People familiar with the sport of Geocaching know how important a good GPS unit is in finding those hidden virtual treasures. For those unfamiliar with the concept, people hide small containers, or caches, out in the forest, a field, or even a city block. They then upload the exact latitude and longitude of the cache to a website and challenge people to locate the cache. The Magellan eXplorist GC seems to have been designed and purpose built for geocaching enthusiasts.
The Magellan eXplorist GC measures 4.4 inches high by 2.2 inches wide and has a thickness of 1.4 inches. It also has been finished with a very rugged feeling rubberized housing giving the impression that it could withstand a drop or two. Magellan also states the device can even be submersed under water for up to one minute without any damage.
The eXplorist has a 2.2-inch color screen which is very visible even in direct sunlight. Navigation through the different functions and display modes of the unit is done through a series of rubber buttons just below the display screen. The eXplorist is powered by two AA batteries and they are kept in place by the rear panel which locks into position.
In the early days of geocaching, players would print out the location of caches and manually enter the coordinates into their GPS. Since the eXplorist was essentially designed for geocaching, it comes pre-loaded with thousands of caches in its memory. A user should be able to take it out of the box and go off to find their first cache. In addition to the coordinates of the cache, the eXplorist also has other information such as the cache difficulty level, comments and notes left by other players, and hints for finding the cache. Also included are some base maps with major highways and landmarks loaded into the unit. The eXplorist can also be connected to a PC via USB and new updated caches can be uploaded from the geocaching.com website.
All these added features make the eXplorist an attractive option to geocachers, but the performance of the GPS unit itself is the most important feature. The SiRFFstarIII receiver that powers the eXplorist is accurate within 3 meters when there is clear sky above, but it lacks any sort of internal compass. This means that you have to be moving in a direction for the unit to tell you what direction you are facing. This can be frustrating when you are within 4 or 5 meters of a cache and you are trying to make small precise movements.
In summary, the Magellan eXplorist GC offers many useful functions that geocachers will find very helpful when off on the cache hunt. Its sturdy rubber housing and clear display make it a great option when out in the field. The lack of an internal compass is a disappointment, but at a price of under $150, the Magellan eXplorist GC is a strong option for people looking for a standalone geocaching unit.