The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Casio SGW300HB Review

This is an inexpensive altimeter watch that is accurate enough for curious backcountry travelers.
Casio SGW300HB-3AV
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $65 List | $38.97 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, simple, accurate, light, functional
Cons:  Lacks features, lacks comfort, no compass, ugly, poor display
Manufacturer:   Casio
By Amber King and Ben Applebaum-Bauch  ⋅  Dec 6, 2018
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Altimeter Accuracy - 30% 5
  • Battery Life - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use and Interface - 20% 8
  • Features - 10% 4
  • Display quality - 10% 3
  • Comfort and Fit - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Casio SGW300HB is the best option for those on a shoestring budget. As our Best Buy award winner, this inexpensive watch features a dual-sensor that shows altitude, barometric pressure, time, and temperature. The battery lasts up to three years. It is simple, accurate, and easy to use. However, the lower price comes with minimal features and decreased performance. Even though the altimeter is reasonably accurate, it has an altitude interval of 5 meters or 20 feet, so readings are rarely precise. Unlike all the other watches tested, it does not feature a compass. Even though we love how lightweight it is, the watch face is small, while and the backlight is dim. The screen also scratches easily. Overall, we think this model is perfect for those just looking for a simple timepiece that also has a barometric pressure and altimeter sensor. 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.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The SGW300HB is simple, inexpensive, and easy to use. It provides decent accuracy and does well in most climates. This is a solid, affordable option for the outdoor enthusiast on a shoestring budget. This model has very good battery life and is easy to use. It scores poorly because of its limited features, simultaneously basic and busy display, and unattractive aesthetic.

Performance Comparison


This Casio is a great option for any adventurer on a tight budget. Though it doesn't have nearly as many features or share the same level of performance as other watches tested  it's still a great option for those looking to determine altitude and barometric pressure.
This Casio is a great option for any adventurer on a tight budget. Though it doesn't have nearly as many features or share the same level of performance as other watches tested, it's still a great option for those looking to determine altitude and barometric pressure.

Altimeter Accuracy


The SGW300HB scores low in this metric, but don't let that be too deceiving. Most of the time it was off by a respectable 50 to 200 feet when properly calibrated.


In fact, we noticed that its accuracy is similar to its sibling, the Casio PRW-6000Y. Some of the reasons for its lower score include its precision and susceptibility to inaccuracy due to changes in barometric pressure. Pricier altimeter watches will have an altitude increment of 1 meter (3 to 5ft). This watch just isn't that sensitive, offering a 5 meter (20ft) interval.

Here the actual altitude was 11 740 feet. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak proves to be the most accurate  while the Casio SGW300HB proves to be the least accurate.
Here the actual altitude was 11,740 feet. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak proves to be the most accurate, while the Casio SGW300HB proves to be the least accurate.

Battery Life


This watch runs on a simple, traditional watch battery. It is estimated to last up to three years, making it a great option for long excursions into the backcountry.


If you need to change the battery, unscrew the backplate and insert a new one, ready to go for another few years. As a result, this watch scores highly in the battery life metric. The solar-powered Casio PAG240B-2 and the Casio PRW-6000Y are the only options that will last longer without any additional maintenance.

The buttons are small and fine to use in warm weather. However  when gloves are needed  we found it incredibly difficult to use.
The buttons are small and fine to use in warm weather. However, when gloves are needed, we found it incredibly difficult to use.

Ease of Use and Interface


Because of its simple features, it's one of the fastest models to get to know. The buttons are well marked and the essential functions are super simple to figure out. More complex features like determining altitude differential require a little finagling and consulting the user's manual.


Even though we liked its ease of use, it's not ideal for winter wear. The recessed buttons are tough to press while wearing a pair of gloves. If this is an essential feature to you, check out the Suunto Ambit3 Peak or the Suunto Core Alu. Both have much larger, protruding buttons and easy-to use-interfaces.

Another look at the left side of the watch. The buttons are much smaller than on other watches tested.
Another look at the left side of the watch. The buttons are much smaller than on other watches tested.

Features


This dual-sensor watch is truly the best if you're looking for something inexpensive and simple. It features an altimeter-barometer, temperature sensor, and a timekeeper. That's about it. There is no compass, and of course, no GPS. If you can afford to spend more to get more, we recommend the Suunto Core Alu. If you're looking for a watch on the other side of the feature spectrum, check out the Suunto 9 Baro.


Altimeter and Barometer


The altimeter-barometer allows you to view barometric pressure (in hPa or inHg) and altitude (meters or feet) at your current location. It (mostly) can't graph data that it records, but it does allow you to determine a barometer or altitude differential between two areas. In comparison to all the watches tested, it has the most limited features.

Checking the altitude while climbing high into the sky in southwest Colorado.
Checking the altitude while climbing high into the sky in southwest Colorado.

