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Casio Pathfinder PAG240B-2 Review

A simple altimeter watch with decent features, but plenty of room to improve its aesthetic qualities
Casio Pathfinder PAG240B-2
Photo: Casio
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Price:  $280 List | $280.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Solar powered, clearly labeled buttons, fairly easy-to-use interface
Cons:  Feels big on your wrist, busy display and bezel, rigid wristband
Manufacturer:   Casio
By Ben Applebaum-Bauch ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 6, 2018
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Altimeter Accuracy - 30% 6
  • Battery Life - 20% 10
  • User experience - 20% 5
  • Features - 15% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 3

Our Verdict

The Casio PAG240B-2 is a straightforward altimeter watch. It has a basic set of features that are easy to use, and the altimeter is just as accurate as some far more expensive models. However, you will sacrifice comfort and quality with this watch. The face is relatively small and tries to pack a lot of numbers and symbols in all at once. It has essential timekeeping functions, including up to five daily alarms — more than many of its pricier competitors. It also comes with a compass, which is nice, but it can be a bit temperamental at times. It has its faults, but if you're looking for something a notch above entry level, this watch is worth considering.

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Price $280.00 at Amazon$296.00 at Amazon$239.98 at Amazon$65 List
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Pros Solar powered, clearly labeled buttons, fairly easy-to-use interfaceLong battery life, durable aluminum finish, great fit, precise, easy-to-use interfaceDurable, long battery lifeInexpensive, simple, accurate, light, functionalStylish, comfortable fit, records many activities
Cons Feels big on your wrist, busy display and bezel, rigid wristbandAltitude and barometric graphs are sub-par, no GPS, lag on button pressesVery bulky, lots of buttons, busy display, not intuitiveLacks features, lacks comfort, no compass, ugly, poor displayShort battery life, inaccurate altimeter and GPS, touch screen difficult to use
Bottom Line A simple altimeter watch with decent features, but plenty of room to improve its aesthetic qualitiesGreat for those looking for a classic altimeter watch at an affordable priceA classic ABC watch with impressive battery lifeThis is an inexpensive altimeter watch that is accurate enough for curious backcountry travelersThis is a stylish watch best suited to road runs and gym workouts
Rating Categories Casio Pathfinder PA... Suunto Core Alu Casio GW9400-1 Casio SGW300HB Polar Ignite Fitness
Altimeter Accuracy (30%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Battery Life (20%)
10.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
3.0
User Experience (20%)
5.0
6.0
4.0
7.0
6.0
Features (15%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
Comfort And Fit (15%)
3.0
7.0
3.0
4.0
8.0
Specs Casio Pathfinder PA... Suunto Core Alu Casio GW9400-1 Casio SGW300HB Polar Ignite Fitness
GPS? No No No No Yes
Dimensions (Inches) 2.26 x 2.00 x .60 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.57” None provided 1.97 x 1.97 x .55” 1.69 x 1.69 x .33"
Type of Battery Solar, rechargeable battery Watch battery Solar rechargable battery Watch battery Rechargeable lithium ion battery
Battery Life (w/o GPS) Continuous 12 months 7 months (w/o further exposure to light) 3 years 5 days
Battery Life w/ GPS on No GPS No GPS No GPS No GPS 17 hrs
Altitude Range -2,300 - 32,800ft (-700m - 10,000m) -500 - 9000 m -700 to 10,000 m (-2,300 to 32,800 ft) -2,300 - 32,800ft (-700m - 10,000m) None provided
Altitidue differential? Yes Yes Yes No None provided
Elevation interval 20ft 1m/3ft 1m/3tf 5m/20ft None provided
Barometer Yes Yes Yes, barometric graph Yes, no graph For tracking altitude, no viewable graph
Barometric Recording Interval & Time (for the graph) Default every 2 hours (with baro activated, every 5 seconds for 5 minutes, then every 5 minutes), 24 hours Every 30 minutes, 24 hours Every 2 hours default (or every 5 seconds in barometer mode) None None provided
Barometric Pressure Range 260 to 1,100 hPa (7.65 to 32.45 inHg) 920 - 1,080 hPa (27.13 - 31.85 inHg) 260 - 1,110 hPa (7.65 - 32.45 inHg) 260 - 1,100 hPa (7.65 - 32.45 inHg) None provided
Storm Alert Alarm? No Yes No No No
Compass Yes None Yes None No
Time Features Digital, world time (31 time zones, 48 cities), stopwatch, timer Digital, dual world times, stopwatch, countdown timer Digital, stopwatch, timer, world clock Digital, world time (31 time zones), stopwatch, Digital, stopwatch, timer,
Time Alarm 5 daily alarms Yes Yes, 5 daily alarms 5 daily alarms Yes, one daily alarm
Thermometer Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Temperature Resistance Range -10 to 60 C (14 to 140 F) -20° C to +60° C (-4F - 140F) 14 to 140 F (-10 to 60 C) Low: -10C/14F 14 - 122 F (-10 to 50 C)
Water Resistance Yes, 100 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 200 meters Yes, 100 meters Yes, 30 meters
Interchangeable straps? No No No No Yes
Types of bands and material Plastic, cloth, metal Silicone Silicone Plastic, cloth, metal Silicone
Bluetooth connection? No No No No Yes
GPS, GLONASS, both? No GPS No GPS No GPS No GPS Both
Apps n/a n/a no n/a Yes, Polar Flow
Charging Type Solar charged battery Battery solar Battery specialized cord
Warranty Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (2 years) Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (1 year) Limited Warranty Period (2 years)
Other Cool Features sunrise/sunset sunrise/sunset sunrise/sunset None

