Casio Pathfinder PAW1500
Casio Pathfinder PAW1500

What’s the best watch for a river rat?

I need help finding a watch for my boyfriend. He's into white-water rafting, camping, and fly-fishing, among other sports. My budget is around $350, and I want to stay away from features he won't use like tide times or diving depths. Ideas?

Casio Pathfinder PAW1500
Doug Gantenbein

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Let’s start with features: Waterproof is a must, and since he hikes, an altimeter would be good. And maybe a compass.

A great first choice is the Suunto Core altimeter watch ($269). It sets the standard for basic all-around wrist tools, with an excellent altimeter, compass, thermometer, and the usual timekeeping functions of day, date, and alarm. It’s water resistant down to 100 feet.

The Casio Pathfinder PAW1500 comes with many of same features—altimeter, compass, thermometer—and adds a solar battery and an atomic-timekeeping feature that allows it to synchronize with radio time signals. And compared to the relatively sleek Suunto, the Pathfinder is big and rugged, with a hefty band and a busy-looking bezel.

Even though you don’t want many maritime features, a lot of guys just like the looks and functionality of a good diving watch. A nice example is the St. Moritz Shadow II ($250). It has a cool black-on-black face, stainless case, and a waterproof rating to 600 feet. Plus, it’s versatile-enough looking that he could wear it both during the week and on his weekend adventures.

—Doug Gantenbein