Suunto Core Review: An Outdoor Watch that Punches Above its Weight

Last Updated on 02/10/2023

Looking for an in-depth Suunto Core Review before you buy one? you are in the right place!

Suunto Core Review

If you’re looking for a new outdoor watch, the name Suunto should certainly be on your radar and you may have already seen all the positive Suunto Core Reviews online. Suunto, a Finland-based company, has been making some of the world’s best sports watches, compasses, and other precision instruments since the mid-1930s, so it’s no wonder that the Suunto Core is one of the most popular models around.

But, with so many different outdoor watches out there on the market today, it can be difficult to know if the Suunto Core is really the watch for you. To help you out, we’ve put together this in-depth review of the Suunto Core based on over 3 years of experience using this watch in pretty much any condition you can imagine and on nearly every continent on Earth. In the end, you can decide if it’s the right watch for your needs.

First Impressions

Straight out of the box, the Suunto Core feels like a well-made watch. It comes in a small, sleek box with minimal packaging, so you can dive right into setting it up and using it without having to search through unnecessary boxes and packaging. In terms of outdoor watches, it has some exciting features.

Right away, the Suunto Core makes getting started a breeze. It walks you through the steps you need to set up your language and unit preferences (metric or imperial) so you can put it on and get outside. On the wrist, it feels comfortable and surprisingly lightweight despite the fact that it has a fairly large display and casing. Although the “all-black” model isn’t exactly flashy, it impressed us right out of the box.

Suunto Core Review out of the box

Suunto Core Review Specs:

Suunto Core Black Review
  • Weight: 2.26oz (64g)
  • Water Resistance: 30m
  • Operating Temperature: -5°F to +140°F (-20°C to +60°C)
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Alarms: 1 daily alarm
  • Languages: English, German, French, Spanish
  • Battery Life: 12 months (in time mode)
  • Compass Accuracy: 5 degrees
Outdoor Gear Reviews

The Suunto Core is a fully-featured altimeter watch that warrants a full, in-depth review. Here’s what we found when we tested it out over three years:

Case Size, Shape, and Fit

If you’re not used to wearing an outdoor watch, you’ll probably find that putting on the Suunto Core for the first time feels a bit weird. With a case size diameter of 1.93 inches (49.1mm), the Suunto is more or less the same size (give or take a few millimeters) of every other outdoor watch. For comparison, the Garmin Fenix 6 has a case size of 1.8 inches (47mm) while the Suunto 9 Baro has a case size of 2.03 inches (51.6mm).

However, despite its average case size, the Suunto Core is pretty darn light, tipping the scales at just 2.26oz (64g). Other outdoor watches that contain significantly more metal will weigh upwards of 3.15oz (90g). This might not sound a lot, but when you think about how often you move your arm during the day, every gram counts.

The Suunto Core has a classic watch shape with circular housing. Depending on how loosely you wear the watch, it can slightly inhibit the movement of your wrist, especially if you flex your hand upward. However, after a day of wearing the watch, we barely noticed it was there, and this sort of issue is common when you first start to wear a larger outdoor watch.

This watch comes standard with a silicone wrist band which is comfortable against the skin, even when wet. We rarely found any problems while wearing this watch, but occasionally the slight bulkiness of the wristband interfered with typing if we spend a lot of time on the computer. Overall, though, the Suunto Core is average size, lightweight, and comfortable enough for all-day use.

Suunto Core


The Suunto Core features a clean, sleek, and clutter-free display that is easily customizable to an individual’s unique preferences. Users can quickly flip between the time, the altimeter/barometer, and the digital compass just by pushing the center button on the righthand side. It’s even possible to lock the screen onto one of these settings by pressing and holding the bottom button on the righthand side.

Besides the time, altimeter/barometer, and digital compass, users can set the Core to display the temperature, the date/day of the week, or the sunrise/sunset time. If you choose to set the altimeter to barometer mode, the Core will even show the pressure trend on the upper lefthand corner of the watch, which is awesome for getting a sense of what the weather is doing around you.

