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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Silva Tech 40 Trail Leader Pro > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Tech4O TraiLeader Pro Watch

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - November 10, 2009

Field Report - January 26, 2010

Long Term Report - March 30, 2010


Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking background has mostly been in Minnesota where I have lived most of my adult life.  I have hiked all of the Superior Hiking Trail, Kekekabic and Border Route through the Boundary Waters.  This last year included hiking in Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, Colorado, south and North Dakota and Oregon.  My preferred/typical backpack trip has been one week, mostly in the Spring/Fall seasons, but I started doing more winter camping last year.  I recently moved to Tucson to take a new job, and am excitedly exploring the surrounding mountain ranges.  I am acclimating to the altitudes and mountainous terrain by doing a lot of weekend canyon climbs, where I hope to use the many features of this watch.

Initial Report

Product Facts

The Tech4O TraiLeader Pro watch is a multi-function wearable measurement system.

Product Information
Manufacturer
Tech4O (that's an "Oh", not a "zero"...) TraiLeader Pro
Manufacturer website
http://www.tech4o.com/
Year manufactured
2009
Model
TraiLeader Pro
MSRP
US $199.90
Weight (measured)
1.80 oz (51 g)
Weight (specs)
None available
Battery type
CR2032 (two required: watch + heart rate monitor)
Watch face diameter
1.46 in (37.1 mm) inside the bezel
2.11 in (54 mm) outside of buttons
Watch body thickness
.615 in (15.6 mm)

The dimensions in the above table were measured with a digital calipers, so they should be reasonably accurate.

Initial Inspection

The watch comes packaged in a robust yet compact display case:

Traileader Pro packaged up

The plastic film covering the watch face shows a typical display of a graph, time and date.  Removed from the packaging, the following photo shows the components shipped with the system:

System components
Photo of package contents

  • Upper right: the watch itself
  • Mid right: heart rate sensor strap
  • Lower right: USB PC wireless interface
  • Upper left: 1-page quick start guide
  • Lower left: 51-page user guide
  • Lower middle: PC interface/software guide
  • Not shown: software disk
The TraiLeader Pro uses a number of sensors to provide extensive data displays:

Sensor
Data/function derived from sensor
Internal clock
Date/time including 2 time zones
Chronograph: 50 lap timer
Alarm clock: 2 daily/weekly alarms
Countdown timer with chimes
Accelerometer
Distance, speed, pace, calories, steps
Pulse sensor
Heart rate, % max
Air pressure
Altimeter, ascent/descent distance
Barometer, weather forecast
Thermometer
Temperature
Compass
North, direction of travel

Controls: the watch has five buttons.

Button
Location (compass)
Functions
Light
West
Backlight
ESC (escape)
Northwest
Previous screen
Answer=no
Switch between time and trail menu (press twice)
M (Mode)
Southwest
Selects modes within a menu
Confirms selections
Enters settings modes (press and hold 3 seconds)
S/S (start/stop)
Northeast
Moves the cursor (selected function) up
Increases values
View alternative display (top row on watch face)
Start/stop timers
L/R (Lap/Reset)
Southeast
Moves the cursor down
Decreases values
Changes units
Enters laps and resets timers

It has been my experience with other multi-function watches and similar devices where the designer has elected to minimize the number of buttons or controls, that knowing which button does what takes a bit of learning.  As is obvious from the table above, this watch is no exception, with some buttons having as many as four distinct functions depending on context.  Also evident in the table is the use of multiple presses and press-and-hold operations to extend the button function even further.

One key piece of information that must be understood to use the watch controls are the two menus alluded to in the above table: time and trail.  The time menu contains all the typical timekeeping functions: time of day, timers, alarm clocks, etc.  The trail menu contains all the other functions: heart rate, altitude, etc.  Within a menu the Mode button cycles the watch through the various entries.  As the Mode button is pressed the new menu is shown immediately.  Alternately, if the ESC button is pressed once, the name of the current menu is displayed in the center of the screen, and the menu that will be traversed to using the S/S or L/R buttons is shown at the top/bottom of the watch face.  About two seconds after the last button is pressed, the display transitions from this navigation display to the menu item shown in the center.  Thus the user can simply cycle through the menu using the Mode button, or use the ESC button to aid in navigation.

