Is Delorme InReach a Good Alternative for PLBs?

When we bought our PLB in 2011, we also I looked at the Spot Satellite Messengers as a possibility for sending messages home when were were out of cell phone coverage. The reviews for Spot were so bad we decided not to buy one. Since then, Delorme has brought two-way messaging to the market.

This is the last in a series of four related posts on the comparison of PLBs and satellite messengers.  To follow the entire discussion, this post is a continuation of the following articles:

  1. Are Satellite Messengers a Good Alternative for PLBs?
  2. Comparison of One and Two-Way Satellite Messengers to PLBs
  3. Are Spot Satellite Messengers Good Alternatives to PLB?

I have used Delorme’s 3-D TopQuads program and gazetteers for many years, so it is a familiar name to me and I had high hopes for the two-way messaging ability of both the InReach SE and the Explorer models.

Delorme Customer Ratings

deloreme se and explorer

Delorme InReach and Delorme Explorer

Out of 97 reviews, The Delorme In Reach SE received an average rating of 3.6/5.0. Not a resounding endorsement, but most people (62.9%) gave scores of 4 or 5, 13.4% gave a score of 3 and the rest (23.7%) gave it low scores of 1 or 2. One reviewer even wished they had stayed with Spot. Wow! That’s not good.

Most of the bad reviews are from people unable to get the device to boot up the first time. It is unfortunate, but probably should be expected from new technology. Delorme has updated the software so most of these early issues seem to be resolved.

The InReach model worked as advertised for most people. The most common complaints are the device is clumsy, slow to acquire satellites and to send messages, the monthly service fee is too expensive and about the lack of customer service. The pros were that most people were able to send and receive messages and their contacts could follow their tracks or ping their locations.

The new Delorme Explorer includes GPS functions and received an average rating of 3.7/5.0 from a total of only 20 reviews. Again, most people (61.1%) gave scores of 4 or 5, 27.8% gave a score of 3 and the rest (22.2%) gave it low scores of 1 or 2. The most common complaints were poorly designed GPS for those used to using real GPS and included comments like “weak navigation” and “white grid background, no real map”. Like the InReach SE, most people were able to send and receive messages, but it may take 10 minutes or more each way.

Appeal of Delorme Two-Way Messaging

Since I have a PLB and GPS, I would not leave them at home and take the Delorme Explorer with me. I have no interest in spending the extra money for what some describe as a poor GPS, so I have no interest in the Delorme Explorer.

The appeal to me is the two-way messaging ability of the Delorme InReach SE. This ability could be very useful for keeping in touch.

I could let my wife know I was not coming home tonight or I could ask her to pick me up on the other side of the mountain from where I parked my truck or I could ask friends to meet me at a certain place to help pack out an elk. Two-way messaging could also be invaluable for communicating with rescuers in the event of a real emergency.

Delorme Service Plans

As for different service plans, If I can send a message, I can also send coordinates of my location, so I also don’t care about sending lots of tracks or sharing my location with friends on Facebook, though I admit it may be simpler (and cheaper; 10 cents vs. 50 cents) to sent a track with GPS instead of a message if that were the only information that needed to be being sent.

The Delorme In Reach SE costs about $299 and with the activation fee of $19.95 and the minimal “Safety” subscription of $11.95 per month, my total costs (not including batteries or tax) over 5 years would be $1,116 or 18.6 per month (See comparison Table in previous post). The “Safety” subscription charges 50 cents for each message (and evidently about $10 worth of unexplained taxes), so if you sent many messages, the costs would add up. It will also cost you 10 cents each for tracking point and location ping if you use that service and those costs would also quickly add up.

The only way to avoid per message charges (and tracking and ping charges) is to upgrade to another plan. the “Expedition” plan which costs $49.95 per month. So for an extra $38 per month, you get unlimited messaging. To make that worth the money for messaging alone, you would need to send 76 messages each month. The upgraded plan also allows unlimited pings and tracks and a 10 cents each, to justify the extra cost of the “Explorer” plan for tracking and pinging alone requires 380 track and/or ping points each month. For equal messaging and tracking, that would be 38 messages and 190 track and/or ping points each month to justify the extra subscription.