Since none of the buttons on the Core are labeled, it took a bit of time to get used to how it all functioned. However, after a few days of practice, it became more or less second nature. Ultimately, the Core is one of the most simple and intuitive, yet functional outdoor watches on the market today.


Altimeter watches are notoriously inaccurate unless they’re calibrated frequently. However, we found that the Core only really had accuracy issues when it was used in altimeter mode as opposed to barometer mode.

Since the Core’s altimeter is pressure-based, during a large storm with low pressure, the watch will often tell you that you are higher in elevation than you actually are. It’s quick and easy to re-set the altimeter using the elevation reading you can get off of your GPS, though, and it’s recommended that you do this once a day when you’re in the backcountry.

That being said, the Suunto Core’s barometer was incredibly accurate after two months of daily comparisons with a proper external barograph. Each day, the Core showed more or less the same pressure readings as the barograph, as well as the same pressure trends, so the problem lies in the elevation estimates, not the barometer itself. In the end, the Core has many of the same issues with accuracy as other barometer-based altimeters, but this is easily fixed with frequent calibration.

The only other accuracy issue that we found with the Core has to do with the watch’s temperature readings. If you wear the watch on your wrist like most people, the Core’s temperature readings will generally be much higher than they should be since the temperature sensor is on the underside of the casing.

However, if you take the watch off and wait a few minutes, it will give you a fairly accurate reading. We didn’t actually find this to be a problem because we generally just get dressed each day based on the weather outside, not what temperature our watch is telling us.

Suunto Core military


After three years, we’ve not had a single issue with durability with the Suunto Core. There hasn’t been a single broken button, no wear-and-tear issues with the strap, and the casing looks more or less like it did when it was brand new, despite having been worn for over 1000 days in a row.

Although Suunto claims that the watch battery will last just 12 months on “time” mode, we’ve only had to change it out once in three years. This is probably because we generally keep the screen locked to one display, which helps prevent draining the battery from accidental button-pushing. For a watch that never needs its batteries replaced check out these solar watches with a compass.

Favorite Features

Our personal favorite feature of the Suunto Core is the easy-to-read pressure trends graph that’s located on the upper lefthand corner of the display. This feature makes it easy to see what the weather is doing and can help you better understand if a storm is on its way.

We also really liked that the Core is waterproof up to 30m and that the watch can tell you your depth up to this point while diving or snorkeling. The Core’s buttons are also waterproof, so if you’re swimming or showering and accidentally press a button, the watch will be just fine.

Another perhaps underrated feature of the core is the sunrise/sunset times, which are quite useful if you’re planning out a hiking day or camping trip. To use this feature, you just have to select a nearby location out of about 400 different options and then the Core will give you up-to-date sunrise/sunset times on the bottom of your display.

Suunto Core Black Review

Features That Go Unused

The Suunto Core is a very functional outdoor watch with plenty of great features. In reality, we use the vast majority of the features, with the exception of the compass. While the Core has a built-in digital compass, we have to say that this is our least used feature simply because we have little need for it.

Although we use it occasionally just to quickly orient ourselves, it’s not really a compass that we rely on. It is quite accurate in most situations, with two exceptions – on a metal boat or ship and near the polar regions.

In these instances, the metal in the boat throws off the compass quite substantially, though this is to be expected. Additionally, at the polar regions, compasses get all out of whack, so they’re really not reliable. Is this a problem for the vast majority of Suunto Core users? Not really, but for the sake of being thorough, we thought it was worth mentioning in our review.

Suunto Core Review Verdict

At the end of the day, the Suunto Core is a solid all-around performer in the outdoor watch world. Although it’s a bit pricey, it truly proves its worth, thanks to its versatility, functionality, and durability. We find pretty much all of the Core’s features to be useful and it’s a stylish altimeter watch that is reliable enough to get the job done. What more could you want?

Thanks for reading this Suunto Core Review

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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