A pundit of digital technology recently argued that it is now no longer possible to make a movie like the Blair Witch Project, because GPS-enabled smartphones have rendered it nearly impossible to get lost, even in a deep forest. But, in reality, if you are exploring the wilderness, a smartphone is not your ideal companion, not least because it won't take it kindly if you drop it on a rock. A dedicated hiking GPS makes much more sense, but these have remained costly, for example Magellan's flagship eXplorist 710 comes in at just shy of £400. With the eXplorist 310, however, Magellan hopes to bring the base level down, whilst not compromising too much on features.
At first glance, the eXplorist 310 doesn't seem to be particularly cut down. It's ruggedly constructed, and meets the criteria of the IPX-7 standard. This means it can withstand up to 30 minutes submerged in up to a metre of water, so being dropped in a shallow river or a rainstorm won't be a problem at all. It achieves this feat with a rear cover that's held in place by a screw-locking key, and a rubber cover over the USB port. The latter requires a bit of a knack to replace securely, but didn't cause any problems in our water testing.
However, although the unit comes with a decent world map covering Western European and North American roads in detail, and major routes for the rest of the globe, if you want to add a more detailed upgrade then you will be disappointed to discover that no Micro SD slot is available for simply slotting in a map set. Instead, you will need to load these onto internal memory over the USB link, and there's a fairly modest 512MB available for this. It's also worth noting that extra maps, such as Magellan's own Summit Series range, can be pretty pricey, although this is mostly due to the cost of licensing terrain data from the likes of Ordnance Survey. For example, the OS Landranger map for Great Britain at 50k resolution costs the same as the eXplorist 310 itself.