on April 20, 2011
I bought the Magellan Explorist 310 almost exclusively for geocaching.
For the past two years, I've been using the Magellan Triton 400 for the same purpose. That GPS unit was good in its day, but I wanted something more responsive with more features. After playing around with my new Explorist 310, I'd like to share my initial feelings, as well as some helpful hints for getting the most out of the GPS with the least amount of headaches.
As far as the quality of the GPS, I'd rate it as excellent. When I put in a couple of Rayovac alkaline batteries (the unit ships with two Energizer lithiums and a coupon for $2 off your next purchase of these batteries, I'll save those for another day) and pressed the power button for a couple seconds, the GPS powered right up, almost no wait time. It fits in the hand almost perfectly, and the buttons are easy to press. I initially had a bit of trouble with the toggle button, but figured out that if I wanted to spell out anything I needed to hold the unit in both hands, problem solved.
The battery compartment gave me a bit of trouble at first. It is a big improvement over the Triton series, it takes only a half turn to unlock the back of the GPS to replace the batteries. I struggled getting the battery cover back on again. Eventually I figured that out. Make sure that you connect the cover from the bottom first with a slight upward motion, then lower the top half of the cover and turn the screw the half turn needed to seal the battery compartment back up. Once you do it a few times there's nothing to it.
Next step for me was to load some geocaches onto the GPS. I went for it and created three 1000 cache pocket queries on Geocaching.com. After they were created, I saved them onto my computer. Then I connected the Explorist 310 to my computer using the included cable, and copied the files from my computer onto the GPS. When I looked for them, they didn't show up. I realized my mistake almost immediately - the files were still in a .ZIP format. I expanded them, then copied the .GPX files into the "Geocaches" folder on the Explorist, and the .WPTS.GPX files into the "Waypoints" folder. After that, everything showed up where I expected it to. Even with 3000 geocaches and the related waypoints, the unit booted up in no time!
Now I want to share the hints that should help you get the most out of this GPS (for geocaching anyway) right out of the box:
1. Go to Tools | Settings | Power, and set your battery type. Honestly don't know what this does, but I've had my GPS on for 5 hours tonight and almost no reduction in battery power. It must do something! Battery life is so much better than my Triton, for this reason alone I'm glad I bought the GPS.
2. Go to Tools | Settings | Brightness & Volume, and set up these settings to your preferences. I set the Backlight Timer to 5 minutes (and you can keep it on longer), keeps me from pushing buttons just so I can see the screen after a few minutes
3. Go to Tools | Settings | Night Mode, and change the setting to "Off". The factory setting will change the screen to night mode as soon as the sun sets, it's really annoying. Maybe it's preferable for some people, but definitely not for me.
The next two are the most important for geocachers, without changing these settings you will hate this GPS:
4. Go to Map, select it, then hit the Menu button. Scroll down and select "Map Options". Find the "Auto Zoom" option, and turn it OFF! If you don't, the screen will always zoom out to the point between your location and your destination, very annoying and makes it almost impossible to actually get to a cache.
5. Go to Map, select it, then hit the Menu button. Scroll down to "Geocaches" and change the setting to "Not Found & Not Attempted". I initially changed this to "Not Found", thinking this would show me the caches I didn't find yet. I found out the hard way that that setting will only show caches that you looked for but couldn't find.
That's all I have for now. Like I said, so far I really like the unit. My only comparison is the Triton 400, but there are some HUGE improvements over that unit. Deleting the existing set of geocaches is almost instant, vs. 3+ minutes on the Triton. I can actually save my finds on the unit, on the Triton there was no option for this. I can see the last 5 comments from Geocaching.com, so I don't waste my time looking for muggled caches. I will post an update if I find any more significant pros/cons to this unit, or any more helpful hints.
My family spends a tremendous amount of time outdoors, fishing, hiking, and working on our ranch. I am a distance walker. So I have been looking for a GPS that would help me keep up with miles walked and let me know where I am in the state park where I often walk. So when Amazon Vine offered to let me try out the Magellan eXplorist 310 I thought it might answer my needs.
