In advance, the functions of an altimeter are related to extreme sports practices oriented, in any case, to users already experienced in the world of adventure, climbing, or even more minor disciplines such as skydiving.
However, this device’s uses are very diverse. It can be a good ally for much more common activities available to any lover of the countryside or the mountains.
As a historical note, note that the altimeter was invented in the 1920s by the German engineer Paul Kollsman. It was first used for measurements in 1929.
What is it, and what is it for
As is clear from its name, it is a device used for measuring altitudes. Determine the difference between your highest place and a landmark, generally sea level.
They can also be described as reconverted barometers calibrated to translate pressure into altitude measurements.
As can be deduced, his first assignments were linked to aviation. However, its versatility is very high at present, and it can be used for many different outdoor activities.
We highlight some: skiing, climbing, hiking, mountaineering, skydiving, and aviation, as we have already mentioned.
How does it work
While we explain how it works, we establish different types:
1. Barometric: The most used in aviation. Use atmospheric pressure to define altitude (higher altitude, lower pressure).
The higher quality versions of these types withstand climatic variations. That is, they assume climatic variation in such a way that it does not influence the measurement.
They use sea level pressure (1013 hectopascals (hPa)) as a measurement parameter.
Consequently, on long-distance trips, they must be calibrated periodically. They are uneven in your data with pronounced height changes.
2. Radioelectric: Also known as radar altimeters. They are more precise and faster than pressure ones.
They are carried primarily by supply or firefighting aircraft that need to fly at a very low altitude to be effective in their work.
They work in a similar way to radar. Its measurement begins with firing a beam of electromagnetic waves and ends when the tide returns or is reflected.
3. GPS: Uses satellites in space to determine the altitude of an object. It is a ubiquitous alternative in those used in conventional outdoor activities.
Advantages and disadvantages
Among the first, we can distinguish the following:
- Know at all times the exact measurement of the height at which you are
- Highly recommended for orientation in natural spaces
- Ease of use
- With technological advances, it can be synchronized with devices such as smartphones.
In the case of drawbacks:
- Influence of meteorological conditions on measurements
- If they are virtual devices, they will not be suitable for extreme conditions.
- They do not typically incorporate touch screens
What to keep in mind
- Use: It is essential to choose the device according to the help we will give it. As is overwhelming logic, there is nothing to do with a specific aerial sport, one than one for hiking, to put two extreme cases.
For example, if you practice skydiving, the most convenient thing is a radio altimeter, while for excursions in nature, you can opt for barometric. Whether or not it incorporates GPS will largely depend on the accuracy of the measurements and how they are displayed on the device.
- Versatility: Many models already have different options as standard to increase versatility. Thus, in addition to altimeter functions, they can act, for example, as a barometer, thermometer, or compass.
- Resistant: The manufacturing material is essential given that it is a device that will be used most of the time in natural areas and, most likely, in adverse weather conditions.
- Autonomy: Normally, the choice is that of this type of utensil: either with battery or with disposable batteries. They usually bring long-lasting batteries, and this is advisable. Therefore, it is a factor to take into account as well.
- Connectivity: One of the exciting alternatives is that it has the possibility of Bluetooth synchronizing the altimeter with the smartphone.
- Very versatile: Vbest life FR500
A device in which optimal qualities converge, such as its digital viewer, its versatility, small size, and price that is not the cheapest, will compensate if the product is used frequently.
Despite its limited surface, the catalog of data it provides is very extensive in each of its functions, and there are not a few.
Thus, the altimeter adds its capabilities as a compass, barometer, or hygrometer to measure the relative humidity at all times.
Besides, it includes extras to consider for its usefulness, such as a weather forecast or a small flashlight that can be very practical in a hurry.
As can be deduced, its versatility when measuring is also transferred to areas where it can be a most effective device.
We can point out, as examples, hiking, climbing, hunting, or simply camping in the open air.
So comfortable to wear that you can hang it around your neck and resistant to water, an essential quality when the weather conditions can be so decisive.
Another option with different functionalities with a newer design in aesthetics and a very economical price.
It is designed as a carabiner to be easily attached to any strap, such as a backpack, for example.
The functions and altitude measurement also incorporate the barometer, weather forecast, thermometer, and even day and time.
On the previous model, it dispenses with the compass, and the measurements suffer from less precision. In any case, its value for money is optimal.
It is not aimed at high-level amateurs, but for conventional mountain excursions, it satisfies.
The spherical digital data display is not too large, although it does incorporate a backlight to view measurements in low sunlight.
Analog version: TFA 42.4000
It was a more classic alternative at a more than affordable price with good behavior in the mountains, which it was designed for.
Versatility in functions is lost, but reliability in measurements and the device’s resistance and durability are gained.
It has a range that oscillates between sea level and 5,000 meters with divisions of 20 meters.
The calibration is carried out through a nut and is very well protected with a rubber casing that, in addition to preserving the altimeter from shocks, gives firmness to the grip.
Very resistant and expensive: Polar GRIT X
A different option is reserved for certain pockets. As can be seen, its main disadvantage is a very high price.
In return, all the features and more, including the addition of GPS, can be viewed just by looking at your wrist.
According to the manufacturer, resistance to the test of military operations and durability and proper function in the most adverse weather conditions.
Ideal to have all the parameters under control on the mountain with your compass or weather forecast as well as the measurement of heights.
Many benefits at a reasonable price: Weiyiroty
A model with its strong point in its multifunctionality, with GPS, and its moderate price, taking into account its many features.
Altitude, speed of ascent, barometer, compass, humidity. All this is a very comfortable device to carry, and that adapts well to cold temperatures.
Easy to handle despite having many functions thanks to its side button that speeds up the required changes.