Gear Review: Highgear Loft

Finding a good outdoor watch with the functions you want – that is also reliable and a reasonable price – can be an overwhelming task. I recently tested out the Highgear Loft watch, and was very impressed that it exceeded my expectations on each of these requirements.

Highgear is well known in the outdoor industry as makers of excellent watches for the outdoor enthusiast. The Loft is one model in their line which is especially suited to snowshoeing and snowshoe running.

The Loft has all the basic watch features, including dual times zones, dual daily alarms, an hourly chime signal and an E.L. backlight display to make this a great everyday watch.

And now the fun stuff! It also has an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, heartrate monitor and chronograph all in one compact unit.

An altimeter is something that I’ve always felt would be very handy for snowshoeing in the mountains. Knowing your current altitude is very useful information and can help to determine more precisely where you are at as a reference point on your trail map. The Loft altimeter stores maximum and accumulated altitude, displays a graphic trend and has a 20 lap memory to store checkpoints.

The barometer displays sea level and actual pressure and is updated every minute, while also displaying the previous 6-hour trend in a graph. This is also useful information that may help you to predict a change in the weather, which can be of vital importance in cold climates or at higher elevations. There is also a digital thermometer that provides temperature in either Celsius or Fahrenheit.

Heartrate training is widely regarded as the most effective way to train for endurance athletes or for those trying to improve their cardiovascular fitness. The chronograph function of the Loft features heartrate options that are transmitted from the chest strap that is ECG accurate. Upper and lower limit audio and visual alarms can be set to notify you if you are not working out within your correct heartrate zone.

From a testing and practical standpoint, I appreciated that the Loft was extremely easy to use. This isn’t always the case with technical watches and monitors. In fact, when I first received the Loft I was on my way out for a run and thought this was a perfect opportunity to test it out. So, I strapped it on my wrist, with the HRM transmitter around my chest, and was out the door. I was very surprised with the ease I was able to maneuver through the various modes, and knew how to use most of the functions without having looked at the instruction manual beforehand. Another big plus for winter use was that the buttons on the Loft were easy to operate, even while wearing heavy mitts.

While the Loft might look a little large for someone with a very small wrist, I did find it to be very comfortable, and is lighter than it appears. I also found the chest strap transmitter for the heartrate monitor was much more comfortable than many other chest straps I have worn.

Overall, I was very impressed with the assortment of features offered on the Loft and how well it performed. Another reason to take a closer look at the Loft, is the very reasonable suggested retail price of only $150.00 (U.S.). I strongly feel that this is exceptional value for this exceptional watch.

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Derrick Spafford

About the author


Sara Montgomery and Derrick Spafford

Derrick and Sara are trail runners from Eastern Ontario who discovered that running on snowshoes in the winter months is a great way to enjoy their favorite trails year-round. They competed in their first snowshoe series (The Mad Trapper Series in Low, Quebec) in 2005, each finishing 2nd in their respective divisions. Plans for 2006 are to return to the Mad Trapper, to take in some races in New York and Vermont, and hopefully cap their season with the U.S. Snowshoe Championships in March, as Canadian guests. Derrick runs a company, Spafford Health and Adventure (, which specializes in coaching and event promotion. He is currently planning an annual snowshoe race to be held in the Kingston area, starting this winter.