Gear Watch: Magellan ToughCase

A lot of us are carrying around GPS receivers these days, embedded within iPhones and other pocket-sized smartphones. But when it comes to backcountry use, these nifty gadgets fall short on several fronts: durability, accuracy, sensitivity, and battery life. The new Magellan ToughCase attempts to address these issues by providing a more durable, more sensitive, more accurate GPS receiver for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Think of it as a very souped-up, ultra-durable waterproof case that also contains its own GPS receiver and battery. Open it up, slip in your iPhone or iPod Touch, and snap it closed—you're ready to go.

The touted results? A better, faster, more sensitive GPS antenna that picks up satellites in marginal conditions when the iPhone alone might not. Double the battery life of the iPhone alone. And a durable case designed to withstand drops and other backcountry abuses.

It also works with iPod Touch and pre-GPS iPhones, neither of which includes its own internal GPS unit. Regardless of the gadget, it still requires the use of an appropriate GPS application downloaded from iTunes.

The drawbacks to the ToughCase? It's bulky and heavy, much more so than a standard backcountry GPS unit. And it costs about the same ($179) as a good basic GPS unit. Finally, it will soon become dated technology as new versions and sizes and shapes and improved GPS smartphones hit the market.

It's pretty slick right now though!

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.