review of altimeter watches

avocet altimeter watchaltimeter watch suunto altimaxhigh gear altimeter watch AXN 500 series altimeter watch by polar

I have collated a review of altimeter watches, which may be of some interest to you. If you are a little like me, like acquiring new gadgets which stimulate the senses. Those that are of credible performance, ought to be recognized . And some, of course that don’t deliver very well…. ought to be written about as well.

Firstly if, you are contemplating buying these gadgets, check out the compiled reviews. I have included either individual person reviews, or a comment with a polarizing opinion, extracted from many friends. You judge for yourself. Should you disagree with anything mentioned, throw in you perspective in the “review box”, at the end of the article.

Review of altimeter watches
Suunto X6hr and Altimax

General Comments; Whilst it looks big, it is pretty comfortable on the wrist. The battery is easy to replace ( if you trust the seal).Although the battery power consumption is I feel high, as replacements within 14 months are not uncommon. The buttons are easy to use, when wearing ski gloves.

The heart rate monitor is reliable, available only in X6hrs and not the Altimax version.The X6hr is the only altimeter watch by Suunto, which will offer Heart rate graphs. If you are into endurance sports; cycling , trekking, ski racing, and want to measure your heart rate response, the X6hr is the best model to have. The Altimax primarily offers an altimeter, chronograph, whereas X6hr broadens the scope of these functions.

The altitude log is great, when you calibrate on the day. If you are commencing your trip at the base of the mountain, plug in your altitude. The watch’s computer takes this on board, and from then on it is pretty accurate. Never out by more than 10 feet, which I think is excellent. The accuracy of the altimeter depends on how stable the weather is...this is true for any altimeter.

In barometric mode I feel is very accurate in predicting weather fronts, assuming when you are taking the reading you are stationery, and not changing your altitude.

Great product, reliable, in the slightly steeper price range.(approx . $350 range)

Review of altimeter watches;
Polar Axn300

Polar watch altimeter manufacturers have been in the game of manufacturing performance monitoring equipment for some time now .They have over the time produced a consistent, reliable product, with many inbuilt features. I am not tryingto plug them in any way , but in general they do a pretty good job. Many trekkers, runners have subjected them to abuse, and they have stood the test of time quite well.

Polar AXN series targets new enthusiasts with their 300 series, through to gadget addicted professionals athletes, with the 700 series. The 300 series is by no means an amateur’s altimeter watch. You get the heart rate monitor, altimeter with the barometer , and watch with alarms and countdown features.

The upgrade to 500 and 700 series lands you with more sophisticated data unlinks to your PC,(software is included in the purchase price) as well as nock 5140 phone communication connectivity.These two models also have inbuild compass features, and activity log which will store data for up to 2 weeks. The 300 series has a 1 week memory.

If you are of a fine tuned state of mind, like to measure your heart rate performanceunder different work load conditions, push your comfort zone to the next unattainablelimit, this unit I think is difficult to beat. The Polar crew know their strengths, and the heart monitors built into their watches is certainly one of them.

Your activity log includes calories burnt (kcal/h), heart rate target zones, min and max heart rates during a workout, add to this average ascent and descend rate.You can pre-program the resting heart rate, and review it as your altitude changes.

In addition to this you can plug in your weight, height and age, and on the basis of these measurements it will infer your VO2 Max during a workout. I am a little puzzled how it infers this information? VO2 max , is the maximum volume of utilized oxygen during a workout. In other words it is the volume of your lung capacity…….the larger your lungs, the more oxygen you will be able to utilize. Top athletes have larger lungs, bigger surface area for oxygen exchange, hence, utilize more oxygen more efficiently. The only way in my mind to measure VO2 max is to hook you up to a unit which looks like a ventilator, and measures the volume of gas breathed in and out. PerhapsI am getting side tracked………

Reviewing altimeter functions , all the watches give you graphical readouts, with small incremental measurements of one foot. All altimeters have easy to read layouts, with ongoing progress.

In the thermometer mode , be aware of its limitations when worn on your wrist.This applies to all altimeter watches in my view, not just the Polar series.

The general navigation through the menus is relatively easy. The buttons whilst small,have not disobeyed too many times, don’t jam up , and are manageable with snow gloves on.

This is an excellent altimeter watch, within a reasonable price range of US $200 for the 300 series, has stood the test of time in the sports performance arena.

Review of altimeter watches

In the Axis range the altimeter watch offers ; a chronograph, compass, barometer, and a thermometer.

The altimeter comes with a resolution of 3 feet (1m), and a vertical range like most other altimeters of –700 to 9000m.The reported accuracy of the unit has varied to within 5 m. When you commence an ascend it is recommended to recalibrate your altitude readings. Even if you are ascending on the same mountain as on the previous day, the manufacturers recommend you recalibrate it .The altimeter can report a max altitude, which can be displayed as a bar on the monitor . Some find this a limitation as the screen will not display the altitude range you may have skied or climbed before. It can however store 20 altitude readings with the time and date shown .It also reports the accumulated altitude.