Personally, I would never send enough messages or track points for any single month, let alone every month, so the minimal “Safety” plan would be my choice.

Delorme also offers a “Freedom Plan” that allows you to “…suspend your service on a monthly basis at no charge…” The cost of the Freedom Plan is between $3 to $20 more for each plan per month and also includes an activation fee of $19.95 and an annual fee of $24.95, but could save lots of money if you only need the service a few months per year.

For example, the Safety Plan would cost $14.95 per month instead of $11.95, but at 4 months per year the, including the annual fee, the total cost would be $105 per year instead of $163 for a savings of $58 per year. Four months per year of the Freedom Explorer Plan would cost $305 instead of $619 on the annual plan for a yearly savings of $314 per year. If you only needed the service for two or three months a year, the savings would be even more.

So my choice would be the Delorme InReach SE with the Safety Freedom Plan. So, if I use the service four months per year, the cost of the InReach, the activation fee, the annual cost of the Freedom Plan and total cost of the Safety Plan the first year would be about $400 (excluding tax, costs of batteries, messages and tracks) and would cost $85 each year after that (plus 50 cent per message, an unknown amount of tax and 10 cent per track or ping and the cost of batteries).


So I asked my wife what she thought about buying the Delorme InReach SE and the Safety Freedom Plan. After asking what it would cost, she said two things:

  1. She is with me most of the time we are in the back country, so who would I message?
  2. The few times I decide to stay out an extra day doesn’t worry her enough to justify spending over $400 the first year

It’s true, when we are hiking or camping, she is always with me and she also goes with me about half the time during the hunting seasons. The only times I really need to send a message is 6 or 8 times a year when I want to spend an extra night out and want to let her know or if need help packing out an elk.

So, I was thinking of buying the Delorme InReach SE primarily for her peace of mind and she doesn’t think it’s worth the cost.

Is Delorme InReach a Good Alternative for PLBs?

To answer my original question… No! Satellite Messengers in general are not good alternatives for PLBs. Satellite Messengers, especially the Delorme InReach may be good additions to PLBs, but not an alternative.


Remember, the main purpose for having any of these devices should be for the ability to send an SOS from almost anywhere that does not have cell service and with nearly 100% chance of the signal being received by the satellites so rescuers know where to find you.

PLBs are the only devices that reliably do that and except for very special situation, like being stuck in a north-south slot canyon (read more about PLB testing), the satellites will usually be able to receive the SOS with GPS coordinates in just a few minutes. PLBs send very powerful 5 watt signals that have a better chance than weaker signals from Delorme or Spot satellite messengers to contact satellites when near cliff faces or under tree canopies.

If you already have a PLB and if you also have few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket so you can send messages and let your friends or family track your movements, then I recommend that you spend a little more money and buy a Delorme InReach SE, so you will at least have two-way texting and in case of emergency, can text back and forth with rescuers.

Just make sure you have a registered PLB and carry it with you anytime you are off the grid. This is for your safety, the safety of anyone in your group and the safety of anyone you pass along the trail.

This is the last in a series of four related posts on comparing PLBs and satellite messengers. To follow the entire discussion read the following articles:

Read more about PLBs:

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Comments

  1. The most common problem with the DeLorme InReach is that, like other computer devices, it will lock up and become unresponsive. There is a procedure to reboot the InReach and it can be found on the DeLorme website. The problem is that many users are just simply not aware of the problem and what to do when it happens. I would expect DeLorme to eventually find the cause and fix it, but DeLorme has been acquired by Garmin, so who knows where this will go.

  2. Soft reset is what they call it. It’s surprising that they don’t make this more well known. If it quits on you in the middle of nowhere, that’s hardly the place to be looking for help with it. I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that some users had thrown theirs away thinking that it had gone bad.

