DeLorme inReach Satellite Communicators
by Everett Potter
For anyone who travels off the grid to places where a cellphone won’t work but a satellite phone seems like costly overkill, Maine-based DeLorme may have the ideal solution. DeLorme’s inReach is a hybrid device and a system that utilizes satellite technology to make sure you’re never out of touch. I met Kim Stiver, Vice President of Marketing at DeLorme, at the recent Adventure Travel World Summit 2014 in Killarney, Ireland and had a chance to ask her about this extraordinary new system.
Kim, what is the inReach system?
inReach is a satellite communicator that allows people to stay safe and connected anywhere in the world with 100% global coverage from the Iridium satellite. From outdoor enthusiasts and global travelers to hunters and off-shore boaters, inReach users can send and receive 160-character text messages to any cell phone or email address, trigger an interactive SOS, and track and share their trip details anywhere in the world. It gives traveler’s friends and family peace of mind knowing they can be contacted anywhere and get help if it is needed.
I have a cell phone, so why would I need an inReach?
Many people misjudge the availability of cell coverage in remote areas. The reality is that 90% of the earth’s surface still lacks consistent, reliable coverage since most cell towers are located where people live, not necessarily where they enjoy outdoor escapes. Smartphones frequently do not work when traveling in remote areas or in extreme weather conditions, such as backcountry skiing. Owning an inReach is much more affordable than renting or using satellite phones and provides many additional navigation tools and features for the global traveler or adventurer.
Why do you consider it groundbreaking?
It’s affordable for the average consumer. inReach is the first consumer-affordable device that combines the power of two-way satellite communication with 24/7 SOS monitoring, location tracking, and navigation features, making it the indispensable tool for anyone who travels in remote or international locations. Locator beacons and PLBs have been around a long time, but they do not provide any messaging or navigation capabilities for self rescue. Satellite phones are prohibitively expensive for most consumers.
Can you give some examples of how it works in real life situations?
There was an average of 5 inReach rescues per week during the peak season of 2014, May through September, for everything from climbing falls to flat tires on a rural highway. In our National Parks alone, there are more than 11 search and rescue operations every day and almost a third of those rescues involved someone going on foot for help, dramatically delaying medical attention for the injured person, which was reported by Outside magazine in October 2014. inReach has revolutionized SOS communication because rescue authorities are able to see the exact location of the emergency, communicate back and forth to determine the nature of the emergency, provide interim instructions and dispatch the appropriate type of assistance.
How about travel to other parts of the globe?
For international travelers, inReach provides connectivity anywhere in the world, as well as the global SOS service should something happen. inReach partners with GEOS to provide the 24/7 monitoring service and additional options, such as medical extraction. The global connectivity is highly affordable and is great for those who enjoy ocean cruises and adventure travel.
How does it differ from handheld GPS units that I’ve used in the past?
inReach is a satellite communicator with GPS capabilities. It provides the ability to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world and even allows posts to social media, which is something that handheld GPS devices do not do. In addition to communication capabilities, the inReach Explorer model, our latest product, provides many of the features of a traditional handheld GPS, including a digital compass, high detail breadcrumb trail, and waypoints.
How many models are there?
Can it be used with my existing mobile devise, like an iPhone or an iPad?
inReach pairs via Bluetooth with smartphones and tablets (Android or iOS). Using DeLorme’s free app, Earthmate, inReach subscribers can use their mobile devices to send and receive text messages, access their phone’s address book, download DeLorme’s famous topographic map data and US NOAA charts, and access most of the other features on their inReach device.
Can you give me a few examples of practical applications of inReach?
For the outdoor enthusiast, inReach provides the ability to communicate with friends and family while the subscriber is out camping, hunting or hiking. They can send a message when they reach a campsite to let friends know they are OK or that they achieved a milestone. Friends can send a message back with questions about where to pick them up, such as at a trailhead. Friends can also follow along on a map and see the inReach user’s track points and exact GPS location. When there are multiple people hiking or hunting together, inReach subscribers can message each other to plan a rendezvous point or request help. If there is an emergency, search and rescue can see the exact location of the inReach device and communicate back and forth to coordinate immediate help. With the inReach Explorer model specifically, a subscriber can plan their trip ahead of time with detailed trail routes, waypoints (i.e. mark a deer stand, truck location, trail head, campsite, etc.), and then sync the route to their inReach to take on the trip. A user can also use the high detail breadcrumb trail to find their way back or store a detailed track log for later use. I have a friend who just returned from an African photo safari and inReach was the only way she could communicate with her kids and grandkids while she and her husband were away for two weeks. Plus her family loved seeing their location online on a map and knowing that they could get emergency help in the event that something went wrong while they were away from the base camp.
For the global leisure traveler, inReach is ideal for those who want to keep in touch with family back home without paying for international roaming charges. It’s also the choice for those visiting places in the world without reliable cell phone coverage, such as an African photo safari, an ocean cruise or snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. inReach offers plans with unlimited texting, and since subscribers can opt for a monthly plan, they can suspend service when they aren’t traveling. They can share their trip online and via social media, allowing friends and family to follow along on an online map, see their location and send them messages. Plus, it provides the peace of mind of knowing that if something happens while overseas they can trigger an SOS and get help. With the addition of GEOS Medivac benefit plan, they could also be taken back to the US in the event that serious medical care is needed.
For the snowmobiler or backcountry skier, smartphones do not work well and often shut down in extremely cold temps. inReach enables winter sports enthusiasts to communicate while recreating in remote locations and get help in the event of an emergency. inReach will not work as an avalanche beacon, but is critical to have on hand to report an avalanche or get help for someone who is either buried in snow or has had a snowmobile or skiing accident.
Okay, you’ve got my attention. So what’s the cost?
There is a hardware cost and a subscription cost to use an inReach. The inReach Explorer is $379 and the inReach SE is $299. There are two kinds of subscriptions starting at $11.95 per month are available. The first is a flexible, no-contract plan that offer month-to-month service. The second is an annual contract plans, which offer slightly reduced monthly rates.
For more information, visit DeLorme inReach
You can find subscription details here:http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/subscription-plans.php