I just picked up a Garmin InReach Mini ($350). It’s basically an emergency satellite text messenger. I got it because I’m often out hiking, camping, and fishing alone and in very remote areas with no cell signal, and I want to be able to 1) tell my wife I’m fine, and 2) contact emergency services if I or someone I come across needs a rescue. It does 2-way messaging. It can also track you and show your location to others if you want to do that. Here are the plans (you need to scroll down a bit). I’m at the cheapest ($11.95/month) level.
What really struck me is just how freaking small this thing is. It’ll easily fit in one of the chest pockets of a fishing shirt. It weighs 3.6 oz (102 g)—about the weight of two Snickers bars.
This isn’t the only one of these devices out there. Here’s a review and comparison of several others (Spot, Somewear, etc.). There might be another one out their that suits your needs better.
Glad you got one! We want you back alive. We cannot watch the best fishing videos if you are lost in the forest.
Let us know how it works. Makes me realize that I should probably get one as well.
Might be a good idea.
There was a news story a couple of days ago about a man on a 7 day solo kayaking trip who was rescued after 12 days in the Florida Everglades.
He had been floating in the water for two days. Still kind of a mystery how and why he became separated from his gear and his kayak. Some other paddlers found his bag on the shore, his cellphone gps data narrowed the search area. Don’t lose your Garmin satellite text messenger.
Very lucky he did not perish from hypothermia. Which could also have claimed his life as he was pulled from the water. Sometimes warming someone up in an incorrect manner or moving them around to much when they are in that state can cause cold blood in their extremities to flood into the core of their body farther dropping their core temperature past the tipping point.
The inReach is great. I still have the larger older version which is a Delorme branded from before Garmin acquired inReach. I always carry it when out of cel range.
I applaud you for being prepared and willing help others! The Garmin In-Reach is an excellent product.
I’m in my mid 60s, fish remote water a lot, and often alone. I use a mobile Ham radio in my SUV equipped with the global Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS). The system is widely used for SAR and state-county-local emergency operations.
The radio broadcasts its (my) amateur callsign, GPS coordinates, speed, and a short status message every 5 minutes. It can also be used to send internet email via the Internet APRS backbone of “iGate” gateway stations, which reports the (last) GPS coordinates transmitted by all APRS-equipped radios worldwide with their amateur callsigns on a website.
So I turn it on while travelling to/from my destination. When I get to my destination I send an email to my wife’s cellphone text mail address that contains “Hi I am heading upstream or downstream, I Love You…” She gets the text with a link to the APRS map personalized with my callsign and the GPS coordinates imbedded to pinpoint and show my location on the map with a little “Jeep” vehicle icon. The url for the map personalized with my callsign does not change and she has it saved as a Favorite-Bookmark in her internet browsers so she doesn’t have to wait for a text to see where I am.
If I had a mobile radio with “Cross-Band Repeat”, I could use my handheld to transmit my APRS position on a different frequency and the more powerful mobile would relay (repeat) into the global network via a gateway station while I am fishing. My next mobile radio will have that feature.
When I get back to the car I send another text message with “Lots of fish…” ETA @ home… “Love You”, then leave the radio transmitting my location every 5 minutes as I make my way home.
Not as nice as a Garmin In-Reach (there are some deadspots in one mountain drainage I occasionally fish) and while the handhelds are small they are not as compact as the In-Reach. But I’m a licensed “Ham” radio operator anyway and use my radios for pleasure as well as national-state-local emergency operations. The APRS came with my radios, there are no monthly fees, and no limits on the number of status-location transmissions or messages that I can send.
I looked into those, but I went with the ACR ResQLink PLB. It was there only for emergencies and it was inexpensive. No monthly subscription fee. It too is very small and it has a worldwide bulletproof track record. I never had to use it, but was glad I had it on me. It can be operated with one hand and with frozen fingers.
Here’s a somewhat dated, but still relevant overview:
I have the original in reach, fantastic tool for the back country. It also allowed my wife to feel comfortable letting my son go on backpacking trips at an early age with me.
@Brian_Miller, I had no idea that kind of thing was possible. Thanks for sharing! Very interesting.
@tvdavisid PLBS are great too. Light, foolproof, and nothing to charge
All are interesting gadgets that in the right-wrong situation would be good to have, During the summers I often hike remote trails alone.
However, I couldn’t use one in a place I frequently hike during the summer months – the property belonging to the Green Bank Radio Astronomy Observatory. The property is quite large - 6 ~ 8 mile hikes or longer in the wooded areas are possible to do, but no electronic gadgets are permitted near the radio telescopes.
