August 14, 2016 at 3:24 pm #82963Tracey WParticipant
Hello fellow hikers,
I plan to do a long training hike alone on Friday (I do often, but not in bear country) and a fellow hiker said I should rent a satellite phone. I have tried googling, but most appear to be internet based. I was hoping to go into a store, REI doesn’t rent. I heard in a class that delorme 2-way is the way to go.
Does anyone know of somewhere in So Cal that rents them … and/or any other advice you may have? =D
TraceyAugust 16, 2016 at 10:17 pm #83029Jeff HKeymaster
Hey Tracey, great question!
I haven’t used a satellite phone myself, but some folks do say they are handy to have. A quick search on Google did’t find any big brick-and-mortar shops (it’s a niche market) but I did find this company that does weekly Sat phone rentals.
Personally, I have used a SPOT Messenger, and it works pretty well. I got mine last year before I started hiking the Theodore Solomons Trail, and it gave my wife peace of mind. It has three basic functions: You can let it send your GPS location every 30 minutes or so and your friends and family can “see” where you are (or at least, where you were in the last 30 minutes). Second, it lets you “check-in” sending one of three pre-written messages to your friends and family (for example, “Camping here for the night and all is well”). Finally, it let’s you contact Search and Rescue (SAR) in the event of a real emergency. They’ll know your location and will send help.
Note that there is a subscription service required for the SPOT and a 1-year minimum contract.
Some friends of mine prefer the Delorme InReach. It does all the things that the SPOT does, but also allows two-way messaging. On the Theodore Solomons Trail last year, my friend Mario used it to receive weather reports or ask his girlfriend where I was last see (we were hiking opposite directions). The device is more expensive, but you don’t need to commit to a year contract for service — it’s month-to-month.
I take my SPOT whenever I’m in the backcountry. I’ve never had to use it contact SAR yet (thankfully) but it’s nice to know that I could.
Hope this helps.August 18, 2016 at 5:07 am #83049Tracey WParticipant
Thanks for your detailed response. =D
I had recently taken a free Intro to Back Country Wilderness Skills class thru REI and the instructor recommended the Delorme because of its two-way capabilities. He said that SAR folks don’t like the Spot because they can’t communicate back to find out situation (i.e. is it “I have broken my leg and can’t hike out” or just “I am too tired to hike out”).
I was hoping to try one out as a rental for my solo SB Peak hike but without the commitment to the purchase and a plan.
Thanks again for the detailed response.
TraceyOctober 2, 2017 at 6:16 pm #397812Lorne CParticipant
I looked into this as well and after a thorough analysis came up with the following:
-This places rents them (https://www.lowergear.com/product.php/id/261) among others.
-Talking to a very experienced friend of mine he made the point that when you need it (i.e. you are in serious trouble), knowing that help is on the way would be critical to how you handle yourself. For that reason the two way communication is important.
-Although the Spot is initially cheaper to purchase when you look at the data plan it is almost the same price. When you look into depth on the data plan on the Spot you must purchase a full year whereas with the InReach you can buy it month by month and turn it off when you don’t need it. So the InReach will work out cheaper in the long run.
-You can rent both of them but when you look at the pricing for weekend rentals after four uses you would have paid for buying it. If you rent for longer the pay off might be different.
-For me, and the hiking I am doing (one or two day hikes on reasonably well traveled trails) there are enough people around that I decided that for the cost using my whistle would probably work fine for me. Keep in mind that to use one of these devices you need to be lucid enough and have enough time to fiddle with it. It is much more fiddly than using a cell phone to text.October 2, 2017 at 10:44 pm #397840R WParticipant
I carry a ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) I had to register with NOAA when I got it. I got it after a fellow hiker in local group collapsed with cardiac issues (he was very fit too) and had to be MedEvac’d out. In his case, another fellow hiker is a dr and the guy had heart meds on him, so dr could stabilize him. Sheriff tried to triangulate off 911 call and chopper was looking miles away in opposite direction until finally they turned 180 degrees and saw my fellow hikers in their bright orange and neon pink tops. Then they shone spotlight, zoomed in to confirm, and called MedEvac chopper.
Spot, sat phones, and Delorme are great if you are able to communicate. But in the one guy’s case, he was conscious but in tremendous pain and not in good shape, so idk if he could even flip the antenna and hit the one button to operate a PLB. It is a lot simpler and extremely accurate positioner though, which is why I got it. And why if you read my hike logs I have the most obnoxious day-glo gear, so I literally can be seen miles or a ridgeline away if I or another hiker is in trouble.
Btw guy did need small procedure but is healthy now. And very grateful he had expert help when he fell ill.
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