Gear Guy

The 9555     Photo: courtesy, Iridium

Q:

What sat phone should I get for Patagonia and Antarctica?

I will be spending time hiking in Patagonia, climbing Mt. Vinson, and cross-country skiing in Antarctica. It seems a valuable piece of gear would be a satellite phone, but I don't see any reviews on Outside Online. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Chuck Sonoma, CA

A:It wasn’t that long ago that the world thought we’d all be using satellite phones by now. But their expense, the massive improvements in coverage for traditional mobile phones, and the inability of satellite phones to scale up to data demands (such as the iPhones need) spelled their semi-doom.

I say semi-doom because there is just enough demand for them from people such as yourself to keep them around. They certainly are handy in those remote places where you just can’t use your wireless handset.

But the convenience doesn’t come cheap. A sat phone kit such as Iridium 9555 (chargers, handset, and battery, plus phone) is $1,500. That is not a typo. And that is the phone you need—it’s extremely tough, reasonably compact, can handle chores such as e-mail, and is meant to keep you in touch anywhere on the planet.

Things don’t get any cheaper when you add service; $150 a month will get you…120 minutes of talk time. Two hours. Additional minutes make a ka-ching sound to the tune of $1 a minute.

But, if you need it, you need it, you know? And you obviously can afford to do some pretty high-end travel, so my guess is that this might fit your budget. I do hope you send us a photo at some point.

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