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 backpacker.com/abudhabi.) 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); delorme.com and findmespot.comONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION:
Handheld GPS meets satellite communications, for worry-free navigation in remote locations plus the ability to type and send text and SOS messages via satellite for peace of mind wherever you go.
DeLorme and SPOT have teamed up to provide a ruggedized handheld GPS with DeLorme street and topo maps included, plus the ability to type and send one-way text messages via the SPOT satellite system.
Cell phone coverage can be hit or miss in remote areas, but the PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator reliably distributes your message via the proven SPOT system, from locations around the world.
Use the Earthmate PN-60w GPS to navigate with confidence and also to type your custom text messages. The PN-60w connects wirelessly with the SPOT Satellite Communicator, which relays the messages for delivery to your recipients’ email and cell phones, and/or your Facebook and Twitter pages.
You can also log your geocaching finds directly from the field to Geocaching.com; allow others to track your progress on Google Maps; and, in case of emergency, send an SOS message with explanatory detail and your GPS location embedded.
In addition to the included DeLorme Topo North America 9.0 GPS maps, the PN-60w can display DigitalGlobe and other high-resolution aerial imagery, as well as official USGS and Natural Resources Canada topographic detail, and NOAA nautical charts, all available via subscription from the DeLorme Map Library.
SPOT services are activated by subscription. Annual plans begin at an average of $8.50 per month plus $.50 per text message. Learn more at www.delorme.com.
IMPORTANT: The Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator consists of two devices that were engineered exclusively for use with one another; they are packaged and sold together as a single product. The Earthmate PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator’s Type & Send messaging capability is unique to this specific hardware pairing.