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Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 15 2018 11:18 am
by Pivo
While attending the GoPro Mountain Games last weekend, I bought the Casio Pro Tek WSD-F20X Smart Watch. It turned out to be a huge disappointment. It was so slow to open menus , it was unusable. In addition the Maps wouldn't load if my VPN/ Firewall was running on my phone. I returned the the following day. $400.00 watch to avoid.

I am back to using my Samsung Gear 3 Frontier. It has full day battery life and beyond. Voice to text is good, and so are notification, Heart Rate monitor works well, and Stainless Steel case is rugged. Additionally, mileage and floor counts are accurate.

Samsung Health isn't very accurate when calculation calories burned. I may need to try Google Fit.

Last I checked COSTCO has them for 239.00, I feel that is a nice value.

So, what Outdoor Smart Watch do you wear, and what are your likes and dislikes?

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 17 2018 1:35 pm
I've been using a Suunto Ambit 3 for keeping track of distance, time, elevation, and GPS track. I also load GPS routes from this site onto my Ambit 3 and use it as my primary means of GPS navigation.

I've found the distance reported at the end of the hike to be fairly accurate except in situations in tight canyons where view of the sky is limited. I wish it had a canyoning mode in which points which would have required excessive speeds (like anything over 8 mph) are discarded. Or perhaps a sort of averaging could be used to help record current location.

The navigation interface is very simple, but surprisingly effective. There is a page showing a zoomed out view of the route along with an indicator showing your current position on the route. This is handy to figure out how far along the route you are.

For actual travel, there is also a page with a zoomed-in view showing the current section of track along with an arrow which indicates your position relative to the track and your current direction in relation to the track. For most of the routes that I've downloaded from HAZ, I've found that if my current position indicator is not right over the displayed track, then I'm usually (though not always) off-route. When you do get off-route, the arrow is indicated to one side or the other of the line showing the route. Getting back on track is fairly straightforward - just start walking in a direction which causes the arrow indicator to angle back towards the track line. The shortest path to get back on route will have the arrow indicator orthogonal to the displayed track.

I find the Suunto Ambit 3 interface to be easier to use than the interface on the various Garmin GPS units that I've owned over the years. Garmin has a navigation page which shows an arrow indicating the direction that you should travel to stay on the route. This sometimes works well, but too often doesn't. Using the Garmin, there have been times when I'm happily following the arrow and then, suddenly, the arrow abruptly changes direction. You change to that heading, walk a few feet and then it points in some other direction, sometimes (disconcertingly) behind you. You head back where you were and then it tells you to resume the course which were on a few moments ago. Yes, it's very confusing and not very encouraging, especially if you're truly lost.

The Suunto Ambit 3 map will automatically zoom out as you move farther and farther from the track. It'll zoom back in as you get closer to the track. The amount of zoom can be determined via the "scale" indicator at the bottom of the display. I recall a time when I was way off route. The little arrow indicator on my watch indicated that I was getting closer and closer to the track downloaded to the watch. When I checked again a few minutes later, the arrow indicator suddenly jumped to be further away. This was momentarily alarming, but I soon realized that there's some scaling that was happening with the display.

One of the drawbacks of the interface is that it doesn't show you where you've already been. This might be a problem if you are in terrain (e.g. a wooded area) that looks pretty much the same no matter where you look; if you step off the trail and wander around for a few minutes; When you get back to the trail you may be wondering which way to go. It appears that more recent watches from Suunto have fixed this problem.

I should note that I rarely rely solely on my Ambit 3 for navigation. I also load the track onto my phone and refer to it when/if I have to. Having access to a topo map is handy when you've deviated significantly from the track and need to assess terrain features for getting back. For most naviation, however, the Ambit 3 provides a really quick answer about the correct direction to go when, e.g. coming upon a fork in the trail where each alternative appears equally promising.

Looking back at the OP, I see mention of a HR monitor. I have one for my Ambit 3, but have never used it.

