At shot show 2013 I was called over to the Magellan booth by Atticus because Magellan was interested in Gears of Guns reviewing their new Magellan eXplorist 350H. This was perfect because I was planning an elk hunt for the following October. So I listened very attentively to the 30 minute presentation Carol Bardia had for me and the Crew. I will be up front with you, I was unfamiliar with Magellan, as well as GPS systems designed for outdoor enthusiasts, so the learning curve was steep at first. Fast forward to August 29th 2013 when the product arrived and I immediately discovered my lack of experience did not matter. The applications in the field and at home after the trip are so numerous it is difficult to list them all but here it goes.
The eXplorist 350 H is above all else very user-friendly and within the first 10 minutes I had already begun planning my trip by locating the exact area I would be hunting within 10 feet. I had topographical data, county roads and game management areas (GMU) all loaded with the push of a button. The five button control panel was easy to use, with or without gloves and I liked the way you could quickly access trip information without excessive toggling.
Upon arrival to the campground I mapped out the my various points of interest using several of the handy custom marker icons specially created for hunters including; campsite, blinds, stands, glassing areas and trail heads to name a few. Or you could mark way points using specific game icons, bedding locations, scat, blood trails, scrapes, rubs, sheds and many more. I also used the text function to enter field notes when a custom marker wasn’t enough. My first few days before the hunt I was glad to have the eXplorist on hand because it allowed me the chance to get oriented and to map and section out the large area quickly and effortlessly. After taking a long ride on my 4 X 4 with the eXplorist on board, I had all my ATV trails marked without having to do very much but enjoy the ride. At no point during my two weeks there did I have to worry about finding my way back to camp day or night.
In an effort to conserve battery life I utilized the active suspend function which worked like a sleep mode but with continued tracking. Also the screen saving mode turns off when not in use within 20 seconds. It takes two double A batteries of which I replaced once the entire trip. While it is stated to have a battery life of 18 hours (if you use lithium), if you fail to use active suspend don’t be surprised if the hours of battery life vary. Another annoyance is that the Duracell alkaline batteries got down to 25% remaining and a message would appear telling you to change them and soon after that the device would shut off. The batteries I used after the first change were (Duracell AA alkaline), however Magellan recommends using two AA lithium batteries.
Once I had my hunting area mapped I could track prey, mark glassing areas and establish which group members were hunting where. The stated temperature range for this device is between 14 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. While it continued to work for me at 20 degrees F your experience may vary, however at times it was cold enough for my smart phone to stop working while the eXplorist continued to worked. Magellan has used the IPX7 waterproof standard for this device. During my trip I exposed the device to rain and snow and had no issues with it working properly.
Even though I enjoyed using the GPS in the field once I returned home and plugged the eXplorist 350H into my computer and downloaded the Vantage Point software onto my PC, my experience only got better
You must be using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to use the Vantage Point software or if you are running a MAC you can use the Magellan communicator for MAC which is compatible with a website called Geocaching.com. Once installed the Vantage Point software took all the data I had collected on my two-week trip and plugged it into the DigitalGlobe format where I could play back every movement I made while the device was active using either satellite images or the topographical map. There are countless ways you can use this software from planning available routes, tracking animal movements or measuring distances. The Vantage Point software uses collected data to paint a clear picture of the outdoor experience while allowing the user to plan, track and view all movements in the field. So when I was ready to relive the experiance, Vantage point software painted the picture for me. When I am ready to plan my next trip I can easily build of the info gathered by the eXplorist and displayed on Vantage Point.
Having access to such a great tool takes your hunting or hiking game to a whole new level and I highly recommend it for everyone from the beginner to experienced outdoor enthusiast.
- The five button control panel is very easy to use when scrolling through the various menus.
- Can be used with or without gloves without much difficulty.
- Thirty custom markers for hunt mode plus ability to add custom field notes.
- Active suspend mode conserves battery life while continuing to track your movement.
- Screen is bright and display is clear with sharp contrast.
- The Vantage Point software uses collected data to paint a clear picture of the outdoor experience while allowing user to plan, track and view all movements in the field.
- One con was that the 350H is a bit bulky when carrying it around in my pocket so I eventually started keeping it in my day pack which was not always convenient.
- The screen size was a bit small but the display is bright and clear and it did come with a screen protector.
- Stated battery life is 18 hours but when left on not in active suspend much less battery life.
- When alkaline battery life got down to 25% remaining, a repeating message to change batteries appeared and the device would power down, however Magellan recommends using a AA lithium battery for optimal battery life.