Altimeters have been used regularly by mountaineers for a number of years, but the latest type of electronic altimeters, of a size and shape similar to a man’s wristwatch has now meant that the instrument is easier to use and has become more popular with walkers and climbers. An altimeter is essentially a barometer, measuring altitude by sensing air pressure changes. The altitude measured can indicate the distance you have travelled vertically or how near you are to certain map contour lines. Like a barometer, the altimeter can also help in predicting weather. Wrist model altimeters will often have thermometers, clocks and alarms or tendency graphs – these latter record changes over time and are good for predicting weather changes.
There are several factors that affect the accuracy of the altimeter: the differences in composition of the air (mainly differences in humidity. That is, the amount of water vapour held in the atmosphere) leading to barometric drift, and also affected by temperature changes. The altimeter will register for the same height change a greater pressure change during cold conditions than it will under higher temperatures. As the altimeter works by converting the pressure changes it measures into height change it will record a greater height under cold conditions than under hot ones even though the height ascended will be the same. Better quality altimeters allow the user to enter differences in temperature to make the readings more accurate.
There is a range of electronic altimeters and associated electronic components available for the measurement of altitude and pressure not all of them of huge cost. For example, there are several clever hi-tech instruments such as the Casio G shock wrist instrument, which orients itself to the country you are in, is solar powered and has altimeter, barometer and thermometer functions for around £130.
GPS – Global Positioning System has become a major must-have resource for mountaineers and walkers and anyone that like going off the beaten track. The GPS is a radio receiver that sense signals from special satellites orbiting the earth in order to track your location. These instruments work just about anywhere on the planet and [...]
Hydration systems (technospeak for water carriers) are pretty essential gear for most outdoor activities and many folks find out the hard way that they don’t look after themselves, and unless you fancy drinking water from a carrier teeming with bacteria and mould you will need to keep your drinking carrier and water bottles clean. There’s [...]
There are long lists of equipment designed for people who are going off the beaten track and sometimes famous adventurers design and market their own. For example, Bear Grylls compact fire starter is just the basic tool that works without fuel and is small enough to take anywhere. This canny and brilliantly conceived equipment consists [...]
Snowshoeing is becoming more and more popular as a winter activity because anyone can do it without years of lessons and it opens up winter activities away from the piste. It is fairly easy to choose snowshoes because there are only a few different sizes for each different use. There are snowshoes designed for women, [...]
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