Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Markeyus Franks
Having off-the-grid adventures is always thrilling and fun, but the lack of communication can result in various concerns that can otherwise be dangerous and risky. For one, you could be injured or lost while traveling and unable to call for help. This is especially true when your phone’s battery has already died, and there’s no trace of cell service anywhere. Only worse things can happen from here. Additionally, the chance of such situations happening increases if you like to spend adventures off the grid with no phone.
Because of this, it’s still a great idea to have a go-to means of communication when you’re traveling. Fortunately, the existence of satellite communication devices helps you stay connected even in locations that have little-to-no cell service. In emergencies, pick-ups, or simply just wanting to stay in touch, these portable devices provide more than they can offer.
WHAT ARE SATELLITE COMMUNICATION DEVICES?
Also referred to as satellite communicators or messengers, these GPS-enabled devices allow you to communicate in areas without cell service. These devices rely on the Iridium satellite network, which encompasses almost every location on Earth. With satellite messengers, not only can you call for help in times of an emergency, but you can also keep in touch with family and friends.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
These sat-comm units all have antennas that help transfer your position alongside a distress call to satellites located overhead. They will then transmit your current whereabouts to a global rescue provider Not only that, but satellite communicators are also convenient for emailing, messaging, and using social media. Here, you can feed your location at preferred intervals so that your prearranged recipients can monitor your progress in real-time.
Now, if you’re someone who particularly loves going to obscure and remote places, then a satellite messenger might probably be the best companion device for you to have. Apart from dramatically increasing response time, they’re also extremely compact and lightweight, making them a great staple for your adventures.
The good thing is that many satellite communication devices are available on different platforms, but the costs may be typically more shocking than usual. While it’s a given that high quality and functionality come with a relatively higher cost, you must still consider certain things like subscription fees, battery shelf-life, and the global network. Moreover, some devices come equipped with navigational features, weather forecasting, or two-way texting for those who have specific preferences. For these reasons, you must choose a satellite messenger that perfectly fits your needs.
With that being said, we have listed the five best satellite texting devices that are ideal for off-the-grid adventures. Here, we will be reviewing each device’s features, functionality, price, performance, and more.
1. SPOT 2-WAY SATELLITE AMAZON ASIN (B07Z2TYBG4)
Following the release of SPOT Gen 3, which is well-known for being an S.OS. Locator device, the company has now presented the Spot X — a sat-comm device great for two-way communication.
This compact device utilizes satellite communication to enable users to send email or SMS messages to any email address and phone number globally. You can do this even without the requirement of cell service. Whether you are in the backcountry or some remote place no one has heard of, you can text whoever at any time. Furthermore, the Spot X also comes with S.O.S. emergency signaling, navigation, tracking, and plenty of other great messaging features.
The device’s keyboard and screen are backlit and work great. For this, you only need to press the power button shortly to light them up. It’s also waterproof and has a feature set up to deliver an email or message when you move the device after being stationary for a certain period.
In terms of response rate, this device receives and sends messages fairly quickly compared to other satellite communicators. When it was tested while still within the range of cell service, it took about three and eleven minutes for back and forth messaging — a feat already impressive, given that it was tested in the middle of a valley within the mountains. Satellite communicators tend to have inconsistent delivery times due to various factors. One of which is when there’s a thick cover overhead which usually restricts fast response times like cloud covers, thick forests, or more.
With the Spot x 2-way Satellite device, the fetch rate typically affects the delivery of incoming messages. You can select the frequency by which the device checks for incoming messages, the shortest being 2.5 minutes at most. Even so, you still have the option to check for messages manually any time you prefer.
2. ZOLEO SATELLITE COMMUNICATOR TWO WAY GLOBAL AMAZON ASIN (B07X59RH7T)
This Zoleo Satellite communicator is a rugged, Iridium-satellite-based and GPS-location aware device. It connects with your installed ZOLEO app either on a tablet or smartphone so that you stay connected even when there is no cell service.