The eXplorist 310 comes in a box with a Quick Start Guide, and a USB cord for the computer. There is a full manual online. The on/off button is on the top right side and must be held down for 2 seconds. To find this out, you either read the full manual or learn by trial & error. It certainly doesn't tell you in the Quick Start Guide how to turn it on. In fact the Quick Start Guide doesn't tell you much that is helpful.
Once you have it on press the menu key and you will see the different screens that come up. I suggest going to tools first to look at settings. You can put in ownership information and I would also suggest that you go to Brightness & Volume and change the backlight timer to longer than the 15 seconds that it is set with originally to keep the screen from turning off every fifteen seconds.
I found my home on the map, saved it, and then looked at points of interest. It found all the cities, bodies of water, public airstrips, and parks and public country clubs in a twenty-five mile radius. Since I live in a sparely populated area and my address is not on mapquest I was surprised by this.
The dashboard tells me how far I have traveled, how long I have been traveling, my average speed, if I stop how long I stopped. I love this because people will often stop me to talk and I could never figure it into my walking time, but now I can. The unit fits nicely in my hand and will fit into a pocket or clip on a belt while walking. It is easy to read, zoom in or out, go back, or use the toggle switches. We used it recently to map roads and trails on a piece of property that was heavily wooded.
I am not a geocache person, but I know that there is one hidden in the small rural cemetery near my parents. It is interesting to see the people who drive way out of the way to hunt for it. This unit has information that one could use to find and track geocaches, if that is something that interests you.
This is not a GPS that I would use to travel in the car but for the outdoors it has been lots of fun. This is not something that I have ever used before and it took me one set of batteries to learn how, but it is simple and easy to use. I am looking forward to discovering more about it as I use it
more. Be aware that the Magellan software does not support Apple computers so anything you do with the GPS on the computer must be done on a PC.
The Magellan eXplorist 310 is a HUGE improvement over my older Magellan Triton 500 GPS.
This unit comes with:
-2 AA batteries (and a $2 coupon for batteries)
-A 30-day Groundspeak Premium Membership (see geocaching dot com slash membership for more info on what that is)
-Quickstart guide (full PDF manual is online)
First of all, set-up is much faster than the Triton 500 and there are no connectivity issues whatsoever. Reconnecting to the computer, once again, there don't seem to be any glitches like the Triton had.
The user interface is VASTLY superior to the older model, not only in its bright display but also "Ipod"-like menu that is easy to understand, access, and explore.
The unit weighs much less than the Triton, even with the batteries. But to be honest, the casing on the eXplorist is something I'd be worried about dropping and cracking, unlike the Triton (even though it's claimed to be rugged, the thin plastic just doesn't seem right on the eXplorist to be called rugged). I didn't feel like dropping them both for this review to write about what happens.
I went to my local state park to give this a try. I noticed immediately that unlike the auto-tracking issues I had with the Triton (where you manually had to scroll the map to make sure you were on the screen as you walked), the eXplorist did this automatically; I'm glad they fixed/updated that issue, I'm not sure why it ever was one to begin with.
The map itself was very accurate with its reflection of major natural landmarks and distances. I noticed that distances (the longer the more pronounced the difference) were more accurately tracked by the eXplorist than the Triton.
There are several navigation lines present:
-Active: your current route that you have taken
-Origin line: the original origin to destination line
-Multi-leg route line: self-explanatory
-Destination line: to guide you to your destination if not on the origin line.
Several dashboard screens are available:
Compass, road, strip compass, satellite status screen, altimeter screen, and your typical GPS data screen with elapsed time, speed, distance, and so on.
I won't go into any more detail because you can find all of this in the manual. But the variety and customization of this unit is what I'm trying to emphasize; it's really great in terms of suiting your GPS to your current location and needs!
Due to the ease of use of this unit, customization, accuracy, and attractiveness, I give this an overall 5; if I ever drop this and it doesn't survive, I'll definitely update here.
