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$250 gadget helps you stay InReach when off the grid

A relatively small portion of our planet has mobile coverage. DeLorme's InReach keeps you in touch from anywhere.

If you're clinging to flotsam in the middle of the Pacific and need to send an emergency message, DeLorme has a rugged new satellite communicator that can do the job on the cheap.


Its InReach device is a two-way satellite hookup with GPS that lets you send messages from anywhere in the world for as little as $249.95 and a subscription with Iridium's global network from $9.95 monthly.

Used alone, the InReach can send an SOS or up to three preset messages, as well as remote-tracking data; it confirms delivery too. Users can designate recipients such as other InReach devices, e-mail addresses, or Facebook or Twitter accounts before they set out for northern Siberia.

The palm-size, push-button gadget can also be paired via Bluetooth with an Android device or DeLorme PN-60w GPS for two-way texting of up to 160 characters. The free DeLorme Earthmate application for Android users downloads maps to your device for GPS navigation without cell towers.

Designed for harsh conditions, the InReach is waterproof, buoyant, and shock-resistant. It weighs 8 ounces with two lithium batteries. It's built around Iridium's 9602 transceiver, which is smaller than a credit card, and it has a dedicated SOS button.

Because it's relatively affordable, the InReach may become an important part of the serious adventurer's toolkit. It has already picked up a CES 2012 innovation award in the personal-electronics category. I'd sure prefer to have one when crossing the desert.