Delorme inReach Review — Take Texting to New Lands

Post by blogger | July 27, 2012      

Please note the Delorme inReach is available in a confusing variety of versions. The type reviewed below is designed to pair with a smartphone, and by many reports is somewhat difficult to use, not to mention requiring a smartphone to be fully functional and thus being dependent on the smartphone batteries. The inReach SE and other stand-alone models are probably better choices for backcountry use. All inReach devices require a subscription and fees.

Update: It is important to remember that devices such as Delorme inReach must be maintained. This communication and GPS device is not a “set it and forget it” machine. Updates to the inReach are accomplished using a supplied Micro USB.

Upgrades to this device since our original review:

-Increased Battery Life
Courtesy of Delorme’s most recent press release:
“inReach users can choose AA-size Lithium, Alkaline or rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries to power the device. With the new upgrade, battery life has been doubled from 60 to 125 hours for standard Lithium AA batteries, with ten-minute reporting intervals. When running on Alkaline batteries, which are lower cost and readily available at retail stores everywhere, battery life is now extended up to 72 hours. For maximum flexibility and minimal environmental impact, the rechargeable NiMH batteries can run up to 75 hours between charges and can be recharged up to 500 times. When connected to commercially available solar chargers, NiMH batteries provide an extremely cost-effective solution for long trips away from electrical power sources.”

-Up to 30 Track Points are Retained While Tracking Autonomously
While tracking is active and the mobile device you’ve paired to the inReach is disconnected, up to 30 tracking points are stored on the inReach (will be less if there are unread incoming messages). When the mobile device reconnects to the inReach, these points will be downloaded to the app. This is vital to conserving power on your mobile device for extended trips.

-SOS Remains Active Through a Power Cycle
If the Delorme inReach batteries are exhausted (has happened once during my time with the inReach although NOT during an SOS session) or removed during an SOS session, the session will resume when the device is powered back on. The only way to stop SOS transmissions from being sent is to cancel the SOS from the device or connected mobile device and wait for the cancellation acknowledgement to be received.

-Message repeater
Messages delivered while app is in background or connected mobile device is sleeping are no longer re-sent. During initial testing (see original review below) many individuals I sent messages to received duplicates, leading some to believe that I 1) Didn’t know how to use the device or 2) I was in some sort of trouble.

Issues that still need to be addressed: Compass only seems to show a direction when moving i.e. the map will reorient itself in your direction of travel. No north up capabilities (“north up” meaning map sticks to LCD with north oriented up, no matter your movement).

Note: With access to the specific inReach that allows pairing with Delorme’s PN60 standalone GPS, use of the three axis compass is possible. Wildsnow does not have this version.


The idea of the Delorme inReach is simple: Mom calls, you possibly answer. Or if mom is hip, she texts and more definitely gets an answer. Using inReach paired with an iPhone, iPad or Android (via Bluetooth), you can text back and forth with her from virtually anywhere a sat phone would work. Thus, you can communicate in areas where a cell phone is normally nothing more than a brick. More, you can use inReach as a stand-alone rescue beacon that provides an SOS button as well as three pre-configured text messages (you can’t compose or receive texts in stand-alone mode, though you can send from three pre-composed texts).

Fully unpackaged the inReach contains: Lithium batteries, mini USB, lanyard, and the ever important extremely brief instructions.

Fully unpackaged the inReach contains: Lithium batteries, mini USB, lanyard, and the ever important extremely brief instructions.

Mom’s question is “Where are you?” and nine times out of ten my answer is “I’m running late but I’m okay.” That is, if she gets the message. Sound familiar?

The problem living in an area with extremely limited cell service is that in many cases a carrier pigeon has a greater chance of getting a message to mom then my ‘trusty’ iPhone. Thus, the gal may worry, and since she’s in the habit of hearing from me, she might even call for a rescue when she does not.

Yes, being self reliant and confident in any backcountry setting is extremely important. That means not depending on communication technology to get you out of a fix. But more and more, immediate accountability in relation to work, family, and even mom is expected in our society. Thus, the ‘standard of care’ seems to be you have some form of available communication, no matter how far from civilization you go.

Regarding mom, in most cases the communication is simply delayed, causing stress, but nothing more.

But for years I’ve wondered: “What if I’m not okay> How would anyone know, and how would I signal for help?” Or: “We do need help, but it’s complicated.” Yes, I’ve seen satellite phones (expensive and bulky), SPOT units (one way communication always seemed weird, especially when things are “complicated”) signal mirrors (Lou says they work), and now, something that approaches the ideal. Check out Delorme inReach.

When Lou

When Lou tells you to boogie over to HQ to pick up the newest device you don't delay. Let's break down whats inside the box.

Complete with an SOS warning.

Complete with an SOS warning.

Delorme’s inReach uses the Iridium system. It is the world’s only truly global mobile communications company, with coverage of the entire earth, including oceans, airways, and polar regions. Iridium voice and data products provide communications solutions that allow global companies, government agencies, and individuals to stay connected everywhere. The unique Iridium constellation of 66 Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites routes communications traffic through space and around the world, creating highly efficient and reliable connections.

The Iridium network does not use geosynchronous satellites, and you do not need a clear view of the southern sky when in the Northern Hemisphere (SPOT does not use Iridium). The Iridium satellites are in constant motion. If none are overhead at the moment you send a message, the inReach stores the message and waits for a satellite to come within range, then sends it. (Cavemen rejoice.)

Just to note — we as Americans are prohibited to provide any products such as the inReach to countries under Taliban control due to the U.S. embargo restrictions. Last I checked, we at Wildsnow are spotting the most epic lines worldwide and to be honest I’ve got my eyes on some in Afghanistan. I guess I won’t be selling any inReach devices there to help fund my trip.

Weight with Lithium batteries comes in at 232 grams (202g without batteries) 8.18 ounces or just over a half pound respectively.

Weight with Lithium batteries comes in at 232 grams (202g without batteries) 8.18 ounces or just over a half pound respectively. The unit is a bit bulky.

Bottom of inReach contains dustproof and waterproof screw closures (claimed up to 3 meters), back plate features instructions to send messages without a bluetooth connected device, upon initial RESET all lights will flash to signify power and a hard Reset -- LED lights are not especially bright under full sunlight

Bottom of inReach contains dustproof and waterproof screw closures (claimed up to 3 meters), back plate features instructions to send messages without a bluetooth connected device, upon initial RESET all lights will flash to signify power and a hard reset-- LED lights are not especially bright under full sunlight.

After unpacking the inReach you cannot simply run to the nearest trailhead and embark on an epic (I hoped it would be that easy). Timely setup looms as well as the ever important service plan. Once locating the IMEI and authorization code number on the inside of the battery compartment the fun can begin.

Choose from three service plans to fit your budget or adventure. Safety, Recreation, or Expedition. The Safety plan is extremely limiting and I'm really unsure why it is even offered.  At Wildsnow we went with the Expedition plan. It offers flexibility as well as the option to downgrade if no trips are looming -- never the case around here.  Spot offers a plan to buy messages at a rate of $49.99 for 500 messages or $29.99 for 100 but you cannot receive any in return.

Choose from three service plans to fit your budget or adventure. Safety, Recreation, or Expedition. The Safety plan is extremely limiting and I'm unsure why it is even offered. At Wildsnow we went with the Expedition plan. It offers flexibility as well as the option to downgrade if no trips are looming -- never the case around here. Spot offers a plan to buy messages at a rate of $49.99 for 500 messages or $29.99 for 100 but you cannot receive any in return.

Once your plan has been activated the ever important contact information for the user must be updated: name, address, cell number, and billing info. When the user info is complete, two emergency contacts are imported. Their info must contain: name, cell number, email, and relationship. (These contacts are changeable, good for the drifter in all of us).

Your subscription is complete if you reach this page. Next step upload Mapshare if you plan on pairing inReach to an iOS or android device. At this point it is possible to add social media capabilities but I chose not to -- no offense to those out there I just don't feel the need to alert everyone where or how lost I am in the world including my 12,000 Twitter followers 11,950 of them I've never met.

Your subscription is complete if you reach this page. Next step upload Mapshare if you plan on pairing inReach to an iOS or Android device. At this point it is possible to add social media capabilities but I chose not to -- no offense to those out there. I just don't feel the need to alert everyone where or how lost I am in the world including my 12,000 Twitter followers. 11,950 of them I've never met.

