Gear Review: Magellan eXplorist 310

Magellan eXplorist 310

The first you will read on Magellan’s website about the eXplorist 310 is ”The Magellan eXplorist 310 GPS receiver comes packed with tons of helpful features and is ready to use right out of the box.” That was an intriguing statement to me as I feel that most companies say something like that about almost every product that they sell. So with that statement in mind I started testing the eXplorist 310 to check and see just what features this GPS came with.

One nice feature, although not a big one, is that the unit comes with batteries. So the statement “ready to use right out of the box” was correct. I inserted the batteries and powered it on. The first time I use the eXplorist 310 we were on a family vacation to Pocatello Idaho doing some climbing, hiking and biking. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to test out what features the unit really had and how easy was going to be using them.

The eXplorist 310 does come pre-loaded with the World Edition map from Magellan. This includes major roads of the world and a complete road network in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Australia. Also through Magellan’s site you can download regional versions of their Summit Series which are topographical map with an increased level of detail, for use in the backcountry. The first time that I used it I only used what came pre-loaded and was happy to see roadways, water features and other prominent points of interest.

The first time I turned it on, it located the satellites relatively fast. I was going to time it the first time to see how fast it really was, but forgot to do that when I was at the trailhead. One of the things that I have learned to do from using a GPS for running is to just turn it on when I get to the trailhead and by the time I am ready to go it is always ready. It will get a signal in my house but it does take longer to do so. I do this in order to test how strong and responsive the antennas are in the unit. I was impressed with the eXplorist 310 because some other units have really struggled getting connected in the house. I know that this isn’t where they are going to be used but I just like to see for myself. The eXplorist 310 has the SiRFstarlll GPS chipset to provide accuracy of 10-15 feet and I would say that it was even a little better than that, but more on that later.

When turned on the colored screen is vibrant and easy to read when outside. This is achieved by the transflective color screen. I have to admit that the first time that I used the unit I didn’t read any instructions beforehand. I would recommend that everyone read them before trying to use the unit the first time, especially if it is going to be your main navigational tool. But that said the eXplorist 310 is pretty straightforward when using the basic functions of the device. The main menu has 9 options to choose from: Save, Waypoints, Tracks, Map, Geocaches, Routes, Dashboard, POI (Points of Interest), and Tools. You navigate the menu by using the small joystick on the unit and then press it to select. As I said before it is pretty straightforward if you use electronics.

One thing that I was impressed by was how rugged the eXplorist 310 was. I don’t usually try to drop any electronics, just to test how rugged or strong something is. But my kids on the other hand aren’t as nice always. My boy was carrying it and doing a great job but as he was running down the trail he tripped and the GPS went flying to the ground. After picking up my boy and brushing off the dirt and looking at the scraps on him I grabbed the GPS and it was working great. It does have a couple cosmetic scratches but other than that it is good to go. The eXplorist is waterproof to IPX-7 standards. What does IPX-7 mean? That the unit will be protected when immersed in water for 30 minutes at 1 meter deep. So bring on the rain. Also the eXplorist 310 has a loop at the bottom that you can hook a lanyard or small carabineer to in order to attach it to a backpack. Also the battery life of this little unit is awesome. It has an 18 hour life on just 2 AA batteries.

It is easy to start a track, mark the trailhead and go. You can then easily navigate back home at the end of the day. It is nice because it displays your active track as a bunch of little dots to show you where you have been. One of the downside that I experienced the first time using the eXplorist 310 was that I didn’t understand how to save a track or trail that I had just been on. I started it and it was saving it and working great. At the end I turned it off and when I got to the next trailhead I tried to start another but erased the previous one on accident. I do credit some of that to me not reading the manual but I also just didn’t understand the menu options when asked. But once I figured out how to save and start a new one, it works great.

One of my favorite features of this device is paperless geocaching. If you like to geocache then this unit is for you. You can go online and create an account with www.geocaching.com, load some software on the computer and then load the eXplorist 310 with geocaches. This is an easy way to load a bunch of geocaches of the area you are planning on going to. My kids love to go out and find the little treasures. I said at the first of the review about the accuracy of the GPS to about 10-15 feet. For me it was even better than that when looking for a cache. It got us down to 3 feet almost every time. This made it easy for the kids and me to find the cache. I only had a problem once that it said that we should have been there but we couldn’t find it. But I found out looking on the web later that the cache had disappeared the night before. So it probably was right that time as well.

Another downside to the eXplorist 310 is the available memory size. It has 500 megabytes for the user to use to load maps on. It would be nice if it would accept a micro SD card for additional space. But with the 500 megabytes internal you can preload the unit with the maps of the areas that you are going to and then just re-load it with maps of other area that you are going. But if you want the world on your GPS you will want to get a bigger one. If all you need are a few states at a time then the 310 is all you need.

Overall I am pleased with the eXplorist 310. I do believe that it did deliver on the statement that it “comes packed with tons of helpful features and is ready to use right out of the box.” This is a small unit that is great for those who want to have a GPS that is reliable and rugged but do not want to spend over 200 dollars on one. And if you have thought about getting into geocaching I would take a serious look at the eXplorist 310 as it makes it easy to get started in geocaching. I would also recommend reading the user manual before using and while using it for the first time. My experience only got better after taking the time to read.

Features:

• Easy to Navigate Menus and Rich Graphics

A simple main menu, intuitive contextual menus, and vibrant graphics make this device easy to use

Brilliant, sunlight readable color screen

A vibrant 2.2” color transflective screen provides the best readability in direct sunlight

Rugged and waterproof to IPX-7 standards

Focus on the adventure not protecting the device

High-sensitivity SiRFstarIII GPS with 3-5 meter accuracy

3-5 meter GPS accuracy provides a superior navigation experience

Pre-loaded World Edition Map

Referencing a complete road network in North America and Western Europe and major roads throughout the rest of the populated world to help in orientation. See parks, rivers, lakes, major city points, and other types of land use areas.

18 Hours of battery life using 2 AA batteries

Go strong for an entire day (or more). No stopping to replace the batteries.

Suspend Mode

The goal is to conserve battery life by putting the device into an advanced power saving mode. Suspend mode will turn off everything except for GPS tracking. Wake up the device with a single click.

Paperless Geocaching

Download and view more than 20 unique characteristics of each cache and view, search, filter on the device. Details include name, location, description, hider, size, difficulty, terrain, hint, spoilers, and last 20 user logs among a number of other details.

500 megabytes of user memory available

Loads of space to store additional maps, geocaches, waypoints, and tracks.

Record Tracks and See “Breadcrumbs” on the Map Screen

Keep a log of all the steps you took throughout the day. Reference your track to find your way back or to keep a digital journal of all your outdoor adventures

Track Summary

Start your journey with one-click and keep tabs on useful statistics such as distance travelled, average speed, elevation gain and descent, and average time to find

NMEA Message Output (USB Only)

For hardcore outdoor GPS enthusiasts who want to connect their device to laptop running VantagePoint software and see your position on computer screen.

Multiple Coordinates and Map Datums

Navigate around the world and do it accurately. See your geographic location in UTM coordinates or reference the OS Grid for use in Great Britain

• MSRP: $199.99

• http://www.magellangps.com/Products/eXploristseries/eXplorist-310-North-America

 

Product provided for free by the manufacturer for review purposes.