leaderboard left
leaderboard right
content topleft content topright

DeLorme PN-40


Following the success of their first handheld/screen based GPS, the PN-20, DeLorme has now started to ship the PN-40. While much about the PN-40 is the same, what has changed is almost entirely for the better, and will leave PN-20 owners drooling for the new device. I’ve logged over a hundred hours of time with the PN-40 taking it geocaching, hiking, kayaking, and even driving. Here is what you can expect to find.

Physical Design

DeLorme PN-40PN-20 owners will notice that very little has changed on the new PN-40. In fact from the outside the only different you will notice is that the PN-40 is orange and the PN-20 was yellow. DeLorme had a fairly solid design so they stuck with it. The buttons are large enough for gloved fingers, although some of the buttons might be a tiny bit small for ski gloves. They stick out quite a bit from the housing, but that makes them easier to use when you are going by feel or are using a glove. The sides and back have a rubberized coating which makes it feel very rugged, and indeed though a year of use with the PN-20 the device is extremely durable.

The battery compartment is locked in by a pair of small screws which can be tightened or loosened by hand thanks to the rings on the screw head. After use with under heavy wave sea kayaking conditions, being dropped in rivers, and even being dragged behind a kayak for about a mile no water entered the battery compartment.

You can use a DeLorme Lithium-ion battery, AA NiMH batteries, or AA Alkaline batteries. I tend to most often use the Li-Ion battery or NiMH batteries as I keep charged spares with me at all times. Some of the higher capacity Alkaline batteries can extend your battery life more. With the 1300mAh Lithium battery available from DeLorme I would consistently get nine hours of battery life from a single charge under typical usage. This compares to about 11 hours with the same battery in the PN-20. With alternative battery types you can do much better than that, up to around 18 hours in my tests. Despite the addition of a second processor, an electronic compass, higher sensitivity GPS chipset, and a barometric altimeter the PN-40 doesn’t seem to have any reduced battery life much from the PN-20… Don’t know how they managed that, but battery life of the PN-40 was roughly 85% of what the PN-20 had.

Also on the back of the device are eight metal connectors, flush with the housing that are used to initiate a computer connection to the PN-40 for downloading maps, transferring waypoints, and the like. This is one of my few gripes with the hardware as those contact points need to be periodically cleaned to get a consistent USB connection. It isn’t difficult to do and the way they designed these contacts contributes to the incredible water-proof characteristics over a typical rubber gasket covered USB port, but it is occasionally frustrating.

The biggest point of debate with the PN-40 will undoubtedly be the screen. In most ways the screen is fantastic. It is extremely readable in direct sunlight, and when light is low you can turn on the backlight. I wish it had a tiny bit more contrast, or if the contrast was adjustable. I’ve noticed if you hold the device facing you and the top is slightly closer to you than the bottom the contrast looks perfect, but when viewed straight on I wish there was a little more contrast or some of the screen “themes” were a little darker.

But the debatable point of the screen will be the size. In comparison to where Garmin is going with the Colorado and Oregon devices, the PN-40 has a small screen. About 2.25 inches tall and 1.5 inches wide this is not the HD version of a GPS device. I’ve never found the screen size a significant deterring factor though. Most of the activities people will use the GPS for are during activities where you can bring the screen closer to you in your hand if need be. And since the screen is much more readable in direct sunlight than other devices with larger screens you should factor in both of those qualities… size versus all conditions clarity.

Someone in a DeLorme forum recently said this (paraphrasing):

“Would you rather watch the Jerry Springer show in HD or the National Geographic Channel in standard-def?”

The point they are making, and perhaps rightfully so for many people, is that how well you can read the screen, and the quality of the data on the screen is more important than the size of the display. So while we are here, let’s talk about the maps.

Maps, Maps, Maps, and More Maps

The number one reason anyone might consider the DeLorme PN-40 is because of the maps. While slightly newer to the mainstream GPS market, DeLorme’s roots are as a mapping company, and it really shows with the PN-40. Most good handheld GPS devices will come with vector based topo maps covering the USA in 1:100,000 scale. DeLorme has you covered there and you get that out of the box. In addition those maps contain routable roads.

What sets the PN-40 apart is the availability of other types of maps. For a $29 annual subscription you can download unlimited maps from their map library. One of the biggest complaints about the PN-20 when it was released was just how expensive the additional maps were. No more– all you can eat for $29 per year. So what types of maps can you get?

Official NOAA marine charts, high resolution aerial photography in color or black and white, satellite imagery, and scanned USGS topo maps in 1:24,000 scale. All of these can be downloaded to your computer then cut and installed on your GPS. Being able to pull up multiple types of maps for a given area can be critical for situational awareness, as I’ve previously discussed in our Why Aerial Images are Important article. Having multiple types of maps on the GPS has provided me with important information about my surroundings a number of times that was an important decision making factor during a trip. No other GPS on the market today offers this many options of map type in such a convenient package.

While not available at the time the PN-20 was introduced, the PN-40 (and now the PN-20) can also display a “hybrid” map. This takes the line based vector parts of a traditional topo map such as roads and contour lines and overlays those lines on top of an aerial image or other raster image. This can give you the best of both worlds on one map display… detailed color aerial imagery along with contour lines from the topo data.



Topo USA

Topo USA

Satellite Imagery

Satellite Imagery

NOAA Marine Charts

NOAA Marine Charts

Hi-Res City Imagery

Hi-Res City Imagery

Color Aerial Imagery

Color Aerial Imagery

B&W Aerial Imagery

B&W Aerial Imagery

Garmin Oregon Comparison

Garmin Oregon Comparison

Chipset Performance

The older PN-20 came with a 12 channel chipset which performed quite well. I never considered it as strong as say the Garmin 60CSx, however there were a few who would have debated that issue with me. The PN-40 steps up to a 32 channel chipset, and delivers a good performance boost. (See our article titled Do Chipset Channels Matter? for more information.) Consider this video I put together which was using an older beta version of the PN-40.

In my testing on a recent production device I would consistently get a satellite signal from cold starts in under two minutes, with warm starts taking 30 seconds or less. Indoors I’d typically get a fix within a minute. Tracklogs I recorded looked impressive as well with little drifting. I live on a narrow street and could tell by the tracklogs which side of the road I was walking on– most impressive.

DeLorme might have also let it slip to me that they are working on “predictive ephemeris” to help with even faster satellite acquisition times. Okay, so they did let that piece of info slip out to me, I’ve seen it in action, and it appears to work incredibly well. Devices I saw that were running the updated software were frequently getting a 3D fix before the device finished booting. Look for it as a free firmware update to the PN-40 soon.

Electronic Compass, Barometric Altimeter

DeLorme PN-40 GPSThe PN-40 gains two sensors the PN-20 didn’t have, an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. From a personal standpoint I’ve never seen the need for either of those features. Since using more and more devices that have them my dislike for the feature has subdued a little bit. There two reasons I don’t like them. First, they suck down battery life. Thankfully most GPS devices including the PN-40 give you a way to turn it off. Second is that I’ll never rely on the GPS to provide a compass direction for navigation to anything but a geocache. Always carry a backup map and compass.

But for those who do want and appreciate the feature, it is now available. It actually works quite well once it is calibrated. You will want to periodically calibrate the compass over time, as well as any time you change batteries. (Each battery has a unique magnetic field). The calibration method involves rotating the device around multiple axis points and can be done in the field. There are a couple of nice aspects of DeLorme’s implementation of the electronic compass, first is that it will tell you if it needs calibration. Second is that since it is a tri-axis compass the GPS doesn’t need to be flat to read an accurate direction. Often while kayaking or mountain biking it is difficult to keep the GPS in a flat position– the PN-40 doesn’t require it.

Topo USA Software

One of the best (and worst) aspects of the PN-40 is the included Topo USA software. The software existed long before the PN series of GPS devices. It includes topo maps, a large POI database, routable roads, and numerous geeky map features. There are tools for managing/joining/breaking tracklogs, building trail networks, adding in new roads, sharing routes and trip plans over the internet with other users, 3D map views, elevation profiles of lines and trails. You can build custom polygons representing things like property boundaries, measure acreage, tools for managing waypoints and geocaches, the ability to geocode photos to specific locations from a tracklog, view BML or WMD data that is of interest to fishermen and hunters… The list goes on and on. Topo USA is an incredibly powerful piece of software.

So why do I also think it is one of the downsides to the PN-40? All of that power comes at the expense of complexity. While some users will utilize quite a bit of that software, it is a bit intimidating to the casual GPS user. One of DeLorme’s taglines for the PN-40 is “Serious Tool”. The Topo USA software certainly is a serious tool. While I appreciate the power it provides; I’m not really an average GPS user. 😉 I wish the software had a “easy” mode where most of the functions were invisible to the interface and you could focus just on managing data back and forth between the PN-40 and the maps. Don’t get me wrong, the software is not impossible to learn. At first I thought many of the user interface elements were illogical, but the more time you spend with the software the more you understand how those elements make it very flexible and powerful.

