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Weekend hikers need the connected Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50 watch on their wrist

Casio’s Pro Trek range of outdoor watches will be best-known to smartwatch fans due to the Pro Trek Smart, Casio’s one-and-only touchscreen model, which runs Google’s Wear OS. It’s no longer the only connected watch in the Pro Trek range, however. The $200 Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50 is a new Pro Trek watch with simple smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth that shares many of the features found on Casio’s 2019 G-Shock Mudmaster.

The PRT-B50 is aimed at the weekend hiker, and its introduction now means that regardless of your outdoor watch needs, Casio has you covered. I’ve been wearing the Pro Trek PRT-B50 for a few days, and here’s what it’s like.

Design and wearability

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This is not an ultra-tough G-Shock watch, or a high-tech showcase like the Pro Trek Smart. It’s somewhere in-between in terms of tech, design, and durability. Lighter than most G-Shocks, it weighs just 64 grams, with a case depth of 15.8mm, so it does stand proud on your wrist and doesn’t disappear under sleeves very easily. The resin case is 57mm × 50mm, making it similar in size to midrange smartwatches like the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro. It’s not shock resistant, but it is water resistant to 10 bar, so it’s suitable for swimming and snorkeling.

The lightness makes it comfortable, and it sits on your wrist almost unnoticed. The strap is also made of resin and is quite stiff; even after a few days, it hasn’t quite molded itself to my wrist. There’s plenty of adjustability, though, meaning it could be worn over the top of outdoor clothing if you so choose. Mineral glass covers the dial, and the bezel — which is marked with compass points — can be twisted around. This is a continuous, dampened movement, rather than a click like many diver’s watches. It’s expertly designed, so it’s not only easy to move but also solid when left alone, so it doesn’t slip out of position.

Large numbers dominate the face, with white minute and hour hands, plus a white-and-red second hand. The numbers don’t glow in the dark, but the watch hands do, plus there is a bright backlight for nighttime viewing. This is activated using the button below the dial, and it illuminates both the hands and the LCD screen. The screen shows the date as standard, and can be changed by pressing one of the PRT-B50’s four main buttons. The fifth side button is used to initiate the Bluetooth connection.

There are three colors available, with the black version being the most subtle, and a really cool orange being the most outlandish. Casio hasn’t gone overboard with the PRT-B50’s look, keeping it relatively simple while retaining a distinctly Casio style. It’s well-built and feels very sturdy, but the look doesn’t lend itself to all outfits. It’s definitely an outdoors watch, and doesn’t catch the eye like a stylish G-Shock, or attract as many looks as the Pro Trek Smart. The PRT-B50 knows it has a job, and doesn’t try to be anything else.

Smart features

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The Pro Trek PRT-B50 connects to your phone using Bluetooth and the Pro Trek app. I used the app on the iPhone 11 Pro, and it proved to be as easy to use and reliable as the G-Shock Connected app I’ve enjoyed before. It operates and looks basically the same too. Syncing is performed at the touch of a button, and there are plenty of features to learn and use. The watch does not provide notifications, or run apps — it’s a connected watch, not a smartwatch. Does that mean the connected features are worthless? No, the app simplifies setting the world time and multiple alarms, and shows fitness data too.

At its most basic, the “smart” PRT-B50 counts your steps using an accelerometer. The app collates this data, and breaks it down into daily measurements complete with an estimated calorie burn. Your daily step count total can be shown on the watch’s screen too. Don’t expect the Pro Trek to offer in-depth fitness tracking, or anything more complex. One thing to note about the PRT-B50 is that when Casio says, “hold button A for 2 seconds,” it means 2 seconds, not 3 or longer. This is important to learn, as sometimes features won’t activate if you just press and hold, expecting something to happen automatically.

The watch has an altimeter and barometer, a thermometer, and a digital compass. Data is shown on the small LCD screen, and visibility is good, with the hands automatically moving out of the way when you need to see information. There’s plenty for the keen outdoors person, including sunrise and sunset, temperature, barometric pressure to help predict the weather, and altitude data too. Everything is activated using the buttons on the case, which are big and textured, making them easy to locate and press.

All the data is very easy to view and access. The complexity comes when you want to use the watch as a route log during a hike. This works by setting a starting location with a long press of a button, and then setting additional points throughout your journey. The original location can be quickly recalled to help guide you back. However, this will be best achieved when using a map, by someone with experience in outdoor navigation. I didn’t feel the watch could be your sole companion when out in the wilderness, despite it also using the GPS on your phone.

Outdoors only, or everyday?

Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The Pro Trek PRT-B50’s features make it best-suited to the weekend hiker, with the added benefit of a step tracker for everyday wear. The design is a little too outdoorsy to go with all your outfits. It’s also quite masculine, although the size of the watch is relatively sensible. It definitely targets a specific type of person, but what makes it really interesting is where the PRT-B50 fits into Casio’s growing range of connected watches.

The Casio Pro Trek PRT-B50 is obviously for the casual outdoor fan, and is reasonably priced at $200. It provides many of the same features as the better-looking, more premium G-Shock Mudmaster GG-B100, which costs more at $350 and is more durable. Finally, if you want more smartwatch functionality and more outdoor features, while still retaining the cool Casio style, the $550 Pro Trek Smart WSD-F30 is for you. Casio even offers a watch at the other ends of the scale, with the G-Shock GBA-800 step counter and calorie tracker for $100, and the even more technical, $800 G-Shock GPW-B1000 Rangeman for those who like to really get out in the wilderness.

The PRT-B50 is yet another very well-made, well-thought-out, reliable, and very easy to use connected watch from an experienced watchmaker that has embraced connected technology in a way many others have not. We recommend the Pro Trek PRT-B50, but if it’s not for you, there’s a good chance one of the other watches mentioned above may suit you better.

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