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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Watches > Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Timex Ironman Global Trainer w GPS

Initial Report - June 6 2011
Field Report - Aug 10 2011
Long Term Report - Oct 11 2011

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.net
Age: 45
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lb  (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

Timex

Year of Manufacture:

2011

Manufacturer’s Website:

http://www.timex.com/

MSRP:

US$300 (360 w/ Heart Rate Monitor)

Advertised Weight:

Not Listed

Measured Weight:

3 oz (85 g)

Image from Timex.com
Image courtesy of Timex.com

Product Description:

The Timex - Ironman Global Trainer w/GPS Tech watch (hereafter referred to as the watch) is intended as a training aid for athletes such as those preparing for triathlons. With its built-in GPS and optional heart rate monitor (and/or other optional sensors) it tracks, displays and/or records and array of data for measuring and evaluating an athlete’s training.  It is intended to be customizable and easy to use.

Initial Report

May 31 2011
Features
•    Customizable Display - 5 displays with up to 4 data windows each
•    USB Connected – Upload data, customize settings, and recharge the battery
•    20 Workout memory – Recall up to 20 workout sessions with performance metrics
•    Wireless Sensor Compatibility (ANT+ technology) – Works with heart rate monitor, bike speed/cadence sensor as well as other 3rd party sensors
•    Hands free automatic operation – Automatically take split/lap measurements at designated intervals (distance or time).
•    Waypoint/route storage – Record up to 50 routes, and up to 100 waypoints to back track and/or create routes.
•    PERFORMANCE PACER – Allows the user to test themselves against previous workouts.
•    50m (165 f) Water Resistant
•    Long-Life Battery – Up to 15 hrs of full GPS usage, 12 days time only mode, 1 year fully powered down

The watch on my arm showing the Time modeThe Timex Ironman web site, in addition to the basic information about the watch, contains downloadable versions of the product documentation (user manual, quick start guide, FAQ, etc) as well as some very good videos demonstrating the features, use, and configuration of the watch and some of the optional accessories. Note: information about this product can be located on both the Timex.com and the Timexirotman.com web sites. While the two sites are laid out differently as far as I can tell they contain the same information. I found the Timex.com site a bit easier to use to locate the information I was looking for while researching the product and when I wanted to learn more about it than was available in the Quick Start Guide that came in the package. The web site also contains a link to the online training software TrainingPeaks that is compatible with this product and has a free subscription as well as some paid subscriptions.

Before I get too far into the review of this product I think it is important to mention something about myself. I am a bit of a geek (an engineer by trade and by hobby), love gadgets and technology, and have a saying that “if you have to read the instructions, they did not design it right”. So I am the kind of person who, when receiving something new, will do my best to figure it out without the instructions, then later read them cover to cover (often a few times) if for no other reason than to see if there is some neat feature or trick that I might have missed. So in the initial setup and use of this product I will be relying upon the instructions only when I find them necessary, but then will study them closely in order to fully understand all the features and operation. On a related note, I tend to be very critical of non-intuitive User Interfaces (“UI”), I believe the operation of a device, software, etc. should be as obvious to users as possible. So I expect to comment when I find the UI to be notable (either good or bad).

Contents - The package I received contained the following: 1 Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS watch, 1 wireless heart rate monitor, 1 bicycle mount, 1 Quick Start Guide (in multiple languages), 1 USB cable, 1 USB wall charger.

Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) – The heart rate monitor looks like others I have used. It consists of 3 basic parts: main body, elastic strap, and 2 sensor sections (on either side of the main body). I have used a few other similar heart rate monitors and I found two things immediately noticeable about this one. First was there appears to be no way to open the strap for putting it on and taking it off (I later found this to be incorrect). I have not been able to locate any instructions so it was not until I put it on that I discovered that the main body can be disconnected from the sensor sections by way of a snap connection. The second thing I noticed is that the strap is soft and comfortable. When putting it on the first time I noticed the strap was soft on my skin and while it seems to be firm enough to stay in place, it is not constricting or uncomfortable. The main body and sensor sections lay against the skin comfortably. The first time I put it on I was impressed at how quickly it showed my heart rate. I have found it necessary to dampen the sensors of other HRM’s I have used (using water, saliva or perspiration), but this one started measuring my heart rate almost immediately. The HRM uses ANT+ technology to provide wireless communications to the watch. One feature or ANT+ is the ability to have multiple devices operating in close proximity without them interfering with each other.

