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Thread: Delorme InReach

  1. #1
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default Delorme InReach

    Has anybody tried this <http://www.inreachdelorme.com/> new product yet? It appears to be similar to, yet more advanced than, the SPOT. Moreover, it works with the Iridium constellation of satellites as opposed to the Globalstar system used by SPOT. It should be a better alternative for Alaskans.

    Just hoping to hear some first hand experience as I consider whether to get it or not.

    Thanks,
    -Dan

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    Sponsor Greg @ Anch Sat Phones's Avatar
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    I'd also like to hear any feedback from anybody that has used this new DeLorme Inreach. I have not had the time yet to get my hands on one of these units and do some field testing.

    We are looking at also selling this product in the future. But will of course continue to rent & sell satellite phones too.

    Also any feedback on the DeLorme Earthmate GPS's? Ive always used a Garmin 60CSX while out hunting.

    Thanks,
    Greg from AnchorageSatellitePhones.com

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    I can supply info on the Delorme Earthmate GPS. I had a PN-20 for years that served me very well and recently upgraded to a PN-60W (compatible with the InReach but I don't have the InReach yet). I've owned a Garmin Etrex and two Magellans and the Delorme PN series is by far my favorite GPS. They are a little less intuitive to use than the Garmins are, but the functionality is very good. There is a big difference in using the new PN-60 over the older PN-20. The PN-60 has a MUCH faster processor and is lightning fast at acquiring satellite signals and at processing the different functions on the GPS. It also has a much improved battery life both while in operation and while in storage. The PN-20 was a real battery eater, the PN-60 is not. One of the reasons I prefer Delorme is because of the ability to subscribe to the Delorme map packages and using the included software that comes with the GPS I upload and download information back and forth between them including high res map packages to the GPS and the waypoints and tracks from the GPS to my PC. Other GPS have that capability but I think Delorme is the easiest to use and has the best map options. The only real downside to the Delorme is it is more difficult to learn to use but it's an excellent device.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies Greg and Dee. I suppose somebody has to be first to test this product and it will likely be me. I have just ordered the InReach and the compatible PN-60W. They will be delivered early next week.

    My wife is also scheduled to arrive early next week, after an extended trip outside. Experimenting with the new toys may have to wait until I come back up for air .

    I will post a review and impressions as soon as I get a chance to play.

    -Dan

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    Member ret25yo's Avatar
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    let me know how the in reach does, I just picked up the Delorme 60w for $160, w/ spot so interested in the in reach portion..

    If you cant stand behind the troops in Iraq.. Feel free to stand in front of them.

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    I'd be very interested in a review, too. This past year I wrote quite a bit about the use of Spot trackers to track dogsled races (http://mushingtech.blogspot.com/ - very unlikely to be of interest to most people, but I've taken close looks at some of the technical issues around GPS tracking) and I've been interested in finding out more about the InReach. It seems a little expensive and I think that in the bush more is less and they've got some glitzy features but those features draw down the battery without adding *that* much. On the other hand they use the Iridium network, which is reliable. I think that some of the Spot failures have been due to some problems with engineering in the Spot-2 devices and that the next Spot hardware release will fix a lot of those problems. Some have also been due to user error - I know that when Hans Gatt signaled for help in the '11 Quest he turned his Spot off immediately after hitting the "send help" button, so nobody knew if he was still there or had moved, etc.

    I'd love to see Spot get some competition. Not sure if InReach is​ that competition and I'd be really curious to see what you think.

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    I spent some time looking at it and I think that it's really targeted at people who want to be able to stay in touch when they're out of phone range - I don't think that it's something I'd choose to use for either emergency signaling or even just tracking. I've posted a longer discussion here: http://mushingtech.blogspot.com/2012...-for-spot.html, but basically it comes down to reliability and battery life.

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Thanks for your interest and comments thus far. I have had a chance to experiment with the system and here is a brief review.