Our Analysis and Test Results

This watch scores well in battery life and ease of use metrics. Its feature set is nice but limited. The altimeter is accurate (if not a little imprecise), but it isn't very comfortable, and the display quality is uninspiring.

Performance Comparison


One of the 'max' altimeter records stored in the PAG240B-2 after a...
One of the 'max' altimeter records stored in the PAG240B-2 after a hike.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Altimeter Accuracy


This watch is a surprise for its accuracy. Its purely pressure-based reading stayed within a couple hundred feet of true elevation. Other watches do it better for sure, but for the price, we were impressed while we were on the move. Having said that, it measures altitude in 20ft/5m intervals, so it is not as precise as any of the Suunto or Garmin models. Another reason it doesn't score as well is that, as with other non-GPS watches, it is susceptible to misreading barometric pressure fluctuations as changes in altitude, which was noticeable when we left it in the same place prior to and during a storm.


The altimeter changes with the atmospheric pressure, whether or not...
The altimeter changes with the atmospheric pressure, whether or not you are actually moving vertically.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Battery Life


The battery life is the most redeeming quality of this watch. It is solar-powered, so it never requires additional effort to charge. The tiny ring of solar cells around the circumference reduces the total area of digital watch face space, but it is well-integrated as a dark backdrop to light colored printed symbols layered on top.


The battery lasts for up to six months if not exposed to any additional light in that time. So take it to Alaska in the winter and enjoy. With regularly light exposure it lasts more or less forever. There is a low-medium-high charge level indicator at the very bottom of the watch face. During testing, it was exposed to a typical amount of autumnal sunlight in northern New England and it remained at medium charge the entire time. The battery is a huge advantage for those adventuring on multi-week or multi-month treks, or otherwise won't have reliable access to an electrical outlet while traveling.

Despite having some texture, the buttons are fairly low-profile and...
Despite having some texture, the buttons are fairly low-profile and difficult to press with gloves on.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

User Experience


The Casio PAG240B-2 is simple to use, less simple to configure. Unlike some of the much higher-end models, the buttons to set the time and date are not super intuitive and require a little manual skimming to figure out the right sequence of buttons to press.


Once it's set though, it's fairly straightforward. There are alti, baro, and comp button for each of the three primary features. Pressing the mode button cycles through the regular timekeeper, sunset/sunrise, ascent/descent logs, world time, stopwatch, countdown timer and alarms in sequence.

