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Learningtofly
member (19)member
 
02/26/2019 12:16PM  
What are some options where someone could reach me when I'm in the back country? In August, I was in the BWCA and there was a medical emergency with my son back home and, of course, my wife was unable to reach me. I would like to give her some comfort that if she needs to get a hold me, she can.
 
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VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2635)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 01:18PM  
I think the best way (if you are out of cell phone coverage) is to have a satellite phone. You don't need to keep it on at all times though. (You'll go through your battery in no time).

Instead, tell your wife you will be turning on your phone & checking to see if you have any messages every (you insert hours/minutes/whatever). She can leave you a message. Then when you turn on your phone, you see you have a message on the screen, go into your voice mail, listen to it and if necessary, call her back.

I know some people have the tracking devices that do messaging back & forth, but you'd also have to be watching that as often as you check the phone for messages. And actually talking to her for an emergency would probably be more productive, especially if you had to also talk to a doctor, as in the case of your son's emergency.
 
02/26/2019 01:45PM  
I bought a satellite phone a few years back. It just gives me extra security on extended backcountry trips. As I get older, the chance of a medical emergency comes into play and gives family and friends a little peace of mind.

To me, the phone seems like the quickest way to get help. Whether that is the case or not, I don’t really know. Sometimes it’s just nice to call home when I’m on a solo when I get tired of talking to myself. That being said, it’s been a long time since I used the phone on a trip, but good to know it’s there.
 
paddlinjoe
distinguished member (407)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 01:48PM  
Garmin InReach has had two way texting capability for a few years now. There are at least three version at REI. The devices cost more than SPOT, but you can do a month to month service contract.

Also, just this year, SPOT released the SPOTX which can also do two way messaging. Up until now, the SPOT would only send location and texts. Cost is less for the device, but the service contracts are annual subscriptions.

Either one can also be rented from outfitters or online.

 
02/26/2019 02:09PM  
I use an InReach as well. You can pay a month at time. Also you can sync it with your smart phone for easier texting. Works great. I use it just to check in.
 
02/26/2019 03:10PM  
Here's another plug for the InReach. If you don't need the direct voice connection, the text messages work well for us. I use the Recreation Plan where you can start/ stop as needed.
The weather function is also nice.
 
VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2635)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 03:47PM  
The InReach is for sure, a good unit. Now, can you rent those at a decent price from anyone?

For a tracker type, a rental one may not have all that even as inexpensive as a satellite phone.
 
02/26/2019 04:14PM  
Learningtofly: "What are some options that someone can reach me when I'm out in the back country?"

You have options. Sat phone probably at the top-end in terms of performance and cost.

I have a similar dilemma with a twist: my wife also wants to be able to reach me in case of emergency.

The problem lies with my wife's definition of an emergency...
 
schweady
distinguished member(7258)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/26/2019 04:45PM  
We had an unfortunate experience on a trip last July which required contact with emergency services. A group following us on the portage had a satellite phone and it was a godsend. That said, our experience with it also exposed some of its serious limitations in making clear contact. It got the job done but it certainly wasn't as simple as we expected. Wading out into the river to pick up some clear sky was essential, and even then communication was spotty and dropped several times prior to getting our full message out. Sorry, I don't have specifics on their satellite phone make and model.

So...

I have a lead on a used Delorme Inreach SE for a good price. I only hesitate on the purchase while obtaining some understanding of the long-term costs of ownership and use. I get how you can activate service a month at a time (yes, it's a slightly higher price per month than a full year contract, but it still makes the most sense to us), however, I understand there is an additional annual fee for ownership... required so that you are registered and therefore have the option of "turning on or off" the service. Can anyone shed light on this?
 
Marten
distinguished member (421)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 04:53PM  
For value and ease Garmin In reach gets my vote. Two way texting and great weather reports.
Globalstars Spot X now competes but has no weather. I worry about Globalsars poor financial situation.
I have used Globalstar satellite phone for 12 years but plan went from $360 us per year to $1100 last year. I dropped the plan but just signed on again for $415 for 13 months. My low offer came from someone in the main office. I think they are really hurting for cash.
I also found out that since it is an emergency service the card company sends them the info for your new cards after the original has expired.
 
TipsyPaddler
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 05:17PM  
Another Garmin InReach user/fan. Used it last June when my teenage son had a myoclonic seizure on Gaskin Lake, his first but not last unfortunately, and it worked well. Also use for weather forecasts and email “checkins” every evening.

The ability to pay month to month requires a “Freedom Plan” subscription which is $25/year.

It has similar line of sight requirements to a satelite as a satphone. But I found it worked fine through the light tree cover at a typical BWCA camp site...slight delay occasionally but not terrible.
 
gravelroad
distinguished member (388)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 08:44PM  
inReach.

Next question? ;-)

(Very satisfied user for nearly three years.)
 
Ohiopikeman
distinguished member (121)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
02/26/2019 09:11PM  
I will jump on the bandwagon for being a Garmin InReach believer. I purchased one of these last year and used it on a two week trip up in Alaska and it worked flawlessly.

When you pair it with a smart phone, you can send text messages quickly and easily. The messages don't go through immediately like when you are at home, but we never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a message to be transmitted.

Our group of 4 guys probably sent/received 25 ~ 50 texts every day and we were 225 miles out from Anchorage where there is absolutely nothing (other than lots if great pike fishing).

We didn't have any emergencies, but the InReach was perfect for coordinating a pick-up time and location with our pilot as well as keeping in touch with the families back in Ohio.

