In our constantly connected world, backcountry communications tools are an essential part of our kit on every expedition. In fact, smartphones are such a pervasive part of our lives that it is almost impossible for some of us to imagine being out of touch with friends and colleagues, even for one day. Satellite enabled devices like inReach or a satphone let us connect with folks back home, but they are also an essential lifeline during an emergency.
If you are planning a visit to Torngat Mountain Park, it is remote wilderness and you won’t be able to rely on cellular coverage. Park’s Canada advises visitors to equip themselves with satellite communications.
We thought we’d share our thoughts on the accessible and affordable gadgets that we’re using to stay connected while we’re off the grid.
For this trip, our primary communications tool is the DeLorme inReach, a 2-way satellite communicator with GPS which is used by our correspondents to share daily dispatches with all of you. The rugged design makes inReach suitable for use on land, water or in the air. One of the coolest things about the DeLorme is that we can use it with our smartphones to have a 2-way text messaging connection via satellite. And if you’re addicted to Facebook or Twitter, you can post updates and links to your location on a web map so the armchair travelers in your network can still be part of your adventure. It also turns your phone into a useful tool for back country navigation. Free maps from DeLorme can be accessed even where there’s no cellular coverage, and we can view our GPS location and the surrounding terrain easily. And if something does go wrong, there’s an SOS button with continuous emergency monitoring by GEOS that also allows us to use inReach’s two-way connection to exchange updates with SAR responders. You won’t be able to use inReach to make phone calls with your cell, but you can exchange SMS and email messages with anyone from anywhere on the planet, and it costs much less than a satphone.
For voice communications, our Iridium phone gives us coverage everywhere on earth. If you are traveling on the water, consider using a dry pouch for a bit more protection, and be sure to wear it on your body in case you end up in the water. If you don’t want to invest in a satphone you could always just rent one. AxcessPoint is another handy accessory for the Iridium phone, it sets up an instant Wi-Fi connection for email or light internet use.
Sources: The Delorme inReach is available from retailers across Canada. For affordable satphone rentals delivered to your door check out Roadpost, we’ve found their service to be friendly and reliable.