The watch communicates wirelessly through a 2.4Ghz low-power radio transceiver to the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) sensor and a USB PC interface.  The HRM can also communicate directly to the PC.  The following screen grab shows a typical PC software screen:

software screen

In this case the PC screen is displaying the last 48 hours of altimeter data from the watch.  The two "hills" in the graph are my two commutes to and from work showing the altitude difference between my residence in Tucson and my employer's location in Oro Valley.  The reason the two graphs are not equivalent is I calibrated the altimeter after the first day - that is the second descent at about hour 20 in the graph.

As the "Download from watch" button indicates in the above screen, communication between watch and PC is not continuous, but requires activating a command on both the watch and PC concurrently.  On the watch, I navigate to the Trail menu, select the Log menu, press and hold the Menu button, scroll down to the PC Link selection, then press the menu button again.  This puts the watch into transmit mode, where it will stay for a few seconds while the "Download" button above is selected on the PC.

Initial Experiences

When I removed the watch from the package it seemed to be powered off, so I did what any trained electrical engineer would do I popped off the battery cover to make sure it was shipped with a battery.  Indeed it was, so I replaced the cover, touched one of the buttons and lo and behold the watch sprung to life!

I attempted to follow the quick start guide and initialized the watch with my biostatistics: gender, age, height and weight.  It wanted to know my stride length but I hadn't measured that yet.  I continued to enter my preferences for units (imperial).  I then proceeded to "pair" the heart rate monitor transmitter with the watch by putting the HRM band on my chest and selecting the "pair" function.  The display changed a bit, so I assumed the pairing was successful, put the watch in HRM display mode and voila, my resting heart rate of 53 bpm was displayed.  Cool!

I put the watch through a few paces that first evening, bringing up the various displays to make sure I understood the dozens of data values available.

The next morning I did a workout on an elliptical exercise machine with the HRM strap on.  The strap was quite comfortable (it is adjustable and elastic), and stayed nicely in place.  The watch display was within 1 bpm of the display provided by the trainer every time I checked.  The wireless HRM is very nice -- I appreciated not being tethered by any kind of cable.

While I was at work that day I couldn't help playing with a few features.  The temperature readout was about 85 F (29 C), but dropped to about 75 F (24 C) when I took the watch off and placed it on my desk.  Obviously the heat from my wrist is heating up the temperature sensor.  This is pretty typical of watch-based thermometers; designers don't seem to have found a way to keep the thermal sensor far enough away from the body.

The next evening I interfaced the watch and HRM to my laptop.  First I installed the supplied software; this was quite straightforward but a little scary as neither the application nor the USB driver are Microsoft signed applications, so Windows puts up a scare box to warn the installer that the programs may not be legitimate.  I ignored the warnings and all was well.  It is quite obvious the PC interface comes from China: the supplied disk has a Chinese volume name when I bring it up in My Computer, and the screen on page 6 of the PC POD Quick Started (sic) Guide shows an "OK" button displayed in Chinese.

On Nov 7 I did a little day hike up Pima Canyon with the TraiLeader Pro watch.  During the hike I had it mostly in HRM mode with the heart rate monitor strapped to my chest.  I liked being able to glance down at my wrist to see how high my exertion was.  During the climb from 3000 ft to 5800 ft (914 m to 1768 m) my heart rate varied from 110 bpm to about 145 bpm, and on the way down I was mostly in the 110 bpm range.  The total hike length according to my Garmin GPS which I also brought on the hike was 9.6 miles (15.5 km).  The log downloaded from the watch showed the climb topping out at an altitude of about 5200 ft (1585 m), reasonably close considering I did not calibrate it before my departure.  The logged distance was 11.5 miles (18.5 km) using 23870 steps, again reasonably close considering I have not yet calibrated the device for my stride length.

First Impressions

I am really excited to include the plethora of data provided by this device in my future test reports.  After several days of getting to know the watch, my initial thoughts include the following.

Kudos:

  • Everything worked without a hitch.  Considering the complexity of the electronics, PC interfaces, etc. this is no mean feat.
  • The watch has a very clean appearance, devoid of glitzy buttons and ornaments.  I feel like I'm wearing a piece of gear, not a techno-ornament.
  • Navigation is straightforward once the system is learned.  At first I was confused by the top and bottom lines of text as I brought up the various screens, but once I realized that they showed me where the S/S and L/R buttons would navigate to it all made perfect sense.  The "menu guide" (little numbers on the right) shows where in the menu sequence I'm currently at, and that helps too.
  • The heart rate monitor is very accurate, comfortable to wear, and I really like the wireless connection.
  • The rich set of sensors and extensive calculations provide every parameter imaginable.  I cannot imagine what else I could expect from a watch.
  • Comfort: given the size and heft of the watch I don't feel it is obtrusive.
  • I like the ability to scroll through several measurements on the top display row by pressing the S/S button: day of the week, weather prediction, temperature, barometric pressure graph, altitude graph, back to week day.  Nice.
  • The good news is first-time setup is reasonably straightforward.

