emergency contact options?
Do any of you guys use sat phones or texting devices to stay in contact with the outside world when you're out on your trips? My wife always worries that I'm going to get hurt and not have a way to call for help. I've started to research different options, but haven't gotten far yet.
One issue I've seen is that a lot of the devices require yearly contracts, which seems like a waste if I'm only out a couple times a year.
I had a SPOT, but after it did not work for five consecutive days of a recent trip, I called their technical support who were neither technical nor supportive. I need to have reliability for my device so that my wife can know that I am safe while out in the wilderness with our kids.
I got a Delorme InReach SE to replace the spot. They have a hybernate option on their contract so you can pay a nominal amount in the months that you don't use it (there is an off-season?). The coverage is pretty good and I managed to send from a pretty tight valley on my latest trip, something the Spot would never do.
Paul - you can rent sat phones if you only need a safety device occasionally. I haven't seen anyone rent SPOTs or the InReach devices, but that would seem like something that might be worth googling.
I was going to buy a SPOT 3 when they came out, but too many people I know have issues with their SPOTs [ie Coldbike] plus they are only 1 way devices which is not nearly as useful when there is a real emergency.
The InReach uses the Iridium satellite network which is not geosynchronous and works much better up north and in steep valleys since there are always satellites flying overhead to collect your data packet. It also allows 2 way texting so you can actually discuss your situation and dial in the help you need. Not to mention you can chat with your SO/family to let them know things are okay.
In Canada the InReach costs:
- $30 setup fee [one time]
- $15/$25/$50 plan you have to get one for the first month
- afterwards you can put on hold for $4/month
My experience with SPOT is different than some I have seen posted. My bulky old first gen unit is still going strong and has been very reliable. I lose points occasionally when in tracking mode but it's proven itself over many trips. Other than the safety aspect it is also helpful for logistics, like when someone needs to pick you up at the end of the trail or whatever.
I've never had to press the 911 button but I'm confident it would get me out of there if I needed it to.
Lack of two-way communication is the biggest downside but as an emergency unit the price is definitely lower than a sat phone or other device.
thanks guys, that info was helpful. I'm leaning towards the Delorme system with the Iridium Satellite network. Unfortunately I'll likely be able to use it 2-3 times a year (I'd like to think I'll get out more, but I'm trying to be realistic), so a rental program or a hibernate option is attractive.
Does anyone know of a good rental business in the US?
I recently had an issue trying to reach my brother in the Grand Canyon when he had an Iridium phone. I ended up spending a lot of time with their customer service to no avail. They were pretty disorganized and, for example, do not keep a registry of people who own the phones and their respective numbers. My problem was that the information I was given was missing a digit, but they had no idea how I could find out the correct number, even with my brotherís name.
Through all of this I also spoke with some local vendors of satellite phones (trying to figure out where he had purchased it and hoping they retained the phone number info) and two different companies told me that they did not feel the management side of Iridium was very reliable or together. In fact, both said to me (in their own words) that they were mainly about getting satellites into space and less about the user end of things. FWIW.
So, you might consider Inmarsat or one of the other companies that offer satellite phones if that is the route you are going. Of the local places I contacted, Blue Cosmo was the most helpful and they do rent phones: BlueCosmo Satellite Phone Sales, Rentals & Repairs - Iridium, Inmarsat & Globalstar They carry a wide range of brands, including Iridium.
Personally, I plan to get a SPOT tracker. I know there have been some issues, but the cost is much less and the good stories I have heard still give me confidence. My wife and family also worry about me out in the field. I send a text message if I have service, but I canít always rely on that or that my phone will still have charge.
I have been on the road since 2004 and I use a Thuraya satellite phone. I only have my folks to stay in contact with back in Texas, but traveling around Europe this works the best for me. I tried having a normal cell with sim cards from each country but it is just a pain and then normal cells do not pick up the signal like a sat phone.
So far I only had to use it twice for emergencies, once when I busted my leg in Spain to call emergency services and let them know my exact location, then another time when a driver veered off the road and hit me. Instead of the driver just taking off while I was knocked out he went through my stuff (said he was looking for ID) he found my sat phone and called emergency services from there. If he would have not found it then he would of had to drive away about 11 miles for a cell signal.
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