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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > HighGear Axio Max Mulitfunction Watch > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

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Axio Max
Multi-Function Watch

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - November 9, 2010

courtesy of


July 8, 2010

September 14, 2010

November 9, 2010

July 8, 2010

Reviewer Information

Backpacking Background

Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  46
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below came from Highgear's user's manual and website.

Axio Max - Multi-Function Watch
Manufacturer: HIGHGEAR USA
Manufacturer website:
Place of Manufacture: China
Year Manufactured: 2010
Materials: Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Resin w/Metal Buckle
Models Available: Black (glass-reinforced nylon case)
Steel (stainless steel case)

"30-day Money Back guarantee: If you are not completely satisfied with your product, please return the product...
Warranty: We warrant our products will be free of manufacturing defects for up to one full year after purchase date."

MSRP: $210.00 US [per website]

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  
Case Dimensions: 1.8 in x 1.8 in x .62 in
(46 mm x 46 mm x 15.85 mm)

1 in (26 mm) visible LCD
Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g)
Tester's Actual Measurements  
Case Dimensions: 1.8 in x 1.8 in x .62 in
(46 mm x 46 mm x 15.85 mm)

1 in (26 mm) visible LCD
Weight: (watch and band) 3.7 oz (105 g)
Style Tested: Axio Max - Steel

Product Description:

The Highgear Axio Max, hereafter referred to as "Axio or watch" is a high-tech digital multi-function unisex wristwatch. The model I am testing has a stainless steel case and a resin band. The Axio comes with a mineral glass lens, EL backlight, and is water resistant to 50 meters static pressure (5 ATM / 5 bar); which means it should be okay for swimming, etc. It also has a user-replaceable battery.

There are five stainless steel buttons; three on the left side and two on the right side (as shown in the photo below left). The MODE button (bottom left) toggles between the six modes (TIME, COMPASS, ALTIMETER-BAROMETER, CHRONOGRAPH, DATA, ALARM; displays shown in photo below right). The LIGHT button (middle left) engages the backlight. The ADJUST button (top left) enters mode settings. The VIEW/- button (bottom right) changes display in TIME and ALTI-BARO modes, saves information in CHRON and DATA modes, recalls the compass in COMP mode, and decreases setting values. The RECALL/+ button (top right) toggles between zones in the TIME mode, toggles between units in ALTI-BARO mode, displays next data point in DATA mode, recalls the compass in COMP mode, and increases setting values.

axio axio_modes

  • Two Time Zones
  • 12/24 hr Display
  • Day/Month/Weekday Display
  • Local Elevation Display
  • Weather Forecast Icon
  • 360 Degree Compass Bearings
  • 16 Cardinal Bearings
  • Digital True North Arrow
  • Digital Calibration
  • Digital Declination Adjustment
  • Resolution of 1 Degree
  • Range: -2,305 to 30,045 ft
    (-702 to 9,158 m)
  • Resolution of 1 foot or 1 meter
  • Imperial and Metric Local Altitude Display
  • Sea-Level and Absolute Barometer Display
  • Mercury Inches and Millibar /
    Hecto-Pascal Barometer Display
  • Fahrenheit and Celsius Display
  • Resolution of 1 Degree
    (min -4 to max 158 F or -20 to 70 C)
  • 12 Hour Weather Forecast Icon
  • 100 Hour Chronograph
  • 1/100 Second Resolution
  • Time Display
  • Local Altitude Display
  • 10 Run Memory
  • Starting Altitude Record
  • Accumulated Altitude Record
  • Maximum Altitude Record
  • Total Exercise Time Record
  • Two Daily
  • One Rest
  • One Hydration
  • Two Altitude

On the back of the watch, there is a slot in which to insert a coin, etc. to remove the hatch and access the battery. Furthermore, the Highgear logo, "Axio Max", "Made in PRC", "CR2032 Battery", "50M Water Resistant", "Swiss Made Pressure Sensor", the same arrow and bearings on the watch face are debossed in the back of the watch.

