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Best high-tech watches for trail running, hiking and climbing

Designed for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure watches are loaded with features that make them good options for hiking, climbing and trail running. In this category, the Tech4O Traileader Jet (*Est. $160) earns good reviews at a great price. In terms of features, the Tech4O Traileader Jet does it all: It includes an altimeter, digital compass, barometer and thermometer, and it measures speed and distance via an onboard accelerometer. Other features include a chronograph, daily and weekly alarms, countdown timer and a 10-day workout memory.

Running publications like Trail Runner and Running Times recommend the Tech4O Traileader Jet for trail runners. It also earns a Killer Value award from Outside magazine. "There's also an altimeter, barometer (with basic weather forecasting), and compass for navigation, and the stopwatch and light weight make it perfect for trail runners," says Outside's Justin Nyberg.

However, reviewers note that the built-in accelerometer isn't as accurate as GPS for tracking speed and distance. Accuracy is still pretty good overall, but serious athletes may prefer the precision of a GPS device. The watch's large size may also deter some potential owners. "A big face and best-in-class back light produce top-notch readability, but only big wrists need apply," says Backpacker magazine. The Tech4O Traileader Jet is advertised as being water resistant to 10 meters (30 feet), but we saw numerous reports at Amazon.com that the watch stopped working when it got wet. Reviewers advise keeping this watch out of wet conditions whenever possible.

The Origo Granite Peak Titanium Sleek (*Est. $190) is another reviewer favorite. It covers all the basics, including an electronic weather center that displays weather forecasts and temperature, a digital compass, barometer, altimeter to track elevation changes, a chronograph for lap and split time, a 99-lap memory and a backlight. It's also water-resistant up to 50 meters (roughly 160 feet), but you can't upload your data to a computer. In its annual Gear Guide, Trail Runner magazine recommends the Origo Granite Peak Titanium Sleek for off-roaders who need lots of information on the run. The magazine's editors say they love the many features, but they find the weight -- 3.5 oz. -- is a downside.

The adventure watch doesn't have many owner-written reviews, but several reviewers at BackCountry.com praise it. Reviewers say the watch is comfortable to wear and very durable. "I was VERY happy to see that this thing is a tank! You can beat it around (I have) and there will not be a scratch or mark on it," says one owner. Unlike some adventure watches, the Origo Granite Peak watch is not overly large. However, it doesn't track speed or distance, and it goes through batteries quickly. 

If price is no object and you want an adventure watch with GPS, the Suunto X10 (*Est. $550) impresses with numerous features and top-notch reliability. Suunto is well known for its high-tech watches, and Dave Phillips at CNET calls Sunto "one of the most technically advanced sports watch companies in the marketplace today." Reviewers agree that the Suunto X10 is a serious watch loaded with features, including GPS navigation, an altimeter, barometer, chronograph and compass; it can also record 500 waypoints and up to 50 routes. It is water-resistant up to 100 meters, and the watch data can be uploaded to the Suunto Trek Manager (PC only) or Google Earth.

Reviewers say the Suunto X10 has reliable satellite reception and a ton of features that will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. "I love that you can adjust compass declination, map datum, and coordinate system (like lat/long or UTM) to match the topo map you're using," says one tester at Backpacker magazine. BikeRadar.com agrees, saying the Suunto X10 has "almost all the functions of a hand-held GPS -- in a watch." However, some reviewers at Amazon.com question the watch's durability and report broken components. Backpacker magazine notes that the Suunto X10 takes longer to acquire satellites than some of its competitors -- at least five minutes in its test. In addition, they say the watch can be difficult to figure out at first. Be sure to set aside a good amount of time to read the manual -- it's 95 pages.

Suunto also gets good reviews for the less-expensive Suunto Core (*Est. $300) . Like the Suunto X10, it's packed with features like an altimeter, barometer with storm alarm, compass, thermometer, chronograph and depth measurement, but no GPS. It comes in only one size, and sports a variety of fun colors, including a snazzy orange-and-black design or classic stainless steel. Unlike the Suunto X10, which is water-resistant up to 100 meters, the Suunto Core can be used only at depths of 30 meters or less.

Running Times likes the rotating bezel which makes it easy to use the compass and follow a bearing. The Suunto Core also gets high marks from more than 150 owners at Amazon.com. Users say the watch is durable and holds up to even the toughest conditions. "This watch has done everything I expected it to do with relatively good accuracy. It still keeps great time after it has been though some of the roughest terrain in Africa," says one owner. However, some say the interface is too complicated, and the user manual is too long and complex.

The Suunto Core Extreme Everest Edition (*Est. $400) is nearly identical to the regular Suunto Core, except it comes in limited edition colors and some of the proceeds are donated to the Apa Sherpa Foundation.

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Tech4o Traileader Jet All-In-One Outdoor - Watch
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $199.99   
Average Customer Review:  

Sports Watches Runners Up:

Timex Ironman Global Trainer *Est. $250

4 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Garmin Forerunner 110 *Est. $200; $250 with heart-rate monitor

4 picks including: Amazon.com, Outside Magazine…

Garmin Forerunner 310XT *Est. $350; $400 with heart-rate monitor

2 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Polar RS300X *Est. $140

2 picks including: Amazon.com, RunnersWorld.com…

Timex Ironman 100-Lap *Est. $50

2 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Origo Granite Peak Titanium Sleek *Est. $190

1 pick including: Backcountry.com, Men's Journal…

Suunto X10 *Est. $550

1 pick including: Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure…

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Timex Global Trainer Speed and Distance GPS Watch
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $300.00 $133.50   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof Running GPS with USB ANT Stick
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $249.99 $163.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor Watch (Black)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $169.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Timex Men's T5E231 "Ironman Traditional" Watch
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $69.95 $42.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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