It is also worthy of noting that the Topo USA software is PC only right now. While it works great under Parallels and Boot Camp for Mac users, there isn’t any native Mac software currently. DeLorme has announced they are working on a Mac version of some geocaching software that will be compatible with the PN series devices, and there are hints that more sophisticated Mac GPS software could be in the works.

Trail routes

Topo USA Create TrailOne of the best aspects of the Topo USA software is the extensive trail network. As a bonus, those trails are routable! Place a starting point at a trailhead, pick your ending point, add via points, and the device will create a route that follows an existing trail network. This will provide you with more realistic distance estimates, the ability to view a profile of the route to see just how steep it is, and you can share your trip plan over the internet with anyone that has web access.

Of course you can download those routes to your GPS and be able to monitor your progress along the trip with much greater precision than just bunch of long joined straight likes like you might do with other GPS devices.

Performance, Usage

With the new dual processor design, one processor is dedicated to graphics (map drawing) while the other is dedicated to the GPS chip and device operation. I don’t think anyone would argue that a common adjective for the PN-20 is “sluggish”. This was acceptable for most people because the device is designed for tasks that are typically slower activities such as hiking, hunting, or kayaking.

Sluggish will now only define how you feel after your day outside. 🙂 The PN-40 screams with speed. I loaded up the PN-40 with color aerial imagery and took off down the interstate. The cursor stays centered in the map and the map refreshes every second or two. Watching the color aerial imagery scream by at highway speeds is pretty fun, and illustrates the PN-40’s new found speed.

Like the PN-20, there are plenty of fields and pages you can customize with just the data you want. The primary map display can show anything from zero fields to maximize the map view, or four fields to monitor things like battery life, reception, distance to the destination, compass headings, etc. After spending quite a bit of time with the Garmin Colorado and Oregon devices this summer I do miss the concept of profiles. For example I like the GPS setup one way for geocaching, another way for hiking, and yet another way for kayaking. As I bounce back and forth between activities it takes a few minutes to get everything setup the way I like it for those tasks.

Road Routing

While the PN-20 could perform road routing I found it to be a worthless feature. Routes took an extremely long time to create, and if you missed a turn and had to wait for it to recalculate you might as well pull over and have a snack. The PN-40 is much, much faster at road routing. Even the PN-20 will reportedly get a little faster with an upcoming firmware update. With the new faster dual-processor design you now stay centered on the map, better able to anticipate upcoming turns. Displaying the name of the next street on the map, along with the distance to the turn you get a fairly clear idea of where to go. Since there are no voice prompts you just get “dings” to warn of upcoming turns.

But I still wouldn’t purchase the PN-40 for the task of anything but infrequent road navigation. Without a touch screen interface, the small screen, and no voice prompts makes road navigation a bit unfriendly still. With decent auto GPS devices at around $125 or less right now you might as well get a dedicated auto device in addition to the PN-40 if you will frequently use road navigation.


While certainly not exclusive to the PN-40, this DeLorme GPS also comes with sun and moon charts, tide charts, as well as suggestions of good times for hunting and fishing. DeLorme is also preparing to release software to facilitate managing geocaching. A plugin for the geocaching.com website is in development to download waypoints directly from the geocaching website to the PN series devices. Additional software packages are also being developed to help manage caches. Finally a firmware update is planned that will facilitate geocaching directly on the device. It will support all of the geocaching icons, display full cache description information, as well as provide driving and then direct routes to caches from a single management system.

The Final Fix

If you are a PN-20 owner debating an upgrade to the PN-40 ask yourself this one question. “Do I want a PN-20, but one that is blazingly fast?”. If you do, you won’t be disappointed with the PN-40.

If you are a Garmin 60CSx owner (or similar) and have been waiting for something new, but were turned off by the Colorado or Oregon for some reason, yet needing to maintain the supreme accuracy the 60CSx offered, the PN-40 won’t likely disappoint you either. The PN-40 enjoys accuracy on par with the 60CSx and better than what I’ve experienced with the Colorado. It doesn’t have the big screen, but what is on the screen is better.

The only group of people that I continue to hesitate pushing towards the DeLorme are those people that don’t have as good of computer skills. You will need to spend some time working with the Topo USA software to get the most out of the PN-40, and infrequent/casual GPS users might not spend the time.

Nobody in the market today comes close to the availability of rich map options in a rock solid handheld GPS.

386 Responses

  1. Wow, so deciding to buy my first handheld GPS has become one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Oregon 400t or PN-40. I like the ease of the 400t with the touch screen and user friendliness, but I like the abilities that the PN-40 has. I’ll be using the GPS unit for hiking, geocaching and hunting(I guess that would be like hiking). I’m not worried about battery life as I’ll have plenty of extras not matter what I do. <–survival freak Any advice on which to steer towards would be awesome. The more I read reviews about both the worse it gets.

    Stephen - October 30th, 2009
    • Stephen- Yes, reading too much can make it harder to wade through the information. Which device do you think would provide you the functionality you need, 6-12 months from now?

      Tim - October 31st, 2009
      • Honestly, both would probably do exactly what I want. I’m leaning more towards the PN-40 because of the availability of all the maps for a yearly fee…which is worth it to me. The ONLY thing that makes me pause is the learning curve I’ve seen mentioned. I’ve read that if I can use a PC fairly well, that I should have no problems learning how to use the PN-40. Just don’t want to get something that is so complicated that I’ll just give up. I’ve given myself a timeframe of this afternoon to purchase one or I’ll just end up reading reviews forever.

        Stephen - October 31st, 2009
        • There are also very active user communities for the PN-devices (like the DeLorme forums themselves) that can offer help if you get stuck. The map subscription is a very nice deal.

          Tim - October 31st, 2009
    • Thinking about a PN-40? Do not buy it!!!who cares about features if the unit wont turn on?This unit is garbage,I have had nothing but problems,1st being a fishing trip to the floida keys,one day in no power to the unit(useless)after getting home i sent the unit back and delorme said they fixed it,ok its working.2nd fishing trip bahamas, same s___t.unit wont power on.Delorme sends me a new unit, so off to costa rica fishing two days in, no power!!!!are you kidding me?????unit was sent back again and off too the bwca,again no power.Do not count on this unit too save your life its garbage.

      chris - June 13th, 2011
      • Thank you for that Robert!
        Unfortunately Garmin products also have quality issues.
        I am looking for a GPS because my Etrex broke down. The screen developed stripes to the extent that it is un-readable. It is caused by the assembly of the unit. The screen’s connector is not plugged into anything but it is fixed to the main board by a piece of electrical tape. By time it looses connection thus the unit becomes useless. This failure is quite predictable, Garmin must have known it will happen. It seems to be a built in failure-point.
        I would NEVER buy another Garmin.

        Bill - December 26th, 2011
  2. I have a question about managing tracks and waypoints. Is it only possible to manage these by only using DeLorme’s software? I just bought the PN-40 and tried to view a couple of tracks and waypoints that I did using Windows file explore. There was nothing in the waypoint or route folders in the internal memory on the PN-40.

    Scott - November 3rd, 2009
    • I believe GPSBabel is working on experimental support– though I don’t know what the status is right now. Otherwise that data is stored in a protected volume. While you can get access to that volume via a secret boot sequence, it still won’t do much good as they are stored in a proprietary DeLorme binary format that would be difficult to extract unless you’re a developer.

      Tim - November 3rd, 2009
    • Once you download them you can move them around with Explorer on your computer, but if you move them after you have created a project you will get an error message. You can group them in folders for future reference (say all good fishing holes in one folder) and them make a project that links to that folder, and then make Map Package from that project and download that to the unit. Not sure if that helps…..

      Robert - November 3rd, 2009
  3. This is (1) a report on comparative battery testing that I conducted with my PN40. It is also (2) a report on strange behaviors by the PN40 and certain batteries during the testing processes – leading (3) to questions that I hope readers might answer.

    In early September my PN40 that I purchased last Thanksgiving would not power up. DeLorme tech support had me send it in. It was returned in late September and I was told that the “back was replaced”. When I sent the unit in, I also said it was hard on batteries and asked that to be corrected if possible. After its return, Tech told me that the replaced back should also fix the battery eating problem.

    Since getting the unit back I have not used it. This week, I have been conducting battery life tests with it. Turning it on and setting the battery types appropriately in the PN40 menu, then letting it sit with a 3-D fix inside the house at a window (ambient temp around 60-70F), doing nothing with controls, the results have been:

    Kirkland alkaline batteries: 7 ¼ hours. Eneloop NIMH batteries previously used and double charged prior to trial: 9 hours. Panasonic NIMH recharged batteries: 7 hours. Energizer Lithium (non-rechargeable) batteries: 12.5 hours.