  3. Bruce Carter says:

    Do your homework before buying an Explorer people. These glitchy devices are prone to failure and limitations that may make the device about as useful as a paper weight. What’s worse is that the customer care staff won’t care. I learned this the hard way.

    Like others, I too experienced an inability to sync the Explorer to my iPhone. Delorme staff told me to “…buy a new phone.” Yeah right, I’m gonna spend $600.00 so I can use your $350 device? As if that was the problem. The truth is, DeLorme has a serious glitch that prevents users from actually synching the device. They know this. It’s all over their online forum and is the number 2 issue on their Help page. There are review sites (such as REI) where consumers have had their Explorer replaced multiple times and each time, replaced again for the same glitch I experienced. I guess the QC department at DeLorme is nonexistent.

    So fine. The Explorer I bought is a glitch mess and won’t work and the customer care is pathetic. I bought a paper weight. After months of paying for their service and getting nowhere I cancelled the charge card they were debiting monthly and tossed the explorer into the junk drawer. A year later I get a letter from a collection agency (The Thomas Agency) for the balance of the annual service fees. This is the same service is was unable to ever use because of the glitch. I was stunned.

    I contacted my attorney who explained to me that by failing to resolve my technical issues, DeLorme was in material breach of their own agreement and I could not be held accountable for the fees because the services were not being rendered by DeLorme. Moreover, because the issue is well documented and well known to DeLorme, any collection activity (extortion) to enforce collection of the contract would be malicious. If you have been turned over to The Thomas Agency for similar issues, you should advise them that Delorme has failed to uphold their end of the contract and therefore not entitled to any fees and that is The Thomas Agency pursues collection they will be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which protects consumers from wrongful collection practices. All you need to provide them is correspondence with DeLorme to demonstrate the existence of the problem and thus, the reason you refused payment. I suspect there are a lot of people who are experiencing this problem and perhaps enough for a class action lawsuit. I guess it depends on how many people they are trying to force to pay for services they denied.

    So when I heard that DeLorme was purchased by Garmin I was delighted. Garmin is a great company and I have been a custom of their for eons. Never had a problem with their products or support staff. So I wrote to them, explained the problem and made a simple request…replace my Explorer with a unit that actually works and credit me for the months I paid for service but could not access it. Simple right? I even offered to prepay for the year of service if they would just credit me the months I paid for service but could not use it due to the faulty device.

    Well apparently Garmin failed to clean house because I got the same treatment from their customer care staff that I had experienced before pitching the Explorer in the junk drawer. Monica Goodhue was the kind of copy & paste corporate droid you hope you never encounter. Multiple email exchanges resulted in this message:

    Hello Bruce,
    Thank you for your reply. As we understand your frustration regarding this matter and for this reason we have supplied you with our final offers regarding this request, neither of which contain credit for service. Please see the below offers:

    1. Submit payment in the amount of $127.94 to inReach for the past due balance on account [removed id number]. Once payment is received inReach will ship a replacement inReach device to you at no additional cost along with a paid shipping label to ship the old unit back to us.

    2.Submit payment in the negotiated amount of $75.00 to inReach to resolve any and all past due balances associated with account [removed id number]. Your service will remain terminated, we will notify any corresponding agency of payment being received and no further action will be taken.

    We understand your request however InReach is unwilling to negotiate further. We apologize that we are unable to meet any type of agreement and are prepared to address any action that you feel necessary in taking.
    Kind Regards,
    Monica G.
    InReach Billing Supervisor
    DeLorme, a Garmin Brand
    Phone: (800) 511-2459 or Internationally at (207) 847-1165
    Many answers can be found at our on-line knowledge base within the link below.
    http://support.delorme.com

    So this is Monica’s idea of a fair solution. Pay the balance of the year for the service I never got and get a replacement unit without service. Hey, that’s great! Can I get a punch to the face with that? Now here’s the thing, all I requested was replacement of the defective unit and credit me for the months they charged me for service but was unable to use. To put it another way, I wanted to pay exactly what any new customer would if they bought an Explorer and signed up for new service. Fair right? Oh and I wanted em to call off The Thomas Agency too. Sadly this was not the outcome. So now I have a dusty ole DeLorme InReach Explorer in a junk drawer, a collection agency hounding me for money for services I could not access and a customer care department that doesn’t care.

