Thursday, September 17, 2015

Capt. Bluetooth's Week in Running- First Impressions Review Suunto Ambit3 Run GPS Watch, Pelican 2780 Headlamp,and a Race

With my new gig writing a tech wearables column for Competitor, my first was last month for the Garmin Vivoactive and this month I wrote about the adidas miCoach Smart Run, The Captain is  festooned at all times with stuff to try. I sure didn't need that headlamp on a bright sunny day!
This week I focused my testing on the Suunto Ambit3 Run and the Pelican 2780 dual lamp headlight.

Suunto Ambit3 Run
Suunto Ambit3 Run
This past week I ran with the Suunto Ambit3 Run GPS watch ($349 with HR strap, $299 without) Suunto is probably better known for its "mountain" and multi-sport focused watch the Ambit3 Peak which finds a home on the wrist of athletes such as Kilian Jornet and its multi sport focused Ambit3 Sport. The Ambit3 Run is a close cousin, more focused on running, I am finding it fantastic as a very serious training tool:
  • Solidly built in Finland! of quality materials. Hard to describe without wearing, but I am calling it the "Rolex" of GPS watches. Particularly comfortable and soft wrist band and overall fit over the wrist despite its bulk.
  • No touch screen, 5 solid, easy to press steel buttons. Think ease of use with sweaty fingers and without having to take gloves off.
  • Easy to read in all light conditions
  • Very intuitive set up and operation, those 5 buttons sure help simplify.
  • Almost instant pick up of satellites. Very long battery life, 12 hours (1sec) GPS sampling,  adjustable for even longer battery life for long events.
  • A very comfortable chest heart rate strap for a change...the Smart Sensor, with the smallest electronics pod I have seen to date. No drops to date.
  • Many more technical and training features such as very complete intervals module, zones based training, ascent statistics. recovery tracking, built in cadence, fall over to accelerometer when GPS signal lost, very easy to configure 4 screens of data, rudimentary navigation, notifications from smartphone kind of crude and imperfect as it does not seem to be able to deal with certain email subject formats or incoming phone calls) , MovesCount app and website, etc..
Ambit3 Run side by side with my trusty Garmin Vivoactive. It's a big watch but a comfortable one. 

Tip: When pairing any Bluetooth sensor such as a foot pod or heart rate sensor to any GPS watch or to your phone hold the sensor very close to the watch or phone during pairing. It appears that a sensor waiting to pair operates at a low transmissioin power, I assume to conserve its battery, than when it is actually paired so to get your device to pick up the new sensor they need to be close.

Pelican 2780 Headlamp
The second goody I played with this week, but haven't  tested on the trail and road yet, is the Pelican 2780  headlamp ($79.95). After some night runs, and who wants to night run when the days are still decently long and the weather nice, I will be sharing the Pelican with Jeff Valliere in Colorado. Jeff runs 500K vertical feet often on technical trails per year and often at night. He will give it the full test along with the Ultraspire Lumen 600 (lumens) belt light that caught my attention at Outdoor Retailer and other running lighting solutions.

What's different in the Pelican 2780 from other run focused headlamps?
  • 2 lamps: one downcast just in front of your feet, the other out further combining for better awareness of the immediate and what is coming next. Appears very effective. You can run them separately or together. Rear LED blinker that is more a light bar.
I did a little test out on the street.
near downcast only

far only

near and far together
  • control by a very glove friendly dial instead of the usual small fussy buttons. On/Off and modes- downcast only, far light only, down and far together, blink mode. Brightness controlled by the large blue button in the center of the dial. Brilliant!
Pelican 2780
  • 430 lumens on max setting. Most running focused lights tap out at about 200. Haven't tested battery life but specs call out 1.5hrs on max, 3 hrs on medium (200 lumens), 12 hours of low 53 lumens so beware on long runs with max glorious lighting on. Not sure if these battery life specs are based on both lights running for all modes yet. Four AA Alkaline batteries
  • Very rugged, thoughtful design but somewhat heavy when compared to run specific lights. Pelican is a company specialized in military, public safety, mining and industrial lighting. IPX 7 water rating (1meter, 30 minutes). Includes 3 different outer covers including a glow in the dark cover to find the light when it is off. 
My Running
Well the legs finally got working. I ran one of my favorite early fall races the Fox Point Sunset 5 miler and pulled off a 3d place in my age group 29th overall out of 440, decisively pulling ahead of 4th in the last uphill half mile. And old guy that I am at the tail end of the 10 year age group, so pleased. My pace was decent. I ran in the Japan edition ASICS Lyte Racer RS4 (my brief review here). They were great, maybe a bit soft for a 5 miler but for sure my shoe for this fall's three half marathons. Next weekend the Lone Gull 10K, a barn burner where I hope to drop 8 seconds per mile.

The Ambit3 Run and Pelican 2780 were provided to RoadTrailRun at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely our own. 

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