by Diane Spicer
Satellite messengers for hikers at first glance seem like a no brainer.
Who wouldn't want to carry a communication device that can help you out of a jam?
Oh wait, isn't that your smart little cell phone?
Here's the short list of pivotal question to ask yourself if you trust in your phone:
Enter satellite messengers, which are way more than just portable hand held devices for sending an SOS for rescue from nasty circumstances.
Skip the cellular connection game (will I or won't I have a signal?) and tap into the power of satellite networks.
Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SEND) are much different from a panic button device like a Personal Locator Beacon.
The benefits of emergency satellite messenger devices for hikers can include:
These devices are not cheap.
You have to pay to play. In other words, add a subscription fee, and sometimes annual plan charges and activation fees, to your hiking budget.
If you're a frequent hiker, a yearly fee makes sense. If you're not, look for a monthly fee or reasonable data plan.
An unobstructed view of the sky is necessary before trying to send or receive a message.
Time lags between "send" and "receive" may occur as the satellites acquire signal, cutting down the effectiveness of the messages when time is of the essence.
Messages may not send, depending on your ability to access the satellites and the strength of the signal.
You're going to have to do
some careful research before purchasing one of these gizmos, because not
every one of them does every thing listed above.
Decide what's most important to you, and then buy the device that excels in those things:
Or all three.
...you are doing a hike or backpacking trip that folks back home are not completely on board with.
One example: a solo female hiker who is navigating unfamiliar trails or going into the backcountry, with anxious nail biters back home.
Being part of a group trip through remote areas where bear encounters, fierce weather, and challenging terrain up the risk factors of the trip.
Personal note: When I consider signing up for a hiking trip being guided through remote areas, I always ask about the type of satellite messenger (or satellite phone, an expensive option that I don't recommend to individual hikers) they will be providing.
You should, too!
|SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger | REI Co-op||
Here's a lightweight, easy to use device which can be motion activated or set on continuous usage as you hike.
See the prominent SOS button?
If that's your primary interest, check out this one.
Benefits to using this satellite messenger device:
Do your own background research, read reviews, and know what you're signing up for when you decide to purchase a SPOT.
Worried about size and weight?
This tiny Garmin two-way communication device weighs 3.5 ounces, yet gives you tracking and SOS capabilities, plus access to weather forecasts.
Want to use your cell phone as an interface between you and the Iridium network of 60+ orbiting satellites?
You can, with no annual contract or cancellation penalties.
Read what a Bivy Stick offers you as a hiker.
Do you want to be able to send and receive messages while hiking?
Do you want to make yourself "trackable"?
Are you going into areas where an SOS rescue is more than a faint possibility?
How much is the "luxury" of communication worth to you?
These are questions only you can answer!
If all you want is a panic button for an emergency rescue, consider carrying a personal locator beacon.
But if you want communication, tracking, AND rescue messaging, satellite messengers are here for you.
Read this thorough review for more information.
Stay safe, hike smart, enjoy your backcountry adventures, and use technology wisely!
And may the satellites always align quickly for you.
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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