Top positive review
164 people found this helpful
Essential tool for serious hiker, climber, adventure racer
on February 21, 2005
I've owned the Suunto Vector for more than three years after purchasing it when I first became interested in adventure racing. While many top racers wear it, I would highly recommend it for the serious hiker, climber or backcountry skier for it's solid construction, design and versatility.
While I also wear this as my everyday watch, it's extra large size should be taken into consideration if that's something you have in mind.
There are a couple other brands available in this market segment, but the relatively low price and exceptional feature set are what continues to set this tool apart from the crowd.
Here's what you should know:
* Expect to replace the battery at least once a year. This is due to a number of reasons, one of which is the powerful backlight on the face that when activated can nearly illuminate the inside of a small tent at night. If you believe the manufacturer's warnings and want to play it safe, you may want to have this procedure performed by a professional (watch, not outdoor) shop. Suunto sells a battery pack that comes with a replacement seal and screw-in back, and this is definitely something to consider every other replacement opportunity, but you can get by with a lower-cost Duracell type 2430 3V lithium if you're on a budget.
* The altimeter is one of the strongest features, allowing you to quickly pinpoint your location on a topo map. However, plan to reset it regularly, especially after a plane ride or frequent and significant changes in altitude, or weather. This is rather easy as along as you have a confirmed location metric, but you have to remember to do it regularly to ensure the greatest accuracy. The 24-hour memory provides a total measurement of your ups and downs (ascents and descents) over that time period, a really cool record for runners, mountain bikers and skiers.
* The compass is one of the strongest in this class of devices, which to be sure isn't the greatest to begin with ... but even the serious orienteerer would be impressed. The ability to adjust for local declination is really nice.
* The barometer is good, but not great. However, if you want to be aware of potential weather changes, this will provide you with some peace of mind. Better to be safe than sorry (or worse) in this regard.
* The thermometer isn't accurate at all unless you take the watch off for 15-20 minutes or so to eliminate the warming effect of your skin/body temperature.
* Some of the controls and settings are not easy to comprehend or remember. I've never been able to figure out how to use the stopwatch, timer and lap features. If you're a swimmer or triathlete and this is important to you, look to the Timex Ironman standby.
* Waterproofing is rock solid. No worries.
* The soft-rubber watchband is comfortable to wear, but will deteriorate over time, even more rapidly in chlorine. Suunto offers a much lighter nylon/velcro alternative that I personally prefer.
Overall, I really like the Vector. But for a number of reasons already mentioned, would not feel comfortable giving it a perfect 5.0 score. But consider my 4.0 more like a 4.7 ... you can't go wrong here.