View Full Version : Instruments; Seperate or Integrated...

02-08-2003, 12:14
While hiking, I always have a watch, compass, and mini-thermometer keychain. I also have a Garmin eTrex GPS unit I use when hiking off-trail (rarely done, so rarely brought). I love the altimeter in my eTrex, and another function which gives you the times for sunrise/sunset right on the dot (adjusted to your current location). Lately I've been looking for something with a clock (doesnt need speedwatch function), compass, thermometer, and altimeter.
I was looking at the Suunto watches, but you have to remove them (for 15 minutes) for an accurate temp reading, so they were out. Then I was looking at the Brunton Sherpa which attatches to your pack with a lanyard, but this has gotten some bad reviews (too bad because it seemed cool). I'm looking for something which will do the job, and preferably remain on my pack rather than my wrist. Any ideas anyone? Oh yeah, I'm trying to keep it relatively lightweight, so no 30lb doppler radar mini-packs...

02-08-2003, 12:29
If you like the watch other than the fact that you have to take it off for a temp reading, why don't you just attach the watch to your pack instead of wearing it on your wrist? You could even take off one of the straps to save a little weight, and that way it'll hang straight down as well.


02-08-2003, 13:43
Lol, I thought about doing that, but I was wondering if there were any other products I could look at.

02-08-2003, 13:53
Thanks for the thread, RH. I use examples like you to show my wife that my backpacking/gear/toy obsession really isn't so bad. :D

02-08-2003, 14:54
I'm definetly obsessed with refining my gear. I suppose it's better than smoking or drinking :)

I also posted some new pics of some of last summers hikes to Camel's Hump and the Breadloaf Wilderness, both in Vermont on the long trail, above where the AT splits off.

Blue Jay
02-09-2003, 01:07
Far be it for me to question what some one else carries. I once carried 3 paperbacks. I just can not understand what possible use could you find for a watch. Once I got into town on the Fourth of July and the post office was closed, a watch would have warned me to hurry up or slow down days before. However to carry a watch all that way for one day hardly seems worth it. I guess it could be a comfort item to remind you that at one time you were a slave to that devise.

02-09-2003, 06:11
uh bluejay, a watch actually is a valid navigation aid. If you know how fast you hike and how long you have been hiking then you can approximate your position on the trail. If it is combined with other functions such as an altimeter it can be almost as accurate as a compass when used correctly.

Remember it is important to be able to tell the rescue team exactly where you are when ever you get lost :D

02-09-2003, 07:09
I actually do not carry a watch when I'm off the trail. I haven't carried one for the past few years. However, when hiking it is good to use as a navigational device, and helps you to plan your day better, even if you decide to sit down and watch wildflowers for 6 hours half way through the day. I usually have a goal set for myself for the day. A certain place I would like to get to by days end. Whether it be for a sunset picture, setting up camp before the sun goes down, or just being able to complete a trip within the timeframe I have allotted myself. I'm hiking S-N on the Long Trail this Summer/Fall, and have allotted myself 3-4 weeks to do it. I could easily spend 3-4 weeks on the first 100 miles, spending all day in the towns and summits along the way, but I want to be able to finish the whole thing before I have to go home. Anyways, I would like a device with a clock, altimeter, thermometer, and compass. tying a stripped down Suunto H6 to my pack is a possibility, but I as wondering if anyone has seen anything better?

02-09-2003, 08:54
Untether thyselves.

02-09-2003, 09:41
you first....

02-09-2003, 10:10
A cellphone, a watch, a GPS, an altimeter, a gyroscope.... While some of them may be considered "useful", none of them are necessary, and all of these things (except the gyroscope) actually contribute to a decline in self-reliance and old-fashined backwoods survival skills.

Of course, you're free to carry anything you want. Don't delude yourselves about the necessity of these things however.

02-09-2003, 10:23
Says Charlie to Joe as together they scan the horizon from atop the summit of a mountain somewhere along the AT,

Charlie: "Hey Joe, where exactly are we?"

Joe: "Well Charlie, do you see that mountain way the hell over there?"

Charlie: "Ya mean dat one Joe?" (pointing to a mountain about 20 miles to the north).

Joe: "Yeah, dat one. Accordin' to this map, we're standing on dat mountain."

02-09-2003, 10:29
Well you could go complete naturalist style. Start at springer butt naked, make your grass hula-skirt, make pit-falls and kill a deer for hide to make better clothing, smoke the meat and render the fat in a hollowed log to make pemmican. Sleep in the leaves under a tree, covering with branches. Eat grubs and dandelions. Use smooth stones instead of toilet paper. Draw pictures on slate w/chalk instead of taking pictures. Cross rivers & such with log-canoes instead of bridges. Make a toothbrush from green sticks. Carry your naturalist gear in the dried bladder of a 300lb black bear you kill with spears and rock traps. And don't go into any towns. Who needs modern technology? When the ranger in the smokies approaches you and asks to see your permit, give him the wild eye, and beat the ground with your fists. Navigate by the stars and smell in the air. When you finally reach Katahdin, throw a woman off the summit in honor of the mountain god ooga booga.

