TomTom Adventurer Review – Great for Winter Sports Enthusiasts?

 

adventurer review

A Deep Dive Into TomTom Adventurer

The TomTom Adventurer builds on the brilliant Spark3 with additional sports modes and a barometric pressure sensor. The addition of this sensitive barometric altimeter gives winter sports enthusiasts feedback on the ski run and ski lift time. The Adventurer has all the great features of the Spark 3 including Route Explore (GPX tracks) and 3Gb of internal memory for a local music store. The TomTom Adventurer GPS sports watch has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka Cardio Critic.

The TomTom Adventurer is for the winter sports enthusiast looking for a GPS sports watch with a wrist heart rate. If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding I’d have to recommend the cheaper Spark 3 (aka Runner 3). The two models are very similar. The significant difference is the addition of SKI, SNOWBOARD, and HIKE to the Sports Modes of the Adventurer. The Ski and Snowboard mode utilizes a barometric sensor to give accurate ski lift versus downhill run time. So if you snowboard or ski and you’re looking for a single watch that will monitor heart rate, skiing performance and also store up to 500 songs, then the TomTom Adventurer is for you.

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  • Built-in GPS
  • Wrist Based heart rate
  • Ski Lift / Ski Run detection
  • Route Explore – follow breadcrumb trails
  • Race yourself over previously explored routes
  • Barometric Altimeter
  • 24/7 Activity Tracking with sleep monitor
  • Multiple sports TRAINING modes, eg Intervals or Zones
  • 11 x Sport Modes
  • Swim Mode counts laps/lengths, strokes & speed, etc
  • Internal Accelerometer provides speed & distance when on the treadmill
  • Nothing major to criticize after 3 weeks of testing

Main Features and Functions

The highlighted features are NOT found on the Spark 3 (aka Runner 3)

  • Snow Sport modes including Ski and Snowboard
  • Barometric Pressure sensor for accurate altitude (better than GPS alone)
  • Automatic detection of Ski Lift time versus Ski Run data
  • Wrist Based heart rate (optional 24/7 HR monitoring)
  • Built-in music player (3gB up to 5oo songs) works with Bluetooth headphones
  • 10-12 hour battery life expectancy with GPS and Heart Rate on … can be extended to 20 hours in HIKE mode. In my real-world tests I got 5 days using it for 1-2 hours of training per day.
  • Internal GPS for accurate speed and distance measurement
  • Route Exploration – follow breadcrumb trails
  • Import GPX routes from other sources to use in Route Explore
  • Multiple training modes including Zone Control (HR or Pace), Intervals & Virtual Racing (race against a saved session)
  • Swim-Metrics – get feedback on laps/lengths, stroke per minute, and speed in the pool
  • Sport Modes: Run, Treadmill, Trail Run, Hike, Cycle, Indoor Bike, Swim, SkiSnowboard, Gym & Freestyle
  • Standalone Stopwatch mode
  • Supported by a solid and competent TomTom Sports App
  • Watch my VIDEO REVIEW
  • Review Conclusions

New Sport Modes – Ski, Snowboard & Hike

The Adventurer, like the Spark 3, also features route exploration. With route explore it is possible to follow a breadcrumb trail of a route you’ve already completed or someone else’s downloads in GPX format. Simply add the GPX route to your TomTom My Sports library of routes and it will be added to your watch’s memory (up to 15 in total can be stored at one time).

Adventurer for Skiing & Snowboarding

Honestly, we don’t get much snow in Hunstanton (Norfolk, UK) … but I managed to test the TomTom Adventurer in SKI mode by cycling UP the steepest hill (ski lift style) and rolling down the adjacent roads to simulate downhill skiing. It worked too as can be seen from the images below. The Adventurer accurately recognized time spent ascending on the Ski Lifts and descending while Skiing.

The images below show how the Adventurer’s barometric pressure sensor has recognised LIFT time and SKI runs. This is all managed automatically in the snow-sport modes. No user intervention required, leaving you time to enjoy your skiing.

Interval Training

Another great training feature is the ability to quickly set up an ad-hoc interval training session. This works in a very similar way to the Garmin Forerunner 35. Simply select INTERVAL following Sport Mode selection and entry to the TRAINING options (down button) Then run through the 5 steps of the interval setting process. eg WARMUP – 10 mins > WORK – 1 mile > REST > 10 mins > #SETS x 5 > COOLDOWN – 10 mins. Each segment can be set to a DISTANCE or TIMED objective. I found this feature very useful and easy to use.

