Suunto GPS pod review

I wouldn’t class myself as a sophisticated user of training aids like HR monitors and GPS.

I know what I’m looking for in HR zones, and I like to see elevation profiles and distances covered. But I’d be lying if I said I was a slave to my watch.

One of the things that I enjoy about running long distances is running to the feedback my body is giving me. I find occasionally that when I run to a watch I’m looking at the pace constantly, and that sometimes takes away my enjoyment.

I’ve had a Garmin Forerunner 305 for a long time, and I love being able to switch it easily between a bike and my wrist; but it has a relatively short battery life for multi day races. I’ve also had a Suunto Vector for over a decade, and I love navigating with this.

I had assumed I wouldn’t be logging my Marathon des Sables run because the run time is likely to be around 30 hours.

Suunto GPS pod
Suunto GPS pod

Enter the Suunto GPS pod.

At 55.5mm in diameter, 18mm thick and weighing in at just 35g this is my kind of size technology!

Add to this one button and a battery life of either 100 hours or 24 hours depending on how often it takes a position fix and this looks like a serious tool for tracking movements outdoors.

Supplied with an elastic armband, it can also be attached to any strap by removing the ‘ring’ and reattaching it with the material trapped. Or, as I have tried just dropping into a pocket that has a good view of the sky.

The Suunto interface, Moveslink is easy to use and changing settings on the pod really easy to do. There are only a few variables- how often a fix is taken (1 second or 1 minute) and whether the GPS automatically starts taking a fix when it’s turned on, or whether you start it with the big red triangle button. There is also the ability to turn the audible notifications on and off, but the little beeps are so quiet I don’t know why you’d switch them off.

Two lights tell you whether there is a GPS fix and how the battery is doing, and that’s it really for the unit.

Recharging is taken care of by a crocodile clip style USB lead that also attaches it for data transfer. A nice touch is knowing the state of battery charge to 1% through Moveslink. First charge took about 3 hours and keeping it topped up now is easy every two or three runs.

Turn it on and track your position. It integrates with other Suunto watches, but I can’t comment on pairing as I haven’t tried it. I expect it too is a very simple process.

As a committed Strava user I wanted to compare Movescount. There are lots of things that are good about both platforms. Categorising is easier on Movescount, and I think the uploading process is a little easier than my wired technology on Strava. Graphically I prefer Strava, and as I’ve said in previous blogs, the Strava segments are a great motivation and performance check. 

1 minute fixes
1 minute fixes

Exporting moves from Movescount is easy, with a variety of format types available. Exporting as a .GPX means that Strava can be easily uploaded too. This is what I do.

I wanted to see the effect of 1 minute fixes, and whilst the tracklog is good, the effect of uploading a .GPX to Strava seems to confuse it. Looking at Strava and Movescount side by side with a 1 minute fix shows that Strava thinks you’re stationary for a lot of the time between taking fixes and this means that the pace data is flawed. This example shows a session time of 2 hrs 16 minutes on Movescount, where Strava shows 49 minutes. Interestingly Movescount shows a much greater elevation, and Strava is correct on this one.

1 second fix
1 second fix

Switching the fix time to 1 second makes the two agree much more closely on elevation.

The moving time discrepancy seems to large to me for opening and closing gates. Digging a bit deeper in the .GPX file it seems to be where in deep woodland there are a couple of minutes here and there where fixes didn’t happen. This would happen with most receivers.

As with all electronics there is a wide spread of prices available on the web. The RRP is £100 and at this price the unit is an excellent way to store any of your adventures. Because the unit doesn’t give any data on position, I can see on Navigation events, such as the OMM it is a realistic way to log your track without gaining an unfair and rule breaking advantage.

If you want to accurately log your position for long days, or multi days this has to be the bit of kit to take.

I’ll be taking this little unit to the Sahara to log Marathon des Sables. You’ll see the results by the end of April.