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Does anyone carry a Satellite communicator?

Old 11-29-22, 12:17 AM
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Does anyone carry a Satellite communicator?

Does anyone carry a satellite communicator for emergency response in remote areas with no cell service. What is your experience. I am thinking about buying the Garmin in-reach mini 2
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Old 11-29-22, 01:18 AM
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I use an older InReach when I am touring solo in remote (no cell) areas to make my wife happy. Luckily, I have not had to use it for an emergency. PROS: I like how others can get (mostly) real-time location on me and the tracking is very accurate (probably within 3 meters), you can send messages back and forth (about 10 minute round trip though), and the battery life is very good. The CONS are it is one more thing to deal with and as mentioned, messages can take 10+ minutes to do round trip, i.e., I send and it is 10+ minutes before I get their response even if they immediately replied.
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Old 11-29-22, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by John N View Post
I use an older InReach when I am touring solo in remote (no cell) areas to make my wife happy. Luckily, I have not had to use it for an emergency. PROS: I like how others can get (mostly) real-time location on me and the tracking is very accurate (probably within 3 meters), you can send messages back and forth (about 10 minute round trip though), and the battery life is very good. The CONS are it is one more thing to deal with and as mentioned, messages can take 10+ minutes to do round trip, i.e., I send and it is 10+ minutes before I get their response even if they immediately replied.
I have not yet made the plunge, but when/if I do it will be to keep my wife happy more than anything else. So far I have come close to buying a few times, but not done so. I hesitate because I tend to balk at devices with ongoing subscription fees. You can get some of the functionality with a cell phone, but definitely not all.

So far I have been doing without. I do have a Garmin watch (Instinct 2) that if I press and hold a button will send an alert message saying I am having difficulty and giving my location (it relies on the cell phone for that). I love my Instinct 2 for tracking workout data and so on around home. I have not toured with it.

When/if I do another really remote or really long trip (either a long bike tour or remote backpacking, canoe, or some other remote trip) I will probably spring for one of these little devices like the inreach mini. Now that I am in my 70s it seems to be getting harder to set my wife's mind at ease so a bit of peace of mind is more and more starting to look worth the cost of the purchase and subscription fees.

Oh, forgot to mention... If really only for emergency situations, there are personal locator beacons with no fees for usage. You can carry it forever and not be charged. You will likely be hit with SAR fees if you need to be rescued, but that would be true regardless of the device you use.
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Old 11-29-22, 06:24 AM
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I'm like John, I carry an InReach 2, never used it. Just for when I am outside of cell service.
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Old 11-29-22, 06:41 AM
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I guess I do now. I upgraded to iphone 14 pro a few months ago and apparently it has Satelite communication emergency feature (not sure if it is already enabled but I think they mentioned it would be within a few months when I purchased it)
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Old 11-29-22, 07:00 AM
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Im a amateur radio operator, and I carry a 2meter/440 handheld radio wirh me. I'm never without coverage in my AO. The repeaters in this area are great and basically have total coverage. That and a cell phone.
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Old 11-29-22, 07:53 AM
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A few other threads you may want to look at.
Location tracking
Satellite Messengers
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Old 11-29-22, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I hesitate because I tend to balk at devices with ongoing subscription fees.
That is why I don't use it much. I like the middle tier plan because the custom messaging is much cheaper. Plus if you cancel the subscription you have to pay a "reactivate" fee which is what really galls me. I would have used it a lot more if I could have just activated it for a month or two while on tour even if I have cell coverage because of the tracking feature. But I have not due to the reactivate fee. InReach or whomever owns the subscription has made less money than they have gained from subscriptions because of this policy.
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Old 11-29-22, 09:19 AM
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I do not.
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Old 11-29-22, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by John N View Post
[..] if you cancel the subscription you have to pay a "reactivate" fee which is what really galls me. [...]
Perhaps plans have changed since you last subscribed. Current offer is for either annual vs freedom plans with 3 usage tiers. In the freedom family you can stop/start on a monthly basis (20$ CAD/month) without de/reactivation fee. Note that pausing a freedom plan is different from deactivation.
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Old 11-29-22, 09:35 AM
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I carry a SPOT 3 when I know I'll be in places without a cell signal. I pay a once a year fee. I bought it more for safety when backcountry skiing, but I've brought it when bikepacking also. I'll use it to check in at the end of the day. It's nice for my wife to know all is well when I can't call her.
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Old 11-29-22, 06:56 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Perhaps plans have changed since you last subscribed. Current offer is for either annual vs freedom plans with 3 usage tiers. In the freedom family you can stop/start on a monthly basis (20$ CAD/month) without de/reactivation fee. Note that pausing a freedom plan is different from deactivation.
Right but then there is an annual "Program" Fee of $35 so unless you plan to use it each year, it is wasted. Plus, they are sticklers for making sure you cancel (not just suspend) or you WILL be charged again for the Annual Program Fee I learned the hard way). Additionally, now they only track at intervals of 10+ minutes for the Safety and Recreation plans when originally the interval was whatever you wanted from 2+ minutes. Again, I like the InReach, I just do not like all the gotcha fees and service derogation that has occurred.
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Old 12-03-22, 11:27 AM
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Today, I came across another satellite communicator from ZOLEO. https://www.zoleo.com/en-us . Does anyone have experience with it and if so what do you think about it? The upfront cost is low but the ongoing "suspension" cost is a bit high.
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Old 12-04-22, 05:22 PM
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I am getting an in reach 2 for the holidays. I have recently gotten back into backpacking as well as bike touring. I will likely take it with me if I am going on a road trip/short tour - however, I haver rarely been out of cell services or away from a way to charge while on a bike tour form more than a day or a a few hours even. I newer Iphone 14 w/sattetlite com will probably be fine for bike touring in america. I do a few backpacking trips a year at about 5 days with no re-supply or charging, and likely days at a time with very little to no cell signal.

