Satmap Active 10 Plus

The Active 10 Plus seems to get better and better and the latest version, which is now WAAS/EGNOS enabled, features a hefty lithium rechargeable battery, and also comes with a 33% discount off mapping (Britain divided into three at 1:50000 £120 each; national parks at 1:25000 at £100 each; plus many other options). The latest version seems to pick up a satellite fix much quicker than previous models and the battery life is more than adequate for even the longest day-walk. The huge screen is a delight to use, enabling you to see a fair bit of the surrounding terrain at a reasonable zoom level without having to scroll. For most walks, the map screen is all you’ll need, but if visibility is poor, the compass page features a good direction pointer too. SatMap offers use of its own web-based planning tool, which is wonderful and negates the need to buy digital-mapping, but the actual transfer of data is significantly more complicated than some units. Also on the downside, the rubber USB cover is starting to fall off. It is big, and it’s heavy, but if you want a GPS that displays Ordnance Survey mapping, it’s definitely the best.

: 12.9x7.5x3.1cm
Weight: 230g
Routes/waypoints: Varies
WAAS/EGNOS-enabled: Yes
PC/Mac-compatible: PC only
Works with: Most software but best paired with SatMap online planning tool
Features: OS mapping (optional extra)
Battery type/claimed life: Rechargeable lithium battery pack/15-18hrs
Contact: 0845 873 0101;

Satmap Active 10 Plus 2010

The Satmap Active 10 was introduced in late 2007. It was the first GPS receiver that provided exactly what the hill-walker needed in an easy-to-use device. What set it apart was the large colour screen, which coupled clear OS mapping with a very intuitive user interface. It has just been upgraded to the Satmap Active 10 Plus, which boasts additional features.

The Satmap Active 10 Plus retains the basic design of the original. So you get a larger-than-average housing that is waterproof and robust enough to take the knocks of a day on the hill. It is button-operated, rather than touch-screen, with six main buttons and a joystick. It’s powered by three AA batteries, or a rechargeable battery pack can be fitted. The ‘Plus’ version has improved software and postcode search capability, and comes with a voucher for 60km2 OS mapping and is preloaded with a world map plus UK road mapping. But the essential features are the same. Load your OS mapping via an SD card slot in the side. Switch on, your OS mapping appears on-screen and you can zoom into your location via the zoom buttons. The joystick allows you to move the on-screen mapping in all directions.

On the hill
The Satmap Active 10 has been used by Trail staff for a couple of years and it is has proven its worth in numerous locations including the Alps and Cairngorms and for general walking. The screen is bigger than others so you can see more of the map at a larger scale in one view, which makes navigation easier – particularly if the screen is smudged with mud, water and snow.  Zooming in and out or scrolling across the map with the joystick is fast and accurate. This ease of use is essential when fumbling around in the cold and wet or just wanting to get off the hill. Route creation is a breeze too, again thanks to that large screen and easy-to-use button operating system. At home, you can use the USB port, which allows you to plan and share routes on a PC via the Satmap online route planner. There are no more frills than that really. This is a purely functional device. It lacks a camera, MP3 player and touch-screen, and it is relatively big and heavy. But when choosing a device to help me navigate across the hills in any weather  the Satmap is the clear and only choice for me. This device actually does make you wonder if you really need to carry that map and compass for navigation after all.

Price £380 for GPS receiver, which includes voucher for 60km2 OS mapping; additional OS mapping includes 1:50k GB £200; Northern, Central or Southern GB  £120; Counties £25; plus international mapping and many more
Sizes 12.9x7.5x3.1cm
Display 7x5.2cm colour
Power 3xAA or rechargeable battery
Memory MicroSD cards
Computer interface USB port
Weight 222g (including batteries)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. 0845 873 0101;

The Satmap Active 10 Plus has a large screen; very easy to use; waterproof; easy button operation. But it’s not touch-screen; bigger and heavier than others. We reckon it’s the most user-friendly GPS receiver currently available for walkers, which is why it won the ‘Best in Test’ accolade.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2010

