To determine the consistency of commercially available devices used for measuring elevation gain in outdoor activities and sports.
Two separate observational validation studies were conducted. Garmin (Forerunner 310XT, Edge 500, Edge 750, and Edge 800; with and without elevation correction) and SRM (Power Control 7) devices were used to measure total elevation gain (TEG) over a 15.7-km mountain climb performed on 6 separate occasions (6 devices; study 1) and during a 138-km cycling event (164 devices; study 2).
TEG was significantly different between the Garmin and SRM devices (P < .05). The between-devices variability in TEG was lower when measured with the SRM than with the Garmin devices (study 1: 0.2% and 1.5%, respectively). The use of the Garmin elevation-correction option resulted in a 5–10% increase in the TEG.
While measurements of TEG were relatively consistent within each brand, the measurements differed between the SRM and Garmin devices by as much as 3%. Caution should be taken when comparing elevation-gain data recorded with different settings or with devices of different brands.