With your Delorme inReach purchase, you receive access to highly detailed Delorme topographic regional maps that provide location information for tracking, messaging, and SOS. At this point you can choose to download the appropriate maps for your journey for your device or simply use the inReach standalone with preset messaging, tracking, and SOS capabilities. I opted for the download.

Note: Downloading these maps onto your chosen device turns it into a most basic GPS, meaning you cannot enter data points, waypoints, addresses, or anything of the sort with this model of inReach. Full GPS function has been reserved for the DeLorme AG-008374-201 inReach Two-Way Satellite Communicator for Earthmate PN-60w
which requires a dedicated GPS named Delorme PN-60W a separate $300+ purchase.

Regarding GPS, also know that you can use any GPS or mapping app you want on the device you’re connecting to the inReach, but such will NOT utilize the inReach GPS antenna. Instead it’ll run just as if the inReach was not connected, and will not integrate in any way with the inReach. From past experience WildSnow has had with Delorme, this sort of “half functional” approach to design is typical, and disappointing.

Before the download can begin you must install the EarthMate App on the backcountry side-kick device you pair with your inReach. You can install either the iOS Earthmate App or the Earthmate Android App.

At this point a high speed Wi-Fi connection is recommended as the file you are about to download on your device is extremely large. This is region specific map. Set aside a minimum 45 minutes for the two downloads to take place.  The maps for Western Colorado and North America base were 231mb and 143mb respectively.

At this point a high speed Wi-Fi connection is recommended as the file you are about to download on your device is extremely large. This is region specific map. Set aside a minimum 45 minutes for the two downloads to take place. The maps for Western Colorado and North America base were 231mb and 143mb respectively.

With my morning half gone, I chose to embark on a trip to a place with absolute zero chance of a cell service signal: Wildsnow backcountry headquarters in Marble. It just so happens that Aspen’s Nick Devore was also up there setting up his summer teepee platform. Armed with iPad, iPhone, inReach, camera around my neck, and putting the pedal to the metal I knew I had approximately 10 miles to get situated on my ride up before I lost cell service, plus not crash.

First firing up of the EarthMate App on my iPad as I headed up hwy 133.  Speed, course, elevation, coordinates, and accuracy all displayed as well as the ability to zoom in and out as it realtime tracked me with an accuracy of +/- 33ft.  Note--This is not a screen shot and the accuracy never changed for better or worse during my time thus far with the inReach.

First firing up of the EarthMate App on my iPad as I headed up Hwy 133. Speed, course, elevation, coordinates, and accuracy all displayed as well as the ability to zoom in and out as it real time tracked me with an accuracy of +/- 33ft. Note -- this is not a screen shot and the accuracy never changed for better or worse during my time thus far with the inReach.

From this point on I switched to a device that I would normally have stashed away in my pack, pocket, or in other terms have my thumbs glued to: my iPhone. (I’m not addicted I swear). I downloaded both the maps and app back in town so I thought the switch over would be easy while driving. Not so.

When using multiple devices with the inReach you must forget the device each time you switch over to another one, in my case iPhone back and forth to iPad.  This was a simple but quite annoying feature I discovered while trying to keep the rubber on the pavement.

When using multiple devices with the inReach you must forget the device each time you switch over to another one, in my case iPhone back and forth to iPad. This was a simple but quite annoying feature I discovered while trying to keep the rubber on the pavement. Yes, texting while driving is bad, but the jury is still out on driving while operating two different devices, texting, working a GPS, and shifting a manual transmission, isn't it?

My first message via Delorme's inReach. This is within the Earthmate App. You cannot use your normal texting screen as it will not go through the app -- this is the only way to 2-way text.

My first message via Delorme's inReach. This is within the Earthmate app. You cannot use your normal texting screen as it will not go through the app -- this is the only way to 2-way text. I repeat, to use iReach for normal two-way texting, you will be using the inReach Delorme app.

If you happen to have 13,000 friends on Twitter following and waiting for every update about the snowy owl or bubo scandiacus you just saw, spelling is important. Not to worry Earthmate does have spell check!

If you happen to have 13,000 friends on Twitter following and waiting for every update about the snowy owl or bubo scandiacus you just saw, spelling is important. Not to worry. Earthmate does have spell check!

On Earthmate's home screen you have several choices to control your inReach.  Map, Messages, Tracking, History, SOS, and Options.  Note - when I recieved an incoming message my phone vibrated to alert me of the update.

On Earthmate's home screen you have several choices to control your inReach. Map, Messages, Tracking, History, SOS, and Options. Note -- when I received an incoming message my phone vibrated to alert me of the update.

This is a message a person recieves when an individual sends a message from your inReach.  Characters are limited to 160. The receiving party also does not need to download an app. Additionally you can choose anyone in your phonebook or email to send a message to.  Note - I am unsure why the Delorme inReach comes up as a Vermont number.

This is a message a person receives when an individual sends a message from your inReach. Characters are limited to 160. The receiving party does NOT need to download an app. Additionally you can choose anyone in your phonebook or email to send a message to. Note -- I am unsure why the Delorme inReach comes up as a Vermont number.

Upon receival of the text the incoming party has the ability to see where Joseph is  or locate the person if it is distress call. Upon accessing this screen -- on an iPhone or computer -- the user has the option to view topo, aerial, or road view.  Additionally this is not password protected or secure.

Upon receiving a text, the incoming party has the ability to see where Joseph is or locate the person if it is a distress call. Upon accessing this screen -- on an iPhone or computer -- the user has the option to view topo, aerial, or road view. Additionally this is not password protected or secure.

Once the receiving or viewing party has received the message he has the ability to learn further about the explorer at hand.   From the looks of it I was at the top of the road looking for a teepee platform.  Sad to say Nick wasn't around. I was alright at this point, standing still judging by my speed.

Once the receiving or viewing person has received the message, he has the ability to learn further about the explorer at hand. From the looks of it I was at the top of the road looking for a teepee platform. Sad to say Nick wasn't around. I was alright at this point, standing still judging by my speed.

Upon tidying up the mess at Wildsnow backcountry HQ from a bear scat party I headed back into civilization using my iPhone paired with inReach as a speedometer.

After tidying up the mess at WildSnow backcountry HQ from a bear scat party I headed back into civilization using my iPhone paired with inReach as a speedometer.

The tracking feature is one carry over from the Spot Messenger. Where the Spot leaves off the inReach takes over in that it can be used globally (a first in satellite messaging). At it’s fastest the inReach can track every 10 minutes (default) to a user modified 4 hours.

Once a user begins tracking the App will link your tracks and outgoing/received messages in a chain.  In this instance I was driving.  The chain reflected this by straighter lines. While hiking I noticed these lines where much closer allowing friends at home to track me at greater intensity. Note - the inReach is also approved for aviation use.  In an Alaskan bushplane adventure this feature might be extremely valuable for those awaiting goods, services, or gear during an expedition.

Once a user begins tracking the app will link your tracks and outgoing/received messages in a chain. In this instance I was driving. The chain reflected this by straighter lines. While hiking I noticed these lines where much closer allowing friends at home to track me at greater intensity. Note -- the inReach is also approved for aviation use. During an Alaskan bush plane adventure this feature might be extremely valuable for those awaiting goods, services, or gear during an expedition.

As with the message feature for the receiving party the outgoing party can also view if indeed her message went through and your last location.

As with the message feature for the receiving party, the outgoing party can also view if indeed her message went through and your last location.

Lesson’s learned while pairing

-When out hiking with an iPhone you’ll want it to be “sleeping/locked” or powered off (hard to do when you are curious as to where you are headed or using your iPhone as a basic GPS). In your settings menu located under “airplane-mode” one would think this would enable your iPhone to talk to inReach. Not so: that also turns off Bluetooth, so no inReach connection is possible.

-I learned the inReach doesn’t recognize whether the paired device is connected or not (only when the device is set to “Discoverable” mode, by holding the power button 3 seconds and waiting for the appropriate flashing lights). Tracking continues while your iPhone is off, messages can be received (an orange message LED indicates whether any are pending), and when your iPhone is paired again all of the messages and track point history are downloaded into your iPhone. The inReach retains all unread messages and up to 30 track points while not connected.

