It’s getting harder and harder to get lost in the woods, and capable and durable GPS-enabled handheld navigators like the Magellan eXplorist are the reason why. The price for feature-rich and durable devices like the Magellan keep coming down, and having a GPS device when you’re hiking, hunting, fishing, geocaching, kayaking, or camping is no longer considered a luxury.
The Magellan eXplorist 310 isn’t an elaborate device by handheld standards. What it does, it does well, and its small size and rugged case means you’ll want to take it with you everywhere, no matter how light you’re traveling. The eXplorist 310 comes preloaded with maps so you can get going immediately, or you can download additional maps for your particular needs for an extra fee. The device features easy, intuitive functions that don’t require a great deal of explanation or training to understand, and it’s possible to simply lend the device to people that haven’t used it before and they’ll still be able to use it effectively.
- GPS-enabled handheld navigation device
- Waterproof to IPX-7 standard
- Weighs 5.2 ounces
- Accepts 2 AA batteries
- Functional from –10C to 60C
- Has 500 megabytes of internal memory
- Gets up to 18 hours of use from 2 AA batteries
- 2.2 inches x 4.4 inches x 1.4 inches thick
- Full color display is 240 x 320 pixels, 2.2-inches wide
- Accurate to within 5 meters
- Comes preloaded with world edition maps
- Accepts additional uploadable maps
- Remembers up to 1000 waypoints, 50 routes, and 10,000 geocaches
- USB connectivity
- PC compatible
- 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
When you power up the unit, the full-color screen shows nine large icons for all the standard functions that the device can offer. Unlike some competitor’s models, all the operation buttons are located on a pad located just below the screen. There are only four buttons, with a multi-directional mushroom button located in the center of them. It’s a better design than many other devices. Some competitor’s models place the buttons where your vision of the small screen is obscured by your hands when you’re operating the device. The joystick is great for quickly moving to the icon you want, and depressing it is like an enter key, so you can hold the device in one hand and operate it effectively using just your thumb, which is great when you’re moving along and don’t want to tie up two hands.
The Digital Compass Requires a Satellite Signal
The Magellan eXplorist 310 includes a digital compass, but the compass relies on the same GPS signal that the device uses for navigation, so it’s not an appropriate backup for lack of satellite signal. The 310 finds and locks on to satellites about as quickly as any handheld unit that doesn’t have an external antenna. It also handles intermittent line-of-sight issues like tree canopy well.
An Integral Loop For Attaching to Your Gear Is a Nice Touch
Instead of a hook for a carabiner, the Magellan eXplorist 310 has an integral plastic loop built into the case that allows you to attach it with any sort of lanyard arrangement you prefer, which is a definite plus. The 310 has a very rugged case, and the loop can act like the face guard on a football helmet if it’s dropped straight down to the ground, which is another often overlooked benefit of the design. There is a place on the top of the back to attach a more conventional hook if you like as well.
A Superimposed Compass Is Another Nice Feature
The color screen is small but sharp and features rich-looking graphical elements. The Magellan line has a unique feature that lets you superimpose a compass over your topographical map, which makes finding your way in the wilderness that much easier, and saves toggling back and forth between two functions. For some people that like activities like orienteering and geocaching, that function alone makes the Magellan eXplorist 310 a primary choice when shopping for an affordable handheld hiking GPS device.
Power Saving Mode Extends Battery Life
The Magellan eXplorist 310 is small and light, and it’s designed to be put in a pocket or hung from a zipper on your gear, so you might not be using it constantly when you’re out in the field. In order to save batteries, you can put it into a power saving mode instead of turning it off and having to acquire satellites all over again on startup, another key feature of the Magellan unit.
When you’re using the preloaded map, it’s easy to leave so-called breadcrumbs on the map so that you can mark your way back with accuracy. These markers will also make it easy to keep a digital journal of your journeys, and summaries of your tracks.
- Has every major hiking GPS function
- Inexpensive for such a capable machine
- Tough outer shell can withstand hard use
- Totally waterproof for use in almost any weather
- Comes preloaded with worldwide base map so you can use it anywhere the minute it comes out of the box
- Easy to load and alter tracks, geocaches, waypoints and other data
- Screen is smaller than larger handhelds offer
- Screen can be difficult to read in harsh sunlight
- No micro USB slot
The Magellan eXplorist 310 is a capable and durable performer, but it gets mixed reviews from users and tech sites. While over 57 percent of reviewers give it four stars or better on their reviews, the majority of reviews of the device are lukewarm. That might be the result of Magellan’s attempt to produce a simple, solid device instead of one that brings new utility to the market. A review that says that a device works well, doesn’t break, and doesn’t cost all that much should be a winner for a GPS device manufacturer, but people seem to be expecting every generation of every device to do something extraordinary that its predecessor didn’t do. That’s probably a sign that the entire GPS industry has reached a point where it’s considered an everyday object instead of a novelty. The Magellan eXplorist 310 just works.