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Multifunction Watches
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Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Multifunction Watches on 11/09/2012 08:50:41 MST Print View

I'd really like to get a multifunction watch with compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer (and the usual date, time, alarm). I've never had one before but would like to get one for future trips out west. Are there brands that you'd recommend?

Thanks so much!

Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
Suunto on 11/09/2012 09:30:07 MST Print View

I personally havent had a watch as nice as what you are looking for mainly because of the price but I worked with a guy this summer who had a Suunto watch that did everything your looking for and he loved it.

He had one for a few years and he lost it but liked it enough to buy a new one.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Timex on 11/09/2012 10:13:24 MST Print View

Well, I still have the old Timex but it doesn't have a compass nor GPS. Overall, it has been really reliable and waterproof. Does all the rest, of course. A little big and bulky...

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Timex on 11/09/2012 10:18:08 MST Print View

Very few folk in my home city of Dundee will wear Timex watches. They closed the local factory with the loss of 3000 jobs, and moved production to a cheaper labo(u)r country.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: watches on 11/09/2012 11:34:38 MST Print View

Sunnto Observer. Expensive, does all of the above, but high quality (mine is 6+ years old) and looks good enough to wear everyday. One of my favorite things.

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Watching. Brief. on 11/09/2012 11:55:56 MST Print View

Suunto +1


Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: Watching. Brief. on 11/09/2012 13:04:29 MST Print View

+ 2 Suunto.

The high price put me off for a long time, but now that I have it, I love it. Storm alarm has proved more reliable that I ever expected - particularly in Scotland's fickle weather. Initally I did not like the user-interface - just did not seem intuitive, but once you get used to it, is fine.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Multifunction Watches on 11/09/2012 13:09:04 MST Print View

+1 to Suunto

I own the Vector. No GPS but the battery lasts 3 to 4 years with judicious use of the compass.
Very rugged. My only complaint is that the alarm is a bit faint for early AM starts.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Multifunction Watches on 11/09/2012 13:11:30 MST Print View

I only have experience with one multi-function watch, a Casio solar watch with all the functions you describe. This thing probably cost around $200 (it was a gift). So it is not the best of what is offered today.

My experience with multi-function items like this is that they do a lot, but are not a master at anything; but in this case it does keep accurate time :) and the sun recharges the battery.

This watch is big and bulky, so I usually just take a simple Timex Expedition watch that has been a reliable and sturdy item. Before that I had a Swiss Army watch that I replaced with the Timex because of the Indiglo light. The Swiss Army watch replaced my wind-up military issued watch. I still have all of these watches.

For a compass, I bring a real compass. I don't have a need for a baro or altimeter. Watch baro's have to be constantly calibrated and my map tells me the altitude. I don't use a GPS. I have to take the watch off for a while to get an accurate temperature reading. Years ago I used to bring a thermometer, but it is something I don't need and it now resides in my vintage gear box.

From my research you really need to get a good (e.g., expensive) watch like Dave shared. And then I am not sure it will do everything you want it to do, as well as you want it to do. Did I mention these things are big and bulky :)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Multifunction Watches on 11/09/2012 14:03:02 MST Print View

Hi Kathy

Bear in mind that the compass in most any watch is very unreliable. Tilt the compass a little and the 'north' can swing by 10 degrees easily. That is pretty much inherent in the physics of the design.

Me, I would love a SMALLER design without the compass function. It would be far more useful. But huge macho seems to be all the marketing guys can think of.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Multifunction Watches on 11/09/2012 14:25:20 MST Print View

After trying unsuccessfully to adjust a watch with thermometer and altimeter features, I gave up on it, especially since I found I couldn't hear the alarm unless the watch was right against my ear.

I am still trying to find a watch with an alarm loud enough to wake me up in the morning! Of course having a couple inches of fluffy down sleeping bag hood over each ear doesn't help. I still haven't found a watch that I can even hear with uncovered ears when it's beeping on my wrist! (And yes, I've had my hearing tested; it's one of the few things about my aging body that still works well!)

I really need something loud enough to get me up in the mornings, particularly when backpacking in places that receive regular afternoon thunderstorms so I need to get out on the trail by sunrise. The same is true of hot weather, when I need to rest in the shade with my heatstroke-prone dog during the hot afternoons.

Any recommendations are welcome! I draw the line at a large wind-up alarm clock, though!

