Suunto Spartan Ultra Review – Is It Really Top Of The Line?

spartan ultra review

At a Glance: Quick Ratings

Heart Rate Functions


Fitness / Sport Features


Ease of Use


Battery Life


Where To Get It

A Deep Dive Into The Spartan Ultra

This Suunto Spartan Ultra takes the Spartan Sport and gives it super powers. The main differences between the two models (apart from the optional Titanium bezel) are : battery life, barometric pressure sensor, thermometer & watch face glass material.

For most people looking for a highly functional, competent GPS sports watch with Triathlon mode and the ability to switch between ANY of the sports profiles within the watch mid-session the Spartan Sport is ideal.

However, for those undertaking FULL IRONMAN racing distances or any other mega endurance events taking more than 8 or 9 hours then you will need to get this Spartan Ultra version with it’s extended battery life.

Naturally, if budget no real issue, or you need/want the barometric pressure sensor and you like the titanium bezel & sapphire crystal watch face then you’re in the right place. The Suunto Spartan Ultra has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic (formerly HeartRateMonitor UK)

suunto spartan ultra
  • Who Is It For?

  • Video Review

  • Pros

  • Cons

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is for people who RELY on their GPS watch to monitor their performance, recovery and location. It’s for the athlete who does more than pound the pavement or eat up road miles on the bike.

It’s for people who partake in several different sports, sometimes one after the other, in the same MULTISPORT session.

It’s also very specifically for the TRIATHLETE with it’s dedicated triathlon mode. If your exercise / race times are less than 10 hours you may consider the cheaper Suunto Spartan Sport.

This mode, the Ultra, features an extended battery life of 18 hours in standard GPS mode (1 second) and 26 hours in battery save mode. If you are short on time you may skip to my review conclusion and price checks here.

Main Features and Functions

Tristan’s comment > I own a Suunto Spartan Sport and I think it will be one of the best multisport GPS watches of 2021. However.

I believe Suunto brought it out too early. Other products in this market place are very strong including the Polar V800, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT / 920XT and it’s predecessor, the Ambit 3 Sport (still a highly recommended multisport watch).

Suunto are working flat out to resolve the certain key issues and have recently added full Android phone connectivity (as well as iOs). The next major update I am looking forward to is the ability to customise the training views for each sport profile …

Update > (Jan 2021) The Spartan Ultra now features training view customisation for NEW Sport Profiles. This is a vast improvement … but still not the FULL data field customisation I expect from this level of sports watch.

When the Spartan allows the user set the number of data fields from 1 to 6 for each training page then I will raise this review to a 4.5/5 stars …

Update > (March 2021) another release of firmware for the Spartan watches sees a MASSIVE improvement in navigation. It is now possible to add, from the watch, POI’s (Point of Interests). Save your camp, home, finish line, navigational waypoint etc in to the Spartan Ultra.

These POI’s can be used in Navigation mode with a breadcrumb trail illustrating the direction to the POI. Suunto have also enabled 4, 5, and 7 segment training page view to your own custom Sport modes.

Update > (April 2021) a MAJOR firmware update this one. The key NEW features of this upgrade include – Interval Training (create on the watch, ad-hoc) – POI navigation mid session (navigate to a Point of Interest during exercise) – Power Save mode in training with low colour option and display timeout options & Power Pod calibration support.

Read this and save MONEY
I am a huge fan of the Suunto Spartan range. I really did enjoy my time using the Suunto Spartan Sport for several months training. In late 2021 I was lucky enough to receive a test model of the Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR.

In all honesty I was AMAZED at how good this cheaper model was. It’s nearly HALF the price with virtually all the functionality of this model. It is one of the stand out all sports GPS heart rate monitor watches of 2021.

I have to recommend it to all athletes, including multisport and triathlon. Please ensure you read my review of the Spartan Trainer before committing to this more expensive model – you’ll be glad you did.

Barometric Pressure Sensor & Thermometer

The inclusion of a barometric pressure chamber in the Ultra provides more accurate altitude feedback.

The same sensor also incorporates a thermometer for accurate temperature monitoring. The Spartan Sport does NOT have these features.

Battery Life – differences

The Spartan Ultra has approximately 50% more capacity than the Spartan Sport. The stats provided by Suunto read as follows.

Spartan Ultra

  • Time of Day mode only – 15 days
  • High Resolution GPS sampling – 18 hours
  • Battery Save GPS sampling – 26 hours

Spartan Sport

  • Time of Day mode only – 10 days
  • High Resolution GPS sampling – 10 hours
  • Battery Save GPS sampling – 16 hours

Sapphire Glass / Mineral Glass

The Spartan Ultra comes with the highest quality sapphire crystal glass. This is the same material used in the Ambit 2 and Ambit 3 sapphire models.

It is highly resistant to scratches and should remain blemish free even in the harshest environments.

The Spartan Sport also features a scratch resistant watch glass, but this one is mineral crystal. Although not quite as robust as the sapphire crystal it is still highly resistant to scratches.