    The DeLorme PN-60w (w=wireless) favorably impressed me far more than I expected it to. I am from the generation that learned to navigate by sextant, chronometer, map, and compass. I bought a first generation GPS more than twenty years ago and was very happy just to have accurate lat/long fixes. I later went through several generations of GPS as they became smaller and more powerful. When the moving map displays became available they were an important part of my instrument scan and greatly improved my navigation and positional awareness when I had my airplane. Now, I use the moving map feature in both my truck and boat and, sadly, have come to rely on it far too much. The pocket-size PN-60 is a very nice GPS and will probably have a permanent place in my pack.

    But, this thread is about the inReach and not so much about the GPS.

    The inReach requires a bit of preparation before putting it to use. First, one has to activate the unit and subscribe to a service plan. This is very painlessly accomplished online. I chose the basic emergency plan since I acquired the unit to serve as adjunct or back-up to my 406 mhz EPiRB. The inReach will transmit an SOS signal, with location, to the Emergency Response Coordination Centre who will then contact the appropriate SAR authorities. There is a lockout button to prevent inadvertent transmission of the SOS signal. One can also edit or compose three separate messages, in addition to the SOS message, that the unit is programmed to send, as well as a list of contacts to whom the messages are sent. In this instance, the inReach does act as a stand-alone unit like the SPOT. It is easy enough to change the programmed messages so that appropriate messages can be composed for each kind of trip. Your imagination is the only limitation. As a stand-alone unit, the inReach can also be used to transmit tracking information to contacts via email. Contacts could then monitor progress and position using very good maps online. I can see where this would be very useful for dog mushers or others who change position rapidly enough to fully utilize the every-ten-minute position update.

    Pairing the PN-60w with the inReach was not intuitive but it is simple and painless if one reads and follows the directions carefully. I am sure it would be very similar to pair it with a telephone device. I chose to pair it with the PN-60w because the GPS is more rugged and waterproof and I do not carry my iPhone in the field due to absence of cell signal.

    Once paired with a second device (PN-60w or telephone), the inReach becomes much more versatile. One can compose messages and change addresses at will. The inReach will also receive messages and transfer them to the paired device. Thus, one can have a real-time conversation and transmission of critical information. It can also be used for trivial and meaningless chatter.

    The main advantage of the inReach is that the Iridium satellites have continuous global coverage whereas the Globalstar and SPOT leave vast areas of the globe uncovered or covered for only a few minutes each day. (For example, I just used the Globalstar Call Times Tool for my location and see that satellites are available intermittently for a total of one hour and 33 minutes today)

    I don't want to give the impression that I am gratuitously trashing Globalstar; I own a Globalstar telephone. Globalstar works fine in the lesser 48, including places like the Grand Canyon river corridor where the view of the sky is limited by the canyon walls. However, Globalstar has not served me reliably in places like Alaska, Canada, or Greenland and that is why I purchased the inReach. If you are wondering why I purchased the Globalstar instead of Iridium, it is because many years ago when I needed to buy a satellite phone the Iridium system was bankrupt and they were going to allow their satellites to just fall back to earth. Globalstar was the only unit available at that time.

    Overall, I am satisfied with my purchase. There are probably more features than I need but I will probably learn to use them. I could have used something like the inReach when I was skiing across Greenland or when climbing high mountains in remote locations. Now, I am 65 and continue to hunt moose solo. I like having the option of calling for help if I need help. Hopefully, I will be calling for help to pack a moose instead of calling for help because I got stupid or had bad luck while traveling alone somewhere.

    I hope this short review is helpful. I will be happy to answer any specific questions regarding my experience with the system.

    Regards,
    -Dan

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    Default More information on the Earthmate GPS

    Greg, I was so intent on writing a review of the inReach that I neglected to give you more information on the PN-60 GPS. Dee has already supplied some information and my opinion is very similar.

    As I stated previously, I was very favorably impressed with the PN-60w - much more than I expected to be. Although I have a Lorance in the boat, I have been a Garmin fan for many years. The Earthmate has many similar features to Garmin and they may very well come from the same factory in Taiwan.

    The Earthmate is very small. It fits in the palm of your hand and easily fits in your pocket. This is both good and bad. While I would prefer a larger screen size (old eyes), its small size ensures that it will always fit somewhere in your pack or pocket. It can also hang around your neck with the supplied lanyard.

