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Thread: Wrist watch for hiking

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Wrist watch for hiking

    Anyone have a fancy wrist watch for hiking?
    One that has GPS maybe, altimeter, steps, etc.
    What brand, model, first-hand pros and cons?
    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    I wear the inexpensive Casio with the altimeter. Cost is usually well under $100 (more like $70 if I recall) and it does everything I need. I've come to rely on the altimeter feature when in the woods.

    This said, I increasingly run my iPhone in airplane mode with PocketEarth running and downloaded topo maps. Pocket Earth gives altitude as well.

    Belt and suspenders, I guess.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  3. #3
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    I have been using altimeter watches for a long time Could be 30 years. I used Casio's for years as they were the early leaders in the field They work but usually the display was smaller than competitors. I usually made it past one battery replacement but usually the buttons started acting up, sticking on or slowly getting hard to push until it would not engage. The bands only last a limited time and usually they are custom fit so finding replacements in a couple of years can be challenge. These watches are usually thicker than a standard watch so they sit out from your wrist somewhat and get caught on things on occasion. Note battery life is lower. At some point Casio didnt offer larger displays so I went with a couple of new brands with larger displays (the companies are long gone). The last couple have been Suuntos, the bands are beefier and I have gotten longer life on each watch as despite two or three battery changes they are still functional (but showing battle scars). Note most include a thermometer function, it useless unless you want to know the temperature of the area near your wrist. It has to off your arm for quite awhile before it accurately measures your surroundings. The only use I have had is overnight camping where I take it off and sit it on the shelter floor. I do use barometric pressure trending overnight on occasion but realize if you hikingn and changing elevation the barometric pressure trending will be off (unless you are hiking across a flat desert).

    By the way I have never used the compass function on any of the watches. I have tried but they are temperamental IMO.

    I have not made the move to GPS watches. The reputation is they are power intensive, and less reliable and expect using a rugged smart phone with an appropriate ap on airplane mode is better approach but expect others with GPS on watch will hopefully join in. I have seen trail runners using them. They also are significantly more expensive.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dave.m's Avatar
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    Peakbagger,

    I think you hike a lot more than me. I also only wear the altimeter watch when hiking, which may explain why/how I get more service time out of them. In general, I would agree they are somewhat disposable and not durable heirlooms.

    Regarding bands... this is the model I've worn for many years. The band can be replaced by putting in standard watch band pins and then adding an 18mm NATO style nylon band. The 18mm NATO band looks a bit narrow compared to the watch body but on trail, I don't care. I don't trust plastic bands, as they've failed too often for me. I've had great luck with NATO style bands.
    - Dave (a.k.a. pinnah)

    " Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." - John Lehman, US Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987

  5. #5
    Member JToll's Avatar
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    I have been using a Suunto Ambit3 for the past three years. It has GPS, altimeter, steps, mileage. After a hike I can upload the hike to an app to look at the path, elevation and speed. I would find it hard to hike without it now. I use the altimeter and mileage to figure out how far I am from trail landmarks and intersections. What I do not like is the band, it broke after 2 years, a replacement from Suunto was very expensive, but plenty of cheap ones on eBay. Suunto has just released a new smart watch with a color screen that can display your map on the phone; too early to tell how well this watch will work out.

  6. #6
    Member briarpatch's Avatar
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    I have used a non-GPS Suunto watches in the past. The Suunto had altimeter, pressure, compass, and temperature. Similar to Peakpagger earlier response, I used the altimeter readings but seldom used the other functions; was large and heavy; and it has held up.

    Changed to a used Garmin Forerunner 10 this past December. When new battery life should have been 5 hours. Now it is around 4 hours. So for this older Garmin battery life is a concern. I can down load the track after the hike but I don't have access to track during the hike. Use the displayed distance traveled similar to the altimeter to help place myself on the trail map and the displayed pace to help predict future travel times. Sometimes the watch takes 5 minutes to locate itself and other times it is instant.

    I use the watch in combination with a phone using Gaia with downloaded maps. Watch for quick needs and phone for larger needs.

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