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Devices to Track Daily Paddler Progress in the Wilderness

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It's still not clear to me that SPOT or inReach provide this capability.

I'm pretty sure @recped posted a link to his mapshare on this site a year or two ago when on one of the far North trips and I'm equally sure he carries an InReach. By posting the mapshare link info on a public forum, I'm certain anyone could access the map. (I only activate mine for the months I'm actually using it or I'd throw it in the work truck tomorrow as a test)

I just don't have the budget for the $400 devices

I hated shelling out that kinda loot myself but, when I looked at yearly fees & monthly activation costs, I found that the Garmin was actually cheaper if it lasted (IIRC) 7 years. I'm hopeful it makes it longer than that but we shall see...

At any rate, I'm certain that both (and probably most others) are capable of the kind of tracking that Glenn is talking about.
 
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I am using the Garmin Inreach explorer which has tracking, GPS, SOS, mapping and text communication. I set up my trip routes on mapshare (on the computer) and sync the Garmin Inreach Explorer with my iPhone with the Earthmate app. My wife actually insisted that I buy a communication device after a 2 day delay on a river trip with my three children and father.
 
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I'm pretty sure @recped posted a link to his mapshare on this site a year or two ago when on one of the far North trips and I'm equally sure he carries an InReach. By posting the mapshare link info on a public forum, I'm certain anyone could access the map. (I only activate mine for the months I'm actually using it or I'd throw it in the work truck tomorrow as a test)



I hated shelling out that kinda loot myself but, when I looked at yearly fees & monthly activation costs, I found that the Garmin was actually cheaper if it lasted (IIRC) 7 years. I'm hopeful it makes it longer than that but we shall see...

At any rate, I'm certain that both (and probably most others) are capable of the kind of tracking that Glenn is talking about.
I also only pay for the actual months I will be using the device and suspend the plan for the months that I am not using it. The annual fee still applies for the SOS service if I am not mistaken.
 
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I been doing live tracking for about 15 years (maybe more), Started with a SPOT Gen 1, switched to a pre-Garmin InReach in 2015 after an event which confirmed the near uselessness of a one way device. The InReach provides 10 minute tracking update, in terms of "audience engagement" the faster the better, you gotta be dedicated to wait even 10 minutes starring at a map waiting for the next marker to appear.

These devices are pretty much commodities these days, many brands, same basic services, the technology is basically all the same. They seem to follow the same marketing plan as most tech stuff, selling prices either falling with operating fees rising or devices are being packed to the hilt with features and are expensive but come with slightly more flexible operating costs (for now).

That said, there are two groups of devices, stand alone or those that must pair with a smartphone for most functions. Both types have stand alone SOS buttons on the device and these days all have bluetooth and an app for expanded features like mapping/GPS (nice if you drag along a tablet!). The on device interface for messaging on all of these is lousy, if texting is your thing you definitely want to pair with a phone.

If you are buying your first device you might want to look at the online tracking interface, the SPOT was simple, probably much different these days. The InReach is much better but still confusing for newbies, when Garmin bought Delorme they basically just switched the logo and haven't made any significant upgrades. I haven't had a look at what the new players are offering. None of this fluff matters if you only want an emergency device.

All of these devices require line of sight, they do work in a tent unless the tree canopy is very thick or you are at the bottom of a cliff with no view of the sky. If you are hiding in a cave or fall into a giant crevasse you are probably out of luck!

I'm very happy with my (Delorme) InReach, would be nice to have the Garmin full Mapping GPS but I already have a standalone device for that. Beside the SOS aspect I do post updates online most days for my "fans"and send the odd private msg. The weather forecasts are extremely useful especially when a trip involves large lakes plus I generally avoid any travel when it's going to rain all day. I'm a news junkie at home so the odd update on the craziness of the "fake world" makes being away from it all in the actual real world is only enhanced!