-My battery life on my 1.5 year old iPhone has a tendency to drain extremely quickly. Note — I have tried to optimize my battery life by turning off all other applications, setting brightness to a minimum, and using the app exclusively. This was also under temperatures approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit (under typical winter conditions my battery drains exceptionally faster). Know your device, plan accordingly, or be prepared to use your preset messages for extended trips. Consider carrying some sort of auxiliary battery booster. Small ones that use a few AA cells are available, for example.


-If and when you find yourself deep in a cave the inReach has a better chance of sending out a message then any other sat phone or similar messenger on the market. Just a ray of sunlight peeking in vertically or horizontally is all the inReach needs to indicate it can send out a message using an Iridium satellite whizzing past. (That being said I could not get the device to NOT send out a message. My only thought here was to find myself in a subterranean cave, building, or warehouse with no windows or doors to block all sat signals)

-Very user friendly Earthmate app

-Waterproof and it floats

-50+ hours of unpaired battery life with supplied Lithium batteries. (The latest firmware update reportedly allows for even more.)

What’s the catch?

-The SOS button is locked (accessible by sliding a safety button, one hand glove tested) on the inReach device itself and in the app with warnings plastered all over not to push under any circumstances other than an absolute emergency. (I was unable to test this feature).

According to Delorme the preceeding will happen as follows:
When an SOS message is sent, the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) is contacted. That office provides 24/7/365 emergency response capability. When the SOS is sent, one of the IERCC duty officers will be dealing with your emergency, liaising with the primary first response agency responsible in the area closest to you. The center coordinates with other relevant authorities (such as police, USFS, local rescue agencies, or Coast Guard) as well as coordinating any additional private search and rescue resources that may be required to rescue you or save your life. IERCC will also notify the emergency contacts on your inReach account.

-Messages take quite some time to send and you cannot fire off several in a row.

-Stand alone unit is quite confusing to know which message you sent as well as the potential of accidentally hitting a message button (due to sunlight and LED brightness).

-For an individual receiving a message he must navigate himself to a dedicated Delorme website to send a reply.

– Delorme inReach is bulky, and you have to carry a smartphone as well to use it to full capability.

-Battery life is difficult to monitor when messaging back and forth. I was able to leave my phone and inReach paired for a minimum of 36+ hours. If you’re serious about using a paired device for two-way texting, we’d advise carrying some sort of small emergency battery pack if you’re out for anything more than a short trip.

-Bluetooth activated on devices seriously drains battery life on mobile operating systems. Thus, you’ll want to turn Bluetooth off to save juice, but doing so will stop tracking and message reception. An optional weatherproof cable connection would have been a wise feature, so scold Delorme for not providing this. Instead, they do provide a USB cable connection inside the battery case (remove batteries to use) that doesn’t look even close to being usable for placing the unit outside a snowcave or tent hooked up to your paired device inside your shelter. For expedition use this is a major failure.

-Delorme is still in beta testing mode on inReach’s Explore dedicated website. (Doesn’t seem like an issue, just take note) Delorme inReach Explore

This list will be updated as Delorme updates its firmwware on the inReach as more users begin to purchase the inReach. Delorme has additionally setup an extremely clean forum for users to discuss their caveats and successes with the product. Delorme inReach Forum

Note: Now that a few people (let’s call them mildly concerned individuals) in my life know that I have access to such a device their question to me lately is, “Great, you went hiking there but did you take the inReach?” I guess it does make Mom happy that she can really contact me at any time and I have absolutely no excuse not to answer. Anyone have a deep cave that needs exploring?

Yes Virginia, the inReach does float!

Yes Virginia, the Delorme inReach does float!



67 Responses to “Delorme inReach Review — Take Texting to New Lands”

  1. Lisa Dawson July 18th, 2012 12:12 pm

    Thanks for the thorough review. I appreciate the time you spent figuring it out.

  2. Jess July 18th, 2012 1:47 pm

    Stellar review! I like that messages come through to recipients as standard text messages — meaning that if something goes awry with my drifter and I’m sitting at my desk, I know right away. Also, that the SOS feature leads IERCC to call your emergency contacts seems really smart. As a person who knows the fear that comes from a straight-to-voicemail phone call when you know a person you care about is late coming home from a backcountry adventure, I’m glad inReach is on the scene.

  3. Glenn Sliva July 18th, 2012 1:52 pm

    I carry a SPOT and a two way 5 watt hand held Ham Band Radio. You can boost your signal with a small UHF yagi antennae to the equivalent of 200 watts. Basically sends all your signal in one direction. Before I head out I use my GPS to get a bering on the closest repeater that I want to hit. There is or used to be a phone patch on the snowmass repeater. You can call home and get a hold on dinner!

    Works for me and is free, no subscription. Of course this text based DeLorme unit is cool in other areas without repeaters but I’ve been able to locate one pretty much everywhere in Colorado. They are linked together as well so you can talk for free to someone in Durango from the top of Red Table Mountain for example. Poor mans cell phone service.

    It’s real easy to get a Ham license and you don’t have to know morse code for the High frequencies that we use everyday.

  4. Joe July 18th, 2012 4:05 pm

    @glenn interesting you mention Ham radio for your backcountry communication setup because thats exactly what an older gentleman assumed it was when I had it in my hand while hiking.

    1. Curious what model handheld are you using?
    2. Do you mind that your conversations are public?

  5. Mike July 18th, 2012 4:06 pm

    I went with the ACR ResQLink personal locator beacon. This gives me the ability to call in help if things go really wrong, which was my primary motivation to carry another device. I would love to have two way communications, but another monthly/annual fee was not attractive. I also like that the ACR beacon communicates directly with the search and rescue satelite system and sends a message to my emergency contacts. The ACR device is less expensive than a Spot or other satelite messenger once you add in the service fees that are required to use them.

  6. d July 18th, 2012 8:24 pm

    Extensive review, thanks.

    I don’t suppose you have the energy and resources to do a similar review for alternate devices such as the Briartek Cerberus unit and the Yellow Brick?

    These products are getting competitive and interesting, and possibly cheaper.

    I can’t afford a smart phone though.

  7. Glenn Sliva July 19th, 2012 6:55 pm

    No I don’t mind that my conversations are public. It’s an old fashioned party line. I forget the brand of radio. Starts with a Y. There are many brands. The other solution I have considered is carrying an Aviation band radio and you can then talk to overhead aircraft for help. It’s another license but not hard to get. It’s a good backup as well. For the satellite birds overhead ther is a free orbital calculator that tells what birds are overhead and azmuth and elevation by time at your location. This would help you conserve battery power. You dont want to transmit if there is no bird overhead. Kind of like Robinson coruso spelling? On mars scene.

  8. Lou Dawson July 19th, 2012 8:51 pm

    Yeasu, before SPOT and before sat phones went down in cost from unobtanium to semiobtanium, that’s what Lisa and I used. Really not bad once you got the hang of the ham radio system in your particular area, but a bit geekish. I’ve found my sat phone to be truly the best solution for us, though a bit expensive. By not upgrading the ham radios and not buying a spot, I compensate for some of the cost. Funny thing is that the best way to use the Iridum sat phone in mountain terrain is to simply text on it, so basically what I’ve got is a stand-alone inReach with virtually unlimited texting. I use voice when I can. The Iridium phones are quite primitive in terms of the software. For example, when you’re dialing it doesn’t even show if you have a connection or not, which can be very frustrating when you’re trying to catch 3 minutes of satellite time in a narrow valley…

  9. Chip Noble July 26th, 2012 9:12 am

    Joe, that was a great review of DeLorme’s inReach device, very thorough and very informative, thank you!

    I wanted to share one correction with you and your readers as it is fairly significant. The inReach GPS is, in fact, used to drive all mapping and GPS applications on all iOS devices. If you are using your iPhone or iPad the location services for that device will get information from the inReach rather than the GPS sensor in your iPhone or iPad.

    We are very pleased with this feature because it reduces the battery draw on your phone. With the inReach having significantly more battery life than your iOS device it’s much better to get the location information from the inReach.

    Thanks again for such a detailed review. Please contact me if you have any other questions about DeLorme’s inReach or any of our other products.

