Satellite phones have been around for decades, but there are a couple factors that make them more accessible now. First off, dozens of places now rent the equipment. Most Internet-based shops let you use one for the week for under $200 (both phone and minutes).
Because of huge new space-aged investments, sat phones deliver better service, more affordably. One of the main service providers, Globalstar, has been lagging because of its old satellite fleet, but next month brings a major upgrade. At the same time, the company sells its recreation-friendly Spot messaging service in neighborhood sporting goods stores. It’s competitors, Iridium and Inmarsat, have gotten rugged new handsets in the last few months. The phones are typically over $1,000 to buy, but if you’re traveling for a limited period, a rental may be worth the luxury of checking in with loved ones while wandering way off the map. Can you hear me now?
Here’s the equipment you’d most likely use for exploring the outdoors, whether for a record-breaking attempt on the poles or a family trek to the Yukon.