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Thumbs Up for InReach SE Satellite Communicator

geospatial

InReach SE delivers every 10 minutes

InReach SE night-O route
InReach SE night-O route

Two more bush tests of the InReach SE and it worked flawlessly in ‘tracking’.

The image at right is of the waypoints during a 3 hour night orienteering event. I was able to watch from home in real time as Anitra orienteered. The InReach was set to deliver a location for every 10 minutes.

As a user of Route Gadget, I had to keep reminding myself that the straight lines between waypoints mean absolutely nothing in terms of actual route. In fact, although the term ‘track’ is used in the manual, what it delivers on the screen is really the same as a ‘route’ in GPSr terms.

Battery life

Over the course of the 3 hours (plus probably 30 minutes prior and post event), it used just 6% of battery capacity. This is considerably better than SPOT 2. The quid pro quo is that the InReach weighs 190 gms vs SPOT 2’s 120 gms and InReach is 4cm taller including aerial.

However, in our case it will normally be used when mapping, bush walking and trail riding thus the difference in weight and size is not consequential. Critically, InReach works for us whereas SPOT 2 does not.

InReach SE carry
InReach SE carry

Surprising performance

For the night orienteering event, the InReach was in a waist-belt pocket with just half the aerial poking out as in the image at left. It didn’t miss a beat. Even when SPOT 2 was working well in the first 2 years we had it, it had to be fully exposed and preferably off the body to work well.

However, continuous tracking is important only if you want to follow on the internet the route of a person using the device. If you are interested purely in the SOS aspect, then all the device has to do is deliver a single waypoint at that time. I am confident the InReach SE will, but based on our SPOT 2 experience, I cannot be confident that SPOT 3 would work in the terrain and vegetation where we normally operate.

We are now a lot more comfortable again with the other partner being out in the bush for solo mapping, bush walking and trail riding. We recommend InReach SE as a safety device at least for we older solo bush venturers who are susceptible to more serious injury in a fall and the like. And for adventurers like Alastair Humphreys riding the world or rowing the Atlantic, who have an audience that is interested in their progress.

2019 update

Increasingly we are both out in the bush at the same time in different areas. So we are buying another InReach. This time the Mini which is lighter at 100g and smaller at 99 x 52 x 26mm. Also cheaper at $499 (plus the usual communication plan).

On our InReach SE, we use the Recreational Satellite subscription plan. However we will trial the Freedom plan on our Mini on the basis that because both of us are not always out at the same time then it will not be used as often as the SE.

I note that Spot has released model X which like InReach, is a 2 way communicator. Price is the same as InReach Mini. I still would not go back to Spot down south for reasons mentioned above. I gave my old Spot to a geologist nephew and he uses it frequently in northern Australia and Timor-Leste. It works very well up there.

Footnote: I do not receive any commercial benefit from promoting use of Garmin InReach. I do benefit from knowing that promoting satellite emergency communicators might save an orienteer’s life but much more likely, provide comfort to family back home.

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