View Full Version : Casio Pathfinder

05-24-2011, 03:54
Does anyone have experience with the casio pathfinder watches? I am thinking about picking one up but would like to know if anyone has any opinions on them. Also, what is better the casio or the suunto?


05-24-2011, 05:34
My Casio is several years old.
Very happy with it. it is kind of chunkier and uglier than the Suunto versions but contrary to what you read in some reviews I found that it works in a very similar way (temperature and altimeter readings have been very close in side by side tests in the real world. The Casio works in 10m increments, Suunto in 5)
The bonus for me with the Casio is that I do not need to change the battery (solar powered) so I can use alarms and switch it on at night as many times as I like...

05-24-2011, 07:44
My pathfinder is great. It is accurate enough for hiking but not good enough for orienteering. I stayed at a hostel that didn't have a night light so I used the lighted dial to find my way to the "can".

05-24-2011, 07:58
I wear a Casio Pathfinder 1300 on most hikes. While the face is quite broad, its very thin making it easy to wear. I like it better than the Suuntos mostly beacuse of the solar power function. I never have to worry about running the altimeter all day. In my opinion it is a watch first and an Altimiter Baraometer Compass second, while the Suuntos really are more of an instrument. The Casio is definitely not as accurate and lacks an altitude/barrometric pressure lock function but still meets my needs for relative change in altitude and compass heading. A great feature of the Casio is you can enter the altitude mode and then press one button to zero the altitude and see your realative change in real time; very quick and easy...

05-24-2011, 08:00
I used Casio pathfinders for several years. The design varied from year to year and some were great but other were not so great. Like many designs the original one was the best and subsequent improvements were hit or miss. They are "clunky" and the thick case tends to catch on things, plan on buying new bands on occasion. I never had any use for the compass option and mostly used them for the altimeter and normal watch functions. As most of the functions are digital, the LCD display is important and on some versions of the Pathfinders, the display was tiny. The altimeter eats a lot of juice and I got about 2 years to a battery. I did change batteries on occasion but usually, within about three years the function buttons would stop working, requiring increasing pressure to get them to work until they didnt work anymore.

The best deal for altimeter watches is usually from Campmor, they are always closing out watches at 50% off.

05-24-2011, 08:51
I've looked at the Casio Pathfinders for quite some time, and was particularly interested in the model that has Atomic Time, the setting of the clock wirelessly via the atomic timekeeper station in Boulder Colorado.

My current watch/altimiter is the HighGear brand, Summit Model, no longer made.

I like the 1 foot resolution of the altimeter on that watch. Most of their current line uses a 1 meter resolution.

You should be aware that the temperature function of virtually all of these watches isn't going to give you instant correct outdoor temperatures. The thermal sensor is buried deep in the watch, so the reported temperature is the temperature of the inside of the watch, at the sensor.

Lots of guys who don't understand this complain that it requires you to take off the watch and let it hang in the air for some time to get an outdoor air temperature reading. Of course you do.... because the reported temperature is the watch temperature (the sensor is inside) and not the air temperature because no sensor sticks out from the watch to sample the outside air temperature.

Because of the 30 meter altitude resolution issue, I have decided that the Pathfinder is not the watch for me.

The Suunto is outside of my price range.

I have found the digital compass in these watches to be more of an emergency navigation aid..... They are just too inconvenient to use as a substitute for a conventional compass. You will see this if you buy one and try to use it as a primary compass.

Even a very small old style compass is more workable as a primary compass, at least for AT trail navigation. For cross country travel, that wouldn't necessarily be the case.

Mountain Wildman
05-24-2011, 09:05
I have the Casio PAW2000, Their smallest offering. It is the size of any typical mens' watch, Atomic, Solar and very accurate. I have never had to set it, It does it for me. I have had it over a year now and all I do is set it on the window sill to charge and face it towards the atomic clock in Colorado and the watch sets time and date nightly. The barometer is very accurate and if it indicates rain, We get rain.
Worth every penny of the $275. Dropped it a couple of times and it didn't phase it.

