I own an old SPOT satellite messenger which I’ve used as an emergency device (never had to push that SOS button) and a tracker so that readers could follow my trips on my website. I was considering an upgrade to the $150 SPOT Gen3 until I read a friend’s blog post on his backcountry rescue experiences.
Pete Day, founder of Mosko Moto (who makes the soft luggage I carry on my KTM dual-sport) is a crazy adventurous traveler. A couple of years ago he was riding alone deep in the jungle in Honduras and severely broke his ankle. The SPOT has no two-way communication (still, doesn’t) so he had to hit the SOS button and trust that help was on its way. But he didn’t trust because he knew that the Honduras authorities were only reliably motivated by bribery. (Thankfully not true for Baja.) As he waited, he wished for a two-way device so that he could text his parents the location of the Peace Corps guy he met in the last town who would have been able to negotiate a rescue. That evening, an Army patrol making their weekly pass through got him out. He was lucky!
When Pete got home, he did a lot of research and bought the DeLorme InReach, and carries it everywhere from Africa to Indonesia to the American backcountry. Last month he and his friend Ashley were motorcycling in Eastern Oregon. Ashley squeezed her ankle between the motor and a rock, breaking some bones and losing some bike parts. She rode part way out, but neither she or the bike were up to it.
I own a DeLorme InReach now. Haven’t activated the service, yet. Will let you know when I do!
What happens when you push SOS?
Pete pushed the SOS button and got a message back that help was on its way. The BLM Rangers and Search & Rescue personnel who responded were also carrying the InReach, which they highly recommended. (Two models cost $240 and $340 on Amazon.) You can use the device to text, or pair it with your mobile to communicate with family and friends, and to access topo maps and NOAA charts. Other features include a digital compass, built-in navigation, and an Automatic Flight Following/Ping-Me Locating feature for pilots.
Clip it to your person and not to your vehicle, just in case you get separated. It’s been known to happen!
Here’s more information on satellite messengers and personal locator beacons.
- Pete’s story about the InReach and Ashley’s backcountry search and rescue (Mosko Moto)
- What happens when you press the SOS button (Expedition Portal)
- Review of locator beacons and satellite messengers (Expedition Portal)