Recommended mountaineering watches

  • Creator
  • #16288

    Hi Scott,
    I noticed you replied on another forum thread about HR monitors and you mentioned you could provide some recommendations for mountaineering & HR watches?

    I am looking for a watch to track HR and also will serve me for mountaineering.

    Thanks in advance,

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Participant
    pshyvers on #23301

    If you have very inaccurate GPS tracks with a Fenix, the first thing to experiment with is disabling UltraTrac, which is a great feature but doesn’t work very well in difficult terrain such as trees, valleys, & canyons.

    I find with my older Fenix, sometimes the auto-cal hasn’t triggered recently, so as I leave the trailhead I’ll trigger it. Then it’s usually not an issue for the rest of the day.

    Participant on #23313

    (Deleted. My reply was in the wrong context.)

    NotOnEiger on #23518

    I have the Suunto Ambit3 and love it, awesome battery life and functionality, but I too have trouble with accurate HR readings via chest strap! I have done the recommended adjustments, reset it, checked battery etc. without luck. I now resynch the strap with the watch every time I want to use it and it seems to work better. Also, I will fiddle aroaround with the position on the chest too as mentioned above.

    trygve.veslum on #26638

    Ive used the following watches:
    -Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
    -Garmin Epix
    -Suunto 9 Baro (current)

    Based on my hikes/climbs in Norway I can report that the Suuntos in general have way better GPS positioning accuracy than the Epix. A friend having the Fenix 3 seems to have similar issues…ie tracks all over the place when in steep terrain.

    Suunto 9 is to me basically a modern version of the Ambit 3. Main differences:
    -Activities can actually be deleted on watch at any time.
    -Color display. I guess its way more snappy in cold conditions.
    -Wrist HR which performs pretty shite. Probably good enough to monitor sleep etc.
    -Ability to add/modify activities on Suunto app.Create routes on Suunto app. Only reason to connect to PC is to update firmware. Generally quick to upload recorded activites to the app.
    -Galileo support. Although havent noticed any better accuracy. Perhaps a bit worse than for GPS only.
    -More bells and whistles (activity/slepp tracking etc)

    trygve.veslum on #26639

    I have/had issues with the Suunto smart sensor as well. Tried the Polar H7 and never looked back (its a bit more bulky though).

    Mariner_9 on #29999

    I have a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak which I use for training, hiking and splitboarding. Altimeter was the reason I got it as I have a Garmin Inreach Explorer for GPS and emergency communications.

    In general I like the Suunto but have had some issues with the HRM – you need to take good care of the strap (don’t tumble dry it) and ensure you switch out the battery in the HRM promptly when it appears to be running down otherwise it won’t record accurately. I normally apply some aloe vera gel to the sensors on the strap before I train.

    Other tips:
    – turn down the accuracy of the GPS otherwise the battery life is too short when out on even a day-trip
    – I set up a sport mode which doesn’t record HRM when splitboarding as I suspect it might interfere with my avalanche transceiver (no evidence of that but was advised to do so by several guides)

    TerryLui on #31460

    Currently, my latest Suunto HRM strap “hack” that’s yielding some consistency:

    Clean contact points w/ dish soap after every use AND…wet both front and back side of contact points (I don’t sweat much and winter temps don’t help w/ moisture)

    todd.struble on #33427

    I picked up a Garmin Instinct for the barometric altimeter (Training Peaks suggests that it’s more accurate than using their “elevation correction” function which maps gps tracks to known elevations). I guess I’m not sure what to expect in terms of accuracy. For example, I calibrated it last night using GPS elevation at my house. It finds it at 530′. I wake up this morning and now it thinks I’m at ~400′. I recalibrate and it goes back to 530′ at the start of a 1 hr trail run, and when I get back to my house, it finds me at 500′.

    Is that variation the accuracy I’m supposed to expect? If so, what’s the usual margin of error for a given elevation over time? Is it always accurate within 50 feet? 100 feet? Does it get wider over time?

    Also, how does the “auto calibration” feature work? I have it on, but I really don’t understand as so far after a length of time it seems fairly off. Does it calibrate when I start an activity or at a certain time? Does it need internet through my phone to get the correct reference values?