Watch in review modeThe watch body and band – The watch is big. Bigger than it looks in on the web page, but about the size I was expecting given the description and its features. The buttons on the watch look to have been scaled up to match the size of the watch, so they don’t look out of place and seem quite easy to operate. The wrist strap for the watch seems like it is a normal size and rather nice. When trying it on for the first time I found it quite easy to put on, easy to get a good fit, and the clasp was easy to engage. When removing the watch I noticed the band retainer (small loop to keep the excess band from flopping around) has a small extension on the inside that holds it in place on the end of the watch band so it does not slip off accidently (a nice detail).

Setup and Configuration – NOTE: this device is highly configurable and has many features, some of which I expect I will never use and/or fully understand. For example even the power button has its own options in addition to serving double duty as the “back” button. With so many settings I will not go over every one, but only focus on the ones I find notable.  To turn the device on for the first time I held the Power button (“BACK/PWR”) for a few seconds. The device started up and went to the “PERFORMANCE MODE” (more about the modes later). I then noted the battery had a 30% charge so I plugged it in to my computer’s USB port to get it charging while I was playing with it (yeah, I am kind of impatient). I pressed the “MODE” button repeatedly until the screen displayed “CONFIGURE”, then using the “UP” and “DOWN” buttons highlighted each of the options and selected them using the “ENTER” key. Most of the options were rather intuitive and easy to figure out, but while setting the watch up for the first time I was a bit confused about how to set the time/date. After all, this is a watch, so I would think this would be a primary function. [Please note the above information about me and instructions.] It was not until I read the instructions that I had a “face-palm” moment (picture me slapping forehead and feeling foolish). In the instructions it mentions that the time and date are set via the GPS and are customized via the configuration (time zone & daylight savings). So I held the watch near a window until it obtained a GPS fix (I did not time it, but it seemed to take about 2-3 min) and then the date and time were correct. As mentioned above the PWR button has its own configurable option. It can be set so when held for a few seconds it will either turn the device off, or switch it to watch only mode (I selected watch mode). Another setting I did almost immediately was to enable and sync the heart rate monitor. After putting on the HRM (see above) I selected the SCAN option and waited until it indicated it had successfully linked to the HRM.

One of the buttons is for the “INDIGLO” light. Depressing this button momentarily will cause the screen to light up for a few seconds. Holding the button down for 4 seconds to activate the “Night-Mode” where pressing any button will activate the light for a few seconds (press for 4 seconds again to deactivate). Pressing the button for 8 seconds will activate the continuous illumination mode where the watch light will stay on continuously. Both of these features will automatically deactivate after 8 hours.

One of the few things about this product that I found less than intuitive is that the “ENTER” button is separate from the “START/SPLIT” button. The location of the start/split button (bottom center of the watch body) is in the obvious location for what I would consider the default button, and since selecting features is what I would consider a default function I automatically think to press that button. I would not call this a problem, just something that I will have to get used to, but If I were to suggest any improvement to the User Interface I would suggest using the start/stop button for the enter function.

The device uses a USB cable to charge its battery as well as transfer information to/from a computer. It can charge off of the USB port of a computer or by plugging the USB cable into the supplied USB wall charger. The instructions recommend fully charging the device before using it the first time (oops!), and mentions that it takes about 2.5 – 3.5 hrs for a full charge. I plugged mine in while configuring it and then let it charge overnight.

Screen shot of the Device Agent
MODES:
PERFORMANCE – This is the primary mode. In this mode the user can start/stop recording performance information. It has 5 customizable displays with 1-4 data windows each. The user can cycle through the windows (and time screen) by way of the UP button (note the down button also is used for the Stop and Reset functions when collecting data).  While in the PERFORMANCE MODE pressing the Enter key allows the user 3 additional configuration options. 1) configure the 5 customizable screens 2) configure up to 5 separate timers (still not clear on the use of these) and 3) configure the PERFORMANCE PACER. The PERFORMANCE PACER feature allows the user to configure one of two different pacer functions. One option is to set a distance/time pace, the other is to select an existing course (described below) that the user has traversed as the pace. During the activity one of the features of this device is that it will indicate the current performance as compared to the pacer. For example I can record a run and use it as the PERFORMANCE PACER and the device will show if my current pace is faster or slower than the established pace. Once an activity has been recorded it can be selected to be used as a course in the pacer function to allow the user to compare current performance.

MULTISPORT – This feature allows the user to configure up to 5 individual activities (sports) to be performed in a single session. For example bike, swim, run. The watch can automatically switch modes for each of the sports and record them as individual activities or as one single event. In addition to configuring the sports, this mode has the same configuration features as the PERFORMANCE MODE above.

