High Gear Axio Max Steel Watch giveaway

Last week we reviewed the Axio Max Steel watch. This feature-packed wristwatch is ideal for independent travelers who need a compass or altimeter on their journeys. We’re giving away an Axio Max Steel to one lucky Gadling reader! Who’s ready for a backpacking trip?

The Axio Max Steel is more than just a timepiece – it’s a navigational toolbox. The Max Steel has dual time zones, two alarms, a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and more. All these features are packed into an unassuming metal casing, so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a two hundred dollar watch – even though you are.


  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us where you would use this watch first.
  • The comment must be left before Friday September 24, 2010 at 5pm Eastern time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive one free Axio Max Steel watch.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The watch is valued at $210.
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.

High Gear Axio Max Steel watch

When it comes to travel watches, telling time is good, but a watch that can help pinpoint your position is even better. Each trip has a unique itinerary, and those who choose the path less traveled may require a bit more from their timepiece. The Axio Max Steel rises to the challenge with its humble styling and powerful navigational instruments.

The Axio Max Steel is made by High Gear, an up-and-comer in the adventure watch market. They produce a variety of styles, but this particular model packs several features into its unassuming shell. Most altimeter watches have an over-sized face for reading information. The Axio Max Steel does this in a decidedly smaller package that doesn’t scream, “Steal me – I’m expensive!” The stainless steel body could easily be mistaken for a less pricey brand. Below that steel casing, however, lies an army of features that will help you get from point A to point B… or get back to point A, if you’ve lost your way.The main appeal of the Axio Max Steel is this arsenal of features that can help the directionally challenged out of precarious situations. No particular expertise is needed to use this watch, just a good map and a little basic orienteering knowledge.

The altimeter on the Axio Max Steel claims to work between -2,303 and 30,045 feet. This means you could theoretically use the feature in the depths of Death Valley or on the icy summit of Mt. Everest. The altimeter uses barometric pressure to find the altitude. Once the altitude is set, the air pressure sensor reads the barometric pressure, and adjusts the altitude accordingly. As with most altimeter watches, the altitude and barometric pressure need to be reset each time the watch lands in a new place. For instance, when you step off the plane in Colorado, your altimeter might be a little confused until it adjusts.

Altitude is a great way to find where you are, if your map has contour lines and elevations marked. If your watch shows you are at 3,000 feet elevation, you can identify the 3,000 foot mark on the map and hone in on your possible locations. Don’t fret if your map has metric measurements – the watch can be adjusted to show meters as well.

Digital Compass
Beyond your map, a compass is the most essential navigational tool you’ll need. The digital compass on the Axio Steel works well. Our tests compared its readings to a magnetic compass, and they matched up almost identically. If you are ever unsure of your location, simply take a compass reading, find north from your position, and find north on your map. Turn the map so that north on the map lines up with actual north on your watch. Now you have oriented the map. Once this is done, you can take a look around at landmarks and natural features to get a better idea of your location.

Other slick features
Beyond the altimeter and compass, there are other features on the Axio Max Steel that make travel easier. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters, which works out nicely for a spontaneous dip in the pool or an accidental fall into the river. There are two alarms to keep you on schedule and ensure you don’t miss the next train stop. A dual time zone feature helps to keep track of the time at home while displaying the time in your current locale. The thermometer also makes for a fun feature when you’ve just got to exactly know how cold or hot it is.

The Axio Max Steel comes in at $210. This price is quite typical of watches that garner this many features. The styling works well for those who want a relatively normal-sized watch, but need the features of the larger computer-style watches.

Specs can be found at HighGear.com

Plane Answers: Zeroing in on a few airplane systems

Welcome to Gadling’s feature, Plane Answers, where our resident airline pilot, Kent Wien, answers your questions about everything from takeoff to touchdown and beyond. Have a question of your own? Ask away!

Jason asks:

On a recent round trip on board 757-200s, when we would descend there was a sound like air leaking out of a tire coming from the engine area. It would last from 1-3 minutes in some cases or a matter of seconds at other times. What causes this noise?

Air conditioning and pressurization on an airliner both originate from what’s called bleed-air that comes from the engines. On the 757, as the thrust is reduced to idle for descent, another valve opens allowing ‘high-stage’ bleed air to supplement the existing air.

This hot air is then run through air conditioning “packs” that heat or cool the cabin and provide pressurization.

You may have been hearing the rushing air associated with this valve.

Not being a mechanic, that’s the best explanation I can provide. Any mechanics out there want to tackle this one? Big Ed?