Why Magellan eXplorist 310 over the Garmin comparable? For me, I was sold on the topo map that came with this bundled offer. Saved me $50 that I would have had to pay to get a regional topo map. (Yes the map offer is only for one area of the country, not the entire United States.) Although I have not had the 310 long I've spent some time testing it and so far it works better then expected. I'm still amazed at how easy the screen is to read in full sunlight. Does Apple know about this? I was a bit concerned about the complaints that it was hard to understand and operate but I found those claims to be ridiculous. To me it was very intuitive and I had it figured out before looking at the directions.
NOTE: If you want topographical maps of the more then one region of the United States loaded on your GPS at the same time, the 310 will not work for you. It has 500mb internal memory and does not allow for an SD card. Only one region can be loaded at a time. Example; you can not load all of the Appalachian Trail onto this unit.
* Easy to read screen at night or in full sun.
* Amazing satellite reception, even inside my house away from windows.
* Powers up and finds the satellites very quickly.
* Free regional topo map with this 310 bundle.
* Preloaded with relief world map (non-topo).
* Screen can be timed to power completely off to save battery life.
* Waterproof for 30 minutes and water resistant.
* Easy to use menus and options
* Over-the-map compass option.
* "Dashboard" for hiking without using the map. Many options too.
* Solid case with rubberized matte finish.
* Battery compartment locks down tight.
* Takes 2 AA batteries.
* Save tracks and routes easily.
* Topo loaded from website with no problems.
* Electronic altimeter and compass works well.
* Geo-cache ready with folders and options.
* Standard Waypoints marked and renamed easily.
* POI available.
* Fishing and hunting calendar.
* Sun and moon (tide) calendar.
* Audible alarms.
* Area calculation using walk around or by selecting points.
* Screen capture capable.
* "Search nearby" function
* Backtrack route works very well.
* USB cable included.
* Weighs less then it looks.
* Ergonomically pleasing.
* Standard GPS tracking features like speed, distance, elevation, stop times, etc.
* Non touch screen.
* No SD card slot (only holds one regional topo map)
* If you need directions, only comes with start-up version.
* Screen is much smaller then upper scale eXplorists.
Overall I think the Magellan eXplorists 310 is a great GPS for people who do local Geo-caching and standard backpacking adventures. Not so great for those who travel around the country and need topo maps for all regions or require more memory for geocaching and saving routes. You'll need to upgrade to the 510, 610 or 710 for that. I've been a fan of Garmin for many years and this is my first handheld GPS from Magellan so I hope I'm not let down over time.
If you have any questions please post them in the comment section and I'll do my best to answer them.
Need an inexpensive case? This one fits the 310 very well. Lowepro Tahoe 10 Pouch, Black
Finally got a chance to use this little GPS on a recent trip where we spent some time hiking and mountain miking. To start, I found it to be pretty sturdy. I can be a little clumsy with small electronic devices, but the recessed screen was well protected and it held up after being dropped a few times with only minor scratches on the outer shell. It's also pretty clunky to hold in your hand which makes it easier not to drop (if you are like me).
When hiking, we set a waypoint on the start of the hike and returning to this point was never off by more that 10 feet. One feature I really liked was the compass overlay on the screen, which keeps you headed in the right direction.
For mountain biking, we fitted the unit a bike mount, and it worked well when exploring new and unmarked areas. There is a "breadcrumbs" feature which makes it easy to see and track your movement and get back to the original location. The screen, because of it's size, was definitely not easily readable when biking but it is resistant to glare and has pretty good color contrast. It is also waterproof... but it does not float.
The included World Edition base map is very detailed and good enough for most applications, but I did end up splurging and purchasing a topography map that is sold separately on the Magellan website for $50. A quick start manual is included but the complete user manual can be downloaded online as well. There are a few minor pains with the navigation settings which can easily be fixed, but I'd recommend an overview of the full manual to reach this unit's full potential.
Overall this is a rugged and easy to use GPS that does everything a handheld unit should do - and it has a long battery life - thanks to suspend mode which turns off everything in the unit except GPS tracking.
on January 8, 2012
This is a great GPS for the price point at which it is sold. Some reviewers will take off stars because the Explorist 310 lacks features that are normally only found in units that cost hundreds of dollars more, but that isn't fair. For a $140.00 unit, the Magellan Explorist 310 is amazing.
