Highgear is a relative newcomer to the altimeter watch market. While industry heavyweights like Suunto were creating more and more complicated devices with higher and higher pricetags, Highgear was quietly plugging along with the mantra of providing top-notch altimeters and navigational equipment at an affordable price.
I’ve seen and used many of their altimeter watches in the past and have found them to be highly functional and feature-rich for their $130-$160 price range, which is half the cost of those from other top brands. The entire line of Highgear products spans from pedometers to altimeters to portable mp3 players and other handheld tools commonly used in the backcountry.
About the Highgear Altis Ti Altimeter Watch
The new Highgear Altis Ti was introduced late last year as the new top-of-the-line altimeter watch offering from Highgear. Drawing on the best from their existing product line and coming up with a few cool new features, Highgear has certainly raised the bar with this new flagship model.
In case you skipped high school chemistry, the Ti in Altis Ti stands for titanium, which is just what the casing is made from. Titanium is lightweight, durable and offers low-key, muted styling. Rounding out the construction elements are a mineral glass face and a flexible rubber strap.
This watch is as full-featured as an altimeter watch gets, but it still comes in at an astounding $250 price point. Here are a few more feature highlights.
- Digital Altimeter: -2296 ft. to 29520 ft working range, ascent/descent rate, 20 altitude logbooks, 24-hour auto log, 3 altimeter presets
- Barometer: sea level and absolute pressure, viewable in mbar/ hPa or inHg, weather forcast and 24 hour weather trend
- Digital Compass: adjustable declination
- Digital Thermometer: 14 to 140 degree range
- Ski Chrono: ski time from start to base altitude, rate of descent
- Chronograph: 1/100 second timing, 50 laps with split, best and average
- Other Altis Ti Features: dual time, dual alarms and configurable data display on each screen
- Visit Highgear.com for more details
Highgear Altis Ti Watch Review
I’ve had my hands on nearly every altimeter watch in existence over the past 10 years. Everything from Suunto, Polar, Casio and Highgear has tracked my vert on skis, on foot and on two wheels up and down the Wasatch Front here in Utah. The new Highgear Altis Ti is one of the best-looking and most functional altimeter watches I’ve tested to date. I’m not a fan of having multiple watches, so I really appreciate the subtle good looks of the Highgear Altis Ti.
Looking at the watch in detail, the titanium casing, mineral glass face, multi-functional display and rubber strap set the tone for how the watch would work in the real-world. It’s durable and good looking in the backcountry and in the board room.
I really like the multi-functional display with plentiful viewing options in every mode–something not all watches offer (ahem… Polar AXN series). While in time mode, there are options to view time, date, day, current weather, temperature, altitude and barometric pressure. Then, going into each subsequent mode, there are multiple view options within each. I particularly like all the display options while in altimeter mode where ascent/descent rates and graphs are available. There’s sure to be the right view for your activity.
Speaking of the altimeter mode… I haven’t seen a watch yet that compares to the Altis Ti in ease of managing your known altitude settings. It has three built-in reference altitudes for re-calibrating your altimeter. I use one for home and another for the office. I have yet to need the third one, but it gives me more flexibility.
Logbooks are easy to start and they record the total ascent/descent, average rate of ascent/descent, laps and total time elapsed. It’s great to use on a mountain bike ride or backcountry tour to see what kind of vert you are tackling. And, if you want to track the vert and rate of descent on a single run, the ski mode can do just that.
The flexibility continues in barometer mode where both sea level and absolute barometric pressure are displayed and can be calibrated. Graphs, comparisons and historical data is stored for viewing with the touch of a button.
Overall wearability of the watch is great. The size of the watch is on par with most other altimeter watches–not small, but not behemoth like the Sunto Vector. The rubber strap is nice and comfortable, though it could be a bit thinner and softer as I found it a tad too stiff under some circumstances and especially under my gloves and jacket while backcountry skiing.
The backlight feature is nice and I like that it is activated by a single, dedicated button instead of being used for multiple functions (Suunto’s do this a lot). However, the light only lasts for a quick 5 seconds and isn’t automatically extended if you press any button. So, if you want to set your alarm at night, you’ve got to press the light button repeatedly until you get things set properly–kind of a pain.
With complex watches like these, there is inevitable button overlap–where one button does many different things depending on the mode. However, the “set/clear” and “stop” buttons don’t really make sense in either the logbook chronograph mode. To stop a logbook requires that you hold down the “start/lap” button… huh? And to clear your chronograph, you hold down the “stop” button. Again, lots of buttons and lots of functions, but these two are particularly confusing.
The Bottom Line on the Highgear Altis Ti
This watch is definitely one of the best altimeter watches for the money. It’s styling is great for both backcountry and casual use and the rubber strap is much more comfortable than some of the metal ones found on other comparable models. There are a few design misses with button discrepancies and a short light duration, but those shouldn’t detract from the great function of this watch. The compass, altimeter and barometer features are as good or better than any watch I’ve tested and the price ($250 MSRP) is outstanding for what you’re getting.