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High-Tech Rescue Aids

Rich Johnson
May 10, 2012
Filed under Navigation & Communication, Top Stories

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Delorme Inreach

The $250 inReach device couples with an Android phone to send and receive text messages from beyond cell phone range.

The expression “great outdoors” goes beyond mere words. It is a declaration in some cases of its vast size. That’s part of the appeal. But it’s often so big, in fact, that it’s easy to get lost or have problems a long way from civilization. Fortunately, you can find high-tech rescue aids that can bring the right people to the rescue when you really need it.

Because only 10 percent of the planet has active cell phone coverage, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to extend the reach of your mobile device no matter where on earth you are? Well, you’re in luck. The inReach is a new device from DeLorme (800-561-5105, www.delorme.com) that employs two-way satellite communication with global coverage. The $250 inReach device couples with an Android phone to send and receive text messages from beyond cell phone range. By itself, inReach can send pre-recorded messages, but paired with an Android phone, you can send custom text messages even if you are in a dead zone. It features two-way satellite messaging and interactive SOS, allowing you to confirm that your message was received. It also allows remote tracking, so people can find you, or just monitor your progress on a hike. Subscriptions begin at $9.95 per month.

ACR Electronics ResQLink 406 GPS

The ACR Electronics ResQLink 406 GPS

Many campers and hikers carry PLBs (personal locator beacons) such as the ACR Electronics ResQLink 406 GPS (800-432-0227, www.acrelectronics.com) to send a distress message via satellite to a rescue agency. A PLB has only one function — to call in the helicopters and show them exactly where you are. With the ACR 406 unit, when the call for help is sent out, the distress signal is received by the global Cospas-Sarsat satellite system and is relayed to the local rescue agency nearest the device’s GPS coordinates. The ResQLink 406 retails for less than $300 at major outdoor retailers such as REI. No subscription is required, but you must register the device.

SPOT Satellite Messenger

The SPOT Satellite Messenger

The venerable SPOT Satellite Messenger (866-651-7768, www.findmespot.com) has evolved into a smaller and more powerful device that is capable of not only calling for rescue, but also sending preconfigured messages to folks back home. In addition, SPOT’s new Connect model now allows users to pair with an Android or Apple app via Bluetooth and transmit custom messages up to 41 characters per message (not just prerecorded ones). In addition, SPOT allows you a multitude of options: You can push the SOS button to call for rescue, or you can send a help message to personal contacts to alert them that you need a hand, but the situation isn’t life-threatening so you don’t need search and rescue. You can also send a checking in message so friends and family know you’re OK, or allow them to track your progress as you travel. MSRP is $169.99, and a variable rate subscription is required, depending on what services you want.

These devices make it easier than ever before to call for help if you get in trouble while camping, hiking, climbing or fishing far from civilization. They’re small enough to be carried in a pocket and powerful enough to initiate a rescue no matter where you are in the world.

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