A few years ago, Magellan stopped focusing on the UK market. Now, however, the company is back. Our first taste of the new Magellan strategy is significant in another way, though. The Magellan eXplorist GC is the first GPS device we’ve tested that is focused exclusively on Geocaching. This high-tech international treasure hunt, which we’ve explained in detail in the past, is a fun way to combine a passion for hiking with a love of gadgets, and is becoming an increasingly popular pastime.
Physically, the eXplorist GC is similar to Garmin’s Oregon and Dakota hiking GPS devices. It’s rated to the IPX-7 standard, so is waterproof to a depth of 1m and toughened against drops and knocks. However, the rubber cover over the USB port does need to be carefully put in place to ensure it seals correctly, although this won’t be a problem if you’re just out in rain rather than wading across a river. The screen is also not touch-operated, with a joystick and quartet of buttons provided for navigating the interface. This works reasonably well, and allows relatively easy panning and zooming of the map screen.
Power comes from twin AA batteries, and a pair of lithium cells included in the box to get you started. Magellan claims these will last 18 hours of continuous operation, and we certainly saw little change in the battery indicator over many hours of usage. There’s a worldwide map on board, which we found included a decent level of detail in the UK, but user reports allege that coverage of Australia and New Zealand is a lot more sketchy. In-car navigation is not what the eXplorist GC is aimed at anyway. You’re primarily going to be using it on foot, where you will be operating the device as a digital direction finder for a large proportion of the time.