Whether Brunton’s new Multi-Navigator System qualifies as “toy” or “tool” depends entirely upon your circumstances. Plotting the shortest course from office desk to happy hour? Toy. Trying to find your way out of the Alaskan wild-erness as storm clouds gather and snarling grizzlies circle? Tool.

The $399 Multi-Navigator trumps a crowded GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver market with a built-in digital magnetic compass, altimeter, and even a barometer that analyzes barometric history to provide a 12-hour weather forecast.

These features combine to perform a miscellany of impressive tricks, but of particular note is the one-button Straight-Home function, which directs you back to your starting point via the most direct route, rather than forcing you to retrace your steps. Even if you never use StraightHome to escape a flesh-starved grizz, it’s awfully handy when you lose your car in the airport lot (not that you’ve ever done that).
Perhaps best of all, the Multi-Navigator is relatively simple to use. Although the enclosed manual is a rather daunting 22 pages of small type, you’ll have command of basic functions by page 6., (800) 443-4871