Michael asks:

While working, I flew Northwest from MSP to AMS monthly. When flying DC-10s, the cabin display showed the same flight level the captain reported – 35,000 feet = 35,000 feet. Now flying the A330, the captain reports 35,000 feet but the IFE reports something like 34,824 (a guess, not the actual number). Does the IFE not get its travel info from the plane’s instruments? Since FL350 is about 10,600 meters, does the IFE work in metric units (rounded to the nearest 100 meters) and convert to an exact English equivalent i.e. 34,777 feet?
On older aircraft such as the DC-10, I can’t recall where the inflight entertainment screen pulls the altitude information from, but the newer jets all use GPS data to display the altitude on the map back in the cabin. In addition to locating an airplane’s position on a map, the GPS can also compute an approximate altitude.

Since we refer to an altimeter in the cockpit that’s entirely based on air pressure, our version of 35,000 feet actually varies slightly depending on whether we’re flying through a low or high pressure area.

It’s not important that we’re exactly 35,000 feet above the ground, but it IS important that we’re using the same measurement as all the other aircraft. And this barometric altimeter is considered the most accurate way to establish our altitude relative to all other airplanes.

Down low (below 18,000 feet), we manually correct the altimeters for the variations in pressure with a small knob using a setting provided by air traffic control. This keeps us at a safe and known altitude above the terrain.

So you may notice that the altitude displayed in the cabin while in level flight below 18,000 feet is much closer to a given 1,000 foot measurement, such as 11,000 or 5,000 feet when temporarily leveling off during a climb or descent.

Michael goes on to ask:

Also, the system in the cockpit that warns of impending collision – does it work by getting transponder information from nearby aircraft or is the information derived from the ground? Over the mid-Atlantic, out of ground based radar coverage, is separation dependent on seperation leaving Canada and maintaining a constant Mach number or will the system warn if you are getting too close?

The TCAS system (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) works over the Atlantic, since it uses the transponder of each airplane to decide who, in the case of a controller or pilot mistake, needs to climb and who needs to descend to avoid a collision.

But you’ll almost never hear that warning over the Atlantic since the Gander (Newfoundland) and Shanwick (Shannon, Ireland and Prestwick, Scotland) controllers place aircraft on ‘tracks’ at a proper spacing and altitude that should stay relatively constant with an assigned speed for the crossing.

It’s far more common to receive a TCAS alert while flying domestically or while in Central or South America. And since the introduction of GPS, which has effectively reduced our airways from up to 8 miles wide to a much more narrow .1 of a mile wide due to vastly improved accuracy, TCAS has saved numerous lives already, usually without passengers even knowing it.

Do you have a question about something related to the pointy end of an airplane? Ask Kent and maybe he’ll use it for the next Plane Answers. Check out his other blog, Cockpit Chronicles and travel along with him at work.

Cause for Turkish Airlines flight known: Dutch Safety Board issues warning

Last Wednesday, a Turkish Airlines flight crashed in a field just 1 kilometer short of the runway at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The report as to what caused the accident has been released. After reading through it myself, and thanks to the paired down version of Gadling’s own Kent Wien, pilot and writer of Cockpit Chronicles, here are the details.

According to the report, there was a malfunction of one of the radio altimeters, the device that displays the distance of the airplane from the ground. The left altimeter, instead of reading the Boeing 737’s actual height at 1950 feet when the plane was descending, it read 8 feet.

At the point of the glitch, the auto-throttles went to idle because the reading said the plane was just above the runway thus about to land. This caused the plane to slow down more than it should have. The pilots didn’t have enough time to recover the speed needed to pull the plane out of a stall to a higher altitude in order to achieve a safe landing.

Along with determining the malfunction in the radio altimeter, the investigation also found out what happened to the plane upon impact. The tail of the plane hit first, then the undercarriage. When the plane hit the ground it was going at 150 kph. A normal landing speed is 260. Because the ground was soft, the plane had a “rapid halt” within 150 meters.

During landing, the tail broke off and the plane ruptured at the business class section which is where most of the fatalities and injuries occurred. Eighty passengers in all were injured and nine people died (4 crew, including the pilots and five passengers). The area of the plane around the wings was the most intact.

There are still investigations being made surrounding the altimeter’s malfunction and the Dutch Safety Board has issued a warning to Boeing.

For the report, click here. Prior to these findings, one theory about the cause of the crash was wake turbulence caused by a larger plane landing right before this plane’s attempt. (See article.)