Last week Cotswold Outdoor sent me to the Edale valley in the Peak District for three days of training courtesy of Garmin, GoPro, Suunto and Powertraveller…
The course I attended was based at our popular destination the Edale Youth Hostel and consisted of half a day of theory then one and a half days out on the hills getting used to the GPS Units and watches, followed by a final couple of sessions learning everything you need to know about GoPros and Powermonkeys.
Of the watches I was most impressed with the Suunto Vector for its ease of use – it is not a GPS watch but having the barometric altimeter available at a moment’s notice to verify your position is very useful when leading a group, and for the serious adventurer the barometer will record three days of pressure readings, allowing you to predict weather patterns on extended backcountry trips. As long as you have got a map to hand the altimeter and compass on this rugged watch make it the ideal navigational extra.
Of the GPS units the Garmin 64s and the Oregon 650 were the most fully featured. They receive signals from both the GPS and GLONASS satellites which means you’ll pick up a signal extremely quickly and accurately. The 64s navigated me to within a meter of a geocache on Mam Tor, which gives me great faith in the Unit.
Even the more basic models Garmin do (the eTrex 10, 20 and 30) gave us a fast, accurate reading and are an excellent aid to navigation. We found the small screen size restrictive, so we were still referring to maps fairly often, but they are excellent for instant verification of your position. Even if you don’t like referring to a GPS constantly just leave them recording your walk in your bag so you can pull up your “Trip Computer” at the end of your day to see your distance, speed, elevation gained and lost and much, much more.
The Fenix 2 watch deserves a mention. It is the GPS watch that does everything! It will navigate you to your destination, predict the weather, analyse your workout and even display your smartphone notifications when synced with your phone over wifi – so leave the phone safely in your bag knowing you won’t miss an urgent message.
I was really pleased to have hands-on time with GoPro and Powertraveller products. The GoPro Hero 3+ Black is unbeatable for image quality and the features available – it does everything we could think of! The only downside is the battery life – at 1.5hours filming at its full resolution of 4K (or 2.5hrs at 1080p) you’ll need a spare battery (£19.99) or one of Powertraveller’s famous devices to keep filming for anything more than a half-day session. GoPro’s app to give you live-streaming to your phone or tablet is very user-friendly and their free editing software (GoPro Studio) is easy to get to grips with.
Powertraveller brought along a huge array of products for us to look at. For the image conscious there is the sleek and shiny Discoverer, for the casual adventurer the aptly named Adventurer does the perfect job. For longer trips the Extreme has a huge battery and a large solar panel and if you’re contemplating crossing the Antartic anytime soon the Powertraveller Expedition will keep you going – it can be charged with a solar panel, it’s wind turbine or a hand crank and is completely and utterly waterproof.
Kit I am going to get then: Suunto Vector, GoPro Hero3+ Black and the Powertraveller Extreme. As for GPS – I’m not sure we’re ready to deck the Unit out with GPS handsets yet but it will be the eTrex 10 or 20 when we do.
Thanks to Garmin, Suunto, GoPro and Powertraveller for really enjoyable and informative three days in a beautiful part of the country.