but not great battery life for a GPS watch.

It lasts for between 10 and 15 hours on the main GPS tracking setting. Set it to the lowest setting, however, and the battery lasts for up to 100 hours or more.

The GPS settings related to how often the watch records your GPS location. The “Best” setting records every second while the “Good” setting records every 10 seconds. The “OK” setting records every 100 seconds.

I typically switch between “Best” and “Good” depending on the length of my outing and what exactly I’m doing. For multi-day hunts or backpacking trips, the battery life could be better. I’d recommend bringing a portable battery charger with you if you intend to use this GPS watch on an extended foray into the backcountry.

The watch is simple to charge with the included USB charger with wall outlet dock.

Overall Value

For around $350, you’ll get a GPS/GLONASS watch that’s built like a rock.

Thanks to its rugged design, you can easily count on it lasting years on end, even with frequent heavy abuse in the backcountry.

What’s so great about this watch are the easy-to-use activity-specific features for hiking, hunting, and fishing.


Suunto Traverse Alpha Features & Specs

Suunto Traverse Alpha Watch

Here are the most important features and specs for this Suunto GPS watch:

Type: GPS/GLONASS WatchUse: Hunting & Fishing
Dimensions: 50 x 50 x 15 mmWeight: 2.65 Ounces
Bezel Material: Stainess SteelGlass Material: Sapphire Crystal
GPS & GLONASSTrack Route & POIs (Points of Interest)
Automatic Shot DetectionRed Backlight
Altimeter, Barometer, & Compass300 Feet Water Resistant

For more information on the Traverse Alpha’s tech specs, visit Suunto.


Is the Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS Watch Right for You?

Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS Watch

For hunting and fishing, the Traverse Alpha is more than worth it. I strongly recommend this GPS watch or something similar to it for anyone that hunts or fishes on a regular basis, especially in the backcountry.

Those that want a watch for hiking and backpacking only, on the other hand, might find some of its features to be overkill. It still does work extremely well thanks to its very accurate navigation features, but you can likely get away with something a little cheaper unless you only demand the very best of the best.

As a fitness tracker, look elsewhere. The Traverse Alpha does track steps and calories but you’re far better off with a cheaper fitness tracker if that’s all you want such a watch for.


The Verdict

Traverse Apha GPS Watch

You certainly won’t be unhappy with the Suunto Traverse Alpha.

One of the best GPS watches that I’ve used, it has quickly become my go-to for hiking and backpacking trips. I look forward to continuing to use this outdoor watch in the future.   

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