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Rickpatbrown

Watch recomendations -GPS, Altimeter,

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Hey there,

 

I'm looking to get a watch for mountaineering and running. I'm a bit turned off by the inherant inaccuracy of a pressure sensor altimeter. It seems that GPS is much better. I don't think that I need anything more in a mountaineering watch than an altimeter and an alarm. I'd rather save battery life than have a compass.

 

I would also want this watch for running. Mostly, to keep my pace. I wouldn't mind a heart rate monitor compatibility though.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions for a rugged solution to these needs?

 

Thanks,

Ricky

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The problem I have had with my Garmin 305 is that the battery, even at its most conservative setting, runs out in 12 hours max. Its a great tool for running, but when climbing, I would have preferred a barometer-watch. Perhaps the new models have better battery life, though.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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Don't go garmin for anything but running. Even running i need two of them for long days as after a handful of months the battery life is only a few hours..

 

I have been wondering what i will do about this piece of gear also..

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Your Garmin 60CSX has an altimeter, so you don't need another one on your watch. You can check your heartbeat the old fashioned way: by counting the beats for 15 seconds and multiplying by four. All you need is a $13 Casio Illuminator alarm/chrono, with split times for running, alarm, water resist.

 

Casio Illuminator Digital Watch $13

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Your Garmin 60CSX has an altimeter, so you don't need another one on your watch. You can check your heartbeat the old fashioned way: by counting the beats for 15 seconds and multiplying by four. All you need is a $13 Casio Illuminator alarm/chrono, with split times for running, alarm, water resist.

 

Casio Illuminator Digital Watch $13

 

I like the Garmin for pacing myself and millage..

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The GPS for running is actually more important than the climbing. Pacing is extremely important for running half and full marathons.

 

The battery issue is something I didn't think about. Will this be for all GPS watches?

 

I was looking at the Garmin 410REI Store

 

Does Suunto have any better offerings?

 

Does everyone agree with me, that a pressure sensor altimeter is unacceptable with up to 1,000 feet errors possible?

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Does everyone agree with me, that a pressure sensor altimeter is unacceptable with up to 1,000 feet errors possible?

No, I think a traditional barometer/altimeter is perfectly acceptable as long as you stay oriented so you can recalibrate often. In fact I prefer it because I have the added benefit of seeing how the barometric pressure has changed every time I recalibrate from the same location (i.e. overnight), which greatly enhances my ability to be tuned in to what the weather is doing. I have an analog altimeter so I never have to worry about batteries.

Edited by pcg

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If by "Mountaineering Watch" you mean a watch that is useful for navigation then absolutely do NOT buy one of the GPS watches. They are useless for any real navigation (with a couple notable exceptions). Some of them do have rudimentary nav functions...but they are a waste of money if that is your primary requirement. They ARE excellent training devices (I use them frequently) but are not intended for nav.

 

If you want the benefits of a GPS for navigation then buy a proper GPS unit. Old eTrex Vistas have served me well for years and are not loaded down with a bunch of useless features. The new eTrex series are slight improvements.

 

A proper pressure altimeter watch, and the knowledge of how to utilize it, can be VERY useful in the back-country. Yes they CAN require frequent calibration but they are a useful tool in the right hands. As one user noted, they can also be very useful even if you are unable to calibrate. You would do well to spend some time educating yourself on how to use them.

 

One point that has not been mentioned is that GPS units CAN be fairly inaccurate in the vertical axis. This is the least accurate output that they give and I generally do not rely on it unless I am able to verify the info through some other method.

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I don't want it to navigate, other than by knowing exact elevation. I thought altitude could be accurately determined by GPS. I am admittedly very uneducated about all this.

 

I was under the impression that a changing barometric pressure, between calibrations, could lead to quite false readings.

 

Maybe, I'll just get the running watch for now and figure out the altimeter thing after some more mountaineering experience. I was just hoping to kill two birds with one stone.

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The accuracy of a GPS derived elevation is directly dependent on the quality of the signal...which in some cases is NOT excellent...and CAN be difficult to verify. They CAN be accurate (and often are fairly good) but are not nearly as predictable as a pressure based altimeter - which is really the crux of the issue. You normally KNOW when you can and cannot use your pressure altimeter for precise nav. And there are often work-arounds in more challenging conditions. That's often not the case with GPS units - especially those of the "wrist-watch" variety.

 

It's a tool...just like all the others in the average climber's kit. And it's usually the simplest tools that are the most useful in the end.

 

Also, there are frequent opportunities on the average climb to calibrate or verify your pressure altimeter's settings. You'll find a lot of climbers that use them successfully.

 

I won't try to convince you to use one or the other. Like most, if you work to educate yourself you'll figure out which option works best.

 

Good luck. Have fun.

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Watches are 20th century technology. Any modern phone will do all of this and do it better and not sit on your wrist to get chomped by rocks when you fist jam.

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Watches are 20th century technology. Any modern phone will do all of this and do it better and not sit on your wrist to get chomped by rocks when you fist jam.

:moondance:

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Any modern phone will do all of this and do it better...

Maybe so, but the GPS features only work if it can communicate with a cell tower.

Edited by pcg

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Any modern phone will do all of this and do it better...

The GPS feature on cell phones will only work when you can communicate with a cell tower.

 

News flash: You can get sat GPS in higher end phones.

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I'm a bit turned off by the inherant inaccuracy of a pressure sensor altimeter. It seems that GPS is much better.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altimeter

 

Read the Wikipedia page here if you haven't. I think you'll be misled far more often by GPS altitude than a pressure altitude. You've mentioned 1000 ft errors possible with a pressure altimeter, but I think that would be an extraordinary error to have. When using your navigation tools you would have to have a topo map as well. If you recalibrate the altimeter at the trailhead, passes, and summits you'll find accuracy typically within 100 ft.

 

 

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The battery issue is something I didn't think about. Will this be for all GPS watches?

I was looking at the Garmin 410REI Store

One other battery note. This has a 'Built-in' rechargeable li-ion battery which will eventually die after a certain number of recharges. By then, you might not care. However, Garmin is currently charging $79/$89 + shipping to replace the 405/410 watch after the 1 year warranty expires. If you buy it, ask a geek friend how to prolong the Li-Ion battery life.

 

I was given the 405 as a gift about 2 1/2 years ago (for running/pace, never for the mountains) and the battery now seems to be dying. When this 'Non-User-Replaceable' battery completely dies, I'll try the unsupported route which supposedly requires a little soldering :)

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If you'll consider a pressure-sensing watch, I've been happy with the Casio SGW-300H, especially for the price. Occasionally curious display, but the menus are pretty well laid-out. $40 for a rugged altimeter watch...

 

Used Highgears for several years, but lack of durability/waterproofness (pressing buttons on a wet watch --> water inside the watch) led me to look elsewhere. Nice displays and pressure sensors on even the inexpensive ones, just trashed one every year or two.

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