By Jason Heaton
on 5.21.10

Suunto pretty much invented the “ABC” watch – that’s Altimeter/Barometer/Compass – and they have a different model for just about any use, from golf to sailing to skiing. But when you want utility in a super hard-ass tactical package, there’s only one choice – the X-Lander Military ($350).

it’s a lightweight, tough-as-nails watch that will serve you well in the backcountry and might make people eye you cautiously in line for your latte

The “Mil-X,” as it’s called in Suunto geek circles, is based on the proven design and functionality of the standard X-Lander that Suunto has sold for many years. In fact, it’s slightly less whiz-bang than some of its newer brethren like the Core or the X6M. But Suunto upgraded the crystal from scratch-prone acrylic to mineral glass and the case is made of aluminum with a carbon fiber back for a tougher, lighter package. Another enhancement the X-Lander Military gets are its so-called “Stinger” buttons, which are derived from Suunto’s dive computer line. These push buttons are designed to be operable underwater, unlike those on the standard X-Lander and the watch is rated as fully dive-able to 100 feet (though don’t expect depth readings). Then there’s the black-on-black color scheme which even extends to the negative digital display (yellow on black). It gives the watch a tactical, Special Ops look and the watch is a favorite of many who are deployed downrange.

So what can this thing do? Well, aside from time and date, you get a second time zone, stopwatch, countdown alarm, two programmable daily alarms, an accurate compass, barometer and an altimeter that read air pressure to determine your position relative to sea level. I’ve found the X-Lander to be remarkably accurate on hilly bike rides and hikes, but you have to be aware that the barometer and altimeter are both reading air pressure, so knowing a reference altitude is a must, lest you mistake a drop in air pressure for a rise in altitude instead of an approaching storm.

Any negatives? Well, the strap is a little stiff and doesn’t inspire confidence that it will last. Battery life is predictably short, given all that this little wrist top computer is doing. But all in all, it’s a lightweight, tough-as-nails watch that will serve you well in the backcountry and might make people eye you cautiously in line for your latte.

Buy it: $349

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