DeLorme inReach gets the word out when you're lost in the woods
By Ben Coxworth
November 24, 2011
Whether they involve hiking, paddling, pedaling or climbing, multi-day backcountry wilderness trips can be very rewarding. For some of us, however, there's always that one worry - what if something happens and no one knows where to find us? A cell phone likely won't do much good, as coverage isn't available across about 90 percent of the planet. A satellite phone would do the trick, but they tend to be quite expensive. That's where DeLorme's new inReach device comes into play ... just think of it as a satellite-enabled panic button.
The inReach utilizes the Iridium worldwide satellite network, and can be used with or without a paired Android smartphone.
On its own, it will send a general SOS message to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, when its SOS button is pressed (there's a lock on the button, to prevent accidental calls for help). It can additionally send preloaded text messages to parties of your choice, that could say things like "I've reached the summit," "You were right about camping with John," or whatever you wish. In the case of either the SOS or the text messages, it will also indicate whether or not the message has been received.
Because it incorporates GPS, it can additionally be used to allow people back in "civilization" to track your location. It does so by regularly transmitting its coordinates, at intervals ranging from every ten minutes to every four hours.
A few more options open up when it's linked by Bluetooth to an Android device.
For one thing, users can conduct two-way text communications with any party of their choice. They can also send SOS alerts that describe the specifics of their situation, so that rescuers will know what to expect, and what to bring. Additionally, North American users can access DeLorme Topo North America maps of Canada and the U.S., which will indicate the user's location within a map of the region.
The device itself is waterproof (it floats) and impact-resistant. Its included pair of AA lithium batteries should provide approximately 60 hours of run time.
It is available via the DeLorme website, for US$249.95. A subscription plan is also required, which will run anywhere from $9.95 to $49.95 a month, depending on the package selected.