The Axio came with two instruction/owners manuals written in nine languages: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, German, Italian, Dutch and Swedish. Along with general instructions, the instruction/owners manuals contain the following cautions:

  • The watch should not be used for snorkeling or SCUBA diving
  • Do not wear the watch in soapy dishwater or bubble bath
  • Do not wear the watch in a hot tub or extremely hot shower or bath
  • Do not subject the watch to sudden changes in temperature
  • Never push the buttons underwater
  • Do not use cleaning solvents on the watch
  • Exposure to strong magnetic fields will cause the compass to malfunction and may cause permanent damage
  • Never attempt to disassemble or service the watch--IT WILL VOID ANY WARRANTY

Initial Impression:

As I opened the box, I was immediately impressed with the appearance of the watch--I really like the stainless steel case. As I pulled it from the box, I was a little surprised at both the size and weight of this multi-function watch. Both were somewhat less than what I anticipated from my cursory review of the Highgear website. Although larger and heavier than the watch I wear regularly, I really like the fact that the Axio is neither as heavy nor as massive (only rises 0.56 in or 1.4 cm above my wrist) as other altimeter watches I have considered purchasing.

The two paperback instruction/owners manuals are approximately 3.5 in (8.9 cm) square and just shy of 0.5 in (1.3 cm) thick. The print inside is small and the instructions appear to be very concise. Based on my casual review, I initially felt that the instructions might be too succinct for my liking. As I proceed to set the various modes and use the watch per the instructions, I will comment as to whether I find the instructions to be sufficient.

Initial Testing:

After taking the watch from the box, I immediately started pushing the buttons to see what they each do. Next, I put the watch on to test fit and comfort (see photos below). I immediately liked how this high-tech tool felt on my wrist. The watch was smaller, especially in height, than I anticipated. I proceeded to set the time. The process was quite intuitive. I also set one of the daily alarms. However, I did not take the time to set the altimeter, calibrate the compass, or set any other alarms. I need to read the instructions to make sure I set the altimeter and calibrate the compass correctly. I will discuss these functions in my Field Report. The watch has kept perfect time since I set it the day I received it. I will continue to monitor and report on this in my Field Report.
axio_top axio_side

Initial Pros:

Initial Potential Cons:

  • stylish look
  • simple display
  • easy to toggle between modes
  • smaller than I anticipated
  • brevity of the instructions

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September 14, 2010


During this phase of the test series, I wore the watch approximately 20 days. This included a week-long backpacking trip in the Wind River Range of Wyoming.

Likes Thus Far Dislikes Thus Far
  • stylish look
  • simple display
  • easy to toggle between modes
  • smaller than I anticipated
  • brevity of the instructions
  • difficulty calibrating compass

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

axio_winds After receiving the watch, I wore it to work and around town on several different occasions.

I also wore it on a week-long Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Venturing High Adventure, which included backpacking/hiking/fishing in the Popo Agie Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest on the east side of the continental divide in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. We entered The Winds via the Worthen Meadows Trailhead. At 8,840 ft (2,694 m) above sea level, the Worthen Meadows trailhead is approximately 13 mi (21 km) from Lander, Wyoming. Over the course of the week, we covered approximately 50 mi (80 km), with trail elevations up to 11,000 ft (2,694 m). Temperatures ranged from highs in the low 90's F (32 - 35 C) to lows in the upper 40's F (4 - 7 C) according to the watch. Skies ranged from clear to cloudy with rain sprinkles a couple of times. I carried a 50 lb (23 kg) pack at the start of the trip and wore the watch the entire time, except when washing off in the river and sleeping.


Shortly after posting my Initial Report, I proceeded with setting the altimeter and calibrating the compass. Setting the altimeter was extremely easy: I simply followed the instructions: press the "MODE" button until "ALT 1" appeared, then pressed and held the "ADJUST" button for three seconds and then entered my local elevation; simple as that. I did not attempt to adjust Sea-Level or Absolute barometric readings. I just do not know enough about this to feel comfortable. This is where I wish the instructions in the manual were more helpful. Calibrating the compass was not as simple as setting the altimeter, at least for me. I pressed the "MODE" button until "COMP" appeared, then followed the instructions: pressed and held the "ADJUST" button for three seconds to begin calibration, held watch perpendicular to my chest and on a level plane, rotated slowly clockwise twice. However, I got the "CALIB FAIL" error message. So, I repeated the process seven more times before getting it right. I'm sure it was Operator Error on my part, but it was quite frustrating to say the least.

