Find your friends' off-road trails with the Magellan eXplorist GPS

The eXplorist TRX7 GPS uses crowdsourcing to build a database of off-road trails around the country.

Emme Hall
Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars

I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.

3 min read

When giving directions to a good offroad trail, how many times have your friends said something like "Go to the big rock on the left past the bushes. Turn left and then after maybe a half a mile you'll see a cactus. But not a big one. It's pretty small. Go past the cactus and when you get to the fork in the trail go left. Or maybe it's right. Whatever, you'll figure it out."

Ummm...thanks, pal.


Magellan makes up for your friends' verbal deficiencies with the eXplorist TRX7. This GPS unit is designed specifically for off-road use. The 7-inch touchscreen is housed in the shock-resistant case that can repel both dust and water. It comes with a 12V USB charger and cable as well as a 120V charger for your home. The unit attaches to your windshield with the included RAM suction mount.

The startup page features a large Magellan button that when tapped will go directly to your dashboard. Smaller icons for Web browsing, apps and any contacts you may have uploaded are located to the right.

From the dashboard you can start tracking your trail or access your stored trips and wish-list trips, stored in your journal.

The eXplorist TRX7 features 44,000 preloaded off-road trails with 16GB of built-in storage and an expansion slot for a microSD card. You can record custom waypoints, GPS coordinates on any trail along with audio and photos to any trail as well as written descriptions. Maps can be viewed in high-definition 3D or as a 2D topographical map with contour lines. The unit is Wi-Fi enabled and can post to your social media from the trail by using your phone as a hotspot. If you're out of LTE range, it will sync up once you're back to civilization and send out those brag tweets about all the fun you're having.

What really sets the TRX7 apart is the crowd-sourced database of trails. To share a trail, you will need to create a profile, including your vehicle, of course, and sync the TRX7 with the eXplorist website. Go out and have fun on the trail and make your notes on the tablet. The TRX7 lets you note things like whether four-wheel drive is necessary, the pitch and tilt degrees on the trail and types of terrain, such as solid, loose or rutted. Terrain notes get even deeper, letting you select how many inches of mud, sand, snow, rock or water you encountered and whether each terrain type was avoidable or not. Just remember that one driver's "unavoidable" is another driver's "I'll just go up over these 3-foot boulders to avoid that 5-foot deep mudhole."

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Sync the TRX7 to the eXplorist website and BOOM! Trail shared.

While you're on the website you can take a look at what other people have shared and sync those trails back to your TRX7.


You'll have to read the manual to get yourself familiar with the features and menu flow, as it's not the most intuitive. And I wish the GPS unit could navigate me on the pavement to the start of a selected trail. As it stands, I have to use a separate GPS unit to get me to the fun, although there should be a free update later this year that adds simplified street navigation.

Currently the TRX7 is only available for roads in Canada and the USA. I do a lot of off-roading in Baja, Mexico, so an update would be more than welcome. Magellan says they are planning on it, but it's not likely for 2016.

While it's always fun to hit the trail with just a compass and a map, old school style, sometimes it's good to have technology on your side. The crowdsourced trails make it easy to plan a trip, and the database will only get bigger the more people use it. As a frequent wheeler in Mexico, I will definitely wait for the Baja update next year, but if you keep north of the border the eXplorist TRX7 is an awesome technology upgrade for any rig.