    I cannot allow DeLorme to extort funds from me this way and I will not bend over for wrongful collection activity even if it means litigation. Fortunately I own two businesses and have eight attorney friends so I am prepared for the worst.

    My advice is simply this…do your homework before purchasing any DeLorme product. Read their reviews, learn the limitations of the device and and any known glitches and DO NOT EXPECT THE SAME CUSTOMER SERVICE YOU WOULD FROM GARMIN. Garmin’s people are great but apparently were not given control of DeLorme after the buyout. The DeLorme staff is useless and apparently lack all common sense. They could have easily preserved my business and goodwill but instead, chose to be “…unwilling to negotiate…” an acceptable resolution. That’s when I started writing this review. Caveat emptor…let the buyer beware. I’m now buying a Sat phone. Garmin, if you’re reading this, get some of your people on the phone pretending to be consumers and see what DeLorme’s staff is saying to people. Send em some emails and read their responses. Then fire those who harm your reputation and have someone review all the claims sent to The Thomas Agency. I am certain there are a multitude of angry customers like me there.

    • Bruce: I hope you feel better now that you have vented…
      Yes, there is the way things should be and then there is the way things are…
      I would like to have a way to text of call home, but so far have stuck with my PLB just in case of an emergency.
      I have been skeptical of both Spot and Delorme’s ability to provide a safety net in the backcountry because the reviews constantly cite lack of performance and/or terrible customer service.

      The reviews also include people that are perfectly satisfied with the equipment and service. But there are far too many bad stories for me to get involved with them. I hope this is a cultural issue at Delorme that can be fixed by Garmin. If not, the infection may spread to Garmin. I hope not.

      Part of the reason satellite TV (Dish and Direct TV) are so bad is not enough options/competition. Consolidation of companies won’t make this better.

      The only way to get better service and customer service is to demand it. If companies profit from doing nothing, they have no reason to fix it.
      Good Luck with your fight. Hope that sat phone doesn’t leave you hanging…

