Adventure Life Reflections

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice – Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

In recent years, we have seen a surge in the proliferation of everyday use of smartwatches and fitness trackers. Back in the days where I was still working for a company which were one of the pioneers who were producing it, I was still very proud of wearing one when I had a sample for testing, and showing off to my friends how it syncs to my phone and can read text messages or cancel incoming calls.

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

The purpose and usage of the watch back then were more for city usage and the only exercise I used it for was rock climbing in indoor gyms in Singapore. Generally, not many issues there though I did scratch the screen a bit. I still used a lot of my other analog watches with the ticking clock face, or my trusty cheap and good Casio digital watch that can withstand all rough conditions.

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

However in the recent months, I have been having a lot of friends switching to smart watches or fitness tracker watches, and sang about its effectiveness, design and superb fitness tracking features. Well, I do have to admit that the likes of the Apple Watch and Fit Bits do look really good and sleek with its nice metallic strap and colour bands. So I was getting more receptive to using one eventually for my many adventurous trips and lifestyle given everyone seems to love it.

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

And finally came the day when I finally picked up my complimentary fitness tracker when I was over in Tanglin Mall in Singapore. I was encouraged to switch to using one, and what better timing that having it ready for my 2 months away Europe trip. So I happily brought it along and left all my different analog watches behind in Singapore. Why do I still need them when this watch looks versatile and can do so much more than track the time.

However, bad move. It turned out to be quite a bad choice for an adventurer traveller like myself, and below here, I am going to share with you some reasons why:

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

6 Reasons why a Smart Watch isn’t a smart choice for adventure travellers

1. Poor Time Checker

An average analog watch serves the main function of telling the time to you immediately when you refer to it, which is the fundamental critical usage for any adventurer who is going hiking, sailing, rock climbing and more.

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

The challenge with smart watches is that, given it is digital and requires a batt charge, most smart watches are designed to have the screen blank off unless you tap the screen or flick your watch to show the time. For some of the best brands like FitBit, it doesn’t even always respond to a wrist flick all the time.

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

That’s not only extremely annoying when you are someone who counts every minute to the detail. For example when you are trying to gauge how much remaining daylight hours you have and you cannot see the time as immediate as you hope for.

2. Bulky to accompany with winter wear

Quite a number of smart watches of the earlier newer models can be quite stiff and protrude quite a bit on your arm like the FitBit Charge 1 and 2. This gets really annoying when you are wearing multiple layers of jackets. The watch gets in the way of you adjusting your sleeves, putting/ removing gloves or referring to the time when you

3. Phone and Mobile App Dependent

Smart watches are deemed smart due to it being able to have special added features like tracking your steps, calories burned, heart rate and all on apps on your mobile phone.

All these are incredible features that help you understand your progress and body performance better. But some of these watches even require you to download an app in order to function, or even after you download the app, it prompts you to sync it regularly. If you are someone who is looking for more fuss-free lifestyle and need a watch for the convenience, this watch isn’t the best option.

4. Slow Adaptability to Changing Timezones

Going back to my earlier point about requiring syncing to the phone, a lot of smartwatches do not allow you to manually change the time on the watch when you travel to a new place that has a different timezone. You will need to update it from your app on your smartphone. So if you ran out of batt on your phone, your app is faulty or some other technical issue, then as a frequent traveller, you are basically inconvenienced by this all the time.

5. Easily damaged in sport

Smart watches are beautifully designed and a smart accessory, especially for office work. However, when it comes to doing adventure activities that demand more raw contact with nature and the great outdoors, it becomes too delicate an accessory.

Smart Watch, Stupid Choice - Confessions of an Adventure Traveller

Adventurous individuals like rock climbers, hikers, snowboarders, kayakers and more are always in constant contact with elements like the dirt and sand from the ground, rocky to rough surfaces, saltwater and the list goes on. An electronic gadget with a smooth glass face or screen will get easily damaged, scratched, cracked or bruised when in such a condition or experience high impact.

An endless sandstone paradise.
An endless sandstone paradise.

6. Not adaptable to low temperature and harsh winter cold climate

Winter time and its time to dig out the ski boots and snowshoes to go snowshoeing in Spain!
But wait a minute, with the common problem of smartphones not being able to withstand the cold in winter and having the battery life depreciated in the winter cold, what more smart watches?

Fresh Winter Air in Japan Nagano
Fresh Winter Air in Japan Nagano

Unfortunately, it seems like the average smartwatches the likes of Fitbit and Apple Watches usually do not thrive in outdoor cold conditions as well. Especially if it comes in contact with snow and multiple condensations which will be the case when you go skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and more. Putting the watch under such conditions it actually weakens their durability in the long run. There are super high-end watch brands like the Coros Vertix and other models like Garmin, Casio and all which are rugged and designed for such conditions. However, they will fall into a different category all together and the price range starts from the high $300USDs.

So in conclusion, if you are an adventurer who depends a lot on the watch to tell time, and you like the convenience and usefulness a watch serves, think twice before switching to a smart watch or fitness tracker. As it may be the biggest mistake you made.

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