GPS devices appear to be the Marmite of outdoor equipment – their use scorned by some walkers who fear the loss of traditional map and compass skills, but adopted by many others as a great aid to navigation and safety (see our article on the dos and don’ts of gps navigation). The earliest units had only very basic maps (some simply showed route lines) and were mostly used to get a current grid reference or to record tracks – but gradually GPS units have become much more sophisticated. Satmap made the first unit able to display proper Ordnance Survey maps back in 2007, whilst Garmin followed suit with its first OS-capable GPS, the Oregon, in 2008. I’ve been using GPS software on my smartphone for the last couple of years, so it is interesting to take a look at one of the current crop of dedicated GPS units.
The Magellan eXplorist 610 is towards the upper end of the range, above the 510 (which lacks the barometric altimeter and electronic compass) but below the 710 (which adds turn-by-turn navigation for use in your car). The unit also has a 3.2MP camera, together with a microphone and speaker for recording field notes – or audio blogs – whilst out on your trips. The eXplorist comes with very basic pre-loaded maps, but full OS 1:50 000 mapping for the whole of the UK is available on a miniSD card. We tested the unit with full OS mapping on board; if you shop around online you should be able to find the eXplorist both complete with the OS mapping, or without it (our pack also contained a voucher to buy the UK mapping for £50 – a big discount on the full quoted additional price of £149.99). See Full Article