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Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > GPS > Delorme Earthmate GPS PN-60 > Owner Review by Edwin Morse

DELORME EARTHMATE PN-60 GPS
BY EDWIN MORSE
OWNER REVIEW
March 24, 2013

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 75
LOCATION: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lb (32 kg) with food but no water. Since then I have made one- and two-week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. Now my pack weighs between 22 and 32 lb (10 and 15 kg). I'm slowly learning what lighter gear works.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: DeLorme
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.delorme.com/
MSRP: US$299.95
Listed Weight: Without batteries: 5.35 oz (152 g)
with Li-Ion rechargeable battery: 6.7 oz (190 g); with alkaline AA batteries: 7.00 oz. (198 g)
Measured Weight: 5.4 oz (153 g) without batteries
6.3 oz (179 g) with two AA Energizer Lithium batteries
Device dimensions: 2.43 in x 5.25 in x 1.5 in (6.17 cm x 13.34 cm x 3.81 cm )
Display screen dimensions: 1.35 in x 1.69 in (3.4 cm x 4.3 cm )

Waterproof (IPX7) I don't know what the IPX7 means but I have continued to use the PN-60 in hard rainstorms with no problems
3-axis electronic compass - when calibrated closely agrees with my magnetic compass, allowing for declination
Sensitive barometric altimeter - which I've never used
Power is supplied by 2 AA batteries - I've used alkaline and Lithium (not mixed)
There is an Optional Travel Power Kit with DeLorme-supplied rechargeable Li-Ion battery
Acquisition Times, according to DeLorme:
" " Hot Start: 5-6 seconds
" " Warm Start:
" " Cold Start:
I have not attempted to check this. I have noticed that if I turn the unit off, say for a lunch break or to change batteries, acquisition is very quick. If I turn the PN-60 off and drive 60 mi ( 97 km) then getting "3D" position seems to take several minutes but is probably close to the 60 seconds stated for a cold start by DeLorme.
DeLorme states Positional GPS accuracy as: "
Memory & Storage = 3.5 GB internal flash memory,
Supports SDHC high-capacity SD-cards - up to 32 GB
Holds up to 10 tracks (20,000 points per track), 1,500 user-defined waypoints, and 100 routes; endlessly expandable via GPX transfer to SD cards
Operating temperature range for the PN-60 is -20 C (-4 F) to +75 C (167 F). I don't expect to operate outside this range either very often. Most winters I've been out snowshoeing a few times at the low end of the stated range but not since I got the PN-60.

GENERAL INFORMATION

The PN-60 is the third in the Earthmate series I've purchased and used. Here is a picture of my PN-60.
My Earthmate PN-60
PN-60

There are nine buttons near the bottom and below the screen, some are direct commands for action and others are for moving around and within various pages. The buttons have different actions depending on which page is displayed, some of the buttons have different results depending how long they are held down.

I first used the PN-20, then when the PN-40 came out I soon put in my order. I delayed ordering the PN-60, since the PN-40 was doing well, until I could not store as many tracks as I wanted. When I bought the PN-60 the DeLorme map program North America Topo v 9 was included in the purchase price. Two months later they started including version 10 instead. The Topo program is required to download the various maps from the DeLorme map library to my computer and then transfer from my computer to the PN-60. I usually download at least the quad maps for the area I intend to hike so the PN-60 is my most convenient map. By paying the $29.95 annual map library subscription I have access to not only the USGS 1:24K quadrangle maps but also several other types of maps.

I received the PN-60 in early July 2012 just two days before a backpacking trip. I did not have much time to learn the operation of the PN-60. I did manage to download and install the quadrangle maps for the area of the trail I intended to hike. I soon found that in many small ways the PN-60 operation is very different from the PN-40.

The PN-60 GPS receiver is a feature-rich device. There are eight activities defined on the ACTIVITIES page; Hiking, Cycling, Hunting, Driving, Geocaching, Boating, Fishing and Off-Roading.

The only one of these I'm interested in is hiking. My most frequent use is to determine how far I hike each day. Whether I'm backpacking or day-hiking, which includes snowshoeing and cross country skiing, I carry the PN-60 in a pocket on my pack shoulder strap. I always set the trip info back to zero before I start each day so I will know how far I hike. I usually mark a waypoint at the vehicle before I leave. When backpacking I also mark a waypoint where I set my tent each night and another where I hang my food bag.

My second, closely related, use for the PN-60 (and the PN-40 previously) is exploring for new trail reroutes. One goal of the North Country Trail Association is to get as much of the trail off roads as possible. I download both quad maps and aerial maps to the GPS unit. Then, with a plat book in hand to show local land ownership, I start hiking. My objective is to find the most scenic route possible for the new trail while staying on public land. I record the track as I hike. Later I save the track and upload to the Topo North America program. Then I print maps showing the tracks where I think the new trail should be built. Often considerable editing is required to eliminate less desirable tracks and just show the best for print.

When I first turned on my new PN-60 receiver I was asked to enter my name. After I did this my name appears during startup each time I turn on the PN-60. The Home Page appears after the unit completes the start up process.
first Home Page
Home Page

The Arrow Keypad in the center is used to move around pages and screens. Scrolling to left or right two spaces will move to the second home page.
second Home Page
Home Page 2

COMPUTER INTERFACE

The DeLorme Topo North America map program is sold with the PN-60. It is the link between DeLorme map library and the PN-60. I'm using version 9 since that was included when I bought the PN-60. Now version 10 is included.

I use Topo v 9 to download maps from the DeLorme map library. I also use the program to upload tracks and waypoints from the PN-60 to the Topo program. I can edit both tracks (to some extent) and waypoints. I can add other symbols and notes. After I have done all the editing I want I can print maps or I can save the map as picture or .jpg file. My printed and saved maps are first used as planning tools in exploring possible trail routes. I often add notes which my friend and I review before and during the next exploration hike. Later a final, cleaned up version is submitted to the Department of Natural Resources as an exhibit with the trail proposal.

