Found: Magellan Explorist GC hiking GPS for geocaching

Consumer Reports News: March 26, 2010 04:40 PM

Magellan will launch the eXplorist GC handheld-hiking GPS device next month, targeting the increasingly popular geocaching community. The eXplorist GC will be priced aggressively at $200.
 
A form of electronic treasure hunting, geocaching involves people hiding containers (often Tupperware) filled with trinkets, then logging its GPS coordinates at geocaching.com. Users can log in, seek caches in their area, and download coordinates and often clues to their handheld-hiking GPS. A fun activity that combines technology, outdoor adventure, and exercise, geocaching has grown rapidly in popularity.

In our previous tests, Magellan Triton units were not as geocache friendly as units from DeLorme and Garmin. With this new eXplorist, the company has focused specifically on this pastime.

Like many competing devices, the eXplorist GC allows a simple, seamless connection to geocaching.com. It includes a 30-day trial premium membership that enables users to download the coordinates to a cache, complete instructions on how to find it, and comments from other geocachers for a paperless experience. (Otherwise, it is often necessary to print out tips to help find a cache.) The eXplorist GC comes pre-loaded with popular geocaches, though with a free geocaching.com account, any user can download locations in their area.

The eXplorist GC has a 2.2-inch screen, same as the Triton 500. (This is significantly smaller than the Garmin Oregon series at 3 inches.) The company claims up to 18 hours battery life from two included, disposable lithium AA batteries. Magellan  claims 10 hours for its Triton 500; we experienced 7 hours in our tests. Should that ratio be similar for the new unit, it should stack up well against its most-efficient competitors.

As we have experienced with recent Magellan portable navigation devices (PNDs) for car use, the eXplorist GC screens we have seen have modern, appealing graphics that appear to have improved notably over previous units. There are some neat visual treatments, such as a semi-transparent compass that can overlay the included base map-- includes major roads, lakes, parks, and rivers. Should your adventures include a water mishap, the eXplorist GC is waterproof to the common IPX-7 standard.

Before choosing a handheld hiking device, see our buying advice, ratings, and video.

Jeff Bartlett 

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