Delorme inReach ExplorerThe Delorme inReach Explorer is the newest two-way, satellite texting and SOS device to hit the market. What sets the Explorer apart from other locating and communication beacons is that it also has built in GPS navigation features. Our gear testers found this combination of navigation and communication to be a great benefit when traveling in difficult and remote regions of the world. The added GPS navigation functionality was great for pre-trip planning. The ability to pre-set waypoints and routes using Delorme’s online map planning tools was quick and easy. While our guides are in the field our support staff can locate them, and see where they intend to go while they are following a planned route simply by checking their MapShare page. The main benefit that the inReach offers is two-way texting. Unlike other personal locator beacons the inReach allows you to compose messages and get replies in the field rather than picking from a few preset ones and then not being able to get a reply. Messages can also be sent from one inReach to another allowing multiple parties in the backcountry to stay in touch with each other. By downloading the Earthmate app to your smartphone and Bluetooth pairing it to the Explorer, sending text messages and viewing maps is incredibly easy. Because the inReach uses the Iridium Satellite Constellation, it acquires a satellite fix quickly and offers truly global coverage without dead-zones or down-times that other carrier constellations are plagued with. Messages that were sent to or from the inReach were delivered very quickly, usually in less than one minute. Because every message that is sent from the inReach has your location attached to it, recipients can always keep tabs on you as you travel. The inReach really allows for quick and easy communication during non-emergency situations, but still offers the SOS option in which search and rescue can be summoned to your location with the push of a button. After an SOS has been initiated, emergency responders can communicate with you via text messages to learn the specifics of your emergency. The inReach Explorer is the ideal satellite communication device for any recreationalist that ventures beyond cell phone range.
Compared to chemical purification methods, the use of UV light to rid water of bacteria, viruses and other water-borne pathogens leaves no taste, is not harmful to your kidneys if needing to purify water over long periods of time, and is over 99.99% effective when used properly. The SteriPen Freedom offers a lightweight chemical-free way to purify water when in the backcountry or traveling abroad. The Freedom has several great features that our guides liked. The first is the size. At a little more than 5 inches long and only 2.6 ounces, the Freedom is the smallest and lightest SteriPen offered. It can easily be carried in a shirt pocket, or slipped into the lid of your pack to be at the ready. Another feature that our guides particularly liked was the USB rechargeability of the Freedom. On longer trips our guides used a solar panel to ensure the battery is always topped off and was never any worry about running out of juice to purify water. On a full charge you can expect to get around twenty 1 liter treatments, or forty ½ liter treatments. We put the Freedom to test in Bolivia where water quality can be less than ideal due to contamination from llamas and other pack type animals. Despite three weeks of exposure to this iffy water, no water-borne illnesses were developed thanks to the SteriPen Freedom.
--Jeff Voigt, Guides Choice Testing Manager