Cheap outdoor watch recommendations wanted

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Tech' started by Jamess, Feb 15, 2020.

  1. Jamess

    Jamess Section Hiker

    My regular watch has just died so I'm thinking of getting an altimeter watch. I like 'simple' so I'm looking for something pretty basic rather than one with loads of features I will never use eg downloading routes onto it and tracking my position.

    Any recommendations anybody?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
  2. Mole

    Mole Thru Hiker

    Just, Altimeter /Barometer
    Casio for cheap n cheerful basic.
    Or wait until Lidl do theirs this year. Usually £19.99.
    cathyjc, Michael_x and FOX160 like this.
  3. dovidola

    dovidola Thru Hiker

    Do you carry a smartphone @Jamess ? If you do, you will almost certainly have a proper (i.e. not internet-based) barometer built in, you just need to download a free App to access it, and it will use your GPS (still works in Airplane mode) to determine your altitude. I use "Barometer & Altimeter" which I think just works with iPhones, but there are others too. It's so good I use it as a daily local weather-forecasting tool as well as for hiking.

    If you go down that route, you might not want a watch at all, although I wear one because I like them. But don't get me started on wrist candy...
  4. Jamess

    Jamess Section Hiker

    My phone stays switched off in my pack unless I'm not sure where I am and the visibility is so crap that reorientation is proving difficult.

    I still prefer a physical map for navigation. Old fashioned I know but the navigation challenge is part of the fun.

    I did a three day trip with @Whiteburn in the autumn, and having an altimeter added to, rather than reduced the enjoyment, in the way that I find too much tech does.

    It was that experience plus the fact that my watch has just died that inspired this thread.
    PhilHo likes this.
  5. cathyjc

    cathyjc Thru Hiker

    If you see them 'appear in store' can you put up an alert, please ? :)
    rikdon and Michael_x like this.
  6. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    I found it very difficult to find an altimeter watch that wasn't stupidly expensive, the size of a hockey puck & buttons the size of door knobs......I just got lucky stumbling upon the Highgear Axio Mini watch after by favourite Casio failed (another case of the manufacturer discontinuing a great product). You could probably get a Casio with altimeter for <£100.
    Must admit to liking digital watches for backpacking as they usually have a stopwatch function which is particularly useful timing navigation legs in the mist or more frequently simply timing how long the meal has been in the cosy.
    Jamess likes this.
  7. OwenM

    OwenM Section Hiker

  8. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    Available from Amazon for <£100 but still big (50mm Vs 38mm for my Axio) for my small wrists.
  9. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    cathyjc likes this.
  10. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    cathyjc likes this.
  11. Shewie

    Shewie Administrator Staff Member

    Suunto Cores some up on Sportpursuit occasionally, I think I paid £70 for mine last year

    My old faithful is a battered Timex Expedition indiglo analogue watch, £20 from Argos about 20 years ago, should have died years ago but just keeps on going.
  12. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    Got a couple, a beat up one for around the farm & a shiny unscratched one for best....hard to beat IMO.
  13. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

  14. Ally

    Ally Ultralighter

    Thats a good idea ! I put a longer strap on mine so it can fit over all my layers.
  15. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    I'll be changing the strap to light webbing soon as the grosgrain is starting to fray.
  16. Gobila

    Gobila Backpacker

    I was looking at these Casio watches a while ago but decided against getting one as at least a couple of the reviews said you would need to calibrate it often, I think I remember one saying every hour or so unless I'm mistaken. Can anyone shed any light on this and how it works in practice?
  17. NEEpps

    NEEpps Ultralighter

    These watches only work on barometer readings, so the current weather conditions influence the altitude readings. Currently we have low pressure below 1000mb. Normally you would expect around 1030mb.
    300mb in pressure equates to approximately 200m of height therefore the current altitude reading would be 230m above where you actually are.
    Altitude needs to be set at your current height for the current pressure to get accurate altitude readings. The more often you do this the more accurate your current altitude readings will be.
    Other watches have GPS as well as a barometer and use a combination of both (depending on the user settings) to give a more consistent altitude reading whatever the current air pressure.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
    JKM, Gobila and tom like this.
  18. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    Altimeter watches are not very accurate - I'd say mainly for the reasons @NEEpps describes. My cousin's watches are usually about 50m out when compared with landmark altitudes (summits, passes etc). She used to argue with me when I challenged her watches' altitude claims years ago, nowadays we have a good laugh. As a mountain guide in the Alps, she still finds the watches useful, just add or substract 50m as per weather conditions ...
    Gobila likes this.
  19. JKM

