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Old 06-26-2019, 12:14 AM   #1
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Emergency Communication?

Was wondering what everyone is using for emergency comms? Often we find ourselves in an area with poor or no cell reception.

I've been looking into the Garmin inReach Explorer as I like the Navigation capabilities that can be paired to a larger screen device. I've heard hit and miss things on the two way communication. I plan to pair it with a PBL as a backup.

Another option is a sat phone with GPS capabilities, in theory I can call a programmed number and give them my GPS coordinates and wait for rescue. There is something re-assuring about speaking to someone live, but that comfort comes with the highest financial cost out of the other device options. However if comes down to situation where I need to use this stuff cost is going to be the least of my worries.

Our area of travel will primarily be North America and Baja.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-26-2019, 12:48 AM   #2
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I have the InReach Explorer and really like it. So many capabilities. Itís fun and informative to be able to track every ten minutes and have it go to your account to follow later. The texting ability is a little funky but definitely works when you want to relay important information to your home base.

My main concern was being able to be rescued or, at least, found if something big goes wrong when Iím traveling alone. The tracking is spot on, so anyone should be able to find you based just on that. But, since I go into the backcountry alone, I pay the $100+ annual fee for international rescue. It gives me a lot of peace of mind.

Iíve taken to suspending the service during the winter, when I tend not to go too far afield. I like the ability to start/stop the satellite service whenever I need.

Most recently, I hung it from the rear view mirror on our Steens Mountain Trip. The coolest thing about it is how it provides you with real-time location onto whatever map youíre using. I had both ďScenic MapĒ and Garminís Earthmate Maps going simultaneously and the Garmin provided tracks on both maps. It was great figuring out where the heck we were when Apple Maps and Google couldnít get a signal. Hereís my thread on that trip:

http://http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/forums/f17/road-trip-steens-mountain-and-malheur-nwr-24083.html

I took the unit on our cruise up the inside passage. Hereís my thread on that:

http://http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/forums/f22/inreach-explorer-alaska-glaciers-19646.html
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Old 06-26-2019, 07:34 AM   #3
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I have several options. When I'm fishing or hunting for the day I will usually carry my Personal Locator Beacon. It's a ResQLink and requires no paid service. It's only for rescue, and is registered with NOAA.gov. It has no communication function.

I just got a SPOT for trips where I'm out for several days and want to communicate, albeit by text, to let the Mrs. know where I am and that I'm OK. I'm cheap so I use the interruptible service. I can turn it on month by month when I'm using it, like during hunting season, and off when I'm not. We get a limited number of free texts, unlimited pre-programmed texts (I'm OK, In camp for the night, etc) and free tracking. It also has a SOS function, but it's not tied to NOAA if I remember right.

Either of these are carried where they are immediately accessible, on the belt or shoulder strap of my pack in a dedicated pouch.

For mobile comm, I am contemplating putting a HAM mobile in the van, and maybe GMRS for short range, person to person comm using handy-talkies.
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Old 06-26-2019, 10:07 AM   #4
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I know they're expensive but I carry a Sat phone. I don't have anybody to text to and being able to talk to somebody is a great value IMO. In Death Valley I was fleeing a heavy storm when my off road trailer broke a leaf pack. Because I was able to call a local trailer shop, they were able to sell me a new set of springs and it gave me enough time to make repairs to beat the storm. Sat phones can have issues with reception in deep canyons but generally you just need to wait for a satellite to come into view. I've called for a couple of tows in the past where cell phones didn't work.
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Old 06-26-2019, 01:29 PM   #5
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This is all great feedback everyone! Really appreciate it. I was thinking about the check in feature would be good to let my spouse know my status but 99% of the time shes is travelling with me so I'm not really sure how often I would use this.

daveb I am in a similar situation. anyone that I want to send updates to are going to be on the other side of the country and could only assist by relaying the request for help to the local SAR Team or whatever service I required (tow/vehicle recovery). I think there is significant value in being able to talk to someone live.
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Old 06-26-2019, 02:43 PM   #6
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I'm equipped with Ham (2M and 440), a PLB, GMRS, FRS, and CB. The PLB is the real back up, as all the others are very limited in range. Hopefully, I have enough spares and tools to repair the most likely failures, but should a major accident or malfunction occur in a remote place, the PLB should provide rescue services. I like that there is no subscription required and it works pretty much world wide. I've also considered installing an HF ham radio (round the world communication) but haven't gotten around to it yet.
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Old 06-26-2019, 09:06 PM   #7
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X2 on the inReach. It allows family and friends to follow your route on the Garmin website. The email function came in very handy in Mexico last year. Was able to keep all of our traveling companions friends and family updated on our location and status every day. They could also reply so we knew what was going on at home.

I also suspend my service when I am not traveling.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:46 AM   #8
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Satellite phone here. Most times it is NOT a life threatening emergency so I don't want a full-blown rescue effort launched. I just want to talk to someone to bring spare parts or otherwise help me out of a situation. My sat phone is programmed with a huge number of contacts I can use in case I need assistance. And I don't have family that would have any interest in following my tracks as sent by an InReach. As DaveB said, service is expensive but to me the peace of mind is well worth it. I am also a HAM but don't pack the gear with me on most of my explorations because I've found most of the places I go to don't have repeaters and I can't talk to anyone anyway.
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Old 06-27-2019, 02:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deserteagle56 View Post
Satellite phone here. Most times it is NOT a life threatening emergency so I don't want a full-blown rescue effort launched. I just want to talk to someone to bring spare parts or otherwise help me out of a situation. My sat phone is programmed with a huge number of contacts I can use in case I need assistance. And I don't have family that would have any interest in following my tracks as sent by an InReach. As DaveB said, service is expensive but to me the peace of mind is well worth it. I am also a HAM but don't pack the gear with me on most of my explorations because I've found most of the places I go to don't have repeaters and I can't talk to anyone anyway.
What sat phone provider did you go with? Any reason for that one over the others?
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Old 06-27-2019, 05:18 PM   #10
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I have a sat phone I buy minutes for before any trip. These minutes usually end up expiring unused. I have an older Inmarsat phone. Texting with the phone is tedious, because you need to "T9" on the numeric keypad. Very 1990s. I picked Inmarsat over the more popular Iridium satellite network because: (1) it's cheaper, and (2) the satellites are stationary so you never lose signal if you stay in place. Iridium satellites move around. (On the other hand, there are those that say they prefer roving satellites because if you're caught in a canyon there's a chance you might eventually get signal from an Iridium satellite passing overhead. With Inmarsat you either have signal or you don't.)

I recently also got a Garmin Inreach, which works well. The Inreach uses the Iridium satellite network. Texting is much nicer than with my sat phone, as you can use your cell phone keypad to type via bluetooth.

I used to use a Spot device, but didn't like that it was only a 1-way communicator.

I still keep my sat phone around, at least for now. I feel it might be easier to describe the help I need by calling around using the sat phone - rather than trying to text a friend to make help calls for me.



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