DeLorme inReach Satellite Messenger

I’ve just ordered a DeLorme inReach satellite messenger that should come in very handy for the 2014 expedition. It has some nice features that will provide some peace of mind, allowing family and friends to monitor our travels and to stay in touch whilst also providing us with a communication option for those times when we are out of cell-phone range.

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I initially researched the Spot Messenger and Spot Connect devices several months ago but was delaying the purchase until closer to this year’s summer trip. I was preparing to order the Spot Connect this week when, fortunately, I checked the reviews on the REI website. The Spot devices have received some poor reviews that caused me to re-think my plans to purchase one.

I then found information on the inReach device, which has received a lot of very positive reviews on the REI site. It was an easy decision to purchase the inReach rather than the Spot Connect!

The inReach has some very useful features:

  • It will relay our GPS location every 10 minutes so that family and friends can monitor our progress via online mapping software
  • We can use the device to send and receive SMS texts, via the Iridium satellite system, from anywhere in the world.
  • The SOS feature allows us to send an emergency message to rescue services, along with our current GPS location.
  • It pairs with iPhone and iPad via Bluetooth which will allow us to navigate via downloaded maps.
  • Messages can be posted directly to FaceBook

We’ll take the unit with us to Europe this summer to test it and to get familiar with it. Should be fun!

I bought the unit from REI. I’ve been a member for a few years and really like the store and its products. As a member, you get an annual dividend (refund) based on the purchases you make during the year and they have great customer service.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Craig — Thanks for writing about your inReach find. I went to REI and read the detailed info. It looks to be a great option for your expedition. I had wondered if it could also be a relatively inexpensive alternative to expensive cellular phone accounts for those of us who don’t talk much on our phones. Digging deeper I see the $10/month (one-year contract) subscription is geared primarily to the SOS function as it allows only ten text messages per month. To get a US/EU plan that would allow around four text messages a day (120/month) would cost $50/month. It is interesting that the Canadian plans (http://www.inreachcanada.com/service-plans/) are better than the US/EU offerings (http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/subscription-plans.php).

    Anyways it seems you’ll need to be careful that friends & family don’t send you many text messages as it looks like the overage charges could really add up!

    1. Hi Ross,

      You’re right, the basic ‘Safety Plan’ is the cheapest at $9.95 per month but it is mainly for those who just want the peace of mind of being able to use the device to send an SOS message with their GPS location if things go wrong. It only includes 10 text messages per month with additional texts costing $1.50 each. The tracking feature is not included in the plan, so you pay 25 cents for every ‘bread crumb’ (GPS location) that you drop.

      I’ll probably be signing up for the Recreation Plan using the seasonal monthly rate of $39.95. That would cost about $240 for the six-month expedition. Signing up for the annual rate costs $24.95 per month for a total of $300, so anyone planning to use the device for 8 months or longer would benefit from signing up to the annual rate. The Recreation Plan includes unlimited use of predetermined text messages which allows you to keep family and friends updated regularly without eating into the 40 customised texts per month (additional custom texts cost 50 cents each after the free 40). Predetermined texts can be set up in the software to meet your own requirements but could include messages such as “Reached camp safely”, “Stuck at border crossing”, “Crossed border safely”, “Having vehicle problems”, etc. The Recreation Plan also includes unlimited tracking, so we’ll probably have the unit set to ‘drop a bread crumb’ every 10 minutes so that family and friends can monitor our progress.

      The Expedition Plan costs about twice as much as the Recreation Plan but the only added features are 120 ‘free’ texts (instead of 40) and a lower charge of 25 cents for each additional text. Personally, this doesn’t seem worthwhile.

      It’s hard to imagine that the inReach plans would be a cheaper alternative than a cell-phone plan for normal text messaging but the ability to be able to send texts from areas where there is no cell-phone coverage will be very useful. I had been considering purchasing a satellite phone for emergency communications but the inReach will provide the level of satellite communication that I need with less cost.

      When we are in range of cellular signals, I’ll be using a global roaming simcard to keep phone costs down. We probably don’t need the inReach for this summer’s trip in Western Europe but I want to take it with us so that we can get used to using it prior to the 2014 expedition. Unfortunately, as the Recreation Plan seasonal rate has a four-month minimum subscription, I’ll have to pay for four months cover for a five-week trip!

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