Staying Safe And In Touch As An Aging Photographer
As an aging photographer, I get concerned about staying safe and in touch when I’m off on my photo treks. I always carry a cell phone, but many of the locations to which I travel have poor or no cell service. Have you ever tried to make a cell phone call while deep in the woods, or while down in a river gorge? Doesn’t work very well, does it? When I retired and started pursuing my landscape photography passion more aggressively, my wife and family expressed concern about my ability to call for help, should I trip and fall somewhere in the woods, or otherwise get injured or lost out in the backcountry. Since I usually go off on my photo treks alone, they also wanted to be able to track my location throughout the trek. As I researched my options, I looked for a device that would be small and lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and would have both locator and messaging capability. I pretty quickly ruled out satellite phones, as both the devices and their service plans tend to be prohibitively expensive, at least for a retired, aging photographer. Instead, I reviewed several Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SEND) devices, or satellite communicators, since they appeared to best fit my needs and budget. These satellite communicators connect through global satellite networks (just like expensive sat phones) and provide both locations service and the ability to send and receive short messages.
Choosing a Satellite Communicator
There are several of these devices on the market. Based on my needs, the top two contenders were DeLorme and Spot. Delorme offers the original inReach, the InReach SE and the newest InReach Explorer (with built in GPS). Spot’s latest offerings are the Spot 3 and Spot Connect. The DeLorme and Spot devices use different satellite networks to provide location information and to send and receive messages. DeLorme uses the robust and highly rated Iridium network, while Spot uses the Globalstar network. Here is a brief feature comparison. You can click on the device picture to go to Amazon.com for more information and the latest prices.
Before The Trip – Preparing to Use The DeLorme InReach SE
I purchased the InReach SE, the accessory neoprene floating case, and loaded the free Earhmate app on my iPhone. You must first activate your device. You can then go the DeLorme Explore web site to:
- Add emergency contacts
- Add personal contacts
- Create inReach messages
- Create Quick Text messages
- Activate MapShare
- Add a Facebook account
- Add a Twitter account
The inReach SE can be paired with one iOS or Android device at a time. I paired mine with my iPhone. You can get more detailed information about setting up and using the inReach SE from the online user manual.
Using The InReach In The Field
The inReach SE requires a clear view of the sky to acquire a GPS fix and transmit your messages. DeLorme recommends that for the best reception when wearing the inReach, attach it to a backpack strap or to your upper body. I clip mine to one of the shoulder straps on my Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L lightweight photo backpack The inReach SE home screen displays icons that you can select to perform tasks with the device. You can display a second set of icons by scrolling left or right.
Tracking Your Journey
You can track your progress throughout your trip. When you turn on Tracking, the inReach will send waypoints at intervals over time. These waypoints can also be used to show your progress to your friends and family using MapShare through the Explore website.
Sending An SOS
The most valuable feature of the inReach SE for me is the ability to send an SOS and receive messages from emergency rescue providers. There are multiple ways to activate SOS:
- From the home screen, select SOS and press Enter.
- If the inReach SE is turned on, press the SOS button on the inReach SE device. Make sure you have unlocked the SOS button first.
- If the inReach SE is turned off, press and hold the SOS button for three seconds. The device will automatically turn on and send the SOS signal.
Using The Earthmate App
You can use the Earthmate app on your mobile device to control the inReach SE, view a map and check your waypoints, and to send and receive messages. Use the Share function to send friends and family a link to your MapShare page from the inReach. Just a like composing a regular message, select recipients, add your message text, and hit Send. DeLorme will automatically include a link to your MapShare web page in the email or SMS that your recipient receives. I love my DeLorme inReach SE. It is lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and gives both me and my family peace of mind.
You can get a great price on these items at Amazon.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."