On The Bench: Magellan eXplorist GC GPS Receiver

Geocaching is treasure hunting for people who enjoy exploring and the challenge of finding things other have hidden. As of August 17, 2010 there are 1,158,583 geocaches hidden worldwide. Every geocache has an identifier which starts with “GC."

I was first introduced to geocaching by a customer who was attending a technical training session I was hosting in Bakersfield, California. The customer was from Missouri, and was eager to go geocaching after work. The temperature that day was 105 degrees. We hiked about three miles and discovered five finds, which highlighted the accomplishments of famous women of Kern County. My favorite aspect of geocaching is learning about the places I travel, just as if I were on a guided tour on my own schedule.

I now have over almost 800 finds, and have hidden 21 geocaches of my own. Compared to the other activities I participate in, geocaching is by far the most inexpensive and easy to do anytime. If you are interested, head over to geocaching.com. At no cost, you can create a user name, enter your home address, and start finding geocaches in your own neighborhood.

Having a GPS (a navigation device that receives Global Positioning System signals for the purpose of determining the present location) makes it possible for you to navigate to a geocache site. Your choice of GPS device determines how easily you can add locations and go paperless. It's also instrumental in getting you close to the cache.

For example, car navigation systems are used for locating addresses of buildings, and will generally get you within 60 feet of a geocache. Sixty feet can be a large circle to hunt in. Most hand-held GPS units will get you within 15-25 feet. In my experience, every once in awhile, my own GPS will even show a cache one foot away. Lo and behold, the cache is at that location. You can spend as little as $100 for a used GPS to over $1000 for the most deluxe features.

Today, we're looking at the Magellan eXplorist GC. The “GC” in the model name designates a “Geo Cache”-specific unit. During the process of evaluating this product, I found 30 geocaches in six states over a five-week period. In all but one condition (one find), this GPS unit worked great. It consistently allowed me to get within 15 feet of each geocache.

For comparison purposes, I used a Garmin Vista HCx. The cost of the Magellan eXplorist GC is $200. The Garmin Vista HCx's base price is approximately $225. With Street Maps and an SD card, I have $350 invested in this Garmin.

Check out Phil's Geo Stats