Geocaching: If you're in to Geocaching, this is a GREAT unit. It handles all paperless geocaching tasks with ease. You will be able to upload caches from geocaching.cmo to it, and then sort them by every imaginable paramater (distance, cache size, found / not found, etc.). You can read the descriptions, hints, and logs for every cache, and the cache symbols will show up on the map in the unit. When you find your cache, you can mark it "found" within the GPS unit. Then, when you get back to your computer you connect with the included USB cable, the device transfers your "field notes" and you get a list of all the caches you've logged so you can write about them at geocaching.cmo. If you've considered the Explorist GC because it is "dedicated" to geocaching, then just understand that the 310 can do everything the GC can do, plus some other hiking related stuff like backtracking your route to help you find your way OUT of the woods.
Durability: The case is tough enough that you will feel confident tossing it to your hiking buddy rather than walking over to him and handing it off. I think that about says it all.
Accuracy: This unit is every bit as accurate as the higher grade models that cost over $500.00. It has the same technology for the actual global positioning part of its job as the more tricked out models.
Ease of Use: Other than my smart phone, this was the first GPS device I had ever purchased. You have to download the manual from the Magellan site, so I did that and read through it for twenty minutes or so. After that I quickly downloaded some geocaches (free treasure hunt locations from geocaching.cmo) and went out and found them. Learning all the ins and outs of every function will probably take a long time, and like most devices these days, half the functions will never be used anyway. The Explorist 310 is a VERY feature filled device, so expect it to take a while to master just as a result of the sheer amount of things it can do. Having said that, understanding the basic functions and getting started was incredibly easy.
Ergonomics: This thing just feels good in your hand. The buttons are convenient. I wasn't incredibly happy with the joystick. In addition to pushing the joystick around with your thumb to move the onscreen mouse, you also click it in to make selections. I've found myself getting accidental "clicks" when I only meant to move the mouse. This is the sole reason I gave this unit 4 stars instead of 5. I wish I could have given it 4 1/2 since this isn't that huge of a deal, but it was definitely worth mentioning.
Compass: When you're looking for a cache or a waypoint with your handheld GPS, it's common to use a compass screen on the unit that points in the direction you need to go. Expensive GPS units have an electronic compass that always points the right direction. Entry level units, like the 310, don't actually have a compass. They calculate your direction of travel based on your changing location on the map and then orient your compass on the screen according to the direction you're moving. This method is very accurate as long as you're moving. The problem is that if you stop and turn around, the "compass" will end up pointing the wrong direction. Again, this is common of ALL entry level GPS units, but Magellan has used a very clever method to make up for it in the Explorist 310. The compass screen on the 310 does go out of alignment when you stop, but in addition to the arrow pointing toward your destination it also shows you the calculated position of the sun and moon based on your location and time of day! All you have to do is turn the GPS unit in your hand so that the sun and / or moon symbols are pointing toward the real sun and / or moon, and the destination arrow will be pointing in the proper direction. I've used this feature many times, and it works wonderfully.
Turn by turn directions: The 310 is NOT capable of turn by turn directions on the road. You can buy upgraded maps for the unit, but it is NOT compatible with the kind of maps that give turn by turn directions. If that's what you're looking for, then this is NOT the proper device for you. Even when you're looking at a road map on the unit, the calculated route to your objective will always be in a straight line.
Custom maps: The Explorist 310 has a great "base map" which is the term for what is usually a very generic and featureless map that comes pre-installed on GPS units. The base map on the 310 is very far above average. It shows very detailed road systems, water features, and points of interest. In fact, about the only thing it lacks is contour lines. However, that can be fixed by using one of several options to upgrade your maps. Magellan sells official "Summit" topographical maps that are compatible with the Explorist 310. The Continental U.S.A. is divided into 5 sections, and you can install one of those sections at a time on the Explorist. The cost for each section is around $50. There are also much cheaper topographic maps available from other sources. Finding and learning how to use them is easy. Just visit the official Magellan exploristforum.cmo to learn all about it.
