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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 cell phone?
Here's the pivotal question: Will cell phone coverage be reliable where you're going? Will it be spot on at the instant you might need it?
Enter satellite messengers, which are way more than just portable hand held devices for sending an SOS for rescue from nasty circumstances.
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 include:
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 loved ones back home.
Another example: Being part of a group trip through remote areas where bear encounters, fierce weather, and challenging terrain up the risk factors of the trip. If helicopter rescue is the only way out, you need a device that can communicate with the proper authorities.
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.
I read reviews all the time, and based on what I've read, I can recommend this device: DeLorme InReach SE Two-Way Satellite Communicator.
Update: Garmin acquired DeLorme in 2016; here's the comparable device:
Benefits to using this satellite messenger device:
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.
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