I had the privilege of attending the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, to my delight there was more than just 3D TVs and eBook Readers. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when I met with the guys at Spot and DeLorme, and I learned about a fantastic new device for hikers called the DeLorme Earthmate GPS PN-60w!
If you aren’t familiar with DeLorme, it is the brand of GPS units that the famous American mountaineer Ed Viesturs takes with him to the top of Everest!
This new device is amazing – it combines the tracking and emergency response power of the SPOT with a rugged GPS device. I admit that I am a late adopter of technology, and have waited to buy a Spot because I was actually hoping that it would eventually be integrated with a GPS device so the emergency “help” message could be more than just “help”. Unlike the traditional Spot device, the Earthmate PN-60W will allow the user to transmit custom messages, which can be sent to your emergency contacts as well as your Twitter and Facebook friends. Wouldn’t it be nice to send a message saying “I got delayed by bad weather, so will be 5 hours later getting back to the trailhead” rather than “help!”
Plus, it will have the excellent mapping technology of other DeLorme outdoor GPS units such as aerial imagery, USGS 1:24,000 maps, and the ability to easily track waypoints and elevation.
Another great feature that the DeLorme guys told me about is that you can keep track of your friends who have their own Earthmate devices. The “w” at the end of the name indicates the wireless technology – so if I’m half a mile behind you on the trail, I can see exactly where you are. For now the range will be limited to a small distance (under a mile or so), but improvements may change that in the future.
Plus, the Spot Communicator portion of the device is much smaller than the newly released Spot device, which is a reason for me and my fellow hiking and backpacking enthusiasts to celebrate – smaller and lighter is very welcome news!
The Earthmate GPS PN-60W is on sale at Amazon, but won’t be available until May. This is going to be a late Christmas present to myself 🙂