Hiking watches are not made only to tell time. They are built to handle additional elements. You will hear people refer to them as ABC watches, which stand for Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass. Besides these three main features, hiking watches include a few more that are beyond helpful in finding your location and direction, anticipating weather, and tracking health, fitness, and performance all the time. Here are essential qualities you should check before getting one for yourself.
Getting a strong GPS signal is not always easy because your physical location can affect the watch’s connection to the navigation satellites. Hiking in a thick forest or deep can make it difficult for your watch to connect to GPS. As having a strong GPS signal is crucial for tracking and orienteering, this feature is on the top of the checklist when choosing a perfect hiking watch. Besides, GPS tracking provides other useful information such as the distance you hiked, how long it took you to hike, and the elevation change.
The altimeter in a hiking watch is used to measure the altitude while climbing. Knowing your elevation can help you find your location on a map easily. Watches without an altimeter can estimate the altitude using the elevation information sent from the current GPS data. The measurements provided by the altimeter sensor are normally much more accurate than the same information coming from the GPS coordinate data. The reason for this is that the strength accuracy of the information collected this way depends on the GPS signal, which is not always strong enough.
The barometer on the watch is there only to measure changes in air pressure. These fluctuations are used in determining the weather by measuring elevation, but they can also be used to detect incoming storms. Basic barometers use atmospheric readings that you can view, while more advanced watches allow you to see changes in air pressure with an alarm that alerts you when significant changes occur, thus signifying a possible storm. Regardless of your hiking preferences, you will find this feature highly useful.
Almost all GPS watches on the market have a digital compass that you can use to get around more easily. Some still have a 2D compass that needs to be held horizontally, while most have a 3D one that works in any orientation. However, as a watch-based compass can help you walk according to a bearing, it is not as accurate as a baseplate compass, and probably won’t synchronize well with the map. Anyway, if you are not used to an old-school compass or are not sure how to use it correctly, you might as well rely on the one integrated into the hiking watch if needed.
Nearly all watches are produced with a heart rate monitor that tracks your heart rate 24/7. Higher the heart rate, the greater the exertion level, meaning you are working harder. Hikers will carefully check their heart rate regularly so they can walk at a low exertion level. As the experts from MyOpenCountry.com explain, having this feature working accurately on your watch is crucial for maintaining good overall health during the hike. These pieces of information allow hikers to walk slower and longer instead of pushing themselves to exhaustion and risking their health.
Battery life is an essential consideration when purchasing any tool or piece of technology, especially when it comes to the gadget that provides so much important information at once. While hiking long distances you will need the watch that you can go a long way before needing to charge it again. The time between charges is dependent on how you use the watch. GPS is the feature that consumes the battery the most, so you might want to consider turning it off when not particularly useful to prolong the battery life if that is a priority at that moment.
Most hiking and mountaineering watches these days are water-resistant. It means you don’t have to worry about damaging it when doing the dishes, washing your hands, or hiking in the pouring rain. However, you need to be a little more careful when it comes to showering or swimming with the watch on your wrist. Each watch comes with a different degree of water resistance, and in case you consider swimming with it, you should consider getting one that is resistant to 100m or more.
Regardless of the type of outdoor activity, using hiking watches can make it significantly easier and more enjoyable. When buying one for yourself, remember to check the quality of these few features, and get the most out of your next adventure.