Magellan Explorist 510, A Gear Diary Outdoors Review

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For anyone who enjoys the outdoors it is important to know your location, where you are going and where you have been. Whether hiking or hunting, it is too easy to get caught up in the scenery or tracking an animal and lose your bearings. Each rock or tree begins to look familiar and next thing you know, you have been walking in circles. Luckily, modern technology allows us to use some wonderful tools to keep us from getting lost or to remember our amazing trails we have discovered. I recently was able to obtain the Magellan Explorist 510 to review. Let’s take a look at how it performed.

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The Magellan Explorist 510 is a rugged, waterproof handheld GPS with a camera and microphone. It allows users to navigate the outdoors while keeping waypoints, photos and notes along the way. If you are used to carrying a cell phone or other sleek device, the 510 will feel rather heavy and large. Keep in mind, this is a tool for a different use. The constriction is made to survive the elements of the great outdoors. It is built like a tank and I could see it surviving many tumbles on the rocks while hiking. Since the device is waterproof, it is usable regardless the conditions which may be important if you get caught in a surprise rain or snow storm. This thing is tough!

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Before using the Explorist 510, you must first install the maps. Magellan offers a wide range of mapping options for the device including hunting and fishing, summits, cities and satellite views. Make sure you check your location and choose which map is right for you. The only map I was able to use in South Texas was the National Geographic TOPO! map. Once the maps are downloaded to a PC, you choose your area and download that to the device. The National Geographic TOPO! maps are actual high resolution scans of USGS topographical maps that have been shaded to show relief. This presents an in depth and useful view of the surroundings. Drops and rises in the landscape are easily seen with a quick look at the screen. For those used to using google maps, or regular GPS devices, these maps will look quite unique. There is much more information included and less attention on the roads. Perfect for being in the woods. Check out the lineup of available maps here on the Magellan web site.

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There are tons of features and uses for the Magellan Explorist 510, but I mainly have used it to create a virtual trail of where I have been so I can always get back. The topographical maps will help see what is around and near you including valleys or hills, but also bodies of water. This could come in handy if you do get lost or need some water. The way the device tracks you is by setting waypoints. The device already includes slots to set “home”, “base camp” or car. This can be used as the starting or ending points for the trip. As you hike, you can set more waypoints. The easiest way to do this is to press the top button on the left side of the device. It is a blank button just above the camera button. This saves the location and you can keep moving. Way points can also be saved and named from the device menu if there is a certain place you want to find again and remember why. When looking back at the tracking info, distance, speed and elevation are all available. Not only can you find your way, but there will also be a basic journal of the trek.

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The camera is not what you will find in current smart phones, but it is quite useful to document a waypoint or an interesting item on the trail. I could see using the camera to log a fork in the trail or special marking, then adding a voice note and waypoint for both direction and so it can be found again. Think of it as a high tech way to drop bread crumbs to find your way. The camera button is located on the left side of the unit and is marked with a camera icon and can be accessed in the menu along with voice notes and video.

The Explorist uses the Sirfstar III GPS chip and is accurate up to 3-5 meters. It runs on 2 AA batteries and boasts a 15 hour battery life. It will feel thick measuring at 2.57″ x 5.04″ x 1.45″ and weighs in at 6.87oz, but remember it is built for toughness. Good for just about any conditions, the Explorist is waterproof and can handle temperatures ranging from 14F to 140F.

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The Magellan Explorist 510 is a wonderful tool for those serious about the outdoors. Whether using it for hunting or hiking, the huge feature set will allow all users to keep track of their outdoor exploits. The device is a bit larger compared to a cell phone, but is designed to be rugged and is waterproof. The Explorist can easily survive several tumbles down the rocks in the rain and still guide a hiker back to their home base using the intuitive waypoints. If you cannot find your way, simply choose the point in which you want to go and tell the device to take you there. While you can see the desired location, the maps will help plan the track avoiding huge hills or valleys. Go check out the Magellan Explorist 510 and get outdoors! You will not be disappointed.

Magellan Explorist 510

MSRP: $279.99

What I like: Accurate GPS with easily added waypoints to keep me from getting lost. Tons of features.

What could be improved: I wish the VantagePoint software worked on a Mac! I had to load my maps from my work machine since I no longer own a PC.

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