User Review: Casio Pathfinder PAW1300-1V
Price Paid: $269
I bought this watch a little over a month ago, and so far, it has lived up to its billing. I purchased it primarily for the altimeter, but I find myself using its other functions quite often.
I typically wear it hiking or mountain biking, and track my time with the stop watch function. Before hitting the trail, you have to calibrate the altimeter to ensure that it works properly. Some find this annoying, but you will have to do this with any barometric altimeter and it takes less than a minute once you have the hang of it. The altimeter tracks in 20 ft. intervals, which is fine for my purposes.
The barometer takes readings every two hours and has kept me aware of impending weather. Twice now I have been out with questionable weather and both times the barometer gave me accurate information to make a quality decision in whether to head back to the car or trek on. Also, a thermometer will track outside temperature, but you have to take it off your wrist for it to be accurate, as it will measure your skin temperature if it is on your wrist.
I have not really used the compass feature, but I tried testing it on the trail and it seems to work fairly well.
Two advantages of this watch (compared to the Casio Pathfinder PAG40-3V) are its solar power feature and atomic timekeeping. I never have to worry about setting the time, and my battery is always fresh. The solar power feature is huge, because if you are using the many functions that the watch has, you will drain the battery that much quicker. With the solar power, as long as the face of the watch gets light (natural or otherwise) it will operate just fine.
When I was doing some research and price checking, I found it listed for almost $100 cheaper online than in retail stores, but I picked mine up from REI anyway as they have a quality return policy and great customer service. So far, all of my hikes and mountain bike rides have been day trips, but I have confidence this watch will do just fine with extended trips as well.