Activity monitors are all the rage these days. But, to be honest, most feel more like cute accessories than practical personal devices. I’ve previously tested others including Microsoft’s Band (and liked it, by the way). But I’ve always found them a bit too … basic.
Until recently, it seemed the only viable alternative was to splurge for something like the near-$600 Garmin Fenix 5. And, frankly, I’m not that concerned with my activity.
Which is how I found myself digging the TomTom Adventurer — an activity monitor that’s billed, first and foremost, as an “Outdoor GPS Watch.” In addition to just monitoring your heartbeat and sleep patterns, it boasts a wealth of outdoor-centric features designed for more adventurous folks. And the $300-ish price tag is in the sweet spot that I’ve been looking for.
Most activity monitors target desk jockeys and “average” folk. TomTom’s Adventurer is aimed squarely at those who appreciate more active pursuits. Whether that means hiking, biking, swimming, snowboarding, skiing, or rock climbing.
I was hard-pressed to find an elevator pitch summary of the product, but its main selling points (in addition to the usual array of activity monitor features) include:
- Dedicated outdoor sport modes: trail running (3D distance, altitude, total ascent), hiking (3D distance, altitude, altitude delta, total ascent, increased battery life, 24-hour GPS activity), skiing and snowboarding (3D distance, altitude, total descent, max speed, gradient, lift detection, run counter)
- Equipped with barometer and compass
- Automatically detects runs and provides key data on the slopes
- Integrated music player with Bluetooth speakers, 3GB of storage (up to 500 songs)
- 24/7 activity tracking
The Traveler’s Take
Straight out of the box, the orange wristband looks like a sporty little “toy.” But, the device’s solid feel and clean, modern display quickly dispelled my first impression. It’s clearly well made and not your average activity monitor.
For hikers (my main point of interest), the Adventurer offers a wealth of key features that make it indispensable. The combined GPS, compass, and barometer tracking features provide real-time stats on altitude, vertical drop, 3D distance, and speed. What’s more: they’re all conveyed via a large, bold, easy-to-read front panel that requires only a glance at your wrist.
The biggest win, however, is the trail exploration feature. Hikers can preload GPX routes directly to the watch via TomTom’s web app and follow along as they trek. If that sounds potentially cumbersome, it’s actually quite simple and the ability to track hikes in real-time is invaluable. The only downsides I noticed were the curious (but required) compass calibration and the lag time for the Adventurer to find a GPS signal. Not deal-breakers, for sure. But, notable nevertheless.
The TomTom Adventurer boasts all the features most users expect in an activity monitor. In short order: a watch, pedometer, built-in heart rate monitor, and automatic lift detection. Battery life is also solid: expect 7-10 days of normal activity tracking and five hours of GPS tracking.
It also features 3GB of onboard media storage which is good for about 500 songs. TomTom’s hope is that you’ll transfer your favorite songs to the device and leave your phone at home. For me, the feature feels more like a novelty. I’d rather just carry my smartphone with me and not bother with syncing yet another mobile device to my computer (in addition to two smartphones and a tablet). But, that’s my personal preference, rather than a specific “flaw” in the device. That said, the included Bluetooth headphones sound great, are comfortable, and paired quickly and easily with the Adventurer straight out of the box.
Pricing + Availability
Available now in black or orange for around $300 USD directly from TomTom.
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