  4. I am a former Outward Bound instructor, former WEA certification instructor, former NOLS instructor, former AMGA guide, former Wilderness EMT. I have over 1300 days in the field over a 15 year period when I was actively working and guiding. I was also certified in NASAR/FUNSAR and have worked search and rescue from before the days of sat phones to the present. I have used the DeLorme InReach for several years, primarily on solo trips and also for my son’s BSA trips.
    I chose the DeLorme InReach over satellite phone rentals, which I used extensively in the early 2000s, as my experience with sat phones has always been 50% success (from deep wilderness areas) when attempting to make calls (even with a clear view of the sky). The calls either drop or won’t go through, no matter which sat phone you use or which company you rent from.
    I have used ACR beacons to send test signals with 98% success. Test signals can be sent by most modern beacons that are set up in advance through a service so another party can receive a message that you are ‘OK’.
    My experience with the InReach Explorer has been a love/HATE relationship. The company really does not seem to know how to develop software for updates and this is the primary issue. But as others have noted, the thing also occasionally locks or freezes up.
    Every time, and I mean every time over the past 5 years I have had to update the software prior to going in the field because InReach decided to ‘update’ the software or the firmware or both. Now they will tell you this is good as you have the latest emergency communication/weather/whatever. But IMO the updates are executed poorly and are fraught with bugs.
    My latest encounter (tonight) took over 1 hour attempting to ‘synch’ the devise after uploading the new software to my Mac (latest operating system on Chrome). After over one hour with no support available from Delorme I finally decided to ‘destruction’ test the device. Really, it is that frustrating to own and use one of these things. I bought ALL the insurance that goes with this infernal thing.
    When you really want/need to communicate you are forced to hunt and peck one character scroll/search at a time, in the dark (it is always this way when you want to reach out and need coms). And you better have some reading glasses with you if you are over 40, because you will NOT be able to see the screen.
    Overall its a very poorly executed devise based on a fantastic idea. Whoever is doing IT and software development for DeLorme should be let go. Box their crap up and escort them to the parking lot. Cut up their employee ID. They really do suck at their jobs. Truly. Their updates are NOT debugged before releasing them and that could spell disaster for you if you head into the field with an InReach that has a bug from a ‘software update.’
    Would the DeLorme work in a real emergency? Well they have lots of stories claiming that it does, but I would not want to have to try to use it under extreme stress. And judging by how fragile it was during my destruction test (the unit would NOT withstand a fall onto rocks of greater than 8-10 feet without sustaining damage). That WILL render it INOPERABLE. Should you fall with it in your hand and if it hit a hard surface, it would most likely break and NOT work. So if you own one, you better encase it in a bumper case of some kind and do NOT travel with it clipped to your pack. You would be asking for it to break if you fell or your pack rolled onto it in just the right way.
    IMO you would be better off relying on an ACR ResQLink+. NO, I don’t work for ACR, but I have owned two of these over the years and used them before the DeLormes were available, and these things work. Easy and reliable. The same sadly can NOT be said for the InReach Explorer.
    I will buy another InReach Explorer for my son, and ride the company’s ass to make sure the software works, simply because he is still scouting and needs one for emergency coms when the troop is outside of cell phone service. I bought all the insurance they offer for him and myself. But personally I will never carry one again in deep wilderness. I will return to using an ACR and renting a Sat phone.
    Sorry Delorme, but your Explorer device really sucks and your software updates are fraught with issues. As a former outdoor professional certified guide, about as professional as they come, a former Wilderness EMT and someone trained in Search and Rescue, I would NOT recommend you rely on one of these until they make the unit more durable and fix all the IT issues with the software and updates.

    • Amen… There you have it from a professional. Carry a PLB for emergencies and only carry the Delorme Inreach or other satellite messengers as possible (not guaranteed) way to communicate with family or friends.

      • How about a combination device like the ACR SARLinK with dual PLB/Satellite communication capabilities. It has a rechargeable battery for the two-way communication and a separate battery for the PLB, works on the Iridium Satellite Constellation, has a 50 channel GPS chip, and a touch screen. It’s a little big and I bet really expensive but if they added mapping capabilities and made it available to the general public for a reasonable price it would put one argument to rest for a long time.

        I wonder if it would cause a patent infringement lawsuit. DeLorme had to pay $6.5 million to a company that makes MOB devices because DeLorme used an imported belt clip. Go figure?

        Prices have dropped on inReach and SPOT so I’m wondering if we’ll see new offerings from both companies soon.

  5. My qualifications are I’ve been around the block a couple times and here’s my opinion:

    The best electronic device to depend on is the one located between your ears. You can use it to research and plan your trips so you don’t exceed your skill level, it can monitor unsafe situations and if needed, it can recall stored data on how to perform a self-rescue. However, if you need a back-up device choose the one that best fits your own personal needs and budget.

    Now for my tongue-in-cheek opinion of which device works best if your brain is unreliable:

    The only place on the planet where satellite phones work the way you would expect them to is in Hollywood, CA. However, if you are in a situation where you need advice being in voice contact could mean the difference between life and death. I don’t think you want to be texting on your inReach, “I just got bitten by a black mamba, what should I do?” then have to wait up to 10 minutes or more for a reply.

    A PLB is great, I’m on my third one. When it was time to replace the battery I junked the old PLB and bought a new one. My reasoning is given the harsh conditions I carry a PLB in, it costs almost as much to replace the battery as it does to replace the unit so it doesn’t make sense not to upgrade every 5 years. A PLB would be my goto device when I am sea kayaking if I got into a situation where I needed assistance. Any more than thirty minutes in 50 degree water and a rescue will probably become a recovery if you are not dressed for immersion. In the 10+ years I’ve carried a PLB on my sea kayak, I never had to activated it. Beats me if it will work after the 10th time I tested it so I always have hand flares in an easy to access location on my boat.