    I was initially turned off by having to download specific area maps until I realized that I had the equivalent of full-coverage topographic maps of the entire continent of North America at varying resolution down to 7.5 minute series, plus high-resolution satellite images in just a few CDs. Imagine the acres of paper maps that covers! Previously, I had to special order specific maps to cover an area I wanted to visit. Now, I have an entire map room in my desk drawer and the ability to load them into my GPS any time I want. The Earthmate has an internal memory plus the ability to read from SD cards. I intend to transfer all regional CD data onto SD cards so I will have full coverage in the palm of my hand and can transfer data without tethering to my computer. The Earthmate has a zoom feature so one can look at the maps at varying scales (but I guess they all do that). The map data appear to be up to date. For example, at high resolution my private driveway is on the map. The satellite imagery is what you would find currently at Google and the resolution shows a trailer parked next to my house.

    Computer link-up is accomplished with a supplied cable. Synching with the computer requires some non-intuitive steps but is easily accomplished. I found map transfer to be a bit cumbersome until I recalled the steps I had to go through to get physical maps. Once I got the hang of it, it became much easier.

    I should probably say here that I consider it unwise to rely solely on digital maps in an electronic device. GPS should be a supplement to map and compass and not a complete replacement. That is just one old man's opinion.

    This is not a very complete review of all the features but I think it shows that I am satisfied with the Earthmate so far. I am typically satisfied with items I purchase until, or unless, they fail on me or unless I get crappy service from the dealer. I have only had the unit one week but I think I will continue to be happy with my purchase.

    Best regards,
    -Dan

  10. #10
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    Default As I gain more experience with the PN-60w and InReach

    I have had the devices for a month now and have given them a fairly comprehensive test. The short story is that I have learned to operate the system and understand many of its limitations; overall, I am satisfied with the system.

    Battery life: I don't yet know how long the batteries will last. I typically turn on the GPS to get a position fix and then turn it off. Under some circumstances, e.g., navigating on a glacier in low visibility or floating an unfamiliar river, I would probably want to leave the device on but I have not yet had to do that. Likewise, I turn on the InReach only to send a signal and then turn it off. I have not used it in tracking mode.

    Memory: I purchased a 32 GB SD card and loaded the complete Alaska maps, plus the Yukon and British Columbia and barely put a dent in available memory. There is plenty of room for regional maps when I travel to the lesser 48.

    Map availability beyond North America: The folks at DeLorme assure me that full global coverage (within the limits of regional resolution) are available and can be purchased using the software on the CD that comes with the unit. The CD is meant for Windows and I drive a Mac, so I have not yet tired it out. I need to download maps for East Greenland so will have to try it out soon.

    Sending messages with the InReach: Stand-alone messages and address directory are composed on-line via computer before leaving home. This past week, my wife took the InReach with her on a bike tour of the Golden Circle Route (Haines - Whitehorse - Skagway) and has been sending me daily fix locations so I can track their daily mileage and see where they are camping each night. For the most part, the messages are instantaneous but a couple of the SMS messages reach my telephone after some delay (up to a few hours). The phone text messages are sent through a landline telephone somewhere in Vermont and I suspect there may be some time delay and queue system if several messages are going through the system at the same time. This may be a limitation if you are wanting to share time-critical information.

    The billing system is straightforward but I was surprised (but really should not have been) to learn that one message sent to ten people counts as ten messages. I suspect that the same message sent to my computer via email and my telephone via SMS also counts as two messages. As I subscribed to only the basic system, I have had to pay as I learn but I am ok with that.

    For casual use, the system is just fine. Messages are sent via computer email and SMS text. To receive the messages, your contacts must be at their computer or have their telephone on and have telephone reception. Otherwise, they will not read your message. Think about that before you rely on it for emergency purposes.

    This thread is beginning to sound like a product endorsement. In a way, I suppose it is. I am in no way affiliated with DeLorme and have not been encouraged by anyone to comment on their product. I am only expressing my opinion the same way I would comment on any other product. I hope this has been helpful.

