Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

Delorme Earthmate PN-20 GPS

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I purchased the Earthmate PN-20 recently and it is the best gps unit I have ever used.  Mind you I haven’t used that many, but still.  The main things I like about the PN-20 is its high accuracy and the ability to upload satellite, aerial, topo, and whatever maps I might come across, as long as they are properly formatted, onto it for use in the field.  There are 2 different handheld gps units Delorme offers, the PN-20 and the PN-40, I opted for the cheaper of the two and found a great deal on the PN-20 at tigergps.com for around $160, whereas if I had bought it directly from Delorme it would have cost me $200.  Still it was kinda pricey but I sold my old gps so I needed a new one preferably with better features than the old and the PN-20 fits the bill.

So far I haven’t Logged that many miles with it, barely 8 miles in fact, but the ease of use has surprised me.  It comes with topo 7 software you load on your computer and it allows you to download maps from the Delorme server for a price, fortunately it comes with $140 in free map downloads so hopefully I wont have to pay for downloads for quite some time.  I loaded some Satellite and Aerial Maps of Blanchard Mountain near my house and went out there the next day and hiked around the mountain to test the accuracy of the gps and the maps it contains.  It tracked my miles as 2.41 but in the parking lot before we left I noticed it had .38 miles already on it.  I couldn’t figure out how to clear it soon enough as the people I was with were eager to hit the trail, so I just subtracted that from the final mileage.  Also this thing drains batteries like no other, It takes 2 AA batteries, I had put some Energizer Max batteries in it that it came with and they died up at the bat caves.  I have yet to try my NiMH 2500 mAh Energizer rechargeable’s in it but hopefully they last a lot longer than the 3 hours I estimate it was on from the time I got it to when it died.  I am amazed at the amount of imagery and different map types it can use.  I can even upload pictures to it and it will auto-sync the pics up to my tracks and provide me with a good way to figure out exactly where I took that picture of a squirrel or bear.

These are the different map types it can use:

  • » USGS 1:24,000 quad maps
  • » NOAA nautical charts
  • » High-resolution color aerial imagery – U.S. States
  • » High-resolution color aerial imagery – Select U.S. Cities
  • » Black-and-white aerial imagery
  • » 10-meter color satellite imagery

From what I was reading you can upload your own scanned maps and have them work but I have yet to get that to work.

This thing also keeps track alot of other data that my old gps unit didn’t, such as how long I have been moving or stopped, usefull to see where I have to take breaks later on.  it keeps track of your current speed, speed max, and speed average along with the usual coords and trip odometer.  Elevation of course is a standard feature of most gps units but as this one is loaded with topo maps its a hell of alot more acurate than most road gps’.  Another fun feature is the Sun/Moon rise and set, also the tide chart will come in handy when I hike around at the beach.  It has alot more data info fields but I cant list them all as this paragraph would be way to large.

I cant rave enough about this, the only drawback I can see is the short battery life which my rechargeables will hopefully remedy.

The Many Uses of ParaCord

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
detail of inner cordage

detail of inner cordage

Ahh Paracord. I always carry at least 50ft of this whenever I go hiking, you never know when it might come in handy.

10 uses for ParaCord

1. bundle it up and replace that cheap “camping twine” you always carry when you go backpacking. it might weigh a bit more but it also holds up over 500 pounds on a single cord.

2. wrap your hiking stick with it to make it more durable and so you’ll always have some cord when you need it.

3. wrap your knife handle or machete handle with it to soften the grip and avoid blisters.

4. make a bracelet out of it so you’ll always have strong cord with you. a Turks head knot works great for this if you weave in extra knots.

5. use it to hang up your tarp or shelter when camping or in an emergency.

6. use it to hang your bear bag or backpack.

7. use it to do an impromptu rappel into a cave (be extremely careful when doing this – don’t bounce on the end of the cord or anything) or down a steep ledge. Alternately you could use it to help yourself or companions up a steep slope.

8. use the inner cord to make snares and catch yourself dinner.

9. use the inner cord as a fishing line to catch dinner.

10. use a length of cord to hold your camping pad onto your backpack.

The uses of paracord are endless. Don’t be fooled by cheap parachute cord knockoffs. Real parachute cordage has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. As a Kerrnmantle rope type, its interior core (the kern) is protected with a woven exterior sheath or mantle that optimizes strength, durability, and flexibility.

The number of strands in 550 paracord is usually stated as 7, there are actually 14. The strands are twisted in groups of two to form the 7 strands commonly known. A braided nylon outer sheath contains and protects the cordage inside.

550 paracord is rated to hold 550 pounds. Individually, the components of this parachute cord consist of

* The paracord sheath is rated at about 300-pounds
* 14 inner strings, each of which have a rating of about 17.5 pounds
* 7 strands made up on two strings each for a rating of 35 pounds.

So as you can see there are a multitude of uses for paracord and the ones I listed are a very few of the many many things I have personally used it for.  I bought mine from http://www.parachute-cord.com/ the only drawback I see to ordering from them is you can only buy 1,000 foot spools of it.  They don’t have any smaller lengths, unfortunately.  You can find alot of other places to buy it from, but it might not be the “real” thing.  Alot of sporting goods stores that sell paracord don’t sell the mill spec cord rated at 550 pounds.  When your buying it make sure it has 7 twisted pairs inside the outer sheath as that’s the only sure way to make sure your buying the good stuff.


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