I think it is a good tool - but I see the main benefit is for backcountry - no access to cell services, as well as a long battery life with service. Not sure How much I would use this over a phone and battery pack on a bike tour.
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Old 12-04-22, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by kstephens View Post
I am getting an in reach 2 for the holidays. I have recently gotten back into backpacking as well as bike touring. I will likely take it with me if I am going on a road trip/short tour - however, I haver rarely been out of cell services or away from a way to charge while on a bike tour form more than a day or a a few hours even. I newer Iphone 14 w/sattetlite com will probably be fine for bike touring in america. I do a few backpacking trips a year at about 5 days with no re-supply or charging, and likely days at a time with very little to no cell signal.

I think it is a good tool - but I see the main benefit is for backcountry - no access to cell services, as well as a long battery life with service. Not sure How much I would use this over a phone and battery pack on a bike tour.
You will be unhappy and surprised when you discover just how many places in the U.S. do not have cell service. The coverage maps lie big time.
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Old 12-04-22, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
You will be unhappy and surprised when you discover just how many places in the U.S. do not have cell service. The coverage maps lie big time.
I agree - but traveling by bike I could find a way to at least recharge devices every other day - new iphones (14) have satellite communcation capability. Again - I am getting one - obviously see the benefits and will gladly take it on bike tours with me. But, I think it is likely overkill as a stand alone item specifically for bike touring.
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Old 12-04-22, 06:19 PM
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I recently cancelled my service. My intent was to "pause." But after clicking around the inReach site for about 15 minutes my eyes never found that option click button to click.

The inReach mini is a fantastic device. I would keep it paired with my phone for text operations & the app has really decent map with respectable functions built in. Unless something changed with Garmin's assumption of ownership of GEOS, the trick is to send only canned messages. Then the recipient replies via the link in the email they received. As long as everything is kept in the same exchange the exchange is free as many texts as is necessary. Free-form texts cost & messages to you that are not replies to an email you initiated cost. The whole system is designed to discourage frivolous use.

The subscription fee for rescue insurance comes to about a $1&pennies/day/person whether you use the device or not. Garmin recently changed their billing so I felt nickeled & dime'd with the recurring fee every month.

It's the rescue insurance that really sells the device. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of coverage for ~$1&pennies at the push of a button. It's only good for persons on the plan, though. So if you think you can be cheap & only get one device for you & your wife then she gets hurt, she's on the hook for the $75,000 it cost to fly out the helicopter. What I'm getting at is one device will work in an emergency to call for help no matter who is hurt. But your wife, your kid, or anybody in your party must be on the insurance too for it to really offer the safety you are probably expecting.

When I signed up for mine, I had to call a GEOS customer service rep on the telephone to get my wife added. It may be different now.

I have no doubt I'll start anew next spring if/when I decide to go anywhere with out cell coverage.
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Old 12-04-22, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by kstephens View Post
new iphones (14) have satellite communcation capability
This service is for emergencies (i.e. not for checking in)
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Old 12-05-22, 08:16 AM
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yeah. I check in with normal iphone functions and I do not require checking in daily if I am out of range. I will definitely not be purchasing any service that taps my account every month. (haha besides my cell phone bill)
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Old 12-15-22, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by John N View Post
Today, I came across another satellite communicator from ZOLEO. https://www.zoleo.com/en-us . Does anyone have experience with it and if so what do you think about it? The upfront cost is low but the ongoing "suspension" cost is a bit high.
Hi John,
A friend of mine uses a Zoleo at her high-mountain remote cabin here in Colorado. It's very slow (only communicating every few minutes) but works well (**when outside, the cabin limits the signal) to get texts in and out. It's proven to be a pretty reliable option for her. My kids are wearing me out to get the new Iphone mentioned in this thread but I haven't taken the plunge yet.
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Old 12-16-22, 10:36 AM
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I got the old style DeLorme InReach years ago for backpacking and I've used it on a few bike trips as well. I just got the new smaller one with bluetooth but haven't used it yet.

These things are great. It's nice to be able to check in to home when I'm off far in the backcountry, and it can simplify logistics as well if someone's meeting you while you're out there. Communication is slow, so don't expect to use them to chat. Also in steep valleys or dense foliage sometimes it's hard to get a message to go through. But overall I think they're a great bit of extra security.
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