Please Read the Suunto Spartan Sport Review.

As the Spartan Ultra watch is so similar to the Spartan Sport I have only written one detailed review.

Please take 10 or 15 minutes to read my review of the Suunto Spartan Sport to get a real feel for this great outdoor GPS multisport watch.

Suunto Spartan Video presentations

This is one of Suunto’s own marketing videos. As always it’s very professional and gives an outline of what the Spartan range is all about.

Spartan for Multisport users

The Spartan Ultra is aimed at everyone and anyone who participates in MULTIPLE sports, whether running, cycling, swimming, rowing, climbing, football, whatever, the more the merrier.

There are TWO great features for those partaking in multisport events / training.

From ANY one of your 20 pre-loaded sports profiles (there are 80 to chose from) you can simply PRESS and HOLD the top right hand button to change the session from a single discipline, let’s say RUNNING to a multisport sessions, for example, switch to WEIGHT TRAINING. 

You can switch the SPORT PROFILES as many times as you want, eg. WEIGHTS to RUNNING to INDOOR ROWING to CYCLING.. the result is ONE training session with a detailed post session breakdown of each segment/sport.

Each time the sport is changed, the displays changed to those relevant to each sport.

Dedicated Triathlon Mode

For TRIATHLON, it gets even better and easier.

The Spartan Ultra has a dedicated TRIATHLON sports mode. When in this mode pressing and holding the TOP RIGHT button switches from SWIM to T1 to BIKE to T2 to RUN to FINISH. 

At the end are presented with a breakdown of each discipline’s results, swim time, speed, etc, T1 time, Bike speed, time etc, T2 transition time and finally Run pace, time etc.

This video shows, in a rather rushed manner, how the Triathlon mode works. 

Remember > for those of you thinking of doing a FULL IronMan then you will want to consider this ULTRA model over the SPORT as the Spartan Ultra will record for up to 18 hours in maximum sampling rate, the Spartan Sport only 10 hours.

Suunto Spartan Display Brightness – video

Top Alternatives

Next Model UP

There is no model up from the Spartan Ultra. This is the top of the range in Suunto’s outdoor GPS multisport watches.

Closest Competitor

The product from other brands with the closest functionality to the Spartan Ultra are the Polar V800 and the Garmin Forerunner 920XT.

Both offer true multisport functionality with multiple disciplines being recorded in one exercise file.

Each has it’s own pros and cons over the others and we would, in all honesty, be happy to use any for the duration of a triathlon and the training leading up to it.

For those looking for the ROBUST outdoor solution with ABC functionality (Altimeter, Barometer & Compass watches) then you may want to consider the Fenix range from Garmin.

Note > since writing this review Garmin have released their brilliant Forerunner 935 for the elite sports person who wants the best feedback on their training, recovery and progression.

They also have their Forerunner 735XT – another great watch with wrist based heart rate.

Polar V800 as an alternative from Polar as their GPS sports watch for triathlon / multisport athletes

Forerunner 920XT an alternative from Garmin for triathlon / multisport athletes

Forerunner 735XT with wrist based heart rate for triathlon / multisport athletes

Garmin Forerunner 935 released in May 2021 – ultimate GPS sports watch with wrist based HR

Fenix 3 HR Garmin’s ABC watch with wrist based HR for the outdoor adventurer / multisport athlete

Fenix 5 Garmin’s top of the range ABC watch with wrist based HR for outdoor adventure and beyond

Next Model DOWN

The model directly below the Ultra is the Suunto Spartan Sport.

The main difference is decreased battery life (from 18 hours to 10 hours for GPS recording) and the exclusion of the barometric pressure sensor found in the Spartan Ultra.

This Sport model gets it’s altitude date from the GPS feedback.

This Ultra model utilises a barometric pressure sensor making it more sensitive to pressure changes and also providing feedback on temperature.

This new Spartan range replaces the Ambit range.

Review Summary

From my extensive experience of the Spartan watches I can confidently recommended them as top of the range GPS sports watches.

Yes, it was released too early and yes, it had some issues when it was first released. HOWEVER, all that criticism can be put aside. 

The Spartan Ultra is now a reliable, robust, attractive and functional GPS sports watch. I am still hoping to see the introduction of a couple of features like Movescount App support (similar to Garmin IQ Connect Widgets and Apps) ..

However, Suunto are continually improving the firmware. Just this week (March 2021) we have seen improvements to Training Page customisation and significantly the ability to add navigational waypoints from the watch.

In my opinion the Spartan Ultra is now a viable alternative to the Garmin Fenix. With the Suunto Spartan it’s all about functionality and build quality.

There’s not much out there that comes close to the quality of the Suunto Spartan Ultra. Would I recommend that you buy one? Yes I would. It still has some minor issues, but Suunto are making the Suunto Spartan Stronger every week …

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt has been a tech geek for as long as he can remember. Whether it's laptops, cameras, or projects, he's obsessed with it all. When he's not researching the latest tech products, he likes to go on long hikes with his dogs.

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