Suunto Vector HR

, February 8, 2011

Now incredibly technical and developed, it’s hard to imagine Suunto products in 1936 when Tuomas Vohlonen began to engineer more accurate methods of constructing compass needles. 75 years later, Suunto have moulded a brand committed to the design and manufacture of leading precision instruments for sports, incorporating new technologies that are now standard features in the industry.

Endowed with heart rate monitor, barometer, altimeter and compass, the Suunto Vector HR has nearly enough features to qualify as an advanced navigation system. The heart rate function takes information from a chest belt and lets you set HR-zones to tell you when your training session is too hard or too easy. When using the altimeter, you can set max/min intervals and track your rate of ascent/descent by the minute, hour or even day. Information generated by the altimeter hooks into stats from simultaneous heart rate readings. If you’re feeling up to it, the barometer function advances mobile weather prediction, tracking pressure readings over a period of up for four days. The compass works digitally and enables you to track a bearing of choice from true or magnetic north. Finally, the clock works as you expect and tracks all of the above features on a chronograph.

When I first got hold of a Vector HR I was daunted by the labyrinthine nature of the functions available. Although all relevant to the types of adventures I wanted to take on, working out how to use the functions would be the first mountain to climb. Fortunately the hard-copy instructions provided with the product itself and the support on offer online were both fantastic – a real credit to Suunto as a brand. Getting to grips with the watch from there took no time.

During testing I found the altimeter particularly useful, enjoying the climb rate (meters of ascent per minute) which is my favourite stat for uphill training sessions. The digital compass was a great help on a trip to Ben Alder, giving me easy-to-hand, accurate information on my exact bearing. Although I didn’t experience drastic weather changes, the barometer was an interesting feature even if its consistency struggles when ascending or descending, to be expected due to natural pressure changes at differing altitudes.

Although the heart rate monitor fetched data from the chest strap well, I found it lacking in precision when it came to using it to track progress during training. Even though it was fine for exercising at a consistent heart rate, the function failed to respond accurately to fluctuations when interval training. As a slight inconvenience, the light function operates by holding the mode button for two seconds – a nuisance if you need to check readings regularly in low light.

As an expedition product the Vector HR suits very well. Its navigation features are fantastic, giving you that extra confidence to take on outlandish trails. Have a think about your needs for a heart rate function though as the Suunto Vector retails at £160 without.

A trusty accomplice

Useful Information

RRP £230
Available from Ellis Brigham
Colours: Black or White with black strap

More on Tech Specs of HR Vector

Suunto have created a sophisticated web interface called Movescount that helps you track your outdoor adventures and share them with the public.

Suunto – The Brand