Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
The DeLorme inReach keeps you connected anywhere you are. The first device using two-way satellite messaging, the inReach allows users to send & receive text messages beyond cell phone range, including interactive SOS messages, should the need arise.
We sat down at Outdoor Retailer with Chip Noble, Product & Design Manager at DeLorme, and he walked us through the key features of inReach. We then got our own inReach and tried it out ourselves. We’ve segmented the features of the inReach (listed below). For each segment, Chip tells us about the features, and then we walk through our experience with setting up and using them.
Delorme inReach: Using the inReach as a standalone device
The DeLorme inReach: Out of the box
The Delorme inReach comes with the inReach unit, a Quick Start Guide, batteries, a lanyard and micro USB cable. The first step is to decide which service plan you want – Safety, Recreation or Expedition. A good comparison chart for the service plan levels is located under Subscriptions on the Delorme website FAQs page. Once you decide, setting up an inReach account at http://explore.delorme.com is easy. Simply choose a plan, enter your credit card & add emergency contact information.
After setting up an account, you can add personal contacts & customize predefined messages. If you plan to pair it with a smartphone or tablet, you can also link it to Twitter & Facebook (described in next segments).
The Delorme inReach unit
The DeLorme inReach is very simple to use in standalone mode.
Power. Press & hold the Power button for 3 seconds to turn the inReach on or off.
Tracking. Press and hold the Tracking button for 3 seconds to start or stop tracking. Tracking sends your location to explore.delorme.com
Message. Used to send 1 of 3 predefined messages.
For message 1, press & hold until the LED flashes once, then release.
For message 2, press & hold until the LED flashes twice, then release.
For message 3, wait for three LED flashes, then release. We set up our predefined messages as:
SOS. The SOS button sends an emergency message to Search & Rescue. The slide button next to SOS button is a lock so the SOS button doesn’t accidentally get activated.
NOTE: The SOS button will dispatch emergency personnel to your location & notify your emergency contacts. Don’t “test” the SOS button, but do become familiar with how to use this feature.
Delorme inReach: Pairing with another device & two-way communication
The Delorme inReach works with smartphones and tablets, including iPhone®s, iPad®s, iPod Touch® & Androids®. By pairing the inReach with your smartphone or tablet (we use iPhones), you can then send messages from your phone, in addition to using the predefined messages associated with the inReach in standalone mode.
The process of setting up the two devices to work together is called pairing. Chip Noble, Product & Design Manager at DeLorme, tells us more…
Delorme inReach: Setting up & using an iPhone with the inReach
Step 1: Download and install the Earthmate app on your iPhone
Step 2: Go to settings on the iPhone & make sure Bluetooth is turned on
Step 3: Open the Earthmate app on your phone, go outside (you need a satellite signal) with the inReach and the iPhone, and simply follow the directions for pairing the devices within the Earthmate app. Pairing is easy and the directions are pretty straightforward.
Once paired, messages can be sent from the Earthmate app on your iPhone instead of using the predefined messages in the inReach’s standalone mode.
Send a test message to DeLorme -they’ll send you one back (you can do this 5 times per month for free).
Next, test messaging with your contacts and tell your emergency contacts that you set them up as emergency contacts
Then, go for a hike and try it out.
Delorme in Reach: Twitter, Facebook & Mapshare
The number one benefit of the DeLorme inReach is safety – the security of knowing that when you are in the middle of nowhere if something happens, you can contact someone and know they are on their way with help.
But, the inReach can also keep you connected and add a bit of fun to your treks too.
Delorme inReach: Socialize from the summit
Delorme inReach has remote tracking so others can follow your progress online.
Chip Noble, Product & Design Manager at DeLorme, talks us through messaging, Twitter & Facebook…
DeLorme inReach: Twitter & Facebook
I’m pretty active on Twitter @KimberliHull so tweeting from our hikes should be a pretty natural thing…
that never occurs since “No Service” usually appears before the trailhead sign.
Setting up Twitter and Facebook is done at explore.delorme.com. Like most other applications, it is the simple process of authorizing access to write to your account. Once completed, the authorizations appear in your Delorme account.
So, we were looking forward to our first tweet.
On our inaugural inReach hike, we chose the Maroon Bells near Aspen.
We turned on tracking on our inReach at the trailhead parking lot (described below), and after capturing a few early morning pictures of Maroon Lake, headed up to Crater Lake & the West Maroon trail.
Upon arriving at Crater Lake, I sent a tweet.
