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#42557 - 05/19/15 09:29 AM Fitbit?
Snacking Bear Offline

Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Hi all!

I've seen an explosion in the number of people carrying these fitbit devices.

I'm really curious to see how they work (do they use GPS, require cell reception, drain a phone battery), how long they last, and how effective they are at keeping track of distance/heart rate etc.

I'm doing an 8-day trip and I'm curious to see how many calories I will burn, distance, elevation gain. I'm wondering if there is a fitbut model that can link to my samsung galaxy 3s (which will be on airplane mode as I hike).

Thanks wonderful mountaineering community!
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

#42571 - 05/19/15 06:54 PM Re: Fitbit? [Re: Snacking Bear]
John Sims Offline

Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 548
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
I've owned one since 2011, and have found it be be surprisingly accurate. It does not have GPS, but simply counts steps, and based on your "profile - length of stride" calculates distance. It does sense altitude change, and I also find this function to be accurate. I've compared it to Garmin GPS as well as iPhone GPS, and the results are much the same.

The phone app (either android or IOS) simply gets the data from the fitbit via Bluetooth, and if cell phone coverage is available will sync with your page on the fitbit web site. It also displays your information in easily understood formats. There is also a "dongle" that plugs into your computer USB slot for syncing without the phone app.

The web site is very good. It keeps track of your hiking activity and presents a good user interface to display your history. You can also enter different types of activity (bicycle, swimming, etc.....). It also allows you to record your meals (as you enter more data this becomes much easier since your "favorites and recent entries" are easy to "click on" without having to enter much data), and calculates % fat, protein, carbohydrates, etc.... They do have a fairly comprehensive database of foods as well.

Using the food information and your exercise information it will tell you how your caloric intake compares to your exercise, and if you will likely gain or loose weight. You can set goals and it will track your progress toward those goals.

The main advantage over the iPhone health app is the web site. Without the website I would say do not bother. Now, with the Apple Watch I fear for the fitbit. If Apple, or one of their partners develops a good website I think the fitbit will fall behind.

As it happens my 4+ year old Fitbit ONE just stopped working (Bluetooth flamed out), and I do not intend to replace it. I will just use the free iPhone Health App. I could still use the Fitbit web site, but will probably not go to the trouble.

Oh, and no heart rate info.

Hope this helps.


Edited by John Sims (05/19/15 06:55 PM)
Edit Reason: Heart rate comment

#42575 - 05/20/15 03:38 AM Re: Fitbit? [Re: Snacking Bear]
Bulldog34 Offline

Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
Portability is the biggest difference for me. The Fitbit is small and can be clipped just about anywhere, or placed in your pocket unobtrusively. I don't carry my iPhone on my person 24/7, especially when I'm at home, and that to me is a big negative in maintaining consistent tracking. The downside to the Fitbit is that it's SO small that you can easily forget it's in your pocket when you change clothes. I can, however, testify to its ability to withstand several inadvertent machine washes and keep on keepin' on. Another plus is that it will carry a charge for up to two weeks.

I've had both the iPhone Health app and the Fitbit engaged for several hikes, and they generally agree on data. Generally. The Fitbit seems to be more accurate in measuring gain, displayed as "floors", when compared to known topo elevation. The largest discrepancy seems to be in calories burned, which is a crapshoot data point anyway and not one I'm overly concerned with.

#42578 - 05/20/15 08:09 AM Re: Fitbit? [Re: Snacking Bear]
Snacking Bear Offline

Registered: 08/09/11
Posts: 502
Loc: Nashville, TN
Thanks fellas! I think I might drop the cash on a Fitbit ONE.
@jjoshuagregory (Twitter & Instagram) for landscape and mountain photo spamming...

#42641 - 05/22/15 04:04 PM Re: Fitbit? [Re: Snacking Bear]
Dave_Ayers Offline

Registered: 08/06/14
Posts: 6
Loc: California
Wifey has a Fitbit model with the heart rate function. Of course, that only works if you have it on your wrist so the sensor can read a pulse. She gets about 1 week of battery life with the HRM working. The movement is sensed via accelerometer.