NAVIGATE – This mode includes 5 displays. LOCATION – shows the watch's current location and altitude (when it has a GPS fix). WAYPOINTS – Save, List, or Delete waypoints (to be used to backtrack or following routes). ROUTES – The user can use stored waypoints to create routes (while in this mode the routes can be created, listed, or deleted). COMPASS – in this mode the watch will show an analog and digital reading of the user's heading as well as speed (note there must be a GPS fix and the user must be moving for this feature to function). MAP- This feature shows a map of the recorded route (since there are no street or topographical maps stored in the device this map shows the route relative to itself).

REVIEW – In the review mode I can review the statistics of any of the up to 20 previous activities that the device can store. The amount of information is a bit overwhelming and I am still trying to understand some of it so I will not go into detail on this feature at this time.

CONFIGURE – In this mode a large number of features and options for the device can be reviewed and/or changed. Among a huge array of features that can be set including external sensors, user specific information (height, weight, etc) there is a display to configure the GPS features and even show a satellite view. While waiting for a GPS to get a fix I find it helpful if I watch the process occurring so I can tell if it is making any progress or maybe just stuck. In this view I can see the device trying to track and lock on to the various satellites and get a better feel for if it is going to get a fix or if maybe I need to find a location with better visibility to the sky.

PC SYNC – This is the mode used to connect the device to a computer. On the manufacturer’s web site is a link to download the Training Peaks Device Agent software. Downloading and installing the program was easy. The Training Peaks software can be used to configure most of the configurable features of the device. I found setting it up this way to be a bit easier to do and understand. In addition to configuring the watch, this program allows me to extract and store my workouts from the watch to my computer or the TrainingPeaks.com web site. When launching the program I found it is better to have the watch connected and in the PC Sync mode. If it is not then it will be necessary to use the Refresh Ports function of the software before it will recognize the device. I will not go into the details of TrainingPeaks.com  at this time, but save that for the Field report when I have had more of a chance to use it and understand all of its feature and options.

Initial impressions:
So far I am impressed with this device. The functions and menus are rather easy to understand and laid out in what I found to be a very logical and easy to remember way. So far I have found the user guide (downloaded off of the manufacturer’s web site) to be well written, easy to understand, easy to locate what I am looking for, and I have yet to find any mistakes. The operation of the device so far has been quick and responsive. I even once got a GPS lock while indoors (in a building with no windows), so I am looking forward to seeing how this performs under trees and in canyons. Despite the size of the watch (and the fact that I have not worn a watch for about 3 years) I have found it be more comfortable that I expected, at least it is not uncomfortable. I have found the number of features and the amount of customization available to be almost overwhelming (in a good way), and I look forward to testing and understanding as many of them as I can.
Screen shot of Training Peaks


Likes:
  • Large easy to see/operate buttons
  • Easy to operate due to single and dual-function buttons (vs. having to depress multiple buttons at the same time, or navigating through a complicated hierarchy of features)
  • Descriptive, easy to understand, and uncomplicated menus
  • Water-resistant
  • Well-constructed band (firm, comfortable, and easy to operate)
Dislikes:
  • Size and limited battery life make it not something I wear every day.

Field Report

Aug 10 2011
Use
  • Mt Adams Washington State (2 trips, 3 days each) 
  • Running (2-4 times a week, 3-6 miles / 5-10 km each)
  • Two trail runs – Cowiche Canyon (Yakima Washington) 6 miles / 10 km trail run in a narrow canyon
  • One day hike Cowiche Canyon highlands (including the canyon itself)
  • One day hike near Hyak Washington (in the central Cascades) 12 miles (19 km) including a 2.3 mile (4 km) tunnel.


I will start off this section by highlighting problems and issues I have had with this product before getting into the things I like and other features and details about it.

