FIRST LOOK: The New Suunto 9 Peak Pro

Review Rating






Basics

Finland’s cool kid watchmaker comes in hot with their new 9 Peak Pro, a tough-as-nails multisport GPS watch featuring a longer battery life (up to 40 hours in the best GPS mode), updated interface with speedy-intuitive navigation, and over 95 activities (lest we snorkel), all packed into one stylish, minimal package.


Pros

  • Extended battery life
  • Light and thin but military-grade durability
  • Easier and faster navigation
  • Ecological pledge to minimize impact

Jones

  • Expensive
  • Charging port doesn’t connect as well and feels cheap
  • Watch band options are an afterthought


Size Reviewed

43x43x10.8 mm

Weight

55 g

Price

$699

Brand

Suunto


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All Photos Courtesy Suunto

What We Loved

My first GPS smartwatch was the Suunto 9 Baro, recommended to me by some of the nerdiest tech junkies in the endurance world, and I was immediately blown away by its performance. My jump from Casio to Suunto was like going from my dad’s Coleman canoe to a jet-powered hydroplane.

I’ve been a Suunto fan ever since, but not without significant departures to try other watchmakers. In October 2022, when Suunto launched their new 9 Peak Pro, I was curious how much more firepower they could possibly squeeze into a watch being promoted as slimmer than the 9 Peak (imagine the thickness of seven pennies). Its minimal construction appealed to me, as my Suunto 9 Baro sometimes felt like I’d duct taped an iPad onto my wrist, but I was skeptical. Luckily, the 9 Peak Pro delivered on almost every level.

Watch Face. Starting with its outer optics, the sapphire glass is scratch-free and extremely durable. I tried stress-testing the glass and watch on a recent jungle mountain 50K in northern Thailand, with several bamboo bushwhacking sections and failed stream crossings. Zero blemishes. (Note: I have the Titanium Slate version). They also offer several snazzy new clock formats that I’ve been experimenting with.

Battery Life. Next, the battery life is a solid upgrade from the Suunto 9 (launched in June 2018) and the Suunto 9 Peak (launched in June 2021). For comparison, my Suunto 9 Baro is rated to 25-, 40-, and 120-hours when the GPS reading is set to one-, 60-, and 120-second intervals. The new 9 Peak Pro offers a rating of 40-, 70-, and 300-hours at equivalent intervals, which results in a major leap in efficiency.

That said, Garmin’s Enduro 2 boasts 81 hours in full multi-band mode and 150 hours in GPS-only (but costs nearly $1,000!), while Coros’s Apex 2 Pro offers 75 hours at full GPS (at half the cost of Garmin’s Enduro 2 ). Nevertheless, 9 Peak Pro’s extended battery life is an improvement from even its predecessor, the 9 Peak. With this “Pro” version, you can now go 21 days with regular use before ever needing a charge. That’s significant.

In-Watch Navigation. What’s also significant is what’s inside the watch. When you touch the buttons or screen to navigate, everything just seems to move sharper and snappier. It’s as if my 9 Baro had been drinking decaf this whole time while the 9 Peak Pro is pulling quad shots of espresso. The difference is mainly a result of innovations with its new chipset, a major upgrade from the 9 Peak. This is convenient and comes in handy when you’ve got cold hands, or are turned around and need to navigate an uploaded map file, or must change a song in the watch’s media player.

Activity Modes. Speaking of activities, the 9 Peak Pro offers 95 sports activities from which to choose. I’ve probably only used five of these activities and their pre-engineered dashboards so far, but who’s to say I won’t someday get into Nordic walking or mermaiding? Hell, you can track your snorkeling freedive to depths of 10 meters (waterproof up to 100 meters) with functional GPS. Plus, I’m pretty sure “fishing” as an activity option, which I’m looking forward to posting on Strava soon. Local legends, watch out. Fortunately, these activity outliers won’t bog you down because the list updates based on most-used activities.

