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#188492 - 01/12/15 02:02 PM Any recommendations on a good hiking watch?
lone star Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/12/15
Posts: 2
Hello!

I am planning on walking a section of the AT this year and was looking at getting a good hiking watch. Ive seen a few watches that look great. The suunto core looks awesome! Id like a watch that has an altimeter and barometer. Functions that I can use while hiking. I have a handheld GPS but wouldn't mind getting a watch that has GPS. Something simple and easy to use.

I guess the better question is, What watch do you use to go hiking? Why do you like it?

thank you!

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#188494 - 01/12/15 02:19 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: Portland, OR
On the trail I use a very basic Timex watch that only tells the time of day. My current watch has a little window that used to show me what day of the month it was, but it broke and now it is always the first day of the month. frown

My understanding is that the AT is so thoroughly marked with white and blue blazes every few hundred feet that a GPS is completely unnecessary for staying on the trail. It is kind of fun to know your elevation or the barometric pressure, but wholly superfluous. Your money would be better spent on more fundamental gear, like the best high-end down sleeping bag you can afford. A gaudy watch would be more of a toy than a necessity.

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#188495 - 01/12/15 02:31 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2801
Loc: NorCal
Suuntos are excellent--have been using one for about a decade (IIRC it's the Vector, but don't hold me to it).

An altimeter is an important navigation tool, as well as a way to track effort. The barometer can help track weather trends, although there's a juggling act between the alti and baro functions.

My alarm isn't loud enough to wake me and mine doesn't have a count-down timer. Battery is common and user-replacable, which is a huge plus. And the thing is tough.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#188496 - 01/12/15 02:33 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My idea of a good hiking watch is one that tells time, has a timer, and has a loud enough alarm to wake me up when I need to get an early start. No problems for the first two, but I'm still looking for one that will wake me up in the morning!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#188500 - 01/12/15 03:22 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
Jarrett Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/02/15
Posts: 1
Loc: South Texas
I had a Suunto Core a few years ago and it lasted for at least 5 years. I liked it, but had issues with it. The battery compartment had sealing issues and any battery would wear out really quick. The menu can also be complex with features and trying to figure out how to change things is confusing. At first I loved the altimeter and barometer, but they were inaccurate if I didn't adjust them frequently, which becomes a hassle.

I now have a fairly inexpensive HighGear watch. Its pretty simple and has a built in compass. The compass isn't particularly accurate, but that's ok because I rarely use it.


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#188504 - 01/12/15 04:08 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I use a "simple" Timex Expedition watch. It tells me the time and date and has a count down and count up timer. Timex also says it will keep track of my "splits" but I don't know how to use this function and wouldn't use it if I did.

Personally, I would be wary of the mega-function watches: I wouldn't be surprised to see one introduced soon with an on-board juicer. In my, admittedly limited, experience most of them don't do any thing other than tell time all that well or easily and they are huge to the point of interfering with pulling a sleeve over it.

I'm pretty sure the AT is well marked enough that a GPS would be just unnecessary weight any way.


Edited by Pika (01/12/15 04:09 PM)
Edit Reason: Punctuation
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#188507 - 01/12/15 04:30 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: Pika]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
I'm with you on watches being too big and complicated, pika. I haven't carried a watch since my last one broke, probably 5-10 years ago. By then, I was carrying a phone, and it just wasn't worth it to replace the watch. I usually just get cheap watches made for boys, because their far less clunky and obtrusive, and they're also inexpensive. Even so, I've only had one watch in all my life outright die on me. Most of the time I lose them before that can happen.

On the whole barometer/altimeter thing, not having used one, it seems to me like I could never trust the reading on them unless you already know one or the other of the two measurements for sure, which sorta defeats the purpose, right? Is the altitude double checked via GPS and used to correct the other readings? Then, maybe it'd be useful.


Edited by 4evrplan (01/12/15 04:31 PM)

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#188516 - 01/12/15 08:06 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: 4evrplan]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1719
Loc: Napa, CA
I have a Casio solar powered watch. Pretty cool. Gives me an alarm, altimeter, barometer, multiple time zones (I travel a lot, so I actually use that function often) and never needs winding, batteries or love.

The altimeter is pretty accurate for contouring around mountains for example--but it only takes a reading every couple of minutes. ON foot, this isn't a problem, but in a car you are traveling faster than it can adjust...
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#188532 - 01/13/15 09:26 AM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: Jarrett]
lone star Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/12/15
Posts: 2
thank you Guys so much for your responses! I looked in to the HighGear watch it looks like it has the functions that I need and they are not very expensive to purchase.

