Smartwatches will choke and die the moment the grid goes down, GPS signals are jammed, and the going gets really tough. On the other hand, the G-SHOCK Rangeman is a virtually Apocolypse-proof beast. The Rangeman has more grit and brawn than Conan the Barbarian(except with more brains). It has a ton of useful functions for navigation, weather prediction, recording, and synchronizing field operations. Oh yeah, and it also recharges itself via solar power.
I received my Rangeman as a Father’s day gift a little over two years ago(yes, I did specifically ask for it), and have used it hard ever since. Enough time has passed now, that I feel I can offer a proper review of the G-SHOCK Rangeman from my experience as a long-term owner. Hopefully, this review will help you make an educated decision as to whether this watch is right for you or not.
Generally speaking, I’m been very happy with the G-Shock Rangeman. It has lived up to its durable reputation and all the features have continued to work flawlessly. However, no watch is perfect and I do have a few gripes worth knowing about before you pull the trigger and buy this watch. So, stick around.
G-SHOCK Rangeman: Introduction
The Casio G-SHOCK line is the grand-daddy of modern ruggedized watches. After decades of systematic refinements, I believe they have created a realy true “apex predator” here. The Rangeman is easily one of the toughest and most feature-rich tactical watches on the market.
According to Casio, the G-SHOCK Rangeman was “designed and engineered to stand up to the most grueling conditions imaginable.” In my opinion, Casio met and exceeded their objective. Beyond being tough, it is extremely practical for multiple missions sets: air, sea, or summit. It is submersible to 200 meters, stays charged indefinitely on solar energy, predicts weather via barometric pressure alerts, guides you with a digital compass, tracks altitude, temperature, dusk, dawn, time zones, and precision-syncs to the atomic radio time signal for faultless time accuracy.
The Rangeman’s success is largely due to its massive value proposition. This is a sub-$300 watch that packs in far more features than watches that cost 10 times more.
The G-SHOCK Rangemen isn’t just tough, it is arguably the best value tactical watch on the market.
Gritty and dirty conditions are the Rangeman’s forté and the all-digital watch-face offers a greater reliability factor than movement-based watches. This is a watch for Military, law enforcement, SAR professionals, heavy industry, and avid outdoorsmen.
The Rangeman’s triple-sensors (digital compass, thermometer, barometer/altimeter) make it an ideal asset for people who spend extensive time in the wilderness. It can save up to 40 time-stamped sensor observations or you can simply use the memory function to quickly record when a specific event occurred. If you live in the continental US, Europe or East Asia, the Rangemen can also sync to the Atomic time radio signal.
Pricing and Specs
Price: Expect to pay sub-$300(check the latest price on Amazon)
- Tough Solar battery charging
- 200m Water Resist
- Dusk/Dawn prediction
- Moon phases(graph)
- Auto Calendar(to 2099)
- Radio-controlled atomic time sync
- Shock Risistant
- Up to 4 daily alarms + snooze
- Hourly time signal
- Full-Auto backlight(on/off)
- Button tone(on/off)
- Battery level indicator
- Accuracy +/- 15 sec per month
- 12/24hr time
- Multi time zones
- Stop watch
- Count-down timer
- Date/Time Record keeping
Pros of the G-SHOCK Rangeman
My favorite aspects of the Rangemen are its durability and the amount of features you get for the price. You will be hard-pressed to find a watch that can beat it on those two points.
When it comes to day-to-day use, I’m a fan of solar self-charging, dusk/dawn prediction, and barometric weather alerts. I don’t do much navigating with the compass, but it gives me peace of mind in case I need it. Another handy feature is the auto-backlight that illuminates whenever I check the time- no buttons needed.
I’m a utilitarian. I like that the Rangeman because is a true working watch. It looks good, but it isn’t so expensive that I’m reluctant to take it into the field for a beat down. What good is a rugged watch if it is too pretty or expensive to take into the field?
Con’s of the G-SHOCK Rangeman
The Rangeman is quite a large watch- may be too large for some. The heavy rubber bezel encases the chassis. All 6 buttons are protected from accidental operation by aggressive bumpers. It won’t fit easily under the cuff of a dress shirt and is un-apologetically designed for the outdoors. This watch looks out of place in formal settings.
Since this watch has a lot of functions, some of the symbols and data readouts can be quite small. If you have trouble reading small letters then this watch might not be for you.
The G-Shock Rangemen is bristling with many features which means it requires a fairly steep learning curve compared to more basic watches.
One final gripe: due to the large size of the watch, the mode button on the side of the Rangeman can be accidentally depressed if you bend your wrist up to 90 o I found it mildly annoying. For me, it happened most often during construction work while I was crawling, or maneuvering tools. If you do covert work in the military or law enforcement I highly recommend that you put the watch into silent mode. The last thing you want is to blow your cover because you accidentally depressed the stupid button on your watch.
