We've found Casio's PRO TREK watches to be everything you need for timekeeping and ABC (altimeter/barometer/compass, but c'mon – you knew that!) applications in the backcountry. We've lived with and love the Night Safari Concept model, and we're looking forward to reviewing the WSD-F21HR model with the long-awaited heart rate tracking functionality, but we have a new daily-wear PRO TREK model that has captured our hearts.
That watch is the endearingly named PRG330-9A – OK, maybe Casio needs to work on those names, especially since there are three dozen and counting variations just in their PRO TREK line. What we've got here is a basic (basic for the PRO TREK line, anyway) digital-only watch – look ma, no hands! – with your choice of the three colorful bezels at left plus black and pink, hence the Vivid moniker. Despite anchoring the lower price points in the PRO TREK line, we believe the PRG330 is all the watch most people will ever need, and it even comes with some benefits that more expensive models don't.
The first thing you'll notice is that the PRG330 is significantly smaller than the other PRO TREK models. While still not really small – we did say small-er – it's what most people would probably consider a "normal" watch size. That doesn't mean Casio left out any features, however: the PRG330 is still a triple sensor ABC design, with the newest and best-est hardware. The altimeter measures to the nearest meter at one second intervals, the barometer alerts you to sudden pressure changes and can display trends in a tidy little graph, and the compass will measure your bearing continuously for 60 seconds in single degree increments while correcting for declination and displaying a directional pointer. There's even a thermometer that measures from 14 to 140F. We're looking forward to an Alaskan winter to test out that bottom end! All the timekeeping niceties are there, including world time and sunrise/sunset.
There are some areas where the PRG330 beats out its more functional siblings. Besides the convenient smaller size, it has clearly marked icons on the inner bezel that tell you what the buttons on the outer bezel will do for you. This is crazy useful, especially if you switch watches much and have to try to remember how to activate all those fancy features anew. With the PRG330, just scan the icons to jog your memory. It's brilliant, really. Another feature that has the PRG330 punching above its weight class is solar power. Yes, the watch charges in direct sunlight quite nicely, and will even charge albeit sluggishly under indoor lighting. To make the most of the power it has collected, the PRG330 is packed with smart features like auto-on LED backlighting that knows to stay off in bright light.
The strap is resin, not the fancy glow-in-the-dark silicone that's on some of its higher-end siblings, but it's quite comfortable and still has the thoughtful design touches Casio is known for. Where the band comes off the watch there are soft little wedges that eliminate the gap most people get in that area, for example. And like all the PRO TREK watches, the PRG330 is plenty tough, with water resistance down to 100m. Overall we reach for the PRG330 more often than our other watches for everyday carry, and we see it as the right watch for most casual backcountry use as well.