Equipped with all of your high-tech hiking and camping gear, it would be a waste of your potential to rely on an old-fashioned analog wrist watch to keep in check with your environment. The reliable timepieces of the past did tick away the seconds precisely and give you a lumbering sense of passing time as the dials swept around the face, but the utility for an outdoor adventurer stopped there. Since the late 1970's with the advent of digital electronic watches the possibilities for further application have grown tremendously. Of course an electronic watch can give the time of day in blocky digits, but also a stopwatch timer (chronograph) and an alarm clock. The simple feature of a backlight on the watch helps with the ancient dilemma of seeing what time it is when you wake up in the middle of the night. Sports and mountaineering watches are also built to withstand the adverse conditions and often jarring impacts of outdoor activities. These watches are sealed to resist getting wet, and they are encased in durable plastic that can absorb breaking or crushing from being hit or dropped.
There are a lot of even more advanced features that
outdoor explorers really rely on. There are watches with a built in altimeter
based on the pressure of the atmosphere. At any point along the trail you can
monitor the elevation you gain and lose. There is also an electronic compass
feature, GPS (global positioning system) for culling your exact map coordinates,
a terrain database, speedometer, barometric readings, heart rate monitor, and
an MP3 music player. Of course with all of these gadgets available to track
your status it gets a little complicated using the little buttons on the side
of the watch. They typically have a button at each corner with a tiny label
nearby. These watches come with a large instruction manual and you're a boat
without a mast if you strap on the watch before learning to operate it. Like
your VCR it will probably just flash some random data on the screen until you
learn how to set it. You may want to wear another analog wristwatch to make
sure you can see what time it is.