Or perhaps its not that bad to carry a little watch & compass...

02-09-2003, 10:34
Hey Hampster! You described my hike to a T!

Necessities? Compass, yes. Watch, no.

Lone Wolf
02-09-2003, 10:50
All one really needs to hike the AT today is CASH. Or a Gold card. It's all about hostels, B&Bs, motels, shuttles, restaurants, an outfitter every week to convince you that you need something. It costs a small fortune to outfit yourself today. $30.00 for a titanium cup? $140.00 for stinkin hiking poles? Etc., etc., etc. A watch would be good to make sure you get to these places before closing. The AT is all commercial nowadays. But of coure\se all the hi-tech gear and gadgets won't guarantee you'll even make it out of Georgia. I always bet on the guy dressed in jeans and a K-Mart pack that'll make it to Maine.

02-09-2003, 11:06
Imagine walking 18 miles without a watch with 2 or three miles yet to go.

Do you stop and rest at an overlook, or do you speed things up and bust your tail to arrive at the shelter before dark?

When my watch broke in the Wilderness (as a SOBO), not knowing how much daylight remained in my hiking day was something of a source of tension.

For me a watch was even more important as I neared Springer. The days were SO frickin' short, I appreciated a watch so that I could get up with a candle and start my day early (but not at 2 AM) and be walking by first light.


Rick B

(As a weekender I now have a Casio watch with an altimiter that I look at frequently and a thermometer that is useless. The watch is small enough that it feels natural wearing 24/7. On my pack I have a zipper pull with a little compass and thermometer that I hardly ever glance at, unlesss its real cold. What I really want is a Kestral wind guage, so that I can deflate the baloon of my fellow ridge hikers who are constantly claiming gusts of 50 MPH, when they are nothing close to that. ;-) . FWIW, On my thru hike I added blue jeans to my kit when the weather dropped below freezing and had an official BSA pack. For the first half, I did without a pad and had a K-Mart Bag. Now that I don't hike so much, I've got the best of the best though. Funny how it worked out that way.)

02-09-2003, 11:36
Living in the valleys of Western Massachusetts, where 50*F Rains are a normal occurrence, I always have my little 1/4oz thermometer keychain. It is a very good safeguard for hypothermia when you feel slightly chilled, but wonder whether or not it's simply because you stopped for 2 minutes for pictures. Once you shrug it off and start hiking again hoping to warm up, but get worse, your in for a hour or two of getting warm with hot chocolate and wrapping up, or simply being miserable. Or you could simply load up with clothing everytime you feel chilled, and play the end game of layer swapping all day long. It's merely a safeguard. It's also nice when you wake up in the morning. Glance at the thermometer, and plan what you will wear before getting up. Mentally charting the speed of temperature drops and gains by approximate derivations can warn you to where you should make camp. Once again, having a watch can tell you if you have enough daylight to get somewhere intime.

This all may seem to be complicated, but once done on a normal basis, it becomes second nature and takes little/no time. It also gives you the weather intuition of grizzly adams.

02-09-2003, 11:48
Originally posted by RagingHampster
...I always have my little 1/4oz thermometer keychain. It is a very good safeguard for hypothermia when you feel slightly chilled....

I'm not tryin to pick on you Hampster, I promise. How in the heck does a thermometer (regardless of size) safeguard you from hypothermia?

It is far more important to rely on the instrument that sits atop your shoulders than any gadget. Reliance on gadgets instead of good trip planning will get you killed.

02-09-2003, 12:03
Quite often when your heavily exerting yourself and sweating, you don't judge external temperatures well. It could often be colder than you think it is. Alot of people sometimes get a small chill, but decide to continue on thinkning its simply that they stopped for a breather. If you know the temperature, and how fast it's changing, it gives you a better idea of what you should be wearing, in addition to what you feel. Just as we know we may have a temperature by how we feel and how hot or forehead is, taking a thermometer reading under our tounge is another thing we rely on. If your hiking and you feel it getting colder, it's also useful to know the temp is dropping 15*F an hour, and you should start thinkning about setting up camp.

02-09-2003, 12:25
OK well let me mention that if ya really wanted to you can hike the at without a compass, map, watch or anything else. it is possible to get from point s to point k without them.

as to my watch, I like to know what time it is so I will know if Im dead on time. I note here that my watch is a great improvement over the sundial that i used to carry.

thermometer - this is built into my compass and whistle thingie. I have used it at 4 am to determine how much longer I had to shiver till dawn. knowing the truth is sometimes better then guessing.

compass. I use this to help determine where the sun is... nuff said :P

hypothermia... if yer sitting and shivering , get up or put a coat on like 5 minutes ago....serious subject but a bit out of this thread.