Don’t confuse the title of this piece with the 1980s hit from The Police (De Do Do Do De Da Da Da), No, this is about another track on my playlist that I hope to never have to play. It is two-thirds of morse code for the international call for help – SOS. So this piece is about my decision to carry a two-way satellite communicator with me when I ride and why.
Travelling America’s highways and ending up at a cool motel is fun. Motelorcycling is all about both the journey and the destination. And most retrofitted motels I stay at offer free WiFi. But if you have ever travelled across the US or Canada, you know that there are serious gaps in cellular coverage. And this poses a real threat to motelorcyclists. Calling for help is not an option if there is no cell service. So, despite what the cellular providers tell you, and instead of waiting for the conclusion of the FCC investigation into misleading maps about cell coverage, I bought a Garmin inReach Mini. This way I know I’m always connected.
Researching the various options for satellite tracking I chose this one because it best fit my needs. There are others to choose from including the SpotX, the Garmin inReach, Spot Gen3 and ACR ResQLink+personal locator beacon. There are different price points too. The devices listed range in price from $150 to $500. And depending on your adventure travels you may choose another option that is better suited to you.
One reason I chose the Garmin inReach Mini is that it is the smallest of all devices. It weighs just three and half ounces and is just four inches tall and two inches wide so it fits nicely into my jacket pocket. And with space at a premium on a motorcycle journey you can understand why this is important to me.
The Garmin inReach Mini integrates with my iPhone using the Garmin Earthmate app. Because of its size it doesn’t allow for texting extended messages. But you can pre-set messages to tell people you are OK and give your location. And if you need to engage in a text message conversation, you can do so through the app. The app also also allows access to N.O.A.A. weather charts to avoid storms.
Garmin uses the Iridium Satellite network for its devices. And the GEOS 24/7 response team monitor SOS calls. As with all the devices, you will need to subscribe to their service. You have two options. The first is a pay as you go on a monthly basis or you can choose an annual plan. Because I ride only eight months a year, I opted for the monthly option.
Setting up and registering the device took no time at all. Within 20 minutes I registered the device, learned its basic functions and sent two test messages to ensure it worked. The specs show the battery life to be 90 hours. For me, this is longer than any continuous ride without a power source.
So this basic piece of kit is now standard when I ride. My family and friends will be able to find me no matter where I am and it gives me peace of mind in the event of an emergency. After all, I wouldn’t want to get caught sending out an SOS to the world in hopes that someone gets my (wait for it…) Message In A Bottle!