Here is my selection of the best satellite messengers for 2018 (also called GPS Tracker or Personal Locator Beacon) which I would consider to carry on my next hiking or backpacking trip.

Satellite messengers are of particular importance if you plan to hike in a location without phone reception.

Garmin owns DeLorme since 2016, and the Garmin InReach Explorer+ and SE+ series are replacing the old DeLorme products.

In the picture below you can see the old DeLorme InReach Explorer in his yellow case attached to the backpack.

Best Satellite Messenger, Locator and Personal Beacon 2018

GPS messenger comparison table

GPS MessengerWeightMap Storing
Garmin InReach Mini100gno
SPOT Gen3114gno
ACR ResQlink+153gno
Garmin InReach SE+190gno
Garmin InReach Explorer+213gyes

Garmin InReach Mini

  • Weight: 100 grams
  • IPX7
  • Subscription needed
  • Route tracking
  • Battery lasts for 100 hours with 10 min tracking intervall
  • Waterproof
  • Post to Social Media
  • Trips can be shared via the <arel=”nofollow) href=”https://share.delorme.com/”>MapShare portal</a>
  • 500 waypoints and 20 routes can be stored. No maps can be stored.
  • Pair with mobile devices
  • Waypoints
  • Battery life 50 hours at 10 min tracking.

  • Weight: 153 grams
  • Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon which is also suitable for paddlers
  • No subscription fee
  • Sends rescue signals for 24 hours
  • Buoyant
  • No messaging

Garmin InReach Explorer+

  • Weight: 213 grams
  • Same features as Garmin InReach SE+ and in additional:
  • Digital Compass with barometric altimeter and accelerometer
  • Preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps with onscreen GPS routing plus
  • 2GB storage for maps

Garmin InReach SE+

  • Weight: 213 grams
  • Messages can also be sent with the phone by using the Earthmate app.
  • Subscription needed
  • Route tracking
  • Battery lasts for 100 hours with 10 min tracking interval
  • Waterproof
  • Post to Social Media
  • Trips can be shared via the Explore web portal
  • GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
  • Access to Downloadable Topographic Maps
  • Pair with mobile devices
  • Message size: 160 characters
  • Waypoints

SPOT Gen3

  • Weight 114 grams
  • Check-in function: pre-programmed text message or email with GPS coordinates to up to 10 contacts
  • Help/SPOT Assist: Inform contacts about non-life-threatening situations while SPOT Assist is for professional services on land or water.
  • Friends and Family can follow your trip via a SPOT Shared Page
  • Custom messages which can be used as a secondary OK message or personal help alert
  • Message size: 41 characters

Conclusion

With a Satellite Messenger, you can also inform your family and friends about your current location and that everything is fine with you, so they don’t have to worry.

Here an example: I have been once to the Sarek National park in Sweden where I didn’t have phone reception, and on this trip, I decided that I will take a satellite messenger with me if I would ever go there again in the future.

It can take up to 2-3 days to get out of the National Park, and in case of an emergency, it might be quite hard to find help as you may only see two other hikers a day if at all.

Fortunately, I was not in need to make an emergency call yet. While it’s possible to send text messages with the devices from DeLorme and SPOT, you may use ACR only to send a rescue signal (also called Personal Locator Beacon).

The main advantage of the ACR is that you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to use the GPS network.

If messaging is not important for you, then you should go for the ACR ResQlink+ 406. The ACR device is also interesting for paddlers since it can float.

Alternatively, you will see from the specifications below that the DeLorme devices have slightly more weight but come with more functionalities than the SPOT devices.

My personal preference goes towards the Garmin InReach Mini as it the lightest option and offers most of the functionalities of the other devices since it can be also linked with a smartphone.

If I would not need the messenger and tracking function, then I would probably get the ACR ResQlink+ 406.

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