On The Bench: Magellan eXplorist GC GPS Receiver

Get Started With Geocaching!

If you're new to geocaching, finding your first hide is remarkably easy with this unit. Once you load your GPX file into the unit, you select the large Geocaching icon with the middle mouse button. A list of the five closest geocaches is displayed. Each geocache listing shows the type of cache, name of the cache, overall difficulty, train rating, size of the cache container, general direction of the cache, and distance to the cache.

The two main types of geocaches are “Traditional” and “Multi-Cache.” A traditional geocache is a container that has, at minimum, a log book, and can have trade items like small toys for kids, “Travel Bugs,” and “Geo Coins” that are also tracked on geocaching.com. A “Multi-Cache” is a set of geocache locations that are dependent on clues discovered in one geocache in order to locate the next find until the final stage is discovered.

The name of the cache is set by the person who hides the cache, and it often reveals a clue. The overall difficulty and terrain rating is on a scale of 1-5, with five being the most difficult. A geocache with a 1-1 rating is wheelchair accessible, and there is seemingly no limits to a 5-5. Any geocache with a difficulty or terrain rating at or above three is always going to be challenging.

The sizes of the container are displayed onscreen with anywhere from small to large boxes, indicating size. The smallest geocaches are roughly the size of the end of a finger, and are often attached to a surface with a magnet. This could be considered a size 1. Most caches are size 2 and 3. A popular size 3 is a military ammunition can. General direction is noted as N,E,W, and S. Distance to the cache is designated in miles, tenths of a mile, and feet when under .1 miles, which is 528 feet.

Your next step is to select a geocache to find. Again you use the thumb mouse on this Magellan unit to make a selection. You are then presented with details that allow you to go geocaching paperless, which is a major plus for this unit. Here are additional details on what you'll need to know for a first find:

Description: Provided by the person who created the hide. Often, you will learn something about the area or the reason for hiding the cache. Two of my favorites were learning about the last battle of the Civil War that happened in Southern Texas (GCBE47) and Wanna Buy A Chicken, about capture of a British ship at the beginning of the Civil War in Charlestown, MA (GC1ABYX).

Recent Logs: This view gives you a quick look at the five most recent logs from geocachers who found or did not find the cache. You see a smiley face or a sad face. For example, GC5430 currently has two smiley faces and three sad faces. This informs the user that, out of the last five attempts to find this cache, only two found it. You can select this item and read the details left by the geocachers.

This particular set of logs shows, by date, that the last three attempts were unsuccessful and most likely the cache has been “muggled.” A muggler is a person who discovers a geocache and is unaware that it needs to stay in place. When a geocache goes missing, log files alert the owner that the cache needs to be replaced or archived. You can also gain hints about the hide reading these logs that will assist you in making the find. I have seen a few logs with misinformation, referred to as “spoilers.” This is all part of the game/sport/learning activity. 

Hints:“Look behind a few large rocks that are slightly up the hill that faces the cow crossing” (GCZZYZX). As a new geocacher, hints are wonderful when they are supplied. It is up to the person creating the cache to decide if they want to include one. Once you gain experience, it is part of the challenge to only use the hint when it's needed. If I am not in a hurry, I look at the hint as a last resort before I list the cache as “DNF” for Did Not Find.

Not Attempted: When you select this screen, you are given four additional options: Found, Not Found, Needs Maintenance, and Enter Field Notes. This section is very useful for keeping track of your geocaching without the need to take notes or attempt to remember which cache was which later on. When you connect the unit to your computer, your notes are readably available.

Finding your Geocache: Your last action to take once you have decided to go after a geocache is to use the “Menu” button and select “Go.” By default, you are given a map and a green line to follow to the cache. I use this view until I get within 200 feet of the cache. Within this range, I use the “Back” button and mouse button to select the “Dashboard” view. There are several dashboards to choose from, all of which give you an arrow and distance measurement to the cache.

When I first received the eXplorist GC, the software was still at version 1.0. I was easily able to upgrade the software using utilities on Magellan's site. Version 1.4 has 25 different improvements. The main enhancements I noticed were a sharper, brighter display, faster functionality once the eXplorist was started up, and an easier-to-use mouse button.

Overall, I'd give the Magellan eXplorist GC a 4.5 out of 5. This is an excellent GPS for the new geocacher, but can still serve the experienced geocaching enthusiast well. For the price and features included, I would not hesitate purchase one of these units, let children use it, or buy classroom sets for educational purposes.

Pictures were taken 8/5/10 in Prescohtt, AZ. The Geocache site is GCZYKR Stoned at StoneRidge 1.

  • letsgetsteve
    reminds me of an episode of numbers.... sounds like it might be cool though. i might just have to give it a try.
  • silentq
    Title of the article tells me there will be comparison charts, graphs, stats etc.. "on the bench"... the article, however, offers none of those. Instead we get a vague personal point of view. Same as the Corsair's headset "review". Not impressed Tom, not impressed.
  • blackened144
    My parents have been caching for a few years now.. They have 1300+ finds in 12 states and 5 countries.. Im taking them to the airport this morning and they are flying to Germany.. My sister just had her first baby, but they are going to take a few days to drive around Europe again and do some more caching.. I think they are going to Belgium and Luxembourg this time and I think they are going back to the Netherlands and France so they can get 5 in each country..
  • f-14
    i am really more interested in about why Nvidia 400 series video cards are still being bottlenecked at below 256bit bus speed, also talk to AMD about what their take on bus speed below Nvidia's 320/448/512 bit restriction is doing for their products?

    inquiring Tom's readers want to know
  • squallypie
    @ f-14, are we reading an article of graphics cards ? :P

    well anyways, tommy, why arent we seeing this month's best card for the money article?
  • Onus
    Interesting. My sister and her family have a lot of fun doing this. I will send this to them.
  • vvhocare5
    Cmon squally - not another best card for the money article - doesnt anyone ever buy one and move on?

    Ummm is this a geo-caching recruiting article or some sort of comparison? I dont think this really belongs on TH. Now maybe if there was a FPS comparison of a 3d world simulation of geocaching - that might be interesting....

  • g00fysmiley
    lil odd and out of left field.. but interesting, sounds like a fun hobby. i'm glad i read it and learned about geocaching, muight try to pick one up and set a few caches around a few historical landmarks in my area to teach people about the many old forts and parks
  • squallypie
    vvhocare, sometimes its just nice to know which card is at the top right now. i've got a new card recently so im not ready buy another one within some time soon.

    builders on the other hand build computers all the time so they can choose the best card depending on the budget a customer has offered them.

  • Proximon
    This sounds like a great idea. I'm sold.