A few weeks ago my family and I discovered the world of geocaching. For those of you that are not familiar with geocaching, it is a high-tech outdoor treasure hunting game in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called “geocaches” (pronounced geo-cashes) or “caches” anywhere in the world.
We began our adventure by downloading the Geocaching.com App from iTunes. There you can also find a free Geocaching.com Intro version which allows you to download up to 3 caches. We started our inaugural family geo trek and were able to reach our destinations with mixed success. We found 2 out of the 5 caches that we were seeking. The 2 that we found were approximately 20 feet off course from where it was reflected on our iPhone.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first geocaching adventure, but felt that if we could have access to more precise GPS data, we would be better prepared to locate our hidden treasures, find even more caches in a smaller amount of time and thus have a more enjoyable overall family experience.
We started to research handheld GPS options. We fell in love with the Magellan eXplorist GC ($199) which is specifically made for geocaching. Out of the box we quickly updated the GPS software from the Magellan website, then batch loaded 500 geocache locations (although the device can hold up to 10,000 geocaches) using VantagePoint software and the USB cable included, and then we were ready to hit the trail. We found several caches quickly and easily with this handy GPS device. The simplicity of this unit allowed our children to get involved in the fun and navigate the way independently.
The unit is rugged, durable, has a sleek design, is rated IPX-7 waterproof, and fit comfortably and securely in the palm of my hand. The unit comes equipped with 2 AA batteries boasting an extended battery life of up to 18 hours. The color display is crisp and vibrant and best of all can be viewed easily in direct sunlight. The interface is easy to use and intuitive. There is a built-in compass overlay feature to help guide you to your destination more easily. You can also create waypoints, view your trip odometer, and even leave virtual breadcrumbs throughout your trek to be sure that you can easily find your way back home.
You can seamlessly upload geocaches right from Geocache.com using the USB cable or create a query to upload a batch of caches using VantagePoint software which can be downloaded for free on the Magellan website.
Best of all the Magellan eXplorist GC comes with a 30 day free premium membership to Geocaching.com, allowing you to browse and select from over 1 million geocaches worldwide. There are so many great things to boast about geocaching. It allowed our family to get off the beaten path and discover new places. In fact, we explored several trails and parks that we never even knew existed, mere miles from our home. Aside from the great treasures that you and your kids will enjoy, the quality time spent together as a family is priceless. So I encourage anyone looking for a new experience to try geocaching and I highly recommend the Magellan eXplorist GC to help you set your course for adventure. (Reviewed by Meredith Fire-Hess)