Being one of the contenders for best value sat-comms, the latest Zoleo does not provide location tracking or navigational features at predetermined intervals, unlike the aforementioned. Despite this, you can still opt to send your location through texts, which are instantly forwarded to the global rescue team when you press the S.O.S. button.
Additionally, it also has check-in buttons alongside S.O.S. buttons, which means that you can use it in the field as a standalone sat-comm device. However, if you wish to communicate or stay in touch with friends and family, you’d have to connect it to the app on your mobile phone. Here, you can exchange emails and SMS without any hindrances. You can type in a message with a 160 to 240 character limit like its other competitors unless the recipient also utilizes the Zoleo application, which increases the character limit to 950 for every message.
Whenever you’re within the range of cell service, the Zoleo device defaults to sending emails or texts, allowing you to save up credits for critical situations.
3. GARMIN INREACH EXPLORER- AMAZON ASIN (B078XMBMXG)
The Garmin Inreach is an exceptional tool for anyone who spends considerable time in the backcountry. It possesses a wide range of navigational and text messaging features, perfect for adventurous expeditions and backpacking travels anywhere.
This device is perfect for when you want to stay in touch through satellite messaging. More than that, it also has an S.O.S. button, fully-featured and functional G.P.S., as well as weather forecasting. Here, you can send an updated location to different emergency responders. For this, you can send one every minute for the first ten minutes, which eventually becomes once every ten minutes while moving or once every thirty minutes when you’re stationary. You can also opt to cancel the rescue call when your circumstances suddenly change.
Non-emergency messaging also works great here, even though you might have to wait a few minutes for the satellites to send and receive your messages. Through the Garmin phone app, you can seamlessly send messages with the inReach because of pre-programmed messages. This saves you a lot more time and generates quicker updates than usual, allowing you to send to both email addresses and phone numbers. It also has a simple interface that is easy to navigate.
The downside to this device is its portability, given that it’s generally bulkier, larger, and heavier than others. Even so, it still packs a lot of great features that are useful for your trips.
4. A.C.R. BIVY STICK TWO WAY GLOBAL SATELLITE (B093R9VPMF)
Equipped with both the Bivy App and Bivy Stick, the Bivy platform combines fully featured software and hardware to create the perfect mix of convenience and safety.
You can use the Bivy stick so your phone can function as a satellite messenger device through the iridium satellite network coverage. Whenever you have a view of the sky, you can send messages with the help of the Bivy stick.
Apart from that, it’s also incredibly compact and offers a wide range of features. With the A.C.R. Bivy Stick Sat-Comm, you get to experience two-way text messaging, detailed weather reports, location sharing, S.O.S., and plenty more. Moreover, there’s also an added feature that’s not typical of other satellite messengers. Here, you have a dedicated phone email and number, which enables unsolicited arriving messages. This means that your most important messages can get to you at any time without initiating contact first.
Key accessories also enhance the value of the Bivy stick, alongside a variety of mounting options. You have the choice to attach it to any structure, be it a backpack or vehicle, which makes it ideal for you to bring it with you on an adventure. It also has intelligent charging technology through solar panels, conveniently extending its battery life.
5.BLUE COSMOS INMARSAT (B01AKR983M)
The Blue Cosmos Inmarsat is also among the best satellite texting device since it allows you to make and receive voice calls or SMS through global coverage without any roaming charges. It also has a G.P.S. track locator that can get your location anywhere on the globe. With the Inmarsat, you also have a team of professionals you can rely on when you have concerns or demands.
What’s also great is that it’s shock, dust, and water-resistant, making it great for any kind of off-the-grid adventure. It’s also tough and reliable, with long-lasting batteries ranging from approximately eight hours of talk time and about 160 hours standby. The Blue Cosmos Inmarsat can be a great sat-comm companion for when you want to travel in the backcountry since it assures functionality wherever you are, and any time you need it.
Furthermore, this device is easily affordable so that you can immediately start on your next trip without any hassle.
Per the Zoleo website the Zoleo can share location with an add on subscription with intervals from 6 minutes to 4 hours. It’s called Location Share+.