Best Outdoor GPS Watches: TomTom Adventurer
Building on its TomTom Spark running range, the Adventurer packs in many of the same features but throws in some killer outdoor extras which make it a canny pick for fans of the wilderness. New sport modes mean you can now track hiking, trail running, skiing and snowboarding, and you can quickly upload GPX routes to follow them from the watch.
If you're off skiing, a new lift detection mode can recognise when you're going up a lift if you're skiing or snowboarding and give you a summary of the previous session. In terms of battery life, you should be able to get 24 hours continuous use in hiking mode. It's a top list of outdoor features with genuine USPs – and the Adventurer is also the cheapest watch in our list by some margin.
It's really light too, which is a plus over the likes of the Fenix 3. It doesn't weigh much more than a basic running watch. The watch module pops out of the strap for charging, and clips back in securely.
You navigate the watch's menus via the four-way button under the screen, which enables you to glide between the watch's options, settings and training modes. It's pretty easy to navigate and on the whole, very intuitive. There are a couple of niggly complaints still, like the way you need to basically start a run to see the battery life and how you don't get a summary of a workout until you find the obscure history list (again, you need to start a run). But the four-way button makes it easy to change data view mid-run, it's quick to implement fairly complex interval sessions, and it doesn't matter if you have sweaty hands, or gloves on.
Running and cycling
As you'd expect, running modes are ripped from the TomTom Spark 3, and that's a wise choice. The Spark 3 is a great running watch, and this means the Adventurer excels, too. Firstly, you get all the data you need on the easy-to-read screen, and we've never had any accuracy issues.
In running modes you can cycle between live pace, average pace, distance, time, heart rate and heart rate zone. If you opt for a trail run, you can add elevation stats as well. It's a great mix of features that's well laid out and easy to read.
The rugged outdoor GPS watch is certainly comfortable enough to wear all day for 24/7 activity tracking, including heart rate, sleep stats, steps, etc. And the addition of the barometer means that in ski and snowboard modes you get metrics like gradient and altitude change in addition to things like maximum speed and distance. Other than the stiffness of the button, which we found a little difficult to click through our mittens and took another minute or two to use because were taking them off, we found the Adventurer simple to set up and use in snowboard mode.
The ski and snowboard tracking works well; just be warned that the battery drains more quickly when using sports modes, so you should be fully charged if you want to track a full day on the slopes. GPS pick-up is swift as well, usually only taking a minute or so to get ready for tracking.
It's so light and comfortable that it's easy to turn it on at the beginning of the day and forget about it. That may be why the automatic lift detection automatically alerts you and makes the watch buzz when you're in the chair, so you can remember to look down and see your stats from the previous run flash on the screen. It provides a snapshot of your last run, including maximum speed, distance of descent in metres and steepest incline.
The route exploration feature also allows you to share your hike or ride with a file that your friends can download to their device and use to trace your route, based on coordinates. Though that feature is mostly relevant for hikers, it's a good fit for off-piste skiers and snowboarders as well.
Heart rate accuracy
For hardcore trainers, heart rate is paramount and we're pleased to report excellent accuracy across steady and high-intensity runs. Average paces were locked onto our Garmin chest strap and the Jabra Sport Pulse SE buds that aced our tests last year.
What's more, peaks in heart rate were also accurately represented, and displayed quickly onto the device in real time. That demonstrates not only a robust sensor but lag-free implementation, which makes it highly usable for those focusing on biometrics as part of their training.