Race Yourself

The RACE feature utilizes your pre-saved ROUTES and also some TomTom Sports system default options. In this mode you get to either race yourself over a trail you have previously ridden/run (similar to TRAIL explore). Or, you can race one of the targets set by TomTom eg 3 miles in 25 mins or 5km in 26 mins. It’s a great feature and it uses some very clear graphics to show if you are AHEAD or BEHIND the virtual racer.

Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, you cannot set your own RACES in TomTom MySports eg – 5K in 24 mins for example … but you can copy anything your have already done from training history …

Set a Training Goal

Don’t just train blind, set a training goal. With the TomTom Adventurer you can set either a DISTANCE goal, a TIMED goal or a CALORIE burn goal. The session is ended when you achieve your GOAL.

TomTom for Running

The TomTom Adventurer is aimed at people who ski and snowboard, however, all the multi-sport features found in the Runner 3 (aka Spark 3) can also be found in this watch. It’s a great watch for anyone who runs and cycles. For cyclists, it can be paired with BLUETOOTH cadence sensors (not Power though) to give extra feedback when on the road or in turbo training. The post-training feedback on both the APP and the TomTom MySports website is excellent. I have criticized it in the past, but it’s totally fit for purpose now. It’s up there with Garmin Connect and Polar Flow.

More Features

 

Route Exploration

This is a key feature of the TomTom Spark 3 (aka Runner 3) and this Adventurer watch. Route exploration allows exploration of routes not normally explored. The watch can store up to 15 GPX routes. These routes can be either one you have previously ridden, ran or trekked or they can be imported from your computer. Any historic training sessions can be “Copied to Trails” or “Copied to Races”. The routes copied to Trails are used for navigating when out training, as shown below.

Note > the routes copied to Races are used in the RACE mode. Race mode lets you chase yourself over a route you have previously trained over. It’s very similar to Garmin Virtual Race feature.

The screenshot below shows the 3 x Routes I have copied to the watch using the TomTom MySports website.

Selecting your Trails in the Adventurer

To either Route Explore or Race against one of your saved sessions simply select before starting your next training session. The example below shows Sport Mode HIKE selected, then TRAILS mode > select the Trail (22M loop). Ready to Explore. There are a couple of map pages. A FULL map (as shown) or a Zoomed in version. All the normal training pages are also available, plus the digital compass. The map can be orientated to show either NORTH up (default) or to rotate and show the direction you are heading. (that’s what the ROTATION mode is in picture 2).

Wrist Based Heart Rate

I’ve been a fan of the accuracy of the TomTom strapless heart rate monitor since I first tested the TomTom Run Cardio in 2013. The Adventurer continues to impress with it’s accuracy and consistency. The heart rate monitor is activated whenever TRAINING MODE is entered. If you want to have 24/7 HR tracking this is an option that can be activated in the TRACK settings. Having this turned on is useful to calculate lowest resting HR during the day, however, it will decrease battery life.

Heart Rate Accuracy

As with any wrist based heart rate you cannot expect 100% as you might from a chest strap. However, I have used the Adventurer now 8 times comparing it with a Garmin chest strap system. On all but ONE session it was spot on, almost identical. The images below show 2 x training sessions. The first is a TURBO trainer bike session. This session consisted of a steady 130bpm for 35 minutes followed by 3 x hard efforts towards the end …. The TomTom Adventurer accurately reproduced the heart rate recorded by the Garmin Edge (from chest strap) . At no time does it SPIKE or drop-out.

Accuracy = 10/10

However, on this session out on my road bike, there is one area of concern, identified in the image by (B). This was a period of 40mph downhill for a very short period. There was extreme vibration throughout this sprint as the roads in Norfolk are quite poor. In
my opinion this extreme vibration caused the Adventurer to lose the solid connection with the LED sensors, thus the drop-out. NOTE> In Period (A) it may appear that the TomTom has dropped out, however, this was a PAUSED section of the ride while I made adjustments to the bike. The Garmin was set to auto-pause. I should have paused the TomTom accordingly.