Status bar?Soon after receiving the watch I had a few occasions where I would turn it on, wait for a GPS fix and then start an activity, than later find that it was no longer tracking my location. After this occurred a few times I contacted the Timex Customer Service about it via e-mail. I received a response within 24 hours instructing me to return the watch for repair/replacement. The website says to expect it to be 2-4 weeks before getting the watch back and that there is an US$8 charge to cover the shipping costs for warranty work. I shipped the watch back to them via 2nd Day Air and received a replacement watch within 7 days along with an invoice to pay the US$8. I was very impressed with the quick response and absolutely no-questions-asked replacement, but a bit concerned and disappointed that they provided no explanation as to what the problem or fix was. So far I have not experienced this problem since receiving the replacement; however I have had some other issues. On a few occasions (at least 4-5) I found the watch completely off. (Note: I have the device set to go into time mode rather than turn off.) Sometimes I find the watch that way, and sometimes it occurs when I attempt to turn it on. When this occurs I have found it difficult to turn the device on, on none of these occasions was the battery dead. Sometimes I can hear the device beep when attempting to turn it on but the screen remains blank, eventually if I press the power button enough I have been able to get it to turn on. In addition to this I have noticed that sometimes when attempting to turn the device on the screen will show some sort of progress bar (see photo). This has happened with both devices I have had and at first I thought maybe it was a battery level indicator, but I have yet to find a connection between this display and the actual battery level and it does not move no matter how long I wait, so it does not seem to be an indicator of any sort of background activity. If I press any button this display clears and the device seems to function normally. The current issues I am experiencing are more of an annoyance than anything and as of right now I am not willing to shell out another US$8 to send the product back for service.

Another difficulty I have had is getting the watch connected to my computer. A few times when I have attached the USB cable to the watch and my computer, I saw that the watch was charging, but I was unable to get the watch and computer to communicate. After experiencing this a few times I discovered that it is possible to connect the cable to the watch in such a way that the connectors needed to charge it are touching but not all of the connectors are making contact so it is unable to communicate. Since then I have made sure the connector is properly seated and have not had this issue.

Canyon HikeAs mentioned in my Initial Report (IR), this watch is big. While wearing the watch the size is not exceptionally uncomfortable, but I have found that I need to make sure to tighten the band tighter than I normally would for a smaller watch. I have found if I don’t have the band tight enough it will shift on my arm while running and while not painful or even uncomfortable, it is a distraction and a bit annoying. The size can also cause problems with clothing. I have had the sleeves and cuffs of shirts and jackets snag on the watch when taking them off. Also, when wearing a jacket it can be difficult to get to the watch as the cuff has to stretch quite a bit.

In my IR, I mentioned how the buttons were scaled up to match the size of the watch making them easy to operate and not look out of proportion. While I like this, I have found one minor drawback to it. On my first trip up Mt Adams, while tending to some hot spots on my feet, I must have bumped the “stop” button and found later in the day that the chronograph was only active for the first 2 hours of my climb. NOTE: despite the chronograph being stopped, the device did continue to record my ascent and only the statistics related to the chronograph were not recorded. On my second trip to Mt Adams I again found that along the way the device stopped recording, possibly due to a button being accidently pressed, but this time it stopped recording data entirely.

I am a bit disappointed in the software to support the device. I feel relying on Training Peaks is kind of a copout and that there really should be some sort of standalone software that would allow the user to save workouts, review them, and preferably manipulate the data. Training Peaks is nice, but the free access is very limited and it is not fully integrated with this device. For example while it is quite simple to upload the workouts from the watch to Training Peaks (or even save a copy on the user’s PC) it is necessary to remember which ones have been uploaded as it will not prevent me from uploading the same workout multiple times. After a few weeks of having the device I was excited at how many miles I had run, until I realized that many of the workouts had been saved 2 or more times.

The device can be configured to provide visual as well as audible alerts based upon various triggers (e.g. hourly chime, exceeding a set heart rate, at distance or time intervals, etc) as well as having an alarm function. I have found the volume level (not changeable) to be very low. As an alert during a workout I found the volume to be loud enough to be detectable while not obtrusive to others, but as an alarm I found it too quiet to be effective. I tried using the alarm to wake me on both of my Mt Adams trips and found it too quiet to wake me despite me being a very light sleeper when backpacking.

Finally, despite the watch being rather big, I have found the display can be difficult for me to read while exercising. I have found it difficult to see in bright sunlight while hiking and I have found it especially difficult while running. However I must note that I am borderline for needing reading glasses, so some of this may be due to my eyesight and not necessarily the device (getting old sucks!) so I have taken to using the 2 and 3 parameter view when running which makes it easier for me to read while in motion. So while this has been difficult for me, I find the ability to configure the screens (even during use) to change the display to show 1-4 parameters to be a good feature.

Now for some of the things I like.