    JKM Thru Hiker

    I would just get a sim free spare phone from AliExpress or similar.
    Install viewranger and Kindle on it, use wi-fi only.
    Then you have a camera, GPS, altimeter, evening reading etc, etc and you can still keep you phone in your bag for emergency.

    Or get the suunto core....
  20. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    It's all personal but I wouldn't let my choice of watch be dictated by whether or not it had an altimeter or barometer built in. I can get that info from my map location and local weather forecast. For me, the only fancy feature I demand is to be able to tell the time at night at a glance, without having to faff with buttons, backlights, my glasses or anything else. I want to know the time without having to fully wake up to work it out.

    MWC Classic Watch - MKIII Brushed Stainless Steel with Tritium
    dovidola likes this.
  21. Whiteburn

    Whiteburn Thru Hiker

    All barometric altimeters need to be regularly calibrated, at least once a day. IME if the watch is set at the first known spot height (peak, bealeach, etc) during the day it's generally accurate to +/- 10m for the rest of the day, it's not a great hardship really.
    I find that being able to check my altitude aids navigation without depleting the phones' battery, my watch cell life is ~2yrs (I usually replace annually ~£1). Plus it's far easier to glance at the watch than dig out the phone switch it on then put it away.
    It's down to personal choice at the end of the day.
    Gobila likes this.
  22. NEEpps

    NEEpps Ultralighter

    Don't forget - play videos you've downloaded until 3 in the morning when your room mates are trying to sleep:rolleyes:
    JKM and gixer like this.
  23. Balagan

    Balagan Thru Hiker

    The Casio above is 44 grams with the chunky biner which is lighter and more compact than a spare phone which duplicates the function of his first phone. ;)

    It's all personal but you can get the time from the sun during the day and from your bladder at night. Why bother with an expensive watch? ;)
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
    JKM, PaulB, cathyjc and 2 others like this.
  24. NEEpps

    NEEpps Ultralighter

    Like Rog and Whitburn say it's personal choice. I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I find my Suunto Traverse compliments my use of paper maps. It records my route thus saving the battery on my phone. It gives accurate altitude readings (it requires calibrating at the start of the hike) and measures how far and how long I have walked thus negating the need to count steps or estimate time to distance. It also tells the time.
    Balagan likes this.
  25. dovidola

    dovidola Thru Hiker

    I'm no scientist, but I'm certain a barometer measures atmospheric pressure only. Altitude can be extrapolated from atmospheric pressure, but none too accurately, because atmospheric pressure changes? I think that's what @NEEpps is referring to with "current weather conditions" - but I'm not sure because 'weather' and 'atmospheric pressure' are actually different things - at least that's what they taught me at school?

    GPS, by referencing your position by satellite in relation to the earth's crust, is surely the best measure of altitude.

    Therefore, the ideal must be to combine a barometric measure of atmospheric pressure with a GPS reading of altitude - exactly what my phone does. Calibration then becomes unnecessary, because you do not have what @Whiteburn calls a "barometric altimeter". It can be configured to additionally give all barometer readings adjusted to if they were at sea level. This is invaluable for weather forecasting on the hill, because it removes the effects of your own changes in altitude as you ascend and descend over the course of a hike, without which you would not be comparing like with like, and an accurate indication of fall/rise in atmospheric pressure is the single most important factor in short-term weather forecasting. I check this several times daily, and it has never failed to prove an accurate indicator of how the weather will change over the coming 12-24 hours, just what's needed when deciding on the advisability of a route or camp.

    Of course it's important to check the available online weather forecasts before setting out, and during a hike if accessible, but I scratch my head a bit when I read of hikers equipped with smartphones unable to forecast weather because of no internet signal. They have a potent microclimatic weather forecasting tool in their pocket/pack if they know how to access and use it.
    PhilHo, Balagan and OwenM like this.

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