We love a good ABC watch—altimeter, barometer, compass—and last year we had the chance to check out Suunto’s Core. But what happens if you want these features on a watch but don’t have the $250-500 to drop on a Suunto? Since Bensoh is about value, we asked Highgear if we could check out the Axio Max, a high-tech ABC watch that has a strong value quotient.
The Max is one of the tops of the Axio line—models with heart rate monitors and other features are available—but the Max offers all the features a mountaineer or camper could want from the “ABCs” mentioned above to thermometer, chronometer, and data feature for tracking ascents and descents.
While the Suunto Core uses a fancy, computer-like operating system that can take a little to learn, the Axio Max is straightforward in its features and operation. If you’ve used one good digital watch, you’ve used a Max and will acclimate quickly to the altimeter and other specialized features quickly.
The key here is in learning to use those features. Don’t know how to read a barometer? No worries—Highgear has you covered. I loved their helpful FAQ page and instructional videos, which cover questions from A to…well, C at least. I had no trouble making use of the features on hikes, and after following the website’s instructions and calibrating the compass (I couldn’t figure it out on my own), I found it a helpful tool on outings both long and short. One key with the Max or any ABC watch is ensuring that you’ve calibrated the compass, altimeter, and barometer before relying on the accuracy of the readings—it’s just best to be safe.
The only minor issue I had with the Max was the weather indicating icon, which is predicting weather six to eight hours out. Its accuracy was hard to verify, especially in Oklahoma, where conditions change very unpredictably. Luckily, resetting the watch is easy (all four main buttons at once), and the videos on the FAQ page provide instruction for calibrating the barometer and setting the altimeter (the two keys in getting good readings). I do wish it had an alarm for weather changes such as a storm warning—maybe something they could look at for future versions.
While it’s a big watch, the Axio Max wears “smaller than it is” if you will—meaning it’s comfortable, lighter than it looks, and relatively sleek. I found the band quite comfortable, which is a failing I’ve found surprisingly common among some other high-end watches. I even have smaller wrists, and it still looks good to match its function and value.
Now for the really good part—while a Suunto Core can potentially set you back the price of an iPad, the Axio Max comes in at a more budget-friendly $150 on Highgear’s website. If you’re after a watch with great features for mountain climbing or even just camping, I highly recommend the Axio Max—it’s a very Benosh value!