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Is there a reliable backpackign thermometer out there?
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Jason Johnson
(etex9799) - F
Is there a reliable backpacking thermometer out there? on 05/08/2013 08:11:56 MDT Print View

I found one made by coghlans (sp) but many reviewers said it was cheap crap. Just want something to hang on my pack and look at every now and then.

Edited by etex9799 on 05/08/2013 08:13:19 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Is there a reliable backpacking thermometer out there? on 05/08/2013 08:53:20 MDT Print View

Cheap thermometers are good

Main problem is they can be off by a few degrees. Fill a bowl with ice cubes, fill with water. Put thermometer in the middle and stir. Wait a few minutes. Remember difference between thermometer reading and actual freezing temp. I always just write the freezing temperature on the thermometer, like "34" if the thermometer reads 2 degrees high.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Is there a reliable backpacking thermometer out there? on 05/08/2013 09:31:24 MDT Print View

I use a small digital version made for restaurant/food prep work and has a high/low memory function. You can find them in any upscale cooking store, or better yet, a restaurant supply store. Ranges vary, so buy to suit. Typical food range is -40f to 450f, so that will cover most hiking conditions ;) You will find a bunch on eBay too. Taylor is a decent brand. Go for a waterproof one while you're at it.

Most of these little thermometers have an auto shutoff, so they won't keep sampling, as in recording an overnight low. You can find some small indoor/outdoor models (Radio Shack and others) than can do that. Accuracy is not lab grade by any means and they are the size and weight of a pocket radio.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 09:40:23 MDT Print View

I have the Accurite Thermometer and it works really well. I don't know how accurate it is, but it keeps track of the 24-hour high and low for you as well (based upon when you put the battery in).

It's less than $6 and my local Wal-Mart carried it. It's only 1.2 ounces (including the battery, but without the suction cup). I kept the little battery strip and simply wrap it around the battery after each trip to save the battery.

Someone broke apart the plastic shell and cut the weight almost in half if you want to go that far...

(JRinGeorgia) - F
REI zipper pull on 05/08/2013 09:57:26 MDT Print View

I have an old, old, old zipper pull combo thermometer and button compass from REI. It's so scratched up I can barely read it, but the temps have always been pretty accurate. They still sell those.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 10:02:19 MDT Print View

I've got the same one as Kevin. Its great for recording the overnight low but its been less useful during the day. If I stick it in the outside pocket of my pack and it happens to be in the sun for a while the temp sky rockets. A few weeks ago it reported that it was over 90* when it was only around 65*. Not knowing the real day time temperature isn't a huge loss but it would be nice to know for my trip journal. It's so light and cheap that I'm going to work with it and see if I can find somewhere the store it that gives more accurate day time temps.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 10:16:50 MDT Print View

It's not the thermometer's fault, it's your placement. If it's in an outside pack pocket, it'll warm up from sun. And you want it away from body heat.

If you dangle thermometer from outside and wait for a time that your pack is out of the sun for a while it can be fairly accurate.

Plus, some thermometers have thermal mass that can take an hour to stabilize. Little cheap zipper pull thermometers aren't too bad.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 10:38:31 MDT Print View

I realized at the time it was the placement that was skewing the reading, I'm just not sure of the best place to put it. I'm going to try it in the hipbelt pocket next time, my hope is that it will be insulated from my body and not in direct sunlight. If that doesn't work I might put it in the top layer of the body of the pack. Then my concern is it being too insulated. I think I'm putting way too much thought into this $6 thermometer!


Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 11:15:09 MDT Print View

Remember day time temps as reported by weather stations are measured in the shade (a small amount of effort is taken to eliminate heat by solar radiation). The temperature differential can easily be +30F going from shade to sun and more if you have dark clothing on.

I'd find it all interesting if I didn't live in a region that routinely sees 100-115F in the shade for a solid 3 months of the year.

My REI keychain thermometer has been decent so far, but i don't expect it to last indefinitely or be reliable in sub freezing temps.s

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 11:24:47 MDT Print View

If you put it on hipbelt it will be effected by body temp. Inside pack will be way off.

Weather stations have like a reflective roof to provide shade, lots of air flow on all sides, doesn't seem practical for backpack.

And if you're in a shady spot under a tree it will be cooler than if you're in a sunny place, even if you have a shady roof over it.

Better to have it outside pack. Wait until you're at a shady spot. Low thermal mass thermometer so it quickly stabilizes.

Ultralite Hiker
Accurite on 05/08/2013 13:34:04 MDT Print View

I also have the same one as Kevin.

I removed the suction cup, and the plastic shell. Weighs 17 grams and records 24hr Highs and lows as stated above.