    I am considering purchase of Li-Ion rechargeable CR-V3 batteries and charger. I have some new Energizer Lithium (not rechargeable) batteries, so I decided to see how long they would last, following same protocol described above. Using a multi-tester, I checked voltage before installation – 1.65 V each battery. Now begins the weird part…
    1. Installed Lithiums. Turned on. Screen came up and light on briefly, then light off but screen still showing. Wanted to set Lithium type battery through “Menu” but press would not change screen. No changes or light on with press of any button. Would not power off.
    2. Removed Lithiums. Inserted Eneloop NIMH. Powered up, changed battery type to Lithium. Pressed Quit and screen switched correctly but battery indicator showed 2 bars (probably because mis-match between menu setting and actual batteries in unit?) But now the unit would not power down! Removed NIMH batteries.
    3. Re-installed Lithiums. Would not power on.
    4. Put Eneloops back in. Changed setting to NIMH. Would not power down. Would sound the appropriate tone but would never give “Press enter to power down” message. Instead, it repeatedly gave the screen light level bar. Finally, I changed the slider on the light bar and then on second press of off-on button, I got “Press enter to power down”. However, pressing enter at that point did not power it down. Repeated attempts, including sliding the light bar and finally it did power down.
    5. No change of batteries, NIMH still installed. Turned back on. Through Menu, changed battery type to Lithium. “Warning battery life low” came on. Powered down OK.
    6. Installed the Lithium batteries again. Briefly turned on screen and then went blank. No power.
    7. Removed Lithiums and tested with Multi-tester. One tested .82 volts, the other 1.28 volts. (Later I re-tested these 2 batteries several times: after 4-plus hrs from removal, 1.12 & 1.46 V. After 7 hours, 1.2 & 1.48 V. After 15 hrs, 1.35 V & 1.52 V. However, using a ZTS Pulse Load tester on the Lithium setting, it shows 0 percentage of capacity for either battery 15 hrs after removal.)
    8. I installed different new Lithium batteries right after removing the first set of Lithiums. Remember, battery type setting in the PN40 remains at Lithium. Each of the new batteries tested 1.79V before installation. Powered up. Normal responses to button presses. Set the PN40 near the window to test battery life. Result 12 ½ hours. However, I tested the batteries 3 hours after removal from the PN40 and they both showed 1.54 volts on the Multi-meter but 0 capacity on the pulse-load tester.
    9. 12 hours after removing the depleted Lithiums they tested 1.58 V, and 0 on the pulse-load. I re-installed them in the PN40 and they powered it for twenty minutes before again showing power low warning. I tried powering down several times unsuccessfully. Then I pressed enter while screen showed the light bar, then the off button and only then did it offer the shut down option.

    I am left with the following questions:
    A. Why all the weird behavior encountered in steps 1 – 7?
    B. Why drastic, almost immediate depletion of the first Lithiums?
    C. Must PN40 battery type be PRE-set to Lithium or LiOn Rechargeable BEFORE installing those types of batteries – rather than after their installation?
    D. If first Lithiums were faulty before-hand and not depleted by malfunction of the PN40, why did they recover voltage level over time, just sitting? Why did they recover it at all?? It appears that is “normal” for the Lithiums and that their volt readings are “empty ghost” volts.
    E. How to account for good voltage readings on the used Lithiums but zero load capacity readings?
    F. Can I trust my PN40 to perform correctly in the future?
    G. Do others encounter reluctant power down behaviors with their PN units?

    Another question for those who have used Lithium CR-V3 rechargeables. How do the CR-V3s do in comparison with the battery life I found with the non-rechargeable Lithiums? Better yet, how do the CR-V3s compare with other battery types that you have used?

    I am posting this on the DeLorme users’ forum also.

    Frank - November 5th, 2009
    • Frank,
      I think the Delorme forum is the best place to get into this much detail with your questions. My first PN-40 sucked down a set of alkalines in about 2 hours, so they sent me a new unit right aaway. I just use recahrgeable Eneloop clones (Duracell “Pre-charged”) and they are fine. I just carry spares with me in the field and keep and eye on the charge level.

      Ro - November 6th, 2009
    • Frank,

      I have a PN-20, not a PN-40, but have some CR-V3 anecdotes you might be interested in. I have found that they have very short life when compared to NiMH and lithium non-rechargable battery types. The CR-V3s provided by DeLorme in their travel kit had numerous negative comments in the forums. In fact, I received a replacement set under warranty from DeLorme, the battery would not hold a charge and the charger rejected the battery as faulty, after a few months of very light use. The replacement battery was similar. I bought third party CR-V3 from Radio Shack and it was also inferior. I have ordered another CR-V3 from Batteries Plus and will assess its performance when it arrives next week.

      In the meantime I have been very pleased with the performance of the high capacity NiMH batteries out there. I use a Maha conditioning charger that monitors the condition of the batteries and charges each battery separately rather than in parallel. That seems to really stretch the life of the NiMH battery type.

      I recently purchased a Rayovac “hybrid” (Lithium/NiMH) battery that can be charged in a conventional NiMH charger. These batteries have excellent life, comparable or perhaps slightly greater than the NiMH I am using, plus they do not self-discharge at the same rate as NiMH, they can be placed on a shelf for longer period fo time.

      I am very interested in moving from the PN-20 to the PN-40, mainly for the image redraw speed.

      Ray - January 1st, 2010
  4. Aloha mai,
    I am researching hiking and off-road trails on O’ahu Island (Hawai’i) and am contemplating a PN-30 or 40 to help me out. I am mainly interested in the topographic and aerial maps and really like what I have read here about the PN series. My concern however, is purchasing this GPS and finding out after the fact that it doesn’t work well in Hawai’i.

    After reading many blogs here, I created an account on Delorme’s website to view the map availability. I found the area I was interested in but when I zoomed in, a grey screen layered over the map with the words “image not available.” I could still see the magnified topo map underneath even though it said the image wasn’t available.

    Therefore my question, is that an indication that Hawai’i maps aren’t available? Or am I just not able to view it because I have not subscribed to the service or something like that?

    Thank you in advance.

    Keola - November 8th, 2009
    • Does the greyed out area correlate with a millitary installation perhaps e.g. Kaneohe Air Station? I live near a milllitary installation on the mainland and I know that portions of that installation are greyed out on local maps.

      Katherine - October 27th, 2010
  5. Aloha Keola,
    I spend a few months each winter on the Big Island and the rest of the year in a remote part of Alaska. A few years ago, I did some extensive geo-referencing photo stuff on the Big Island, using an older Garmin. Surprisingly, Alaska and Hawaii seem to be near the end of aerial imaging priorities for mapping companies. I can’t give you a definitive answer about Hawaii at this stage but you are wise to research particulars of image availability ahead of time. In my area of Alaska, the only thing DeLorme offers for my PN40 download are USGS quads. The Topo 7 coverage of the remote sections is less than worthless. The last time I checked Google Earth, there were big sections of the Big Island that still did not have high resolution coverage. Maybe DeLorme’s source for their aerial imaging is the same as Google Earth??

    Frank - November 8th, 2009
    • Thanks for the insight. Yes it does seem like the world revolves around the contiguos 48 🙂 We truly are living on the edge…In fact the other day I was looking to make an online purchase and the website said that it shipped anywhere in the U.S. via UPS. Except when I continued reading the fine print, I found out that Alaska, Hawai’i, Guam, & Puerto Rico were excluded. Oh well, I guess UPS doesn’t visit our islands much and satellites tend to skirt around the Pacific…

      Anyhow, I will continue to research before making a purchase. I know that the unit will most likely work on O’ahu but I would want to know its “Hawaiian limitations” before I buy anything. Mahalo again for your response and if you discover anything else while using your GPS in the islands please keep me posted. Take care.

      Keola - November 9th, 2009
  6. Im back from post 200 with a legitimate question and a curiosity question. I’ve decided to go with a PN-40 which with my wife’s wheeling and dealing am only paying $20 more for the “upgrade”. Should be getting it sometime this week hopefully. Enough time to get used to it before I actually tke it hunting.

    As for Delorme’s Maplibrary will the included subscription be enough to load a decent portion of a state or will I have to get the yearly subscription right off the bat? And will the 1G card hold all the information? I’m only concerned with the areial and maybe sat images at this time?

    Second question is related to GPS in general. Say I want to measure straight line distances between 100 and 300 yards. how accurate will the GPS be? I know there is some inherent accuracy in the system itself but is this inaccuracy consistant from point A to point B?

    Thanks again

    Jason - November 9th, 2009
    • The map subscription itself isn’t included with the device. (Though I believe a certain amount of credits are included.) Aerial imagery is HUGE and you won’t likely be able to fit a state (except possibly Rhode Island) on a map. When using the 8 GB version of the PN-40 (the SE) I’ve added aerial imagery covering about three counties that has filled about 7 GB. The amount of space will vary based on the zoom levels you include as well as the resolution of the data used.

