You’ve planned your weekend backcountry getaway, now the only question is the weather. Most adventurers could qualify as junior meteorologists; constantly pouring over weather reports and charts to ensure their well crafted trip won’t be spoiled by Mother Nature’s harsher elements. Study all you want, the weather research done at home often means little when you get out into the wild. How can you take the guesswork out of weather predicting in the backcountry? Brunton’s ADC Pro Atmospheric Data Center is here to help.
This pocket weather station is designed to do it all- from warning you about impending storms to tracking altitude change, wind chill and water speed. I tested the Brunton from November through January in every imaginable weather condition; here’s a look at how it performed.
Straight out of the box this device takes a little getting used to. Pop in the CD that comes with the ADC Pro and start taking the tutorials- you’ll need them. This gadget has three main buttons that help navigate its numerous modes and settings. There is also a smaller button that provides an LCD backlight for dark conditions. The display is solid; large fonts and digital readout will give you the answers you are looking for at a glance; no squinting here. The Brunton stows easily in a pocket, can be clipped to your pack, or you can attach the included lanyard and wear it around your neck.
Brunton claims that the lightweight and waterproof ADC Pro will help track weather pattern up to twelve hours in advance. A large picture on the main time and temperature display depicts the current weather, and no one could screw this up: the big sun means, you guessed it, it’s nice out! In addition, features like current temperature, a barometric pressure gauge and a wind speed tracker combine to let you know exactly what to expect from the skies above.
I liked the graphing feature for barometric pressure; I’m no professional but referencing the graph is an easy way to figure out what the weather is up to. If the graph is showing a smooth line with little rise or fall you can expect the weather to hold; if the graph starts plummeting you might want to seek some shelter- there’s a storm brewing!
As you get more comfortable with the meanings of these fancy numbers you can combine them for a more accurate prediction. If the humidity is rising while barometric pressure is falling you can expect a storm with precipitation is on the way. Figuring out the forecast based on these readings is handy, but who wants to walk around staring at a piece of technology while you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors? The ADC Pro also has alarms for storms, altitude, wind speed and wind chill; clip it to your pack and listen for the alarm- you’ll know you’ve got something serious coming your way.
In addition to the forecasting features the ADC also comes equipped with a ski run counter. This turned out to be one of my favorite and most often used features. Strap in and set the ski run counter to zero. Throughout the day the Brunton will tally your total runs, plus track your total vertical rise and fall. Now when you’re bragging to your buddies about that “epic 20 run day” at the local resort, you can pull out the Pro and back up your claims. The device tracks both the runs and altitude by using changes in air pressure as a measuring device. Don’t just guess that you rode 20,000′ vert, know for sure by having the ADC Pro with you. This pocket wizard also has a “Lap” feature that allows you to time races; stack up your Super G time against the pros’ if you want to bring your ego back down to earth.
Another cool feature is the tiny wind/water speed reader at the top of the device. You swear the wind was blowing 60+ MPH on the last peak you bagged? Next time you will know for sure. Not only does the Pro measure the wind speed, but it also calculates the wind chill factor. Does that stream seem like it’s flowing too fast to cross? The same little fan will also measure the water speed. As a bonus, the fan also has one blade that is a different color; this blade will give you a reading for magnetic north, and the very bare bones compass markings can show you which direction you’re heading. You wouldn’t use this compass to navigate off trail but it’s nice for a quick reference.
It’s all rosy so far for the device, but where does it fall short? My first gripe is the instruction manual: I like that they have cut down on paper by using a CD, but the disc isn’t compatible with Macs. What gives? I had to borrow my buddy’s PC to figure out the ADC; I expect that in today’s tech-savvy world the manual should work on both PC and Mac platforms. Don’t expect 100% accuracy from the ADC; after all, its readings are based on changes in air pressure. I did a half day of resort riding while using the Ski Run counter and it told me I had logged over 25,000′ vert! Why the errors? The rapidly changing air pressure on the hill had confused the ADC Pro into delivering a bad reading. Not a big deal in this situation, but you wouldn’t want it giving you bad info while 20 miles deep into the Uintas. Understand that this device is fallible and you must consider that wild weather swings will affect its accuracy.
Overall the ADC Pro delivers on almost every claim Brunton makes. I own an outdoor watch that is designed to do the same things as the ADC Pro and can honestly say the Brunton outperforms it by far. Accuracy is sometimes an issue, but in the backcountry nothing is an exact science. With a price tag of just over $200 the ADC Pro might not be the first piece of gear on your “must have” list, but knowing what the weather holds for you in the outdoors can be invaluable.
You can get more information, or purchase the Brunton ADC Pro here.