I Test the Fitbit Surge at Joaquin Miller Park

I took a Thursday afternoon off to take my dogs to Oakland to hike the Joaquin Miller Park. I heard about this hike while reading some comments that people put in a different blog post that was talking about all of the great parts of Oakland. I don’t remember where I read this, but I filed this information in my head for later.

I also recently got my Fitbit Surge. I wrote about Fitbits before as I use to wear a One everywhere I went for the past couple of years. Felicia, of course is a Fitbit junky, and she has tried the One, the Charge HR, and the Surge.

I started the hike at the dog park at Joaquin. At the Surge’s normal setting, the watch shows the time, and a circle of dots around the time. It wasn’t obvious to me at first, but the dots represent how active you’ve been in the hour. Since I realized this is what it is showing, those activity dots have been my favorite feature of the Surge.
IMG_0546You can swipe through different indicator screens on the Surge with your fingertip. Time->steps->heart rate->distance in miles->calories->floors.

To start recording your hike, press the side button, select exercise, and there is a hike function that you can choose.





The Surge will then look for a signal, and if it doesn’t immediately find a GPS signal, it will let you start the timer anyway. It never takes long for the signal to arrive.

Once the watch starts to track your hike, it will display the time, and you can swipe through to show what the real-time stats are. It shows you your heart rate, which is my favorite part to track, especially when climbing hills. When you run up a hill and you feel your heart pounding, it takes a minute for the heart rate indicator on the watch to catch up to what’s going on. I have found the heart rate to be pretty accurate when I’m counting my own pulse with a stopwatch.

Clockwise: Searching for a signal. Steps count during the hike. Heart rate. The clock.


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I also wanted to compare the Surge to what my iPhone 5s detects. The iPhone 5s has the motion coprocessor, and as long as it’s on you, it does a great job of counting steps. I used the MotionX GPS app.

The Hike

I wasn’t really checking the map as I set off. I took the Sinawik trail first, but I cut through some picnic area.

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And up the trail you see the signs for the Browning Monument.

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This monument was built in 1904, and it looks the part. Not much there, but I guess it ought to last for generations. We kept going. This trail got really steep really fast. On this trail, you really have to watch your step because once you head over the hill where this monument is, it drops pretty quickly. The trail was dusty, and it made me slide as I had a dog leash in each hand.


I knew when I took this picture it would be hard to appreciate how steep it is. I went around, and I finally found what’s called the sunset trail, and I walked this loop up, around, and back to the start.

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I found this trail to have a great combination of inclines and declines. It was perfect for a spring afternoon with mostly shade, and occasional sunny spots.

When I got done, I stopped the clock, and I got my results from the MotionX app on my phone, and the Surge.


With a 107 bpm average heart rate, this gave me a little bit of a workout but it didn’t exactly make me short of breath.

Do you use a fitness tracker? What are your experiences?

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