Apisphere Geomate Jr Handheld GPS Geocacher

Apisphere Geomate Jr Handheld GPS Geocacher

Geocaching, the hide-and-seek scavenger hunt for the 21st century is a great summertime activity for families anywhere. As of June 6, 2010, there were 1,092,192 active geocaches worldwide, in over 100 countries, and on all seven continents, including Antarctica.

To help kids in the US get into geocaching, there’s now the Geomate.jr. It’s a nearly kidproof geocaching GPS that you just switch on to be directed to the nearest geocache. You’re presented with an arrow and distance to the closest one. hitting the “Next” button takes you to the next closest geocache.

It comes with more than 250,000 pre-loaded geocache locations in the 50 states. You don’t have to download anything, connect to the internet, or type in coordinates. Along with the geocache location, you get useful info like difficulty, size of the geocache, and the geocache code.

Another feature parents will like is that you can set a “home” waypoint so that you can navigate back to where you started. There’s a “Found Geocache” log that lets you mark geocaches you find and later review them. Also included are basic GPS functions like latitude, longitude, heading, and tracking information.

Two AAA batteries will get you 12 hours or so of operation. An optional Geomate.jr update kit lets you add the newest geocaches for the US and get geocaches for other countries.

Early parent reviews are generally positive. Some like using the geocaching app on their iPhone to get to the vicinity of the geocache, then letting the kids finish finding it. But unlike with the iPhone, kids can fall on the Geomate.jr and generally treat it to normal kid-induced stresses without damaging it.

The biggest drawback is its lack of mapping capability. Because of this, you’ll need to either go to the geocaching.com website and print maps to geocache sites beforehand (which prevents most spontaneous geocaching adventures) or else use an iPhone or other GPS device with mapping to be able to drive to the general vicinity before getting out for the hunt.

The conclusion most people with these have come to is that it’s a great device for a kid or a beginning geocacher, or as a supplemental device to other geocaching tools (like phone apps), but as a main device of a hardcore geocacher, it probably won’t satisfy. Nonetheless, it’s simple, reviewed as fairly accurate, and reasonably kidproof.

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