    Take care,
    Chip Noble
    Product Design Manager

  10. Lou Dawson July 27th, 2012 9:33 am

    Since some of you track our reviews by getting comment updates, here is a reminder that we just updated the inReach review with firmware info and more. Lou

  11. Lou Dawson July 27th, 2012 9:36 am

    (edited) Chip, thanks for calling our attention to the details. Personally, I wish the inReach was simply a communication device. The GPS mapping capability seems like a me-too sort of thing that’s way off the back and confuses the issue. On the other hand, if it indeed has a higher level of accuracy compared to the paired device (iPhone etc) GPS chips, as well as it working with a 3rd party GPS app in the paired device, then perhaps that’s a good reason one would use the inReach GPS instead of that in the paired device. Also, as you state below, it’s said that the paired device GPS is automatically disabled when the inReach is hooked up. If that’s the case, then battery life for the paired device is extended. Hopefully, there is some way for the user to know for sure that the paired device GPS is indeed turned off.

    It sounds like we should extend our testing to this setup: iPhone with 3rd party GPS app we like — combined with — inReach. Joe?

    All this sounds a bit over the pay grade of most users, but perhaps it’s more user friendly than it appears.


  12. Chip Noble July 27th, 2012 11:31 am

    Sorry for any confusion Lou, I was just pointing out that your iPhone can use the GPS coordinates from the inReach to drive any of your iPhone GPS apps. You don’t need to use the Earthmate app for your mapping needs if you have a better mapping application on your phone. Our Earthmate app delivers mapping and messaging so that people can take advantage of the two-way satellite communication and have a geographic reference to their messages.

    We realize that there are apps in the market that deliver waypoints, tracks, and routes among other features, that’s why we think it’s nice that the higher accuracy inReach GPS signal can be used in any app once the iOS Location Services receives that information. This is a great way to save power on the phone, when the Location Services switches to DeLorme’s GPS and turns off the phone’s GPS chip.

    Please note that customers don’t need to do anything to turn off their iPhone’s GPS, the iOS Location Services automatically selects our inReach when it is connected.

    Thanks again for your detailed review and let me know if you have any other questions.

    Chip Noble

  13. Lou Dawson July 27th, 2012 12:36 pm

    Chip, apologies, I was getting just the opposite story out of this conversation! I’ll edit that comment so it doesn’t mislead anyone. Lou

  14. Jim August 1st, 2012 12:03 pm

    In Alaska this spring I used an access point modem for the iridium phone to connect to an ipad for weather, web, email. It was rather inconsistent with coverage going in and out at basecamp, several attempts, super slow, but up on a glacier, was better than nothing. Voice has a bit of a strange sound, delay to it. Good system for basecamp, but not to carry. I agree with Lou, Satphone is easiest, most versatile and intuitive.

  15. Liviu August 10th, 2012 11:57 pm

    Hi Chip, it looks like inReach is a good device for what I need, tracking and text communication for bush flying in Southern Africa. I tried to find out how the contracts work outside north america but the customer service not interested in replying. 3 emails in 4 days , no answer. I tried then the South African dealer who replied after a week, they want to sell the unit but for the contract I must contact customer service USA. Back to square one.
    I only need one answer : if outside usa contract can be done and if not can I have the contract done by an american and use it in Southern Africa.
    Regards, Liviu

  16. Craig August 15th, 2012 7:46 pm

    Good review. I have a question. I read the FAQ on their website saying that incoming texts will be checked every 20 minutes (except for SOS mode). I was wondering if there’s a way to manually force checking for new incoming texts whenever I am expecting one or do I always have to wait 20 minutes?


  17. Lou Dawson August 15th, 2012 8:53 pm

    Chip? Chip!?

  18. Craig August 15th, 2012 10:05 pm

    I emailed Chip’s folks and have not heard from them. Hope Chip replies here 🙂

    The reason I’m asking this is because unlike most of you who use this primarily as a safety measure. I am looking for something to communicate as my primary purpose (safety second since i alread have an ELT aboard my plane) because I am deaf and can’t use radios. When flying, I need to be able to talk with someone on ground back and forth in quick sessions for whatever information I need. InReach is so far the only 2 way device I can find that is affordable compared to other expensive satellite phones/broadbands. If I am able to communicate back and forth quickly then this would serve my purpose greatly and would buy tonight. And I’m sure many other deaf pilots will buy as well.


  19. Joe August 15th, 2012 11:19 pm


    I will test this tomorrow with a friend to determine the speed of incoming outgoing texts.

    Chip Noble your thoughts?

  20. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 4:34 am

    Craig, I’d never thought about hearing impaired pilots… how do you do that? Are you talking about flying small plane in and out of airports? Don’t you need to communicate with traffic control on the radio? Curious.

    FYI, when I used my Iridium satphone correctly for texting, it happens pretty fast but there is definitely a delay sometimes of several minutes, up to hours sometimes. I’m pretty sure inReach uses same system.


  21. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 4:57 am

    Glenn, when I didn’t travel so much our local ham system served all our needs for emergency comm. When on the road, I found it to be a bit tedious to set up my radios for various repeaters, and test. What got me going with satphone use was backpacking in Wind Rivers, in the heart of the northern Winds, I couldn’t hit any repeaters with my handheld radio unless I was up on top of a mountain. A rented satphone worked much better (though without a level horizon you’ll still get your conversations cut off). I’m still using the Iridium 9555 I bought for Denali but do find it to be rather expensive as a primarily emergency comm device. Seems worth it when I’m out in the field alot, but when I’m in the office the money outlay bums me out. No matter how you play it, you’ll outlay between $400 and $500 per year for an Iridium phone, plus the cost of the phone, which is amazingly expensive for something with such incredibly lame firmware, that really doesn’t work all that well in the mountains.

    I compensate a bit for the cost of the satphone by not using a smartphone and keeping my cell plan at a low level, and trying to use up some of the satphone minutes instead. But that has not worked out all that great. Am getting better at it. At WildSnow field HQ I’ve got an external satphone antenna on the cabin. After clearing more trees recently that were looming over the cabin, I’m getting much better performance with that and it’s looking like I can talk for three or four minutes without a dropout, when before it was just a couple minutes. Texting works fine.

    By the way, It occurs to me that since Lisa and I still have our ham licenses, I should set up the HT I’m using as a base station at the cabin so it hits one of the repeaters for certain, in case we have a big SAR event up there or something. A yagi antenna would work great for that since I’m in a fixed location. I guess I should ask the local hams for some help with that, or do you have a pretty good idea of which repeaters around here are working? I’d probably hit Sunlight or Snowmass from Marble, with a yagi from a 4 watt handheld?

    P.S., your radio is probably a Yeasu.

  22. Chip Noble August 16th, 2012 6:13 am

    Sorry for the shotgun approach here, there are a few comments to catch up on…

    Liviu: I know we’ve been talking off-line, just wanted the list to know we didn’t forget you. Let me know how your inReach is working in Namibia and if you have any questions. It’s interesting that so many pilots are using this blog to gather details.

    Craig: The inReach does a “mailbox check” each time it communicates with the Iridium satellites. That means it will look to see if you have any waiting messages. These mailbox checks happen every 20 minutes if you are not sending any messages. If you are using the consumer 10 minute tracking you will cut the mailbox check time in half. Our Aviation Subscription will increase the frequency of those tracking messages to once every 2 minutes. See below for more details on that. So the fastest tracking interval and non-manual mailbox check has a 2 minute interval. You could pick up your replies sooner if your message is sent half way between tracking messages but that’s probably not a good interval for a pilot. I will share that a mailbox check happens every time you start tracking so you can imagine a tedious method of starting and stopping but it would be distracting and not very efficient. Given all of the other benefits of the inReach device for flight tracking, two-way communication, and emergency response it might be worth evaluating anyway. As you pointed out, it is the only low-cost two-way satellite communication system available. You will be no worse than 2 minutes in update and could be much faster if someone sends you a message close to the 2 minute track and mailbox check.

    All: Since there is a lot of talk about aviation here I wanted to point out a new Aviation Subscription that is available from DeLorme. This will increase the tracking interval to every 2 minutes and give better granularity for users that are traveling much faster than the average backcountry skier would be. It uses a byte based billing system so tracking isn’t unlimited but there are several levels giving a range of flight hours. There is also a Vehicle Power Unit that aviators might consider, allowing you to connect your inReach to external power instead of requiring batteries. You can learn more about both of these by contacting our Direct Sales department at 1-800-561-5105.