Trackback in useThe first feature of this watch that I have found that I really like is the Track Back function. I am not sure what value this feature would have for running on roads or even for most trails, but I found this to be especially useful while climbing Mt Adams. The trip up on the route I take is quite clear and getting lost is unlikely. However while heading back down it can be difficult to determine what the best route is. One snow field or rocky ridge can look like many others and assuming there are tracks visible in the ice, they can be misleading. So on my way down from my first trip with this watch I quickly reached a rocky outcrop and was unsure if I needed to go down the left or right side. I could easily have gone part of the way and if necessary retraced my steps, but I was cold and tired and would prefer not to backtrack if possible. So I turned on the watch, selected the Review mode, selected the track I recorded on my way up and selected the Track Back function. By the time I had done that, the watch had already gotten a GPS fix and instantly told me that I was just to the right of the route I took up. On that trip I used this feature 3 more times with the same results. It quickly became one of my favorite features (at least for climbing). The backtrack function put me almost exactly on top of my original track (as evidenced by me finding my footprints from earlier) and says something about the GPS’s consistency if not its accuracy.

Another feature I like is the Recovery Heart Rate measurement. I had to do some research on this feature as I was unfamiliar with it and there was not much about it in the documentation. Apparently, measuring how much a person’s heart rate recovers after a workout is believed by some to be a good indicator of heart health. Having heart disease in my family, this is a constant concern for me and I was excited to find that according to the measurements I have taken so far, my heart is in good shape. Note: I had a physical examination just prior to this report and my doctor agrees with this assessment.

Depending on what I am doing, I tend to switch back and forth between metric and Imperial measurements. When running I prefer to use meters and kilometers, but miles & feet for hiking. I like that when I change the measurement function the device automatically converts the settings. For example I have it configured to alert me (and start a new lap) for every km, when I switch the device to display Imperial measurements it still alerts me at each km but displays the distance in miles. This results in consistency in the data I record regardless of what display setting I use.

Quick GPS fix under treesThe thing that has impressed me most with this device is its ability to get and hold a GPS fix. Like every GPS I have used, the longer the device is off and/or further it travels while off greatly affects

Use

Climb of Mt Adams (2 days)

One 5 mile (8 km) run

Two 10 mi (16 km) bike rides

 

I used the watch for what started out as a wonderful run while in Central California (Avila Beach). The weather was cool and calm with a bit of overcast, ideal for running. I decided to go out for a run, and since I was using the Ironman Global trainer I could simply pick whatever direction looked good, and know I could easily track my time and distance without having to pre-plan a route (a nice feature when I am unfamiliar areas). It was a great run and the device worked flawlessly (even holding lock under trees) until I injured my tendon at about the 5 mile (8 km) mark, leaving me with about a mile ( 1.6 km) of painful hobbling to get back to the condo we were staying at. Luckily I had already completed all of my planned summer backpacking trips, but this greatly curtailed my ongoing training and activities.

 

One opportunity the injury provided was that as part of my recovery I went out on two short, 10 mi (16 km), bike rides. The rides were mostly on paved roads with a bit of dirt trail. On my first ride I simply attached the watch using the bike mount that came with it to my handle bars, but found I was unable to get the strap tight enough and so during the ride the watch would twist and I had to keep moving it back into place in order to see the screen. For my second ride I wrapped a few layers of grip tape to the handlebar before mounting the watch and the watch stayed in place for the entire ride.

During the majority of my use so far I have set the watch to the “night mode” setting where the screen lights for a brief period of time when any of the buttons are pressed. This has been a good feature for me. I have a carabineer watch that I normally use when hiking but find that at night I often fumble with it trying to remember which button is for the light. With this watch in the night mode, if I accidently press the wrong button the screen still lights up and I can tell what button it was that I pressed. Since both my bike rides were after dark, I set the watch illumination to the always on night mode and was able to see the screen the entire ride without having to touch any buttons. I am not sure how long the battery would last when operated like this. But for these short rides this worked quite well.

Conclusion

While this device has had a few problems, I have found this to be a great tool for training and conditioning when not on the trail, as well as having some very useful features for backcountry travel. Overall I found this to be a feature packed device and very useful. When it comes to backpacking, I really liked some of the features, and enjoyed the convenience of some of the features, especially the trackback function. Since I had some issues with reliability it makes me hesitant to rely upon it as a primary navigation aide. However I must note that I do not believe it was ever intended to be used as a primary navigation tool for back country. For me its real strengths come into play as an aid in training. This I believe is its primary intent and where, for me, it has excelled. I found it quite useful for helping to keep in shape for backpacking and this is how I intend to continue to use it after the completion of this test. As I am writing this I am on the mend and expect to spend the next few weeks, or more, trying to heal and recover some of the conditioning I have lost since the injury. I anticipate this device to be instrumental in helping me gradually increase my activity level while I try to get back into condition while trying to avoid reinjuring myself. I also look forward to using this in the winter for some of my snow shoeing trips.

