Suunto Traverse Alpha Review
Back in 2014 I bought my first Suunto, the Ambit 2. After using that watch for two years and putting it through some serious mountain abuse, I never had one issue. But once Suunto released their new hunting specific watch, the Traverse Alpha, I knew I had to get it.
After using the Traverse Alpha all of last season and up to this point this year, it’s stood up to everything I’ve put it through. It’s built like a rock and it’s packed full of very useful features for hunters and anglers alike. In this article I’m going to highlight some of my favorite features.
“Will this be durable enough to withstand anything the backcountry can throw at it?” That is one of the first things I ask myself when I’m looking for new gear. After wearing this watch nearly every day for the past year and a half, I have nothing but good things to say about it. I’ve worn it in everything from rain to snow, and temperatures from 10 degrees up to 120 degrees, and have yet to have any problems. The stainless steel bezel and scratch resistant sapphire glass have no signs a wear or damage. The Suunto Traverse Alpha will stand up to anything you can throw at it. The nylon strap is also very durable, however, my only complaint with the nylon strap is that it tends to get very stinky if you wear it for long periods of time. I would recommend upgrading to a silicon strap to avoid that problem.
If I could choose one thing to change about the Suunto Traverse Alpha it would be the battery life. It doesn’t have a horrible battery life, however, it would be nice if the battery would last a little longer (especially on those 7+ day backcountry hunts). If you are planning on using the tracking feature for many hours every day on an extended hunt, I would suggest getting a portable charger to charge the battery in the backcountry.
The Traverse Alpha has three different settings in GPS tracking mode that effect the GPS accuracy and battery life: best, good, and OK. While tracking, the watch can record every second (best), 10 seconds (good), and every 1 minute (OK). The more your watch has to record, the shorter the battery life will be. If tracking a route in the “best” setting, you can expect the battery to last for about 10 hours. In the “good” setting, expect it to last about 15 hours. And when set to “OK”, it can last up to 100 hours. I always keep mine set to “good” to record every 10 seconds and I haven’t had any issues with the GPS tracking being inaccurate and the battery will last me an entire day.
If you aren’t tracking and only using the watch to mark POI’s/waypoints, you can expect the battery to last for up to a month before it needs to recharged. Even when the battery gets down to 0%, the time/date will still show but you won’t be able to use the GPS feature.
Hunting/Fishing Specific POI’s (Points of Interest)
One of my favorite features of the Traverse Alpha are the hunting/fishing specific POI’s (aka “waypoints”). On every GPS devices I’ve used, you can mark locations but you are unable to specify exactly what you’re marking. If you’re trying to mark a trail camera location, you mark it as a waypoint. When you’re trying to mark a waterhole, you mark it as a waypoint. Every location is marked the same.
On the Traverse Alpha, you can mark hunting/fishing specific POI’s. If you found a good bedding area, you can mark it as a “bedding area”. Found a good trail? Mark it as “trail”. If you just set up a new trail camera you can mark the location as “trail camera”. This makes it much easier to identify what each location is when you look at them later on your watch or on Google Earth, which brings us to the next feature…
Easily Transfer Data To & From Google Earth
Most hunters these days use Google Earth to scout for new areas. When I scout on Google Earth I will search for water sources, possible bedding areas, meadows, etc., but when I hike into the area those places are usually very hard to locate. So why not take away the guessing game and use Google Earth to mark those locations on your Traverse Alpha? Doing this has saved me hours and hours of scouting.
On the other hand, maybe I’m out scouting/hiking around a new area and I find a good spot to set up a trail camera. I can mark that location as a POI with the name “trail camera 1” and then I can easily transfer those coordinates over to Google Earth when I get home. This can be very useful when I’m hiking on a new trail in a new area. I can upload that trail route to my computer so I can see exactly where I was at, along with the distance and elevation gain/loss.
Instead of trying to explain how to export/import those coordinates and routes in this article, I’ve made these videos to show you all the steps:
– How To Transfer Locations from Google Earth onto a Suunto Watch
***Use this website to convert the Google Earth GPS coordinates into the format that your Suunto will understand:
– How To Transfer POI’s from Suunto Watch onto Google Earth
I will soon be posting a video on how to upload a hiking route from your Suunto onto Google Earth. Stay tuned…
Going along with the last feature, the GPS on the Traverse Alpha is very accurate. I can mark the location of a water source on my watch and when I upload that info to Google Earth the location is always within a few feet. You never have worry if your watch is accurately marking your POI’s or routes.
This feature might not seem as important, but I find myself using it almost every time I go to the mountains. During hunting season I’m constantly travelling back and forth from Nevada to Utah, Colorado to Arizona, etc. The time zones are always changing and it’s really easy to forget when the sun rises and sun sets. Luckily the Traverse Alpha has a built in sunrise/sunset table feature so you never lose track of what time you need to wake up in the morning. The times will automatically update when you move into a new state and change time zones.
Other Useful Features
One other useful feature that I haven’t used much yet is the automatic shot detection. The Traverse Alpha can automatically detect when you shoot your rifle (using the recoil) and it will mark the location and time of the shot. *note*: you must be currently recording a route otherwise it will not detect a shot.
This watch also has a flashlight mode which comes in handy when you are unable to find your flashlight/headlamp in the middle of the night. Other useful features include: altimeter, barometer, alarm, moon phases, incognito back-light, thermometer, and more. If you would like to learn more about these features check out Suunto’s website HERE.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha goes with me every time I hit the trail. I consider it one of the most important pieces of equipment that I own. I believe it plays a crucial part in my success on every hunt. Most backcountry hunters carry GPS’s these days, so why not get one that is very reliable and small enough to fit on your wrist?
We’ve teamed up with Suunto to give you guys 10% off your order of a Suunto Traverse Alpha watch!
Use this code at checkout @ www.suunto.com:
*Discount Expires October 1, 2017*
Any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer them!