    Lou: I had the privilege of climbing the Grand Teton with a group from the outdoor industry when we first released the inReach. The Wind River Range is beautiful and something I don’t get to experience that often coming from Maine. I was very pleased with the performance of our two-way satellite communicator and found the short burst Irridium messages very reliable when I was communicating with family and friends. You identified several of the complaints I’ve heard about keeping a connection open with a satphone while traveling in the mountains. The short burst pulse is really nice for pushing your text message out and getting a response back. You can read more about that first trip with the inReach here: and see some of those messages including an attempt to get bacon, whiskey, and a birthday cake delivered to 12,000 feet.

    Thanks for all the continued interest here at, feel free to contact me directly if you have other questions. Sometimes I turn e-mail responses faster than I can get to blog comments.

    Chip Noble
    Product Design Manager

  23. Lou Dawson August 16th, 2012 6:30 am

    Chip, thanks so much for dropping by. Exactly as you say, texting is the way to go when using any Iridium based device without a somewhat level horizon, as voice comm will be spotty in such situations. Too bad about the 2 minute delay, that kind of puts a damper on how useful the inReach is for day-to-day comm — or are you saying you _can_ do a manual mailbox check whenever you want? In that case, one could just keep invoking that over and over again?

    BTW, to all, a 2 minute delay is not any worse than typical use of Iridium phone, which also gets frustrating when using texting, though sometimes it’s as fast as texting between cell phones. Thing is, you never know when a delay will hit when using the Iridium phone for texting, which is problematic in an emergency situation.

  24. Chip Noble August 16th, 2012 6:36 am

    Lou, we don’t advertise what you’ve described as a feature but an observant user might notice that when you start tracking it does a mailbox check. Since there’s no forced delay between starting, stopping, and starting again that same observant user might piece together a manual mailbox check. I can neither confirm nor deny what you have described since I’ve never used that approach to check for messages while sitting in my tent on the side of the mountain. I’m going to stop here before I get myself in trouble.


  25. Njord August 16th, 2012 6:56 am

    I don’t think there are any hearing impaired pilots flying (legally), since we all have to pass a medical exam every 6 months or year (depending on the type of flying you do).

  26. Craig August 16th, 2012 11:10 pm

    Thanks for all the replies, got more than what I was expecting – THANKS!

    Aviation Subscription, umm, sounds great but I’m curious how much MORE they’ll be charging that for. However, that trick Lou is explaining is giving me ideas, 🙂 Actually, the 2 minute delay isn’t bad, I mean that’s just perfect. Once I text and fire it off, it would take me a couple minutes to scan my instruments and scan the sky before checking back on the inReach for any replies, just perfect. I don’t intend, nor would I recommend it to any pilots, to use the inReach texting too often in flight – does texting and driving ring a bell? 😉 Remember, seeing and avoiding is a major responsibility for us VFR pilots. Would only use it once or twice in flight to gather important information or notify someone of something. Chip, I’m buying tonight!

    Ok, about deaf pilots flying… Lou, hope you don’t mind me spreading awareness on your blog since some of you are asking and I think it would be of some benefit for Chip to share with his company for future developments for a niche market 😉

    First of all, Njord, deaf pilots can LEGALLY fly and we’re not breaking any FARs 🙂 We come from all walks of life. Military pilots from the war era are old today and have lost some hearing due to aging. Some of us were born deaf or became deaf at some point in our life from illness and we have a passion for flying. We can fly pretty much any airplane that we can get rated on. I’m just a simple recreation pilot who flies C150’s and C172’s. According to a 2009 medical statistical release from the FAA, they stated there are 2,428 active pilots that are deaf.

    During the medical exam, they will pass us based on our overall physical health and note that we are deaf. Normally we apply for 3rd medicals. This will be sent to the FAA Surgeon’s office and they will require us to do a S.O.D.A. checkride to demonstrate we can fly and recognize the onset of a stall, as simple as that. Once we pass that demonstration, they will allow us to fly with a limitation on our certification stating “Not valid for control zones or areas where radio communication is required.”

    That being said, there are approx. 13,000 airports in the USA and only 700 of those airports are controlled by a tower. Meaning the remaining 12,300 airports are uncontrolled. If some of you remember from your FARs, the use of radios are not required in uncontrolled airports, E and G airspace although encouraged. See and avoid is the key regulation here. I only know of a couple deaf pilots that got their IFR certification and they would have a co-pilot who can hear to handle the radios for them to fly IFR if they wanted. But most of us are VFR pilots and can fly pretty much anywhere where radios are not required. Some of us can fly in D airspace airports when they’re not too busy by calling the tower ahead of our flight and ask for permission to land there at say, 1200z. If they grant us permission, they would ask us to squawk 7600 (that’s the code for “nordo” or no radios operational aboard aircraft) so they’ll know it’s us on their radar and when we’re close in by, they’ll use the gun light to signal us when we’re permitted to land. Cool, eh? Also, some Class D airports close at night and fall back to E airspace without a tower in operation, we can fly in there with no radios. But we fly in and out of uncontrolled tower airports 99% of the time anyway – 12,300 airports out there is plenty for us.

    Anyway, back to this inReach product – this could be very valuable to us deaf pilots. Makes us feel more secured that we’ll be able to reach someone or for someone to reach us for whatever reason. Imagine if I was flying on 9/11 when the FAA declared all planes down – and I’m flying without a worry on my mind then all of sudden see an fighter jet flying in formation with me…. Not good! So, if my home airport knew I was up in the air, they could text me and tell me to ground my butt! 😉

    If you wondered about how we get weather in flight, there was a major breakthrough recently with the Foreflight app coupled with their Stratus ADS-B portable receiver, we’re able to get live METars, NOTAMs, wind aloft, etc. inflight. In the past and still today for some, it’s been those Garmin GPS devices that get basic XM weather.

    If you’re interested in more about deaf pilots, you can check out

    Again, thanks for all the replies and helping me make a decision. Looking forward to trying out this inReach…


  27. Craig August 16th, 2012 11:15 pm

    Opps… Actually, I meant to say I’m a private pilot who flies for recreation. I know I’d be breaking some FARs for flying 172s with a recreation certificate 😉


  28. Chip Noble August 17th, 2012 3:32 am

    Thanks for the great explanation Craig, as a non-pilot it helps me to read about other uses of our inReach device. Our company president is a pilot and I’m sure he will enjoy reading your post.

    I’m glad your giving the inReach a try. Be sure to email me if you have any questions about the device. I’d be glad to give you a hand and share any tips I have. If you go to you can learn a lot about the inReach and different activities beyond cell phone range.

    Safe travels,
    Chip Noble

  29. Liviu October 29th, 2012 8:02 am

    After 2 months of using inReach in Namibia I couldn’t be happier.
    For us here, far from the spoiled world this is the best affordable tracking device.
    Price for the inReach and the Recreational subscription are excellent, satellite connection excellent. Sends SMS in no time. I use it mostly as a safety device for aviation and sometimes to track my delivery van. Job well done !!!!
    Thanx guys!
    Nice new website as well.

  30. Joe October 29th, 2012 9:31 am

    Liviu, Thanks.

    We really enjoy using this product for many trips around here. A simple text message is sometimes all one needs for information.

    Namibia sure doesn’t sound like our spoiled world.

    Interestingly enough I am planning on using the device over the next few days while I am in the east coast. With the “hope” that the impending hurricane does take out power I have a way to communicate. My folks phones here are tied to their cable system so it will be interesting what happens.

  31. Jon November 14th, 2012 3:23 am

    When setting up the service agreement does one have the option of getting rescue insurance that will pay the bill for emergency rescue. The service one can purchase with the SPOT has this as an option.

  32. Joe November 14th, 2012 10:01 am

    @Jon I will inquire about this to Delorme.

    During the latest hurricane I did have some pretty good success using the inReach along coastal NY and NJ when all cell transmissions towers were flooded and turned off. AT&T’s network went down as well as Verizon. I was unable to receive calls or texts in addition my hometown has moved all telephone services to broadband thus we had no phone service. Up until last year my home was the only house within a 10 block radius with a hard wired phone line in which the local phone company charged a $150 premium to maintain.

    Throughout the week the inReach worked flawlessly.

  33. Phil February 11th, 2013 7:39 pm

    Great review! The review and the other user responses have answered pretty much every query I had. I would still like to know if anyone had any further information regarding registering the InReach from outside of the US? I notice that they have separate distributors and plans available for Canada and Australia, but can anyone still sign up to a US plan from outside the US?

