The Highgear Enduro is a durable and affordable sports watch that has a lot going for it. The look is tough and distinctive, and the fit is light and comfortable. It’s not the most feature-rich sports watch I’ve seen, but it has everything most of us needs, and even a few little interesting surprises.
Features of the Highgear Enduro include:
- Two time zones. This is one of those nice little features that Highgear could have completely left out without anyone noticing, but that I really like. Holding down the upper right-hand button will toggle the main time display to a second time zone, and holding it down for three seconds will switch the main time display to the second time zone permanently. To view the first time zone again, press the upper right-hand button, and hold it down for another three seconds to switch it back.
- Chronograph. The Enduro has a very comprehensive chronograph which goes up to 100 hours, supports 100 laps, and has a resolution of 1/100th of a second. My favorite feature of the chronograph is the ability to change its readout configuration between four different modes. Customization is good.
- Countdown timer. Countdown timers are a must with sports watches, and the Enduro more than delivers with three countdown timers which can be used in any one of four separate modes:
- Stop. This is the simplest timer mode which counts down from a specified time, then sounds an alarm.
- Repeat. When in repeat mode, after the time has fully elapsed, the watch will sound an alarm, then start the countdown again.
- Up. This mode causes the countdown timer to first count down from a specified interval, sound an alarm, then start counting back up. For instance, if you want to start your run with a 10 minute walk, the watch will count down from 10 minutes, sound an alarm, then start counting back up so that you can time your run, as well.
- Train. Train mode is the most complex. It allows you to chain together nine different times to count down from. After each time fully elapses, the timer will sound an alarm, automatically advance to the next time, then begin counting down again.
Another feature I really like about the Enduro’s countdown timer is that an LCD ring encircles the interval to give you a visual reference of how much time is left. A full ring represents the entire interval, then the ring wanes at the appropriate pace so that it’s gone when the timer expires. My elliptical trainer has a similar visual cue which I find very useful.
- Digital compass. Another bonus feature, as far as I’m concerned. The Enduro has a built-in digital compass. It can even be adjusted to account for your magnetic declination (the angle between magnetic and geographic north, which changes depending on where you are in the world). Don’t mistake the Enduro for a true Casio or Suunto-style hiking watch, but if you like to run through the woods and need to check your position occasionally, this feature is perfect. You can even hit the upper left-hand button while in chronograph mode to jump to the compass and get a quick 10-second bearing check.
- Three daily alarms. The Enduro has three daily alarms which are relative to whichever time zone is currently selected. None of the alarms allow you to specify the date.
- 20-workout memory. The Enduro allows you to store data for up to 20 workouts. You can store splits, best lap time, average lap time, and the total workout time. The data can only be viewed on the watch, and cannot be archived on a PC.
- Electroluminescent backlight. The Enduro’s backlight is very bright, and illuminates the entire LCD uniformly. It also has an auto-backlight feature which means it can be configured to automatically illuminate for two seconds whenever any button is pushed. Watch your battery life, though (see below).
- One year battery. That’s a pretty short battery life, but if it’s any consolation, the Enduro takes a very common watch battery which can be purchased anywhere watch batteries are sold, and can easily be replaced with nothing but a coin to open the back. The Enduro also has a low power indicator to give you plenty of warning before it dies on you.
- Water-resistant to 50 meters, or about 160 feet. That covers rain and swimming.
Overall, I really like the Enduro, but does have three issues worthy of note:
- Although the rubber strap is comfortable, it’s quite difficult to get off. There’s a bump on the end of the band which keeps the rubber loop in place which keeps the excess band length from flopping around. Unfortunately, the whole system seems to actually work a little too well, which makes removing the watch a bit of a wrestling match.
- The alarms could be louder. If you’re running in solitude, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you’re wearing this watch during a crowded race, you might want to remember to glance down at it periodically since it might not be loud enough for you to hear over cheers, wind, and other running-related sounds.
- The battery life could be longer. If you only run occasionally, you might want to keep a spare battery around so that you won’t be disappointed when you pull it out of your drawer one day and find the LCD blank.
In general, I think the Highgear Enduro has proven to be a surprising competent sports watch for the price ($80 online). It’s functional, nice-looking, and comfortable both for causal use and training. If you like most of what you’ve seen from the Enduro, but don’t feel like this model is quite the right sports watch for you, take a look around Highgear’s site at some of the other watches and instruments they sell. They seem to have a little something for every sports and watch enthusiast.
By Christian Cantrell