ALTIMETERS | PULSE MONITORS | CYCLOMETERS
Name your game: if it takes place in steepterrain, an altimeter will come in handy, reading atmospheric pressure to determine the altitude—critical data when your compass won't give you all you need. Let's say you know your elevation and, we hope, the name of the stream you're fishing. Check your topographic map and find where the contour line for
your elevation crosses the stream. Bingo. You know your exact location.
That's nice, but the latest electronic models do more than display altitude. Some can tally the runs you've made during a day of alpine skiing and then add up your total vertical feet—powerful evidence when it comes to adjudicating bragging rights. Some track barometric trends and sound an alarm at a preset elevation to prevent you from zipping
past the point where you should veer left along a ridgeline. The more features your beeping, blinking, buzzing gizmo offers, though, the more likely it'll be that you'll have to tote the manual in your pack.
What's more, the accuracy of even the most expensive models will fluctuate with the weather, putting you at risk of altimeter-induced .embarrassment ("Hey! We're at 30,000 feet!"). The only real solution is to reset your altimeter at points of known elevation as often as possible; every hour or so would be ideal. Do that and the five units we
reviewed—four digital and one analog—should prove plenty accurate for navigation, not to mention for settling who buys the first round. —GLENN RANDALL