  34. Carrie February 12th, 2013 4:09 am

    Firstly, a big thanks to Joe for this excellent and very informative review! it answered nearly everything I wanted to know and some more i hadn’t thought of.
    I’m definitely going to purchase one, I fly paragliders in the Swiss Alps and believe me, although the Alps are pretty well covered with mobile networks, there are still areas where we fly over that if we had to land (no more thermals found!), or more the case, were forced down on our emergency chute, it’s possible to be out of line of sight range of a mobile network.
    The advantage of not just setting off the SOS feature, but also describing our problem – hurt, seriously hurt, or just terrain is to dangerous to walk out, is excellent.
    My second use will be whilst occasionally ocean sailing, other than the obvious emergency situations, I will also be able to receive my subscribed marine weather text messages from Germany ( even when out of mobile range! 🙂
    Which leads me to my only question; When I send an SMS message, I guess the receiver of that message will see a mobile number which he can reply to, this number I assume will be generated by the server system generating (predefined messages) or forwarding typed (via app) messages, does this number stay the same for the duration of the subscription plan? or is it a dynamic number being newly generated everytime the InReach is switched on and logs in? (which would be a real pain!)

    Thanks very much.

  35. Greg February 12th, 2013 7:29 am

    I asked Delorme the same thing, and what I was told is that as long as you don’t delete the message thread, the other party can text you at that number.

    Handy in two ways – a) you can save the messages, and always be able to be contacted by someone in an emergency back home, and b) you can delete the message thread in the case of someone like an ex who you never want to hear from again 🙂

    What I’m trying to figure out is how to get avalanche bulletins texted to that number. (or sent by email). Any suggestions anyone?

  36. Carrie February 12th, 2013 8:24 am

    Thanks Greg, that’s one step forward. Yes our weather SMS messages subscription is similar – send an sms to wetterwelt mobile number with a sea area three letter code and you receive within minutes an automatic reply with a simplified weather forecast; surface pressure, temp., wind speed, direction and gust strength, precipitation, wave height and direction and last but not least any warnings. This could possibly work with in InReach, even with predefined messages for the immediate area we intend to sail.

    @Phil, I asked Delorme Customer Support, and was told the same rates as for the US are now available for Europe, therefore I assume you can subscribe to a plan from outside the U.S.
    I do not see why not, as long as you have a credit card they can deduct the subs fees from, surely they are happy? Although I haven’t tried it yet as I’m still trying to locate where I can purchase the InReach (w/o paying a fortune in shipping costs)!

  37. Phil February 12th, 2013 3:54 pm

    @Carrie, Amazon are selling it cheaper than most (USD$210) with free US shipping. So if you get it sent to a service like, you could probably get it sent to Europe for about the same price as most US retailers are selling it for locally. The included lithium batteries could be an issue for IATA regulations though, but your forwarder could probably just remove them if necessary.

  38. Carrie February 13th, 2013 2:16 am

    Thanks Greg, that’s a great Idea. Lithium Batteries shouldn’t be a problem I checked this from e.g. the DHL homepage:
    Prohibited Items: “Small Electronic Items, including Mobile Phones, containing Lithium Batteries –each package may not contain more than 2 batteries which must be contained within the electronic device.”
    Although IMO the bit about the batteries must be contained within the device sounds strange. Surely if the device is defective and has/causes a short circuit during transport (They don’t always handle these boxes with care!) then the Batteries will overheat! The safest way is surely new and still packed in the original blister package? But maybe I’m just missing asomething here…….

  39. Phil February 13th, 2013 5:39 am

    As far as DHL’s policy, the essential clause is “contained within” meaning physically installed inside the device. The other main part being maximum 20 watt-hours per cell, and maximum 100 watt-hours per battery (I doubt these little AA batteries come close to that though). I’m just going to tell my forwarder to open it up and keep the batteries for himself if it’s an issue. Believe it or not the IATA and ICAO regulations are a bit easier to deal with this year as opposed to even last year.

  40. jeff February 26th, 2013 4:35 pm

    Three skiers are using the Delorme Inreach on their massive ski and packraft traverse from Vancouver to Skagway. Check out their blog at

  41. Carrie April 9th, 2013 1:56 am

    Hi Phil, Greg and of course Joe for the great review, thanks very much to all!
    Got my InReach,, delorme (RAM holder) and worked virtually flawlessly!
    Tried my InReach out whilst paragliding in the Alps 2 or so weeks ago, although bl….. cold up there it worked fine, just like Joe wrote, App installation and use was surprisingly simple, text messages sent, posted on facebook etc.
    Map usage all worked!!! w/o loads of stress, which very often happens with new hi-tech gadgets coming onto the market, in combination with a low tech user 😉
    Guys, Delorme thanks very much!

  42. Matt May 26th, 2013 9:29 pm

    I’ve bought one of these in NZ – and can only say I’m jealous of the US prices and packages. AU$22.95 a month with no messages included is the cheapest deal we get here in NZ (plus an ‘overseas credit card fee’ each month to the payment centre in Aus).

    Now, I considered buying in the US and shipping – it would save me a lot both on purchase price, monthly rental and cost per message, but the big question is if I do that, and if I then have to press the ‘SOS’ button does the call go to our NZ rescue coordination centre or some US one?.

    Incidentally, my own review is here:


  43. Phil May 26th, 2013 10:40 pm

    I got mine sent over to AU from the US and am now being billed for a US plan as well (my CC provider does charge me on overseas transaction fee still though). During registration I just set my country to Germany so that it doesn’t redirect me to the AU website. After I was registered and had selected a US plan, I just set my profile country back to Australia and all is good again 🙂 AFAIK, all SOS messages are handled by a dedicated centre based in the US. They mention it somewhere on the Delorme website.

  44. Matt May 27th, 2013 1:54 pm

    Their dedicated centre in the US won’t have the contact details for all the local centres for search&rescue, police, etc in the particular area where the accident happens in your home country. They must just collect details from the SOS message(s) and forward them to the local responsible agency in your country – in NZ’s case Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ).

    Hopefully Delorme are clever enough to forward the details to the national agency covering the area where the SOS is sent from, rather than where the device was registered – otherwise yours would be going to Germany!

    Which was my point.

  45. Greg August 20th, 2013 11:43 am

    Had to use the SOS functionality of the Delorme InReach this weekend, thought I’d give an update of how it worked.

    We were in the area of the end of the 4WD road in Montezuma Basin, with mountains coming up to about 45° in the SE, S, SW,W, and NW, and about 30° in the N and E. The InReach had signal with the iridium network about half the time, ~15 minutes on, ~15 minutes off, which worked just fine for us.

    From the time we ‘pushed the button’ to the time we got a response back was probably about a minute. We were able to answer questions about the patient’s condition, access to our location, etc., which made it easier on responding Pitkin County Sherrif and Mountain Rescue Aspen personnel (who are awesome, BTW – Thanks for the fast and professional response!).

    All communication was through the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (aka the GEOS Alliance in previous comments) – all questions from the PCS/MRA came through them, but this was nice as I didn’t end up with multiple parties asking the same qustions.

    I started with batteries that had been used for tracking for 3 days of hiking before that, and had been used for tracking up and down Castle Peak that day. They lasted through 5 hours of ‘SOS’ transmission, and were still good last I checked (although I’ll be changing them out before I use it again).

    One thing to note – in the area in question, no one had any cell reception (I didn’t until I got back to within a couple miles of Highway 82), and neither the sherriff’s deputy nor the MRA personnel were able to raise anyone on their handheld radios (the deputy was able to on his truck’s more powerful radio). So other communication lines was definitely limited. The MRA personnel did have a satphone with them that they were able to call out with.

    The deputy did express his appreciation for devices like the InReach that allowed two-way communication, he said it definitely made their jobs easier. One comment he did make is that on these sorts of devices (SPOT, InReach, et c.), turn it on and leave it on. They’d run into a number of situations where people had activated the SOS functionality, and then turned it off – leave it on.

  46. Jim September 5th, 2013 5:53 pm

    I got an Iridium 9575. 8oz. Does txt, messages, emergency help call button with GPS location. Can also be used as a GPS. It has no mapping on screen, but you could use it to plot location on a paper map. I compared size features, weight with other options, and thought it best, considering you can use it as a phone, tho more expensive.