Concerns:

  • The bad news is there is a LOT to set up on this watch to use all the functions accurately.  I still don't have my stride length plugged in - I have to make a special walk & run with my GPS to record the distance and count my strides (the watch will do the counting).
  • The thermometer reads high from body heat.
  • The graphs (altitude, barometer) seem pretty small to be of much use.  The number of vertical pixels allocated to the graphs is pretty minute, so it is hard to learn much from looking at the graphs on the watch face, but maybe once I start using it in the field I might discover their utility.  Fortunately all the data is downloadable to my PC where I can display it in all its glory.
  • The watch face displays are not as legible as I'd like.  I'm not sure the font that is used on the watch is as readable as it could be.  It is a very computer-looking sans-serif font.  I use 2.0 strength reading glasses in my old age, and I find it difficult to read the time from the watch without my glasses, despite the large size of the display.
  • The light doesn't seem very bright.  It'll be interesting to see how legible the watch is in the backcountry at night.

Field Report

Test Conditions

During the Field Report period I wore the TraiLeader Pro watch every day as my main timepiece.  The device also accompanied me on the following hiking trips:

Date
November 14-15, 2009
December 5, 2009
December 6, 2009
January 1, 2010
Location
Saguaro National Park, just east of Tucson, Arizona in the Rincon Mountains Catalina State Park, Romero Canyon Trail, northeast of Tucson in the Catalina Mountains
Picacho Peak State Park, northwest of Tucson
Upper Javelina Trail, Tortolita Mountains northwest of Tucson
Altitude range (from GPS/topo map)
3088 ft to 5979 ft (941 m to 1822 m)
Not available
Not available 2650 ft to 3600 ft (808 m to 1097 m)
Altitude range (from watch)
3367 ft to 6222 ft (1026 m to 1896 m)
2758 ft to 3735 ft (841 m to 1138 m) [log filled up]
1900 ft to 2960 ft (579 m to 902 m)
2707 ft to 3626 ft
(825 m to 1105 m)
Altimeter calibrated prior to departure?
No
Yes
No
Yes
Distance (from GPS)
13.81 miles (22.23 km)
Not available Not available 6.2 miles (10 km)
Distance (from watch)
13.27 miles (21.36 km)
2.236 mi (3.6 km) [log filled up]
6.352 mi (10.23 km)
6.967 mi (11.22 km)
Step length calibration
None
31 in
31 in
31 in
Temperature range
25 F to 75 F (-4 C to 24 C)
About 65 F (18 C)
About 60 F (16 C)
About 70 F (21 C)

Saguaro National Park

Ever since I moved to Tucson I had good intentions of doing some backpacking in Saguaro National Park.  There are actually two parts to this park, one on the west side of the city in the Tucson Mountains, and one on the east side in the Rincon Mountains.  I heard the view from the Rincons was spectacular, so on the weekend of November 14 I thought I'd give it a try.

On this journey I decided to focus on the distance-measuring capabilities of the device and use the trip as a calibration exercise.  I set the watch to distance mode and left it there except while in camp.  I figured this trip would be logical for stride length determination, as it was an out-and-back hike, all ascending on day one, all descending on day two, and I had my backpack on and was hiking with my trekking poles.  I figured the average of the ascent and descent stride lengths would be the best compromise.  The following table shows how I calculated my stride length, and the variability between ascent and descent.


Ascent
Descent
Total
GPS distance
7.06 mi (11.37 km)
6.75 mi (10.87 km)
13.81 mi (22.23 km)
Steps
14,447
14,006
28,453
Calculated stride length
30.96 in (79 cm)
30.53 in (78 cm)
30.75 in (78 cm)

After I did all these calculations I went to set my stride length in the TraiLeader Pro and discovered it only works in whole inches.  I set it to 31 inches from its default setting of 28 inches.

