Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $173 - $199 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Nice display, inexpensive, easy to read in intense light.
Cons: Doesn't have as many features.
Best Uses: Mountaineering, backpacking, trekking, ski touring.
On the market for 10+ years, the extremely popular Vector is a tried and true altimeter watch at a great price. It has few frills but has all the features you actually need and use. At $200 is $100 less than the Suunto Core or the Casio Pathfinder PAG240t-7. It is the winner of our Best Buy award and is almost as good as the Suunto Ambit2, which won our Editors' Choice.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Suunto alarms weren't very loud and we had to put the watch close to our head to make sure it woke us up. The Vector has a stopwatch and a timer and during either of these functions you can see the current time.
The Vector measures elevation in 10-foot or 3-meter intervals, which puts it in the middle of the competition in our tests. We love the altitude log. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is one of the features we use most. For up to 24 hours, the watch logs your total ascent, descent and number of runs. For skiers, it will log how many laps you take. For hikers and backpackers, it tells you true vertical gained. The only bummer is the log only goes for 24 hours where the Core goes for seven days.
The Vector uses a small two part graph in the upper left corner of the screen to help you follow weather patterns. What does this mean to you? Well, for folks at most middle latitudes (lower 48 United States) in a 12-hour period if you loose four millibars then its going to storm; minus six millibars, then its going to storm pretty bad, eight or more millibars, you might as well go home because you are going to get pounded. Unfortunately it doesn't work the other way for predicting good weather. While this graph was cool, the graph on the both the Casio Pathfinder models was way better.
Similar to its competition, the Vector has a compass with adjustable declination and you can set it to help you record and follow compass bearings. In all the models we tested if you are doing more serious off trail travel we wouldn't bring this as your only compass, but it's fine for people who just need a general point of reference.
Same as the Ambit2, the Vector is good from -5F to 140F compared with both Pathfinder models, which range from 14F to 140F. With all of these watches to get an accurate reading the watch must be off your wrist for some time in order for your body heat to completely dissipate from the device.
Ease of use and interface
The interface appears complicated at first and it's a little harder to navigate through than all the other watches we tested. But after to some time you get used to it. The mode button navigates you through the primary menu and the Start/Stop button navigates you through all the options within that menu. For example, the alarm, stopwatch, and timer are all under the Time function on the menu. There are also + and - symbol buttons to further help you navigate.
Except at night, the display was the easiest to see, even during low or intense light. But at night, the back light is one of the low performers in our tests.
The Vector HR, $300, also offers heart rate monitoring during your outdoor adventure. It also comes in Vector HR - Dark Green and Vector HR - White.
— Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: October 21, 2014
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