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So you have just booked your next hike, trek, scuba dive or random adventure and are wondering what all to pack. Let us help you a little bit here in helping you get the technology part out of the way. This will have all of you covered, whether you are a runner, hiker, trekker, mountain climber, swimmer or scuba diver
Step 1: Throw away that old wrist watch of yours
Step 2: Invest some of that hard-earned money into a nice Smartwatch.
Let's help you with the 9 features a smartwatch MUST HAVE for an Adventure Junkie
1) Distance/Step tracker:
This pretty much goes without saying and any watch going around calling itself a smartwatch will have to have a good pedometer. This should be able to tell you the steps you have taken and the distance you have travelled. The more advanced watches nowadays have an accelerometer, which is able to track your speeds across your trekking or hiking journey. This provides data, which is very entertaining to compare, sitting around a bonfire, late in the evening, with your fellow trekkers. The smartwatch should allow you to compare data across days and keep track of your daily steps taken vs your target goal set.
2) GPS Navigation:
If you are truly getting a watch for outdoors, we can't afford for you to get you lost on your trek, can we? Therefore, a watch with a dedicated GPS chip is always a good investment for a trekker. This helps in setting your route on those solo mountain soul-searching journeys or setting a course for your next morning run. Who knows, it might also come in handy when you stumble your way back to camp at night from those dreaded late night toilet trips.
3) Heart Rate Monitor:
We all are those chest pumping, all knowing adrenaline junkies, but nonetheless, over years i have learnt that if you truly want to push the outer limits of your endurance, you have to know when and how to recover. Keeping check on your heart rate is crucial to ensuring you keep your stamina going for long. While running a marathon, if you can keep your heart rate in the target zone, you will be smashing those personal bests in no time. The heart rate monitor on your wrist would notify you when you are getting into the red zone and thus alerting you for recovery before you end up with a burnout. This is as useful for a marathon runner as it is for a trekker
It does not matter if you are not a swimmer; do not even think of getting a smartwatch for adventure trips if it is not waterproof. Passing through a shower in the Himalayas is going through no less water than a swimming pool. Your smartwatch needs to be able to pass through all the rigors and struggles that your body will go through. An ip67 watch will serve you well on those monsoon hikes, and rainy running marathons. If you are intending to swim a lot and scuba dive, ensure your watch has an ip68 rating. All of us, for any activity like hiking, trekking, mountain climbing, running or swimming need waterproof as a basic feature for all technical equipment.
5) Battery Life:
It would really be sad if your watch died out midway through that Himalayan Odyssey of yours. To ensure that does not happen invest in a watch with long battery life. Some of the fancier looking watches with a lot of unnecessary features sacrifice on battery life as keeping track of all those parameters is a drain on your battery's resources. Discount whatever the manufacturer says by 50% and accordingly judge the battery life and figure out what would be suitable for your needs. A longer battery life is always better. This will ensure it lasts through your complete trek.
Check the screen quality to check it is resistance to smudges & scratches. As this would be a touchscreen, you would be constantly handling it and with it being on your wrist, the chances of it banging non-stop with hard surfaces is high. Get a scratch resistant screen ideally of sapphire glass or similar. Remember unlike your smartphone, this will not have a scratch-guard. Also the screen brightness and lit should be visible in harsh sunlight while at the same time having brightness dimming possibilities so that your wrist doesn't shine more than the moon on that starry night after a long day's trek.
7) Software/ App:
Now this is mostly a bonus and mainly for those tech geeks. Most of us are happy as long as the interface on the smartwatch is easy to use and friendly to navigate. It is a bonus if the smartphone app the watch pairs to is an intelligent one and constantly updated. This helps you get training programs and historical comparisons of your performance overtime easily and smoothly. So give the software a look over before finalizing your purchase. These software's now have various sports modes for different activities like trekking, hiking, swimming, etc to help you track your data better.
What good is a trekking smartwatch if it does not make you feel good on scaling that summit? Track the current altitude you are at in real time and be aware of the rising or falling journey you have mapped. A great motivator, this feature is as much for fun as it is for necessary information. Watches for scuba divers have this modified to reflect diving depth. Repeated studies have found this to be one of the most motivational features in a smartwatch meant for trekkers.
I know they look good, but do you really think leather straps look good on sweaty wrists. Do not even think of buying a smartwatch with leather or metal straps. Ensure your watch has a nice plastic super flexible smart looking band. This bands needs to have flexibility and durability. Being lightweight, these bands would help you wear the watch longer and a breathable, nicely designed watch would ensure zero irritability due to the constant movement your wrist undergoes in any adventure activity. The strap must be able to withstand all strains and weather conditions a trekker would go through.
Some extra features which fancy smartwatches also boast of these days are pairing with your phone, 4G sim connectivity, getting notifications, Blood pressure and Blood O2 level tracker, hydration monitor, LED, camera, calorie counter & sleep monitor. Depending on your need as a trekker or swimmer or runner you can pick and choose accordingly.
I hope the above helps you narrow down your selection of your smartwatch. Think we have missed something? Give us a shout out below