There are few gadgets in the world that I would say are absolutely necessary in the backcountry. Part of the point of heading out into the wilderness is to escape the pull of the modern world, right? We can all agree that it’s fantastically calming to be free of the constant communication inherent in tablets and smartphones, at least for a little while. But no matter how far you get away from it all the one thing you want to keep with you is a lifeline. Enter the Delorme inReach satellite communications devices.
We’ve adopted two inReach devices as our own and for the past 6 months they’ve become one of those “don’t leave home without it” items. Why?
- Over 90& of the world lacks traditional mobile communications coverage. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. What would you do if you found yourself in a vast “dead zone” in urgent need of help? Or what about a large-scale emergency at home? The first thing to crash will be mobile phone coverage; it takes very little to overwhelm or incapacitate our mobile communications systems. We don’t want to admit it, but our hold on the communication that runs our modern world is fragile. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another – systems go down even in non-emergency events. Here in Seattle we couldn’t text or make phone calls for the better part of 30 minutes after the 2013 Super Bowl because the cell networks were simply overloaded with tweets, postings, texts and calls. What will you do in an emergency if your phone reads,”No Service”?
The solution is in space. The Iridium satellite network that serves the Delorme devices covers over 99% of the globe with nearly no downtime. That means literal 24/7/365 accessibility. I won’t go into the full list of features for the inReach Explorer and inReach SE (go here for that), suffice to say that they work. In both out-of-range backcountry areas as well as in the city, we’ve been able to send and receive SMS messages (including GPS coordinates), post to email and social media, and track routes and send live updates to friends and family. Both devices are also equipped with a rapid SOS beacon to request help and communicate back and forth with a manned search and rescue monitoring center.
Consider it part of your emergency preparedness as well as a useful adventure tool. You never know when you’ll need it, but you’ll regret it if the time comes and you don’t have it.