    I’ve been using a DeLorme inReach Explorer for about a year and it’s been 99% reliable. I don’t use the tracking feature because my plan charges 10 cents per trackpoint and 50 cents after the 10 ‘free’ messages. What I do instead is every time I make a major direction change or come to a trail junction I set a waypoint and give it an appropriate name like ‘camping here’ or ‘heading north’ then send a free pre-programmed message that says check Mapshare. My monthly bill rarely exceeds $17 US on the Freedom Safety Plan and I use my inReach every day on the job even when I have cell service. I have no need to suspend service but I do move up and down on plans when I leave for my yearly adventure into the unknown. I don’t recommend committing to a year subscription for the first year because if you are unhappy with the device you might find yourself sniveling on every blog out there when you cancel your credit card as a way to stop payments and a collection agency comes after you.

    I must be they luckiest person on Earth because I have not had any problems syncing and pairing the device or upgrading the software/firmware. My outdoor experience may not be up to snuff but my reading and comprehension skills are superb. Yeah, there are a few glitches but after a while you figure it out.

    The last upgrade to the sync software was a couple weeks ago. The last major firmware upgrade included weather updates; both installed fine for me. The last minor firmware upgrade added a message to the startup screen reminding users that for the device to work, you need a subscription. (You could probably credit that update to the person who cuts and paste the same long, whiny message on every blog/review regarding DeLorme inReach products).

    Both the inReach Explorer and SE were not meant to be dropped 10 feet onto rocks (see above). That is why the inReach comes equipped with a belt clip that is next to impossible to detach even when you are trying to get it off your pack/belt and DeLorme includes a handy back-up device called a lanyard with every purchase.

    I’ve never had a problem with the DeLorme website or customer support but here’s a tip when talking to a support representative – Try to work these phrases into the conversation; upta camp, from away, The County, and flatlander. If you really need help it doesn’t hurt to work something disparaging about people from Massachusetts into the conversation. At the very least complain about people living south of the Volvo line, the rep will know exactly what you are talking about.

    When I’m in the backcountry I know it’s going to be a while for help to arrive and though activating a PLB might be the most reliable method to get help, there is no way to differentiate between ‘I sprained my ankle and I might be late’ and “I broke my femur and I might die’ – A PLB should only be activated as a last resort. It can’t be used to send an extraction point or a location where supplies could be dropped off or send messages for assistance that are not true life-or-death situations like you can do with an inReach.

    The best option is to plan for every possible emergency and carry an inReach, a sat phone, a PLB, and stuff to signal with (if all your electronic devices fail) then hire a Sherpa to carry it all. It probably wouldn’t hurt to hire a guide as well since money is no object. Of course it’s a lot easier on the wallet to leave a detailed itinerary and float/trip plan and use your head so you don’t get into life-threatening situations.

    My personal preference is to carry an inReach Explorer attached to my PFD (in a small waterproof bag) and a PLB attached to the outside of an easily cut away deck bag on sea kayaking expeditions. On extended solo hiking trips into the backcountry where weight/room is a consideration, I have no problem leaving the PLB home and just taking my inReach Explorer.

    Sorry for the long post everyone. Be safe, always carry a map and compass, and enjoy the outdoors – One last thing, you get what you pay. Not a fan of SPOT satellite messengers (so I traded up to a DeLorme) but it’s better than nothing. My problem was I never knew if any of my check-in messages went through.

