Please find my Field Test report for your editing pleasure.
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Field Test Report:
1 Nov 2008
Field Test Locations and Conditions:
* Point Nepean, Victoria. Scrubby coastal walk, on-track with a
beach section. Some sections were on paved roads. Temperatures were
around 10 C (50 F) with moderate humidity.
* "Walk into History", Yarra State Forest, Victoria. Forested on
track walk. Temperatures ranged from -5 C (23 F) to 10 C (50 F).
Humidity was high, and there was a significant amount of rain and sleet.
Track conditions were quite muddy in places and one section featured a
very steep decent with no track construction.
* "BSAR Weekend, VRA Rogaine", Brisbane Ranges, Victoria, Australia:
Open forest, off track, two-day walk with elevations from 100 m (330 ft)
up to 300 m (1000 ft). Temperatures were mild to warm: 15 C (59 F) to 25
C (77 F) with humidity medium. The Traverse Peak was not used on the
Rogaine itself, as this would be a breach of Rogaine rules. It was used
at other times on the weekend.
* "Mungo National Park", New South Wales, Australia. Mallee scrub to
open. Arid region. Humidity was low, and temperatures were mild: 15 C
(59F) to 20 C (68 F).
* "Murrindindi", Victoria, Australia. On and off track forest.
Humidity was moderate. This region normally is quite wet, but drought
conditions have intensified in recent months in Victoria. Elevations
varied from 300 m (1000 ft) to 700 m (2300 ft).
Field Test Conditions and Observations: My first opportunity to these
the Traverse Peak was at Point Nepean. The first sign of trouble on this
walk was my locking of the altitude the previous evening before leaving
for the walk. Once travelling, I forgot how to unlock the altitude. The
watch would have then thought that all the changes in pressure were as a
result of the weather. As there was a change in altitude from my home to
sea level at Point Nepean, the watch must have thought that the weather
was improving significantly, but very quickly and erratically as I drove
up and down hills. This proved to be too much for the watch, which
started to report a massive rise in pressure. The pressure reported by
the Traverse started at about 1010 mbar (29.83 inHg) as I began the
walk, and rose to 1410 mbar (41.64 inHg). This value was clearly wrong -
otherwise you would have been hearing about the mother of all weather
events ever in the news!
Once I got home, I reread the manual to remind myself how to unlock the
altitude. Over the next week, the watch reported pressure slowly
declined to about 1050 mbar (31.01 inHg), which was about 30 mbar (0.89
inHg) too high. The altimeter was reporting an error of about 300 metres
(1000 ft) from actual. The error from the altimeter when the pressure
reading was completely out to lunch could not be determined as it was
out of range.
It was at this stage that I went on my next walk. On this walk, the
watch finally corrected the last 30 mbar (0.89 inHg) error, and began to
report correctly. The process of this correction took place during a 500
metre (1650 ft) climb, which resulted in some incorrect readings from
the altimeter. As the watch's reported pressure reading was reducing
faster than actual pressure reduction was occurring, the watch
over-reported altitude gain. Once I was reasonably sure that the
pressure error had gone, the altimeter began to work much better. The
altimeter does drift around, but this is to be expected as the altimeter
is driven off pressure, and pressure changes due to both altitude change
and weather change. There was no more "meltdowns" encountered in the
remainder of the Field Test period.
Altimeter graphic display after a steep descent
I found the altimeter quite useful during climbs and descents. Shown to
the right is a picture of the Traverse Peak after I completed a 400
metre (1330 ft) descent in about 25 minutes. The graphic display which
shows changes in altitude appears to show the last 1 hour. During the
descent, the watch appeared to update the altitude every 20 seconds or
so. It gave me a very good idea during the descent how I was going, and
how much of the descent was left.
The barometer display has a graph that shows changes in air pressure
over time. I have not been able to lock down how much time is shown on
this display. The graph display does not appear to make any sense unless
the altitude has not changed over the last 24 hours or so. I do not feel
that this graph will be of much use to me in the field.
The barometer pressure reading itself appears to be accurate. Aside from
my watch "meltdown" event described above, the pressure reading appears
to be within 2 mbar (0.06 inHg) of the closest weather stations that I
can compare it with. The display could be even more accurate than this,
however I cannot verify any greater accuracy than described.
The manual claims a 1 metre (1 foot) accuracy for the altimeter display.
While the altimeter can display the altitude in 1 metre or 1 foot
increments, my observations seem to suggest an accuracy of around 5
metre (15 ft). If the pressure changes due to weather, then the reading
will drift, however in a short period (eg 10 minutes) this effect is
minimized. On my walks during the test period, weather changes of up to
10 mbar (0.30 inHg) have been experienced over an 8 hour period. This
introduces a 100 metre (330 ft) drift in the altimeter reading.
The altimeter altitude lock feature (the cause of my "meltdown" event)
did not give me any additional trouble during the remainder of the field
test period. I have now remembered how to turn the lock on and off in
the field without needing to look at the manual. The lock feature does
prevent any altimeter drift - it prevents any altimeter change at all.
