I love gadgets. I always have. Gadgets are handy little devices that usually aren’t necessary, but are still fun to have along for the ride. The Highgear Terrapod ($70) is a gadget, and a rugged one at that. I've gotten along fine on backpacking journeys for years without the Terrapod, but now that I have it, I won’t go without it.
Highgear calls the Terrapod a “weather station." I wouldn't count on it like you might the Weather Channel, though. The Terrapod has a thermometer, a barometer, and an icon that is suppose to give a 12-hour forecast according to the barometer readings. The icon will either show sunny, cloudy, or rainy. It mostly displayed cloudy, even when skies were clear, on a hike up Frary's Peak on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. I wouldn't rely on the icon for the forecast but the thermometer is accurate and great for those who wonder "How hot could it possibly be out here?!?"
The Terrapod has many more functions than just weather: an altimeter, digital compass, clock, alarm, backlight, and an LED map light. The altimeter was my favorite feature and the Terrapod is a more economical way to get an altitude reading than using one of the many expensive altimeter watches on the market. By comparing Salt Lake's posted altitude and posted summit height, I found that my Terrapod was consistently off by only about 100 feet.
The Terrapod is about the size of your palm, water resistant to 30 meters, and rugged, but not too heavy. To give the Terrapod a true test, I took it on a descent of the South Fork of the American River in California. After 11 miles of getting banged around and drenched from Class III+ rapids, the Terrapod did not skip a beat. I was impressed by its durability.
Additional features include a low battery indicator, a user replaceable battery, and a strong, folding stand. The stand lies flat, making it very convenient to attach the Terrapod to your belt or pack with a carabiner. It does not update its display (altitude, compass, etc) as quickly as I hoped, needing a few seconds to display its accurate determination. This is fine for a backpacker like me, but not ideal for cyclists or other quick-moving athletes.
In reality, a weather station isn’t terribly necessary in my native Northern California (where the only rain comes during two months of the year), but the combination of all the included features make this a gadget that I will be toting with me on all my future journeys.
--Between law school and working for the U.S. Attorney's Office as a Misdemeanor Prosecutor, Gear Army reviewer Brian Miller finds time to hike California's Marin Headlands or the Sierra Nevada. Occasionally,though, Miller makes it out of his home state to his true love, LatinAmerica, where he puts travel adventure gear to the test.
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