      GPS accuracy is generally 10 meters, 95% of the time. You can improve that to about 5 meters with WAAS. But no– don’t expect consistency. I took waypoints at each corner of my house (which is indeed a rectangle) but one side was shown as about 15 feet longer than the opposite, parallel side.

      Tim - November 9th, 2009
      • Thanks,
        I understand the trial/temporary/or credits that delorme offers. I’m just buying this thing to close to when I going to use it. I’ll only need a county at first so I’ll deal with it and pick up a bigger SD card since I’m looking forward to the aerial imagery.

        Good explaination on the accuracy. Not what I hoped for but to be expected.

        Jason - November 9th, 2009
  7. I am looking at purchasing a hand-held GPS with aerial photograph display. We work a lot with GIS/aerial imagery and the County has excellent (1m) and up to date (1-2 year old) imagery for free that we use in our GIS (Mapinfo).
    I have looked at units capable of uploading users imagery but they are in the $1,000’s .
    Question on the DeLorme satellite imagery – how up to date is it? 1-2 years old, 2-5 years old, >5 years old? This is very important to us as this area of Florida saw a massive development boom in the last 10 years (dead now!), so up to date imagery is important. This is even true in the coastal marshes where we work, as several large \restoration\ projects on State-owned lands have significantly changed the habitats, with \man-improved\ wetlands being created.
    Any information on the PN-40 or alternatives would be much appreciated!

    Mark Latham - December 4th, 2009
    • Mark,

      I cannot vouch for the age of the DeLorme imagery, but I think it is the most current USDA stuff (2009 for our area in Maine)- but you should contact DeLorme directly. I think youlose some resolution when you put the imagery on the GPS, but it is still great for field work. FOr a discussion on image esolution go to the Delorme user’s forum: http://forum.delorme.com/viewtopic.php?t=20959

      The great thing about the DeLorme is that you can put the same images you use with MapInfo on the PN-40. You can also add other GIS layers you have created with MapInfo (e.g., cover types, roads, property lines, etc.). You need to get XMAP Pro, which is $99 when you buy a PN-40 GPS. XMAP will load the SID image files used by MapInfo, and it can import shapefiles into XMAP’s GIS function. Create the map with the layers you want with XMAP, then save a “Map Package” and download it to the GPS. You can also save GPS tracks and waypoints in a shapefile format that you can pick up with your GIS (I assume MapInfo uses ESRI-type shapefiles).

      Good luck. !


      Robert - December 6th, 2009
  8. I had to get a replacement pn40. I have the yearly sub. after getting the new one and putting aerial maps on it. when i turn it on I get a message that I need to reinstall maps as they are not registered to this unit. I hit ok then it works fine. how do I get rid of this message?

    Keven - December 5th, 2009
    • Keven, you will need to re-cut the maps for the new serial number. I think there might be a shortcut– but I don’t recall exactly what it is. DeLorme support or the folks at forum.delorme.com would know. The issue is that the maps get locked/licensed to a specific device so they will need to get re-licensed for the new device.

      Tim - December 5th, 2009
  9. After researching GPSr units all weekend and reading hundreds of threads, I have almost decided on the PN-40. The only thing I haven’t been able to figure out is How many Geocaches can you download to the unit at one time? Geocaching is my main function for the unit and I don’t see much info for that. I currently use a Magellan eXplorist 500. With the eXplorist 500 you can download an unlimited amount of geocaches via SD card. I’ve heard the Garmin 60CSx is limited to 500 caches so that was a big turn off for me. Is the PN-40 limited to 500 caches as well? I’ve heard that the new Garmin Oregon 550t will hold up to 5000, anyone know if that’s true?

    XBUNCEX - December 6th, 2009
    • For the DeLorme PN-40, I think the limit right now is 1,000 however a firmware update is reportedly coming out in a few months that will remove the limit and it will essentially take as many as your SD card can hold.

      Tim - December 7th, 2009
  10. Can you down load GIS maps to the PN-40?

    Brian Garner - December 6th, 2009
    • Brian,

      See my 12-6 post to Mark above.

      To interface with GIS you need XMAP pro, which is $99 extra.
      “GIS maps” are made of layers. You can import ESRI “shapefiles” (layers) into XMAP with XMAP’s GIS function. You then build a map with XMAP with the layers you want, add new draw layers you create, add an GIS layers that you create with XMAP, and then copy the resulting map package to the PN-40. Shapefiles are the most common GIS file format used by ArcView and other ESRI programs. IF the GIS was created by MAPINFO you need to convert from MAPINFO format to shapefile format. As noted above, you can also import other aerial imagery or maps in SID and GeoTif format. The PN-40 will display hybrid maps with topo lines and GIS layers overlaying the aerial. You can turn layers on and off in the field to see different information.

      Robert - December 7th, 2009
  11. I own and use the PN-20 and for the most part am happy with it, but there is always a but.

    I just built a new computer and am running windows 7 in 64 bit. I want to keep this computer virgin and put nothing on it that will not run in 64 bit.

    I have looked on Delorme’s web site but can find nothing that says it will run in 64 bit. Will Topo and the PN-40 work in 64 bit or will it revert to 32?

    greg - December 9th, 2009
  12. Like Ian above, I am deciding between the 60CSx and the PN-40, for an ecology laboratory. I will be using the unit for finding and mapping plant populations and individual plants, may need to use it with GIS, and will be using it in VERY closed canopy forest (ie off-trail in forest). The GIS function would be to download mapped points and areas logged using the GPS unit into GIS software and vice-versa. My main concern is with accuracy and reception.

    I have read most of the posts so far (very helpful, thanks!), but I still have some questions:

    1 – which unit has the more sensitive receiver and can provide more accurate locations and do this with the fewest “unexplained glitches” in function?
    2 – which unit will get to its best possible accuracy faster for a given location?
    3 – does the 60CSx allow any interface with GIS?


    Eva - December 10th, 2009
    • Eva,

      I would do some internet searching on your questions (it’s slow, but you can find some user tests out there). Here are my thoughts based on what I have read and my experience with the Pn-40, and wtaching others use a 60CSX.

      1. People how have done by sides have found that the 60CSX is a hair more accurate than the PN-40. I have found that the PN-40 is good for ecological mapping (e.g., plant communities, etc.) and that when I have a photo displayed on the unit in the field my position shown where I am on the ground. If you need very prcecise accuracy, consumer grade GPS is not the thing to use. I don’t think there is enough difference in the two to warrant making this a decision point.

      2. The PN-40 is very fast at gettiing a fix – always 45 seconds or less from turing the unit on, unless there are just not enough satellites around, and that would affect other GPS units equally. I was with someone the other day with a 60 (ont sure which variant) and ot took much longer (2-3 minutes). The Delorme has a faster processer, which may be why it is fast gettign a fix. IF you leave the unit on (PN-40 or 60 CSX) then your position is constantly being updated so speed of aquring a fix is not an issue.

      3. With the freeware program “DNR Garmin” (from MN DNR) you can convert ERSI shapefiles (points, lines, or polygons) to GPX format which can then be loaded onto the Garmin unit, and vice versa. I don’t believe you can carry over the attributes from GIS to the Garmin (i.e., a polygon will appear as an outline, not some fancy shading that you can see with on the GIS).

      My decision to buy the DeLorme was the ability to load aerial photos onto the unit and I have been very happy to have that feature in the field for my forestry and ecology work. Also, the free base maps with the Delorme are better than with the Garmin. However, there are many happy Gamin users out there too doing professional field work.


      Robert - December 11th, 2009
      • Thanks so much for your quick reply! I agree with your comment about consumer-grade GPS – for this project (which does not involve fine-scale mapping), the 2-6 m accuracies should be OK – I just wanted to make sure there was not a large difference in performance in this respect between these 2 models.

        Do you happen to know how big of an SD memory card the PN-40 and the 60CSx can use? Is there a maximum size?

        Thanks again!

        Eva - December 11th, 2009
        • The PN-40 will take up to a 32 GB card. I have a 16 Gb card. I have Delorme topo for New England, NY, NJ, PA, MI, WI, MN, and CO on it, plus several work projects with aeirial imagery and that totals 3.26 GB. A quick review of an on-line foum indicates 2 GB max SD Card for the 60CSX.

