Saturday, February 09, 2008

Items for the Fit Traveler

I’m not the kind of guy who puts a lot of thought into exercising each day while traveling, but some people care because it’s their passion. Others care because they’re business travelers who would soon turn into rotund blobs if they didn’t work out while on the road. So here are a few items from fitness company Sportsline that are good for the fit traveler or runner.

The handy ThinQ is billed as “the world’s thinnest pedometer,” so it got my attention as an item that won’t be hard to pack. More like a credit card than the usual pager-type pedometer, it’s only a few millimeters thick. It’s dead easy to use too. You just measure off your strides, set your stride length, and then start walking (or running). You’ll find out if those 5 miles you thought you walked were really 2 and if you’re in training for something, you can accurately check your distance. If you punch a few more keys, it’ll guess how many calories you’ve burned as well. The ThinQ is available at sports and gear stores and lists for $30. It works while stowed in any pocket and there is nothing to strap on.

The $40 Trail Tracker is a simple solution to a common problem while running, biking, or inline skating—staying hydrated. The Trail Tracker buckles around your waist and holds a large (included) water bottle. It has pockets for your keys or money. Sportsline isn’t happy with a low-tech item like this though, so no need to get this and a ThinQ. It has its own pedometer. So if you are the type who likes to hike the Alps or Andes with walking poles in each hand, this item will let you carry your water bottle easily and tell you how far you've walked that day.

The last item we tried out, the Solo 960 Sport Watch, didn’t go over so well, suffering from the ole “feature creep” problem. Like the proverbial Christmas present that takes all afternoon to get working, “the world’s only heart rate watch and accelerometer combination” is a bit too much of a good thing: heart monitor, pedometer, watch, alarm, and chronograph, with multiple functions to choose from for each aspect. If you’re the type that knows how to use one of those scientific calculators with 48 buttons then you might have better luck than I did getting it set up and programmed in under an hour.

I was mostly interested in this because it is a heart monitor without the chest strap, in theory much less annoying. My personal trainer wife says it’ll work best for runners though as it was way too sensitive and button-riddled for anyone riding a bike or doing some kind of gym workout. Note that the monitoring is not always on—you have to press a button each time you want to check your heart rate. To me this seems like no big deal, but to her it was a major letdown.

Pick this up if you’ll mainly use it for long distance training and you’re a computer programmer at heart. List price $100.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've noticed this problem a lot with sports watches no matter who is making them. They can't leave well enough alone and keep adding "just one more feature." They should take some lessons from Apple on user interfaces. These things are way too hard to figure out and use.