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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2012

Editors' Choice 2012: inReach by DeLorme

Send and receive with the ultimate backcountry communicator.

by: Kim Phillips

inReach by DeLorme (Jonathan Dorn)
inReach by DeLorme (Jonathan Dorn)

Talk about a game changer. Not only can this palm-size device send text messages, post to Facebook and Twitter, signal rescuers, and track real-time progress on an online map, but when paired with DeLorme’s Earthmate PN-60w ($350, a 2011 Editors’ Choice Award winner) or an Android phone, the inReach also lets you receive messages. “During treks in the Tetons and Andes, the two-way texting enabled me to maintain a running dialogue with friends and family,” says our editor-in-chief.

And testers weren’t the only ones who welcomed the interaction. “My kids’ classes followed my progress in Chile and fired me questions,” says our gear editor. That’s the fun side. In an emergency, the SOS feature allows you to text info back and forth with responders. (When used as a standalone rescue device, the light above the SOS button blinks faster to show that help is coming.)

Setup is hassle-free. Create an account at explore.delorme.com, enter a list of contacts, and write three predefined messages that can be sent via the inReach alone. Sync it with the GPS or DeLorme’s Android app, both of which allow you to write many more preset messages. Testers said that the intuitive interfaces make the system a snap to use in the field: Select the inReach icon from the menu screen to enable tracking, type or read messages (you’ll receive confirmation when your message is sent), post social media updates, or initiate the SOS.

When operating the inReach by itself (you’re limited to sending predetermined messages, but friends at home can still follow your progress on a map) testers could power the unit roughly five days on a pair of lithium AAs.

Caveat: Sharing your adventures in real-time can lead to substantial jealousy. Our editors were pinged with messages ranging from “Wish I was there!” to “As I sit here staring at spreadsheets, I must say that I hate your guts.” $250, plus a $12 activation fee (Earthmate PN-60w sold separately); monthly data rates range from $10-$50 (SOS messages don’t count toward your monthly allotment); 8.2 oz. (inReach only); delorme.com

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READERS COMMENTS

Star
Mark Peterson
Oct 17, 2013

Terrible product and customer support. I have been trying to get one to work for almost a year. Mine is going in the trash and my subscription has been cancelled. Of course, Delorme enforced the "annual contract" even though I was completely dissatisfied with their product. Run away from this product!

hghglkm
Sep 14, 2012

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Stu
Aug 15, 2012

Delorme has announced that the inReach is now iOS compatible as well. The only bummer is that there are now two inReach devices - one that works with smartphones (iOS or Android) and one that works with the PN-60w. This is because the PN-60w doesn't support bluetooth, which is how the inReach talks to Android and iOS devices. But, I think if you have a smartphone, the PN-60w is kind of redundant.

Jeff
Jul 19, 2012

My guess would be they used Android OS on the Earthmate PN-60w. That would give them familiarity with the OS for porting to the Android phones.

Alexander
Jul 11, 2012

What about network coverage? Iridium technology or the same as Spottracker?

dbshu1234
Jul 10, 2012

I have one and with several health problems and still loveing to go backpacking. This gives my wife and I a bit of security while we are on our adventures.

John
Jul 06, 2012

I wonder why they didn't make it IPhone compatible too. Must be a corporate thing...

Too bad

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