In recent years people carrying digital cameras or wearing Fitbits or similar devices have caused them a good bit of trouble causing interference in the received deep space signals. Not everyone observes their rules. The observatory also keeps cell phone towers out of the area over about a 20 mile radius, with a 5 mile radius having tighter restrictions, example no wifi. Should I collapse I better do it on a trail section that at least is walked by others every few days. But maybe I ought to consider getting one of these satellite communication devices for hikes or fishing isolated streams in surrounding areas.
Off topic, but maybe some will find it interesting :
On thing that got me to thinking about the restrictions near the GBRAO was an article published today on CNET about FRB, fast radio burst, signals from deep space.
Some contribution to FRB research from the GBRAO
The GBT is the largest radio telescope dish on the site. Two football fields can fit in the dish. I am still impressed when ever I happen to be walking near it when it is moved to point to a different area of the sky. It is very quiet for such a large machine. Last summer I stopped and watched it for more than 30 minutes as it cycled back and forth between two positions. Maybe it was doing some kind of sky survey or maybe it was a periodic calibration of it’s aiming. I’ve also had my two closest face to face encounters with black bears near this telescope.
More motivation to seriously getting a similar device if you travel solo into remote areas.
I’m sure Aron Ralston would have appreciated having one 17 years ago in Utah when his arm was pinned by a large stone that shifted and pinned his arm. Trapping him alone for 127 hours until he cut off his own arm. A better alternate option than a Victorinox Swiss Army knife.
After serving 14 years as a Mountain Rescue volunteer, I shudder at the thought of “trail runners”.
In 2014 I was on an 3-day trip to a group of alpine lakes 8 miles from the trailhead in a high alpine valley near the crest; one of the most grueling hikes in the Central Cascade Mountains. Early on our second day a Mountain Rescue team came by heading up to search for 1 of 2 world-class European climbers who had decided to run the the same 53 mile trail section between two mountain passes from opposite directions, meet in the middle to swap car keys and finishing out in one day. The previous day we had seen the guy coming our way from the opposite pass with a little running vest pack; no overnight gear. His partner didn’t make the rendezvous and the guy coming our way had called for help. And cell coverage ended 15 miles before reaching the trailhead. We saw search helicopters flying through the valley all that day. We met the Rescue Team on their way out late in the day. The subject had been found, weak, near hypothermic, dehydrated, and was flown out. SAR teams have to hike out and wouldn’t make it to the trailhead until after dark. That sucks.
Last year on the last leg of a 40 mile loop trip; about 11 miles - 6 hours out from the car. We had just made a pretty gnarly crossing over a raging 60 ft wide creek of unknown depth at a glacier’s terminus. Nearly half of the single log “bridge” with no handrail was under 6" of water and here comes a group of runners; at least it was a group, coming the other way, and they were about 5 miles from their destination. I didn’t get a real close look but their “packs” didn’t look big enough for more than a windbreaker. Any problems and they would have had to rely on passersby for help.
I’m sorry, but “minimalist” gives me the willys.
While a big proponent of “There’s safety in speed”, it can definitely go to far. I just have to wonder just how prepared skill-wise that euro climber was. Did he know how to overnight with only the minimal gear he was carrying with him for instance?
As for Aron Ralston - it’s possible he’d have been able to reach help. But if memory serves, he was in a slot canyon. Satellite reception even? Lot’s of wild places where you don’t get GPS, much less sat-phone connectivity.
I was in “The Mountaineers” and Mountain Rescue before I began hearing the “10 Essentials” often being referred to as the “10 Impediments” but now the sport has been pushed to what were unthinkable limits back then.
To be honest I was a mediocre climber. To me the “safety in speed” meant fast approaches to reach snow and ice routes early before the sun hit them (focused missing a lot of the beauty on the way up), and developing a rhythm based on fitness, practice, experience, and focus to minimize time spent on technical terrain. It didn’t mean moving 5 mph for 6-12 hrs and getting lulled into a disregard over non-technical trails for patches of ice, slippery exposed tree roots, and poor route-finding.
I have a profound appreciation for the sacrifice and risks undertaken by volunteer Explorer SAR, Mountain Rescue, professional first responders, and airmen to aid hikers, hunters, and climbers that need help in the backcountry. We all have times where we are less prepared than what we should be for what we will encounter, and luck doesn’t make up the difference.
I also have the pre-Garmin InReach. I hike to very remote sections of the Beartooth wilderness all summer long. I only activate (monthly fee) during the summer months since the snow and ice prevent my hiking and fishing the rest of the year. I send pre-programmed texts every morning and night to let the wife know I’m ok or if I’m going to be later than expected. Great peace of mind…and she can send me a text if there is a reason for me to get home.