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post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm doing some research on altimeters with the possible purchase and use while hiking and skiing. Looks like Suunto has several products. Does anyone have experience with using one? What should I be looking for wrt features?

post #2 of 16
I have one of the early Avocet models. It is really not ready for prime time. I think even the designer would have some difficulty remembering how to program it for the various functions.

But I like the altimiter feature and the run counting feature and the daily, seasonal vertical features, etc.

Look at all of them and decide based on the few fetures you will actually use and how easy it is to use them. Frankly, you will not care about the esoteric features for the most part. Simple is best.
post #3 of 16
I too wear the Avocet altimeter. I love its ability to count the number of runs and vertical feet, among many other features. It also proved to be quite a conversation piece while riding up on the lift.
Its drawbacks, if I remember correctly, are that the vertical feet only go up to 299,000 before you have to reset it and likewise, the total number of runs must also be reset back to 0 at 199. In addition, the temperature is often warmer than the actual because it is influenced by your body heat. All in all, it was well worth the $120 (sale) price when I stumbled onto one in Lake Placid.
post #4 of 16
My Avocet is okay, but I would recommend spending the few extra bucks for the Suunto Altimax, which is their most basic altimeter watch. (Their other models add all sorts of bells & whistles at additional cost.) Just make sure you like how it sits on your wrist, since the face is very big.
Be sure to avoid the Nike altimeter watch - my friend says his appears to sample only every five minutes or so, leading to inaccurate readings.
You might be able to find some very good deals on the old Casio models, which are also okay.
post #5 of 16
The extra money on the suunto is not all that well spent in my opinion. I have both the Suunto and the AvocetII The Suunto has a recording limit of 29000 vertical limit (easily exceeded on a good day) then you have to go to the log/history function and figure out your vert totals from the logs depending on time settings. You think the programing features are hard to remember on the Avocet? The programing buttons on the Suunto are much worse. Moving through the menus on the Suunto are worse. Also, don't count on the compass. It's too sensitive and hard to calibrate. Give me a mechanical compass over the Suunto any day.

Just my opinion.
post #6 of 16
I have the Suunto, which I use for climbing in CO. I often wear it while skiing, but have not used it to track vertical feet skied. I agree with dchan- the operation of the thing does require some familiarity with differential equations, theoretical physics, and non-linear math, but I am finally getting the hang of it (but how do you get the stopwatch to work???). All of these devices have certain inherent inaccuracies that must be accounted for. You need to do 2 kinds of calibrations- one for "sea level barometric pressure" and one when you begin your climb at a known elevation. Remember that changes in barometric pressure will affect the altitude reading, so if a front is moving in, you will have some drift. I have had some accuracy problems but I think that the issues mentioned above may play some role. Suunto claims accuracy to 3 meters or 10 feet. I do like the rate of ascent/ descent feature, and find it useful for frequently determining my pace without consulting the map. It is certainly more convenient than my older (inexpensive) handheld anaeroid altimiter.
post #7 of 16
Have had the Avocet for 5 years and have enjoyed it .I can not remember the Sunnioto(what ever) but I think the activation buttons are larger on the avocet ,you can flip thru the funtions with your gloves on. Also thier support system is great , any time I need to reset a function I just cheat and call and they walk me through it.One caveat , you need to send the watch back to them every two years for a new battery ($20) and they also recalibrate it for you.Remember to send before the ski season , I did not have mine for the first couple of ski days last year because I sent it at the beginng of the season.
post #8 of 16
dchan, I should have added that the major problems with the Avocet are the lack of a light and the frequent battery replacement, which is expensive if you send it to the official service center and tricky (though not impossible) if you attempt it yourself (ditto for recalibration). As for the Suunto Altimax, it wisely skips the Vector's digital compass, which is rather pointless (as it is inferior to a cheap needle compass w/ sighting mirror). A very reliable website, bcstore.com, is having a 10% off sale, which combined w/ free shipping equals $152 for the Altimax delivered to you door. By contrast, the retail appears to be $160 for the Avocet Vertech II, so the pricing issue seems to be a wash.
post #9 of 16
I have had the Suunto Vector for three years and actually like mine. The compass in not real accurate, but it's better that nothing.
The 29,999 ft. limit per log is short, but you can switch to meters, 29,999 meters is a very big day! I do like the Alitmax feature that you can check your vertical progress without relogging.
post #10 of 16
The Avocet also allows you to view and track verts without resetting as well as it can be put into meters as well to give a very high total.
I guess the part about sending it in has never been an issue since I live within 30 min's of the factory repair location so I just plan on making a trip that direction one day and drop it off. Then I can usually pick it up on the return trip or go out and get a bite to eat and pick it up afterwards. The actual process only takes about 15 minutes unless there is a major upgrade or problem. Then they usually repair it or upgrade the firmware and that usually only takes 30 min. (I've been spoiled)
post #11 of 16
If you are looking for Altimeter watch go with Suunto. Two models to go with. The Observor or the brand new X6. Both have relativly the same features, both are smaller than the old suunto wristops. The Observor has a nice look if you want to wear it to work. The X6 is down right cool. It comes with a docking cradle and software so you can download the log books to your computer and graph and analyse the info. This fall Suunto is coming out with another wristop called the S6 this baby will also tell you the speed your going while skiing. I have used the new X6 during a 100 mile relay running race in Canada last month and it worked great. It allowed me to view the altitude info at anytime. It uses a cell phone type menu to access the info and is way easier to use then most devices on the market. I didn't even read the manual. Check out www.suunto.com for more info.

post #12 of 16
Thanks for all the great information guys!!! And thanks to Larry for the update on what's new this year.
Welcome to the forum Larry!! Your expertise in appreciated!!! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #13 of 16
Yes, many thanks to Larry for his expertise on watches in the $350 - $500 range. No sense bothering with those cheapo altimeter watches in the $100 - $200 range.
post #14 of 16
I like the Suunto Altimax. I've had one for 3 years which I use for hiking and skiing. It's fairly simple to operate, although I do refer to the manual once in while for functions that I don't use very often. If you remember to set the reference elevation when you start the day the altimeter is quite accurate, even at the top of a 14er. The battery is not expensive, and you can easily replace it yourself. I don't remember exactly what I paid for the Altimax, but it was under $100.

If the 29,999 ft limit on vertical is a problem, you are not skiing enough bumps!

post #15 of 16
I wonder if Rolex makes anything for this market...
post #16 of 16
I have a basic one made by Sun(?) - analog dial, I don't uses it to calculate vertical, rather as a navigational tool ie: with a topo map+compass - it just measures air pressure which changes with the weather so you must recalibrate it every chance you get (posted altitude signs)
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