The Suunto Altimax combines an altimeter, barometer and watch, with easy "one-button" access to immediate information about vertical ascent/descent and number of runs skied. With the new dual time function, it?s easy to stay on time even when travelling in a different time zone.
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When its comes to climbing or scuba diving Suunto is the last word really, their are some good alternitives and generally speaking every serious adventure sportsman will tell you that cheap is not good, likewise just because a piece of equipment is ridculously expensive does not mean that it is any better then the next two down. In this way, Timex do a good watch caled the WS4, at £100 you get as much as you do on this watch and it will do in nearly as well. I speak so lovingly of the WS4 as I used to have it before I bought this watch.
So most of you know that I climb and Id seen Suunto watches befroe but to be honest I thought they all looked the same and were too expensive. The two things you will get is accuracy and reliability. Ideally this watch could be used for skiing but it is actually an outdoor sports woth so I use it for climbing.
The important stuff:
Its light at 318 grams its light, but that is not a refelction on the build quility (where as with lesser products it is). The price varies but you can get the watch for £150.
The watch itself:
The watch has a tri-purpose. Firstly it is a standard watch with chronograhp functuions, so this means that you get all the standard stuff, time in different formats, lap timers, stop watch, date and calendar, alarm (always handy when you are struggling to get up for a summit climb at 2 in the morning).
The Altimax features an altitude difference measurement function, in short this will measure the fact that you go up and down and this can be displayed to you in graph-like function. It will track the vertical progress between the stages where you acclimatise to the altitude. The featured logbook keeps a record on the aggregated total and cumulative vertical ascents and descents, and if skiing it can also record the number of runs you have completed. The memory if automatic and can store up to 24-hours of data.
The watch also features a Barometer, this is handy for skiing and climbing, knowing when the next pressure system is going to come in, you dont want to get stuck in a whiteout 15,000 feet up, trust me, I`ve been there. So you get some forecasting as the weather changes, in 6 hr intervals. Suunto is really good at coming up withaccurate reports and this is the function where cheaper wtaches like the WS4 I previously mentioned just cannot match. Information on the present sea level pressure helps you read and understand the barometric pressure at high altitudes. The watch automatically records barometric data and wil do so for up to the last 4 days at 6 hr intervals.
Overall- a good starter level watch by Suunto Instruments for more serious enthusiasts
This watch is quite old now, and has been replaced by newer models, but it is still a brilliant watch and certainly not outdated. It contains all of the usual functions found on extreme outdoor watches; altimeter, barometer, stopclock, count down timer, alarms and built in compass. These are all extremely accurate, and have a very good range suitable for most use up to about 26000ft.
The strap is fantastic too. I often have trouble finding a watch that will fit my quite large wrist, but this has no problem. I can even wear clothing and it will fit over the top, which is perfect in cold conditions, when you don't what to lift up your clothing, to check the time, and expose your skin to the elements. At the same time although it is a fairly big watch, it does not feel bulky. It it sits on your wrist very comfortably and securely.
The design of the watch is pretty good too. Compare to most casio watches, which have lots of different bits and buttons, the suunto altimax is simplistic and a lot easier to use, without impacting on the range of features; infact it has a larger range. The back of the watch has a small notch which you can fit and coin into. By turning this you can open the back of the watch and gain access to the battery. This is great because it means that you can replace the battery in the watch, without having to go to a shop. This feature is made even more important by my next point, the battery life.
Given the extensive range of features on the watch, the battery drains very quickly. From my experience extensive use has given me about a years worth of battery life, although in the watches specification it says that it can last up to 18 months.
There are a few things that would make the watch perfect. Firstly, i would like to see a storm alarm and a built in thermometer to measure temperature. But most importantly, i would like to see the watches' waterproof rating improve. In the description, it says to 30m however in reality this is only for occasional swimming use in a pool to a depth of 2-3m.
Overall, this is a great watch for outdoor enthusiasts, who are not going to be using it for watersports. It has a great range of features which are all very accurate however, i would like to see a temperature indicator and storm alarm like on some of suunto's other watches. It is well worth the price when you consider what it is capable of.
It's time to tell you about my christmas pressie! After suffering months of me dropping, less than subtle, hints about how useful altimeters are, my girlfriend gave in and bought me one. Despite all my efforts at nudging her in that direction it came as the most wonderful surprise. The item in question is a Suunto ALTIMAX and basically it has three functions: WATCH: It tells the time- whoopee! It also comes with all manner of alarms, stopwatches, countdown timers etc. BAROMETER: It measures air pressure. This is very useful for weather forecasting. The memory functions will indicate long and short term trends. Why? Well, falling air pressure generally means a worsening of the weather and vice versa. This is a good planning tool if you are seperated from accurate weather forecasts. The device will tell you the pressure at your location or at sea level. Choose units in mbar or mmHg ALTIMETER: The really sexy bit! The electronics inside uses the information from the barometer to give you altitude. If you use it properly it is superbly accurate. Again, a choice of units: feet or metres. The device has a memory that will tell you accumulated ascent/descent and rates. Altimeters are very useful for position finding. If you can't see anything (in cloud, blizzards or the dark) an accurate altitude will tell you where abouts on a ridgeline you are and stop you taking the wrong spur off. Potentially life-saving. The altimeters on GPS units are unreliable (unless it's an aneroid one) and on a knife edge ridge a GPS is not accurate enough. Suunto are a Finnish company with a reputation for producing good kit. As you'd expect, from them, the watch has some good, user-friendly features: The strap is long enough to go over your climbing jacket. The buttons are big enough to be pressed by gloved hands, or teeth! The display has big numbers and a graphical function that
is very easy to read. Waterproof to 30m (although they are quick to point out that this is not a diving device). The battery life is about 1 year, depending on how often you use the backlight and memory functions. Refreshingly it is easily replaced by the user, so you can take a spare on long expeditions. Having said all this, it is fascinating- to me anyway. I've been a bit of a bore since christmas: sitting in the pub pressing buttons or walking up and down stairs grinning like an idiot. Escalators are fun now. Cost wise it compares very well to the cheaper models available. Casio make altimeter watches but they only go up to 4000m- not even as high as Mont Blanc- and they are certainly not as robust. The only drawbacks come when it its is not being used for outdoor use. The watch is very large and its big numbers make it look like a watch for simpletons who have only just learned to tell the time. Also, I find it almost impossible not to look at it when I'm driving up and down hills. I nearly had an embarassing incident at Shap on the M6. You can buy these wonderful machines from bigger outdoor shops such as, Field & Trek and Cotswolds or online at www.back-country-equipment.com If I've whetted your appetite for more info, and pictures too!, look at www.suunto.fi Right, I'm off to walk up and down the stairs a few times.