Altimeter Watches


Experience From - Lynn Purser , Kirsten , MB , Scott McQueeney , Vida Morkunas , Tom Hendriks , Martin Miller , Scott McQueeney #2 , Roy Morita , Clement Choy ,

Lynn Purser

You might try the following discussion on altimeters. This is an ongoing discussion by climbers on the Sunto vs Avocet altimeters. Here's another old review but still relevent evaluation: (Nick is an email friend of mine)

I have used the avocet for 8+ years (approximately the first year they were produced) with no problems.


I'm going to Peru in a few weeks to do a 2 week run in the Andes. I've been debating taking an altimeter watch (to chart the daily elev. levels) but I'm concerned about the accuracy and bulk. The watches I saw 6 months ago looked huge! (i'm a 5'8", 125 lb female) I heard one of the makers was coming out with a women's version? Also, I understand you have to reset them each day? Does anyone have experience with this they'd like to share? If they weren't so pricey I would just go ahead and get it, but for the $300 or whatever they are I'm not sure.


So glad to see someone address altimeters - gets my ball rolling for me!

I can't tell you about any of the other brands on the market, but I have been on the phone with Avocet (The company is really JE NOR) for two weeks about my altimeter. I owned the unit for a very short time when the battery died. You have to send the altimeter back to the company in Hayward, CA to have the battery replaced. It took two months for them to get it back to me, and when they did, there was a leak that allowed rain inside and subsequent condensation inside the unit. It then was completely inaccurate and ultimately stopped working at all. I sent it back to the company once again (incurring my second shipping and insurance expense) requesting that they replace the unit as it is clearly defective.

To make a long story short, I have been put on hold for more than 20 minutes at a time, referred to three different people, none of whom can "authorize the replacement of the unit", and been told they will "repair and replace the battery" for $20.00.

I know of people who own this same altimeter and are pleased with theirs. The point is, that if you have problems, the company will not stand behind the product and you will be up to your neck in red tape before you find complete absence of satisfaction. I strongly advise that you check out the other brands before buying! Ultrarunner Magazine did a fine write up on the different brands in their last issue. If you would like a copy of that article, let me know.

Ahhh, it feels good to air that stinky mess!

Scott McQueeney

Suunto Vector on the fritz...just returned from REI with good news. They replaced my Suunto altimeter watch on the spot with very little hassle. The sales person said they were having a lot of problems with the Vector. This is the first problem I have had since it was purchased in December. It stopped giving altitude stayed where ever it was set.

Has anybody else had problems with the Vector?

Vida Morkunas

Not to be a contrarian, but my Avocet has been working very well for the past three years. Earlier this year, I sent it down to CA to get the battery replaced. Interesting, the symptoms of a dying battery: the altimeter goes haywire and the displayed altitude starts rising out of control for a few hours... Then, the sullen blankness of a dead display.

It took a day for the watch to get to Ja-Nor (the authorized reseller/repair centre), three days for them to fix the watch, and two days for the watch to return to me (through miraculous team work between US Mail, Canada Post and Canada Customs, all at regular prices too)

I'm very pleased with my Vertech - now on its second life.

Tom Hendriks

I have a casio triple sensor and it pretty good. The battery life is 18 months now and still working. It does not accumulate hight. I don't know how Avocet and Suunto cope with the temperature problem but the Casio temperature sensor is too much influenced by the body to operate properly. Because of the coupling of temp and altitude. The altitude reading often differs if you are standing still, running or standing in a cold wind. It's a good basic hiking watch with all the nice haves available including a pretty good compass. I don't use it for running purposes because I don't give a d... about the hight while running. The state of the weather, the trail and the finish are more important.

I looked at the Suunto a couple of months ago and that brand has more facilities, including accumulation of ascent and descend. I don't know about the quality.

Martin Miller

I'm another satisfied Avocet user. I've sent it back for battery replacement a couple of times over the years with reasonable turnaround. One thing I really like about it is the ability to accumulate vertical. Do the other watches mentioned (Casio, Suunto) have that capability as an automatice function, i.e. start the accumulater function, then check at the end of a long, hilly day to read total vertical feet climbed? After reading through the Suunto manual, it didn't sound like it.

Scott McQueeney #2

The Suunto has a log book function with the ability to record average ascent/descent rate, total vertical ascent/descent. It will record either every 20 seconds, 1 minute, 10 minute or 1 hour intervals (your choice). It will also record the highest and lowest altitude reached.

No financial blah, blah, blah...

Roy Morita

I also have the Casio Triple Sensor that I bought a little over 2 years ago. I haven't had to replace the battery yet so far.

Tom is right about the temperature and attitude. The thermometer tends to measure the body temperature instead of the air temperature. (Perhaps, it's unavoidable since the watch touches the wrist.) The altitude is measured based on the atomospheric pressure and the temperature. So even if your altitude has not changed, if the temperature changes (i.e. you go into the shade), the watch thinks the altitude has also changed.

But overall, I'm happy with the watch. There are a couple of features I like. It shows the altitude change in a graph. The watch can also be set to turn on the back light automatically when you lift your arm. It's a nice feature for nighttime running.

Clement Choy

I also have a Casio Triple Sensor that I got it as a gift. I wear the watch to Mt. Diablo and to Half Dome. It consistently shows an elevation500-800 feet more than it is supposed to be. I don't know how to calibrate it. I also lost the manual, I wonder anyone know how I can get a replacement manual. I am still learning the different functions of the watch. Judging from what I read, the watch will record an altitude every fifteen minutes, one has to manually add up the ups and downs. Also I have difficulty just trying to set it in altitude mode. Can anyone have some easy instructions for how to use it.