On Saturday night it got quite cold, down to 25 F (-4 C) at daybreak.  When I checked my watch temperature reading, which was inside my jacket cuff, it was a toasty 80 F (C).  Obviously if I'm going to use the watch to capture ambient temperature readings I'm going to have to take it off at night.

A week in the upper Midwest

On November 21 I flew to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Thanksgiving holiday and to finalize packing of my worldly goods for the move to Tucson.  Before departure I set up the dual timezone display for Central time so I could see my local time during my trip as well as my "home" time in Arizona.  I was pleased that the watch allowed me to set the dual time for something other than an integral number of hours different from the home time.  In fact, it allows the dual time to be set to an arbitrary hour and minute.  I appreciate the flexibility, because I used to work with many people in India where the time is actually 11 1/2 hours offset from Minnesota where I was working.  When traveling to India, or in general dealing with timezones in India, an integral number of hours does not suffice to calculate the time there.

On the other hand it seemed a little cumbersome to require that the exact hours and minutes be set for the dual timezone.  I can't think of any instance where I would need other than half-hour increments for this mode.  It would be great if the manufacturer could simplify operation by specifying the dual timezone setting in half-hour increments.

When I arrived home in Minneapolis of course I had to show my new watch off to my wife.  Her comment was: "it's so big, it looks like something that old people wear that have vision problems and need a big time display".  Apparently the TraiLeader Pro is not going to win any fashion awards with my spouse.

I continued to wear the watch every day on the trip and appreciated being able to see the local time on the main display as well as the time back in Arizona on the lower line of the watch face.

Just for grins I had to check out what the altimeter would say on the flight back to Arizona: 5900 ft (1798 m).  Obviously the pressurized cabin does a great job of fooling the air pressure sensor, though it was interesting to see what the "apparent" altitude was in the airplane.

Catalina State Park - Romero Canyon Trail

Since I just moved into a house that I finally was able to buy after 5 months of searching, I thought I'd do a hike close to home.  Catalina State Park doesn't sound impressive, but it actually has one of the better trails leading up into the Catalinas.  I decided to test the logging function on this hike.  About 2/3 of the way up to the Romero pools, the watch display gave the error "Log Full".  When I completed my hike I checked the logging rate which was the default, and it was 1 second.  This seemed a little silly, so I set it to 60 seconds.  The watch data in the table above is a bit bogus as I took the values from the log file, and since it filled up it recorded only about a third of my hike.

Picacho Peak State Park

I had driven past Picacho Peak several times on the way to Phoenix from Tucson and had promised myself to do the hike.  The trail begins gently, but the last mile or so is all scrambling and holding on to cables to ascend vertical rock faces.  As I get older I am less comfortable with heights, and turned back after several vertical cable segments of the trail.

When I arrived home I immediately tried to download the log file from the watch.  No data.  The log appears empty on download unless the log is stopped which I had not yet done, so I stopped it and the download succeeded.  I wore the HR monitor on this hike, and it was nice to have a minute-by-minute capture of my heart rate, altitude and distance.  I saved the log file on my hard drive to include in my report later.

Flash forward one month: I am preparing my Field Report and go back to use the log file I saved for this hike to include in my report.  Horrors!  I get an error message every time I try and open it with the application saying that it is not in the proper format for use with the program.  Rats.

Tortolita Mountains

In early December I moved my worldly possessions from my temporary housing in Tucson into my new house.  Somewhere during the move I misplaced the telemetry USB for the watch.  I don't think I actually lost it, but I've looked in all the places I thought it would be and cannot find it.  This actually brings up one of the challenges of a complex system like this: it's hard to keep track of all the piece parts.  The heart rate monitor band is hard to lose as it's pretty big, but it's not always where I look for it before going on a hike or run.  The USB adapter is quite tiny, and in most circumstances would be left plugged into the computer and therefore not likely to get lost, but I mostly use laptops and I don't keep my USB peripherals plugged in at all times.

The good news about losing the USB adapter is that it forced me to learn how to examine the log directly from the watch.  It's really pretty easy: go to the Log function, use the two buttons on the right to scroll up/down to the log of interest, press and hold the Mode button, press Mode again to select View, then use the two buttons on the right to scroll up/down through the parameters of interest.  They are all there: min/max altitude, distance, min/max/average heart rate, etc.  There's even a cool facility to scroll through the log data on the watch, with the log graphically displayed.

On the Tortolita Mountains hike I was careful to calibrate the altimeter before departure -- I set the current altitude to the same as my GPS.  As can be seen from the trip table at the beginning of the Field Report, the altitude min/max was quite close to that from the GPS/topo map.