Accuracy = 9/10

Overall I am VERY HAPPY with the wrist based heart rate monitoring of the TomTom Adventurer. Please note, I have performed more heart rate accuracy tests on Garmin, Polar and Fitbit

 

Activity Tracking Functionality

The Adventurer tracks daily and weekly > Steps, Distance, Calories and Time Active. The dotted line around the circumference represents the total target – the thicker bright line around the border shows the % of daily target completed. I have manually set a 10,000 step total so this shows approx 40% target completion.

Train, Run & Ski to MUSIC

This feature is NOT found in many other GPS / heart rate monitor sports watches – internal music store. You will find it in some of the wearable tech watches like Moto 360 Sport and Polar M600, but not many more. It’s quite a unique feature to TomTom. I like it as it frees you up from your phone when out training. Use the TomTom Sports Connect desktop widget to locate your MP3 music files (more info here, TomTom site) You can store up to 500 songs with Playlists in the TomTom watch. Once you’ve paired some Bluetooth headphones to the watch you are ready to rock and run … The watch allows for track selection but NOT volume control, that is achieved with your headphones.

TRAINING MODES

A key feature of the TomTom Adventurer are the multiple TRAINING MODES. These modes can be selected by pressing DOWN following sport selection. You have the choice of training within PACE zones, SPEED zones or Heart Rate zones. For each type there are 5 different zones. For example, in heart rate zone mode you can choose between : EASY > FAT BURN > ENDURE > SPEED > SPRINT. Once the session is started the watch will alert when you are OUT of ZONE by way of AUDIO alerts every.

TomTom Sports App

These screen grabs are from the same 5km run shown on my Android phone running the TomTom Sports App. As you can see they provide useful training data in great detail. Everything from calories burnt, average pace and average heart rate to time spent in different heart rate zones, a heart rate graph and SPLIT times.

Top Alternatives

Next Model DOWN

The next model down is the TomTom Spark 3 (aka Runner 3).  The Spark 3 is VERY SIMILAR to this model. The main difference is the inclusion of the barometric pressure sensor and the snow sport modes found in the Adventurer.

If you don’t partake in winter sports it’s worth considering the cheaper Spark 3. Also, if you don’t want the Route Explore option, then the Spark (aka Runner 2) is also great value for money.

Closest Alternative Watches?

This is a tricky one because the TomTom Adventurer is quite a unique watch with its internal music store, wrist-based HR, built-in GPS and route explore … I am not aware of any competitor’s watches that offer almost identical functionality. You really have to look at something like the Garmin Fenix 3 HR to get similar functionality (without the music store)… alternatively, the Polar M600 has GPS, wrist-based HR, Google Music (via Android Wear) but no route explore…

  • Garmin Fenix 3 HR One of the best outdoor adventure sports watches on the market. No internal music store
  • Polar M600 Android Wear GPS sports watch with wrist-based HR and music store
  • Tomtom Spark 3 – https://www.thebestintech.com/spark-3/

TomTom Marketing Images

These banners were some of the most commonly used by TomTom during the marketing of the Adventurer watch. They highlight 4 of the most important features of this great outdoor sports watch..

Route Explore

Outdoor Sports Orientated

Wrist Based Heart Rate

Review Summary

Bringing this review to a conclusion is easy … the TomTom Adventurer gets a solid 4.5/5 star review from me. I also awarded TomTom Spark 3 the same review score of 4.5/5 stars, so it’s no surprise this model gets the same. I have seen some people complain about the price of this unit? If you want the barometric pressure sensor and auto-detection of your Ski runs, then this is what you’ve got to pay for, which in my opinion is a fair price. If you don’t want the skiing functions, get the Spark 3 and save some money … if you don’t want the Route Explore, get the Runner 2 (aka Spark) and save even more money

The TomTom Adventurer is a well-designed, easy-to-use, stylish GPS sports watch aimed at the winter sports enthusiast. With a real-world battery life expectancy of 3 – 5 days (GPS activity tracking for a couple of hours per day), it’s the perfect watch for those spending time on the piste.

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt

Andrew Wyatt has been a tech geek for as long as he can remember. Whether it's laptops, cameras, or projects, he's obsessed with it all. When he's not researching the latest tech products, he likes to go on long hikes with his dogs.

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