Warning: Avoid spraying the Rangeman with bug spray. For some reason, certain bug sprays can etch the bezel rubber leaving a subtle speckled effect that doesn’t come off. It is noticeable if you look closely at the watch under certain lighting conditions. I learned the hard way. Now, I always take the Rangeman off to spray myself before putting the watch back on again.
G-Shock Rangeman Walk-Around
The Rangeman’s buttons and chassis are armored on all sides by a thick rubber casing capable of absorbing whatever hellish abuse you throw at it.
The multi-display watch face is divided into four multi-function display quadrants: two upper sections, a circular section, and the lower main section. Depending on the mode, each quadrant will change display pertinent information.
The thick rubber wristband is an example of Casio’s design-focus on simplicity and practicality over aesthetics. Cleaning off mud and dirt is a matter of a quick spray down compared to digging grit from between metal links and hinge pins of other “fancy” tactical watches. A Dual-tooth stainless steel buckle ensures secure closure and prevents breakage from hard snags.
The Rangeman is solid-state. It is an all-digital watch with no moving parts. While analog moving parts look pretty( ie gears, second, minute, hour hands), they are prone to failure in harsh conditions.
The Rangeman is controlled via six large steel buttons which can be operated with gloved hands. The diamond texturing on each button face offers a confident tactile feedback when operating the watch in the dark.
The Rangeman’s stealthy attributes are ideal with military applications. The Button tone and auto-illumination features can be toggled off for covert operations. The Rangeman is available in matte black or camo green.
Features and Functions
The Rangeman reads ambient temperature well, however, due to unavoidable variables, such as body heat, moisture on the watch and sun exposure, it is important to remove the watch to get the most accurate reading. The thermometer can be calibrated if necessary.
Just point this watch in your desired direction of travel, press a button to fix your heading, and start walking. Your actual heading and desire heading are displayed both numerically and via a digital compass dial. You can also recalibrate the compass or change magnetic deviation as needed.
The military, aviation, shipping, and space industries all use Zulu time(Greenwich time zone) in order to coordinate operations across time zones. The G-SHOCK Rangeman allows you to keep track of two timezones simultaneously and set alarms on one primary zone of choice.
Atomic Time Signal Sync
Unfortunately, since I’m currently working in Africa, I live and work outside the range of any Atomic Time Radio signals. However, if you live in the continental US, Europe, or East Asia, the Rangeman can be set to sync regularly for ultra-precise timekeeping.
The Rangeman back-light operates via a large button on the front of the bezel or by activating the auto illumination function. The watch will then automatically illuminate whenever you raise the watch read the time.
The barometric altimeter(like those on an aircraft) utilizes air pressure to measure and graph altitude changes. You can use it on hikes to determine your total ascent or descent and the steepness in feet or meters. The altimeter can be calibrated in two ways:
- By inputting a known altitude where you are standing(from markers or maps)
- By inputting the latest local air pressure from a weather station or airport.
Barometric pressure trends are a time-tested method of predicting major weather changes. The Rangeman graphs and alerts you when it detects significant trend reversals. In some cases, this feature can give you enough lead time to seek life-saving shelter from the elements especially when you are deep in the wilderness.
By inputting your local lat&long coordinates the Rangeman will accurately predict sunset and sunrise to within one minute.
While I may not be planning a Seal Team-Six dawn assault, I do use the dusk/dawn prediction more than I thought I would. For example, “Will I arrive home before dark,” or, “When is the ‘golden hour’ for the photoshoot I’m planning?”
Solar Battery Recharger
Smartwatches are getting tougher, but their Achilles heel is that their batteries only last a week or so. that’s a “no go” when you are off-grid for weeks at a time. The Rangeman self-charges indefinitely thanks to a solar panel hidden in the watch face!
Top Alternatives to the GSHOCK Rangeman
G-SHOCK Rangeman is most versatile member of the G-SHOCK Master of G series. However, if need a more mission-specific G-Shock I’d recommend like the G-Shock Frogman(Dive watch), Gravity Master(Aviation), and Mud Master(Land Based). Many of the newer versions of the Master of G series now offer Bluetooth connectivity for added features and data readouts. However, these are analog/digital hybrids and I , movement watches, in my opinion, are not as durable as solid-state all-digital watches. (product links are to Amazon)
The reason I originally chose the G-SHOCK Rangeman was that it was an ultra-rugged pro-grade watch that punched way above its weight class in terms of price point. After 2 years of ownership, I have not been disappointed.
The Rangeman is no pretty-boy accessory watch. This is a true utilitarian tactical watch carefully designed to be a true asset for multiple mission sets. The main challenge with this watch is becoming adequately proficient with all the features and capabilities it has.
For a broader look at all of G-SHOCK, check out this article.