Travel Gear Review – Suunto Vector Wrist-Top Computer Watch

Suunto Vector I have to admit my watch is one of my favorite and most trusted pieces of travel gear.  I was given my Suunto Vector Wrist-Top Computer Watch as a gift for being in my brother’s wedding 10 years ago and it has been on every far flung adventure I’ve been on.  From backcountry hikes in the Washington Cascades to the craggy coast of Ireland.  From the towering peaks in the Himalayas to the steaming jungles of the Peruvian rainforest.  And all it’s ever asked for is new batteries.

First off, it’s a big watch.  If you’re not into big watches, this one isn’t for you and admittedly it probably won’t fit most women’s wrists well.  But it’s big for a reason.  The watch contains a compass, barometer, altimeter and thermometer.  And the face is large to help convey all the ‘needed’ information each of those modes convey.

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I love the altimeter function especially the logbook feature.  The log book feature is both a stopwatch and altitude recorder all in one.  One press of the “Start/Stop” button in altimeter mode will start the watch recording your total accent and decent, including how many laps up and down you’ve made.  When stopped, such as after a day of hiking, the watch will play back the total feet gained and total feet lost, not just a net number.  It also contains a master history which will record the all time highest the watch has been as well as total accent and decent.  In my case, it shows around 43,000′ gained since I’ve been using it and 17,580′ as my all time highest atop Gokyo Ri in the Khumbu Region of Nepal.  I love the altimeter function.

The next mode is the barometer and I don’t play with this much.  It will show trends of barometer change to help indicate a change in weather if you’re staying steady at one altitude.  As with any barometer, it can be set to a specific pressure if the given barometric pressure is known.  It has a great memory feature as well that will automatically record the last 24 hours, hour by hour and then every 6 hours back a few days.  This can also help with trending and is cool for a stats geek like me.  This screen also show the temperature but there is no memory on this feature.

Lastly, but not really, is the compass.  Spin in a circle twice and it’s set.  You can also off set the declination to help adjust it to where you are on the planet.  The bezel on the watch also turns to help with simple route finding.  And the bubble level on the face of the watch, as seen in the picture above, helps give an accurate reading.

The watch also has the laundry list of normal features;

  • stop watch
  • countdown watch
  • 3 alarms
  • sweeping second feature
  • waterproof to 100 yards (although I have yet to find someone who measures using yards under water)
  • adjustable and replaceable strap
  • light

While it can be a bit showy passing through a foreign city, I’ve found the the Suunto Vector to have taken the abuse of 10 years of service better than any watch I’ve ever owned.  The only item to break on mine is that little loop of plastic that helps keep the long end of the wriststrap in place, and that was easily replaced with a 1/2″ black rubber O ring.  I’ve changed the battery at least a half dozen times so it can be a bit thirsty, especially if you use the light and compass a lot.  The case has taken a fair amount of abuse and scratches but is still very readable.

The watch has come in handy and added fun to a number of trips.  This last Fall, while trekking in the Himalayas, when everyone else’s watch was set to meters, it was nice to be not have to do the math every time and just shout out how many feet we had gained.   During a trek in Peru where I was the only one with such a watch, it sometimes gave a boost to the group knowing just how far we had walked that day or much further we had to drop before we hit camp.  And in the jungle, when every day was over 90F, well, actually, NOTHING really helped then.  But at least I knew I wasn’t imagining the heat!  The compass also comes in handy and is very useful for spotting mountain summits with the aid of a map.  While I would never trust it for my primary compass in unknown terrain, it is perfectly workable for quick checks to keep on trail or follow a general path.

And so I say to you, run right out and get yourself a Sunnto Vector Wrist-Top Computer Watch before your next grand adventure (unless you have small wrists).  As with all my Travel Gear Reviews where I recommend a particular item, I guarantee you’ll enjoy using this watch if you’re into the outdoors.  A handy Amazon link is located below to make it easier to find. 🙂

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