I rented a satellite phone as well for this trip as a back-up safety feature. We turned it on once in Anchorage before the trip to make sure it would work, and we never opened the box again; working with the InReach was plenty good for our needs.

Dave
 
billconner
distinguished member(7691)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
02/27/2019 07:53AM  
I liked the story of the folks with a drone and cell phone, and it indeed got the message through iirc. Then the rangers fined the drone users.

I feel beyond the point in life where any emergency would justify this need for me. Someone dies, my presence won't make a difference. My wife and I address the issues before each trip.

I do understand that with minor children in particular and perhaps older parents that the need is real.
 
02/27/2019 08:40AM  
Are the Q/BWCA background maps on the Garmin InReach good?
 
Bearskin Lodge
senior member (60)senior membersenior member
 
02/27/2019 01:59PM  
Maybe this has been covered, but...

I like sat phones and think if you are having an emergency, they are the best choice (money being no object and if you are not interested in the secondary features offered by the trackers such as tracking and mapping). I think the Inreach is really close to as good.

However, for the OP's situation, I think the inreach would be better than a sat phone. The inreach can be left on and receive messages all day, where as the satphone is really best for outgoing calls. With our Imarsat phone, it just rides around in our barrel turned off the entire trip, and with no satellite connection no one could get a hold of us.

So in summary, sat phones: good at outgoing calls, inconvenient for incoming (unless this is just the case with the Imarsat system and not all sat phones).

Quinn
 
SourisMan
distinguished member(587)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/01/2019 02:15PM  
I'm yet another satisfied Inreach user. I have the mini, and buy a month's worth of service when needed. I tend to text using my cellphone connected to the mini via bluetooth since texting directly on the mini is kind of clunky. That very first checkin with someone back home is very reassuring, particularly on a solo trip.
 
TipsyPaddler
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/01/2019 02:48PM  
AmarilloJim: "Are the Q/BWCA background maps on the Garmin InReach good?"

I would rate them “OK” in the BWCA. I have not used in Quetico.

I recommend plotting your route or at least waypoints for portages and targeted campsites on a laptop before hand on the Garmin web site and then synching with your Inreach before departure.

I also have the Inreach linked to my IPhone for easier texting as others have described. I have the Gaia app on my phone as well and the Gaia maps have better portage and campsite information. Flipping back and forth between Gaia and Garmin apps on an IPhone is easy.

If I was buying an InReach today I would probably get the Mini as I take my IPhone for photos, Gaia maps and rainy day/evening reading of ebooks anyway.
 
03/02/2019 10:21AM  
I really like my InReach I have the older Delorme explorer. To answer the question about maps/GPS option is not very good on the delorme. I use it as a communication—I send updates to family on where I am at so they don’t worry...we have our 8 and 12 year olds with us in the Q. I hope I never need the rescue option.

I really only got it because it was so cheap—the Delorme version was discontinued and Cabelas had it on sale for less than $200. With my Cablelas bucks and other discounts it was pretty cheap.

The best part is I can get weather reports that are updated every 4 hours I think. Came in really handy when I was traveling Pickerel last year.

T
 
scotttimm
distinguished member (423)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
03/02/2019 09:14PM  
Learningtofly: "What are some options where someone could reach me when I'm in the back country? In August, I was in the BWCA and there was a medical emergency with my son back home and, of course, my wife was unable to reach me. I would like to give her some comfort that if she needs to get a hold me, she can."

Last summer, my cousin-in-law's mother was struggling with cancer, and she wanted to be able to communicate. She THOROUGHLY researched ways to rent a sat phone - this was the cheapest, arrived at her house so she could check it before, and was sent back in the mail as we exited the BWCA. The cheapest version is $8/day. Goes up from there. She actually had to use it a few times to talk with her mom, sent and received texts easily. They just had a pre-arranged time to talk every day. She was very happy with it.
Roadpost
 
BernardBeil
 
09/30/2020 04:12AM  
I googled information about satellite phones and came across your discussion. I need a satellite phone to keep in touch with my family when I travel to Canada. Which one would you recommend to buy? Where is the best place to order?
 
schweady
distinguished member(7258)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
09/30/2020 03:52PM  
BernardBeil: "I googled information about satellite phones and came across your discussion. I need a satellite phone to keep in touch with my family when I travel to Canada. Which one would you recommend to buy? Where is the best place to order?"
By the time we're all allowed to travel to Canada again, there will be a number of new models and a whole generation of new technologies. Patience.
 
andym
distinguished member(4987)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
10/01/2020 11:11AM  
I think if you want to talk at a prearranged time or check messages once or a few times a day then a Sat phone is great. But if you want to keep it on all the time then you need to be able to recharge it. I had one bad experience where the battery drained very early in the trip and I have no idea how (phone was off and in a hard case). That trip was the only time someone needed to reach us and they dealt with the situation without us when we didn't respond.

The Ingear takes a lot less battery to keep on and receive text messages and so is better for getting notified in an emergency.

Belt and suspenders: Ingear to get notified and set up a SAT call. Whether that is worth it depends on the people and situation.
 
mgraber
distinguished member(1182)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/01/2020 06:23PM  
We use an InReach Mini and it has served well the last couple of trips. You have to give it some time to send and receive messages if signal is weak, but it eventually gets it done if you leave it on and out and have a little patience. Weighs almost nothing, and is tiny. Syncing with your phone makes texting easy and fast.
 
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