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Gear Guy

Does anybody make a slimmer altimeter watch?

I'm a woman with very small wrists and have had great difficulty locating an altimeter watch that I can actually wear. Are there any smaller altimeter watches out there designed for women? Tally Rockford, Illinois

A: The short answer is: No. Just about all altimeter watches that I'm aware of are pretty bulky. That would include the Suunto Vector ($199), Casio Pathfinder ($150), and the Avocet Vertech ($160). Nike's ACG Ascent ($199) is a little trimmer looking than the others, but still not real petite. Some day someone will tackle the size issue on these things, but it hasn't happened yet.

Alternatives? One good one, I think. Suunto's E203 ($140) is a handheld altimeter that is designed so it hangs comfortably from a neck lanyard or slips into a pocket. So, it won't fit on the wrist at all, and isn't meant to. I understand that may be a drawback, but if you are willing to sacrifice that aspect, then you get an excellent altimeter that is really easier to read and use than the wrist-mounted ones, with better button position and a bigger LCD screen. The E203 has everything you'd want-readouts to 29,000 feet in as little as three-foot increments, barometric pressure, temperature, vertical waypoints you can set and more. And it's water-resistant. Really, a very nice unit.

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