    -Dan

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    Dan-

    Good post. FYI, I run my Delorme full time on my outings (I like to download my tracks and trip info onto Topo later) and whereas the PN-20 I used to have to do a battery change mid-day, I'm getting up to 30 hours of run time (basically 3 day trips) on my PN-60w on one set of batteries and I'm only changing them out because they're starting to show below 40%. That's in summertime temperatures 50F-70F. The difference in battery life between the two units is just amazing. I still carry spare batteries but am finding I rarely need them.

    Dee
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Thanks Dee. I am wondering which batteries you use. DeLorme recommends using lithium batteries. The devices will run on other battery types but you have to "tell" them which batteries you are installing. Is your 30-hour run time on the lithium batteries? That's a good run time in either case.

    Dan

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    Dan-

    That's with standard batteries. In the winter I switch to lithium, but the cold just eats batteries, so I only get about 10-12 hours on 1 set of lithium in freezing temps.

    Dee
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Default divide those message costs by 10

    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    The billing system is straightforward but I was surprised (but really should not have been) to learn that one message sent to ten people counts as ten messages. I suspect that the same message sent to my computer via email and my telephone via SMS also counts as two messages. As I subscribed to only the basic system, I have had to pay as I learn but I am ok with that.
    There is a way to remove their extra fees for extra people to receive your messages.

    If you know anyone that manages an Internet mail server, just have them define an email "alias" for you. Its that simple.

    Also, some better hosting packages come with this ability, so ask anyone you know that owns their own domain name.

    If you're not familiar with the term alias, it is when you define to your mailserver that any mail to XXXX@YYYY.com should instead be routed to an entire list of people whose email addresses you furnish once to that mail server. Forever after, sending just one email to one address will automagically clone itself into 10 (or howevermany) copies of itself, and then send them all individually.

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    I have both the "In reach" and "Delorme PN-60". I've used the in reach with active route tracking and it's worked just fine. We spent the weekends repeating the same route, so it has stayed off for parts of the trips.

    It was easier to load waypoints and routes from Google earth to the Garmin than from Google Earth to the Delorme (downloading from Google and importing to the Delorme might actually be impossible). Yeah, Delorme have their map service... but google earth is free and works fine for my purposes. Therefore, we carry the Delorme PN-60 as a back up to the Garmin.

    For the upcoming caribou and moose seasons, we'll continue to carry the in reach and the delorme. They have been sync'd, so if I needed to push the SOS, hopefully I'll be able to communicate the situation to any responders. Worst case scenerio, the In reach would send the SOS and my delorme is a mere back-up GPS unit.

    If I were to consider the purchases again, I'd favor spending a little extra money, and get an iridium sat phone and stay with the Garmin GPS. I might feel differently if the Delorme interacted favorably with google earth or perhaps if their maps had a one time fee. But a subscription?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wet eNuf View Post
    If I were to consider the purchases again, I'd favor spending a little extra money, and get an iridium sat phone and stay with the Garmin GPS. I might feel differently if the Delorme interacted favorably with google earth or perhaps if their maps had a one time fee. But a subscription?
    It's a nominal annual fee for the Delorme subscription, with unlimited downloads. Realistically, you could buy the subscription once and get all the maps you want that year and never buy it again. That's pretty much what I did.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    If I were to consider the purchases again, I'd favor spending a little extra money, and get an iridium sat phone and stay with the Garmin GPS. I might feel differently if the Delorme interacted favorably with google earth or perhaps if their maps had a one time fee. But a subscription?[/QUOTE]

    I'm with you on the preference for sat phone over the inReach but I've determined that the inReach now has a permanent place in my kit too.

    Regarding the maps, as Dee said, a one-time installation of your required maps is all that is needed. If you are installing topographic maps, how often does USGS update maps anyway? At high resolution, the system has the Google Earth images included and there is no need to download them.

