Delorme has been at the forefront of GPS technology and satellite communications for the past few years. Last year, they teamed up with Spot to create the Delorme Earthmate PN-60 with SPOT Satellite Communicator, a top-tier, fully-functioning GPS that, when paired with a puck-size SPOT tramsmitter, allowed users to send “I’m OK” and SOS messages as well as type 48-character text messages to friends, Twitter, and Facebook.
This year’s InReach ups the ante by letting you send and receive text messages from pretty much anywhere in the world. (The device relies on Iridium’s network or satellites, which cover 90% of the earth’s surface not covered by cellular or land-based phone service.) When paired with either an Android smartphone or a Delorme Earthmate PN-60, it becomes a two-way text-messaging device, allowing you to send short, Twitter-size messages (up to 160 characters per message) to any cell phone or email address. Used by itself, you can send pre-loaded messages or activate its remote tracking feature, which, much like a traditional SPOT device, allows friends and family to keep tabs on your travels online in real-time. We have yet to be able to play with it in the backcountry, but will have a test model and a full report in the fall. Subscription is $10 a month; available in October.