I only have it to assess my sleep setup based on trip lows.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Accurite on 05/08/2013 14:02:47 MDT Print View

+1 on Rob & Kevin, except I haven't removed the shell yet. The max function is useless for daytime temps. The min function is quite useful for assessing sleep system performance under varying conditions. A slight breeze makes a bigger difference than 4-6° F!

I keep an REI zipper-compass on my packs for daytime temps. Redundant now, but I've had them on packs and PFDs for decades. I should find a way to hang the Acurite from my pack, but keep it protected from rain.

Calibrated - only to my comfort levels, and the comfort of those around me.

As a trip leader who can be quite comfy in 50° F windy conditions wearing shorts and a t-shirt, I want an objective temperature to remind me to look after others who start shivering at 71° F. Plus or minus a few degrees F doesn't matter that much for those purposes. I can't even read the zipper compasses that close!

-- Rex

Mark Fowler
(KramRelwof) - MLife

Locale: Namadgi
Garmin Tempe on 05/08/2013 16:49:46 MDT Print View

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the Garmin Tempe which integrates with many of their GPSs. I use mine with an eTrex 30 which provides the readout. The Tempe pod weighs 10 grams (1/3 oz) and attaches to whatever you want - overnight I attach it to a guy line. It provides a max and min reading for the previous 24 hours and current temperature.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Is there a reliable backpackign thermometer out there? on 05/08/2013 18:36:33 MDT Print View

it works really well. I don't know how accurate it is,

Somehow the above comment made me smile...

A slight breeze makes a bigger difference than 4-6° F!
Not sure how to read that because that AcuRite Thermometer does not appear to be able to account for wind chill.

A wind chill chart :
Wind Chill chart

(BTW I take wind chill charts with a grain of salt but that is OK because I'll sweat it out anyway)

Edited by Franco on 05/11/2013 21:42:25 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Backpacking Thermometer on 05/08/2013 18:43:30 MDT Print View

thermometer on 05/08/2013 19:17:12 MDT Print View

I can usually assess the temperature close enough by feel and experience, within a couple degrees. Thats in humid SE conditions, sheltered from wind, and inactive.

Put me out west where its dry , start moving and heating up, and Id be way off. Howver the only thing Im ever interested in was the overnight low, and that, Im pretty good at.

SUN has several small thermometers. Although graduated in 5F increments, the ones I have have proven fairly accurate (used on my kids science project, and compared with a better thermometer).

Edited by livingontheroad on 05/08/2013 19:20:01 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Accurites are consistent on 05/08/2013 20:53:17 MDT Print View

I bought four of the Accurites that Kevin mentioned. I hung them all in a shaded place with no wind. A few days later the current, min and max temps were all within 1 degree of each other.

Good enough for me.

Edited by lyrad1 on 05/08/2013 20:54:28 MDT.

steven franchuk
A lot of choices on 05/09/2013 00:53:04 MDT Print View

If you just want to know the temperature at one point in time a zipper pull thermometer like the REI one mentioned above work well and there are a lot of companies making them.

If you want the minimum and maximum temperatures for the entire day the acurite is a good choice but again there are a lot of companies making such devices. Some companies make them with a USB connector and memory so you can download the data from every day of your trip into your computer. Some also include humidity sensors. I haven't used any of these USB devices. In another forum the I button was mentioned.

If you want more such as wind chill you might want to look at something like the Kestrel 3500. I purchased one for a project and figured I might occasionally bring it on a hike. Well after I got it and stripped it down (removed the lanyard, cord stop and hard shell case) I found it weighed 2oz (55g). Thats about 1/2oz less than my altimeter watch.

the Kestrel 3500 measures wind speed, temperature, humidity, pressure and has a clock. The temperature sensor has a fast response and one takes a second or two to give an accurate reading. With wind speed and temperature it calculates wind chill. The temperature and humidity sensors are used to calculate the dew point and the pressure sensor also calculates altitude. So I don't need to bring my watch anymore.

The only limitations are that the clock doesn't keep track of date or have an alarm function. It automatically turns off after 45 minutes so collecting a days worth of data is not possible,and there no way to downloaded the data. Kestrel does sell units capable of recording data long term but they weigh and cost more.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Accurite Thermometer in the rain on 05/09/2013 06:41:22 MDT Print View

Sorry about the comment regarding the accuracy...When I reread it I had to smile as well. I really like that it captures the low temperature because I use that info to evaluate my sleep system.

In terms of how weather-resistant it is, my parents have one affixed to the outside of a window on their RV. They leave it outside regardless of the weather and haven't had any problems with it. They take it off when they're traveling, but other than that it's always on the window.

I clipped mine to a carabiner that I attach to my pack. I simply remove the "battery strip" around lunchtime the first day of my trip and know that it will reset the 24-hour that time each day. Works really well.

Matthew Reese
Iphone dongle on 05/11/2013 21:25:46 MDT Print View

I wonder is this might be useful: