Now that Garmin’s new inReach has arrived on SA shores, local explorers never need feel cut-off from the outside world ever again. Combining the nav giant’s legendary GPS prowess with affordable satellite-based SMS communications, including direct SOS access to the global GEOS emergency monitoring centre. This amazing, game-changing device can do way more than just prevent you from getting lost or keep you in touch with family back home – it could potentially save your life. Here’s all you need to know about the two inReach models , the SE+ and Explorer+, including how much they cost and how the available data plans to access Iridium’s satellite network are structured.
Fast, reliable and with footprints encompassing every remote corner of the planet, everyone agrees that satellite networks provide the ultimate communications solution – regardless of whether you’re an overland adventurer intent on visiting isolated areas, or a dedicated bluewater sailor seeking freedom far offshore. Sadly though, this uber-convenient form of staying in touch, however desirable, has always had one downside; and it’s a big one: cost. In the past, prohibitive airtime tariffs have prevented many explorers (especially those financing their own trips) from investing in this potentially lifesaving technology. Effectively forcing them to cut corners and compromise their safety, simply because of budgetary constraints.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Garmin’s new inReach (available in two models, the inReach SE+ and inReach Explorer+) brings affordable satellite communications to all of us. Combining reliable GPS navigation, with the ability to communicate via SMS over Iridium’s extensive satellite network into one practical device – these ground-breaking, robust outdoor handsets allow adventurous individuals to not only better invest in their own safety for future expeditions, but also provide regular reassurance to family members back home while they’re gone. Oh, and they’ll not get lost while doing it either.
As satellite communicators, both the SE+ and Explorer+ work exactly the same way. However, when it comes to their navigational ability, they differ markedly. The basic inReach SE+ uses GPS to provide basic grid navigation and allows one to drop waypoints, mark key locations, track one’s progress and follow breadcrumb trails back to base. While the more expensive inReach Explorer+ takes things a lot further – providing full-fledged GPS on-map guidance, with preloaded DeLorme TOPO mapping and waypoint routings viewable directly on the unit. It also comes with a built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer; placing it firmly in the top tier of available high-end navigation devices.
Shoot the breeze with friends or call the cavalry
Operating on Iridium’s satellite network, a synchronized constellation of 66 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that deliver seamless 100 percent coverage worldwide. Both models provide affordable, two-way SMS communications between you and any smartphone or email address, regardless of your location on the planet – allowing you to remain in regular contact with loved ones at home or, if you’re working, communicate with colleagues back at head office.
Should you get yourself into serious trouble in a remote location, the two-way communication advantage these units provide will quickly become apparent. That’s because, the moment you press their dedicated SOS buttons, the global rescue experts at the GEOS Emergency Monitoring Centre, based in Houston, Texas kick into high gear. These guys have supported rescues in over 140 counties and saved many thousands of lives all over the world. After providing you with confirmation that help is on the way, they’ll then track your location 24/7 and maintain a two-way conversation with you until the situation is resolved – updating you regularly on how rescue efforts are proceeding, and passing on relevant information from you to the rescue teams as required.
Here’s how simple it is to call for help
1. All handsets have to be registered on the GEOS portal, so they already know who you are.
2. You press the SOS button to send an emergency alert.
3. GEOS quickly responds in your native language.
4. You describe your emergency so responders know whom and what to send.
5. Responders advise you when to expect assistance – and suggest potentially life-saving actions to take in the meantime.
6. You communicate with friends and family, letting them know the situation and where to contact the rescue team.
7. Help arrives.