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Old 03-08-2019, 01:06 AM   #1
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Garmin inReach Satellite Communicator: Does anyone use them?

When Boondocking out of cell service, what do you use for communications?

A friend recommended Garmin inReach® to send & receive text messages when out of cell service. In Alaska there is a lot boondock sites without cell service. I also heard cell service is poor on the Alcan in Canada.

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Old 03-08-2019, 02:40 AM   #2
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I carry a spotx...

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Old 03-08-2019, 12:39 PM   #3
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Yes, cell service outside of villages and towns tends to be non-existent in Alaska. The same is true for southern Utah, parts of Colorado and much of Wyoming (that I have experienced).

Satellite communications in Alaska will not be consistent either, assuming use of geo-stationary satellites. Horizon angles are too low, leading to atmospheric interference at times and tree and hill blockage of signal. Things I learned being a communications engineer in Alaska. You also get twice a year when the sun gets behind a satellite for about an hour a day, swamping any signal from that satellite.

In the old days, camping meant no comms for the duration of the trip. Enjoy the solitude - that's why you live in Alaska (many times I wish I still lived there).

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Old 03-10-2019, 08:13 AM   #4
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In Canada we took Highway 37 and for two days we didn’t have phone service
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:18 PM   #5
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Garmin inReach Satellite Communicator: Does anyone use them?

My son. He just returned from a week long trip kayaking trip in the Sea of Cortez near Isla San Jose. A member of the trip had a Garmin Satellite Communicator and once or twice a day sent a brief message to family and friends of the kayakers to let them know the party was doing OK and either kayaking or camping. As a father I was happy to receive the messages and know that all was fine with the kayakers.
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:19 PM   #6
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I used the InReach last year when biking through Banff, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. It works well and I had no problems sending text messages to my wife and other friends. Replies from them came back with no difficulties either.

You may already know this, but you can set up group texts, let others follow you by providing your location, etc.

I think it is a great tool to have along, especially with the SOS feature should you run into difficulties.
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:40 PM   #7
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Thumbs up

I do a lot of solo hiking and had a Spot for many years to give my wife peace of mind when I'm out. It could send a few canned messages (like "all OK, just checking in" or "I'm camping here") or an SOS to "dispatch." I never used the SOS, just those informative messages to my wife. I liked it but there was no way to know if my signal got through.

I now have the Garmin inReach (which adds to the Spot abilities) and love it for these reasons:
  • If your signal gets to dispatch a return signal will be sent to you so you'll know for sure that you got through.
  • 2-way texting is possible, so you can tell dispatch what the problem is.
  • 2-way texting is also possible with a 3rd party, like a relative.
  • Yearly subscription cost was less than Spot.
  • Satellite acquisition time seems to be a lot quicker.
My experience has been between the US Rockies and the Pacific.
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:06 PM   #8
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We live in Alaska and my wife does a lot of backcountry backpacking. I bought her the Garmin InReach Explorer in case she or her hiking friends have an emergency. We also did a lot of driving in remote areas, snowmachining miles from anyone, and skiing great distances. She can use it to enter a route they plan to take to make sure she is on track and text me that everything is ok. Has great battery life and has the best coverage using the Iridium satellite network. I doubt you would find an area you would be in that would be completely out of touch. My understanding is that Spot uses a different satellite system and does not have the broad coverage of the Garmin. We have been very satisfied.
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:11 PM   #9
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Garmin inReach Satellite Communicator: Does anyone use them?

I have thought of this since I too hike alone. I will check into this. My hiking gps has been invaluable, in finding my way back after a wrong turn.
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:54 PM   #10
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We have 2 an older one I bought my sons cause they do some serious backcountry hiking and mountain biking. I bought mine specifically for hiking and when I’m out of cell service out west. It works excellent. It hooks up with your phone also and you can download the section maps where you are hiking and it also has a pretty good base map. Should I should never be lost!

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