Something to think about, it will not be long (before 2025?) until Elon's Starlink system will have expanded coverage over "northern Canada" (maybe 70 degrees??). I'm not sure if anyone has a handheld/pocket device yet that will work now but I have no doubt they will appear. Right now Starlink can give you the equivalent of top end Broadband of the pre fibre days (25Mb down, 10Mb up), not enough for live streaming your run through the rapids but good enough to upload to tiktok!
 
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The inReach is rechargeable and cannot swap batteries
My Garmin is paired to my iPhone, and I can share tracking with someone else logged into Garmin’s “connect” app. I think. But this is predicated on having cell service. And it’s invitation-specific so not open to everyone. Or maybe that’s just because I try to clamp down all that data.
The inReach devices do not require pairing to the phones for posting tracking data that others can access and see, same as the SPOT service. Anyone with the access code can login and see my tracks and "breadcrumbs".

I carry an inReach for my spouse's POM (peace of mind). Plus as a scout leader and trip guide it gives all the other parents POM as well, another leader in our crew carries a SPOT so we're double covered. Plus it might not be myself or my party that has an issue but we might come across someone else out there that needs assistance (just look at the last few years increase in incident reports for the ADK region).
 
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The problem or trick to the earlier spots, at least 1 and 2, maybe three, was the indicator light that was "message sending", but the icon looked like "message sent". It would illuminate and the user would assume sent and turn off the device before it was sent. This was often reported as unreliability.

I just "send" and leave it be until it auto-offs. Never a problem.
 
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The problem or trick to the earlier spots, at least 1 and 2, maybe three, was the indicator light that was "message sending", but the icon looked like "message sent". It would illuminate and the user would assume sent and turn off the device before it was sent. This was often reported as unreliability.

I just "send" and leave it be until it auto-offs. Never a problem.
The way that qiirk worked on SPOT, and could be a problem if you did not understand how it worked, was that it could take a few minutes for the outbound signal to actually be sent out after you press the "I am ok" button at the location and time you wanted to mark. But if you press the button again before the first signal went out, the first signal message was cancelled and the process started all over again with the second button press.

Keep pressing the send button over and over again too soon and no signal will not ever get sent out until some minutes after you no longer presss the button, but only from that last button press location, never from the first. That caused problems for some Yukon paddlers who did not know, since all were required to send an OK time stamp location marker signal when and where we stopped to camp for the night (required to stop for 6 hours per "night"), then send another when starting to paddle in the morning. Then to save battery life, turn the device off for the night hours. But if race officials did not receive any such signal where you "camped", a time penalty was assessed against your overall race time. On the first 1000 mile race, some racers accumulated as much as a 9 hours of penalties. (I had zero penalties because I knew how to operate the SPOT).
 
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I don't understand why anyone bothers to respond to a post asking about the various options for satellite communicators/trackers by giving their reasons why they don't want to carry one. It reminds me of the joke about how to tell if someone is a vegan? Don't worry, they'll tell you.
C'mon man, really? If we all posted one word answers right on target this forum would dry up like a raisin in the sun. (The possibility of that happening we discussed not too long ago.) I will not be silenced and will lift high the banner of veganism! ;)
 
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OutdoorGearLab recently reviewed sat beacons and messengers. I'm often not entirely sold on their reviews (one of their biggest failings is to omit one of the top contenders in a particular category or to include a piece of gear dissimilar to the others selected for review)
One of the most useful bits of the review, right at the end, is a table with running costs for each of the devices.

PLB review
 
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I take an inReach Mini paired with my Samsung Galaxy S20 FE which has a 400 GB microSD card in it. I am able to store lots of maps, docs and videos. I do take some photos and videos with it, but I also carry quite a bit of camera/video/field recording gear. In addition to paper topo maps, compass and a military topo map scale/protractor/grid reader, I use Gaia GPS as my navigation app. Backup power/recharging is from an ADDTop Solar Charger/Power Bank and an Ubio Labs 10,000mAh portable charger.
 
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