delorme GPS

I am looking at different mapping GPS’s. The Delorme PN20 and PN40 have caught my attention, and I’m looking for more reports from those who have purchased and used them. Is the mapping software from Delorme user friendly and what a person needs for wilderness paddling trips? Are the GPS units easy to use and read while on the water? Do they hold up well and function in wet environments - like the deck of a kayak?

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I’ve got the PN20…

– Last Updated: Jul-28-09 9:10 PM EST –

and so far, have been pleased with it.
It's as easy to read in full sun as any I've seen, meaning I still have to take of my polarized sunglasses to read it. As far as just following a route, I can easily see it with glasses on and paddle in hand.
The software included in the package is very user friendly, but of course there is a learning curve. The fact that it comes with such detailed maps at no extra cost is what made me go with the DeLorme.
You can layer in aerial photos on top of the topo, which is handy when looking for the deeper channels among the islands.
Plus, it takes AA batteries.
It has taken rain, and paddle drips very well, and even hung in the water for a few moments with no ill effect.
As a hiking and kayaking tool, I'm a satisfied customer.
Best of luck,
Edit- I found my best price at, but also use Nextag and Amazon to compare...


– Last Updated: Jul-28-09 11:19 PM EST –

I'm a PN40 owner, as well as the owner or former owner of about 10 other units including Garmin, Lowrance and Magellan.

Good things about the PN40... If you are a geocacher it has a nifty paperless geocaching feature that allows you to load full cache pages, write logs and upload them to the geocachig website.

The 3 axis compass is nice, as it operates no matter what position you are holding the unit. It comes with the mapping software included, meaning you get a lot of GPS for the money. The topo maps have some nice detail and you can load more detailed topos (1:24k) and satellite photos if you pay extra for them (you can get unlimited downloads for $25 a year).

The negatives... It eats batteries like potato chips.
Throw in a cheap alkaline and you are lucky to get 4 hours out of it. Maybe 6-8 if you use Duracells or Energizers.

At first the fact that it supports a 32meg card (as opposed to 4 megs with Garmin) seems attractive, but the Delorme maps chew up memory - fast. I can get maps for the entire continental US on a 2 gig card with my Garmin. I could barely get a dozen states onto my 16 gig card on my PN40.

The menus use very small fonts, so if you are getting to the age where you can't read the back of Motrin bottles you are going to need your reading glasses to use it.

Reception is good, but quite not up to some of the Garmin units. When mapping trails I get a lot of gaps that I don't see with my Garmin 60CSX.

It does autorouting (turn by turn driving directions) but it is very primitive and doesn't know about things like jughandles so it will lead you astray. The PN20's processor is so slow that it really can't be used for this. The PN40 is faster, but still has issues calculating routes.

The Topo software that it comes with is not intuitive and has a steep learning curve.

DeLorme also seems to have some quality control issues, as I'm on my 4th unit in 6 months. They do have outstanding customer support though.

Bottom line to me is that if you are looking for a unit chiefly for geocaching, the PN units are a fine choice. If you want something for general outdoor pursuits I think that the Garmin 60CSX (or 76CSX)
is still the finest all around GPS on the market. It's going to cost you more if you add in the cost of the Garmin mapping software (there are free alternatives now), but in the end I think you will be happier if you want a GPS for general use.