The Altimeter Watch
One of the difficulties that will often encounter the more intrepid hill walker and climber is the swift change of weather conditions that can often happen when you are in the mountains. Once the clouds come down and visibility becomes obscured it is easy to become disorientated or lost, and with the landmarks obscured it can often be difficult to pinpoint your exact location using a map and compass alone. This is one reason why having an altimeter built into a sports watch has always been very desirable, as the altitude information can be collated with the map to come to a more accurate position. However, do these altimeter watches really deliver on their promises?
Timex Wide Screen Expedition Watch
One of the first things that you’ll notice with this altimeter watch is that the digital screen really is big and clear to read, and along with the altimeter it also boasts a barometer, thermometer and compass. As with all of the watches that include an altimeter function, this is a chunky watch that is a presence on the wrist. In terms of the effectiveness of the altimeter, it was quite accurate during testing offering an altitude within 20 feet of the location, but other users have reported that it does need to be calibrated from time to time.
Casio Pro-Trek Solar Powered Watch
The version of the watch that was tested was the PRG-240-1ER, and is one of the watches in the Casio range including the altimeter feature. With so many features crammed into one watch, it is fair to say that the display can be a little cluttered, and there is an extra button on the right side of the watch to offer access to another feature. As a part of the set-up of the watch calibrating the altimeter takes place, and after that the altimeter was accurate during our testing. Taking some of the traditional Casio sports styling, this altimeter watch also feels tough and rugged when compared with the other two watches in the test.
Suunto Vector Watch
The third of the watches that we looked at was the Suunto Vector, which is a name that is less familiar than the other brands, but will be known to those who are in the mountaineering field. The Vector is a watch that has been on the market for over ten years, and mountaineers hitting the high peaks of the Himalayas will be impressed with an altimeter that claims to go to 9,000 metres. While we didn’t test the watch at those altitudes, the altimeter on the Suunto was also very good, and the log option meant it was easy to track the altitudes during the day.
When it comes to using an altimeter watch, all of the watches were effective at providing a measurement that was very close to the altitude during the test. The real choice will depend on whether you will be looking for a watch that is mainly for style but including an altimeter or whether you are looking for a true mountaineer’s instrument. For the former, the Casio Pro-Trek is the most practical to be worn everyday, while the Suunto is probably the most suitable for the hardened climber.
Article image by: Wonderlane