Suunto Ambit(3 – and Traverse) Manual +1: Temperature and Altitude

Found myself getting questions about Suunto Ambit(3) and Traverse functions I never thought to answer, then answered on video (on my Youtube channel) – and figured I should also mention here.

Number 1: Why are the temperature and altitude readings getting wrong?

This same “issue” has applied to all the Suunto devices giving temperature and/or altitude and barometric pressure readings:

Temperature

Temperature is not (maybe cannot) compensate for body heat, so if you want a correct temperature reading, hang the watch on your backpack or running vest (if you’re moving) or set it down somewhere, off your wrist.

On your wrist, let alone also under a jacket sleeve, it will give you a reading of the temperature it got, influenced by outside temperature as well as your own temperature…

Altitude

Altitude is measured by way of barometric pressure, so if the watch misinterprets a pressure (weather) change as an altitude change or an altitude change as a pressure (weather) change, it will give a wrong result.

The “auto” profile for alti-baro helps with that quite a bit; “FusedAlti” also helps, especially while doing a ‘move’ (recording an outdoors exercise with GPS), but errors are still quite likely to occur.

Best use:

Set the altitude to a reference altitude at a place where you know the correct altitude before going out for a ‘move’.

Repeat the next time. (Weather / air pressure will have changed by then, the watch will have ‘believed’ that you moved or didn’t move when you actually didn’t or did, and so the altitude or pressure displayed will be somewhat wrong again.)

Even if you don’t, though, the ascent and descent you get should be quite okay; just the highest and lowest point measures should be off.

Frankly, that’s a reason I did not give the highest/lowest measurements in the comparison data with the Ambit3 Vertical – because I had forgot to set them all to the same reference altitude, and therefore had some pretty different numbers there (while ascent/descent was as it should be).

(The exception being if you are out somewhere and the weather changes rapidly. Then it’s likely you’ll get wrong readings anyways.)

Lesson:

Just remember, when choosing a Suunto watch, to pick one with the alti-baro sensor if that’s really important to you.

Getting altitude readings via GPS alone, like on the “Run” or “Sport” models, generally works alright, but isn’t nearly as good – sensitive, especially – as via barometric pressure.

Also, on the new Ambit3 Vertical, there is an air pressure sensor, but it is only used to measure elevation and changes in the same. So, air pressure changes are more likely to get interpreted as elevation changes, and if you want to track likely changes in weather (get a storm alarm), you’re out of luck, too.

Any and all ways, remember that these are devices meant to work wherever you go on this planet. So, they have to take the measure of your environment, not some data from a map – and that measure will change with conditions, using the technology it does.

21 thoughts on “Suunto Ambit(3 – and Traverse) Manual +1: Temperature and Altitude

  1. Actually according user manual (3.2.2 Matching profile to activity) it is more suitable to set “Altimeter” profile if your activity includes climbing and descending …

    1. Did I say anything else (except that “auto” profile is good for that as well)? (Not like I don’t misspeak sometimes ;-) )

  2. No, I did not want to sound offensive, I’m sorry if I did unintentionally. I’d just want to add a notice to great information provided by your article to newcomer to ambit (3 Peak), for even more great experience with the device:
    Dear happy user of this ambit device, if you do not make your exercise on a flat round or if you are not interested on barometric values => you are interested in altitude values during your exercise, please make sure your settings for this exercise use profile ‘Altimeter’ in Alti-Baro settings section.
    (I would not bother with Automatic profile setting in this case at all.)

    1. No fear. I did wonder why you wanted to emphasize that (and I do rather like using auto profile anyways), but it wasn’t offensive :)

  3. In my stored POI logs, when I select view the altitude difference is erroneous by 500 meters +. It is that way on all POI logs. Is there a setting somewhere to correct this or is their a known bug in the software?

    Thanks,

    Rick

    1. Well, that sure isn’t good. There could be quite a few reasons for that, though…

      How did you create those POI? (And, of course: I assume you did check that the watch showed you yourself as being at the altitude you were at? Unlikely you didn’t, unlikely that would be wrong, but I’d rather ask just to make sure ;) )

      1. Thanks for the reply. Yes, the POI altitude is correct. But the differential makes me look like I live on a small mountain. I reset the GPS. Going to try it out in the woods today. Weird, how it gets the POI correct, but not the differential.

          1. Yes that is correct. Known elevation at home is correct. POI is correct. Differential is way off track. Maybe a hard reset?

          2. People love to reset everything ;-)

            Do you want to try if changing unit settings to metric changes anything? Sounds like a bug to me, could be related to that…

          3. Gerald,

            Good thinking. That worked! Must be a bug. Guess I will convert to metric like every country in the world except the US and a few others. Haha.

            Thanks,

            Rick

          4. Ha! Can’t remember what it was, but there was / is another bug in the Ambits when using imperial… Time for the US to join the logical system :-P (and to let suunto know)

  4. So I have had my Traverse for 4 weeks now. It was working great until last week. At that point the altimeter started increasing to 20,000+ ft (I live at 5738 ft). I corrected several times and it would work for a short duration but now it just has two dashes for altitude and temperature. Any thoughts?

    1. Yeah. That the sensor is shot. Either there’s just some water pushing on it (which should go away, of course) or it’s in need of a repair…

    2. I had a similar issue in addition to the storm alarm going off repeatedly. I can’t remember exactly how I fixed it, but I believe I did a hard reset, plugged it back into Movescount and synced it and it hasn’t did it since. I think I posted on one of Gerald’s YouTube videos on the procedure. But, I doubt the sensor is bad.

      1. I think you’re right. I haven’t had that problem, but I may remember hearing similar from someone else – and it’s certainly worth giving it a shot, doing a “force firmware update”, for example.

And what's your take?