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Hands-on Gear Review
Casio SGW300HB Review
Cons: Lacks features, lacks comfort, no compass, ugly, poor display
Bottom line: The least expensive altimeter option for the recreational hiker and backpacker.
The Casio SGW300HB is the best option for those on a shoestring budget. As one of our Best Buy award winners, this $65 watch features a dual-sensor that shows altitude, barometric pressure, time, and temperature. It's simple, accurate, and easy to use. That said, with a low price comes a lack of quality and performance. Even though the altimeter is fairly accurate, it has an altitude interval of 5m/20ft, so readings aren't always exact. In addition, unlike all the other watches tested, it does not feature a compass. Even though we love how lightweight it is, the watch face quality is small, while the nightlight is poor at best. The screen is also hard to see in bright light and scratches easily. We did like how the battery can last up to three years and that it's pretty easy to figure out. Overall, we thought this watch is perfect for those just looking for a simple timepiece that also has a barometric pressure and altimeter sensor. Even though it's not the most accurate, it still works great with regular calibration. Take it with you on everything from day hikes to big mountain explorations. Just leave it at home for super-cold adventures as it's hard to use with a pair of gloves.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Altimeter Watches Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The SGW300HB is a simple, cheap, and easy to use. It provides decent accuracy and does well in most climates. A great (and affordable) option for the outdoor enthusiast on a shoestring budget.
This dual-sensor watch is truly the best if you're looking for something cheap and simple. It features an alti-barometer, temperature sensor, and a timekeeper but lacks a compass. This watch has the fewest number of features tested. If you're looking for something with lots of features, check out our Top Pick for Features, the Garmin Fenix 5. Or if you want something that is still simple, but with a few more basic features, check out the Suunto Core Alu (our other Best Buy Award winner).
Altimeter and Barometer
The alti-barometer allows you to view your barometric pressure (in hPa or inHg) and altitude (meters or feet) at your current location. It does not have graphing features, but it does allow you to determine a barometer or altitude differential between two locations. In comparison to all the watches tested, it has the most limited and simplest features.
This digital timekeeper has a few basic features. World time (31 time zones), a stopwatch, countdown timer, and five daily alarms. The time is simple to change manually and also has a daylight savings time setting. You can choose between a 12hr/24hr display, and you can check the time in different time zones. All other watches have most of its features with the exception of the five alarms (found only in the Casio watches).
If you're looking for an accurate temperature reading, take the watch off for a little bit and wear it on a jacket or backpack. This will ensure your skin temperature does not throw the temperature sensor off.
Utilizing a simple watch battery, it has the second longest battery life. Estimated to last up to three years, this is a great option for long excursions into the backcountry. If you need to change the battery, just hop over to the store for a simple watch battery, unscrew the backplate, and voila, new battery is ready to go for another few years. This watch scored second highest in the battery life metric. The solar powered Casio PRW-6000Y is the only option that will last longer with its minimal charge time in the sunshine.
If you're looking for a watch with a long battery life, check out any watch that features either a solar panel or a simple watch battery.
Ease of Use
Of all the watches tested, we thought this was one of the easiest to get to know. The buttons are well marked and the basic functions are super simple to figure out. More complex functions like determining altitude differential required a little finagling and consultation of the user's manual.
Even though we liked its ease of use, we didn't think it was the greatest option for winter wear. The smaller buttons are very difficult to press with a pair of gloves on. If you're looking for watch that is easy to use with gloves, check out our Editors' Choice, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak or the Garmin Fenix 5. Both have much larger buttons and have easy-to use-interfaces.
The SGW300HB scored the lowest in altimeter accuracy. Despite its low rating, we were surprised by how close its readings were. Most of the time it was only 50 to 200 feet off the actual altitude when properly calibrated. In fact, we noticed that its accuracy was similar to its cousin, the Casio PRW-6000Y. It scored lower than the rest because of its altitude increment. All other watches had an altitude increment of 1m/3 - 5ft, while it has an altitude increment of 5m/20ft. Thus, it couldn't provide altimeter readings that were as accurate as other watches tested.
Once again scoring the lowest in the category, we were not super impressed with the display quality compared to others in our selection. The font and display are small, the face material seems less durable, and it is very difficult to read in direct sunlight.
In addition, the light option only has a one to three second display option (similar to the Casio PRW-6000Y). The nightlight is also poor, providing an orange light that is hard to see at night. All in all, this is the worst display quality of any watch tested. However, this is a reflection of the price. If you want something that is easier to see and larger, check out the Garmin Fenix 5 instead.
Comfort and Fit
This watch features a nylon woven strap, small watch display, and light weight. Even though many of our testers liked the lightweight, no frills design that is easy to wear underneath a jacket or long sleeved shirt, many of our testers still thought it was the least comfortable of all tested. The nylon woven strap is stiff with a plastic border that abrades the skin. The holes in the strap seem cheap and itchy, while the strap doesn't provide much breathability. Even though it fits well under clothes, we didn't like that it couldn't be put on top of a jacket layer — the strap was just too short.
If you're looking for our top pick for fit and comfort, check out our Editors' Choice - the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. It has an ergonomic design that is nice to wear and fits both over and under clothing.
This watch is meant for the money-savvy adventurer who is looking for a simple timepiece that can also show altitude and barometric pressure. It does great on both long and short missions into the wild.
Even though this watch scored fairly low in all the comparative metrics, we still think it offers great value. For only $65, you can get a watch that shows the current altitude and barometric pressure. The accuracy of the watch is decent and if the intervals weren't so large, would be similar to its $600 cousin. It's also the best option for those on a shoestring budget.
If you're in the market for a good deal, also check out the Suunto Core. Without the aluminum finish, you can find one for as low as $300 (and less with sales pricing). It provides better accuracy and features.
If you're on a shoestring budget and looking for a simple altimeter watch, this is your best bet.
— Amber King
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