If there's a staple in rugged outdoor timepieces, it would have to be Casio. Their G-Shock is justly famous in military and law enforcement circles because of it's legendary toughness, but what if you're not an operator operating operationally and just want a tough watch with advanced features for when people are not shooting at you?
That would be Casio's PRO TREK line of digital watches, which come in a crazy array of configurations; 35 at last count on the PRO TREK product page, ranging from $200 to $550 in list prices. We tried out the Night Safari Concept version, PRG-650Y-1 in Casio parlance, which at a list of $320 sits in the middle of the range price-wise. It has a subdued color scheme and is set up for easy visibility at night, including a glow-in-the-dark inner lining on the strap. But to wrap up the toughness thing first: the 650Y is water resistant to 100m, so set it and forget it. You'll give out before it does.
The 650Y is a triple sensor design, a.k.a. an ABC watch: altimeter, barometer/thermometer and compass. The altimeter measures to the nearest meter at one second intervals, the barometer has a storm warning function to alert you to sudden pressure changes, and the compass will measure your bearing continuously for 60 seconds in single degree increments. You can customize a lot of this stuff, and after a reasonable amount of time reading the manual you'll be able to easily switch between modes and functions using the single crown adjustment: just unscrew it a few turns to unlock it, and then rotate it to scroll through the settings on the various options that you select using the buttons. The watch hands will even move out of the way if you switch to a digital function on the small but readable screen.
All the usual timers and alarms are present, and there are a lot of thoughtful touches throughout. Illumination modes are perfectly useful, and we especially like the one-touch access to UTC time zone and the way the second hand stays oriented to true north in compass mode. The Durasoft watch band is very comfortable in all conditions including fear-induced sweat due to poor decision making, a situation in which we absolutely did not find ourselves in. We heard it from someone else. The inside of band even glows in the dark so you can find it easily at night.
The overall size of the 650Y is not too big or bulky, even on our admittedly somewhat-on-the-dainty-side wrists. It's comfortable to wear for extended periods and doesn't get in the way while working with tools or grabbing branches and rocks during normal – and some abnormal – outdoor activities. The 650Y will run seven months on the rechargeable battery alone, but that run time extends into years with the Tough Solar technology built in. Overall we've found the Casio PRO TREK Night Safari Concept on our wrist more than any other watch to date. It's a worthy outdoor companion that won't let you down when the going gets tough.