Five Years with a Pathfinder Solar Watch – Product Review

Guest post today from Joe Nobody talking about an interesting watch that might be of interest to shooting enthusiasts.

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One of my editors called me the other day. He had been working on the newest book (The Home Schooled Shootist) and wanted to talk about my watch. Several places in the book I mention that my wristwatch has features that indicate temperature, barometric pressure and altitude. In the context of the book, these are all variables used to adjust one’s aim point when taking a long distance shot.

“What is this miracle watch you have? I’ve never heard of one that does all that stuff.”

He further went on to suggest we put a link to the specific model in the book or on the webpage. Someone else pointed out that Bishop, the protagonist in my fiction books, has a pretty impressive watch himself. It never occurred to me that my watch was all that James Bond-ish of a timepiece; I’ve had the thing for years and it wasn’t expensive.

The watch in question is a Casio Pathfinder Tri-Sensor model. I don’t think they make my specific model anymore, but similar pieces are available just about anywhere for between $190 and $350, depending on what type of band you want. I have the cheapie synthetic band that feels like rubber. Click here to see the latest model on Amazon.

I originally purchased the watch on the recommendation of an old friend who had considerable experience in the Special Forces. At that time, the Pathfinder was about the only solar powered watch you could buy. Batteries for optics, night vision, lasers, radios and flashlights are always a worry. Anything you can do to eliminate yet another spare power cell in your kit is a positive.

Now, I am not a maven of bling by anyone’s definition and have little fear of GQ magazine publishing my image on its cover. I wear a watch for functionality – period. I’m also rough as hell on equipment. Mine has experienced an average of one hot shower per day for over five years. It has felt thousands of rifle recoils, been completely submerged in gasoline and banged into just about everything I walk by at least once. It has survived desert heat over 120 degrees and winter cold below zero.

For a Prepper, the Pathfinder makes a lot of sense. I’m not an expert on “self-winding” watches, and can’t comment on which would last longer – a solar cell or mechanical movements. What I can say with confidence is that you won’t find a purely mechanical watch with the features like this Casio. (A unit with a mechanical movement might be more attractive if you are concerned about EMP strikes.) It’s almost like a little bug-out-bag on your wrist.

In absolute darkness, the dial illuminator will keep you from bumping into walls. I wouldn’t want to change a tire with it on a moonless night, but I can read canned food labels in the pantry.

The compass is surprisingly accurate for a watch. As anyone with extreme field experience knows, there will come a time when you won’t believe your primary compass. I know a lot of guys who carry a spare, believing in the old rule of 2=1 and 1=0 when it comes to equipment. Having a compass on my wrist fills that need.

For shooting long distances, the data provided by the watch is handy. As most riflemen know, after about 400 meters, you must start adjusting for wind, temperature, altitude and barometric pressure and other factors. While the Pathfinder doesn’t help with reading the wind, it has the rest of those adjustments covered. The altitude reading would come in handy for land navigation as well.

This list of features just goes on and on. Atomic time recalibration, multiple alarms, multiple time zones…the manual is almost an inch thick. I even read that newer models have depth gauges, moon phase displays and historical graphs.
If something were to happen to mine, I would purchase another one. My only complaint – I wasn’t thinking tactical when I bought mine and purchased a model with a shiny silver trim that might reflect in sunlight.

I know watches are like rock guitarists, football teams and pizza with guys. Everyone has their own point-of-view. I’m not saying this watch is the best Prepper watch available, but I can testify that it has served me well for years and should be considered an option the next time you need a new timepiece.

Joe Nobody

(Joe is the author of several bestselling books on Preparing and Self Reliance. Visit his blog at www.holdingyourground.com)

13 comments… add one

  • Tireland September 19, 2012, 7:30 am

    I have never thought about a watch like that. What an awesome idea. I guess I should start looking!

    Reply
  • GA September 19, 2012, 10:51 am

    Joe-great post. I have an older Casio MTG100 stainless G Shock it’s at least six years old. It does not have the bells and whistles as the Pathfinder but I can honestly say this is one reliable watch. Like you it never comes off and on top of the everyday wear and tear, it is also my surfing watch. This thing has been subjected to hundreds of hours of salt water and abuse and it just keeps going.

    Reply
  • smokechecktim September 19, 2012, 11:40 am

    solar powered watch….now I have something else to add to my “gotta get one” list

    Reply
  • not applicable September 19, 2012, 1:47 pm

    Joe, like both your books and now your watch.

    Off topic: Found a way to get free silver. The cash back bonus on my Discover credit card. Amazon will even keep a running tally for you, so when you have enough for a 1 oz. round, just order and they’ll subtract it from your Card’s bonus award points. FREE SILVER!