The exception to the data graphing is that when the watch is taking a barometric pressure reading, the horizontal arrows at the top (which count off seconds in timekeeper mode) will indicate whether the pressure is rising or falling. Combined with the words cloudy and fine it provides a basic indication of whether conditions are improving or deteriorating.

Timekeeping


This digital timekeeper has a few basic features. World time (with 31 time zones), a stopwatch, countdown timer, and five daily alarms. The time is easy to set manually and also has a daylight savings time setting. You can choose between a 12hr or 24hr display. The one feature that makes the SGW300HB stand apart from the rest is the ability to set five different alarms (something found only in other Casio models).

The timekeeper is simple and comes with all the basic functions: world clock  stopwatch  countdown time. Additionally  it has five daily alarms.
The timekeeper is simple and comes with all the basic functions: world clock, stopwatch, countdown time. Additionally, it has five daily alarms.

If you're looking for an accurate temperature reading, take off the watch for a little bit and strap it on a jacket or backpack strap. As with every other watch that we tested, it is sure to provide an inaccurate reading of the ambient air temperature if it is on your wrist.

Display Quality


We are not super impressed with the display quality. The font and watch face are small, and the glass seems less durable. It can also be very difficult to read in direct sunlight.

A look at all the displays tested. From top left to right: Casio SRW300HB  Casio PRW-6000Y  Garmin Fenix 3. From bottom left to right: Suunto Core Alu  Suunto Ambit3 Peak  Suunto Traverse
A look at all the displays tested. From top left to right: Casio SRW300HB, Casio PRW-6000Y, Garmin Fenix 3. From bottom left to right: Suunto Core Alu, Suunto Ambit3 Peak, Suunto Traverse

Also, the backlight has only one to three-second display options (similar to the Casio PRW-6000Y). It is also dim, providing an orange light that is not super sharp in the darkness. Though its functions are simple, Casio also managed to cram a ton of words and symbols both on and around the watch face. We feel that it's just a little too busy given what the product is actually capable of doing.

A comparison of the nightlights of each watch. From top left: Casio PRW-6000Y  Suunto Traverse  Garmin Fenix 3. From bottom left to right: Casio SGW300HB  Suunto Core Alu  Suunto Ambit3 Ambit.
A comparison of the nightlights of each watch. From top left: Casio PRW-6000Y, Suunto Traverse, Garmin Fenix 3. From bottom left to right: Casio SGW300HB, Suunto Core Alu, Suunto Ambit3 Ambit.


Comfort and Fit


Because of its small display and light weight, this watch is fairly comfortable relative to many of the other chunkier models. It is easy to wear underneath a jacket or long sleeved shirt and doesn't dig into your wrist.


The major strike against it in this metric is the woven nylon strap. It is stiff and rubs against the wrist, irritating the skin after a while. The holes in the strap seem hastily punched and are itchy, while the strap itself lacks 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.

The strap is made from a cloth-like material that seems cheap. The fabric does not feel that great on the skin  nor does it fit well overtop of clothing.
The strap is made from a cloth-like material that seems cheap. The fabric does not feel that great on the skin, nor does it fit well overtop of clothing.

If you're looking for our top pick for fit and comfort, check out the Suunto Core Alu. It has a wide rubber strap and fits both over and under clothing.

Best Application


This watch is meant for the dollar-conscious 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. We would also take it with us if we were traveling to remote parts of the world without easy or reliable access to electricity.

Multipitch climbing on Red Mountain Pass  CO is a great way to use the Casio. Also take it hiking  biking  mountaineering and more. It's great for both short and long missions.
Multipitch climbing on Red Mountain Pass, CO is a great way to use the Casio. Also take it hiking, biking, mountaineering and more. It's great for both short and long missions.

Value


Even though this watch scored fairly low in many of the comparative metrics, we still think it offers great value. It is the least expensive model by a long shot. The accuracy of the watch is decent and if the intervals weren't so large, it would be comparable to its $600 Casio sibling. It's also the best option for those on a tighter budget.

Conclusion


If you need an altimeter watch, but can't spend hundreds of dollars, or are just looking for a regular watch and would also enjoy being able to register altitude now and then, this is your best bet.

Amber really loves this watch for its simplicity  lightweight design  and low low price.
Amber really loves this watch for its simplicity, lightweight design, and low low price.

Other Versions


Casio SGW100B-3V
Casio SGW100B-3V
  • Cost - $70
  • Water resistant up to 100 meters
  • Includes direction and temperature sensors on top of basic functions

Casio PRW-6000Y
Casio PRW-6000Y
  • Cost: $600
  • Solar-powered and featuring alerts for significant changes in barometric pressure
  • An extremely reliable watch for extended missions in remote areas, though we're not quite sure that you get what you pay for


Amber King and Ben Applebaum-Bauch