Wild Alaskan Salmon Seafood

Sat phone

VAspeedgoat

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I was wondering if any of you guys take satellite phones with you on your hunts. We will be out of cell range at our camp this fall and was considering a sat phone. I also considered messaging devices but dislike them for complicated conversations that may arrise due to farm issues. I was curious as to what advise any of you might have. Going completely off grid is not an option for family or farm. Thanks
 

npaden

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Feb 3, 2011
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Lubbock, Texas
I have a friend who has a SPOT satellite phone and I wouldn't recommend it. He had a hard time with coverage unless it was in the wide open on the top of a ridge. If you were down in a valley at all he had to climb up and out to get signal.

There are places that rent satellite phones for not too much more than the plans cost.

I really like my InReach SE with 2 way messaging. Sometimes a text message is easier to understand than a cell phone conversation to me.
 

Bambistew

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Dec 10, 2002
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Chugiak, AK
I've done a few devices. Still prefer the sat phone. Can text for a small fee and receive for free. I think rentals here are down to about 75/week plus minutes. The iridium phones seem to be most reliable.
 

1_pointer

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Indiana
I'll second the InReach! Mine's never missed sending or receiving a message. IIRC it uses the iridium satellite system. My wife really appreciates it and I like how you can now do the activation plans a la carte/monthly. I only activate it for the months in which I have out of state hunts. Anywhere I hunt instate has cell coverage.
 

charliebravo77

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Chicago Area
I bought an InreachSE since it's got the coverage of the Iridium network, is cheaper than a sat phone to own, and pays for itself after 3-4 rentals of a sat phone. The new no-contract plans are pretty affordable and even the lowest cost one is still useful enough for checking in with home, receiving messages, and signaling an emergency situation. Haven't tried it in the real wilderness yet, but should put it to good use in WY and NE in the next couple months.
 

MTClacka

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Oct 10, 2012
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Montana
I actually just rented one from a company called Mobal. It's an iridium phone and the cost was $14 a day. That included overnight shipping both ways, and also no charge on incoming phone calls or text messages. It was very simple to rent from their website, and I actually received the phone and all accessories 2 days later. My wife is a little over 8 months pregnant, so wanted to make sure I don't miss the big day! ;) In the future I may look into an Inreach, just not sure how much I would realistically use it. Most of my hunting areas have some sort of service, just not the one I'm heading to this week.
 

bigeasygator

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Mar 1, 2012
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New Orleans, LA
I Abe the first generation InReach and I agree that it works great. That being said the process can be a bit cumbersome if you are really trying to have any conversation of substance. I just got back from a caribou hunt in northern Quebec and took the InReach but also rented a satellite phone from Roadpost. The sat phone rental was easy and I had great reception with it. I took the InReach out hunting and gave quick updates with it throughout the day and then used the sat phone at night to have a conversation. If I only could pick one it'd probably be the sat phone. Roadpost was great to rent from as well.
 

NKQualtieri

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Jun 4, 2015
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Bozeman, MT
For a low-cost option, the Spot Messenger has served me really well in the backcountry. The main issue is that you program three out of four messages ahead of time. The fourth message is basically your "Send in the 'Copters" button.

There are two you can program on your own. One I had as a "Please pick me up" button, the other was a lesser emergency message in which I asked for my loved ones to "Send the local rangers or police to this location". The third is simply an "All is well" message.

All the messages are accompanied by a latitude/longitude and emails direct your people to a map where they can see exactly where you are.

It's not perfect, but it's a really solid piece of equipment for backcountry travel, and for me, 100% necessary when backpacking alone. Also really cost effective. $160 for the year for service, and like $99 up front with a rebate.

I'd have gone with the InReach if I wanted the whole shebang. Lots of good reviews on those guys.
 

VAspeedgoat

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Sep 4, 2014
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Timberville, VA
Alright, I'm still undecided. I have checked some rental places, none of the ones mentioned yet, and the rental with shipping would be 2-250 bucks. The in reach would be 300 if I don't get the gps which I already have. I am leaning heavily toward the inreach but am curious how easy the keypad is. Also what kind of reception do these devices get. If I were to get the inreach I feel I could take it with me and talk to mt wife and kids during the day. The time difference could make conversations difficult depending on when I get back to camp. Thanks
 

npaden

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Feb 3, 2011
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Lubbock, Texas
You have the option with the InReach of either using the keyboard of the device itself or pairing it with a phone and using the keyboard of the phone. There really isn't a keyboard on the device though, it's an arrow around kind of deal and not something I would want to compose a lot of detailed messages on. I just pair my phone with it and type on my phone if I have a detailed message I want to send.

They use the Iridium network so the reception is as good or better than most satellite phones because sending and receiving texts doesn't need a stellar connection. I've sent and received text message from inside a canvas tent in a river valley in the wilderness in Wyoming when my friend was having to climb about a 1/4 mile up the ridge to get a good enough signal to talk on his SPOT satellite phone.

I use the heck out of the preset messages, checking in when I get going in the morning, checking in when I switch locations during the day and then checking in when I get back to camp at night. Those are all free even with the safety plan.

You have to pay for custom texts sent or received (or they count against the number included in the plan you choose). I don't end up ever sending as many custom texts or receiving as many as I would think so I always go with the safety plan ($14.95 a month) and then pay the 50 cents per text sent or received over the 10 in the plan.

That's where the InReach really is nice, you can start and stop it on a monthly basis so you aren't paying for a service all year that you only use 2 or 3 months out of the year.
 
Last edited:

dustinf

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Jan 2, 2012
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Location
Pittsburgh, PA
I've had good luck renting from Exporer. Free incoming text, and pretty low cost over all.

Last fall I used a Yellow Brick GPS tracker and text service. Mediocre at best.

No matter what you choose iridium is the best.
 

1_pointer

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Dec 20, 2000
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Location
Indiana
You have the option with the InReach of either using the keyboard of the device itself or pairing it with a phone and using the keyboard of the phone. There really isn't a keyboard on the device though, it's an arrow around kind of deal and not something I would want to compose a lot of detailed messages on. I just pair my phone with it and type on my phone if I have a detailed message I want to send.

They use the Iridium network so the reception is as good or better than most satellite phones because sending and receiving texts doesn't need a stellar connection. I've sent and received text message from inside a canvas tent in a river valley in the wilderness in Wyoming when my friend was having to climb about a 1/4 mile up the ridge to get a good enough signal to talk on his SPOT satellite phone.

I use the heck out of the preset messages, checking in when I get going in the morning, checking in when I switch locations during the day and then checking in when I get back to camp at night. Those are all free even with the safety plan.

You have to pay for custom texts sent or received (or they count against the number included in the plan you choose). I don't end up ever sending as many custom texts or receiving as many as I would think so I always go with the safety plan ($14.95 a month) and then pay the 50 cents per text sent or received over the 10 in the plan.

That's where the InReach really is nice, you can start and stop it on a monthly basis so you aren't paying for a service all year that you only use 2 or 3 months out of the year
.
The bolded part is exactly why and how I use my InReach. It's not really for a conversation, but mostly gives the wife peace of mind to get an "I'm Okay" message a couple times a day. I do enjoy hitting the 3rd pre-set I have..."Critter down"! :D
 

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