Clouds swelled above the forest. In a literal flash, a torrent came from the sky, raindrops tagging tree leaves above before needling my body as I moved down the trail.
I was out for a run to test a sport watch from Casio.
The PRG270 watch, a part of Casio’s outdoors-centric PRO TREK collection, has the requisite “abc” features — altimeter, barometer, compass — used by many to navigate the wilds and predict weather changes.
It lacks GPS but makes up for it with a fair price and a design that requires no traditional batteries to run.
Solar panels embedded on the watch face keep batteries charged, but they can drain and turn off if not exposed to light. But in my weeks of testing it has remained fully powered at all times.
I tested the altimeter on a rainy run with wind whipping storm clouds overhead. The gauge relies on an internal barometer to read air pressure, and storms can mess with these types of altimeters.
Indeed, the changing pressure during the storm, combined with my precipitous route along a river, gave the altimeter a run for its money. It wavered and balked at ticking off meters gained as I reached a small summit, confused perhaps momentarily as the barometric pressure changed, before righting its display to show the approximate correct peak height.
During normal hikes, in better weather, the altimeter function worked as advertised. The compass, a digital face that ticks off degrees, was solid as I navigated on trail and off.
All these functions are easy to access via big dedicated buttons. There’s a light to illuminate readouts at night.
The watch design is old-school. Its face is small, monochrome, and lacking in much detail. Casio uses a digital font for numbers and data that I swear has not changed since the 1980s.
But if a design is not broke, don’t fix it. I like the look of this watch on my wrist, and though small the display is easy to read.
In the end, the PRG270 watch is a good, basic outdoor tool. It costs less than $120 on some sites (msrp is $180). It’ll tell time, read pressure and altitude, measure air temp, point north in compass mode, and wake you up with a piercing alarm in the tent, hopefully before the storm comes back.