When Suunto released the original the Ambit, it was one of the first outdoor/training GPS watches to open up to 3rd party app development. The next generation Ambit2, added multisport support for swimming, cycling, hiking, skiing, and more. Packed with all the features you expect from a GPS sports watch, the Ambit2 also makes for great backcountry adventure partner.
Instead of walking you through every little feature, I highlight here the key functionality that will probably influence whether or not you want to buy one for yourself. Any questions on specific features, just let me know.
In Movescount, you can customize the settings for up to 10 different sport modes and 2 multisport modes. For example, choose the data you would like to see on each of your cycling displays versus your running displays. Then during your workout, a simple push of the "view" button lets you toggle between all your customized screens. Also pick which external sensors you want the watch to search for within each specific activity.
The Ambit2 is ANT+ compatible, so will work with all your existing ANT+ sensors (assuming you have not gone the full Bluetooth route). With the new MIO Link, you can even ditch the chest strap, but that means you need to wear two wrist bands.
Movescount makes it incredibly easy to both upload and download gpx files for navigation. Although I would probably not rely on the Ambit2 as my only source of navigation, the GPS watch makes a great supplement to the traditional topo map and compass. A graphical display shows your progress along a specified route to help ensure you stay on the right track. If you are looking to navigate towards a specific waypoint or POI (store up to 100), the Ambit2 shows you the exact direction to go – keep in mind this is "as the crow flies" navigation, which does not take into consideration trails or objects in your path.
The Ambit2 delivers your exact coordinates on demand – useful if you want to mark a waypoint/POI or in case you need to relay your position to emergency services. Finally, the Find Back feature can literally be a lifesaver if you find yourself really lost. Simply retrace the exact steps you have taken to get yourself out of trouble.
For climbing, mountaineering, and backpacking, the altimeter and barometer are extremely useful. The altimeter can not only tell you how much elevation gain/loss you encountered that day, but can also help with navigation by matching elevation to your topo map. Use the barometer for an indication of inclement weather rolling in. You will even find apps such as the Storm Alarm that will send you audio and visual alerts when the barometric pressure starts rapidly dropping at a given elevation, warning you to either retreat or take cover.
The only annoyance I have with the Ambit2, which is no different than pretty much any other GPS watch, is having to download software on my computer for syncing with Movescount. Wouldn't it be great if all future sport watches included WiFi for instant workout data upload and profile syncing?
Also, I am a heavy Strava user, so toggling between two different online communities to analyze my workouts is not ideal. However, Suunto announced this week their Movescount integration with Strava where your workouts automatically sync between the two services. Now I don't have to carry a phone with me when I run and for longer or multi-day cycling rides, the Ambit2 outperforms the iPhone in terms of battery life.
The key features for me on the Ambit2 ($500) are the multisport support and the outdoor functionality of navigation and altimeter/barometer. If you want just a sports GPS watch, check out the Ambit2 R ($249) or Ambit2 S ($350) without the barometer.