Introduced by the Finnish Suunto company in January 2018, this wearable was heralded as the latest multi sport fitness device with a heart rate monitor for the budget conscious.  Millennial are notorious for wanting to delve into whatever their newest outdoor adventure interest may be, but finding a sports watch that can accommodate a wide variety of activities has been hard to do. Not any longer.

Suunto has answered the call, and while it does have a few limitations, this is a great heart rate monitor device for an active, multi-sports outdoors enthusiast.

Attractive New Design

Since 1936 Suunto has been making high quality reliable sports watches for outdoors global adventurers using advanced technology and smart design. The Suunto 3 Fitness is a super light weight, versatile sports wearable that has you covered no matter the activity.  It comes in a variety of colors; a brilliant Ocean green, a soft pink called Sakura, white/gold combination, burgundy, classic black with a silver bezel or all black for a more understated look. This Suunto heart rate monitor sports watch is more sleek in appearance than the usual sports watch and is made to fit even a small size wrist.

It’s a breeze to charge your 3 Fitness, just use the USB cord provided.  It clips into the left-hand side of the device using the four-pin connection. Then you plug the USB into a computer, create an account and download the Suuntolink app which allows the Suunto 3 Fitness to transfer your data via to the Suunto smartphone app. This step also connects you to the regular ongoing Suunto updates. (You can also register your watch online with MySuunto by inputting the serial number of your 3 Fitness, found on the back of the watch.)

Suunto Heart Rate Monitor Features

The 3 Fitness features an optical heart rate monitor, a customizable watch face and has an LED backlight.  It is water rated to 30 meters like many good multisport devices and can be worn in the shower or to swim. It uses Bluetooth technology to record your activities, takes about an hour to recharge and is usually good for three to four days between charges.

One of the features that I like best about the 3 Fitness is that instead of using a touchscreen, you navigate the device by using five buttons around the face of the watch. This design is somewhat like the Garmin Forerunner 645. These buttons are simple to use as they perform one function each. This alone makes using the watch during any activity a snap.  I can easily look at my training log, use a timer and/or stopwatch or check my current heart rate.  It also offers historical heart rate data, sleep quality, steps and calories burned. Not only that, I can also review my training plan and check my overall fitness level.  When I need it, the LED back light is right there.

Suunto Heart Rate Monitor Functions

Functionally, The Fitness 3 records measurements for all the usual activities like walking, running, hiking and treadmill, but it offers even more. There are over 70 pre-programmed sports modes on this device, covering everything from snowboarding on the slopes to shooting a round of golf. The watch records data specific to each activity, like pace for running, or providing your SWOLF (swim efficiency) score for swimming. The 3 Fitness does not have GPS, it uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone. Take your phone with you to receive real-time call and text notifications from your phone, check on your location and to help you lay out routes and elevation changes during trail runs, biking or hikes.

The 3 Fitness optical heart rate monitor is accurate as compared to other sports watches I’ve used. This step counter is overly sensitive to motion and recorded steps any time my arm moved, which threw off my count. This also happened when using my Fitbit Charge 2. The best way I found to combat this was to connect it to the GPS function on my phone. The step count has come down but is still not quite a true record of my activities, but it’s close. Like other fitness trackers, the Fitness 3 offers sleep tracking, providing a score for hours slept and reports sleep quality.  It can also give you calories burned. 😊

3 Fitness Adaptive Training Program

The best feature of the 3 Fitness is the Adaptive Training plan. You input your height and weight, and it incorporates all your health data—your heart rate variability during recorded exercise, and your previous workouts—to give you a target amount of time and intensity to work out for every seven days to improve your overall fitness level, as measured by your VO2 max*, or the amount of oxygen you can use during exercise.

*What is VO2 Max?  “VO2 max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercise of increasing intensity – Wikipedia”

There are some limitations, though.  You can’t tailor the training program to your own personal goals–for example, you can’t tell it that you want to run a faster 5K or lose five pounds. Also, some of the activity data is not saved or recorded on its digital platform. Steps, calories, etc. can be viewed on the Suunto app, however, resting heart rate and stress recovery data is only shown in real-time on the watch and nowhere else.

Pros and Cons

I have found other smartwatch companion apps simpler to use. This Suunto Heart rate monitor device connects to Strava, Endomondo and Training Peaks if you want to use one of them. The 3 Fitness dashboard doesn’t show your heart rate, fitness level, or current stress level. You can’t consult your training plan in the app, only on your watch. But here’s what it does well, it adapts to your schedule and how you’re feeling every day. Therefore, if my schedule changes due to social activities, a bad night’s sleep or work stress and skip my evening run, 3 Fitness logs it all and adjusts the workout schedule accordingly. That’s priceless.

Finally, after using it regularly, Suunto rates my fitness level which is ‘excellent’. That’s good, and what would have further improved the app is to have it nudge me to get up and go work out—an app that will tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, at least try to do a few laps around the park today? Hmm?”

With all that said: The 3 Fitness does hit a sweet spot. It’s such a light, comfortable, good-looking watch. It can easily be worn with work apparel or to business functions.  As a result, I can say I’ve had more compliments while wearing this watch than other sports watches I’ve worn in the past.  In addition, it provides me with such a large variety of sports modes, I can easily track almost any activity, something other sports watches cannot offer.


The Suunto 3 Fitness is an all-round fitness smartwatch. It has the appearance of a sleek, everyday watch loaded with a huge variety of sports mode features, and as a result, is guaranteed to appeal to almost anyone. The Suunto heart rate monitor and other wrist wearables have been helping outdoors enthusiasts for over 80 years, so they know what they are doing. Whether you are going to the gym, climbing, hiking, skateboarding or taking a kayak out on the water, it all counts, and the 3 Fitness has you covered, despite the lack of built-in GPS.

This watch is targeted to a specific market; the beginner outdoor enthusiast who wants support for a very wide range of activities.  It is not intended for a high-level athlete who needs intense interval training support and wants lots of historical heart rate monitor data to improve overall fitness and performance.

So, if you are enthusiastic about fitness and want a solid activity tracker with an amazing number of sports modes, a Suunto heart rate monitor with versatile, stylish design, then the Suunto 3 Fitness was made for someone just like you.