The Marathon Walker from Oregon Scientific is a pedometer that measures the distance (steps or KM/Miles) you walk or run. Unlike other more basic pedometers the Marathon Walker uses accelerometer technology. This means you’ll obtain a reading whether you clip it to your belt or slip it into a pocket. I’m an avid walker so when the company sent us one to test I jumped at the chance.
Over the last few months I’ve used the Marathon Walker around town on nightly walks and in numerous day trips to New York City. There’s a lot to like about this $40 device – and a few things you should know before making a purchase decision.
The unique selling point of the Marathon Walker is the accelerometer technology. This means it measures movement no matter what position the pedometer is in. Most pedometers use older technology to measure the impact of your footsteps and won’t work unless you’ve attached them upright to your belt (forcing you to walk the rest of the day looking like an out-of-shape goober).
With the Oregon Scientific I never attached it to my belt.
When I was ready to head out to on a trip I grabbed the pedometer and zipped it into my coat pocket. Then I promptly forgot about it -which is what I loved about using the Marathon Walker.
Because the pedometer uses an internal computer to measure you mileage/steps on a daily (and cumulative) basis — there’s zero setup to get the pedometer running. And the accelerometer feature means you don’t have to fuss with clipping it to your belt or pants.
This morning, for example, I walked to get my mail. Before I left I grabbed the Marathon Walker from the counter and put it inside my pocket. I did not need to set (or reset) any mileage totals. The device keeps track internally of your mileage on a daily (and cumulative) basis. Each day starts fresh with a new mileage / step count.
While I found the Marathon Walker to be generally accurate there were some observable variations. None of the difference were typically more than 1 to 1/2 mile in total.
The mileage tracked (shown above) by the Marathon Walker claimed 1.81 miles this morning.
However my Motionx GPS (iPhone App) counted out about 2.72 miles (route map) as shown below.
If I had spent additional time calibrating the Marathon Walker I’m sure that it would have become more accurate. Typically when I’m headed out for a casual walk I want an overall idea of the mileage and was happy enough with the convenience of the Marathon Walker that the discrepancies didn’t bother me. If you’re looking for a much more accurate count of miles then a pedometer may not be your best tool.
I don’t think you can beat this device for convenience. Being able to “grab it and go” — and have it work each and every time without advance setup — is a great convenience. In many cases it will be the difference between having a pedometer that you rarely use and one that you take everywhere.
The manual provides instructions on how to track cumulative mileage and set goals for miles walked. The interface for the Marathon Walker is like most other pedometers that I’ve used before – in short it’s wicked confusing.
I was not able to figure out much beyond the daily use without digging into the manual. I think however that most people buy pedometers largely to track estimated distance for single trips – a feat that the Marathon Walker excels at.
Some of the things that I didn’t like included lack of a backlight to read the display. About half the time when I’m walking it’s during the night and not having a light makes it impossible to see your distance. The device itself is also tiny – so make sure you use the strap that’s included in the box or you’ll find yourself wondering where you left/dropped the Marathon Walker.
Note: The company was gracious enough to allow us to keep the Marathon Walker and we’d like to make it available to anyone who thinks they’d make good use of it. Simply take a photo of yourself standing on a scale showing your weight. Then leave a comment (and eat all you want for Thanksgiving knowing that on the Monday you’ll probably win it and be starting that big exercise program you’ve been delaying because you never owned a great pedometer). PS – Just kidding about the scale part but if you’d like the pedometer leave a comment and we’ll pick someone the Monday after Thanksgiving and ship it out to you. It will make a great holiday gift.
Link: Oregon Scientific Marathon Walker – $49
What I Liked:
– Great convenience for measuring daily miles/steps
– Automatically tracks daily/cumulative mileage
– Will track distance in your pocket from any position – no bulky belt clips needed
What Could Be Better:
– Add a backlight
– Interface should have more prompts for resetting/setting distance counters