    • Thanks for the comment Bob.
      Yes, you seem to have had good luck with your Delorme.
      Not sure why or how saying something disparaging about people from Massachusetts will help their customer service, but I think some will be willing to try anything.
      As you mentioned, unless you subscribe to ACRs 406 Link Service, you are correct that PLBs can only send a signal to SAR to indicate you need help, but cannot send a message home that you are going to stay out another night. And yes, PLBs should only be used when life or limb is threatened.
      That is where the Delorme InReach is supposed to fill in. And for most people, it works most of the time. Since Delorme is still in business, most obviously think it is worth the cost and the headaches. I have not yet come to that conclusion. My PLB is due a battery change withing the year, so I may upgrade to an ACR PLB and sign up for the 406 Link Service.

      • I thought it was universally know that real Mainers don’t like people from away particularly if they are from Massachusetts so if you don’t want a DeLorme service rep to cop a condescending ‘didn’t you bother to read the instructions before you called me’ attitude it might be helpful to talk like us.

        Kidding aside, I’m not sure how many one-way self-tests I would want to perform in a 5 year span on something that has a $150 battery that is not rechargeable or user replaceable. Did you check the manual to see how many times you can self-test an ACR PLB before you get a battery replacement warning?

        I have about 2,000 hours working in the field this year in some of the worst conditions imaginable and my inReach still works great. The only time a message/waypoint failed to go through was when there wasn’t a clear view of the sky (like when the inReach was clipped to my belt). I had one lock-up about a week after I got my inReach and I’m pretty sure it was a user error. The soft reset instructions are printed below the belt clip and when I did a reset, I didn’t lose any data.

        Most of the inReach complaints are customer service issues. I suppose if DeLorme gave a total refund to everyone who bought an inReach, took a trip, and then returned the unit within 30 days DeLorme would go out of business. I think that is what rentals are for.

        The next large group of complaints come from people who don’t know how satellite communications work or don’t understand the limitations of the device. The only glitch I experience is uploading tracks to Mapshare using the phone app; downloading data from the DeLorme website works fine with the app. Also, there might be a long lag when you upload tracks from a computer or phone. It doesn’t mean the device is defective. You also have to make sure you have the proper filters set on both the map and social media tabs on the website so it will show up properly on Mapshare.

        I use my inReach Explorer when I set out environmental monitoring equipment miles off marked trails. It’s a decent GPS for navigating but my primary use is to mark waypoints to relocate equipment. I don’t think many people realize that when you set a waypoint on an Explorer it uploads via satellite and appears on your Mapshare page. That gives me piece of mind if my GPS fails and a bear eats the hard-copy data sheets. I don’t think I would want to explain how I lost a customer’s really expensive equipment.

        I agree that a PLB the quickest and most reliable way to get help but it doesn’t hurt to have back-up with two-way communication for those times when you need help and you’re not going to die. DeLorme syncing could use some improvements but it doesn’t mean the units don’t work or can’t send an SOS. I think it’s a fairly reliable device when you learn how to use it.

  6. Well Bob, not sure why you would think that an outdoor professional would not use his or her brain, or leave an itinerary with responsible parties in advance, or not have a real topo map and compass. Little of your asinine commentary has anything to do with the shortcomings of the ‘Explorer.’ And God knows that things never go wrong when one plans a trip within their skill set, nor does equipment become detached or dropped or broken in the back country. Nope that never happens to the lucky people (aka people who haven’t been doing it long enough). You know in my other job working for the government I learned, “When there is a doubt, there is no doubt,” but that may be ‘lost’ on guys like you. I was lucky to have very few smart ass students and clients over the years, but it was always entertaining watching them try like hell to learn from their repeated mistakes, never get it quite right, nor have a clue why.
    Paul Petzoldt taught me that there is no substitute for experience; ego eats brain; mother nature is always waiting to be either your best friend or a mother f@!#%er and luck is a fickle bi@#h. “Argue enough for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.” And for most of my outdoor career there were no electronics that existed (or worked) that were of any benefit to carry except for a digital watch, and we learned (most of us who did it long enough to inevitably deal with real emergencies/evacs) that the best rescue equipment we had actually was NOT our brain, it was a working set of really strong legs and lungs. You do this wilderness stuff long enough Bob, and you might just learn that the hard way too…

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