  47. Lou Dawson September 5th, 2013 6:07 pm

    Jim, what’s your strategy with buying minutes?

  48. Glen Lewsi September 16th, 2013 9:28 am

    I have nothing but horrible experiences with these guys. First, I buy the product and sign up for their service. There’s no way to trial it so I spent a lot of time researching and thought they’d be worth it.

    What a mistake!

    I took this on numerous bike rides, weekend camping trips, etc in the wide open deserts of Utah. I kept track points turned on so I could validate things were working. HORRID! It would only occasionally show the track points, stopped tracking and let me without the peace of mind it’s supposed to provide. I ended up taking it on a 7-day cruise. We had a room with a balcony and I attached it to a chair outside so that it would have a clear view of the sky the entire time. We were out for a week and yet only about 10 hours of the trip ended up having any track points at all.

    So if I’d have had an emergency, we’d have been totally up a creek.

    They sell this as though it’s going to help, but we would have been worse off, thinking that we were monitored.

    So I cancelled. What a headache!!! Nobody in support would help, salespeople go silent. I cancel the service and they continued to bill me. I finally had to open a dispute with American Express. Even after all that THEY STILL CONTINUE TO BILL ME!! I keep receiving new statements, new billing charges and to make matters worse, today there’s a new $200 charge for who-knows-what.

    Stay away from these people. Regardless of the product and service (which is crappy) these people are the worst!

    If you want to have peace of mind and a decent emergency beacon, go with someone else. If you want to keep your money, go with someone else. Stay away from InReach!

  49. Lou Dawson September 16th, 2013 9:35 am

    Wow, that sounds terrible. Please keep reporting as you resolve the billing issues. I’ve had many similar experiences with subscription services. They can be very difficult to cancel.


  50. Glen Lewis September 19th, 2013 12:37 pm

    The continue to bill me so I’ve finally had to put a block on them with American Express – so when they attempt another charge they’ll get a “declined” message. Quite a pain but a nice service from Amex.

    I was able to get hold of someone in sales and their total response was “oh, it’s probably just continuing to bill you until your term runs out” – completely ignoring that I’ve canceled and paid cancelation fees (twice now).

    Unbelievably bad company to work with.

  51. Gary November 13th, 2013 4:18 pm

    Our experience with the Explore, Delorme, or Inreach has been a nightmare and not worth the cost. We purchased this device to give my wife piece of mind on our once a year hunting trips. When you purchase the product, beware, there is nothing on the packaging or the product description stating that in order to use it (even to send an emergency S.O.S.) you have to first sign up for monthly service fees (minimum $10/mo) and the fact that it is a year long contract is buried in the fine print when logging in to “activate” the product. Trying to then get our account information or deactivate it was a nightmare. There was no customer care phone number on the website (one of three with three different names) and according to Scott M. (the company person that I spoke with) you need that phone number to be talked through managing your account. Additionally he said that if you accidentally check the box to deactivate, you would not know that you might be incurring fees for a years worth of no services. I consider these hidden (or at least hard to find) costs to be rather shady. After calling the company to complain, Scott M. would not let me talk to a supervisor and told me that he would not be reporting my complaints even though I asked him to in hopes of correcting the web sites, packaging, or the product problems.
    Secondly, it took hours upon hours to try and sync the product with our I-phone 4. The first time we were completely unsuccessful. The second trip after hours of following their guide to how to do it, I finally called the tech help. It took him a full hour of talking me through it and trying to test and make sure everything worked. Then he warned me not to turn off the blue tooth or the app on my cell phone because it might not sync again. So off I went on my trip, only to find to my horror that the phone had gone dead after only a few hours due to the huge battery drain from their application. I never even had a chance to chat with my wife or use the map.
    The only thing that sort of worked was the preset messaging by beeps. But you have to be quick, or you might send the wrong number of beeps. This was a problem because one of the messages that we set up was “send help”. I clicked it by accident and then had to send about a half dozen beeps (meaning “happy”) and hope that my wife would know what I meant. And be prepared for a satellite to not show up for hours to send your message.
    This product does not work as advertized and the company simply does not care to improve.

  52. Jim Milstein April 5th, 2014 11:51 am

    Just read this inReach review, which does not cover the latest model, the SE.

    I’ve had the SE since mid-June 2013 when it was first released. It was a little rough at first due to immature firmware and software; however, after a number of updates, the SE has been working efficiently and flawlessly for me. Also, DeLorme customer service has answered my questions quickly and well.

    Starting just a few days ago, DeLorme made available new plans, both annual and month-by-month. They are much improved.

    To answer a concern from the comments above, on the SE you can check for messages manually at any time from the top level menu. Normally, messages are successfully sent and received within a minute. When I have tracking turned on, every single one of them gets out and is visible on the map page at the DeLorme Explore web site.

    The SE can be used for arbitrary two-way text communications all by itself, but I usually mate it via Bluetooth with an iPod (5th gen) for high quality GPS mapping. I get very good battery life with both devices, but also carry a lightweight triple Li AA charger, just in case more electrons are needed.

  53. Lou Dawson April 5th, 2014 12:25 pm

    Super Jim, thanks, I suppose we do need to do another inReach review. Big problem with the web is how these outdated reviews tend to persist. I could delete of course, but that wouldn’t be wise as they form historical context. I guess the comment threads help save the day, but a refreshed review would be best, Lou

  54. SteveK July 2nd, 2014 4:44 am

    I ordered one of the inReach SE units from the US to be shipped here in Australia. I immediately rang the local DeLorme office to enquire about local subscription costs. I was told that in order to use the unit here in Australia I need to pay a “compliance fee” of $175 to enable it to be used here. Not only that, the subscription fees here are double those of the US or EU.

    I contacted the seller voicing my complaint that they did not give any advice regarding this when I ordered it. They did say that I could register it on the US site, and that lots of people do that. However I am concerned that there may be a delay in response time if the SOS is monitored in the US. How much of a delay is unknown. However, for half of the subscription cost I might consider doing that. I definitely do not want to pay $175 if it is unnecessary except to protect the local distributor’s profit margin!

    If there is no alternative, I will simply either claim a refund from the retailer or sell it on eBay and take a small loss.

  55. Lou Dawson July 2nd, 2014 7:54 am

    Steve, thanks for that information. I’d think a US subscription would be fine, as the SOS in monitored by one central entity, GEOS, no matter where your unit is registered. Think global. Surprising your government heavily fees a life-saving device that costs them nothing and possibly even saves money by simplifying rescue, and also a surprise that the subscription would be so high. Overall, while these devices do work they’re in a primitive state of development, indicated by the pricing weirdness you are experiencing. Give it a few years and I’m sure we’ll see a much tighter and less costly personal emergency system of some sort.

  56. Javier June 18th, 2015 2:29 am

    We have tested inReach in Greenland for weather texts with and it seems to work fine. If anyone is interesting in testing it anywhere else, please let me know.

  57. BC9696 October 12th, 2015 7:20 pm

    I’d like to tell you how wonderful the DeLorme InReach Explorer is and what a terrific experience I’ve had with the company but alas, circumstances beyond my control prevent this. My Explorer was activated in January ’15 and the charges began rolling in. $18.16 then shortly thereafter $45.42, then $25.24, $25.58 and $25.64 per month respectively. Why the rate differences remains a mystery to me…the only thing I know for certain is I never once used the Explorer…not even in test mode. Then I was injured which killed my hunting plans. I tried to suspend the account online but kept getting a “syntax error” message so I finally used the company’s contact page to suspend the account, that was in July. Now months later I told I have balance of $102.35 due. First I was told it was for monthly services, then I was told it was for “…Additional GEOS Search and Rescue Services. This service was purchased separately and at time of purchase, you selected the “Auto- Renew” feature.” But since I hadn’t had the unit for anywhere near a year yet, I knew that wasn’t the case. Then they said it was for “Early Termination of your service” however I never requested the service or my account be terminated, just suspended until I healed enough to hunt. I was told (prior to purchase) that I could do this…suspend the service at any time. Well now I am locked out of my account and have no idea what is true and what isn’t. I know of the alternatives I could have selected for backcountry navigation and communication…the companies get higher marks for customer care. Should have just gotten a Sat phone. Live & learn. I don’t know if I will ever resolve this dispute with DeLorme as their correspondence this far has been nothing short of frustrating and confusing. I’ve paid them a lot of money without one message leaving my unit and feel about as valued as a customer as herpes. I would not recommend DeLorme to anyone know. Prior to this I was quite the fan. I am now looking at the alternatives and will likely sell my Explorer and forget all about DeLorme. I just don’t need the grief and my money is going down the drain for a service that I haven’t once used. DeLorme has only added insult to my injury. Can’t tell ya if the unit itself is any good cuz I haven’t been able to use it. Looking for a more customer service oriented replacement.

