My first experience using the DeLorme inReach Explorer was along the John Muir Trail last summer. Not only was it reassuring to know that if I needed emergency care or evacuation, I would have dependable communication with search-and-rescue (SAR) but it proved useful in many other ways.
The DeLorme inReach Explorer can provide you with real time weather reports. Last summer was a little wet in the Sierra, to say the least. Storms cropped up almost every afternoon, but with the inReach Explorer, I was able to send a text to a specific address, and the free service sent back the weather forecast for the current time as well as for the next few days. That proved to be exceptionally helpful as we tried to plan our days around rain, sleet, hail and lightning storms. You can send an unlimited number of any of the three pre-set messages with any plan (Safety, Recreation, Expedition, Extreme). So by defining “wx now” to “+17204632647” as one of your pre-set messages, these messages will never count against your message quota.
There were also a few fires last summer engulfing sections of the the JMT in smoke. It was a little worrisome because we didn’t know if the fire posed a viable threat or if it was a safe distance away. With the DeLorme inReach Explorer, I was able to use the two way texting capability to text friends and family to find out if we needed to turn back or keep going. This information was also helpful to other hikers we met along the way who didn’t have any means of communication outside of the trail. Needless to say, everyone was greatly relieved to hear that there was no real risk of fire crossing our path and that the fire was many miles away and relatively under control.
The DeLorme InReach requires that you enroll in a subscription plan in order to receive service however, you can suspend your service at any time. Suspending your service simply puts your service on hold until you choose to reactivate it. This allows you to use the InReach for either a month at a time or year round. Plans range in price from the Safety Plan at $11.95 per month to The Extreme plan at $99.00 per month.
For the latest details on subscription plan options, check the DeLorme website.
Of course there are other excellent satellite rescue devices on the market including the SPOT Gen3 and the ACR Personal Locator Beacon, but I chose the inReach because of its two way texting capability. The SPOT is a great device if two way texting is not a priority for you and it can track your hike. It also follows a subscription model. The ACR Personal Locator Beacon is probably one of the best rescue devices out there. It does not provide tracking points or any other bells and whistles, but if you need rescuing, it does that flawlessly without having to pay for a monthly subscription.
There are a couple of things to be aware of with the remote possibility that the DeLorme inReach Explorer stops working. Fear not, there are a couple of solutions to this problem. First you can reset the device, and most of the time this rectifies the situation and you will be back on trail. If an inReach exhibits an issue powering on, pairing to a companion Android or iOS smartphone, or acquiring a GPS fix, you can perform a soft reset to attempt to resolve the issue.
Performing a Soft Reset
- Power off the inReach and disconnect it from any power source.
- Press and hold down both the X button and the Down button of the directional pad simultaneously for 60 seconds.
- Release the X button and Down button and power the device on normally.
- Test the inReach Explorer to confirm the issue has been resolved.
Also, make sure that you use the original cable that came with the inReach. I made the mistake of substituting a longer usb cable that I had lying around the house, but the quality of the cable didn’t carry enough bandwidth to power or charge the device. I had to have the original cable shipped to a resupply location and lost days of tracking, and peace of mind.
Although I didn’t use the GPS features, the inReach Explorer keeps the primary inReach function set, adding a full suite of navigation features to eliminate the need for a separate GPS unit (in theory). Let me note that the GPS functionality is not delivered on a large screen and lacks a lot of detail due to the small screen, but it does include a very simple map view that allows users to navigate with routes, waypoints and tracks. This is great functionality if you are hiking off-trail. The unit also includes a digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer, adding extra navigational functionality while tracking speed, elevation, distance and more.
The Bottom Line
Overall I’m very happy with the DeLorme inReach Explorer. It has provided me, my family and friends with assurance that all is well on the trail as well as the peace of mind that help is just a button press away, if necessary.
The DeLorme inReach Explorer lists for $379.95 and the inReach (without navigation) lists for $299.95. You can find them for less on Amazon.
Extra info on the weather forecast:
The phone number you listed doesn’t work any more due to logistical reasons. If you want weather reports you have to shift over to using a pre-determined address. You can get the info here:
Still a great service.
Chip Noble - DeLorme says
Great write-up Dara! I wanted to jump in with a minor correction. While sending a weather request is free using the preset feature on the inReach, the reply from the weather service will cost one message. Given the number of messages built into each of our data plans it is “almost” free but I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed when they got their inReach statement and found that the weather replies were consuming a message.
Debbie L says
This is great info. I’m looking at getting one for some future solo hikes I’m planning. One question – is it worth getting the Explorer for GPS or should I just get the basic model. I’m not planning on doing any off trail hiking and will have maps, compass with me. Just trying to decide between the two.
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. Then there’s 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 DL313741. 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 DL313741. 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.
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.
Nancy R says
Great! Thanks for the Amazon tip!
Bruce – Is this a review of the explorer or the collection agency?
Anyways.. what phone were you trying to sync with? Was it supposed to be a BT issue or a software issue? Interesting!
Having read this I believed it was rather informative.
I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article together.
I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments.
But so what, it was still worth it!
I bought this recently upgraded version at REI for the exact reason of “WHAT IF”. I’ve got a young family at home and I cannot afford to be reckless with my outdoor endeavors. Now I hike 12 hours a day and can text updates throughout the day to let my loved ones know I’m safe. Knowing I have that emergency button in case anything goes sideways is invaluable.
Thanks for posting!