Kid-Friendly GPS

Geek Culture

Geocaching is a great way to get your kids outdoors. There’s nothing like a genuine treasure hunt to fill an otherwise cartoon-oriented Saturday morning. At three, our little one is just catching on to the idea that the little boxes we go looking for have cool stuff in them. We, on the other hand, are just catching on to the idea that she wants to carry the GPS all the time.

This results in more than a little anxiety, since our main axe is a nice color unit.

So I went looking for a more kid-friendly device. Not kid-usable, of course, since she no more understands what a map is than she understands who puts the treasure boxes out in the woods. But something she can carry — and drop — without worrying her parents to death.

Enter the Magellan eXplorist 100. It has all the primary virtues of a GPS for caching. It’s cheap — under $75 if you shop around a little — so it won’t be a huge deal if it gets lost or broken. It’s ruggedized, with rubber grips, waterproof buttons, sealed battery compartment, and a hard plastic shell. It’s sized for little hands, but not so small as to get lost easily. Best of all, it’s bright orange, which means that when little hands lose their grip, as they will, it’s easy to find your GPS again.

For those times when you’re using the GPS without the little one around, you can get handy mounting brackets for bikes and vehicles, carrying cases, and so on. The screen is plenty big for caching, too.

Just to top things off with that last measure of protection, hit your local office supplier and pick up a pack of cut-to-size PDA screen protectors, and slap one on the eXplorists display.

Emma isn’t any closer to being able to read the maps or the directional information, of course. But being "in charge" of the GPS caters to her toddler’s need to control her environment, and makes her feel like a real part of the action.

Now if we can just convince her that you’re supposed to leave something as well as take something from each cache.

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