To suit its remit the iFinder is light and tough. In fact, it’s waterproof to a metre’s depth (the IPX7 standard). I dunked it in a sink full of water and it continued to operate during and after its soaking and, courtesy of the wonderful British weather, it shrugged off a couple of downpours without any problems at all. There’s a thick rubber strip wrapped around the edges of the iFinder, which makes gripping it with gloves easy, and gives it a modicum of protection in the event of a drop. And, in a nice practical touch, the Expedition c is powered by a pair of AA batteries, which will last for up to 14 hours of continuous operation. As devices such as these are often used in locations far away from civilisation – and power points – it means you can keep it running wherever you find yourself. After all, AA batteries are easier to lay your hands on than a compatible power point when you’re in the back of beyond in Nepal. Sailors will also be pleased to find that the Expedition c also comes with a 12V car adapter.
The screen is another example of thoughtful design. It might not be the most stunning example, offering just 256 colours but it is transflective, which means that (unlike the Satmap’s screen) it’s easily viewable both outside and in without the need for a backlight. This really comes into its own when the sun is bright – to see the Satmap’s screen you have to shade it with your hand, while the Expedition c’s is perfectly clear.
Ease of use is excellent as well. All too often, hiking GPSes such as this have impenetrable menu systems that are impossible to understand without a degree in rocket science. Not so here. Each of the buttons of the front is clearly labelled and the menus are easy to understand. There may be a bit of a learning curve if you haven’t used a hiking GPS before, but I found it easier to use than my old GPS 12, and on a par with the eXplorist devices from Magellan, more recreational Garmin devices and the Satmap Active 10 I reviewed a few months ago.
And, once you’ve spent a little time with the device, you’ll discover all sorts of nice touches: holding the Pages button down while in sleep mode temporarily activates the compass mode – useful if you’re trying to eke some more battery life out of the iFinder; while pressing Exit four times in a row launches a speedo mode. I also liked the fact that the map screen can be tweaked to your heart’s content, with all sorts of overlays and information available, from a transparent compass dial to latitude and longitude grid lines, altitude, odometer information and more. There’s no mucking about switching from one map datum to another – switch from UTM to British Grid and the iFinder switches the datum for you.