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Gear Reviews

Trimble Outdoors Timble Outdoors

Here's a high-tech trifecta: Navigate the backcountry and call for emergency help and stay connected with those at home.

Brand: Trimble Outdoors

Model: Timble Outdoors

Wouldn’t it be great if you could send messages to friends and family (and yes, rescue personnel) from anywhere in the backcountry, at any time, with customized texts and precise location information? Now you can. By crossing a handheld GPS with a satellite transceiver, these two companies have created a revolutionary tool that integrates navigation and communication.

The all-new category could use a catchy name (GPS Messenger?), but here’s how it works. The PN-60w and its companion SPOT Communicator connect wirelessly to send geolocated text messages of up to 40 characters (up to 500 texts for $50 a year). It allowed our editors to map adventures in Capitol Reef, North Cascades, Denali, and Abu Dhabi and simultaneously beam real-time locations and status updates to the folks back home, who followed our real-time progress on Google Maps and received our notes via email and SMS. (See Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Dorn’s string of posts at It’s easy, too.

Before each trip, enter up to 10 contact groups in your online SPOT account, connect the GPS to your computer, and export the info. On the trail, use the GPS keypad to type and send customized (or prewritten) messages, post updates to your Facebook and Twitter pages, or notify 911 responders. And the GPS? The PN-60w is a top-shelf unit with high-resolution tracking, terrain and street maps of North America, 3.5GB of internal memory, a three-axis electronic compass, and a lightning-fast, dual-core processor.

In the event that the GPS unit is damaged or out of batteries, a covered button on the SPOT can still transmit SOS messages. $450 for the devices, plus $100/year for the required service plan; texts ($50/year for 500) and the Track Progress feature (real-time routes on Google Maps, $50/year) cost extra; 10.7 oz. (with batteries); and findmespot.comNEW DESIGN AND FEATURES. MORE SUPPORTED PHONES.

Turn your phone into an outdoor GPS navigator with the all-new Trimble Outdoors. Find trails, view maps, share adventures. Whether you stay close to home or go far away, Trimble Outdoors uses the GPS built into your phone. No cell signal required to operate. Download top-notch maps–aerial, street, and topo maps to use on the trail. Plot routes and latitude-longitude coordinates, and consult the digital compass too. Collect waypoints, photos, audio notes, and video clips along the way. Share trips with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Preplan trips, order custom waterproof paper maps, and find thousands of editor-endorsed adventures at

Trimble Outdoors runs on more than 200 phones, including iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android-compatible phones.

With Trimble Outdoors on your phone, you can:

• Track your trips and position on street, aerial, and topo maps.
• Find points using the digital compass and your phone’s built-in GPS.
• Record trip details, including routes, points of interest (trailheads and campsites) and sound clips.
• Capture geotagged photos and videos
• Download and save maps on your phone for adventures without cell coverage
• Upload trips wirelessly from your phone to No cords required.
• Share trips with friends online and on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
• Find, research, and download thousands of exclusive trips shared by our community and Backpacker magazine editors.
• Plan future trips using our free web-based maps tools.

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