Currently, there are two interesting GPS watches on the market which I would find quite useful for hiking, backpacking or mountaineering - the Suunto Spartan Sport and the Garmin Fenix 5X.

Suunto Spartan Sport vs. Garmin Fenix 5X

FeatureSuunto Spartan SportGarmin Fenix 5X
hear rate monitorchestwrist
size (mm)50 x 50 x 13,851 x 51 x 17.5
top mapnoyes
screen resolution300 x 300240 x 240
Suunto Spartan Sport Garmin Fenix 5X

Both watches are currently the latest models from both manufacturers and their built in GPS feature, color display and battery life make them an attractive alternative compared to a smartphone with a GPS app - at least if you are frequently tracking your GPS or if you plan to go on remote backcountry trips.

In the past I have always used my Suunto Traverse to log my GPS data (see picture below on a trip in Finnish Lapland).

Suunto Spartan or Garmin Fenix 5 differences features

However, there are certain features on the new watches which I found more appealing than on the Suunto Traverse - and in particular I would prefer to have the Garmin Fenix 5X over the Suunto Spartan.

Why? Simply because both watches offer similar features with the Fenix 5X offering additionaly the possibility to upload 2GB of topo maps.

Reasons for upgrading

When you own an old Suunto watch like the Traverse or a Garmin Fenix 3 then you are probably asking yourself if you should upgrade to the Spartan or Fenix watch.

The only reason why I would upgrade is the map feature of the new Garmin Fenix 5X. I think it’s really cool to have a map on your wrist.

However, others might find the color screen or the touch screen of the Spartan more interesting.

Personally, I don’t care that much about the touch screen. However, the color display in combination of the map is a really cool feature.

Moreover, the Fenix 5X also has a hear rate monitor built into the back of the watch so you can measure your hear beat without wearing a heart strap around your chest.

Suunto has already announced to release a similar model in a few weeks which is going to be called Suunto Spartan Sport HR.

However, it will still miss the map feature which I like on the Garmin Fenix 5X. On the other hand, the Suunto Spartan has a slightly better screen resolution.

Would this change my purchase decision? No. I still prefer the watch which can upload topo maps - the Garmin Fenix 5X. The Suunto Spartan might be however more appealing for those who need the lightest gear and don’t need the map feature of the Garmin Fenix 5X.

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