FIELD USE

I've used the PN-60 on two backpacking trips, both in Michigan. I received the unit on July 2, 2012. Two days later I started a four-day hike near the village of Vanderbilt, Michigan. The weather varied from a low of 55 F (13 C) during a severe rain and thunder storm to warm and sunny 85 F (29 C). I carried the PN-60 in an open top pocket on the shoulder strap of my backpack. I lost the poorly marked trail during the hard rain. I used the hard copy map and the PN-60 to get back on the trail. The PN-60 continued to operate even in a downpour when I had to wipe off the water to read the screen.

In August I did a 12-day hike on Isle Royale. I had the 1:24000 quadrangle maps downloaded and transferred to the PN-60. Using the PN-60 I always knew how far I hiked each day. When I stopped for lunch I knew how much farther I had to hike to my planned camp site. I could also precisely locate my position using the quadrangle maps on the PN-60. While hiking on the island there were a few days of mostly rain when the temperature held around 60 F (16 C). There were a few mostly cloudy days with sudden short rain showers, as well as several sunny days with highs of 84 F (29 C).

Since early November, while using the PN-60, I have done at least 50 day hikes, or about three each week. A few hikes were in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several were in the Manistee National Forest. The majority were in the Pere Marquette State Forest, which is south and east of Traverse City, Michigan.

Perhaps a good way to explain the use of the PN-60 is to review the steps I follow on a typical hike.

When I get to a trailhead to start a hike I first turn on the GPS and put it on top of the vehicle while I get my pack on, by then the PN-60 will be ready to go.

I open the Maps page, then I press the Page button twice to go to the Trip Info Page.
Trip Info
Trip Info Page

Then I press menu and set everything back to zero. I then press Quit twice to go back to the Map Page and start hiking. Before starting a recent hike I opened a previous track file. To do this I used the Track Page to open the track file I wanted so I could tell where I had hiked previously.
Track Page
Track Page

After opening the track file I wanted I Quit back to the Map page and started hiking. I followed a road around the curve then I wanted to hike straight east along the section line. I used the Compass Page to start on the correct bearing.
I keep my bearing here
Compass Page

Most of the time I keep the GPS set on the Map page, sometimes switching between color aerial maps and quadrangle maps. Here is a view of the Map page after a recent hike where we had been exploring for a trail relocation. In this view I just had the quadrangle map open.
active track and open track
Map Page

The red line is the opened track for a previous hike and the green line is the active track.
Here is a map of another hike in the same area with the color aerial map displayed and uploaded to the Topo North America v 9.
color aerial view
Aerial map in Topo North America

There are two other pages I often use when hiking. The Waypoints page lets me locate nearby waypoints I've previously saved.
Waypoint List
Waypoint Page

When I'm backpacking I refer to the Sun and Moon page so I know the time of sun rise and sun set.
sunrise and sunset times
Sun and Moon Page

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

I had problems with the backlight at first in very overcast or shady conditions. I had to be in bright sunshine to read the screen. Then I discovered the backlighting could be adjusted much brighter in the Setting page so now I can read the screen in any conditions. I also found that in winter with bright snow I could read the screen easier in shade if I took off my photo gray glasses.

I have primarily used lithium batteries which often last five or six days of hiking in the summer and three or four days in winter cold conditions. I have only used alkaline batteries when I ran out of Lithium batteries. The batteries are accessed by removing the cover on the back of the unit using the two thumb screws. Here is a picture with batteries in place.
BACK COVER OPEN
BATTERY ACCESS

I can display any previous day's track, in red, in addition to the active track which is always shown in green. I can change the color of a saved track on the GPS but I prefer to do all track editing on the computer using the Topo North America program.

I can save much longer tracks on the PN-60 than I could with the PN-40. I can view a saved track on the GPS in addition to the active track. I have not tried to edit tracks on the GPS unit. I often edit tracks after I've uploaded to the Topo North America program. It can be a tedious process but I have cut off extraneous parts of tracks and combined two or more tracks.

Tracks and downloaded maps can be saved to either internal memory or to the SD card. The SD card is installed by removing the batteries. Here is a picture of the SD card installed.
SD card access
SD card

I have quadrangle topographic maps for all of Isle Royale stored on a 16 GB SD card. I also have over 160 miles of the North Country Trail, about a mile (two Km) each side of the trail downloaded to the same card. I also have color aerial maps downloaded for most of this area. I have found I can get more information about the terrain and features around me by switching back and forth between aerial and topographic maps.

Most of the problems I have with unit can be solved with a little study of the PN-60 Manual I downloaded from the internet. When I really get stuck and can't find a solution to a problem I can look in the DeLorme Forums or put in a request for DeLorme technical help.

LIKES AND DISLIKES

THINGS I LIKE

Small and light enough to easily carry on my pack
Satellite reception is usually quick
Buttons are easy to use with one hand
Battery life is good and replacement is easy
The PN-60 seems to be the most dependable yet of the series


THINGS I DON'T LIKE

The included Manual is too general, it tells me what I can do - not how to do it
In the winter I have to take off my gloves to use the buttons
The screen is too small to see terrain details over a large area
There is a learning curve - the operation of the PN-60 has not been easy for me to learn

CONCLUSION

Overall, the PN-60 is a useful and fun addition to my hiking gear. With the ability to download different types of maps for areas I plan to hike it is more useful than any paper map. It has more features and capabilities than I ever expect to use. My interests might still change enough to use a few more features. I highly recommend the PN-60 with the Topo North America computer program.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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