America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

America's only certified Skyrace course. Race Beast of Big Creek on Mt. Ellinor in Hoodsport, WA on Aug 3rd, 2024.

My go-to tech reviewer who does not spend time in the outdoors, John Gruber on Daring Fireball:

I’ve neither dived nor climbed nor gotten lost nor really done anything a damn bit dangerous or exciting, but I’ve had a lot of fun wearing it for the last week.

With no experience on how the bigger display could be useful to people on the move in the outdoors, Gruber mainly focuses on what the new features could bring to regular folks wanting a big watch.

Chris Foster for Trailrunner:

Now, instead of having your Apple Watch for going to the office or going out at night, and your “workout watch” for serious runs, backpacking, and outdoor adventure, Apple wants to be all of these things: Leave your Garmin at home, let it die. Does Apple fully pull this off? Not quite, but they’re dangerously close. 

And the most exhaustive review from DC Rainmaker concludes:

However, as good as Ultra is for most existing Apple Watch users (or more mainstream prospective users), it falls short when it comes to features that you would need to complete an actual ‘ultra’ – that is, a long distance running race, or trek, or really any adventure in the backcountry. 

Despite taking the Apple Watch Ultra on this grand 14-hour Alps adventure yesterday, it didn’t actually serve much of a purpose. Meaning, it wasn’t the one navigating me to the finish line, pacing me up 3-hour climbs, or helping me find my way in the pitch-black dark. My Garmin Epix watch was. The Apple Watch was (mostly) dutifully recording that trek, but it wasn’t providing much actionable information. Apple needs to find a way to have the Ultra be the *key* to successfully completing these sorts of adventures, and the primary path to that is a robust navigation component.

That’s what I was worried about when looking over the feature set Apple touted for the new watch.

At this point, it’d be easy for endurance athletes to dismiss the Apple Watch Ultra. And for the moment, yes, that probably makes sense. However, I sure as hell wouldn’t bet against Apple closing these gaps – and likely closing them quickly.

Good enough for a version 1 product, but if Apple is focused on a product they tend to iterate fast year over year. This is when it will get really interesting.