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Casio GW9400-1 Review

A classic ABC watch with impressive battery life.
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Price:  $300 List | $222.42 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, long battery life
Cons:  Very bulky, lots of buttons, busy display, not intuitive
Manufacturer:   Casio
By Paige Klugherz ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 19, 2019
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 13
  • Altimeter Accuracy - 30% 7
  • Battery Life - 20% 10
  • User experience - 20% 4
  • Features - 15% 5
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 3

Our Verdict

The Casio GW9400 is the utilitarian watch you picture your hardcore, outdoor-enthusiast dad wearing. It's a rugged altimeter watch with a great battery life but is bulky, can be uncomfortable, and has a cluttered watch face. Along with an altimeter, barometer, and compass, it also features basic timekeeping functions, sunrise/sunset data, and a thermometer. Its aesthetics make it not a watch you're likely to wear in your everyday life unless you're a backcountry guide or ranger, and for a similar price, you could find another watch with additional features such as GPS tracking. However, if durability and longevity are your biggest needs, this could be one to consider.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Casio GW9400-1
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $222.42 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$599.99 at Amazon$499.99 at Amazon$436.00 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$244.95 at Amazon
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Pros Durable, long battery lifeGreat battery life, accurate tracking, easy to useTracks many activities, easy to use, stylish, comfortableTouch screen, many features, consistent altimeter, clear graphsLong battery life, durable aluminum finish, great fit, precise, easy-to-use interface
Cons Very bulky, lots of buttons, busy display, not intuitiveExpensive, slightly bulkyShorter battery life, less accurate GPSShort battery life, inaccurate step counterAltitude and barometric graphs are sub-par, no GPS, lag on button presses
Bottom Line A classic ABC watch with impressive battery life.This watch is your ultimate mountain sport training tool.This altimeter watch is loaded with features for the mountain athlete.This is an all-star watch for those who keep to the front country.This Best Buy Award winner is the best option for those looking for a classic altimeter watch at an affordable price.
Rating Categories Casio GW9400-1 Coros Vertix Garmin Forerunner 935 Suunto 9 Baro Suunto Core Alu
Altimeter Accuracy (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Battery Life (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
3
10
0
9
User Experience (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
6
Features (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Specs Casio GW9400-1 Coros Vertix Garmin Forerunner... Suunto 9 Baro Suunto Core Alu
GPS? No Yes Yes Yes No
Dimensions (Inches) None provided 1.85 x 1.85 x .61" 1.85 x 1.85 x .55 2.03 x 2.03 x 0.67 " 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.57”
Type of Battery Solar rechargable battery Rechargeable lithium ion battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Rechargable lithium ion battery Watch battery
Battery Life (w/o GPS) 7 months (w/o further exposure to light) 45 days 2 weeks 14 days 12 months
Battery Life w/ GPS on No GPS 60hrs up to 24 hrs regular GPS, up to 60 hrs in Ultratrac w/o hr tracking 7 days No GPS
Altitude Range -700 to 10,000 m (-2,300 to 32,800 ft) None provided None provided -500 - 9999 m -500 - 9000 m
Altitidue differential? Yes None provided Yes Yes Yes
Elevation interval 1m/3tf None provided 1m/3ft 1ft 1m/3ft
Barometer Yes, barometric graph Yes, barometric graph Yes, barometric graph Yes Yes
Barometric Recording Interval & Time (for the graph) Every 2 hours default (or every 5 seconds in barometer mode) Every 10 min, 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours 10 seconds, 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours
Barometric Pressure Range 260 - 1,110 hPa (7.65 - 32.45 inHg) None provided 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg) Information pending 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg)
Storm Alert Alarm? No No No Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes Yes Yes, tilt adjustable None
Time Features Digital, stopwatch, timer, world clock Digital, stopwatch, timer Digital (customizable faces), stop watch, GPS time, countdown timer Digital (customizable faces), stop watch, GPS time, countdown timer Digital, dual world times, stopwatch, countdown timer
Time Alarm Yes, 5 daily alarms Yes, 10 daily alarms Yes, 10 daily alarms Yes Yes
Thermometer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Resistance Range 14 to 140 F (-10 to 60 C) -4 to 140F (-20 to 60C) -20° C to +60° C (-4F - 140F) -20° C to +60° C -20° C to +60° C (-4F - 140F)
Water Resistance Yes, 200 meters Yes, 150 meters Yes, 50 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters
Interchangeable straps? No Yes Yes Yes No
Types of bands and material Silicone Silicone Silicone (leather options, as well) Silicone Silicone
Bluetooth connection? No Yes Yes Yes No
GPS, GLONASS, both? No GPS Both Both GPS No GPS
Apps no Yes, Coros app Garmin Connect Suunto MovesCount n/a
Charging Type solar specialized cord Specialized cord Specialized cord Battery
Warranty Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (2 years)
Other Cool Features sunrise/sunset sunrise/sunset, sleep tracking, VO2 max sunrise/sunset, sleep tracking, VO2 max, etc. Activity monitoring, heart rate monitor, notifications, moon phases, points of interest, sleep tracking sunrise/sunset

Our Analysis and Test Results

This watch is a winner when it comes to battery life and has some good basic features, but it's uncomfortable and visually overwhelming.

