5 Satellite Communicators to Keep You Safe and Connected in the Backcountry

Five satellite communicators set against wrinkled map
These best-in-class lifelines all feature dedicated SOS and check-in buttons, plus weather forecast functions for critical far-flung connection.Chris Wellhausen

Communicating in the wilderness used to mean sending up smoke signals or hoping someone heard your emergency whistle. Now, the newest small and light two-way satellite communicators mean you can venture far into the backcountry and still easily keep in touch with loved ones and emergency services.

 

 

All have dedicated SOS and check-in buttons, and feature weather forecasts and alerts. They require additional fees separate from the purchase price, usually activation and a service plan of some sort. Regardless of features or fees, you can be confident that any of these five best-in-class devices will help you keep connected in far-flung, zero-bar locations.

 

Use a top-rated satellite communicator like these new devices the next time you venture into the backcountry.
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1. Garmin InReach Mini

Though it also piggybacks off your smartphone (and pairs with other Garmin devices, like its smartwatch), this scant  satellite communicator sets itself apart with an ultra-low-power LCD screen, which is easy to use when your phone dies. Included is Garmin’s GPS navigation Earthmate app with unlimited North American topo maps.

Activate: $30; fees from $12/month (annual contract) or $15/month (no contract).

Battery: 90 hours for the 10-minute tracking mode.

[$350; garmin.com]

Get it

 

Use a top-rated satellite communicator like these new devices the next time you venture into the backcountry.
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2. Somewear Global Hotspot

Upgrades to the newest iteration allow the shockproof-rated waterproof device (it floats) to cache data from prior tracking—meaning, folks back home can track your location from a smartphone.

Activate: $25; fees from $8.33/month (contract) or $15/month (no contract).

Battery: 240 hours for 10-minute tracking.

[$280; somewear.com]

Get it

 

Use a top-rated satellite communicator like these new devices the next time you venture into the backcountry.
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3. Bivy Stick

Slim and simple, this uses an updated app with an intuitive UI. It’s also shockproof-rated with a GoPro mount-compatible base for secure attachments in rough terrain. Bonus: Bivy Stick Orange owners can upgrade for a $50 credit.

Activate: Free; fees from $18/month (no contract).

Battery: 100 hours for 15-minute tracking.

[$350; bivystick.com]

Get it
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Use a top-rated satellite communicator like these new devices the next time you venture into the backcountry.
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4. Spot Gen4 Satellite GPS Messenger

Rated to operate down to -22°F and up to 21,320 feet, the geofencing feature will send an alert if it strays outside of a predetermined area. It also uses four AAAs so you can always have backups to keep power flowing.

Activate: $20; fees from $12/month (contract) or $15/month (no contract).

Battery: 400 hours for 10-minute tracking.

[$150; findmespot.com]

Get it

 

Use a top-rated satellite communicator like these new devices the next time you venture into the backcountry.
Courtesy Image

5. Zoleo Satellite Communicator

With a mobile app interface that’s most like a typical texting experience, Zoleo also provides a dedicated phone number and email address so you can be easily contacted, and offers “seamless” coverage between satellites, cell towers, and WiFi.

Activate: $20; fees from $20/month (no contract).

Battery: 200 hours for 10-minute tracking.

[$199; zoleo.com]

Get it

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