    I also feel like it overstates how much elevation my workouts are. If you use the Training Peaks “elevation correction” feature it’s almost always less, sometimes as much as 10% different. I suspect if I did a track workout it would claim I gained and lost hundreds of feet. It also suggested on my 1-hour trail run that I had a net elevation change of -45′ despite starting and ending the workout at the exact same spot. It’s -2 using the GPS values.

    Do folks here tend to use the elevation correction feature or just leave the barometric altimeter elevation values as is?

    Anonymous on #33656

    Barometer’s don’t measure elevation. They measure atmospheric pressure. Pressure changes with the weather. Measuring pressure is a proxy for elevation, but due to the changing nature of pressure, barometers always have to be calibrated to a certain elevation.

    For example, if you’re starting out on a ski tour, you would calibrate your barometer by entering the known elevation at the car, where you know what the elevation is from a map. Then as the day goes on, you can check your elevation against known points on the tour. If the barometer-predicted elevation is higher than reality, then the pressure has fallen and the weather may be worsening. If the barometer-predicted elevation is lower than reality, then the pressure has risen and the weather may be improving.

    If you want to accurately measure just elevation, then maps and GPS would be better tools. But for training, close is close enough. I just use what my watch tells me and over time it’ll average out to be accurate enough.

    Henryhampton on #36535

    This topic has gone a bit stale but I’m ordering up a Garmin Fenix 6x Pro.. Steve, I waded through the DC rainmaker reviews on the Corps Vertix but at the end they seemed to think that it was about the same money without the bells and whistles.. The one thing I was interested in as it related to this forum was the acclimatization schedule within the apps (both Garmin and Coros). It looks like the Garmin stops the acclimatization schedule after 4,000m/13,123ft.. perhaps liability, no clue. Going to take a swing at it and let everyone know.. Here’s Ray from DC Rainmakers review on the Fenix 6 series.

    OffKamber on #36703

    Im interested in this thread as well. Last year I tested Garmin 5x for a few weeks and found its elevation to always be up to 200 ft off. Garmin inReach is usually within 30 ft but a pain to take out every time. Now I use the Garmin Foretrex as it’s usually within 10-20 feet off at most. The Foretrex is the best option I found for trips multi day trips because it’s breadcrumbs are extremely accurate. At 1 min intervals the batteries last about a week. Plus, it’s two aaa so easy to replace vs having to charge. Every other option with accurate breadcrumbs burns the battery within a day so this is my go to for expeditions. It got me out of whiteouts on glaciers twice already.

    However, it’s extremely limited for training purposes. Basically useless. So I’m looking for a good training watch with accurate elevation. I was debating between Suunto or the new Coros? Not going back to Garmin as I already know it’s not great with accuracy. Seems Suunto has better accuracy but Coros has a lot of bells and whistles?

    Anonymous on #36724

    @oleg: When testing different devices, did you calibrate them to a known elevation with each use?

    Because the elevation is estimated from air pressure (and air pressure constantly changes), you need to calibrate them with each use. On long days, with changing weather, you may want to calibrate them more than once.

    If you didn’t, then the accuracy of the devices is still untested.

    GPS accuracy isn’t that important for training, but if you’re using them for navigation, then you’ll want to make sure they’re calibrated.

    climbgoon on #36860

    I need a basic watch with a Altimeter, alarm , and any extra features that does not be charger.Im participating on the Nols expedition style Denali trip where carrying a charger isn’t going to be allowed, thanks

    TerryLui on #37043

    Hey climbgoon,
    Cool have fun on your NOLS expedition! I’ve had people use this watch on multi-week expeditions (4+ weeks and w/ NOLS):

    Not sure if you’re w/ a custom education program w/ NOLS but carrying a battery bank is an option for recharging electronics (I am a NOLS instructor).

    Have a great experience! 🙂

    Zuko on #37055

    if you want something that doesn’t have to be charged check the Casio Pro Trek watches. Any of their triple sensor watches will give you altitude, compass, and barometric pressure.

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