Performance Comparison


Taking an altitude reading.
Taking an altitude reading.

Altimeter Accuracy


This watch takes altitude readings based on barometric pressure, which works because generally air pressure decreases as you go higher. However, the drawback of this method is that barometric pressure can change with weather, meaning that if a storm rolls in, your altimeter may give you an inaccurate reading. The user manual even recommends calibrating your altimeter based on a known elevation as frequently as possible to help account for this.

We found that the altimeter was decently accurate- not great, not terrible. When calibrated at a trailhead right before a hike, it would do pretty well. One evening after being calibrated in Bishop before driving up to Mammoth, its reading was 320' off compared to an elevation sign, which seemed like a significant amount for an hour after calibration.

Reading 320' lower than the actual elevation.
Reading 320' lower than the actual elevation.

Battery Life


Battery life is where the Casio watches excel. Relying on a long-lasting rechargeable solar battery means that if you're embarking on a multi-month long trek, you'll never need to worry about access to electricity in order to keep this watch working. Its specs claim it can go as long as 7 months before needing any exposure to sunlight to charge it, and while we weren't able to spend a winter in the Arctic to verify this, we believe it. Throughout testing, which involved both weeks of use as well as weeks in a desk drawer, it stayed at the medium or high battery levels. You won't ever need to go out of your way to charge this watch, since general exposure to sunlight while on your wrist should be enough to keep it fully functioning.

After months of use without going out of our way to make sure it gets sunlight  the battery is still sitting at half-full (M).
After months of use without going out of our way to make sure it gets sunlight, the battery is still sitting at half-full (M).

User Experience


In spite of its fairly conservative number of features, this is one watch that you'll definitely need to sit down and read the manual for. Similar to the Suunto Core and Ambit models, it has five buttons (not including a separate backlight button), but we found the GW9400 much more complicated to learn. Each button has multiple labels and functions that can be hard to distinguish because of how they're etched into the black casing. Even setting the time and location required a deep dive into the user manual. The watch face packs a lot into a fairly small screen, and we didn't like how cluttered it felt.

The backlight was bright enough, but it only stayed on for one second at a time with no option to hold it in and keep it on, which could prove frustrating if trying to change or view a setting during the night. Frustration was the general mood when using this watch- a lot of the actual functionality is just more complicated than it needs to be.

The five buttons and sensor of the 9400  not including the light button on top below the watch face.
The five buttons and sensor of the 9400, not including the light button on top below the watch face.

Fit


Watches don't get bulkier than this one. It's a behemoth on your arm, and for our small-wristed reviewers, it was impossible to get a comfortable fit. Measuring the watch face down the length of your arm, the diameter is 52 mm, but measuring the face from one side of your arm to the other, the diameter is 65 mm. This is due to the straps being inflexible where they join the main watch body, so on a smaller arm, there's a lot of extra space where it can't be tightened down.

The screen itself is 30 mm in diameter, with the part of the screen that's actually showing data measuring closer to 25 mm. This feels a bit disappointing when you consider how much real estate the watch is taking up on your arm. The buttons were responsive, and we didn't have any issues using them with gloves on, but it'd be hard to fit this watch under close-fitting layers.

The heavy  bulky Casio dug into our testers' arms and was difficult to tighten down.
The heavy, bulky Casio dug into our testers' arms and was difficult to tighten down.

Features


Although it has the features you expect in a basic ABC watch, it felt like learning to use them was more complicated than necessary.

Altimeter and Barometer


The altimeter and barometer use a sensor on the left side of the watch, with the altimeter measuring a range of -2,300' to 32,800'. The barometer screen also shows the temperature and a barometric pressure graph of the previous 42 hours from the automatic readings the watch takes every two hours.

Compass


Compass readings are accessed using the same sensor button that gives you altimeter and barometer readings. It can be calibrated, and we found its accuracy on par with the other ABC watches tested. The manual recommends bringing a compass to double-check readings in high-consequence situations.

Timekeeper


Heavy backcountry sleeper? Good news- you can set five daily alarms on this model so that you never miss your predawn wake-up call! (This can be a surprisingly rare feature in altimeter watches.) Other than that, the basic timekeeping features include a stopwatch, timer, world clock, and sunrise/sunset data for your programmed location.

Jenny (left) wears the GW9400 on an evening run near Mammoth Lakes while testing its features and comfort against other watches.
Jenny (left) wears the GW9400 on an evening run near Mammoth Lakes while testing its features and comfort against other watches.

Value


The number of customers looking for this specific watch is bound to be small. There are multiple other watches at the same price point that offer either more features, better style, or both. If all you're needing is a basic altimeter watch, and you still want the look and durability of a Casio, we recommend the Casio SGW-300H for about one-fifth the price of this model.

Conclusion


The Casio GW9400 is a basic ABC watch with a steep learning curve. Its battery life is impressive, its aesthetics are not, and unless you're going on the longest and most rugged adventures, it's probably not the watch you're looking for.

We took the Casio on some big High Sierra days and didn't enjoy the heaviness and bulk of the watch.
We took the Casio on some big High Sierra days and didn't enjoy the heaviness and bulk of the watch.


Paige Klugherz