          Robert - December 11th, 2009
      • Something to keep in mind when talking about the 60CSx is that not all are created equal. Most of the early models shipped with the SiRFstarIII chipset, while more recent productions use an MTK chipset. They each have their own accuracy and sensitivity profiles. Also keep in mind that the “estimated accuracy” field on any GPS is nearly meaningless as it can be tuned however the manufacturer decides. A GPS showing an estimated accuracy of 10 meters might very well be showing more accurate coordinates than another GPS showing an estimated accuracy of 5 meters. At one point many manufacturers were tuning the number so that it was “right” 50% of the time… In other words if the GPS said the accuracy was 8 meters and the actual accuracy was measured, half of the time it would be within 8 meters and the other half of the time it would be worse than 8 meters. So I’ve tried to always tell people to expect better than 10 meter accuracy 95% of the time (GPS system specs) and with WAAS expect about 6 meter accuracy 95% of the time.

        Tim - December 11th, 2009
  13. Is a DeLorme PN-20 (purchased new in the box) unopened – worth anything? Also, are there any upgrade/update features available for this PN-20? Many thanks

    mike - December 13th, 2009
  14. I was looking to get the PN40 SE as a Christmas gift but it’s not available till Mid-Jan. So now I am thinking I will get the PN40 and a 32 gb card. Will this be slower than the SE? Is there any really good reason this would not be as good? Also, with this, does it really matter if I get the sandisk Ultra 2 or the Extreme? Sorry but I don’t really know much about any of this. 🙂

    Thanks for your help.

    Melissa - December 15th, 2009
    • Melissa, while untrue for the PN-20, loading maps on the SD card in the PN-40 doesn’t pose any big speed issues.

      Tim - December 15th, 2009
  15. With the all the comparisons between the PN-40(SE-Special Edition coming out about Mid January, 2010) and the 60CSx. I did not know that the PN-40 takes a 32 GB card and the 60CSx only a 2 GB card! From reading, they are about the same speed, and also about the same working in heavy foilage-overhead tree cover. The PN-40 has more maps available for it. They both are in meters of accuracy, about 2-10 meters or so.

    My question to anyone is, why are the GPS devices mounted on large farm tractors(like John Deere) that are used for crop spraying are advertised as an accuracy within “inches” ??

    Yes absolute accuracy of a GPS in “inches” IS needed by farmers for crop spraying and seeding BUT how come this accuracy in inches is not available in hand held Garmin and DeLorme GPS units ??

    Last question, I need a GPS device where =>accuracyWhich model of GPSaccuracy<=(in inches) available to the public on the market today?? Thank you very much for any help!

    David - December 28th, 2009
    • The short answer is farm GPS equipment gets better accuracy because they are using survey grade equipment which costs thousands of dollars. Garmin and DeLorme don’t achieve that level of accuracy because consumers won’t spend thousands of dollars for it. If you need a device that is accurate to within inches, check out trimble.com, but be prepared to spend thousands of dollars.

      Tim - December 28th, 2009
  16. Those of you interested in the PN-40 might be interested in hearing the news about the DeLorme PN-60w & SPOT Messenger announcement/collaboration.

    Tim - January 5th, 2010
  17. I’m really enjoying the comments on this site, but still don’t know which unit to purchase.I’m not a pc whiz nor a average user,and have little experience with GPS and none with making a map. My need is a unit to drive and walk my lease of 6000 acres and mark stands and campsites then make a map to share with other members. I just purchased a Garmin Etrex Legend HCx. i will have to learn how to use this or another so if the PN30 or another unit would do a better job and or be easier to use please advise. Thanks for your forum and your help in advance.

    T D - January 17th, 2010
  18. Hi all. I am leaving for Guyana, South America for one year here in just a few weeks. I need to create maps of villages as well as plot routes to villages, farms, hunting areas, etc… I was wondering if Delorme had any maps of Guyana that I could upload to the pn-40. Also, any recommendations on the memory card in terms of size?

    Ryan - January 21st, 2010
    • Ryan,

      You should call DeLorme with that question. They are a small company with real people who can answer your questions.


      Robert - January 21st, 2010
  19. I just got one of these. I’m living in Canada, where can I get the maps for Canada???

    wally - January 28th, 2010
    • The included Topo USA program includes a rudimentary basemap of Canada, and through it you can also purchase their map subscription which will allow you to download 1:50k Canadian topo maps.

      Tim - January 28th, 2010
      • where can i download the canadian topo maps???

        wally - January 28th, 2010
        • You donwload them from DeLorme. For $30 per year you get unlimted downloads of USA aerial photos, USGS topo maps, NOAA charts, and Canadian 1:50,000 topos. You download them to your computer through the TOPO USA program that comes with the PN gps units, then you use TOPO to load them onto the GPS.

          Robert - January 29th, 2010
          • Thanks, but I’m still a little confuse. Do I download it from the delorme official web site?? I didn’t find any thing that is able to download on that website, everything is needed to be shiped to me. Can you tell me exactly how to download it?

            wally - January 29th, 2010
          • Start Topo on your computer. On the bottom row of tabs click on “Net Link.” then go to the panel on the left and click on “Map Library.” It should give you an optoin to sign up for a subscription there. (I can’t verify that, because I get a message that says my subsripyion is current). If all else fails call Delorme customer service or email them.

            Unfortunately you need select the areas to donwload the 1:50,000K maps in relativle small blocks (say the size of a fe topo sheets) – so you won;t have an entire porvice like in the US.

            for basic maps Garmin is still better in Canada.

            Robert - January 29th, 2010
  20. Glad I found that this site also had a forum for thr PN-40 as I had been watching and commenting on the PN-20 page.

    Thanks in advance for the feedback, counsel and pointers!

    Bob Z. - February 1st, 2010
  21. I’m planning on taking two weeks this summer ad start on The Great Northern Canoe Trail, paddling from Raquet Lake in the Adirondacks to Lake Champlain. Most queries are from hikers – and I was interested in sugegstions/comparisons between the PN-40 and the 60CSx for Northeast canoing (open water and stream/river cover). Thanks – it’s a great site. Lots of work and really helpful.

    Joel - February 14th, 2010
    • Joel,

      Both will work fine. I think you will find that with the TOPO USA software and Delorme GPS base maps that come with the unit you will be further ahead right out of the box. You can also load USGS topos and aerials onto the DElorme if you buy the $30 subscription. Of course there’s no real need for GPS on most canoe trips in well-mapped country because it ‘s hard to get lost on a river! Have a great trip.


      Robert - March 14th, 2010
  22. I marked and notated my Topo USA and transferred relevant points to my PN-20. If I upgrade to PN-40 (or PN-60?) will I be able to keep my poi’s from my existing maps?

    Jonathan - March 14th, 2010
    • Jonathan, Yes.

      Tim - March 14th, 2010
  23. I was really getting interested in the PN40 but based on your last comment Tim, it would seem that if one lives in Canada, forget the Delorme. Is that what you meant? I wonder why Delorme doesn’t sell in Canada….maybe because of the mapping.


    Laurie - March 25th, 2010
    • DeLorme’s map availability in Canada has improved quite a bit in the past few months. You can now download Canadian (scanned) topo maps. I downloaded a few last week but haven’t yet been able to use them in the field to try out.

      Tim - March 25th, 2010
      • When you say scanned, what is the difference between that and the US topo maps that are downloaded? And what about marine maps?

        Laurie - March 25th, 2010
        • There would be no difference in how the Canadian topo maps are produced and offered by DeLorme than what they do for the USGS topo maps.

          Tim - March 25th, 2010
    • Laurie,

      While it is correct that you can now download the 1:50,000 Canada topos from Delorme, you need to do that for every area you might visit. If you plan on using the GPS in many different areas you might prefer the Garmin, which I understand has better Canada base maps available for its GPS. I think with Garmin you may need to buy the better base maps.


      Robert - March 26th, 2010
      • Thanks,

        But what do you consider base maps. I am really primarily interested in topo maps as I will be using this for hiking and kayaking. Sorry I am just learning about this stuff but what is the difference between a topo map and a base map?

        Thanks again!

        Laurie - March 26th, 2010
        • Good question. By “base maps” (and that may not be the best term) I mean the maps that are supplied with the GPS unit, or are available from the manufacturer. They are “vector” files of different components (a coutour line layer, a stream layer, a road layer, etc…) that display more or less detail as you zoom in or out on your GPS or computer at home. They are designed to work efficiently with the GPS. For Canada, both Delorme and Garmin have very crude base maps that would only show major roads and larger lakes and rivers that come free on the GPS – not something you would want to use for off-road navigating. However,
          Garmin sells “Topo Canada” for $150 US which has a digital base maps covering all of canada with (according to their web site – see https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=1016&ra=true#featureTab) detail derived from the 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 Candadian topo maps. In other words these maps should have the details you would expect to see on the paper topos you would buy at an outdoor shop.

          Delorme does not yet have a comparable GPS base map product for Canada. For $30 a year you can download scanned images (called “raster” images) of the government topo maps. It is like looking at a picture of a topo map, except that they are seamless so if the area you dowlnload covers several paper topo maps it will simply look like one big map. These are good maps when zoomed in but can be difficult to read on a GPS when you are zommed out and looking at a big area. Delorme can use the raster mpas because the memory capacity on the Pn-40 is large and processor is fast. They are OK, but you realy want a good digital base map designed for the GPS as your primary map.