the time it takes to get an initial fix. However this time is comparable to my handheld GPS’s. When the device has been off for a short time (24 hours or less) and in the same general location, it obtains a fix in remarkably short time. For example while on Adams I could turn it on after being off for 1-3 hours to use the track back feature and found it would have a position fix by the time I was able to select the feature and the track to be used. While on a recent family camping trip I had the device turned off for about 24 hours and despite being under pine trees (see photo) it obtained a fix within a few seconds of being turned on. I have yet to see the device lose GPS fix unless I enter a building or go underground. Using the device under a canopy of pine trees and in a narrow canyon has not been a problem.

There are many more features in this device, some of which I have not used and/or do not fully understand, others I have omitted in order to keep this report from being too long.

Overall I really like the device as a tool for training and found it useful for short backpacking trips (the 15-hour battery life is the primary limit). So far the limited battery life has not been a problem, but by the end of each of my multi-day outings the charge of the battery was at 20% or lower. The device still seems to have some software bugs that are mostly annoyances and my hope is that Timex will provide software updates that will address them. My experience as noted above is that Timex is providing good support, replacing the device, but despite replacing it once it still seems to have some issues. I look forward to continuing to use it in my training and will be taking it along on at least two more climbs of Mt Adams as well as any other hiking/backpacking I do.

Long Term Report

Oct 11 2011
Use
Climb of Mt Adams (2 days)
One 5 mi (8 km) run
Two 10 mi (16 km) bike rides

I used the watch for what started out as a wonderful run while in Central California (Avila Beach). The weather was cool and calm with a bit of overcast, ideal for running. I decided to go out for a run, and since I was using the Ironman Global trainer I could simply pick whatever direction looked good, and know I could easily track my time and distance without having to pre-plan a route (a nice feature when I am in unfamiliar areas). It was a great run and the device worked flawlessly (even holding lock under trees) until I injured my tendon at about the 5 mile (8 km) mark, leaving me with about a mile ( 1.6 km) of painful hobbling to get back to the condo we were staying at. Luckily I had already completed all of my planned summer backpacking trips, but this greatly curtailed my ongoing training and activities.

bike mountOne opportunity the injury provided was that as part of my recovery I went out on two short, 10 mi (16 km), bike rides. The rides were mostly on paved roads with a bit of dirt trail. On my first ride I simply attached the watch using the bike mount that came with it to my handle bars, but found I was unable to get the strap tight enough and so during the ride the watch would twist and I had to keep moving it back into place in order to see the screen. For my second ride I wrapped a few layers of grip tape to the handlebar before mounting the watch and the watch stayed in place for the entire ride.
During the majority of my use so far I have set the watch to the “night mode” setting where the screen lights for a brief period of time when any of the buttons are pressed. This has been a good feature for me. I have a carabineer watch that I normally use when hiking but find that at night I often fumble with it trying to remember which button is for the light. With this watch in the night mode, if I accidently press the wrong button the screen still lights up and I can tell what button it was that I pressed. Since both my bike rides were after dark, I set the watch illumination to the always on night mode and was able to see the screen the entire ride without having to touch any buttons. I am not sure how long the battery would last when operated like this. But for these short rides this worked quite well.

Conclusion
While this device has had a few problems, I have found this to be a great tool for training and conditioning when not on the trail, as well as having some very useful features for backcountry travel. Overall I found this to be a feature packed device and very useful. When it comes to backpacking, I really liked some of the features, and enjoyed the convenience of some of the features, especially the trackback function. Since I had some issues with reliability it makes me hesitant to rely upon it as a primary navigation aide. However I must note that I do not believe it was ever intended to be used as a primary navigation tool for back country. For me its real strengths come into play as an aid in training. This I believe is its primary intent and where, for me, it has excelled. I found it quite useful for helping to keep in shape for backpacking and this is how I intend to continue to use it after the completion of this test. As I am writing this I am on the mend and expect to spend the next few weeks, or more, trying to heal and recover some of the conditioning I have lost since the injury. I anticipate this device to be instrumental in helping me gradually increase my activity level while I try to get back into condition while trying to avoid reinjuring myself. I also look forward to using this in the winter for some of my snow shoeing trips where I expect being able to track my time/distance will be helpful as will the track back function.


This concludes my report. I would like to thank the folks at Timex and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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