Somewear a 3 Ounce Satellite Messenger:

These clever folk have rethought the Epirb and Sat communicator with this lightweight device. It functions as a PLB with the touch of an SOS button but it can also send and receive SMS/email messages (up to 160 characters each). Each message also sends your precise geolocation.

It is available on Kickstarter for US299 so it is about $100 dearer say than the Spot PLB (and lighter) and at that price cheaper by about $100 than a Satellite Messenger (and about 100 grams lighter).

You can just wear it attached to your pack (as shown) because it is waterproof (IP7) and shockproof. It has a rechargeable battery which can handle up to 1,000 messages. How long that will last in practice I don’t know. I do know that when my Inreach is searching for a signal (in the thick vegetation and mountains I usually inhabit), it really chews through the battery – so that I turn it off and on again when I stop for a spell if I want the battery to last for days. By the same token you can recharge in various ways. I do not know what the capacity of the battery si. For some details we may have to wait for the product release.

The cheapest plan is $12 per month for 10 messages, so cheaper than Inreach but I have my Iridium sat phone on a $10 per month plan, believe it or not! I pay more only when I use it – seldom. You pair Somewear to your phone with an App. There are a number of other interesting features including mapping and emergency information.

I already have the Inreach Messenger which I bought as a backup to my sat phone when I had it fail once – the Service provider had phased out the Sim card without telling me! On that occasion I had to ring the police to assure Della I was OK. Because this device is 100 grams lighter than the Inreach I would probably have chosen it as my fail-safe, if it had existed then. Other gram conscious folk will probably do the same.

One thing I like about the Inreach (in comparison) is that it is a stand alone communicator if you drop and break your phone, whereas this one has no keyboard – but then there is also less to learn! If you broke your phone you would just have the SOS button. Mind you, as it is called a ‘Hotspot’ I would assume that you could pair it with another phone, so if you were traveling in company you might even share one between two of you (at half the cost!) I think this would be fine if you are hiking popular trails, not so much if you are completely in the wilderness as i usually am.

Naturally you would not press that button if you weren’t in any danger but whoever you normally communicate with wouldn’t know that, so they would worry. That’s why I carry both a sat phone and a communicator, or when Della and I are traveling together each of us carries one of them so we both have a way of communicating with the outside world – or with each other if we become separated, which we do not, but anything can happen. I always venture where there are no trails, or at very least where there are no people so it pays to have secure communication.

I would like to trial this gadget, and would even consider the saving of the 100 grams weight, but as we are retirees and already have the Inreach, I think this is unlikely. As you can see from some of my recent posts, I am always working on cheap ways to save a few grams.

People on a strict budget might consider an emergency CB radio for less than $50. Of course there is no certainty you will get a message out, but some of these devices are multi-band, and there are in many countries repeaters and emergency channels people are listening on. Check before you go.

I definitely think there is a place in the market for this product (particularly for safety conscious couples and gram counters) at the Kickstarter price and that it should do well, but if it should be offered at the suggested price of $450 I am not so sure that folks would not prefer either the Spot or the Inreach. Of course its ruggedness will count. &

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