          I have a PN-40 and it works very well for me here in the US, but I bought it because I wanted the capability to have aerial photos, and delorem has excellent free base maps for the US. If I am planning a trip to Canada I will download the the raster Government topos from DeLorme. If I lived in Canada, though, I would probably own a Garmin and buy the $150 base map set for the entire country. Then, of course, the next question is which Garmin to buy?

          Robert - March 27th, 2010
  24. Thanks Robert,
    That really clears the picture for me! Excellent explanation. I liked the full interface feature of the PN40 as well as aerial photos. I have used aerial photos alot in the past in geological exploration. I guess I will have to think in different terms now.

    Thankyou again

    Laurie - March 27th, 2010
  25. LAurie,

    I just checked and Delorme does not have aerial satelite imagery for Canada on its map library subscription.

    I recently saw and ad for the Garmin Oregon that said there is now a Garmin subsriptoin service for aerial and sateliete imagery available. I don’t know any more than that. If you are interested in that it would be good to see if you can also download third party aerial iamgery (“digital orthoimagery”) such as those available form state and (I presume) GIS date Web sites. Also, if you are doing porfessionla work with the unit look for the capability to inteface with a GIS. Many folks use a porgram called DNR Gramin to move files between GIS format (“shapefiles”) and a GPS.


    Robret - March 30th, 2010
  26. Hello, all –
    I’m looking into purchasing PN-40s for staff and volunteer use. Do DeLorme units have the capacity to interface with DNR Garmin? If not, is there another (preferably free) way to upload shapefiles to the unit? That’s critical to our work, as we map all our properties and trails in ArcView. My second question is whether you can attach an external antenna to the PN-40 to boost reception, though it sounds like it might not be necessary.

    Emily Hague - April 12th, 2010
    • With the TOPO USA mapping software that comes with the PN-40 you can export the PN-40 waypoints and tracks to GPX format (used by Garmin) and import GPX files.

      To handle shapefiles you need to get Delorme XMAP PRO, which is a souped-up verion of TOPO-USA that can import shapefiles and other raster images (e.,g georeferenced aerial imagery, USGS raster topos, etc) which is $100 with the purchase of a PN-40. Get that if you are interacting with ARCVIEW.

      XMAP Pro will export tracks and waypoints from the PN-40 as shapefiles.

      When you import the shapefiels to XMAP you then create a “map project” with all the layers you want in the field (aerial imager, trails, property boundaries, etc) with then can be viewed with the standard GPS topo lines, roads, streams etc. over them.

      You can save the $100 and use the freeware DNR Garmin, which will covert shapefiels to GPS line or point files and then uplaoad them, but XMAP is well worth the money for handling the aerial imagery, etc. and building you map project for field on a GIS environment.


      Robert - April 27th, 2010
  27. we are hiking the grand canon in mid may.
    rim to rim on the kaibab trail.
    would like to use the delorme pn-40 to map the trip.
    new to gps
    do i have enough time to learn to use the device ?
    thanks for any help.

    david - April 25th, 2010
    • No problem. Just go out around your house and around the neigborhood a few times, mark a few waypoints, record your track and then download the details.

      On an extended trip bring extra batteries, but don’t keep the unit on because it will eat up a set in few hours. It will usually get a fix from a cold start in less than 45 seconds, so I just turn it on when I need to get a fix. Using that method one set of batteries lasted me over a week on a wilderness trip last year.

      Get good quality rechargeables and a good quality AC/DC charger (not a 15-miunute hot charger).


      Robert - April 27th, 2010
  28. thank you

    dave - April 28th, 2010
  29. Very frustrated with my Magellan PN40. Have seen same question but no answer to it. I have not been able to download maps to my GPS. Have 64 bit computer and it seems it will only work with a 32 bit system. Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Robert

    Robert - May 25th, 2010
    • Do you mean a DELORME PN40? Magellean does not make the PN40.

      If it is a Delorme unit, go to the Delorem Forums and post your question there. There are lots a real PN40 gurus that hang out there.

      Robert R - May 26th, 2010
  30. I am looking at buying the pn40 gps I have no experience at all with a gps. I am a computer illiterate. Will I be able to use this system? I will be using it for hunting purposes in the Rocky Mtns.

    Paul W. Ruzicka - July 17th, 2010
    • Paul,

      I have not used other brands so cannot compare ease of use of the Delorme with other brands. You will probably need some help from a computer literate friend to copy the topo maps from the dics provided by Delorme to the GPS. Once you have the topo maps loaded use is fairly straigtforward, but you will need to practice plenty (with any brand you buy). Again, get some computer-literate friend to help you until you are comfortable with the menus and some basic tasks like marking waypoints (for example, your camp and the spot where you down your elk).

      The PN-40 also comes withe a program, TOPO USA, that has top maps for your computer. It will be challenging for you if you are “computer illiterate.” You don’t really need to use it though, unless you plan to download aerial photos from delorme to copy to your computer, or if you plan to copy waypoints from the GPS to the computer to look at them at home.

      Some of the Garmin models have bigger screens, but are also more expensive. I think that the Garmin may have somewhat better topo maps, but you need to buy them separately (they are free iwth the DeLorme). However, I don’t have any experience with them.

      The Delorme will go though two AA batteries in 6-8 hours. However, I only turn it on once in a while to check my location, and in doing that I had one set of AA batteries last over a week of elk hunting last year.

      Don’t forget your paper map and compass!

      Robert - July 18th, 2010
    • Paul,
      If computers are not your thing, you might want to consider one of the Garmin units with pre-installed topo maps. The PN40, while probably being a little more versatile overall, ships with only a very general, non-detailed base map. Topo maps, aerial photos, and other data must be downloaded using the computer. The Garmin topo units, on the other hand, are ready to go, out-of-the box, and are what I use when I don’t have time to carefully pre-plan or don’t know the exact area I will be in. Having said that, you can add a memory card and load large areas into the PN40. You will probably only have to do that once, but still, there is that initial computer time before the unit is even usable for anything other than basic navigation and positional awareness.

      John Roper - July 19th, 2010
      • John, Thanks for the information Is there a specific model of Garmin that you might suggest? I thought the PN-40 came pre loaded with more maps than the others I had looked at. Again thank you

        Paul - July 19th, 2010
        • Paul,
          The PN-40 ships with topo maps on DVD. It is necessary to load them onto the PN-40 using a computer. The pre-loaded maps are very basic, containing little else than major roads.

          My Garmin is an Oregon 550t – a little pricey, but topo maps for the entire USA are pre-loaded and it includes a built-in digital camera. The camera is surprisingly good and is especially useful for those situations, such as difficult terrain, when my Nikon is secured away in my backpack.

          Any of the Oregon or Dakota series (both touchscreen models), with the suffix ‘t’ come with the topo maps. There is also the newer GPSMap-78t and GPSMap-62t, both non-touchscreen.


          John Roper - July 21st, 2010
      • John,

        How do the pre-loaded Garmin maps compare with the PN-40 maps in terms of details? Do you get the entire US pre-loaded? It seems like different Garmin models have different maps pre-loaded.

        Robert - July 20th, 2010
        • Robert,
          I personally prefer the DeLorme maps over the Garmin. I feel they have a little more detail and are more current, at least in the areas I have compared. The Delorme maps also allow calculating routes that follow roads and trails whereas, with the Garmin, it is necessary to load additional maps for that feature.

          The entire US is pre-loaded on the Garmin topo units. They have other units that have inland lakes or coastal charts. One advantage for Garmin is that topo maps are displayed in shaded relief which can compensate for the lower detail and make it easier to pre-visualize unfamiliar terrain.


          John Roper - July 21st, 2010
  31. Can anyone tell me if each of the points saved in a track has a time stamp associated with it? I have been using a Garmin LegendC and the active track log saves a time stamp for each point. If that track is saved to the list of track logs the time stamps disappear and the file just gets tagged with a start and end time. So I end up having to keep my important tracks in the active slot until I download them. Does the PN40 save a time stamp with each point and preserve it when the track is saved? I like to use these tracks to geo-reference my photos after syncing the time on my camera. I’ve been considering picking up a PN device to take advantage of the aerial images but I’d like to know more about the tracks. Thanks.

    David - July 21st, 2010
    • Yes, each point in the tracklog has a timestamp associated with it.

      Tim - July 21st, 2010
  32. Looking at Delorme PN-60 or some Garmin, maybe GPSMAP 78. Main use will be for inland lake use (like a 30,000 acre reservoir) in US, kayak and boating. Highest priority is detailed shoreline maps. Garmin has Inland Lakes for separate purchase, which Delorme maps would I use and are they better/worse than Garmin’s regarding shoreline detail? A secondary wish would be good POI list on the lake. Thanks.

