InReach vs Spot Messenger 2013

Jammer

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Any new 2013 thoughts on these products? I know there were a couple of detailed threads on these guys last year, but I'm curious if there are any new and/or updated opinions. Besides the high subscription fees, it seemed like a common complaint with both units had to do with software issues -- has either company made any headway here?

Obviously I'm thinking about a purchase. I've always rented a SAT phone which costs about $200 for a month w/ msg package and shipping. I love it for its reliability, 2-way msgs, good battery life and the actual capability to talk if needed (though I usually use it just for email). Since I only do 1 big hike a year this is usually cheaper overall, BUT... there's no built-in tracking/mapping features and after that month I have to send it back and I don't have anything for any smaller hikes I do throughout the year.

So... any new thoughts? I think the inReach is now $50 less than before, anything else change?

Thanks,
- Jamal
 

Aldaron

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I don't think anything has substantially changed on the inReach. I never had any problem with the webpage interface like Nick did. For the most part, once the system is setup on the webpage, you rarely need to go back to it. I still love the inReach. I was able to send a message this weekend while at the bottom of Coyote Gulch...the message was transmitted and confirmed in about 30 seconds. It's a little bulky, but there are always trade-offs, and the bulk is a small price to pay for the utility.

I did just notice this weekend that they have a new inReach model...it has a screen so you don't need a smartphone to send a personalized message. That could be nice so you don't have to reply on a phone for text messages.
 

slc_dan

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I have the regular Spot. Works for me.

I actually prefer to not have two-way communication. The different buttons get across what I'd need in most levels of emergency.
 

Jammer

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Oops... I meant to compare InReach vs Spot Connect. But... maybe the Messenger is the way to go for me -- just for pure mapping and as a safety lifeline. I think only a handful of people read my "on-the-trail" short updates anyway. Maybe I should just wait and do the full report later with details and photos. Hmm...

I just have to add that the InReach subscription model is crazy and confusing! 3 different plan levels, two which have a "seasonal" variation which is a different price yet and each plan having a different rate for overages. Plus the whole "change plans at any time" but then in small print "$24.99 fee for downgrading plan". Ug. I do like 160 character messages compared to the insanely short 41 characters for Connect though. But... the $199 discount I saw at REI is no longer available. :(

- JG
 

Aldaron

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I had a Spot Messenger for several years, and I didn't have any problems with it. It was cheaper for the hardware, and the annual price was cheaper and somewhat more versatile.

My biggest complaints, as you may have already read, were that Spot seemed to have stopped innovating after they were abandoned by Delorme, and I didn't like the fact that you either got a smartphone version or a standalone version, but not a version with both full capabilities. Also, unlike the inReach, you don't get a confirmation of message delivery, so the Spot sends the message 3 times over the course of 20 minutes. This means that you have to leave the thing on, and often stationary, for about 20 minutes to feel confident that the message was most likely received. You don't want to risk a message not being delivered, because it could result in a call to SAR by your family. The inReach confirms that the message was sent, and often does so in less than a minute.

So, for me, the inReach features were nice enough to justify the price. But I agree that the Spot didn't have any significant issues, and it certainly did the job.
 

Artemus

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So far, I still can't justify the extra weight, extra battery weight and a subscription cost! for my emergency communication provisioning! :whistle: I just give my wife my travel plan and say if I am more than two days late call Jammer or one of you other blokes and have you grab the dogtags from around my skeletal neck the next time you walk down my intended path ... If you guys find my bones you are entitled to my stuff but there will be no Spot or OutOfReach to collect.
 

Jammer

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That made me lol, Art. (and I'm a very infrequent user of lol!) :)

Unfortunately my parents and my girlfriend don't trust my wanderings as much, so...

I ended up making an impulse decision to go with... none of the above.

I really hadn't seen much about this option:

http://cerberus.briartek.com/

I'd seen a few positive reviews, but I didn't pay much attention as I pretty much tuned out after seeing the price: $499 for the unit and $33 for the "just works" ie cheaper plan.

BUT... I just realized that you can rent a unit direct from the company. For right at $100 bucks I got a 1 month rental that comes with 40 messages and no activation fee or commitment. The price also includes shipping from AND back to the company. So... for that I thought I'd take the plunge and give this new piece of gear a test.

It's gonna have to be great to make me consider it as a permanent solution, but here's what I like in theory:

- closer in size to the Spot Connect (186g)
- uses 2000mAh Lithium battery (charges via mini USB)
- tracking intervals of 10 min to 3 hours (or off)
- ability to use most features w/o being paired to phone
- 160 character messages

We will see...

- JG
 

Aldaron

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Cool. I've seen that before, but I also dismissed it because of the price. Let us know how it works!
 

slc_dan

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Your trips certainly justify something "big" like this.

Good call.
 

Nick

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I've had the InReach for coming up on a year. I hate it. It's big, it's clunky, it's really expensive and it's not very easy to use. Overall it's worked out okay I guess. It's just lacking so much from what it could be. One thing in particular I've really been hating about it is how terrible it is at grabbing a quick signal when in a canyon. And I'm not talking about a narrow canyon, I'm talking right in the middle of a wide open, fairly shallow canyon that has a clear view of the majority of the sky. It just sits there and blinks red like it can't get a signal forever. It eventually stops trying (I thought) but it turns out it really does get the signal out, it just wants to wait like 15 minutes and get the green light when I'm no longer paying attention.

I'm also thinking 2-way communication is overall a bad thing. For a Jamal-style trip, definitely useful, but I think for most it's not important. Hell, I'm starting to think like Art on carrying anything at all. I hate feeling obligated to get a message out. I'm thinking I'm definitely going to go back to the Spot though. Anyone want to buy an InReach? :)
 

Artemus

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I hate feeling obligated to get a message out.
What will the faithful think if you abandon us with no more real time updating ??? :disagree:

Besides don't you get embarrassed when your daily total is only 9 miles? The faithful can't tell when the cause of the delay was a prolonged faceoff with a grizzly bear or porcupine.
 

baltocharlie

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So far, I still can't justify the extra weight, extra battery weight and a subscription cost! for my emergency communication provisioning! :whistle: I just give my wife my travel plan and say if I am more than two days late call Jammer or one of you other blokes and have you grab the dogtags from around my skeletal neck the next time you walk down my intended path ... If you guys find my bones you are entitled to my stuff but there will be no Spot or OutOfReach to collect.


I am like you. No communication while I am in the "field". When I get away I want to GET AWAY. With all the GPS and communication gadgets out there it seems harder to really get away.
I am wondering if this is an old guy vs young guy decision. Most younger folks are always 'connected' to the world.I relish my time away from it.
Curious, Languta how old are you?
Question for the younger crowd: Do you guys always phone home while away. This is not a criticism just curiosity. My kids(adults now) always have their phone in hand.
@ Jammer, sorry to steal your post. I have been looking at GPS lately and my wife insist on the models that have the emergency beacon(I think that's what it is called). She says she wants the body found for insurance purposes:)
 

slc_dan

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As a "younger" guy-28 at the moment, I'm probably not qualified to answer your question.

I feel much more like you do, than most people my age. I don't own a cell phone, I don't use a gps. Hell, the only reason I bought the SPOT was to help ease my wife's concerns while backpacking alone.

I don't want to be contacted when I have my alone time-whether it be walking my dog every afternoon, or out in the back country.
 

Artemus

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Baltocharlie, A very personal question... :cool: 53 years young. Now you have to tell me if I am in the young or old guy category. 1-25 years = young age. 25-50 = middle age. 50-115 = old age. For me it is not a technology question. On my Windies traverse this summer I will be carrying a m4/3 camera, a mapping GPS, an iPod with 200 albums, a magic wand water purifier and enough batteries to kick me right out of the ultralight category. I do not, ever, dispute or disagree with Jammer or anyone else the right to carry an emergency device but it is not for me. I spent nearly a week looking, unsuccessfully, for the lost Aussie in the Uintahs the week after my Uintah crossing. We know, nearly certainly, that he carried a PRB....
 

Nick

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I spent nearly a week looking, unsuccessfully, for the lost Aussie in the Uintahs the week after my Uintah crossing. We know, nearly certainly, that he carried a PRB....

From what I understood, his was setup to be used in the southern hemisphere, hence why no signal was ever received from it?
 

Artemus

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That made me lol, Art. (and I'm a very infrequent user of lol!) :)
Unfortunately my parents and my girlfriend don't trust my wanderings as much, so...
- JG

Put me on the emergency contact list if you would like. I'd bet I can find your dogtags faster than KANE County SAR....
 

Jammer

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Yeah -- I don't take any communication gear for short outings (< a week). But, as a safety concern and to put my loved ones' minds at ease I do for longer hikes. For instance, last year I bailed on my hike on day 10 of 23. Sure... I was ok enough to get myself out, but if I hadn't been... nobody would have been looking for me for another two weeks! And... as to where things may have gone awry during the planned 350 miles -- nobody would know. Honestly, unless stuck under a rock I think I'd always be able to get myself out to help -- and such devices aren't going to help much under a rock deep in a canyon. But, at least somebody would know when and whereabout I stopped moving. Honestly -- my biggest concern is day-dreaming and stepping on a rattler. I still think I could get myself out, but if it takes 1-2 days I might be getting a lower leg amputated. :(

And, on a happier note...

This is more to do with a GPS than SAT communication, but I'm a mapping freak and love to detail my exact route and mark the smallest outbreaks of water, cool rock formations or possible routes out of a canyon. I used to be "pure" in my travels and carry topos only and scoff at the notion of a GPS. But... after getting a GPS as a gift I realized how much faster and more detailed I could do all of the above! To import waypoints into Google Maps when I get back hope is just awesome to me. And... having the GPS handy to see my "moving vs overall" speed is a real motivation tool to keep me going when needed.

Back on the Cerberlink for a minute... gotta say I love the company so far. They got my order out the very next day and followed up with a personal email confirming and saying that I should write if I have any questions. Also... they have an API for the dev community to make/extend apps to work with the device. Sounds cool.

- Jamal
 

baltocharlie

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Well between slc_dan and Art the young/old theory is trash. slc_dan you might be the only sub 40 yo w/out a cell.

Sorry Art, you fit in the old category, me too. At least we are still cranking. Is that an Aussie @ your feet? We had one for many years, great dogs.

I do not make judgement on what people take. They have to carry it. If they want to use it I don't care.

Jammer, you take some huge hikes. Makes sense to carry something. Are all of your journeys in desert country?
I never really cared for the earlier GPS but after seeing some of the recent maps I am impressed. Especially the maps on this site. That's why I am looking into them. But then I start to feel like dan...... What to do, I'll have to look into the SPOT.
 
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