Hands on review of the DeLorme inReach
UPDATE: The newest version of the inReach now supports both Android and iOS.
The DeLorme inReach for Android pairs with compatible phones to offer two-way texting without cell service, as well as two-way SOS, tracking and positing to Facebook and Twitter. The device can also be used in standalone mode. A model that pairs with the DeLorme PN-60w is also offered.
The big advantages offered by the inReach are true global coverage (unlike SPOT devices) and two-way communication.
DeLorme inReach service plans
Since this device uses commercial satellite services, a subscription plan is required. There is a one-time $11.95 subscription activation plan; here are the US subscription options:
|Monthly Billing Plans||Safety||Recreation||Expedition|
|Tracking Points||Not Included||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Tracking Points (each)||$0.25||N/A||N/A|
Here are the fees for Canadian consumers. While you can change your plan over time, downgrading a plan results in an additional $24.95 fee.
DeLorme inReach capabilities
- True global coverage, unlike SPOT products
- Two-way SOS communication (via GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center)
- Text and receive replies
- Message delivery confirmation
- Contacts can text you, but this must be done via a Web interface
- Post to Twitter or Facebook
- Tracking (public or private)
- Communicate directly with other inReach users
- Standalone capability
- Free map downloads for your phone
Pairing the inReach
The inReach connects to your phone via Bluetooth, using the free Earthmate app. I initially received a pre-production model, which failed to pair with the phones I tried it with. Once I got an off the shelf unit, things went much smoother.
Using the DeLorme inReach
In my experience to date, I’ve found satellite communicators to be anything but straightforward. In the first place, it means getting used to the quirks of a new technology. There’s also the fact that setup is usually done through a Web interface; I’ve yet to see any of the companies involved design a clean and simple site for this, and DeLorme is no exception. There’a lot of information to plug into explore.delorme.com (screenshot below, click for full size) — you’ll find five main tabs and under each of those there are two to five more tabs.
On the other hand, the Android app interface is pretty straightforward. And it is a huge improvement over the SPOT Connect. Below you can see the main app screen and what you get if you choose Map. Note that the latter doesn’t offer the ability to use waypoints, routes or tracks; it just shows your current position on the map.
Below you can see the message details screen at left and a series of messages I exchanged with my wife on the right (note the fairly quick turnaround time).
The next two screen shots show a post to Twitter and the tracking details screen.
As with any satellite communicator, my advice is to take your time and plan to experiment with sending messages (and receiving them in this case) in the field several times before depending upon it for backcountry communication.
With those caveats, once I got used to the device’s capabilities, it worked well. Some things to be aware of:
- You can’t fire off multiple messages in quick succession; wait for confirmation the first was sent before sending another
- Someone can reply to your texts from their phone by simply replying, but in order to reply to an email they will need to click a link and reply using a Web interface (it is simple enough to be done using a smartphone though)
- It’s probably a good idea to keep the inReach vertically oriented with as clear a view of the sky as possible, although in my testing that wasn’t critical, as you can see from its position on my pack below…
Conclusion and recommendation
Highly recommended. If you’re someone who ventures way off the beaten track, travels the backcountry solo, engages in somewhat risky outdoor activities, or just has a fretting spouse, the inReach is a great solution. DeLorme has delivered a product that outperforms the previous satellite communicators I’ve tested (including the SPOT Messenger I & II, SPOT Communicator and SPOT Connect) and is easier to use to boot.
More DeLorme inReach for Android reviews
- Consumer-authored DeLorme inReach for Android reviews have been posted at Amazon
- TechGrid reviews the inReach for Android
- Power & Motor Yacht reviews the inReach
- Wired compares the SPOT Connect with the inReach
- The Adventure Blog has posted their own DeLorme inReach review
- Gadling’s review of the DeLorme inReach
- A review with pros and cons from Seattle Backpackers Magazine
- A head to head comparison of several satellite communicators
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other DeLorme inReach for Android resources
- A PDF version of the DeLorme inReach for Android owners manual
- DeLorme inReach support documents
- The official DeLorme inReach message forums
- The official DeLorme inReach for Android web page
- Here’s a video showing social media messaging options:
Compare prices on the DeLorme inReach for Android at these merchants:
- Check the current DeLorme inReach for Android price at Amazon
- Check out the deal on the DeLorme inReach for Android at REI.com, where satisfaction is guaranteed and members get 10% back on eligible purchases
- Get the DeLorme inReach for Android from GPS City
- Get a great deal on the DeLorme InReach for Android at BuyDig.com
- Find the DeLorme inReach for Android at EMS.com