The basic functions have worked without any problems. The time keeping of the watch and chronograph has been very accurate. The backlight works great in the dark. When outside, the altimeter and thermometer have been very accurate as well. On my trip to the Wind River Range, I had to reset the altimeter, as the altitude was significantly different from that shown on my hand-held GPS unit when we arrived at the trailhead. This was no surprise as we spent four plus hours in an air-conditioned Suburban getting to the trailhead. Once reset, the altitude shown on the Axio was very consistent with that shown on my hand-held GPS; usually differing by no more that a few feet. The compass was very consistent with that of my hand-held GPS as well. Although I forgot the manual, I was able to figure out how to set the various alarms. I used daily alarm #1 to wake in the morning. The alarm was loud enough to wake me early each morning. I also used the rest and hydration alarms. However, I did not use the altitude alarm--I simply did not think about it. But, it is easy enough to set. Nearly every day the weather icons changed from sunny or partly cloudy to indicate rain. Although the clouds looked quite ominous at times, we only had two brief sprinkles of rain the entire week. We did not have a lot of rain, but the barometer and weather forecast icons seemed to work as intended. I did not use the data function; I will do so however in the next phase of the test.

While in The Winds, I wore the watch six consecutive days for nearly eighteen hours a day. The case, crystal, and band remain in excellent condition; no scratches or other significant wear even after being slightly exposed to 100% DEET bug repellent. The buttons continue to operate smoothly as well.

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November 9, 2010


During this phase of the test series, I wore the watch an additional 5 days. My likes and dislikes have not changed from those stated in the Field Report. Overall, I like this multifunction watch and will continue to use it.

Likes Dislikes
  • stylish look
  • simple display
  • easily toggle between modes
  • smaller than I anticipated
  • brevity of the instructions
  • difficulty calibrating compass

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In mid-October, I hiked in Hell's Half Acre National Landmark. The elevation is approximately 5,300 ft (1,615 m) above sea level. The temperature was in the 50s F (10 - 15 C), winds were calm, the sky was overcast and there was a slight rain on one of the hikes. Hell's Half Acre is a 66,000 acres (267 km2) lava field and is the youngest of the eastern basaltic lava fields of the Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho. The lava rock is extremely sharp, glassy and fragmented, with open cracks, lava tubes and caves. Hiking in Hell's Half Acre is a unique and somewhat surreal experience.


Not having worn the watch for some time, when I donned it for my hike in Hell's Half Acre, I noticed the altimeter needed to be recalibrated. I did so without difficulty.

I am certain it is me, but I continue to struggle with calibrating the compass. I thought over time, I would get the hang of it, but it takes me several attempts to succeed.

Had it not been for Daylight Savings Time ending on Sunday November 7th, I would have had no need to adjust the time even once during this test series. The watch has kept perfect time.

The alarms continue to work well; I wake every morning to the Axio's daily alarm. I tested the hydration alarm on my hike in Hell's Half Acre--it worked perfectly.

The weather icon has worked well throughout the test series. Although it indicated rain numerous times, I never experienced more than a sprinkle--but that is okay with me. The thermometer has performed equally well. When wearing it around town, I have checked it against the temperatures shown on various illuminated signs. In order to compare the Axio against the signs, I removed the watch from my wrist so my body temperature would not affect the reading. After allowing a little time for the Axio to adjust, it was within a degree each and every time.

The case, face, and band have held up well. There are no noticeable signs of wear. The battery remains strong. The watch is comfortable to wear.

This concludes my Axio Max multi-function watch Test Series. I am very pleased with its performance and will continue to use this timepiece on my future outdoor adventures. Thanks to HIGHGEAR and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to participate in this test.

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