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Re: Satellite Communicator recommendations?

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Satellite Communicator recommendations?
July 11, 2022 07:34AM
We'll be in Yosemite in September. Since my wife is recovering from a broken foot, we don't expect her to be able to do very long hikes so she'll probably start some stuff with me, go back to the car and then come pick me up later. Since I'll largely be out of cellphone and walkie-talkie range, I'm thinking of getting satellite communicators for simple messaging (some basic "No, I haven't fallen off a mountain yet" but also some custom stuff like "pick me up at such-and-such a trailhead at about 5:30pm"winking smiley. These'll just be day trips so multi-day battery life is not a concern for me. I know that the cost of some of the plans (at least historically...I haven't researched these in a while) can rival the cost of the communicator themselves so something that allows short-term subscriptions (monthly or even weekly) would be very welcome.

When I've researched these in the past, I was rather drawn to the Garmins (not least of all because I've owned so many Garmin GPS's over the years) but I'm open to other suggestions. Is anyone able to recommend a brand/model/plan with which they've had good luck?

Re: Satellite Communicator recommendations?
July 11, 2022 10:24AM
You really can't go wrong with the Garmin InReach Mini, but you'll need a smartphone to use with it. I'd avoid the Spot-series messengers--they're not as reliable. You can pay for service on a month-by-month basis if you don't use it year-round, and for emergency/non-chatty use the basic $15-ish plan should be sufficient. If you don't need multi-day battery life the original Mini might be fine, but the 2 will likely be more future proof in terms of enhancements to the companion software (the old pre-Garmin Earthmate software used with the Mini is somewhat clunky, albeit functional).
Re: Satellite Communicator recommendations?
July 11, 2022 04:15PM
You can often rent these from some outdoor suppliers

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Re: Satellite Communicator recommendations?
July 13, 2022 06:07AM
I'll echo what Basilbop said. Garmin seems to be the defacto standard
Re: Satellite Communicator recommendations?
July 13, 2022 07:50AM
Thanks, folks. Think I'll make a trip to REI this weekend. Basilbop: does that "non-chatty" mode still allow for custom messages? One of the main things I'll need to communicate will be my ETA back at the trailhead (since I am notorious for the "let me just see what's around that bend and THEN I'll head back" interpretation of "mandatory" turn-around times!)
Re: Satellite Communicator recommendations?
July 13, 2022 12:12PM
The base plan (approx $14/month) includes 10 custom messages per month--sent or received; each additional is 0.50. You'll want to ask people who will be sending you messages to use fewer/larger messages (up to 160 chars w/o emoji) instead of one.. message.. per... line like some people do in SMS.
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