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Garmin Oregon 400t VS DeLorme PN-40 Comparison

mmsmelly 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
I’m looking for a handheld GPS unit and I’ve never owned one. I’ve been looking at 2 different units and would like advice. I want a unit to use while hiking, backpacking and biking on trails, etc., and I also want to be able to use it to navigate on streets and highways. No water navigation is needed. So software is an issue. It needs to be rugged and waterproof and a touch screen isn’t necessary – I’m ok with buttons. It would be ideal if I didn’t have to buy a lot of maps after also purchasing a unit, and an expandable card slot would be nice, too.

I’ve been looking at the Garmin Oregon 400t and the DeLorme PN-40. There is a significant price difference between these two units, but is there a correlated difference in performance? Is the extra $$ for the Garmin unit because of their reputation and name, or is it truly a better unit by $200? Seems to me the software maps with the DeLorme are more encompassing…is that true.


  • Tim 1484 Points
    edited February 2009
    Garmin Oregon 400t Review
    DeLorme PN-40 Review

    400t Pros:
    • Large Screen
    • Touch Screen
    • Aesthetically pleasing interface
    • All maps pre-loaded
    • 3D view to topo maps

    400t Cons:
    • Screen difficult to read in most lighting conditions
    • Weaker PC software for planning and mapping.
    • Only a bi-axis Electronic Compass
    • No supported method for adding aerial photography.
    • Street maps (routable) are an additional cost.
    • USA topo maps are only 1:100,000 resolution.

    PN-40 Pros:
    • Availability of map types (topo, street, satellite, aerial, USGS topo in 1:24,000 resolution)
    • Screen easy to read with most map types.
    • Included mapping software is much more powerful for planning and archiving.
    • Tri-axis Electronic Compass

    PN-40 Cons:
    • Shorter battery life
    • Mapping software has a steep learning curve, and not Mac compatible.
    • Small screen.
    • Detailed maps are not pre-installed.
    • Street map quality not as good as other street databases.
    • Street routing from the device is very slow. (But fast when transfered from PC.)
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    Tim has covered most of the important points. But you might consider the Oregon 300 which is cheaper and doesn't have the pre-loaded topo maps. I have the 400t myself, and like it, but Garmin's US Topo maps are pretty low resolution (equivalent to USGS 1:100,000 maps). There are a lot of free, user contributed Garmin topo maps starting to appear.

    There's even a group with the goal of making free 24k topo's for the whole US... so one way or other I think you will be able to find free topo's which are (arguably) better than Garmin's for just about anywhere in the next year or so. Have a look at what's currently available here:
  • I've been reading some other reviews (thanks for your review and comments, by the way) and I'm seeing a couple who say that Garmin has the best units, hardware, etc., but DeLorme has the best mapping software. Isn't the unit only as good as the maps it uses?
  • Tim 1484 Points
    Isn't the unit only as good as the maps it uses?
    Well, of course if the hardware is terrible and causes the device to beak or otherwise not be functional then the nice map is of no use. But the DeLorme hardware is good. And there are many people who would probably not want to spend the time to work through the powerful but complex DeLorme software. But generally I agree with what you are saying... the best map quality and type for your application will probably be most important.
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    Just don't discount screen resolution. When looking at a detailed map, more pixels is better. It lets you see more of the map for a given zoom level.
  • Would you guys like to make some recommendations of units to consider in the function/performance/price range of the PN-40?
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    In terms of price, the Garmin 60csx is in that range, even cheaper if you catch it on sale. You will need to get maps separately however. The Garmin Colorado is also in that range if you can find it on sale.

    When it comes to function however (the wide assortment of maps), not sure you will find anything comparable to the PN-40
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