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#188538 - 01/13/15 02:36 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
GrumpyGord Online   content
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 847
Loc: Michigan
I use a cheap $29 analog Timex. It tells me how much longer until sunset or time to stop for the night, how much longer until the sun comes up if I wake up during the night and it serves as a rough compass. In most of the places where I hike just knowing that I am heading in the right general direction is good enough. The digital watch will not do that. Even if I have my phone with me it is generally turned off and stored in the pack because there is seldom a signal.

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#188639 - 01/17/15 06:38 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: GrumpyGord]
tramp Offline
member

Registered: 01/24/12
Posts: 66
Loc: WV
I don't trust battery powered items for critical use. I wear a Seiko Orange Monster automatic winding divers watch daily and in the woods. Not cheap but no more expensive than the Suunto mentioned. Mine loses about a minute per month but is as tough as they come. Tells me what time it is and there's a couple of other features I could use but don't. Waterproof as any and no batteries. it's going on 3 years old and still looks great and works as well as it ever did.

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#192001 - 09/23/15 12:31 AM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
Aragon Offline
member

Registered: 09/22/15
Posts: 57
Loc: Central California Coast
A good old Casio G-Shock is tough to beat... Different models have different functions...

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#192019 - 09/23/15 01:55 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: Rick_D]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2801
Loc: NorCal
Since the thread was brought back from hibernation, my Suunto watch band disintegrated and while looking for a replacement I bought a Core model (on sale, yay internet) that I used this season. Once I sussed out the menus it proved to be pretty much everything I wanted. Reliability so far, no complaints, battery replacement is simple and it's surprisingly light. Importantly, the display is very readable.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#192040 - 09/23/15 09:04 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I still haven't found one that will wake me up in the morning!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#195259 - 05/05/16 09:51 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: OregonMouse]
Danmaku Offline
member

Registered: 05/04/16
Posts: 17
Loc: IL
I'm just using a Timex Expedition with date and glow light. I replaced the leather band with paracord; even if I use the cord the watchpiece becomes a pocketwatch.

I wouldn't mind a replacement with an altimeter, compass, etc. as long as it still has the handy glow feature!

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#195263 - 05/06/16 01:10 AM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
"Simple and easy to use"...Timex Expedition. Several models available. Simple, and they work. All the other bells and whistles like barometer, etc. are really not all that useful in the end. My day to day watch is a titanium Citizen Ecodrive. Been with me 5 years without a battery change. But....too expensive for hiking. I take the Timex.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#195321 - 05/10/16 12:04 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: Dryer]
Zuuk Offline
member

Registered: 09/22/15
Posts: 70
Loc: NB, Canada
I went looking for a watch last year, and ended up with a Casio that has a compass and a thermometer on it. Of course, the compass is just to give a basic idea of direction, and the thermometer won't give a correct reading for outdoor temperature unless it's off your wrist for about 30 mins, due to body heat.

I had a choice of 2 to get that was in my price range, and I think I picked the wrong one. The other one was also a Casio and it had a tide clock on it. Since I live near the coast, the tide clock would probably have come in more handy.

I used to have a Timex Expedition, which was a good watch. I also had another one which I think was a Timex; it was a rugged one, and had a metal ring that went over the glass so that it helped protect it when banging it up against something. Trees, rocks... I hit them all! As long as it wasn't something pointy to hit the glass directly, it worked. I ended up breaking the casing so I couldn't use a strap anymore.

So many choices out there.

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#195659 - 06/04/16 08:52 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: lone star]
MikekiM Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/16/16
Posts: 2
Loc: East of Montauk, NY
Can't help myself.. I'm a tech-geek. As much as I like, and rely on low tech, I love to have high tech as backup.

To that end, I use a Suunto on all of my treks (as well as all of my training, running, MetCons and even when walking around). It's a pretty big watch due to the GPS antenna built into the main housing, but it has some great features that I have come to rely on. Altimeter, barometer, thermometer, elapse time, elevation gain, compass, current and average distance, as well as current and average heart rate though I don't use that when trekking. It's most useful feature is navigation. Routes can be created on a home computer and uploaded into the Ambit. I often drop waypoint pins in the route for water sources or crossings, potential camp sites and shelters, scenic features or key navigation points like turn-offs, or trail heads. Waypoints can be created on the fly as well and once saved and labeled, you can navigate back to them as needed. Routes can be run forward or backward. While using the Ambit for navigation, the watch can simultaneously record a bread-crumb trail of the track and record all the above data to be downloaded once back home in gpx format which can be saved and shared.

I also have a Core. The battery is pretty good, but it falls way short in the multi-use category when compared to many other units, especially the Ambit. And the display is notoriously difficult to see regardless of the light your in.

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#195677 - 06/06/16 01:36 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: Zuuk]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 829
Loc: Torrance, CA
I used to always wear a watch but have given up on that in the last decade.... the era of the ubiquitous time telling devices.

