Choosing between a digital or an analog altimeter?

Written by Lara

My first job in the skydiving manufacturing industry was in customer service/marketing for Alti-2, so I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the good ol’ altimeter.

John Hawke, the new Alti-2 GM, has written a nice synopsis on, “Digital or Analog Altimeter.” It only uses Altimaster products as reference, but you can substitute any digital/analog product.

A while back, Nils Kløcker Predstrup at Skydive Voss in Norway conducted a study testing the use of digital altimeters for students: “Digital Altimeters for Students.” Larsen & Brusgaard (L&B) altimeters are referenced here but again, you can extrapolate the study to any altimeter.

PD New Beginning

There’s a difference between the mechanism and the display, so here is a (hopefully) helpful chart of the most popular visual altimeters, to tell what’s what:

Product Photo Hardware Display Manufacturer More Info
Altimaster II AltimasterII_Alti-2 Mechanical Analog Alti-2 LINK
Altimaster Galaxy AltimasterGalaxy_Alti-2 Mechanical Analog Alti-2 LINK
Altimaster N3 AltimasterN3_Alti-2 Electronic/Digital Digital Alti-2 LINK
ALTITRACK ALTITRACK_LandB Electronic/Digital Analog Larsen & Brusgaard LINK
VISO II VisoII_LandB Electronic/Digital Digital Larsen & Brusgaard LINK

Note: Audible-only altimeters are not listed here. That’s another discussion altogether! 


  • Your all looking cool with your new digital alti, your cool fuck yeah shades, then you jump out and at that pre determined interval, you look at the altimeter to check the stats, “oh shit” the screen is blank. Battery dead or just faulty electronics. Nope, you, just like me, have shades that polarise against the digital screen. Your car stereo LCD screen looks shit too! No matter how accurate and reliable the altimeter is. If when you pop your shades on, all you have is a blank screen, your dealing with an unknown altitude. It is not worth the risk, and I’m surprised nothing has been stated about this fundamental glitch.

  • I just upgraded from the classic analog to the Viso II and wont ever go back. Sure, I cant wear polarized sunglasses… but I’m much happier knowing the foot by foot detail under 1000 ft for the cost of wearing regular sunglasses.

  • I use both and for different reasons:
    I have an analogue on my wrist because in an emergency the visual picture (direction of dial and colours zones) is a lot easier and quicker for the brain to interpret than pure digits. Also it is very handy, to point to, for my students to read from if necessary.
    I also have digital one (usually on leg) that I use for my landings because of the accuracy needed when doing high-speed landings.

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