iPod not recommended above 10,000 feet

Apple 4 GB iPod Nano AAC/MP3 Player Blue (2nd Generation)

This can’t be right:

Maximum operating altitude: 3,000 metres (10,000 feet)

Apple iPod specifications page

My Rio Cali flash drive MP3 player worked perfectly up to 5000m.

Leave a comment if you know of an iPod Nano on Everest or other high peaks.

Likely Apple is being overcautious.

via Around the world(ish)

UPDATE: Consensus of opinion is that flash drive Nano iPods should be OK at altitude. But that spinning disk drive iPods are at risk.

Fedak pointed me to a pilot’s blog: He had problems at 19,000ft unpressurized.

Hard drives work by levitating a head a very small distance from the media; unlike floppy or tape, where the media actually touches the head. The distance between the rotating media and the head is regulated using a very small wing on the head. The head literally ‘flys’ above the media.

When the pressure inside the drive is reduced, the wing will need a higher angle of attack, until finally the wing stalls, and the head impacts the media. The term in the industry for this behavior is called a ‘head crash’. Very apropos, no?


4 Replies to “iPod not recommended above 10,000 feet”

  1. There was a blurb in Backpacker a couple years ago about this very thing. Cited a couple examples of iPods giving out above 10,000 feet. I don’t remember the reason behind it, but I’ll see if I can find the mention when I get home tonight.

  2. I’ve spoken with several people who took iPods to Everest and didn’t hear any complaints except that the batteries die quickly when it gets cold. Of course, I’d recommend the Nano and it’s flash drive over the Video iPod. Hard drives would probably be more problematic at altitude.

  3. You’re going to have altitude issues with any hard drive based electronic product.

    There’s an explanation of the physics here:

    With that said, I used an IBM Microdrive in my camera for years at 10-12k and never had any issues.

    Flash based MP3 players (i.e. Nanos) are solid state and shouldn’t have problems.

  4. Pretty much exactly what I thought with the flash drives working better, although I know a few people who have had their laptops up ABC on Everest and had them work fine. But then again, there were plenty of others who’s laptops died at that altitude.

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