    Doug - July 21st, 2010
  33. I use the PN-40 and would rate the standard maps that come with the unit as “fair” for shoreline detail on water bodies. On the plus side you get the topo maps for the entire US free with the package, and for $30/year you can download unlimited USGS topos, aerial photos, satllite imagery, and NOAA charts and load them on your GPS. I can’t speak to the Gamin maps.

    Robert - July 21st, 2010
    • Just compared Topo USA map from this review to Garmin Inland Lakes for the same Plymonth Rock shoreline and Topo USA shows more detailed shoreline. Inland Lakes shoreline is basically the same as the example above for the Garmin Oregon. So looks like I will go with the PN-60 with the option of adding the Navionics hotmaps lakes later if the Delorme maps don’t suffice, but I think they will.

      Doug - July 23rd, 2010
  34. I use the PN-40 and would rate the maps “fair” for shoreline detail. On the plus side, you get topos for the entire US free with the unit and for $30 you can download unlimited USGS topos, NOAA nautical charts, aerial photos, and satellite imagery. I have no experience with the Garmin units.

    Robert - July 21st, 2010
  35. I have never owned a GPS, but now looking to purchase one. I have a question I would like to ask. I plan to use the GPS to help me get to specific points in the middle of nowhere. An example would be the Idaho-Oregon-Nevada tri-state line. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but there are forest roads/dirt tracks/etc that eventually might let you get there via a sturdy 4 wheel vehicle. My question is will the PN-40 recognize the possible ways to get to the tri-state line and show me the/a route or will it just tell me where I am and I have to figure out how to get there?

    I just don’t have a good grasp of the capability of a hand held GPS.


    Stephen - August 7th, 2010
  36. You can set up a route on your computer at home with the Topo USA software (I think it is now “Topo North America” with US and Canada) that comes with the PN-40 to get from point A to point B, and then copy it to the PN-40. You can also set one up in the field on the unit. I have never used the route finction, just prefering to navigate with the GPS and follow the trails, contours, streams etc. that make the most sense for where I need to go.

    There is also a “go to” function that you can use in the field if you are on foot to show you the most direct route from where you are to where you want to go.

    Whether in a vehicle or on foot of course, you need to use common sense. What looks like a decent jeep trial on the map software or paper map may only be suitable for horse or foot travel, and when on foot going cross country be sure to look up now and then to be sure your “go to” route does not lead you off a cliff! 🙂

    Robert - August 8th, 2010
  37. I am looking at buying a PN40 to use for fishing. My question is do I have to purchase lake maps by state or they already included.

    Dave - September 3rd, 2010
    • The standard maps have lakes for the entire US (and now Canada) but no depth information. You can download unlimited NOAA charts and aerial photos for $30/year.

      Robert - September 13th, 2010
  38. DeLorme’s technical support is weak. You are put on hold for a long time. If you’re lucky somebody answers, but tells you that you need to figure out for yourself how to export maps to the GPS unit (Earthmate PN40 in my case). It seems like a good product if I could get it to work, but without guidance it’s just an exercise in frustration.

    Kirk - October 4th, 2010
  39. My wife and I are new to geocaching and we quickly discovered that we love it. We started by using the Iphone app and were disappointed with some of the results. I thought that the PN40 would be a step up, but am finding that it is anything but. The battery consumption is alarming, and loss of signal not uncommon. Losing the signal when we committed deep in the woods is unsettling. I carry a small magnetic compass and am trained in land navigation so such a loss is manageable.

    Bottom line – I will not recommend the PN 40.

    Patrick - November 7th, 2010
    • Patrick – have you contact DeLorme support about the signal loss? Battery life on the PN-40 isn’t great (lithiums are much better) but the device should not be losing signal, especially as a common occurrence.

      Mike McKenney

      Mike - November 12th, 2010
    • I agree that the batterly life is not great. I just turn the PN-40 on when I need it, and after the first time in the AM I usually get a 3D fix in less than 20 seconds, so I do not find that is an inconvenience. On a wilderness hunting trip last year when I was using the PN-40 for off-trail navigation I got 10 days out of one set of NIMH rechargeables.

      I have only lost signal once, and that was because I was in one one of those temproray gaps when there are not enough satellites in the right place at that moment- I don’t believe it was anythin to do with the GPS. I tried again in 10 minutes and locked in in about 15 seconds.

      In contrast to Kirk’s experience (above), I have had good technical support from DeLorme. The PN-40 is not the easiest machine to use, but combined with TOPO USA it can do alot. The PN-40 Forum is also a great place to get help. However, I do think DeLorme should have more in the manual that comes with the unit and the Help function in Topo USA could be improved.


      Robert - November 20th, 2010
  40. On most of the pictures I have seen of the PN-40, the gold connectors for the USB cable are not visible, the back of the unit appears black. Yet, the unit, I received from the store did not have any plastic cover over the connectors on the PN-40 itself. Is that normal? Or is there a cover missing? If not, wouldn’t these connectors get damaged more quickly without any protection given that the unit is used for outdoor activities and cuold be dropped, placed on the ground, whatever and causing wera nd tear on thses connectors?


    Bernard - November 20th, 2010
    • The contacts are exposed on my PN-40. If you have trouble connecting to your PC withe the cable all you need to d is clean them with a pencil eraser (that has happened once to me in 18 months).

      Robert - November 22nd, 2010
  41. I am seriously thinking of getting the Delorme PN-40 for geocaching. I am trying to see if it supports paperless caching and pocket queries. I am not sure if this will be more GPS than I need or should I go up to the PN-60. I plan to be traveling around the country and would love to geocache while doing that. If I put a 16gig card in the PN-40, would I really need the PN-60? I can’t see a real good reason to go to the 60. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have been reading as much as I can, and now getting overloaded!

    Dani - November 29th, 2010
    • I like my PN-40 for forestry, off-trail navigation, and use with aerial photos and GIS. However, I am clueless about geocahing. Batterly life is not great with the PN-40; I understand it is improved with the PN-60. See my post on Nov 20th on managing battery life. I have a 16 gig card in my PN-40 and it ample memory. I would check out the DeLorme Pn-40 Forum which has lots of user feedback, discussions and questions.

      Robert - November 30th, 2010
      • thanks for the reply! I will check out the forum.

        Dani - November 30th, 2010
  42. The PN-40 does not seem to have an auto ETA as your speed changes, all I see is a feature that you have to input your estimated speed and the ETA feature only goes off that input speed I need a GPS that’s gives me updated ETA as my speed changes. Does any one known’s any thing different or tip on that matter?

    James Hollins - December 14th, 2010
  43. Hi,
    I am nearly a GPS noob, just having used a friend’s Etrex Summit for a couple of months.

    I want maps, but no-one appears to support the other 97% of the world like where I am, Australia.

    It will be used for hiking and adding track information to create hiking maps of National Parks and Regional Parks.

    Where can I go for maps of my home?

    Alf - January 16th, 2011
  44. Delorme needs to stick with what they do best (maps), fire their software designers and partner with someone who can make a more functional GPS!

    After considerable research, I purchased my first GPS, a PN-20, primarily because of Delorme’s reputation for great maps. The PN-20’s graphics were terribly slow, so I returned it and made the mistake of buying the newly-released PN-40. One would think that the second generation would have incorporated many more improvements, but the only difference I found was better graphics speed.

    Some of the main problems/complaints I have about the PN-40 are:
    – It’s slow to acquire satellites.
    – It’s not reliable. You can’t rely on it to self-start – you must turn it on, wait for it to acquire satellites, and make sure the tracking is working before you start to walk. Even in open areas, it may not acquire satellites if you start moving first. PLUS, after a period of time it just quits trying to acquire satellites and displays a “should I continue trying” message (duh – the answer is “yes” if I have it on!) If you don’t tell it to continue, it stays on, doing nothing but wasting batteries.
    – Once it is on and working it sometimes will lock up – and you’ll never know it until you stop to check it. Also, there have been several occasions where it just quit working until I could get it home to install new software.
    – The map on the screen can give great detail, but it’s awkward to use to view a larger area. Zooming out decreases detail in dramatic steps, panning at higher zoom/detail is slow, and zooming out, panning and then zooming in on where you want to see detail is hit-or-miss (and also slow).
    – It eats up batteries! One simple solution would be to have the screen turn off after an adjustable time period, and add a button to quickly toggle to screen on and off.
    – It’s too heavy and bulky. To mount it on a shoulder strap, the type of case needed to hold it securely would make it less accessible. I’ve tried various things to mount it for easy access, but haven’t come up with anything that works well.
    – It’s not practical for highway use. The graphics have a hard time keeping up and sometimes get stuck. On longer trips, the tracks file gets too large the unit locks up.

