It’s a been a busy few weeks here at Ultra168, what with work, life and training for running. However we welcome back one of our resident reviewers, Queensland-based ultrarunner and coach Caine Warburton for a review of another watch to hit the market. While we have the top-end brands with bells and whistles such as Suunto and Garmin, there’s also a need to look at some of the more practically priced items out there too – but with that you obviously lose a lot of the features such as GPS.
Caine had the pleasure of testing one of their most popular models, the aptly named Ultra Sole and this is what he found out for us. Take it away Caine…
On opening the package for the first time I was surprised with what I saw, the colour combinations of blue and yellow paired with the sleek metal bezel around the face was more aesthetically pleasing than I had anticipated and far better than that of my current running watches (other colour options available). The band is made out of PU moulded and flexible plastic. It is wider than the standard watch, for reference it is the same width as the Garmin 310xt band. The band is 98% flexible with approximately 1cm either side of the face formed into natural wrist position. The face is larger than a standard running watch by design to allow for larger numbers and ease of reading on the run. The band also features a clip in strap retainer to ensure the watch is locked secure in place. As with all Soleus watches there is a cool and seemingly appropriate inscription on the back plate “Sedentary Sucks”.
The Ultra Sole is a non GPS watch which offers a number of timing features including Chronograph, Data recall, Timer, H20 repeater, Alarm, Time and Night mode.
Chronograph (Chrono): With a 100hr chronograph combined with a 35 lap run memory I found even my longest runs struggled to even starch the surface of this watches capability. The chrono features 3 display field’s lap number, overall time and lap time with the ability for overall time and lap time to be toggled into/out of the largest display field. The numbers displayed in the main field where very easy to read on even the most technical trail with the other two fields smaller but still readable with some double takes.
Data: The Ultra sole stores up to 10 separate runs (of up to 35 laps each) which can be reviewed via the data function. When reviewing the data navigation is straight forward and at the end of each file it goes on to list your best lap, average lap and overall time. Data can be cleared from the memory by deleting individual files or by a mass clear of all files, handy for when you want to save those key workouts for next week’s comparison.
Timer: With the inclusion of 5 separate looping interval timers the ultra sole secures its place in time based tempo/interval runs. I used this feature most on road and trail workouts requiring defined effort and recovery periods and found once I started there was no need to touch the watch again until the workout was over. The setup of the timers was straight forward and there was no need to refer to the manual on my first attempt, something I am a bit proud of!
H20 Timer: Soleus really has tailored this watch for the ultra athlete with the inclusion of a continuously repeating hydration alarm. The inclusion of this feature really helps in the long races ensuring you keep on top of your drinking and eating without having to think about it.
Alarm: Keeping with the versatility of the Soleus brand the Ultra sole features 3 separate alarms meaning you can use it outside of your run not just within it. The tone of the alarms are “Spritely” without being obnoxious.
Time: Even the most basic function of time on this watch has been refined and improved. The Ultra sole has two separate time zone displays, each display contains time, day, date and icons for alarm, sound and time zone on display.
Other: The Ultra sole has a dedicated light button on the front of the face. When pressed the individual numbers/icons on the display are illuminated not just a simple back light. The watch is also 100m water-resistant and includes a battery saving option that will turn the display off after a certain (user programmable) time frame.
In the last 2 months I have put this watch through the wringer. It has summited 7,000ft mountains, been covered in snow, mud, ice, been diving on the Tahitian reefs and that doesn’t include all the running I did! The watch still looks like brand new and has been surprisingly resistant to scratches and dings so far. On the run the watch is easy to use with large separated buttons, large display numbers and a clear crisp display/light. I have used it mostly on trail runs and easy road runs however due to its pleasing aesthetics I have found myself wearing this watch from run to work and then out to dinner without a second thought!
Without a GPS I have steered away from the Ultra sole on my targeted road runs (km based efforts, long runs etc) but anytime I hit the trail I have found I enjoy the relative simplicity and quietness of the Ultra sole in comparison to my beeping buzzing GPS.
Girls with slender wrists may find the Ultra sole too large, however Soleus have women specific models such as the “Chicked” and a sizing guide online that allows you to print out a template of the watch for reference.
The End Verdict
Packed with functions and reasonably priced I have been impressed with the Ultra sole. It caters for the Ultra athlete specifically with a long chronograph, hydration timer, large numbers and easy use buttons. For me the hydration timer and aesthetics of the watch are the real winners and make it stand out from others in the crowd. If you’re using a GPS and looking for something different, or don’t want the price and cumbersomeness of one then it’s worth looking at the Ultra Sole.
**This watch was obtained for freelance review purposes form Soleus, there is no commercial connection between Soleus and myself**