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I was given an altimeter once as a gift and after using it for a couple months I realised there was not much point to it, unless I was to climb everest. For those of you that saw that Top Gear episode where they climbed to the top of the Andes at 16000ft and were practically starved of oxygen, that was a good time to have an altimeter. They did in fact, have one and it was useful, but what's the point if you're going for a family hike in Scotland?
A friend of mine said it was good to see if you were at the peak or not by matching it with the geographical known height of the mountain... What? If I'm on top of a mountain and I look around and appear to be the tallest thing around for many miles I think I'd know if I was at the peak. He also said it was to see progress, but if there is still some hill in front of me then surely by logical thinking, I'm not at the top yet? I really don't see the point in them, for some it might be good to track progress meter by meter but I'm not a hardcore fan of mountain climbing or hiking so I just like to walk and if I get to the top great, if not I don't care, I had fun. The more hardcore walkers will probably want this but families out for some fun won't see the same useful side of it.
The mathematical side of things distracts me from the point of hiking, which is to switch off, relax and just think about things that make me happy, maybe listen to some music now and then. I don't want to be thinking through mathematics when I'm hiking and I certainly don't want to be tracking progress. I don't have a time to beat or anything like that and I don't want one.
People who buy them must buy them for the fun of it or to "track progress" but for me I just want a nice quiet relaxing walk so no thanks, I'll stick with my iPod, no altimeter will ruin my hiking or climbing ever again. I dont think I can run out of oxygen on top of the highlands? I will only ever use one again if I'm climbing a very high peak. Which is also highly unlikely.