Travel 101: What Time Is It?

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

This blog primarily concerns itself with four major aspects of my life: photography, writing, travelling and lifestyle. It also features the occasional rant when I can no longer contain my frustration or anger (but I try to keep those to a minimum). I will sometimes review gear based on my personal experience, both photography and travel related (I do not get paid for product reviews).

Note: Travelling full-time (365-days a year) I am very hard on my gear. I live out of a backpack, use local transportation and stay in hostels and small inexpensive local hotels. Sometimes I have hot water and many times I don’t. I’ve done this for five years and have covered a lot of miles. I rate my gear in three critical areas: functionality, durability and value. I don’t care about fashion.

I will be returning to the States for a short visit in March before heading back to Asia. I will take this upcoming opportunity to refresh much of my photographic and travel gear because I’ve found it’s often hard to find quality gear and equipment (that meet my high standards) while travelling in foreign countries. This is not a slam against any other country it’s just a point of fact where I’m concerned. I look for functionality, durability and value in everything I buy.

First it has to work, second it has to last and third I have to get a bang for my buck. Fashion has absolutely nothing to do with my choices as the above photo will quickly show. If I had to describe my style it would be: Safari Casual. I’ve travelled in all climates and environments, from the jungles and rainforests of Asia and Latin America to the mountain peaks and deserts of Peru, Chile and Argentina to the cold and damp of Southern Patagonia (The End of the World). I shun the all-inclusive resort experience for a more authentic way of life: Live Simple, Live Cheap, Live Free.

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Casio Pro Trek PRG 600-Y Watch

Functionality: 9/10

Durability: 10/10

Value: 8/10

Pros: Solar battery, multi-functional (world time, compass, altimeter, barometer, temperature), built like a tank, can easily be seen at night.

Cons: Pricey upfront at $376 (but reasonable when prorated over the life of the watch), slightly bulky for smaller wrists, has to be removed for correct temperature reading.

Casio Pro Trek PRG 600-Y Watch A good watch is indispensable while travelling around the world. Well duh you say. Stay with me here because it goes beyond the obvious. Of course you need to know the correct time but you also need to know more. The functions I use most often (after the time function) are: the compass function and the altimeter function. You would think the compass function would come in handy while exploring the wilderness (and it does) but it’s also helpful in an urban environment.

Getting off a bus in a large city like Mexico City, San Pedro Sula, Lima, Santiago or Buenos Aires can be a disorienting experience. Maps aren’t that difficult to come by and usually your copy of Lonely Planet will have a number of maps for your locale. But you cannot orient your map if you don’t know where magnetic north is. With a push of a button you can immediately orient yourself with this watch. I use this function all the time. In a wilderness situation it’s easy to get lost, if you know the direction back to the trailhead the compass function can get you out of another tough spot.

The onboard altimeter is another cool function and it’s pretty darn accurate based on my experience. I’ve travelled from below sea level to over 14,000 feet by bus and on foot. It’s nice to know why you are wheezing and trying to catch your breath and believe me at 14,000 feet you are definitely wheezing and trying to catch your breath (even without the cigars I smoke on occasion). The barometer function can be interesting and the temperature function comes in handy (but you have to remove it from your wrist to use it properly). The world time function speaks for itself.

I have not purchased the Pro Trek yet but I’ve had its kid brother the Casio Pathfinder PAW 1300 for over nine years. Pretty much the same features and build quality except that the Pro Trek has an analog face (which I prefer) as opposed to a digital face. Both are solar-powered (no batteries to change) and work the same way. The solar battery in my Pathfinder is finally starting to slow down and the bezel dropped off somewhere in the Amazon. It would probably continue to work for another year or two but I think it’s time to give it a rest. Anxious to buy my new Pro Trek.

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3 responses to “Travel 101: What Time Is It?

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