This is useful once making camp at the end of the day, however the
weather does not restrict changes to periods when I am at camp. The
altitude lock feature is unable to prevent altimeter drift during a
multi day walk when the lock needs to be off when walking.
I understand that some compass/barometer watches have an altimeter mode
that only graphs and monitors altitude changes while in altimeter mode
only. The Traverse Peak continues to build the graph and monitor
altitude even when in other modes. I think that this ability is
important - I would not like it if the watch did not have this capability.
In my initial report, I mentioned that I did not think too much of the
weather forecast feature. I think about the same of it now. Weather
forecasters with supercomputers and large data collection capabilities
struggle to accurately forecast the weather, so I didn't think that the
Traverse Peak would do so well. I have found it raining when the watch
says it will be clear skis, and vis-versa. It is more useful to check
the barometer from time to time, especially around camp, to see if the
pressure is rising or falling.
The compass mode seems to be accurate to within 10 degrees with a Silva
compass used as a reference. There does appear to be variance in compass
readings within 10 degrees. These variances can change with calibrating
the watch, but calibration does not appear to eliminate them altogether.
I do not rely on the compass mode as a primary navigational device, but
it is good for a quick rough reading.
I have attempted to use the bearing mode, but after a few minutes, the
watch exited this mode. Both the normal compass mode and the bearing
mode appear to be heavy on the battery. If needing to take a bearing and
stay on it for an extended period of time, the Traverse Peak does not
appear to be suitable. The manufacturer does not recommend that the
Traverse Peak be used as a primary navigational device, and I think I
agree. The bearing mode does not have a great deal of use for me - if I
need to take and hold a bearing I use a conventional compass - but the
compass mode of the Traverse is still useful for quick readings from
time to time. It is more convenient to take a quick reading on the
Traverse Peak than get out the traditional compass for me as the
Traverse Peak is always available on my wrist. My traditional compass
tends to be hidden away in my map case, unless I am actively using it.
The compass mode is also handy for me in getting my bearings when
travelling. If I am in a unfamiliar city, it is handy to know which way
is north when struggling with a street map.
I have found the Altimeter data mode to be of limited value. As the
reported altitude can bounce around a little - up to 5 metres (15 ft) -
the total altitude climbed report tends to quite dramatically over
estimate how much climbing that I have actually done. The max altitude
reading is a little more useful as it does not suffer from this problem.
The chronograph is quite usable in the field. I use the chronograph to
record each day's walk as a "run" (in the Travese Peak language), with
notable points throughout the day as "laps". It was quite easy to use
the chronograph in this way once I got use to the "START/STOP" button
being start and lap, and "RESET" being stop and reset. I did not find
that I accidentally activated the buttons while walking, although they
were pressed by accident once or twice when using the Traverse Peak on a
bike. I was able to test the watch memory capacity. A total of 99 laps
can be stored - across all runs - so if I attempted to store 2 runs with
50 laps each, the second run would run out of memory at lap 49.
A gotcha that got me was the need to store a chronograph run into memory
before resetting the chronograph. I lost a day's walk data because of
this. It didn't happen again though.
The chronograph data mode is where previous run data can be obtained. In
my case I obtain the data and store it in software provided by the Polar
610i (my heart rate monitor). The Traverse Peak is not a heart rate
monitor, but the chronograph mode allows me to collect similar overall
walk time and segment (lap) times that I could collect if I was wearing
the heart rate monitor. Accessing the data in the Traverse Peak is
intuitive enough. At this stage I have only worked out how to clear all
the data. I have not determined if a particular run can be deleted from
the watch memory.
I have continued to find that the alarm mode is effective enough for me
in the field. Unfortunately, this finding could be highly variable for
I have found the countdown mode to be of little use for me in the field.
When playing around with the Traverse Peak, I have noticed that the
battery indicator has dropped from 3 bars to 2, and one time to 0 bars.
The watch has not reported a low battery condition. As I write this
report I am wearing the Traverse Peak and it is currently showing 3
bars. I used a battery tester to test the watch battery along with a
spare provided by Origo, and the meter showed both batteries to have
good - and similar charges. It is hard to know what the reported
fluctuations in battery status will mean for battery life at this stage.
The battery is about 2.5 months old at this stage. The manual states
that the battery life is up to 12 months. I will continue to monitor
this and report on the ongoing battery performance in the Long Term Test
At this stage of the test, there is no obvious signs of wear on the
watch body. The watch face has sustained minor buffering and scratches.
In order to see these, I have to hold the watch at just the right angle
to a light. There are no big scratches that would be easily seen.
Summary: At this stage, I am still happy with the Traverse Peak. It is
not all singing and dancing, but it does the stuff that I think it
should be able to do well. My likes and dislikes at this stage:
o The Altimeter and Barometer modes are useful in gaining
information on altitude and weather changes.
o The ease of access of the Digital Compass.
o The large face makes the watch easy to read.
o The compass and bearing modes do tend to hammer the battery.
o Setting and clearing things do not always work the same way
in different modes - such as the chronograph vs the countdown timer.
That concludes my Field Test Report. Check back in about 2 months for my
Long Term Test Report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest and Origo for the
opportunity to test the Traverse Peak watch.