Daily Use

During the last two months I wore the watch every day for ordinary use.  It makes a great normal watch: the time is easy to read, I like having the day of the week and date visible without pushing any buttons.  One thing I have noticed is I must be inadvertently bumping the S/S button, as more often than not the upper display line has been altered to displaying the altitude or air pressure graph.

I was in a training class a few weeks ago and wanted to use the stopwatch capability in the class to time a team exercise.  It was a little frustrating to fumble with the buttons under stress and time pressure; this is a complex device, and I found it difficult to remember the incantations required to get the watch to do what I wanted when I was not thinking clearly.

Conclusions

This is a great watch for serious athletes (which I am not): it collects every piece of data imaginable I would want in a training log.  The following sections comment on some of the functions I used.

Compass

Compass accuracy

In the above picture the watch compass and a typical backpacking compass are compared.  Note that the Suunto on the right has not been compensated for magnetic declination, so comparing the north pointers of both instruments seems reasonably close.  Clearly the TraiLeader Pro cannot be used for precision work using a map, but for getting the general direction of where I am going it worked just fine.

Thermometer

Thermometers

In the above picture a rough comparison of the watch thermometer and my poor excuse for a field thermometer are shown.  It seems like the watch was reading a bit higher, but I didn't have the watch off my wrist for all that long before snapping the photo, so chances are it was still adjusting to air temperature.  Obviously the analog temperature gauge on the right is of dubious accuracy.

I really wish that watch manufacturers could come up with a way of reading ambient air instead of wrist temperature.  I know that it is difficult, otherwise it would have already been done.  The bottom line is that the temperature readout from the watch is only useful when I'm not wearing it.

Timekeeping

It's a great watch.  I used it every day.  I liked the dual time zone mode.  I generally do not use an alarm clock to wake up, and did not use that function of the TraiLeader Pro.  The chronometer/stopwatch works pretty typical to other sports watches, but I always wrestle with getting them to work right as the watch seems to want to record splits for laps, and I never do.

Altimeter/barometer

The altimeter worked reasonably well, but I didn't always remember to recalibrate before setting off on a hike.  I do like the altitude logging, but I have not yet learned to used the various altitude statistics the watch is capable of generating.

The barometer, though used in the altimeter function, never really captured my attention, nor did the related weather-predicting function.  The weather in Tucson is pretty steady, if I was still living in Minnesota I'd probably pay more attention to it.

Pedometer

The pedometer worked as well as I could expect a pedometer that measures steps to work.  I've grown accustomed to logging my hikes with my GPS, which is much more accurate.  I did use the TraiLeader Pro on several running/jogging outings, but the watch has a separate calibration for running stride that I have not set yet, nor did I remember to take my GPS with me on my runs to do so.  Hopefully I will remember to do this in the next two months of use!

Heart Rate Monitor

Very nice.  I liked being able to quickly check my pulse on canyon climbs.  The chest strap is quite comfortable, and I liked that there is no on/off switch to think about.  Just snap it on and go.  I can see where the heart rate logging would be useful, but I am not knowledgeable enough to have much use for most of the information.  I did like being able to quickly get my min/max/average heart rate from a hike or run directly from the log display.

Overall, things I like so far:

  • I like having all the data at my beck and call.  I particularly enjoy the three-line display so I can see more data without pushing a bunch of buttons to get to it.
  • The PC interface capability is very nice.  I liked being able to download the log files from the watch and save them to a disk file for posterity.  I do the same thing with my GPS so I have a record of all my hikes.
  • The watch is very comfortable.  Its lightweight and easy to get on and off.

Things I'd like to see improved:

  • It seems a shame that the stride length does not allow fractions for greater accuracy.
  • Rather than going to the Tech4O website to calculate my stride length, it would make sense to me if after a trip I could simply enter in my real distance and it could do the math (which it could easily do since it does so many calculations already) using the stored step count.  That would allow me to instantly recalibrate in the field with minimal data entry.  It seems rather silly to go to the website and enter numbers that are already in the watch.
  • Allow the upper display line to shift to displays other than the name of the mode (e.g. "Dual") when possible rather than wasting the display space on the mode name.
  • Simplify dual timezone settings by having me specify an offset in half-hour increments from local time rather than an arbitrary time.
  • I'd like to see "start hike" and "end hike" functions that combine several things that I find it difficult to remember to do.  The "start hike" could zero the log and ask for an altimeter calibration.  The "end hike" could freeze the altimeter reading so stationary changes in air pressure don't show up as altitude changes, and it could also stop logging.
  • The S/S button is too easily accidentally pressed causing the upper line of the display to change modes.  It's nice to have easy-to-press buttons, but this one seems a little too easy to press when not intended by bumping things, and it has an immediate impact on the display. 
  • Lots of pieces that can get misplaced, like the USB adapter.
  • The PC software is a bit confusing, and had problems reading a log that I had saved a month beforehand.