  58. Lou Dawson 2 October 12th, 2015 7:29 pm

    BC9, yeah, sometimes a satphone is the answer. Even then, however, you have to deal with all sorts of funky payment plans, accounts, and such. Lou

  59. Jim Milstein October 12th, 2015 8:27 pm

    BC9696, the easiest way to resolve inReach problems is to call DeLorme Customer Service. It has always worked for me. Their web sites, as you have discovered, leave something to be desired.

    As for satphone vs inReach, short-burst data communication is more reliable than voice over the Iridium sat system, though SBD has the same drawbacks as texting.

  60. Chip Noble October 13th, 2015 7:30 am

    BC9696, send me an email ( with your user name and I’ll research the billing issues you’ve shared here on this review. I’ll check in with Customer Care to get clarification on the numbers you’ve posted. It looks like you have a Freedom Safety plan. Keep in mind that there’s an annual freedom program fee of $24.95 along with some taxes. For others reading this thread, you can learn about the plan details on our website:

    I think it’s important to remember that this is a lot like your cellphone, there’s a data plan that needs to be paid even if you never use the device. It’s active and available for messaging, tracking, and emergency communication. That capability does cost money. We do our best to explain the billing details when customers call in. I’ll work with Customer Care to see if there were any errors made and if there were we’ll make things right. We want our customers to be happy with all of the components of the inReach system, the device, the website, the app, and the billing.

    Please send me your contact info so that I can help with this.

    Thank you,
    Chip Noble
    Product Manager

  61. Lou Dawson 2 October 13th, 2015 8:00 am

    BC, if you work with DeLorme on your issues, please drop back in here and leave a report of the results. Thanks, Lou

  62. Gary Brown October 13th, 2015 12:09 pm

    BC9696 Our similar issues were never resolved by Customer Service or this site and we lost hundreds of dollars on a required and unused service that was never published as a requirement on the product package or by the seller in order to use the product. Want to join me in posting a video of shooting the Inreach on U-tube? We think it will make excellent target practice.

  63. Chip Noble October 13th, 2015 12:21 pm

    Gary Brown, same offer… send me your user name and I’ll look into this. Our website and product packaging very clearly identify that a subscription plan is required to use the device. Even if it wasn’t clear at the time of purchase, certainly by the time you complete the activation process you’ve authorized and confirmed the use of a credit card for monthly billing. I understand that you both were frustrated by the billing process but I would strongly encourage you to sell your inReach devices on ebay for $300 (Explorer) before you destroy it. There are thousands of very satisfied users out there and I’m sure you can find someone else who would want to purchase your device. Let me know if you want me to review your account. Unfortunately I see many Gary Brown entries in the system and am not sure which is your account.

    Thank you,
    Chip Noble
    Product Manager

  64. RICK CONYERS December 23rd, 2015 11:22 pm

    I’m glad I happened onto the comments on this site. I just purchased one of the older 1.5 inReaches and haven’t even received it yet. I knew I didn’t want the SPOT’s one way commo, but I thought a company like DeLorme would be reputable enough that I wouldn’t need to worry about some of the horror stories that customer’s have addressed in your comments. Apparently I was wrong.

    I began researching other blogs and reviews and was astounded by the amount of bad press that DeLorme is getting because of their deceptive plans and marketing. I realize that there are haters in every realm of business, but DeLorme has got a real image problem they had better address (are you listening Chip?)

    There IS alot of crap and untruths on the web. And, I try to be as objective as possible. I wasn’t really convinced until I was dragged into Bass Pro last weekend on a Christmas shopping spree and was “enlightened.” I happened to be going by the counter that had GPS, scanners, etc. and there was an inReach displayed proudly. I asked the kid behind the counter if he’d ever used one of these and before he could answer I heard from behind me a booming voice that said….”I have, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay away from that &@!&!@%#%#@%#@%%#%@$#$@##$#ing company.

    Now you see, I live in the redneck capital of the world, Springfield, MO. Alot of these yahoos around here think Johnny Morris is a god and they’d rather skin a deer with their bare teeth than change their underwear every other week. But, I’ve got to admit that what transpired over the next hour was a bashing and cuss fest that would have made ISIS reconsider their current position.

    This gentleman had apparently used your GPSs for years. But, when he went on a hunting expedition to Colorado and didn’t even use the inReach (same as bc above) and was billed several hundred dollars he became a bit upset. While he was telling his story, two other fishermen overheard the conversation and started chiming in with their horror story. A few minutes later another man and his wife told about their experience and how they were still fighting to get their account cancelled. In all, before I left the store six people had convinced me that I had made a deal with the devil and I needed to find the nearest priest and have an exorcism performed….

    That’s what I call an overwhelming response. So, when I receive the device that I bought on ebay I’m pretty sure it’s going to be relisted on there immediately. Mr. Noble, while your little gadget may actually work, your company has got a BIG PR problem…and your former customers are painfully aware of it.

    Good day

  65. Jim Milstein December 24th, 2015 6:15 am

    I have had an inReach SE since day one and have gone through all their firmware updates. I have had zero problems with my account, despite changing plans. I pay about $12/month for the Safety Plan now, and it is just fine for my purpose.

    If I were to gripe about the inReach, it would be about its associated software, Earthmate, the app used on an iOS or Android device, and the website. They are both clunky and annoying, and I seldom use either. Otherwise, it’s been easy to use and trouble-free. All the messages and tracking points get through quickly, even when in forested areas or inside my vehicle. I’ve never needed to use the SOS dispatch, which is the same as Spot uses; so I don’t know how well that works. Otherwise, I’ve exercised the SE thoroughly.

    I use it with an iPod Touch 5g, and the SE supplies the GPS data stream via Bluetooth to a navigation app on the Pod. The SE’s battery declines about 1% per hour of use. The Pod’s battery lasts,normally, for a full day’s skiing, less when extremely cold. I carry spare electrons.

    Rick, you say you were getting your advice from rednecks. Are they reliable? Are they competent? You are right to ditch the inReach 1.5. The SE is much, much better. For more on the inReach check the forums on

  66. Lou Dawson 2 December 24th, 2015 8:11 am

    Jim, thanks. While some of the negative comments above are no doubt legit, I’m concerned that some of them might be shills from competitor companies. Am checking on it. Main thing for everyone, read the fine print and remember you can dispute charges on your credit cards, especially in the case where you’re sure you canceled something and keep getting dinged. Truth, I’ve never been a big fan of DeLorme (they’ve tended to over promise and under deliver) but I do know people who have successful relationships with the Inreach.

    Another thing: The Iridium satellite system used by Inreach has some quirks. If you don’t have a clear sky view from level horizon to horizon (as on the ocean), you can have periods of up to 5 or even 8 minutes before you get hooked to a satellite (it’s essentially a bunch of “cell phone towers” that swirl around the earth and have to talk to each other). This can make Iridium frustrating until you get used to working around it.

    If you’re anywhere but Arctic and Antarctic, the Spot-Globalstar satphone could be a better choice, though it does NOT send text messages (it receives 35 character texts). In an emergency, text messaging can be super useful for clarity of communication. Oh, and the Spot phone doesn’t track your location.

    Lots of compromises and sometimes challenging choices.


  67. Jim Milstein December 24th, 2015 10:21 am

    Iridium Short Burst Data transfers, Lou, do not have the same requirements, I expect, that voice connections do. The inReach SE signals audibly when text messages go up or down (I chose a rising tone for up and a falling tone for down). Therefore, I can tell that it seldom takes more than a minute or so for the brief handshaking and data transfer between the inReach and the Ir sat, which I read somewhere takes about six or eight seconds once it begins.

    inReaches can address each other directly, but the texts have to be relayed through the Ir sats, so inReaches are not a good substitute for group two-way radios due to those brief delays. That’s too bad.

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