When I got back, I checked and no tweet. #fail What the heck?
I had forgotten to sync my iPhone with my Delorme account after I had set up Twitter & Facebook.
After syncing within the Earthmate app on my phone (Options > Account & Sync > Sync>, duh the Twitter, Facebook & Mapshare options appeared in Messages within Earthmate on my phone.
The next tweet went out promptly…
DeLorme in Reach: Find me, follow me
And, speaking of Mapshare.
Mapshare is Delorme inReach’s Find Me, Follow Me functionality allowing your friends to follow your progress on a map with updates at specified intervals (we set 10 minutes, the default). Simply provide the URL to the map and everyone can follow along.
You can also post updates from your phone to Mapshare, just like on Twitter & Facebook.
DeLorme inReach: Durability & battery life
The Delorme inReach has been tested to last 120 hours on two lithium AA batteries, based on transmitting one tracking point every 10 minutes.As far as durability – that’s pretty important for me.
I can attest that an iPhone dropped on a rock while hiking in Moab will result in shattering of both sides (took it to the Apple store in a baggy). I dropped the inReach a couple of times (once in the parking lot before we even got started). Not even a scuff.
DeLorme also states that the inReach is waterproof and floatable. Greg, of course, wanted to immediately pitch it in Maroon Creek to test it. I persuaded him not to do so on our first trip out. That said, I’m sure it will end up submerged soon – we’ll let you know how it goes.
Delorme inReach: Skip talks durability & battery life
DeLorme inReach: Earthmate
Delorme inReach: There’s an app with a map for that
The free DeLorme Earthmate app transforms your smartphone or tablet into a two-way text-messaging global communications device and a GPS viewer.
Delorme inReach: Downloading Delorme Maps on Earthmate
Delorme maps for the Earthmate app are available for locations worldwide.
Once downloaded, the maps are viewable within the app even when there is no cell phone service. Navigation doesn’t rely on the iPhone’s GPS, so there is less demand on its battery.
To download Delorme maps to the Earthmate app, simply open Earthmate and go to maps. Select the region you want to download and the start the download.
DeLorme inReach: The Bums’ summary
Within a half mile of our home, we lose cell phone service. It’s common in the mountains but leaves you on your own when biking, hiking and sometimes skiing.
We researched options and initially selected DeLorme because:
- DeLorme has a reputation as a high-quality service provider
- The inReach has received rave reviews & awards for its performance & durability
- Professional adventure athletes, like Eric Larsen, use the DeLorme inReach, so it’s been tested in the most extreme conditions
Here’s what we love about the DeLorme inReach:
- Security. We prefer hiking in areas without a lot of people around – but solitude also involves more risk. If something happens, you could be there awhile before someone comes along. With the inReach, if we ever need it, we know we can push the SOS button & we’ll soon be notified that help is on the way. Hopefully, we never need it – but if we do, we have it.
- Communication. We can message friends & family with status updates, and they can message back, so we are never disconnected.
- Affordability. The Safety service plan is only $10 per month. That’s only a couple of beers.
- Durability. I drop everything, so this is a big one. The inReach is tough.
DeLorme inReach Product Specs from DeLorme
- Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad & Android
- Connect wirelessly via Bluetooth
- Compose email or SMS address on the fly, or select from your phone contacts
- Compose and send messages up to 150 characters
- View incoming messages
- Post to Facebook, Twitter, or your own shared map
- Describe your situation in detail to improve emergency response
- Stay in touch for mutual status updates on your situation
- Automatic location tracking
Follow Me/Find Me Tracking and Location
- User-selected tracking interval (10 minutes to 4 hours)
- GPS position accuracy to within 5 meters
- View tracking breadcrumbs online
- Navigate with confidence using DeLorme Topo North America maps, DeLorme Digital Atlas of the Earth maps or NOAA Charts
- Unlike streaming maps, your downloaded maps remain available even when outside of cellular coverage
- Free app for smartphone users at iTunes.com or Googleplay.com enables free map downloads
- Case: IP67, dustproof, waterproof, impact resistant and rugged
- Height: 4.77″ (including antenna), #3.40″ (not including antenna)
- Width: 2.85″
- Depth: 1.73″
- Weight: 7 oz (without batteries), 8 oz (with batteries)
- Operating temperature range: -20° C to +70° C / -4° F to +158° F
- Storage temperature range: -45° C to +75° C / -49° F to +167° F
Disclosure & disclaimer: We received a product sample for evaluation for this review and were not otherwise financially compensated by the sponsor. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.