Overall, the Magellan 310 is a great GPS unit, especially for geocaching. My only gripe with it is the joystick, but that may just be my fumble fingers talking.
Amazon service on this unit was something else altogether. I bought it directly from Amazon, not an affiliated vendor. It was advertised as new. When it arrived, it was obviously an open-box unit, and it kept crashing to some kind of factory diagnostic screen that looked like it belonged in Windows 3.1. This was obviously not a part of the unit's normal programming, and it appeared to be something that was used for maintenance at the factory. My guess is that Amazon got a deal on some used, refabbed, open box items and sold them as new. When I tried to exchange it, Amazon was "out of stock" and didn't plan to get anymore of these popular GPS units for at least a month. In reality, they simply didn't want to pay full price to replace the second hand unit that they had purchased on the cheap. I replaced it through another source. The rating is for the unit, so I'll give it a high score. If I could rate Amazon's customer service on this issue, I would give them a negative three. I used to trust Amazon implicitly, but lately they seem to be slipping badly.
on April 22, 2015
Don't waste your money on the eXplorist 310. I bought one eight months ago to use for kayaking. I wanted to know speed, distance, route, etc. It does give you those things, but it is not at all intuitive to operate and the display is very difficult to read in the sun. It is generally frustrating to use. Batteries last only about five hours, so on longer trips, you must carry spares. A few times, the display fogged up on the inside (it is supposed to be waterproof) and recently the display comes on, but it is just a non-readable blob.
Warranty info was a bit hard to find. Once I knew it was still in warranty, I called Magellan as instructed on their website, but gave up after being on hold for 40 minutes. I finally was able to communicate with a representative through their chat feature. After I answered about 20 questions, the rep said to email my receipt and a picture of what the display was doing. They said they will look at it and get back to me within a couple of days. I asked for RMA so I can send it back to get a replacement. I certainly would not buy another one and wouldn't care much about a replacement except that if they honor the warranty, it should be free. I will be looking for a better GPS for kayaking.
Update: Magellan says that since there is moisture behind the display cover on this "waterproof" GPS, the display is "broken." "Magellan will replace receivers with a broken display returned within the warranty period with a reconditioned unit of the same or comparable model at a reduced cost to customer." $60 to replace. I will not be wasting $60, nor will I be purchasing any GPS from Magellan in the future.
on October 1, 2014
Garbage. I replaced the batteries in the unit this year and somehow the map was no longer there. I contacted Magellan support and they told me because the default map was no longer installed that this device is, in their own words, garbage. I believe the term Magellan used was "useless". Without the default map the unit will not do anything but serve as a paperweight. After arguing that this unit is only 1 year old they tried offering me a new model at a great discount, but their discount is simply the same price as you can get a gps for here at amazon or down to best buy. Magellan in my opinion is a joke. Knowing the unit is no good if the map gets removed, why wouldn't you lock it down and prevent anyone or anything from having this problem. Just their way of forcing you to go out and buy a new one. Their customer support is honestly the worst I have ever experienced.
on April 25, 2011
This is a Pretty Good Basic Outdoor GPS, very simple to use. I use it for Biking and Hiking, it works great in the Mountain as well as the City. It only took 1 or 2 Minutes for the GPS to find the SAT, Very Impressive. The Unit does not come with any software, you have to go the Magellan's Website, download and install VantagePoint. I use VintagePoint to Manage, Edit and Sync my Tracks to the GPS. I can also download GPX file from other website, import to VantagePoint, then upload it to the GPS.
The only downside for this Model, No Touch Screen. Touch Screen would definitely would be a lot easier to input information. That's something should think about, but that would cost you $150 more for the 510 model.
on October 10, 2013
It worked for 1 week in California. Then I took it to Italy where it promptly lost the satellite signal. Still couldn't track when I returned to California. No amount of right arrow, on/off, leave in a field on a cloudless, moonless night resetting helped. Magellan customer support was no help. The joystick was always awkward to use, so no big loss returning it to Amazon.