DOWN ‘N DIRTY: SUUNTO 7

While I’ve long admired the convenience of the smartwatch trend, I’ve been slow to the actual party. The main reason: I have tiny hands, which, by extension, means I have small wrists. The oversized watch faces of many models on the market were a strong deterrent.  

But as the Monkees sang so long ago, “Then I saw her face. Now I’m a believer.” That’s pretty much how I feel about the Suunto 7.

Available in five color ways (black lime, all black, sandstone rosegold, graphite copper and white burgundy), the Suunto 7 blends sport-specific tracking capabilities with everyday functionality. 

Admittedly, this isn’t the hardcore, sufferfest-seeking adventurer’s watch (check out the Suunto 9 Baro if that’s your jam), but it does include more than 70 sport-tracking modes from the basic run, hike, bike, swim to the highly specific kettle bell training and ski touring to the out-there: orienteering, anyone? The waterproof, shock-proof, dirt-proof design protects the watch against the elements and the maps are free and available offline. 

The tracking capabilities easily rank as one of my favorite features. Duration, distance and pace are all pretty standard, but the Suunto 7 also includes altitude gain (key for Front Range outdoor activities) and even recovery time.

Because I’ve long been an Android-user, the set up with Wear OS by Google was pretty seamless. Now I can sneak in a mid-day ascent up Sanitas, leave my phone in the car and still respond to texts and emails.

Finally, given the pandemic and our worldwide quest toward better hand-washing habits, I’d be remiss to forget the “hand-wash timer” app, which reminds the user to apply soap and then counts down for 40 seconds during which time you scrub, scrub, scrub. Three hours later, the app provides a friendly reminder to suds up once more.

So back to the tiny wrist, big watch dilemma: The Suunto 7 may be bigger than my old, standard watch, but having worn the the smartwatch for four months now, I have a new frame of reference. I like the larger face. And frankly, that old watch face just feels way too small.

MSRP: $499

Pros: Importantly, the watch simply looks beautiful. The rose-gold watch face frame is elegant and hasn’t scratched or dented despite hard wear. And the off-white band has proven easy to wipe off to retain its true color. Workout-tracking is a cinch, and you’re able to see yourself on a map, even when there’s no GPS signal in the area. Post-workout, the tracking data is comprehensive and the mileage is as accurate as Strava. I’ve also been quite impressed with the accuracy of the voice texting – and thank goodness because the keyboard is (understandably) teeny tiny!

Cons: The swipe-left function to begin a workout wasn’t intuitive (at least to me) since the arrow points to the right. Also, when listening to music, I appreciate the ability to easily skip tracks from my watch, rather than navigating to my phone, but in some cases it’s been too easy. I often bump the “skip” button on accident, which proves especially frustrating when it moves to the next chapter in my audio book.

Where I took it: Road biking over Vail Pass, mountain biking in Park City, running in Southern Illinois and countless hikes and rides across the Front Range

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