Garmin Foretrex 101

I was able to test the Garmin Foretrex 101, a nifty lightweight wrist-mounted GPS (Global Positioning System) unit, under actual conditions for the first time during the recent Makiling climb. Although it doesn’t have loadable maps, it does have most of the features of bigger GPS units: track recording, waypoint recording, navigating the tracks and waypoints, and trip log. It also has user replaceable AAA batteries. A similar model, the Foretrex 201 has a built-in rechargeable battery which doesn’t really make sense for an outdoors device.

My main complaint is that it loses track of GPS signals when there’s thick forest cover above. But then, that’s typical of most GPS units. Oliver, who was carrying a higher-end Garmin GPS unit during the climb, encountered the same problem. In any case, this didn’t hamper the usefulness of the device all that much.

Rating: 4/5

Suunto Observer

I’ve had my Suunto Observer for quite a few years now and it’s still ticking albeit with a battery change or two which isn’t really a big deal since you can just buy its CR2032 batteries from photo or battery shops and change it yourself.

So what’s the big deal with this watch? Well, for starters, as Suunto would say: It’s more than just a watch, it’s a wrist computer. Aside from watch features like time, date, day, second timezone, stopwatch, countdown timer, and alarm, it also has an altimeter, a barometer, a thermometer, and a compass. And all these features do work and work well.

And you can be sure they will keep working: The watch is encased within a solid chunk of stainless steel case (there’s also a titanium cased version) and the face is protected by mineral glass. Mineral glass is not as tough as sapphire but it still withstands a lot of abuse. The caseback as well as the bracelet is a polymer so it won’t freeze on your skin. It is water resistant to 100 meters. Good enough for rain and the occasional dunking. It’s not recommended for diving, although I’ve dived with it quite a few times with no adverse effects.

Best of all, it looks as good in the office as it does on the trail.

Rating: 5/5

2005 April 30 Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna

I finally went hiking again after a long long time. A bunch of friends and I decided to do a day climb of Mt. Makiling (elevation: 1093m). Again. I’ve climbed Makiling three times previously: two day climbs and an almost disastrous overnight climb where we got rained over while hiking at night. Still, I really can’t complain since I haven’t climbed in months and at that point, any mountain would have done.

I was quite surprised with my performance on the climb. I haven’t had much physical activity since starting my MBA studies and yet the climb seemed easier than my previous Makiling climbs. I also found out I can hike faster and tire less when I’m moving alone and at my own pace so I did most of the climb on my own. Of course my muscles and joints screamed in exquisite agony afterward. So much so that I wasn’t able to swim at City of Springs where we spent the night.

But I conquered Makiling once more. I thought I couldn’t but I did. Happy! B-)