Communications in the backcountry

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Hey team - just wondering which electronic devices you use to communicate messages in the backcountry. Over the weekend I was with a group of 5 who were 12 hours overdue from our tramp due to some pretty intense south island rainfall. I always have my beacon with me but obviously didn't need to set it off as we were toasty in the hut while we waited for the rivers to drop. Our respective loved ones at home are very used to us going bush and weren't overly concerned with us being 12 hours overdue so didn't panic. It did however get me thinking that going forward it may be worthwhile investing in a device to allow me to send a message letting the family know that we are okay. So far I have been looking at the SPOT tracker system and the Garmin InReach. Does anybody have any experience with either device (or any other) that they would recommend? It is worth noting that I am not intending this to be a replacement for my PLB (which goes with me everywhere) but rather as a secondary communication device. Any thoughts appreciated
We sometimes borrow a sat phone if the guy isn't coming with us. I usually give an estimated exit date & "start ringing people" contacts for a day or 2 later. If I'm too dead to hit the PLB, I won't mind waiting another couple of days. Plus, I'm usually checking the forecasts days before departure to get a handle on the trend.
I went through the process a while back and decided the Spot was a bit of a half baked device, but for what it was at the time it filled the role adequately. The In Reach is considerably better and depending on your subscription you can stay well connected to the outside world.(which is slightly self defeating) In the end I couldn't justify the initial outlay or the ongoing sub. You can rent them though, which is cost effective for larger groups methinks. I think Madpom has one and would be the best placed to comment. Maybe send him a p.m.
Thumbs up
Thanks guys - I’m thinking the InReach looks the more useful of the two at this stage
I've met a guy in the bush had an Inreach and who swore by it for communication with his family. I reckon they look great. Initial cost of the unit I think is bearable, however you may need to look into subscription costs per annum - this may be a bit pricey, plus texts have a cost of something like $1 each. The subscription cost for the SPOT is $199US per annum - so the inreach may be the same. The inreach device looks like the shizzle to me though.
I"ve got a SPOT patchy satellite connectivity, doesnt work under a decent tree canopy at all, may not work in deep valleys hasnt had the same satellite coverage that inreach traditionally has although its supposed to have improved in recent years... from what i've read inreach has better connectivity than SPOT. i dont rely on it as a PLB and have a seperate PLB. a PLB transmits at up to ten times the power of the two way satellite comms devices and have better aerials.
Last time I was at Totora Flats someone there had an inreach. He had it connected to his cellphone via bluetooth and was sending texts all over the place. I can see the appeal although it does defeat the purpose of going bush
you can get monthly subscriptions for the inreach, so you dont have to pay for it if you're going to be out of the bush for over a month at a time theres a range of diferent subscription plans.... the higher plans give you more texts and are cheaper per text but the higher plans work out more expensive than the spot, but you have to subscribe for a whole year with the spot and they keep auto taking money off you without asking or warning they are about to... someone posted on another forum that something went wrong with their subscription on a spot and they werent contacted about it and didnt know their sub had lapsed, they needed to use the device for an emergency and it didnt work....
Extensive review here:
And some personal NZ experience here:
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Forum Gear talk
Started by Cabbage
On 18 April 2018
Replies 12
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