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The first GPS device I ever owned wasn't a car sat-nav - they were far too expensive back in 1997 - but one designed specifically for hiking and outdoors activities. It was a Garmin GPS 12 and it served me well on many a walking and biking trip. But times move on and with the prevalence of GPS receivers in phones and the cheapness of GPS pucks, anyone can have GPS without having to pay through the nose for it.
It's made life tough for manufacturers of traditional hiking devices. But companies such as Garmin, Magellan and Lowrance continue to produce them because there's always going to be someone who needs a device that'll take a few more knocks than the average smartphone - and will provide useful features on rather than off the road. Lowrance's iFinder Expedition c aims to do exactly that.
On first impressions, it's most certainly not the most exciting piece of technology you'll ever come across. The casing is all cheap-looking, shiny plastic, adorned with graphics and lettering that look like they could have been put together for a GCSE DTP project. It's about as far from pocketable as you're likely to get, measuring a chunky 30mm at its thickest point, 142mm tall and 64mm wide. The screen is a large 2.8in, but this doesn't explain the huge dimensions as there's loads of space around the screen. Turn it on and you'll quickly discover that the base maps included are very basic indeed - running to country boundaries and the odd city in Europe - unlike most Garmin and Magellan products, which at least have major roads plotted, or the Satmap Active 10, which has an OS road map with the option to add full OS mapping as well.
But you don't necessarily buy a device like this for its style or technological toys - you buy it because you need reliable, accurate position data quickly, in a device that's easy to operate in potentially treacherous conditions. And on these counts, the Expedition c fits the bill much more snugly.