We aren't huge fans of the throwback digital look of this watch. It's an entry to mid-range model, but Suunto has just slightly more expensive models that have a much sleeker look. We aren't convinced it couldn't be done at this price point. The green backlight is perhaps the weakest in the whole category. The glass proved to be susceptible to scratches as well. Throughout testing, this model got a little dinged up, with a noticeable and distracting scratch on the glass.

It's actually quite impressive how much information this watch is able to fit in such a small space. However, it's overwhelming to look at, and some of the symbols are extremely small, or easily overlooked. For example, there are a variety of digital radial lines that are layered on top of the watch face, which is activated depending on the function. They point to a variety of symbols that are a part of the outer plastic casing. Examples include numbers representing a change in barometric pressure or cardinal directions and degrees in compass mode. Once you adjust to what you are looking at, it's a serviceable interface, but there is a lot going on in one tiny area.

Despite having a notably larger overall diameter, the actual digital...
Despite having a notably larger overall diameter, the actual digital watch face of the PAG240B-2 is just marginally bigger than the SGW-300H.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Features


This watch comes with basic ABC features as well as a thermometer and basic timekeeping functions. We are pleased with the simplicity and accuracy of most of them.


Altimeter


Because the watch is simple, the altimeter is easily accessible. It has its own alti button. Press it once and the watch will give your current elevation and the altitude gained and lost since it began that tracking event. There is also a very tiny display in the upper left corner that graphs a highly generalized elevation profile. It can store up to 40 logs that recall the date/time and total ascent/descent.

Barometer


Similarly, the barometer has its own baro button. One press and the pressure reading appears in hPa or inHg (depending on which unit you set it to). It also brings up a pressure differential graph and a thermometer. Like all other altimeter watches, the thermometer is influenced by the temperature of your wrist. For much higher accuracy, we recommend putting it around a pack strap or exterior pocket while on the move.

In compass mode, the watch gives the bearing of the 12 o'clock...
In compass mode, the watch gives the bearing of the 12 o'clock position using both degrees and cardinal directions. Magnetic north is the triple line at the bottom left of the face.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Compass


Just like the altimeter and barometer, the compass has a textured button. However, this feature can sometimes get a little confused. If you turn around too quickly, the reading disappears and you have to reactivate it. Just as with any altimeter watch compass, it offers a general reference point. If you are going off trail, bring an old-school compass.

Timekeeper


There are a variety of essential timekeeping functions that you can access with the mode button. The month and day are displayed on the default watch face. With one press, you can see the sunset and sunrise times in your area. A couple more presses bring up your configured world time, and successive presses bring up the stopwatch, countdown timer, and five alarms.

The PAG240B-2 (right) has a clunkier look and feel on the watch face...
The PAG240B-2 (right) has a clunkier look and feel on the watch face as compared to the sleeker Suunto Core, which is a notch above the PAG240B-2 in price point and quality.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comfort and Fit


The wristband really leaves something to be desired. The fabric/pleather combination holds on to quite a bit of water, which can rub and irritate the skin. The strap is also fairly rigid, so it doesn't conform well to individual wrists. It is oddly challenging to put on and remove (again due to the rigidity of the band) and the strap tab is cheap and difficult to adjust.


Though the digital watch face is comparatively small, the diameter of the watch is still fairly large, adding to its clunkiness. All-in-all, this is definitely one to wear on a pack strap rather than your wrist.

The wristband on this watch is extremely rigid. This is as...
The wristband on this watch is extremely rigid. This is as form-fitting as it got for us.
Photo: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Value


We aren't convinced that this model is worth the investment. It's sort of in a world of its own. If it just so happens to land at the right price point for you, and that range is narrow, then you'll get a decent, fairly accurate watch for your money. However, if you are primarily in the market for a device that can tell you your current elevation, we would recommend the much less expensive Casio SGW-300H. If you can afford to move into the $400 altimeter-watch bracket, we think you get a lot more for your money with any of the Suunto models we tested in that range.

Conclusion


The Casio Pathfinder PAG240B-2 has some good basic features and decent technology to back them up. It suffers a little bit from a lack of style and comfort, which may ultimately impact how frequently you end up using it.

Ben Applebaum-Bauch