I should note too that there are some cycling related accessories which may be used with the Ambit 3 - e.g. it's possible to pair it with gadgets which keep track of your cadence. I do have a handlebar mount for my Ambit 3 - it works well with the Jones H-Bar that I use on my bike.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 7:45 am
by Pivo
How is the battery life on this device? Do you get notifications from your phone? If so, can you reply via voice and or text from it?

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 10:25 am
thomaslr84 wrote:The Garmin fēnix 3 is looking pretty good
I used to use a Garmin Fenix 2. It was okay for keeping track of distance in open terrain, but did not do well in areas with tree cover or hikes that went up the side of a steep hill. I found out just how bad it was one day when I did the Derrick - Horton Loop. According to the page on HAZ (which I believe), the loop is 8.8 miles in length. On that day, my Fenix 2 showed that the route was a bit over 13 miles long. Since I stopped to take photos at the spring, I can believe that I might have totaled a bit over nine miles, but not thirteen!

I've done similar routes with my Ambit 3. As noted in my earlier post, the only time that I've seen that the Ambit 3 is seriously off is when I've ventured into a tight canyon.

I also found it difficult to use the Fenix 2 for navigation, especially if you got somewhat off route and then rejoined the route later in the track. I attempted to use the Fenix 2 for navigating the Goldfield Ovens Loop. We got off track near the river, but then rejoined further on. As I recall, it kept telling me that I needed to reverse course, perhaps to pick up the next track point where we had last left off. I never had this problem when using the handheld Garmin eTrex units.

Let's hope that Garmin has fixed all of those problems for the Fenix 3.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 10:36 am
Regarding Ambit 3 battery life, I've never run the battery down when doing up to 13 hour day hikes. There have been a few times when I've done (shorter) hikes on two consecutive days without recharging. According to manufacturer specs, the battery life is 20 hours with a 1 second recording interval, 30 hours with a 5 second recording interval, and 200 hours with a 60 second recording interval.

It is possible to get phone notifications on the Ambit 3. I'm not especially fond of notifications though, so I have shut that feature off. I don't think it's possible to send replies using the watch. Or, if it is, my guess is that it's pretty slow.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 1:37 pm
by xthine

I've always used a Garmin for my outdoor activities, started out with the Fenix 3HR and now using a Fenix 5x. I have a vivoSmart HR to wear everyday (on my ankle), for step count.

Outdoor activities that I do and track are trail running, indoor bouldering/climbing, hiking, indoor rowing and strength training at the gym.

What I like about it is that it can track various activities, specific activities too. If it's not loaded on the watch, I can download the app and easily install it on my watch (e.g. StairStepper). Battery life is good enough for me, it is rated for 12 days if you just use the smartwatch function 20 hours in GPS mode. I can go on a trip and use my watch to track outdoor activities without having to charge daily or every other day. It comes with a Trackback feature, if you get lost, just go to that and it will re route you back to the starting point. I will tell you I used this once and it did not work for me, it was my fault , I was not reading the instructions correctly..also continuing to run while lost on an unfamiliar trail (granted it was Pre's trail, which some may say is impossible to get lost on) is not a smart idea.
It was heart rate tracking, and can tell you how much time you need to recover in between activities, which heart zones you're hitting, pace, cadence, elevation gain, how productive your training is (optimal, overreaching) etc. The watch is preloaded with full color TOPO US map, i have been able to load gpx files without any headaches. The watch can tell you what's nearby locations are around you and it has a feature that allows the watch to map a run for you, just put the distance in and other parameters you prefer and it will route you (haven't tried this one yet). When strength training at the gym it's supposed to auto detect the activity, i.e. lat pull, pull up, squat etc. It has not been very accurate at all, out of 14 reps it can maybe identify 3 or 4 and miscount the actual reps (no i cannot quite do 34 pulls up yet Garmin :lol: ).
Smartwatch features -- it can display notifications from your phone i.e. calls, text, Twitter, Instagram etc. It does not work as a speakerphone like an Apple Watch to take phone calls, you can either reject or accept phone calls but the calls still go through the cellphone. I find the Music app very helpful, from the watch I can control audio on my phone, important when I use truly wireless earbuds that does not have audio controls when used independently (i.e. Jabra Sport Elite).