Long Term report

Use for Running

As the morning weather warmed up this spring and the sun started coming up early enough to run before going to work, I began reasonably regular morning runs.  Most mornings the TraiLeader Pro and its heart rate monitor accompanied me.  I have been impressed with the battery longevity considering there is no power on/off for the sensor strap.  I've found the strap easy to get on and off on a regular basis.

I did have one run when I thought the battery failed as the monitor was no longer registering my pulse.  The strap must have shifted a bit, and with a little readjustment it was working again.  I have found that a quick lick of the sensor before strapping it on does help it to begin sensing.

Calibration for Running Stride Length

The following table shows my running stride length calibration experimentation with the watch.


Sunday, February 7, 2010
GPS distance
3.22 mi ( 5.18 km)
Steps
5190
Calculated stride length
39.31 in (100 cm)
Run distance from log
3.763 mi ( km)
Stride length setting set after run
39 in

I had good intentions of doing this calibration several times, but I never seemed to both have my GPS on the run and turn on the watch logging.  Too many pieces of gear to keep straight early in the morning!

Long Term Report Test Conditions

Date
Saturday February 27, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Wednesday March 3, 2010
Friday March 5, 2010
Saturday March 6,  2010
Saturday March 27, 2010
Sunday March 28, 2010
Location
Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, Arizona
Tortolita Mountains, northwest of Tucson, Arizona
Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, Arizona.  Pima Canyon.
Chiricahua Mountains, southeastern corner of Arizona.  Echo loop trail in the Chiricahua National Monument.
Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, Arizona.  Bug Spring Trail.
Santa Catalina Mountains, just north of Tucson, Arizona.  Sutherland trail.
Tortolita Mountains, northwest of Tucson, Arizona
Terrain
High desert, somewhat forested, mountains
High desert
Deep mountain canyon with many stream crossings
High desert, well-maintained but rocky trail
High desert with some forest, many stream crossings
High desert foothills, several stream crossings
High desert
Altitude range (from GPS/topo map)
5400 ft to 7200 ft (1646 m to 2195 m)
2400 ft to 2900 ft (732 m to 884 m)
2900 ft to 3400 ft (884 m to 1036 m)
6050 ft to 6800 ft (1844 m to 2073 m)
5850 ft to 6300 ft (1783 m to 1920 m)
not recorded, around 2800 ft (850 m)
2400 ft to 2900 ft (732 m to 884 m)
Altitude range (from watch)
n/a
3044 ft to 3724 ft (928 m to 1135 m)
3270 ft to 3717 ft (997 m to 1133 m)
6271 ft to 7126 ft (1911 m to 2172 m)
not logged
not logged (log full)
not logged (log full)
Altimeter calibrated prior to departure?
no
no
no
I *thought* I did, but the watch altitude range doesn't match the GPS very well
n/a
no
no
Distance (from GPS)
6.0 miles (9.66 km)
4.2 miles (6.76 km)
3.3 miles (5.31 km)
3.3 miles (5.31 km)
4.0 miles (6.44 km)
estimated at 3 miles (5 km)
estimated at 3 miles (5 km)
Distance (from watch)
n/a
6.34 miles (10.21 km)
3.913 miles (6.3 km)
3.766 miles (6.06 km)
not logged
not logged
not logged
Temperature range
52 F to 65 F (11 C to 18 C)
70 F (21 C)
65F to 70 F (18 C to 21 C)
60 F (16 C)
50 F to 60 F (10 C to 16 C)
60 F (16 C)
65F to 70 F (18 C to 21 C)

One of my take-aways from the above table is that I struggled to remember to calibrate the altimeter before leaving on a hike, which resulted in some pretty good discrepancies between what I logged with my GPS versus what the watch recorded due to daily barometric pressure fluctuations.  On the Chiricahua hike I *thought* I remember calibrating it before departure, but perhaps I remembered wrongly as the altitude range still diverged substantially from my GPS topo map recordings.

