Gear Watch: Casio Pathfinder Series

Casio's Pathfinder series of altimeter watches does all the basics: altitude, barometric pressure, electronic compass, time, date, alarms, etc. But they also do a lot more. Solar powered. Sync to atomic time. Tide charts. Automatic back light. Phases of the moon.

The Pathfinder Solar Atomic Triple Sensor series does all of these. To provide solar power, they feature a small photovoltaic ring around the watch face, which charges the internal battery with both indoor and outdoor light—no need to ever replace a battery again. They automatically set themselves to atomic time, which it receives from a transmitter in Colorado. They indicate the relative tide level and current phases of the moon, with up to eight gradations for each. And the back light automatically comes on any time you tilt your wrist to look at the watch. Pretty slick.

Plus you've got all your usual altimeter and barometer functionality, including elevation functions like cumulative gain and loss, measurement in increments of 5 meters (~20 feet), and a graphic display of barometric pressure for the past 26 hours. Another nice feature of these watches is a designated (and clearly labeled) button to directly access each function; no need to cycle through each function page like most other altimeter watches.

There are a dozen different models in the Solar Atomic Triple Sensor series, which range in price from $300 - $400. Function-wise, they're all essentially equivalent—you're primarily paying for different materials and color styles in the watch body and band—though the moon and tide functions vary somewhat with each style. You can also choose from their Solar Triple Sensor line (no atomic sync) for $250 - $300, or their basic Triple Sensor series (no atomic, solar, tides, moon) for around $200. Check out the entire product line.

I've had a Suunto Vector for a long, long time. When it finally decides to die, I'm buying a Pathfinder.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.