I want to share with you all a great little device which I think is worth it’s weight in gold, and at 6.7 oz on the current market that’d be like $9,000. Okay well maybe I wouldn’t spend quite that much but it’s a pretty handy device. About four years ago I did a hike with some buddies and we needed to be picked up early. The only device I had was my iPhone and the area we were I was only able to send and receive text messages with one bar of reception on top of the highest peak I could climb to. As soon as I came down off the peak we had no more communication and there had been some communication errors due to the fact that some text messages weren’t fully sent or received by the time I came off the peak. I knew on my next hike I had to find something better or my family wouldn’t be happy about me venturing off into the wilderness with out a safety net.
That following year I rented a satellite phone and it worked perfectly, but it was heavy and not exactly expensive, but not exactly affordable. For a 5 day trip I think it cost me $225 for the rental of the phone and the charges associated with it. It was pretty heavy and I had to make sure it was well protected during the hike. Not to mention that this was a hike where we did 20 miles waist high in the Aqua Blanca river. None the less it worked well, but I knew there had to be something better.
After some research and comparisons I came to find the DeLorme InReach SE. It is a satellite messaging and rescue system which pairs to your iPhone.
The InReach SE
I love this product because it does an incredible job. Recently I did a hike up in Oregon. At roughly 5,700′ the trail became unreadable because of deep snow and we had to navigate by map and compass. The DeLorme has the ability to pair with your smartphone to use it as a GPS device allowing pinpoint navigation. I wouldn’t recommend navigating solely by this but every 1/2 hour or so having the ability to check your math and pinpoint your location is remarkable.
This device does some things I love, you can send AND receive text messages through the iridium satellite network with your location attached to the message so people know exactly where you are. But that is really an additional feature to the device. It’s main focus is an emergency locator beacon. Simply slide the SOS button lock aside and hold it for three seconds and emergency services worldwide will be able to pinpoint your location. I say worldwide but there are still a couple spots on the planet where the iridium network doesn’t cover… Like the spot where the Malaysian plane is. None the less it covers about 90% of the planet so there’s a pretty good bet you’ll be found.
After purchasing this product and using it I’ve realized this is the perfect device to have in your 72 Hour Bag. In the event of an emergency – if all land based communications are downed, having a device which can send AND receive text messages would be priceless. There are two versions of this product, the SE which is the one I have and the Explorer which has built in GPS navigating so if push came to shove you wouldn’t need to pair it with your smart phone, although using the larger screen on your smart phone may be the way to go. Below is a video by DeLorme on the new model, the Explorer.
So let’s say you decide to keep this device in your back pocket in case there’s another hurricane Katrina, or a 7.6 in Los Angeles, how much will it cost? There are two plans available, a freedom plan, and an annual plan. The freedom plan allows you to turn it on an off when you want without any commitment. The annual plan is a little cheaper per month but you have to commit to the entire year. Within each plan there are four tiers to the service based on how many text messages you’ll send and receive. If you are going to use this solely as a back up communications device the lowest plan is perfect. It allows 10 text messages per month and is only $11.95/month. In the event of an emergency and you have to send a ton of texts there’s an extra charge of $0.50 each, but if that happens will you really care about the $0.50 charge?
Here are the specs on the SE:
- Iridium satellite network ensures 100% pole-to-pole coverage with no gaps or fringe areas
- Freedom plans with contract-free, month-to-month subscriptions from $14.95 per month or annual subscriptions from $11.95 per month
- Adjustable tracking intervals from 2 minutes to 4 hours allow you to track your trip and share your location, including GPS coordinates, elevation, speed, and course
- View location information on-board (coordinates, course, elevation and speed)
- Personal locator beacon sends SOS signals with GPS location data to GEOS worldwide emergency response; communicate with GEOS via 2-way text messaging throughout the rescue
- Provides audio and visual delivery confirmation on all messages sent to notify you of successful transmission
- Send free-form, 160-character texts or predefined messages to phones, email, social media and other inReach units; read incoming messages on the color screen
- Wirelessly transform your Apple iOS or Android mobile device into a global navigation tool and satellite communicator when you pair it to inReach with the free Earthmate app
- Earthmate app displays your real-time GPS coordinates and route on a digital map; MapShare portal shares your location and movements with friends
- Earthmate app also lets you download unlimited topographic and NOAA maps when connected to the internet; access the cached maps even when you’re outside of cellular range
- LED indicator shows satellite availability; audible message notification helps guarantee you don’t miss an incoming message
- Waterproof, dustproof and impact-resistant body shrugs off the abuse of harsh environments; the unit can be submerged down to 1m for up to 30 min.
- The Delorme inReach SE 2-Way Satellite Communicator features a rechargeable lithium battery that delivers about 100 hours of operation when tracking at 10 min. intervals
- Comes with a wall charger and USB cord for easy recharging
- Enterprise plans also available for inReach customers to enable tracking intervals of 5, 2 and 1 minute, and 30 seconds; contact DeLorme directly for Enterprise Plans
Here’s the details about the Explorer:
- Includes digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer
- Includes an odometer and displays useful trip statistics while in the field, such as trip time, max speed, moving average, trip distance
- 100 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode with a clear view to the sky
- Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text for standalone two-way messaging
- GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
- Waterproof/dustproof (IP67; standard submersion to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
- Impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810G for shock)
- Internal lithium polymer battery (2,450 mAh capacity at 3.7 V)
- SOS messages are received by GEOS, a worldwide emergency response coordination center with 24/7/365 staffing
- Weight: 6.7 ounces
- Email, SOS and tracking functions work anywhere in the world; SMS availability may vary by country.
- 100% global coverage via the Iridium satellite network, which is the world’s furthest-reaching satellite communications network.
- Maintains a satellite signal lock even in difficult GPS environments and embeds precise location coordinates in sent messages.
- A contract-free (minimum 30-day commitment) or annual satellite subscription plan is required for use; plans start at $11.95 per month.
- Create waypoints, log your trip, find your way back, send/receive text messages or trigger an interactive SOS
- Pair it with your mobile device (Apple iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire via Bluetooth) and free Earthmate app to access topographic maps and U.S. NOAA charts
- Create or view a route, drop waypoints, see your detailed GPS tracks, and navigate with the on-screen map view; view route details such as distance and bearing to destination
- Plan your route online ahead of time and share it with family and friends to follow along and watch your progress
- Adjustable tracking intervals from 10 min. to 4 hrs. allow you to track your trip and share your location, including GPS coordinates, course elevation and speed
- Equipped with a digital compass, barometric altimeter, accelerometer and odometer; display trip time, max speed, moving average and trip distance while in the field
- Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text for standalone 2-way messaging
- Contract-free month-to-month plans or annual subscriptions available
- Waterproof/dustproof (IP67, standard submersion to 1m for 30 min.); impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810G for shock)
- The DeLorme inReach Explorer comes with a wall charging adapter and USB cord for easy charging