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/09/2012 14:51:19 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Sunnto watches on 11/09/2012 15:27:58 MST Print View

A few more thoughts on the Observer.

-It's not bigger than many "normal" watches. It would probably look odd on the wrist of a petite woman.
-The altimeter is very accurate, if you recalibrate it often. This is one of my favorite features, and can vastly expedite off-trail travel once you learn how to integrate it into your nav strategy.
-The thermometer is accurate, but unless you put it away from your body it will never reflect the ambient temp. Doing this in cold weather kills the battery life quickly.
-The alarm is not loud. Obvious solution: take if off and stash it in the hood of your sleeping bag.
-Never really used the compass, and it's been years since I recalibrated it. Will never be a substitute for a proper compass, so this doesn't bother me.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Multifunction Watches on 11/09/2012 15:28:19 MST Print View

It must be Friday, I saw a lot of posts for what I thought said "malfunctioning" watch.
Then I looked closer.

Kathy, I use a Suunto Core (I liked it so much that when I saw a deal on another one I bought it as a back up), I also bought one for my son in law (he was eyeing my backup). I love this watch.
Roger is right, the compass isn't reliable. I use a real compass and never look at it on my watch- I now don't mind the size of the watch now because I don't have to put on my glasses to see what time it is or my altitude.

I really like the barometer feature (does have a learning curve), I get a good idea of whats happening and the weather trends. The storm feature is good, mostly because a storm is coming in or it tells me I forgot to set the correct altitude, allowing me to get it right.

The temperature setting is only accurate when the watch is not on you wrist.

I find it as accurate as a similar priced altimeter, but it needs to be reset (mostly around town, at the trail head, at the beginning of the day, etc)

I'm with Dave, it is one of my favorite pieces of gear, I wear it everyday!

When I'm working with tools, in the garden or going to the dump or know my arm will be banging around, I, like Nick wear my trusted old Timex Explorer/Expedition (though the Indigo light has long since faded) and its on its 4th wrist band- I think I'll die before it does.

Edited by bestbuilder on 11/09/2012 15:34:38 MST.

Chris Lacey
watch on 11/09/2012 17:37:30 MST Print View

I've been looking around too but haven't bought anything yet. Mostly because I am tech junky not because I actually need one.

Some I've considered are -

Suunto Core - can be had in some colors for $169 right now - check ebay

Casio Pathfinder (now called Pro Trek)

Casio Riseman - A & B only - no Compass

Garmin Fenix - newest with ABC and gsp - haven't seen or read much about it.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
fenix on 11/09/2012 19:15:48 MST Print View

when I get rich I'm going to buy the Fenix, high end gps receiver that reads in UTM (or lat/long)- that would let me leave a GPS home (and all the other goodies- altimeter, thermometer, alarm, etc)

it's fairly large on the wrist, but not as large as my GPS is on my wrist :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: fenix on 11/09/2012 19:22:38 MST Print View


You can leave all that stuff at home right now - without buying a new watch. Gosh I just saved you a bunch of money. You owe me a beer ;)

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: fenix on 11/09/2012 19:40:00 MST Print View

Nick- fair enough, beer on me :) $400 would should buy a few rounds


Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Smartphone? on 11/10/2012 02:40:10 MST Print View

Gear junkie that I am, I just lusted after the overpriced Suunto watches. Like hell I'm paying $500 and up, and certainly not for a watch with a junky mineral crystal face. If you know anything about watches, mineral crystal is soft and prone to scratches that usually can't be buffed out. Sapphire is the way to go and will likely be found on anything worth a d@mn.

So aside from a barometer (which I hear some Android phones have?), you can get everything you're asking for minus the size of course, in a smart phone that will also do quite a lot more. I just can't imagine spending a few hundred dollars to buy into a closed-system like a Dick Tracy watch. Throw in something like the Mophie Juice Pack Pro (possibly my next purchase) that armors your iPhone while giving it 150% more battery life, and call it a day.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Smartphone? on 11/10/2012 06:22:53 MST Print View

+1 smartphone


cheap (if you own one)
kindle eBook reader
very loud alarm clock!
backup light
gaia gps app = cheap gps!

the list continues....


poor battery life

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: Smartphone? on 11/10/2012 06:27:07 MST Print View

btw...if you are planning on buying a smarthphone for the outdoors, don't buy apple...expensive toy to bring in to the dirty nature, and you can't change battery...