Initially I resisted bringing a watch hiking and backpacking. I would bring a cell phone for emergency use (in the event I could get somewhere that got a signal), but that usually ran out of batteries unless I kept it powered down (which wasn't good for telling time). Then I decided to go "au naturale" and base my idea of time on the sun. That works OK for me (though not very accurate), but has not worked very well with my kids. My kids seem to do better eating in a timely fashion rather than when they decide to tell me they are hungry... usually pretty far down a slippery slope by then.

With that I decided to get back into the watch market. The Suunto's (or anything with a barameter) look nice but are more than I was willing to spend. Based on this thread and some similar reviews around the net I started checking out Timex "Expedition" watches and some comparable Casio's.

First, there is no one "Expedition" watch. Timex makes about a million different watches they call "Expedition". Many are simple, plain analog watches and bunch others are digital resembling the classic Timex Triathlon watch. The analog watches look nice but don't have any real function other than telling time. I consider them more jewelry than functional device. The digital watches look dorky, but tell you the time, the date, have alarm clock and timers up the wazoo. Some even have compasses and thermometers built in. Casio has similar offerings though I found the Casio displays less readable.

With all that said I ended up picking up a Timex T40941 Expedition Watch. It's a nice watch for $26 with all the standard watch capabilities. It even has a little compass on it.

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#195687 - 06/07/16 08:54 AM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: BZH]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1144
Loc: Washington State, King County
I've ended up in the "keep it simple" camp too, after first owning three different altimeter watches along the way.

First a Nike branded watch that you had to mail back to them for a way-too-expensive battery replacement every 18 months or so (not user replaceable ... ugh, it was a gift ...). Then a Suunto, I think the issue there was that I stopped trusting the elevation readings (?). Finally a Casio that --- I just stopped using, don't remember why!

I find that if I'm not in good physical condition, I care very much about my current elevation. If I am in good condition, not so much.

In terms of using it as a navigation tool --- I've done this, but infrequently. I pretty much always carry my very-multi-function smartphone, and can always get a location fix from that (UTM coords at a minimum), and for that matter, I can get elevation from it too if I've downloaded maps for where I'm hiking. A more accurate elevation (if I read off of elevation contours on the digital map) than I can rely on an altimeter watch to provide.

So to offer the "anti" case against expensive hiking watches:

- cost, of course
- altimeter in my experience requires periodic calibration at known points --- and even then I've had some whacky results
- heavy
- battery runs out faster

I'm now quite content with a cheap casio from my local drugstore.

I am NOT saying that someone is therefore somehow wrong or foolish to use a more fully functioned watch of some sort (!), just that for me personally --- I've stopped considering anything like that, in favor of just getting better acquainted with the functionality in my smart phone. In particular, I can well imagine folks finding a lot of value in certain circumstances to be able to glance at their wrist while on the go, for a quick elevation update.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#195688 - 06/07/16 11:03 AM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: BrianLe]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Or maybe a weather forecast, such as your "elevation" increasing while you're going downhill.
lol

Constantly having to adjust a watch is a pain, too. I have enough trouble with our semiannual time changes to/from daylight time.

I've checked out a number of those expensive watches, and none have a loud enough alarm to wake me up in the morning which is what I need if I want to get on the trail early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Of course the cheap watches' alarms aren't loud enough either, but at least it's less money and less buk/weight on my wrist.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#195701 - 06/08/16 11:08 AM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: OregonMouse]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1144
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"... none have a loud enough alarm to wake me up in the morning which is what I need if I want to get on the trail early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Of course the cheap watches' alarms aren't loud enough either, but at least it's less money and less buk/weight on my wrist."

Agreed. My smartphone is a far superior alarm clock, not only for absolute volume, but I also like how it increases the volume gradually on the happy little "wake up now!" tune that it plays --- a much less jarring way to wake up.
It's also a lot easier & more intuitive to set the alarm, either on a one-time or recurring basis.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#195704 - 06/08/16 04:00 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: BrianLe]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I have only a "dumb" phone (so dumb that the alarm feature works only about 50% of the time), and since most of the places I hike have no cell phone reception, it stays hidden in the car. Maybe I need to rethink this--not a smart phone but at least a newer dumb one with a working alarm? At 3.3 oz, it's probably the lightest option.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#195705 - 06/08/16 04:01 PM Re: Any recommendations on a good hiking watch? [Re: BrianLe]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I have only a "dumb" phone (so dumb that the alarm feature works only about 50% of the time), and since most of the places I hike have no cell phone reception, it stays hidden in the car. Maybe I need to rethink this--not a smart phone but at least a newer dumb one with a working alarm? At 3.3 oz, it's probably the lightest option.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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