    Reply
  • carl September 19, 2012, 2:14 pm

    For many years I kept a manual wind pocket watch, to be “off grid” for time. The darn thing broke and I cannot find anyone to fix it for less than I paid for it. SOOOO off to Wally world and low and behold they have Casio Solar wrist watches for under $50.00. I am going to buy one out of next months disposable income.

    Reply
  • Jason September 19, 2012, 5:05 pm

    This link has a better description of the watch

    http://www.amazon.com/Casio-PAW1300-1V-Pathfinder-Multi-Band-Atomic/dp/B000WCOBJW

    I think it is a very interesting toy but the overall utility wouldn’t be worth the money to me. As far as durability, one of the best features to get on a watch is a sapphire crystal because it is near impossible to scratch.

    That being said, I am not in Special Forces or anticipate getting into any combat situation so I’ll spend $30 at Walmart & get a disposable watch that’ll last 3-4 years. My current watch is water resistant to 200′, has a stop watch, alarms, day/date & is perfect for me. Wearing a less expensive watch makes a smaller target for thieves – been in the 3rd World PLENTY & know the difference. Besides, if it’s between a knife or a small gang & my watch – $30 is easy to part with.

    Reply
  • Ernie September 19, 2012, 7:24 pm

    Wow I thought I was the only one who ever thought of using this watch as oppossed to all the others out there. I have a few buddies into prepping and survival, but they all have the Casio G-shock lines, and I will admit I do have a G-Shock Frogman as well, but after having the battery replaced, the waterproof seal is not holding up, so another friend offered me his pathfinder watch for 50.00 so I said sure, after playing with it, I cam to the realization that this is the best watch for survival. I dont need a battery ever that’s my number one reason, and two it has everything I can think of for a multitude of tasks, from land nav to shooting. Thanks Ranger Joe for this awesome vindication of my watch, and a future “In Yo Face” to my pals!

    Reply
    • Jason September 19, 2012, 7:57 pm

      Send your watch to the Casio factory for battery replacement & it won’t develop a leak. That’s probably in the fine print of the warranty.

      Reply
  • Steelheart September 20, 2012, 3:31 am

    I’ve had a mechanical self-winding Seiko5 with the 7S26 21 jewel movement (whatever that really means I don’t know). I’ve worn this almost all of my waking hours except during martial arts classes for the last four plus years. Mine has the stainless steel band with is nice as I have small wrists and it adjusts down nicely for me.

    This is basically my watch:
    http://www.amazon.com/Seiko-SNXS77-Automatic-Stainless-Steel-Bracelet/dp/B0033CQNEE/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1KYLVHFNCGZ9R&coliid=IKJ2D5535JNQA

    At the 2.75 year point the mechanism fell apart inside the watch (clear back so you can see the mechanism, really cool to see it). After some hassles I managed to get the place I got it through on Amazon to do a warranty repair (3 year warranty). While I was trying to figure out how to get it fixed I spotted several reviews talking about having the watch tuned up every so often.

    Additionally the time accuracy isn’t that great. It’s always gained roughly 30 seconds per day. Yes, I actually tracked it for a month or so and used the atomic clock in my kitchen as the point of reference.

    Overall I’m planning on replacing my Seiko5 within the next year as I don’t like having to adjust the time a couple times a week. I like the classic look and don’t feel the need to add functions I haven’t needed so a modern digital probably isn’t in my future but until I’m ready to spend money, who knows. I plan on tucking my Seiko5 away, just in case I need an EMP proof watch someday as it’s reliable at the moment. In addition to the accuracy issue part of me doesn’t trust the mechanical reliability of the watch since it failed once already and the warranty is now long past. I understand that I just might have a bad one but that’s life.

    Steelheart

    Reply
    • Ernie September 24, 2012, 7:37 pm

      I have a self winding Seiko watch my father gave me that he got in Nam, I love the watch, but I don’t wear it enough to keep it wound, but it is a really good solid and durable watch. It’s more of a family heirloom now, but it is a really nice watch, wouldn’t trade it for anything.

      Reply
  • Yoda September 20, 2012, 6:41 pm

    Timely feature SHTF
    Be aware and prep
    Right on SHTFR – WRITE ON!
    Respectfully, Yoda

    “Government Grabbing Your Guns” http://www.magnifiedview.com

    Reply
  • Jack September 21, 2012, 1:13 pm

    I’ve had the same Pathfinder shown for about 3 years. It is a great watch! Takes a lot of abuse and provides a lot of features for a small package.

    The only cons I have with it is the light only stays on for what feels like .0005 seconds and there is no way to adjust it so you have to hit it 5 times to gather the information you want off it, also the alarm is pretty darn quiet. Hope you’re not a deep sleeper!

    Reply
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