Ease of Use. Setting up my 9 Peak Pro with the Suunto App (which isn’t great; more on that below) and syncing it up with Strava took mere minutes. From receiving the watch to hitting trails to logging miles, this watch has thrown very few curveballs at me from the gun. Reliable, durable, and stylish, I have had multiple friends – both runners and non-runners alike – comment on its aesthetic.

Minimal-Sleek. The suave construction of the 9 Peak Pro might be its most noticeable upgrade. At 10.8 mm thick and weighing 55 grams, the watch’s thin body is most refreshing. (For comparison, my Suunto 9 Baro was 15.4 mm thick and weighs 81 grams). With my upgrade, Suunto somehow shaved a third of its weight and nearly 5 mm of its density, while also making it more powerful on every level. Excuse me?

What Could Be Improved

Charging Port. The first thing I noticed that felt unremarkable was its charging port. A similar disc-style construction comes with the 9 Peak, too, but I’m not totally sold. Instead of a small magnetic bar of the 9 Baro that snaps firmly into place, the 9 Peak Pro’s charging port is instead a plastic circle that snaps loosely to the bottom of the watch. Several times I had to rotate it at length to get it to connect, even though the charger can, allegedly, attach to the watch from all directions. It charges fast, though, I’ll give it that. In one hour you can go from empty to full. Still, I prefer the satisfying connection of my 9 Baro. The battery life is so good, though, I’ve only had to charge my 9 Peak Pro a handful of times. I recently ran a 24-hour race and never once thought about charging the watch. Major win.

Wristband. This is a small thing, but the previous model’s latching system felt more secure with its larger, lateral tooth, as opposed to the 9 Peak Pro (Titanium version; different strap) that offers only a small metal knob to punch through a thin column of holes. Although I haven’t sampled all the 9 Peak Pro straps, I don’t much like their forest green textile option, either. All 6 variations of the 9 Peak Pro come with their own color scheme and band style, which I found confusing. What is neat is that you have the option to fully customize your own watch model and strap material, even add a personalized engraving on the back. Had I known about the engraving, I would have most certainly added: “Gone Fishing!”

Suunto App. This is a small rub because, really, the more bells and whistles Suunto adds to their mobile device app, the more I’ll spend tinkering around on it. Suunto’s app interface isn’t much to write home about. I like their 3D route replays, sure, but there’s really no added benefit to the app if you’re already using something like Strava. It also seems to take longer to upload activities than other watches. My Coros Apex Pro, for example, uploads workouts lightning-fast. You’d think that, with such a steep price point, there’d be an application that meets the high performance of Suunto’s hardware, but this is just not the case, yet. (Suunto apparently has something up their sleeve with an update.)

Summary

Handcrafted in Vantaa, Finland, since 1937, Suunto is clearly doubling down on one thing: excellence. Not cutting corners. No flash-in-the-pan bells or whistles. No spinning navigation knobs or unnecessary flare. It’s become a tool in my endurance quiver that shows up and does its job under any circumstances.

A final thing to note, and something that sets them apart from other GPS watch manufacturers, is their commitment to the planet. Suunto uses 100% renewable energy at their Finland headquarters, enabling zero emissions in 2021. They’ve started a “Life Cycle Assessment” (LCA) for each watch produced to calculate the product’s CO2 footprint, and pledges to compensate each new Suunto 9 Peak and 9 Peak Pro’s carbon contribution with Verified Carbon Units.

And so, with an ecologically-forward business model, Suunto has achieved something remarkable with the 9 Peak Pro: a stylishly minimal, superpowered watch able to withstand a category 5 hurricane at a fraction of the weight (but, er, double the price) of most other GPS watches. Investing in a smartwatch at this price may feel like a stretch, but it’ll serve you long into the future for all your epic mountain adventures, keeping you focused less on the tech, less on the metrics, and more on what you love doing most – phishing.

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