Review: Highgear Altitech2

Altitech2 - $150

Ever since wrist-top altimeters came out, I’ve wanted one. Desperately. I mean, how cool would it be to have an exact elevation right there at your fingertips? No more guessing how many vertical feet you’ve climbed or have yet to climb. And when combined with a map and compass, you’d always know where you were in the woods (that’s right, GPS’s are for sissies). Problem is, who’s got $500 to drop on a watch? And what if you don’t particularly like wearing a watch in the woods?

Enter HighGear, a North-Carolina-based company that’s been producing affordable, high-tech outdoor electronics since 1999. For $150 you can pick up an Altitech2, a handheld altimeter that also houses a compass, barometer, temperature gauge, chronograph, and alarm clock. The Altitech2 is HighGear’s flagship product, and for good reason—it packs more features into a smaller package than just about anyone, and for a price that’s hard to beat. A rubberized grip makes for easy handling with gloves or in wet conditions. The EL backlight gives you a clear display regardless of light conditions. And there’s plenty of data storage for altitude, time, and date, as well as accumulated and maximum elevation readings. With the chronograph / lap timer, the Altitech2 makes an ideal training aid for mountain biking or trail running.

Another key feature is a hinged carabiner base, which allows you to hook the Altitech2 on a belt loop, pack strap, or tent pole. Among other advantages, this prevents your body heat from affecting the temperature gauge—a common problem with wrist-top models. You can also lock the carabiner at a 90-degree angle and set the Altitech2 on a flat surface for readability. I keep mine on my desk between outdoor excursions, and watch the barometer for pre-trip fluctuations. The lockout feature also makes it a great travel clock. All in all, the Altitech2 is a superb device—and given the low cost, I can’t think of a single reason not to pick one up.