Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Why an Altimeter?

I must admit to being a bit backward as far as technology’s concerned and thought that altimeters were the stuff of the Himalayas, Andes and the high Alps.

On most equipment purchases I’ll slowly and deliberately investigate, ponder it over, weigh-up the pro & cons, consider the options and price before committing. At other times I seem to just stumble into a purchase, this was the case with the Highgear Axio Mini watch (model now seems to have been discontinued).

I was looking for a cheap digital watch (as I keep breaking them) with only two functions required: to tell the time and have a stop watch for timing cross country navigation legs.  I had in mind something like a cheap plastic Casio, what could be a simple as that.

I ended up purchasing the Axio from an auction site for £18 (including delivery); it seemed like one of those too good to be true purchases since the watch was supposedly packed with features: altimeter, barometer, thermometer, chronometer, alarm, backlight and time. The best thing in my book is that being targeted at the ladies its small and quite discrete looking, not something the size of a hockey puck festooned with huge buttons.

Have had the watch over a year now, I can say that I’m very happy with the purchase and I’m now an altimeter convert, even for Scotland (so long as it’s cheap).  As with all altimeters, the accuracy of the reading requires the user to calibrate the elevation at least daily which is pretty easy to do by pushing a couple of buttons.

Axio watch

I find the altimeter a particularly useful navigation tool as it provides another frame of reference in bad weather e.g. you’re on a bump in the mist but is it the right one? An elevation reading (easily within +/- 10m if you’ve calibrated on the day) can quickly resolve the issue.  I’ve also used it to change navigation ‘legs’ part way down a hill e.g. turn onto a new bearing at a given elevation.  Contouring around a hill cross country is also made easy, can save a bit of leg effort.  Then there’s the nice to know; how much further up the hill to go?

I’ve just changed the battery, though I don’t know how long it was ‘laying on the shelf’, but a year’s life seems reasonable and it was easy to do myself since the back just unscrews with a coin.

The only negative I’ve found is the thermometer, the reading is miles off when it’s worn on the wrist (body heat) and I’ve seen it reading >20C when it’s below freezing.  It does seem accurate when taken off and left around the ‘tent’ for a while, nice to know it’s -3C when you’re snuggled up in the sleeping bag.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2014 by in Gear, Reviews and tagged .
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