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Hands-on Gear Review
Casio PRW-6000Y Review
Cons: Steep learning curve, archaic features, expensive
Bottom line: This solar-powered altimeter watch is the best option for those looking for limitless battery life and great durability.
The Casio PRW-6000Y is a multi-functional watch that is built to last. The triple sensor is able to provide data on altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature. It also features a basic compass and an atomic clock. The solar-powered battery stands out from the rest, making it one of the most reliable watches tested. Our testers loved the durable strap featuring a carbon-fiber insert. The watch itself is extremely accurate and pretty ease to use (once you figure it out). That said, we have our caveats as well. Of all the watches tested, this one had the steepest learning curve. All features and functions could be not figured out without the help of a user's manual. We liked the unique analog-digital display, but felt like a lot of the functions were archaic. For example, the compass does not have tilt-compensation like all the other watches tested and the graphs are poor in quality. That said, it does track weather patterns, store trips, and provide the basic functions of any great altimeter watch. Overall, it's a great option if you're in the market for something that is tough, reliable, and old-school. Though, if you're looking for something with a similar level of reliability, a lower price, and a few more features, check out the Suunto Core Alu instead.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Altimeter Watches Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The PRW-6000Y stands out for its built-in solar panel and simple functions. It's reliable and perfect for any extended mission.
The PRW-6000Y is a quality watch that offers some great features. However, the functions are a little more archaic than other watches tested, and there aren't nearly as many features as other watches in this review. That said, it does perform the basic functions of any quality altimeter watch. It features a quality alti-barometer, compass, temperature gauge, timekeeper, and data log.
Altimeter and Barometer
The alti-barometer allows you to view your altitude and the barometric pressure for a current location. It allows you to record logs of any uphill (or downhill) mission, and allows you to determine an altitude differential between two locations. It automatically logs your maximum and minimum altitude, while data recall allows you to see up to 30 logs that you have saved. The barometer can be used to track weather trends and turn on storm alerts for severe changes in barometric pressure. In comparison to the rest, this watche features the worst graphs for both barometric pressure and altitude. They are small, hard to see and don't contain a whole lot of information. The trend line is also extremely short. Even though it still allows you to track trends in altitude and pressure, the graphs featured in other battery-powered watches like the Suunto Core Alu are much better.
Map reading skills and experience are required in order to determine your location using this watch.
The compass on this watch is functional, but fairly archaic in comparison to the rest of the watches tested. It allows you to take a current bearing to determine where you need to go (with the use of a topographical map). A bi-directional calibration is required prior to each use, and manual magnetic declination should be set appropriately before use. In addition, this watch requires you to keep your wrist horizontal for a proper reading, unlike all the other watches tested that are tilt-adjustable. If you want a tilt-adjusted watch, check out the Suunto Traverse or the Suunto Ambit3 Peak (our Editors' Choice) instead.
This is the only watch that features an atomic, radio controlled watch with both a digital and analog display. It features a world clock, complete with 29 different time zones, five alarms, a stopwatch, and countdown function. The world clock is helpful to have. However, a GPS enabled watch that can update the time automatically is more convenient when travelling.
Earning top marks in this category, this solar-powered Casio is the most reliable watch tested. You won't have to worry about it running out of juice on the trail — even if you're gone for months. Throughout our three-month testing period, we didn't have to formally charge it once. Depending on the type of light used to charge (i.e. direct sunlight, indirect sunlight, or fluorescent lights), this solar-powered watch can take anywhere from just three to six hours to charge from a dead battery state. For those in search of watch that won't lose battery life during an adventure that lasts more than a week, this is your best option. Taking a simple walk outdoors will keep it charged ready to go.
If you're specifically looking for a reliable watch that you don't have to plug in or change the batteries — this is what you've been looking for.
Ease of Use
Of all the watches tested, this was the hardest one to figure out. Every other watch we were able to take out of the box and immediately set up without the use of a manual. We couldn't even figure out how to set the time, look at barometric reading, or determine the altitude without looking at the user manual (thank goodness it's a great manual). This watch has the steepest learning curve, but once we figured it out, it was easy to use (like any piece of technology). If you're looking for an easier to use option, check out the Garmin Fenix 5. It was the easiest to set up with quick and easy prompts. In addition, features were easy to find.
Like all watches, make sure to perform regular daily calibrations at known altitudes to ensure the accuracy of the altimeter — especially on long adventures.
After walking, running, and hiking over 10,000 feet of vertical terrain, we learned that this was the second most accurate watch tested. In every test we performed, the watch wasn't more than 100 feet off the actual altitude (with calibrations). In the world of watches this is incredibly accurate. The only time it lost its accuracy was when we didn't calibrate it properly before a trip, or when the weather changed drastically (which is to be expected). In general, you can rely on the altimeter readings with this Casio. That said, it didn't score super high in this metric because the increments are 1m/5 ft. Most high end altimeter watches like the Suunto Traverse have an altimeter increment of 1m/3ft.
The liquid crystal display is durable, clear, and crisp. We loved that in all light conditions there is little to no reflection. That said, the watch face isn't as large as the other watches tested (except the Casio SGW300HB) and the box that provides a digital readout of altitude, pressure, and other features is tiny. The LCD light is also pretty crappy. It doesn't last long enough or provide a lot of light to see the entire face of the watch during the night (only one and three second options). If you're looking for a watch with the best display quality, check out the Garmin Fenix 5 instead.
Comfort and Fit
This watch stands out for its ergonomic fit and light weight. It was one of the only watches that felt like you weren't wearing anything at all.
We also loved its durable carbon-fiber wrist strap that is bound to last a long, long time. When comparing to our top contender, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak, we noticed that this watch is lighter, with a slimmer profile. However, we liked the Ambit3 better because of its longer straps (that fit better over layers) and thicker strap material.
If you're looking for a watch that fits great under layers and it doesn't feel like you're wearing anything at all, this might be your best option.
The Casio PRW-6000Y is by far the best watch to take on extra long adventures into the wild. It's a great option for those backpacking a long trail for months or just taking it on a day hike. The simple solar-powered watch allows one to adventure far and wide, for months or even years, without a single recharge. Just place it in the sun for a few minutes a day and you're set. This made it one of the most reliable watches tested. Just make sure that you know how to use it before setting off for any adventure. If you're in the market for a GPS fitness trainer, check out the Garmin Fenix 5, our Top Pick for Features.
Of all the watches tested, this proved to have the lowest value of all watches tested. It comes with a super high price for not a whole lot of features. However, it is the most durable watch we tested. We loved the built-in solar panel, but the features and ease of use of the watch just don't match the price. Even though this durable piece of technology provides decent accuracy and simple features, it is fairly archaic in function and doesn't include any bells or whistles that other (less expensive) watches have. If you're in the market for a cheap watch that will just tell time and provide basic altimeter function, check out one of our Best Buy winners, the Casio SGW300HB for just $65. If you want the ultimate in accuracy and simplicity, check out the Suunto Core Alu for $400 (without the aluminum finish it is $300). Or if you're willing to spend a little extra for limitless battery life, this might be your best option.
This Casio is one of the most reliable watches tested in this review. The solar-powered functionality coupled with durable features makes it a perfect compadre for extended missions in remote territories. However, it lacks fancy features and the price is high for what it provides.
— Amber King
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