    For terrestrial activities in the field, the initial installation of maps should last for the life of the unit. The topography is relatively constant. Highways and streets may change as new routes are added but I've been driving with the same Garmin 496 I took out of my airplane years ago. It has the same highway information that was installed at the factory and it suits me just fine. Now, if I were still flying and using that unit for navigation (it's not legal for IFR) I would have to upgrade maps every 90 days or so and, in that case, a subscription would be necessary.

    I echo your preference for Garmin but I think any differences are more apparent than real. The maps that are provided are included with the unit and I doubt there is discernable differences between those provided by DeLorme, Garmin, Lowrance, or Google Maps.

    Best wishes,
    Dan

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    IMO, the selection of a GPS or locating beacon system parallels the decision making process when buying an iphone (or droid), or an IBM computer (or mac). One platform works great for one user and not so much for the next guy.

    While you have a point about the short time unlimited downloads Ö they do claim to update maps. Personally, I donít have enough foresight to plan my trips for the rest of this year Ö let alone next year or five years from now. Even if I were to activate the subscription and quickly cancel it a few times a year, potential users should be aware of the costs (activation fees, subscription services) associated with the delorme system. If there is an advantage of the delorme mapping over google Ö thatís cool. But I donít feel comfortable recommending the delorme/in reach system for such reasons stated above.

    Which brings us to another point. What happens when there is an emergency? Or you need help but maybe not a medivac? Yes, with the In reach, you can set up three messages. With the delorme synced, you can send customized messages to people you set up to receive them. So you find yourself in the field with a moose down, your friends Johnny and Suzy are in Costa Rica Ö another group is fishing, and another friend is working the late shift that day, and you would like to extend the an invite to Joe, but he isnít on your message list. A phone call to Joe would be pretty cool. And next week, the list might be different. But the foresight required and maintenance of the list, just isn't for me (examples: Perhaps you donít want all the friends to know your various bear, moose, and caribou hunting spots).

    But they make a different in reach for the droid Ö so perhaps that combination would present other opportunities and appeal to potential users. As it is, I have theĒ in reachĒ and delorme, but more or less use the in reach as a stand alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    I echo your preference for Garmin but I think any differences are more apparent than real. The maps that are provided are included with the unit and I doubt there is discernable differences between those provided by DeLorme, Garmin, Lowrance, or Google Maps.
    I view the google maps on my home computer. I really don't use google maps on the GPS. I bought the https://www.huntinggpsmaps.com/Web_Store/MapStore.php and it is compatible with my delorme 20 and 60 and garmin.

    It is easy for me to transfer points to/from Google Earth to Garmin. If I go to a friends house, loading google is free and easy. I've loaded up the delorme maps on a few computers ... so perhaps there is a more efficient way of working on multiple computers when using the delorme.

    But then, do you have a way of sending points to/from the delorme from/to from Google Earth?

  20. #20
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    Wet,
    Thanks for those well-written comments. You are absolutely correct that a platform that works for one person might not work for another.

    I have found that the maps pre-installed on a gps at purchase have been sufficient for all my purposes for the life of the gps unit. The North American topographic maps on the CDs that came with my DeLorme appear to be up to date in every way and I don't anticipate the need to update. In my case, I don't need no stinking activation fees or subscription costs. I have full coverage of North America at hand and only need to buy a few select maps for East Greenland. Your case appears to be different (or maybe some units were shipped with CDs, like mine, and others came with a subscription plan?).

    Regarding maintaining the list of contacts in your PN-60, I am not computer literate enough to do it but I'll bet one can easily transfer contact information from your droid to the PN-60. My own contact list is rather short and I simply typed in all the contacts I could think of so they would be there in case I wanted to call them up. That way Joe is already on the list in case John and Suzy head to Costa Rica. I see it as a back up to my address book should I lose the iPhone.

    Thanks very much for the huntingmaps.com information. That looks very interesting. I will be placing an order this morning.

    Regarding sending points to/from the DeLorme from/to Google Earth, I don't know. That is beyond my computer skills but perhaps someone else can chime in.

    Finally, I am glad we are having this conversation. It shows that there are various options available for safety and emergency preparation. Someone who goes into the field having given it some thought is far better off than one who has not.

    Best wishes,
    Dan

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