Their Garmin Connect app is pretty easy to navigate. Gives a nice clean visual of what your day looks like, your goals, has insights to see how you're doing, you can browse watch apps and my favorite, you get to connect with other Garmin Connect users (there are a handful of AZ groups).

What I do not like is the size. I get it, the screen has to be a certain size for the map and data screens but my petite wrist is overwhelmed by the size of the case. There is a smaller case size but the features are different from what i can recall.
It's comfortable enough to where it does not annoy me when I wear it during activities but not comfortable enough to wear as a daily watch (weird i know). That's the only thing that i have qualms about for the Fenix 5x.

If you are looking into the Fenix line, they just released the Fenix 5x Plus a few days ago. I haven't looked into it yet but I do know that it can act as a Pulse Ox. I don't know that I want to know my O2 sat when I'm trying not to lose my mind on an exposed class 3 hike at 14,000 feet. j./k :lol:

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 1:45 pm
by azbackpackr
All these watches are so smart, but do they really know what time it is? I wear a $20 wristwatch (analog) from K-mart (in Corvallis, OR, there still was a K-mart, over a year ago). The nice thing about this watch is that it is not too smart for its own good. It just tells the time, which I set to Arizona (Mountain Standard). I cross the Navajo Reservation heading for Lees Ferry two or three times a week. I don't care what time it is on the reservation, just want it to be on AZ time all the time.

The other nice thing about this watch is that it cost $20 and works great.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 4:12 pm
by cactuscat
I'm with you. For my money, the Casio Baby G is the perfect watch - haven't been without it a day in the past five years!

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 5:00 pm
by RowdyandMe
Just a Rolex!

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 5:06 pm
by azbackpackr
Did you buy it in Tijuana?

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 5:19 pm
by rwstorm
Then it's a TiMex. :lol:

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 6:17 pm
by Pivo
Nice, and helpful review. Thank you. I too have small wrists, arms and frame, yet long fingers and big feet :D.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 7:01 pm
by Sun_Ray
@cactuscat Wife has had a baby-g for about as long as you have and I keep asking her if she wants a new watch.....answer is always no need.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 22 2018 8:21 pm
by cactuscat
Yep! I replaced the band last year, but if I needed a whole new watch I would buy the exact same one again.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 23 2018 5:06 pm
by Grimey
I am using the Gear S3 Frontier also. It is certainly not a full on hardcore GPS watch. I used to own a fenix 3, which if I were wanting a hardcore outdoor watch would do back to that line. I use my phone for GPS so really don't need that functionality on a watch. Otherwise, the Gear S3 has reasonably decent battery life, and just enough utility for interacting with my phone. For an old guy with increasing presbyopia, I really like that I can pick a watch face with large numbers (and make them red, too); I just got to the point where I couldn't read the small numbers on regular running watches. Also I like the vibration alarms. Cuts down on the beeping.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jun 23 2018 7:16 pm
by Pivo
Grimey wrote:For an old guy with increasing presbyopia,
Oh Boy, I hear that, along with numerous old guy issues.

Re: Smart Outdoor Watch-What do you wear?

Posted: Jul 17 2018 10:03 am
by jonnywalter
The Casio WSD-F20 is a great "watch for the outdoors". The watch screen is crystal clear and supports tons of built in features. Watch also supports downloading a limited number of popular apps off of the Play Store. The watch is large but actually feels nice on the wrist. Watch band is sturdy but flexible and comfortable. Battery life is reasonable as long as you don’t constantly use the GPS feature and bright screen. Overall a great watch but the biggest issue is the charging cable and port. As others have said it is easily bumped causing the watch to stop charging. If you position the watch correctly you can charge the watch fairly easily. Highly recommended watch for an outdoors person.