    Several months ago I was in the backcountry with my brother, who had a Blackberry. The blackberry was faster and the practical use of its map (zooming, panning, etc.) was MUCH better. (Not to mention the blackberry costs less, is lighter and can do other things.) A side-by-side comparison didn’t last long – my PN-40 locked up and wouldn’t restart until I got it home updated its software.

    The software interface for the computer, Topozone, is one of the most non-intuitive programs I’ve ever had the displeasure of using. I’ve had almost two years to become familiar with Topozone, but still find it very difficult and awkward to use. It WILL do almost everything I need and want it to, but each time I have to re-learn exactly what/where to click to get what I want.

    Now Delorme has the PN-60 (with some great advertised features) and an updated version of Topozone. However, I don’t think it’s possible for a company that made a product with such a lack of “fundamental” functionality and performance to make a decent product, regardless of its features. While I don’t expect perfection in the first generation or two, I DO expect something with better basic design and is easier to learn and use.

    Steve Crowley - February 15th, 2011
    • – The first time I use the PN-40 on a given day it aquires satellites within 2 minutes most times, unless (which happens to all brands) there are momentarily few avialable this happens very infrequently). After the first time I turn it on during any given day I usually get a fix in less than 20 seconds.

      -I don’t use the tracking function much, but have not experienced the problems that Steve mentions. So Steve, did the software update solve your tracking problem?

      -I agree that you lose detail too quickly when zooming out – more mid range would be nice. A bigger screen would help too.

      -Yes, battery life is less than other brands, but the processor can handle much larger image files. Figure about 6 hours continuous on a good set of rechargeables (the LiOn batteries are supposed to be much better). Because I seldom leave my GPS on for long, battery life with NiMH rechargeables not an issue for me. I can go in the wilderness for over a week on one set of batteries if I turn it off after I check my location. Pn-60 is supposed to be better.

      -Despite the fact that they sell a dashboard holder the PN series is not designed for highway use. You would go off the road trying to read that small screen! I use mine in the car once in a while when I am not sure about my location. Get a dedicated auto GPS if you need that full time function.

      -Steve, does the Blackberry GPS function have topo maps with good detail? I have seen Smartphone Apps (I-Phone, Android, etc.) that link to Google Earth, which I think has aerial imagery but no topo data With a real GPS you also get current topo maps. Also, and this is big, once you are out of cell phone range (which happens in many backcountry areas that I visit)I belive you can get a GPS fix (coordinates and a dot on a blank screen) but have no Google Earth image or other base map, because that is coming over the wireless network.

      -I agree that topo North America is not intuitive, but it is a fairly powerful program.

      -I am not going to upgrade to a PN-60, as it still has the small screen. My PN-40 still does what I need it to do , so I’ll wait for the technology to mature before I take the next step. However, I would consider the PN-60 or a Garmin if I were a first time buyer and needed a GPS that would work outside of cell phone range.

      Robert - February 16th, 2011
      • Robert:

        The only problem specific to the tracking function is that it quits working on long trips – when the file gets too large, I guess. I don’t know if the most recent firmware version solves the problem. There’s no indication that the tracking function is specifically responsible for the times the unit has locked up while hiking.

        In regard to your questions about the Blackberry’s mapping:
        – It actually used GPS satellites, so it wasn’t dependent on having a cell tower signal.
        – I don’t know which mapping application it had, but the quality of the map wasn’t bad. It showed contours with an acceptable level of detail, although it wasn’t quite as detailed as Delorme’s maps.
        – It didn’t have the non-terrain details, such as trails, that are on Delorme’s maps (they ARE good at maps.)

        As for the PN-40’s battery life, I think they could incorporate some power saving features via the software (like giving the ability to turn just the screen off). When hiking, it’s handy to keep the unit on so you don’t have to wait for it to reacquire satellites – which can take much more than a couple of minutes if there’s not a lot of open sky. Plus, I really like to record my tracks. If I wanted something to give my location every once in a while, I would look for a GPS that’s simpler, lighter and more reliable.

        Have you found if there’s a noticeable degree of power savings when hiking with the unit turned on, but with the map zoomed way out so that it doesn’t have to redraw the map so frequently?

        Steve Crowley - February 17th, 2011
        • Steve,

          I have not tried the zoom out approach to power saving. I usually don’t leave it on, unless I need a track for a specific purpose. I just carry good quality rechargeables for backup.

          I did some more research on cell phone GPS. The GPS positioning signal comes from the satellites, but the map data comes from the cell wireless network unless you have pre-loaded maps from a third party vendor. There is a good discussion here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=504491. That’s a Iphone site but the principles are the same.


          Robert - February 22nd, 2011
          • p.s. I do recall reading on a Delorme Pn-40 forum that zomming out is a good way to extend battery life. -RB

            Robert - February 22nd, 2011
  45. If you are looking for a gps that has auto estimate time of arrival in real time speed the p-40 does not have this feature. You have to manually input the estimate speed as your speed changes; also the max speed you can input is 62.13 mph very annoying. Other wise it is a good gps I use my in Iraq for work and have beaten it up and still going strong. Note the more it is used with the zoom level close in the more the battery is drained because the processor is working more.

    James - February 16th, 2011
  46. Worst purchase ever. It won’t hold a charge. Says fully charged, but dies within minutes. I have it on power save and know how to use it. I’m good with computers and have never had problems figuring anything out. That is not the case. The USB cord won’t work to connect to the computer in order to upload maps either. I wrote to their support email and they recommended using alkaline batteries. Who wants to buy a new pack of batteries every time they use a GPS without any maps on it! Do not waste your time and money!!!

    JEN - February 25th, 2011
    • It sounds like you don’t have the proper battery type selected. The symptom you describe would suggest the correct battery type isn’t selected causing the GPS to think it is dropping charge.

      Tim - February 25th, 2011
    • USB Cable: Have you tried cleaning the terminals on the GPS? Clean them with an eraser and see if that helps. That solved the problem for me.

      Battery life: Try Tim’s suggestion on selecting battery type. The best batteries are high capacity NIMH rechargeables or the Delorme LIONs. Do you have a way to test of your batteries are OK? My first PN-40 would kill a set of freshly charged batteries in less than an hour. I called tech service at DeLorme and they sent me a new unit. If you can verify that it is not your batteries or battery setting, call Delorme and demand a new GPS.

      Robert - February 25th, 2011
  47. Wonderful Review, thank you to the Author! Also thanks to all of the questions and replies in this thread. I’m just looking for a little bit more info before I commit.

    My GPS background: Pilot using “Lowrance Airmap1000” (all in one device air, land and marine). Also typical auto GPS.

    Purchase criteria: rugged GPS to use on ATV. Primary concern is ability to record tracks, (AKA trails, breadcrumbs) & save said tracks for future use. Also am intrigued by Aerial, birdseye, satellite imagery.

    GPS’s considered: Lowrance Endura series, various Garmin models, and the Delorme PN-40.

    Findings thus far: Lowrance aren’t getting great reviews. Garmin reviews indicate a great deal of difficulty viewing track logs. PN-40 sounds like an awesome device.

    Question: Have looked at both the 40 and the 40SE. Assuming user has 32gig SD card, what benefit is gained by the 40SE having the larger 7.5gig internal memory(Other than the obvious-uhhh it has more memory lol)? Does it affect it’s performance by a average or less than average user mostly concerned with recording trails in one state and typically only in one county? Thanks in advance.

    Tom - April 1st, 2011
    • Tom,

      I did not buy the SE, but simply got a large 15G SD card which seems to work great. You might check the DElorme PN-40 forum (at Delorme.com) as there will likely be more discussion on this.

      You might consider the pN-60, as it supposed to be better at battery life.

      Having the orthoimagery is great in the field and at home.

      The screen is small. The newer Garmins are much better there, but I have no exerience with them.

      Good luck, Robert

      Robert - April 2nd, 2011
      • Thanks Robert,
        I’ll give a shot over at Delorme. In response to your other suggestions. PN-60 I feel is probably more than I need both in terms of cost and capability, also intend on using power plug from ATV so battery life is of no real concern to me.
        Don’t have the slightest clue what “orthoimagery” is.

        Thanks again

        Tom - April 2nd, 2011
  48. Can the DeLorme PN 40 measure area (acreage)?


    chuck ferrero - May 23rd, 2011
    • Yes it does. Use can use measure distance feature on the map page & press the menu key to get to the measure distance tool.

      Hope this helps.

      James - May 23rd, 2011
      • Make sure to connect the dots to get the area.

        James - May 23rd, 2011
  49. I have purchased the pn 40 with topo it took me about 6 hours total time to learn how to use the topo program but wow once your in the know its great it just takes time as for the unit pn40 I wish I could turn off the stuff I dont use like geo cach or moon tide this would certainly save batteries I also used the zoom out and worked a set of alks for 2 days approx 20 hrs

    ROBERT - July 14th, 2011

content bottomleft content bottomright