Making the Suunto Vector better with Sugru
The Suunto Vector is the quintessential rugged outdoor ABC watch and for the most part I am extremely happy with mine. However, there are a few things that I would love to see changed or improved that would, in my opinion, make the Vector the perfect adventure watch.
Always Room for Improvement
Some of the things that I'd like to see improved on the Suunto Vector include things like having it be solar powered or at least recharged by solar cells, after all Casio G-Shocks have been doing this extremely well for how long now?. I'd also like to have the Vector be automatically synchronized using the global atomic clock radio frequency signals -- that seems so easy. Unfortunately, both of these feature enhancements are completely beyond my means to make happen and out of my control, but I hope you're taking notes Suunto!
There is one other quite annoying feature of the Vector watch that I definitely am able and willing to change and that's the darn strap.
Worst Strap Ever?
The Suunto Vector is the only watch strap that I've ever worn, and if you know about my background you'll know that I have tested and worn a LOT of watches, that constantly pops out of the small retainer loop.
Maybe it's just me, but it is utterly annoying and has reached the point where I'm either going to change the strap or hack it to make it work right. Quick poll -- have any other Suunto Vector owners experienced this issue with the strap?
For some reason the excess length of the Vector's rubber strap refuses to stay tucked into the retaining loop. I find myself fiddling and fixing it every couple of minutes or as and when it pops out, which seems to be all the time. Well not any more, it's time to hack this Suunto Vector strap and make it better -- make it right!
Sugru to the Rescue
I'm not going to go into length about what Sugru is, how it works, or where to get it. Just trust me when I say that Sugru is one of the most amazing products in the world and if you're not using it to hack gear you are missing out. My plan is to use a small amount of Sugru to create a "tab" on the end of the Vector's strap that will catch on the edge of the small retaining loop thereby stopping it from accidentally pulling through. That's the plan at least. Why Suunto hasn't already noticed this and fixed it is beyond me.
To make this hack I am using a small packet of black colored Sugru in order to match the color of the Vector's strap, some wax paper to create a smooth finish, and my trusty Spyderco Delica for any trimming and tidying.
Sugru protip: The packet of Sugru that I am using is actually out of date. That normally results in a hard lump of unusable silicone/rubber, however I had stored my Sugru in the refrigerator which triples its shelf life.
The first thing I did was thoroughly clean the end of the Vector's strap using denatured alcohol to remove any grease or trace oils that were on it. Cleaning it will help the Sugru to adhere to the surface more securely. I did not score or roughen the surface of the strap, my thinking being that if and when the Sugru peels off I would be left with a somewhat nice looking strap.
Next I opened up the packet of Sugru and started kneading a small amount to make it pliable and warm it up - I find that making it warm improves the adhesion too. Warning: Once you open a packet of Sugru and expose it to air a chemical curing process begins and gives you 30 mins to of work time before it hardens (full cure time is 24 hrs). I carefully pressed the Sugru onto the very end of the Vector strap and began forming it into the desire shape all the time using the sheet of wax paper between my fingers and the Sugru to keep my fingerprints off the surface and maintain a smooth finish.
Trimming and Tidy Up
I found that I needed far less Sugru for the shape I wanted than I had originally thought. After forming the Sugru into the desired shape it was farther up the length of the strap than I wanted. Using my handy dandy Spyderco Delica I sliced off the excess Sugru, being careful not to cut into the rubber strap, and formed a neat and very angular edge to the tab I had just created.
This may all seem like a lot of work for such a small fix, but fro start to finish it probably only took me ten minutes to complete. It took a lot more time to take the photos and write this blog post than it did to hack the strap. So does it work? You bet it does! The wedge shaped tab that I added to the end of the Vector strap is the perfect height and shape to snag on the edge of the retaining loop and stop the strap from pulling through. No more annoying strap pop!
I'm pretty sure that Suunto could come up with a much more efficient fix to this strap issue and upon looking at the straps used on some of the newer models it appears that they have. Until they release an update for the Vector's strap I'll make do with my improved Suunto Vector strap made possible by the wonderful Sugru.
Last Minute Leftover Sugru Hacks?
If you've ever used Sugru for a hack then you might have experienced this too. I found that I didn't want to waste the leftover Sugru that wasn't used as part of this project and so I was up against the 30 minute clock to come up with some last minute mini projects that I could use the Sugru for -- I desperately didn't want to waste it. There's probably a whole series of blogs posts waiting to be written about the crazy little projects that people come up with rather than waste their leftover Sugru - for now I'll leave it up to your imagination. Can you guess what I used my left over Sugru for..? I'll share later.