05-24-2011, 11:58
I have a Casio Pathfinder, not atomic, and not solar powered. I like it overall, but even among altimeter watches it's relatively heavy and bulky IMO. And while I've had it for over a year, I've not had to replace the battery; there are somewhat complicated instructions available on the internet about how to do this yourself, but I was dismayed to find that the manufacturer intention is that you take it or mail it to a dealer to do this --- bleh. It's certainly NOT like my older Suunto where you just pop open the back, put in a new battery and you're done.

I've found the compass and altimeter to be fine, controls fairly intuitive (for a complicated watch). It's a fine choice, just --- if you don't get the solar model, make sure you really understand the process for replacing the battery before you buy one.

05-24-2011, 12:08
timex. free from backpacker.com at traildays 3 years ago.never set, never replaced batt. works fine. but i broke the light when i pushed all the buttons underwater alot.

05-24-2011, 15:04
I have used a pathfinder for several years it is a great watch I particularly like the solar power feature - mine is titanium and itis bombproof I dont use all of the features just the altimeter barometer compass temp features in my opinion it is a great watch

05-24-2011, 15:13
There are now a zillion confusing Casio model variations, some much better/worse than others. Overall after trying & returning several I think the Pathfinder is 'all hat and no cattle.'
I agree the temp function isn't practical, as others have described. The compass is barely-OK as an emergency double-check backup, and I agree it's not practical as a primary compass. Many models have light buttons that are impractical, and/or the light doesn't stay lit long enough to see the info you need. I don't use the altimeter much so don't have much of an opinion to offer there. Solar sounds nice, but are you really going to be out so many years you won't be able to replace a $5, two year battery?
My Casio's have been pretty sturdy with drops and bumps. The lenses will melt like butter if you get them near DEET.
REI frequently puts their Casio's on 50% off for about $110 net. Costco carries varying models too with the Costco warranty. There's always a range of prices on eBay.

Here's a Casio tip: hit a Wal-Mart and check out their $38 (-/+)Casio dual time watch (not the Pathfinder model). Black bezel face, good night light, dual time, alarm, waterproof, easy dials to see in low light, stopwatch etc. Put a little $2 compass on the watchband. And you'll have all of the functions that actually work on most Pathfinder models for a lot less.
Just sayin.

05-24-2011, 15:17
PS There are a lot of little keychain/zipper pull sized compass/air temp thermometers for under $10 so one more alternative to paying to have it on a watch.

05-24-2011, 18:10
PS There are a lot of little keychain/zipper pull sized compass/air temp thermometers for under $10 so one more alternative to paying to have it on a watch.

I put one of those on my camera case, which I usually wear for quick photo shots. That small compass/thermometer was all the navigation aids I needed to help sort out a few poorly blazed regions of the AT.

05-24-2011, 18:45
A couple of points.
Providing that you do not wear the watch on your wrist, the temperature is pretty accurate.
Changing a battery in a waterproof watch (if you want it to continue to be wp) is not a $5 do it yourself job...

05-26-2011, 16:43
A couple of points.
Providing that you do not wear the watch on your wrist, the temperature is pretty accurate.
Changing a battery in a waterproof watch (if you want it to continue to be wp) is not a $5 do it yourself job...

On the watch/thermometer.

It is more descriptive to state that in many of these electronic watches, the temperature sensing circuitry is quite accurate, but it has a slow reaction time.

Much like a thick wall bulb thermometer can be easily as accurate as a thin wall bulb thermometer, but the thick wall bulb thermometer can take a much longer time to deliver the accurate temperature, because it takes much longer for the thick wall (thermal mass) to exchange enough energy with the surrounding air to come to the same temperature as the air.

Another way of saying this is, following Franco, if you want to measure the air temperature (rather than your wrist temperature) hang the watch in the air and leave it there.

Those cheap plastic thermometer/compass zipper tags take a long time to come to the current air temperature is you go from inside to outside.... or if you have been holding the thing in your hand for a couple of hours and then open your hand and decide that the thing is faulty because it doesn't instantly tell you the outside temp.


I found it quite difficult to change the 2032 battery in my waterproof watch/altimeter the first time I did it. I never look forward to having to do a field battery change, especially with cold hands and no nice flat surface to catch any small parts that I drop.

05-26-2011, 17:04
I've been using the Casio Riseman for over a year now and love it... I find it very accurate and wicked durable... FWIW...