Santa Rita Hike - Thermometer Observations

This was a climb up the Old Baldy Trail and down the Super Trail.  The upper 1/3 or so of the hike was all in the snow.  As I was walking, I took the watch off my wrist and held it by the strap to try and get an idea of what the temperatures were like.  It seemed to equilibrate around 52 F (C).  I didn't start the log until after we started climbing, and the log filled up about 1/2 down the Super Trail, so I was not able to correlate with my GPS readings.  It was nice to have an idea of how the temperatures were varying, but it was not convenient to carry the watch, and I was only carrying a lumbar pack so I didn't have a nice spot to strap it to.

Other Hikes

The other hikes didn't have any particularly significant activities associated with the watch, other than on the last few Catalina hikes I forgot to turn on the log before I departed, or the log was full.  Too many things to remember.  A few pictures of the watch on the trail follow:

Chiricahuas
TraiLeader Pro with altitude display in the Chiricahua National Monument

Catalinas
TraiLeader Pro with altitude display in the Santa Catalina Mountains overlooking the city of Tucson

Tech40 among the poppies
TraiLeader Pro with date & time display and Mexican poppies in bloom in the background

Tortolitas
TraiLeader Pro with barometer and weather display in the Tortolitas, and a pretty Silver Cholla in the background

Weather prediction indicator: the display above on the top of the watch face indicates the TraiLeader Pro was predicting sunny weather (safe bet for Tucson!). Indeed, this agreed well with the National Weather Service calling for sunny skies for the next 3 days.  I glanced at the weather prediction several times during the test period, and in general it agreed quite well with the forecast.

Log Displays

The bad news: I still have not found the USB PC wireless interface.  The good news: it forced me to learn how to access and use the log files from the watch face.
logs
All 17 log files from my last run before filing this report

In the above photo a composite image shows all 17 log files from my last logged run.  The date on the log file is on the main log display, and not pictured above.  I believe the log memory filled up before the end of the run, so the entire data set was not recorded.  This was the 11th log file stored in the watch.  The pictures show the incredible detail of information that is available for any given trip when the log function is used.  Note the wide range of max and minimum temperatures shown in the last two images.  I started the log with the watch off of my wrist, so the minimum temperature was the ambient, and the maximum temperature was my peak wrist skin temperature.

Time Accuracy

After just over 4 months wearing the watch without re-calibrating the time I checked it against the NIST standard.  The TraiLeader Pro had fallen behind about 1 minute and 20 seconds over that time period, or about 80 seconds.  That is approximately 1/2 second loss per day, not bad at all.  I consider that very acceptable long-term accuracy for a watch.

Untested Features

After 4 months with the watch I never really used the chronometer/lap timer.  I do run, but not on a track, so lap times are not really useful to me.  I did not really use the compass as much as I thought I would.  Maybe that is because in the areas where I've been hiking lately there are very prominent mountain ranges that are easily recognized, and except in some of the higher elevations there is no "green tunnel", so I am able to orient myself reasonably well without consulting a compass.  I also rarely used the barometer; I guess in Tucson where the sun comes out about 360 days/year, it is just not that much of an issue.

That said, I would not remove any of these features from the watch.  If I was a on a long trail in a northerly climate I would find the barometer and the compass useful.  I also have a running track at a school near my home that I hope to use in the future, and the lap timer will come in handy someday.

Final Assessment

My opinions did not significantly change in the last 2 months since the Field Report, and my summary there still holds.  My bottom line is that I will continue to wear the TraiLeader Pro for the foreseeable future as my main watch, both for everyday use and for hiking and backpacking.  I like this watch a lot.  A few updates:

Likes:
  • Good battery life on the watch and heart rate monitor
  • Still looks good after 4 months of daily wear
  • The heart rate monitor works great for running.  I like to see my pulse rate and the % of max rate at the same time, nice feature.
  • I really liked the ability to view the summary log data at the end of a run or hike with just a few button presses.  This is a very easy way of keeping trip statistics.
Issues:
  • My biggest irritation continues to be accidental bumping of the start/stop button causing a shift in the top line display.  It is not a big deal to correct this, just a minor annoyance.

Many thanks to Tech4O and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.



Read more reviews of Silva gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Silva Tech 40 Trail Leader Pro > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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