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post #1 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
vlouish
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Advice on GPS-emergency locator unit

Hi all,
Looking for advice on what kind of GPS-emergency satellite unit to purchase. My spouse and I take our Promaster into some fairly remote areas, some of which we could (but haven't yet) get stuck in, and we also hike hours into even more remote areas, usually places with no cell service. We're good with paper maps but are ready to carry a GPS unit of some sort. In addition, as we are both seniors (albeit pretty fit ones) we are more aware of our vulnerabilities than we once were. We'd like to get some sort of GPS unit that also had emergency satellite service, but when I go to look these units up, the reviews are all over the place. I'm wondering if anyone here has experience with these and suggestions. Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 03:47 PM
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Our situation is similar to yours. We have the Garmin Inreach Mini and the Inreach Explorer II. We have two units so that we each have one on our person. If we were separated, we could communicate by satellite. If one of us were to fall off something, the other would have a unit.

The Mini pretty much needs to Bluetooth with the iPhone, but the iPhone already handles GPS and mapping as well or better, so I carry the Mini for its SOS capability. In an emergency without cell signal (or any other time), I could use the phone to SOS and message via satellite.

The Explorer will do everything you want on its own. MrNomer uses the GPS capability, and of course the SOS and messaging capability are there.

After much searching, Garmin was the only one I found with a reasonable plan cost—$15/month per unit for the months we use them, and Iridium network appears to be the most robust.

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post #3 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 04:27 PM
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Hi,
Have been thinking about the same thing.


Costco has a "deal" on one right now:
https://www.costco.com/Garmin-inReac...100419295.html


Price is $230
Apparently there is a $12 or so month fee when its active, but (I think) does not have to be active when between trips.



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post #4 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 04:43 PM
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Ditto. We have an InReach unit, too, for emergency use. There are lots of places in the west without cell coverage, which also tend to be the places we like to go. However, we prefer other GPS units for actual navigation. Besides cellphone apps (Google Maps & MapFactor), we also have a Garmin car unit.

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post #5 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 04:47 PM
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Gary, that is indeed a great price, but that model does not have the capabilities of the Explorer. Compare before you buy.

The lowest plan price for Garmin is $25/year plus $15/month in which it is active. It can be suspended and re-activated at will. IIRC, the SPOT plan is $12/year, but the SPOT device is prone to accidentally triggering SOS, is on a less robust satellite array, and has no communication beyond a few preset outgoing messages.

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post #6 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 07:31 PM
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I have used a Spot Gen3 for years. It has served me well on multiple trips to areas deep in the Sierras and everywhere we can get to on a dirt bike in Baja.
My son in law carries an InReach with text capability. Both have been used for emergencies and have made a big difference in the outcome.
I plan to switch over to the InReach soon.

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post #7 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNomer View Post
Our situation is similar to yours. We have the Garmin Inreach Mini and the Inreach Explorer II. We have two units so that we each have one on our person. [snip]...

After much searching, Garmin was the only one I found with a reasonable plan cost—$15/month per unit for the months we use them, and Iridium network appears to be the most robust.
Is the unit useful without the Iridium (or any other) network? That is, can I use it to view maps, where I'm going, and send out a simple SOS in an emergency?
As far as hiking: We want something that tells us where we are and shows us the terrain, etc, but we don't need to leave breadcrumbs. We've never really gotten lost, it's more a matter of convenience for that.

As far as safety: We don't really feel a need to be able to contact family or friends, even in an emergency, just to send out a call for help and wait. Not really interested in paying a monthly fee unless that's the only kind of thing there is.

The info I've been reading on Garmin's site just doesn't seem to really answer these questions (or else I'm too dense to see it).
Thanks again!
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post #8 of 15 Old 12-27-2018, 08:53 PM
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Go with the InReach. I've been stuck near north rim of Grand Canyon. Got in touch with the wife who sent AAA lol. I was 50 miles from a paved road. We used it on a trip to Alaska and on many cruises. I don't go anywhere without it in my Go Bag. Cheap Insurance at 12 bucks a month
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post #9 of 15 Old 12-28-2018, 07:27 AM
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I’d be more interested in a plan that was one time registration then a high cost when activated in the field. I have always self-rescued (even rewired my GS motorcycle and transfer case repaired on my Zuk) but JIK it would be nice. I’d pay $60+ to use it and about the same to register for such a plan. After that I’d carry it and never need it, I hope.

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post #10 of 15 Old 12-28-2018, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vlouish View Post
Is the unit useful without the Iridium (or any other) network? That is, can I use it to view maps, where I'm going, and send out a simple SOS in an emergency?

The maps, GPS work without satellite. SOS requires satellite because it is communicating with someone. A simple PLB would send a "simple SOS", but we want more than that. We have been involved in a couple of rescue operations for other hikers and talked to rangers. Without two-way communication, the rescuers could waste a lot of valuable time just finding out what your situation is. They can’t arrive prepared for everything. Are you likely to die if they wait out the storm? Can your partner save you by following their instructions? Do you need to be relocated to where a helicopter can land? And your stress could be relieved by knowing for certain that your signal was received and what the status is of the help that's coming.

As far as hiking: We want something that tells us where we are and shows us the terrain, etc, but we don't need to leave breadcrumbs. We've never really gotten lost, it's more a matter of convenience for that. IIRC, the tracking feature on Garmin costs about $20/month more. We don’t need that, either.

Inreach will do this without satellite. I assume this will work without the plan being active, but we haven’t deactivated yet.

As far as safety: We don't really feel a need to be able to contact family or friends, even in an emergency, just to send out a call for help and wait. See above. Not really interested in paying a monthly fee unless that's the only kind of thing there is. Note that with Garmin, you pay the small monthly fee only when you need it. I haven’t found any other device with two-way satellite communication that does this.

The info I've been reading on Garmin's site just doesn't seem to really answer these questions (or else I'm too dense to see it).
Thanks again!


Quote:
Originally Posted by RDinNHandAZ View Post
I’d be more interested in a plan that was one time registration then a high cost when activated in the field. I have always self-rescued (even rewired my GS motorcycle and transfer case repaired on my Zuk) but JIK it would be nice. I’d pay $60+ to use it and about the same to register for such a plan. After that I’d carry it and never need it, I hope.
RD, if you don’t expect to need it, doesn’t it make more sense to pay through the nose only if you need it? The only devices I’ve found with a one-time upfront fee (several hundred rather than your $120) are the PLB's that do nothing more than send a signal. We think of this expense as life insurance in the real sense of the word. Like any other insurance, we hope it is never used.

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2014 White 136" HT 1500 Gas

Last edited by MsNomer; 12-28-2018 at 12:26 PM.
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