- Oct 22, 2015 at 8:07 am #1333593Keith SelboSpectator
@herman666Locale: Northern Virginia
The Delorme inReach satellite communications devices provide two way SMS texting/email, SOS and manual and automatic position reporting from anywhere on the planet in a compact waterproof package. I rate their cost to feature ratio outstanding. I decided on an inReach through a process of elimination. The only less expensive text/breadcrumb/SOS satellite communications device could only send messages. It couldn't receive them. I'm surprised at how many people find that satisfactory. If I've been bitten by a rattlesnake I want to know with absolute certainty if my SOS was received and if rescue is on the way or if I need to make other plans. All the other devices I looked at, and there are quite a few, were significantly more expensive for the same functions and usually lacked one or more of the features I consider critical for backpacking in remote areas. Most of them are listed in a Backpacking Light survey article and those that aren't can be found with Google. My inReach 1.5 had to be paired with a smart phone for full text messaging capability, but it would send an SOS, tracking points and canned messages in standalone mode. The inReach SE and Explorer don't require a smart phone for full texting functionality, but text entry is much easier with the Earthmate app. I have a phablet size phone. I much prefer it's large disply to the SE's admittedly minuscule, low res display. Since my primary use for the inReach is for emergency communication, reliability is paramount. In the year and a half I've had it, all the messages I've sent have been received and only one message from home base was lost. I investigated and determined that it had been sent just after I turned my inReach off for the night. Delorme support told me that messages are kept in the Iridium system for twelve hours after which they are discarded, and more than twelve hours had elapsed when I turned my unit back on the next day. The fix was obvious and I haven't missed a message since. I bought the inReach for emergencies, but I've come to treasure it for the convenience. How convenient is it? Of the three people I've introduced to it on extended wilderness hikes, two were impressed enough to purchase their own inReach right after their first experience with it. My first hike with it turned into mosquito hell. In two days we'd exhausted our DEET. My partner, who had no long pants was grateful that a satellite text message got DEET added to our resupply package. I've also had the opportunity to use the inReach to make reservations, change pickup times and locations, and receive updated weather reports from home base. My first inReach (inReach 1.5) required a smart phone pairing for full capability, and ran on AA batteries, lithium AA's being the preferred choice. It was perfectly adequate for most hikes, and I recommend it as a best buy. The 1.5 is discontinued but can be found new and used on Ebay and other outlets. For extended hikes in remote areas, I prefer a rechargeable model so I don't have to carry spare batteries or worry about finding lithium AA's in country stores. Instead, I carry a single battery pack that can charge my inReach phone, camera, headlamp and keyboard. On the Pacific Crest Trail we relied on my partner's rechargeable inReach Explorer for tracking, with my 1.5 reserved for backup and for the ability to stay in contact with her if we got separated. I have since replaced it with an inReach SE which is rechargeable. The top of the line Explorer differs from the SE in that the explorer has a compass display, track entry, track following and track recording capability. My phone GPS app has that capability too so I opted for the SE. All inReach models require a paid annual or monthly subscription plan. Plans range from an inexpensive safety plan that gives you a few free messages and charges for tracking points and additional messages, on up to a cadillac plan with unlimited messages and tracking points. All plans let you to pre-record up to three fixed messages which can be sent as often as you like free of charge. My only complaint is the audio output. I have high frequency hearing loss. I can't hear it. But I can live with it. I just check my phone for status every now and then. I consider these devices a game changer. They provide a quantum leap in backwoods safety and communications. Full Disclosure: Delorme replaced my inReach 1.5 with an inReach SE after I uncovered a bug in the Earthmate app. The replacement was unencumbered of any conditions,
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