Inexpensive curiosity, excellent gadget on the field! Reliable readings make this device an excellent option at a bargain. Altimeter w/forecast, barometer, thermometer, compass, time/date, alarm, backlight.
- Reliable in the field and at home
- Might break if dropped...
I am always in the market for new things, IF they make the cut... The Celestron TrekGuide (model #48001) is a handheld device that shows altitude, barometric pressure, weather forecast, temperature, a digital compass, time, date, and an alarm clock with an LED backlight. It is available in several colors. I found it online for under thirty bucks, the deciding factor on my color choice. Anything I have found that's similar, be it a wristwatch or otherwise, costs $100 or more.
I tend to rely on mechanical gear, and typically only carry about three devices that rely on battery power when backpacking. This report is based upon two months of operation, and two backpacking trips; one weekend spent on the AT (Snicker's Gap->Washington Monument), and a five day trip in Monongahela National Forest's Otter Creek Wilderness.
Celestron backs the product with a 2 year warranty, I cannot comment on customer service, having only owned the device for a couple of months with no concerns. There is a great 40 page download pdf file instruction manual available online. I have found it is thorough, and easy to read. Included with the short velcro strap (see above), is a longer lanyard (see below). The lanyard has a quick release clip that appears to be sturdy. I have NOT used this lanyard, but it's construction seems ok.
On to its functions. The digital compass is user friendly to calibrate, and has so far appeared to be accurate. On both trips, I have frequently tested against my mechanical baseplate compass finding mostly complete accuracy. Like regular compasses, I sure wouldn't work on the hood of a car or take my bearing on a steel bridge... There is a programmable magnetic declination angle setting. The compass shows the 16 cardinal directions. The unit has a level bubble for accuracy. This gizmo is (of course) lazy side by side to a compass, I would never rely on this function unless in an emergency situation.
The thermometer reads Fahrenheit and Celsius and also has appeared to be accurate comparing to a 30 year old mercury filled thermometer. The specified temperature range is -4 to 140 F/-20 to 60 C.
The altimeter has been a little quirky at home, however proved to be very useful in the field. I tried to 'get lost' a couple of times, and using the altimeter with a topo map alone would work for someone in a jam. It too is easy to reset and adjust, with the ability to read meters or feet. The altimeter has a maximum reading as well. I live about 25 feet above sea level, and the TrekGuide will consistently adjust to a higher reading. It has always worked well above 200 feet. The specified range is -400 to 9000 meters and -1312 to 29,528 feet.
Time/date/alarm: So far, so good! I am not typically a wristwatch person, so this is very nice, especially when referencing times on a map. The display shows time (with AM/PM), month, day, year, and alarm setting. The alarm is easy to use, and also works as designed.
Barometer/Weather forecast: no notes in the field, both trips I experienced very high, consistent air pressure. At home, the barometer mirrors my two weather stations, as well as local web readings at the time. Once again, I wouldn't rely on a $30 device to predict weather, but so far has worked as designed. The icons that the unit displays are: sunny, partly sunny, cloudy, cloudy/rain. The unit has several display choices: mbar/hPa, mmHG, or inHG. In addition to the regular setting, there is a sea level setting for reference/adjustment. It is easy to adjust as needed. The specified range is 900 to 1100 mbar/hPa, 675 to 825 mmHG, and 26.58 to 32.48 inHG.
The device has a three second green backlight, that works well by pressing the level bubble. The TrekGuide can also be 'locked' by holding the level button for three seconds.
I have scratched the plastic display cover, my fault for not being careful with my digital camera. It appears durable, but I wouldn't want to drop this on a rock, or in the water on purpose. The device is powered by two CR2032 batteries, very cheap & common. I cannot comment on battery life at this point.
Dimensions of the unit: LxHxW: 54x103x15mmor2.1”x4.1”x0.6” Weight: 70grams/2.5oz.
As of this point, this is a great, cheap gadget! For the price, why not? Four stars for now, it's apples to oranges comparing this to an expensive similar product...
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $28
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Reviewers Paid: $28.00