The compass readingsare displayed in 1 deg resolution , and if you trust yourself to adjust for declination, the true north measurements become more accurate.The outerrotating face ring is useful when mapping your orientation.

The chronograph will give you 50 laps or 20 run measurements, with max journey time of 24 hours. It does lack a countdown timer, which can be useful to see how much time you have on your journey before ie -sun sets, would have been useful if you were skiing.

Expect to pay equivalent of $170.00 US. This altimeter watch is trying to compete with brands like Avocet , additionally providing a compass feature. For skiers it does offerwater resistance up 30m (100feet).Some dissatisfaction with its waterresistance has been reported.

Review of altimeter watches;
Casio Pathfinder Solar triple Sensor

This watch is a nice adaptation as a conventional watch. It looks like a normalwatch with additionally inbuild ; altimeter/barometer, thermometer, digital compass ,anda stopwatch with a countdown timer.What is really neat is that the unit is powered bya rechargeable solar battery.

For skiers and snowboarders it has a temperature resistance to only –10deg C or 14deg F. Depending on where you are at on your journey, I think this rating is a little low. Only recently winter temeratures in Europe have fallen to –28degC, in major cities, not to mention Alpine regions. If you like venturing into cold, skiable terrain , consider altimeter watches with –20 deg C ratings.

Thealtimeter readings come in 5m incremental units (20feet).It uses your reference setting , which need to be plugged in , to log your journey. It will store up to 41 sets of altitude data. It will display the month, date, time and altitude, and call this one set of data.

The countdown timerwill only count from 60 minutes down, which may be insufficient if you are looking at timing your whole day’s journey.

In the reliability department we did not find any problems. I would recommend this altimeter watch if you are looking for a full time wear watch with extra features built in.

Review of altimeter watches:
Nike-Lance Armstrong

This product in my view looks cool, matches the Nike shoes quite well, is yet to prove itself in the market place. The Nike people I feel have sensed a niche does exist in the altimeter watch arena, and came up with their product.Once againbrilliant marketing ,…….called their watch Lance Armstrong.

The general reviews I am getting are good to mixed. The barometer is quiteaccurate, altimeter’s accuracy is to within 10 feet (3m).The altitude log is updatedevery 2 minutes, which may not be satisfactory if you are cycling. Few grievancesexist with the poorly designed watch menu, it does not flow, seems fragmented, andat times difficult to comprehend . If you get this altimeter watch be patient with themenu.

The titanium Lance Armstrong was acknowledged as the engraved labelingwould not easily rub off. Compared to other brands which rub off within one year. Caution is to be taken with the glass shield ,as it is known to scratch relatively easily ,especially if you are into mountaineering.

The water-resistance has not scored very highly. Maybe not the best choice for high altitude hiking and skiing.

Review of altimeter watches;
Avocet Vertech Alpine II

This altimeter watch has some loyal following among these who prioritizethe altimeter functions. The general consensus is that it is accurate, and has passedthe test of time.It records incremental altitude climb or descend in 5 feet intervals.The stop watch functions working well. Some individuals find the watch to have a “wowfactor “ in as far as the appearance is concerned. It does look like most conventional watches.

If however you are after a watch that measures your performance I suggest other players in the market place.

When it comes to changing batteries, it is recommended to have the watch send off.You may be without the watch for few days.
For all you skiers and snowboarders the feeling is that it is not the most waterresistant altimeter watch on the market. Perhaps limit your use to below the snowline.
I think it is a good altimeter, barometer, and a stopwatch , but is slowly beginning to lagbehind other manufacturers in as far as other innovative functions are concerned. Littleinnovation has occurred in the last 10 years. But than again perhaps it is better to keep things simple. Expect to pay about $ 170 US. Avocet altimeter watches.

My five cents worth,

having reviewed altimeter wrist watches

  • when choosing an altimeter wrist watch ,think about the purpose you need it for ( in my case to map the route, and get altitude readings primarily, this will help you decide how many features you need )

  • Is compass a necessary feature, given the extra expense,and limitations a wrist mounted compass has.

  • be mindful of the limitations of a barometer , or an altimeter when a new weatherfront is moving in.

  • do you want to keep it for more than a year? If so you may need to spend more than US $100.

  • when taking compass readings, I always try to be on reasonably flat ground, away from any magnetic, or electromagnetic interference. When traversing mountains,depending on mountain composition – be mindful , your true compass bearings can be thrown off.

  • frequently calibrate your barometer Some useful links, which may help you.

    Altimeter watches from 40,000 suppliers.

    Review of altimeter watches and costings.

    Altimeter Watch Review

    Share this page: