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8/25/2019 5:13 pm  #1


Communicating Home When in the Back Country

Looking at doing a 7 day back country trip this fall with my dad and we're looking at options for being able to communicate with the family back home while we are away.  I honestly know nothing about sat phones or anything so I'm just wondering if anyone can share their suggestions for something to rent while we are away that will allow us keep in touch with home?

Thanks!

 

8/25/2019 7:11 pm  #2


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

What access point are you leaving from? And do you want 2-way communication, or just something to let the folks back home know that you're ok?

Satellite Phones
Can be rented from www.roadpost.ca . For a week it will cost you about $200 ($12/day plus shipping and taxes), plus talk time of $1.99/min and text at $0.79/text. If this is a one-time use type of scenario and you don't want to purchase anything to use in the future, then this is a decent option... pricey, but it's your best option for voice communication

SPOT Device
The reason I asked what access point you'd be starting from is because Algonquin Outfitters rents these. SPOT does have two-way communication (via text), but I don't think AO has upgraded their devices yet to these newer two-way communication models. I might be wrong on that, but as far as I know they only have the devices that are 1-way communication. You preset 3 messages onto the device, which you can send as many times as you want to pre-determined email addresses. When they receive the preset message on the other end, it also has your GPS (lat/long) so they can see where you are. AO rents for $10/day or $50/week. There's also the SOS button for emergency evac if needed. If you press the button, there's no communication with the response team so they assume it's life or death scenario and act accordingly.

Garmin InReach
https://explore.garmin.com/en-CA/inreach/
I literally just purchased the InReach Mini yesterday, haven't even taken it out of the box yet. I'm going out for a week starting next Saturday and I won't be able to rent the SPOT from AO which is what I've done in the past. The InReach allows 2-way communication via text and pairs with your smartphone for easier use, etc. It's got GPS and you can pull up a weather report as well (counts as part of your subscription credits). It's $450 upfront cost plus an annual subscription fee. The subscription I'm going to go with is a month-by-month of the cheapest option, which means I have $30 annual fee, and then $20/month for the actual subscription. For my 2 to 3 months usage per year, it will cost me about $80-100 in annual recurring costs. You can preset messages similar to the SPOT which you can send unlimited times, and for custom messages you're limited to the amount of credits in your subscription (the cheapest option is 10/month). Also has an SOS button like the SPOT, but since this allows for 2-way communication, you can actually communicate with the response team and let them know the situation. It's useful for the response team to know the urgency of the rescue and decide on their rescue plan accordingly (ie. not putting themselves in unnecessary danger if it's not a dire emergency).

There's also PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) options which are basically just the SOS button feature of the SPOT/InReach, without any actual communication. This doesn't sound like what you're looking for though.

TLDR;

Sat Phone - expensive to rent, but best option if you want voice communication
SPOT Device - rent if you're near Algonquin Outfitters, not worth it to actually purchase when compared to InReach
Garmin InReach - if you're going to purchase a device, get this one


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www.algonquinbeyond.com
 

8/25/2019 7:26 pm  #3


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

Wow that's exactly the explanation I was looking for!  Thanks Trippythings I appreciate you taking the time to type that all out

     Thread Starter
 

8/25/2019 9:32 pm  #4


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

Steve E wrote:

Wow that's exactly the explanation I was looking for!  Thanks Trippythings I appreciate you taking the time to type that all out

No problem, happy to help


Trip Reports & Campsite Pictures
www.algonquinbeyond.com
 

8/26/2019 8:27 am  #5


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

trippythings, great response, I just thought I'd add this.  I use a spot with one-way communication.  There are four messages; two are canned, two you create.  For all of them you need to go online to set up contacts, and of course to set up the two messages that you create.

One message is the "OK" button to set minds at ease back home, one message is the "SOS" button which activates search and rescue (you go online in advance to provide two people to notify and there's a small text box that allows you to make brief note of pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, etc.)

The other two messages you create.  For one of them, I say something like "I am delayed due to weather, equipment, illness or minor injury" - that should prompt my wife to take a look at the weather first to get a feel for what is going on, although I'm sure it would cause a lot of upset in the household.  For the other I say something like "I need assistance due to equipment, illness or injury, please call <I give the number for the park and the OPP>"

 

8/26/2019 9:55 am  #6


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

MooseWhizzer Dave wrote:

trippythings, great response, I just thought I'd add this.  I use a spot with one-way communication.  There are four messages; two are canned, two you create.  For all of them you need to go online to set up contacts, and of course to set up the two messages that you create.

One message is the "OK" button to set minds at ease back home, one message is the "SOS" button which activates search and rescue (you go online in advance to provide two people to notify and there's a small text box that allows you to make brief note of pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, etc.)

The other two messages you create.  For one of them, I say something like "I am delayed due to weather, equipment, illness or minor injury" - that should prompt my wife to take a look at the weather first to get a feel for what is going on, although I'm sure it would cause a lot of upset in the household.  For the other I say something like "I need assistance due to equipment, illness or injury, please call <I give the number for the park and the OPP>"

Good additional info. Since you actually own the device you have a bit more options than when I’ve rented it from AO. They basically ask for the custom messages I want to include, and then the list of emails to have those messages sent to. The rest is done on their end.

I’ve always done an “I’m alive and ok” message which is the one I send regularly, and then I’d usually do one funny one, like “How come no one told me there’s no WiFi out here? This sucks” or “Going to stay for a few more months, please send an extra pair of underwear, three packs of oatmeal, and In Rainbows on vinyl”


Trip Reports & Campsite Pictures
www.algonquinbeyond.com
 

8/26/2019 1:29 pm  #7


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

Great info guys thanks a ton.  Another option for us on this trip might just be to drive out once or twice to call home.  We're headed to the Basin Lake area so won't be too far from our vehicles...

     Thread Starter
 

8/26/2019 7:45 pm  #8


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

InReach doesn't limit number of messages you can send regardless of your plan. Certain amount of messages are included in the plan fee. Any messages above that limit are billed at about 50c/message (Disclaimer: this is how it works for customers south of the border).

 

8/28/2019 2:47 pm  #9


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

I can vouch for the Garmin In Reach Mini- i had asked the forum earlier this year about recommendations and ended up purchasing one myself. great device and i did have to use the two way to let my wife know we were stuck an extra day due to high winds out of Kiosk on our May trip. High winds, Kiosk, who would have thought eh? 

 

8/29/2019 6:05 am  #10


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

I love my in reach mini, I've been using it a little over a year now and it's never let me down.

 

9/03/2019 3:31 pm  #11


Re: Communicating Home When in the Back Country

I recommend the InReach Explorer Plus.  I used this on my recent 21 day solo trip in WCPP and it performed flawlessly.

 

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