Satmap Active 10

As the only dedicated hand-held GPS using full Ordnance Survey mapping, the Active 10 looks familiar and is therefore easy to get used to. Free download software (SatSYNC) is needed to move route data between GPS and PC, but once that’s done you have your route showing on the map – simplicity itself! Logical menus are easy to access via joystick/buttons, the “Mark” and “Go To” functions are simple. It’s not WAAS-enabled but accuracy was very good. The detailed 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey Explorer-style mapping means you can always see your exact location – reassuring for navigation newbies. However, the maps aren’t included in the purchase price, so expect to spend around £400 by the time you’ve covered your local area.


Size: 13 x 7.5 x 3cm

Weight: 175g (excluding batteries)

Screen: 3.5in LCD TFT backlit colour

Battery life: 9-10 hours on two AA lithium    

Routes/waypoints: Routes totalling 12,000 waypoints

Works with: All mapping software that’s compatible with Satmap’s SatSYNC content manager, including Memory-Map

Contact: 0845 873 0101,

Verdict: So nearly the perfect GPS, but quite expensive by the time you’ve bought your maps. Best for inexperienced navigators and shorter walks.


Satmap Active 10

If you like design you’ll love this GPS receiver. Even the box oozes quality, with a clever retractable housing that instantly sets a new standard of packaging. Grab the Active 10, insert the supplied batteries and in minutes the screen illuminates with an impressive colour map with your location clearly marked. I dabbled with the six buttons and toggle before bothering to open the manual. This is an incredibly easy device to use.

The Satmap comes with a standard base map installed, similar to a conventional road map. I added Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 digital maps of the Lake District. The maps are loaded via a small map card that slots into the side of the unit. Having dabbled, the Quick Start User Guide comes in handy to get to grips with the real power of the device.

All the standard GPS functionality is there, but I liked how the buttons provided logical access to all the essential functions. But the real advantage here is the mapping: other units that currently display OS-quality mapping are hand-held computers requiring a stylus for operation, which just isn’t practical in the hills.

To plan a route, a joystick controls movement across screen. You then just click the joystick, or press the Add button, to create a waypoint, press another button to end the planning phase and you have a route saved that you can follow by GPS.

You get a USB port too (although the rubber cover for this is all too easily dislodged and lost), and this allows you to link the Active 10 to a computer so you can share routes with other users and mapping software.

The unit has an electronic magnetic compass to point you in the direction of the next waypoint on your route. This has to be calibrated before use, and the Quick User Guide makes this easy to do.   

I was pleased to see that the unit comes set to OSGB and metric units, but more importantly the Quick User Guide tells you how to change these if you need to.

Like all GPS receivers, the Active 10’s screen is nowhere near as big as an A4 folded paper map, so when planning a trip, the tried and trusted method of lying on the floor with maps everywhere will still be the start point for many adventures. However, when you are on your walk, the Satmap Active 10 looks set to become the benchmark navigational device that others will be compared to.

It’s incredibly hard to fault the Satmap Active 10, and certainly this is what most hill-walkers have been looking for from a navigational device. All we want now is a screen that rolls out to A4 or bigger and we’ll never need paper maps again … or will we?

Receiver 12 channel
Sizes 12.9x7.5x3.1cm
Display 7x5.2cm colour
Power 3xAA
Battery life 30 hours
Maps available OS 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 from £30 to £100
Computer interface USB port
Number of stored map routes infinite
Number of stored waypoints infinite
Number of map datums infinite via website
Weight 222g (including batteries)
Made in China

Stockist details – tel. 0845 873 0101; 

Verdict: This GPS has OS-quality mapping; it’s very easy to use; it has a long battery life and it’s waterproof. But the USB port protector may get lost. Overall, it’s the best and the most user-friendly GPS receiver currently available for hill-walkers.