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DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone
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Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 19:55:42 MST Print View

I saw some other threads about the DeLorme SE, but thought a new thread was in order. This is my first post, so forgive me if this is in the wrong place. I have been stalking BPL for some time, but thought this was something I'd like to discuss myself. So here goes:

My wife wants me to be 'safe' on the trail (unfortunately she is not a hiker) and wants me to get a tracking device. I have been researching for about a week now and it comes down to 2 choices: The DeLorme SE or the SpareOne Plus.
I expect most of you know the Delorme SE and its Pros and Cons. As for the SpareOne Plus, it goes something like this:

$80 and works with any cell provider (i.e. not GPS based but is DOES have a GPS tracker)
Can be tracked by my wife on her computer using GMS/GPS.
Only 2.4 oz. (including battery from what I understand)
Waterproof, floatable bag that is 'talk through'
SOS beacon/TorchLight (up to 24 solid hours, if needed.)
10 hours of USE time on 1 AA Lithium Battery (a big advantage)
Panic Siren
In addition, "if the SOS emergency button is pressed, each registered recipient will receive an immediate alert (via text and/or email) of the distress call and a link with the coordinates of the phones approximate location."

Downsides:
No Maps
No Texts, no screen even. Only Audio (bonus, though: If you get a text, SpareOne will auto reply telling the sender to call you instead.)

Now, I generally depend on maps and common sense when hiking and have never had a GPS. I don't even take a phone. But now I have to get something. The DeLorme has some great service packages, but they are pricey for me, considering that I hike mostly in the Spring and Fall.

SpareOne, on the other hand only charges for someone to track the phone. It costs 1 'credit' which costs something like $0.63 each time you ping it (you get the first 48 free and then 48 credit refills for $29.99).

I know the question is basically GPS vs. GMS here. I know there are a TON of places where cell service is nill. But on almost every trail I have been on, there has always been at least one spot where some cell service was available AND, after reading this article: http://www.backpacker.com/prof-hike-cell-phones/skills/15238
I thought the SpareOne might just be 'enough' for an experienced hiker such as myself.

Any thoughts? Opinions?

Edited by OzarkHiker on 11/17/2013 20:03:13 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 20:02:36 MST Print View

"I know there are a TON of places where cell service is nill."

"But on almost every trail I have been on, there has always been at least one spot where some cell service was available"


It's one or the other.



If there is cell service, use your phone.
If there isn't cell service, use InReach, or a similar EPLB.

Edited by greg23 on 11/17/2013 20:07:05 MST.

Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
Update: There is a GPS tracker on 11/17/2013 20:09:15 MST Print View

I had to update the post. There is a GPS tracker in it, so that is a bonus.

As for the "it's one or the other" comment: Seriously? You know better than that. Life is gray, bro, not black and white. You know better than that. You might carry both, but I would rather carry neither. If I have to choose, I'd like other opinions on this one.

We have all been on trails where there was no service. And then a mile later in one spot at the top of a hill, there was service. If you consider that 'service' and want to say "it's one or the other" then my only response is: I hike; I don't stand still. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't. Surprise: There isn't always satellite reception either.

I guess according to you a trail either has satellite reception or it doesn't. LOL.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
Delorme Inreach SE on 11/17/2013 20:13:13 MST Print View

I agree with Greg on the phone and SE.
I use my phone for taking pics otherwise its off. If I think there is service in the evening where I camp I will call the kids.
Otherwise use the Inreach and text.

Just a preference but it works for my needs.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 20:27:34 MST Print View

"But on almost every trail I have been on, there has always been at least one spot where some cell service was available"

My bad, I thought you were asking about hiking in remote areas versus a urban region surrounded by cell towers.

Edited by greg23 on 11/17/2013 20:28:38 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 20:30:29 MST Print View

If it works with cell service, just use your cell phone?

My cell phone weighs 3 ounces. It's several years old, maybe there are lighter ones?

When I walk around in the Three Sisters or Mount Hood, about half the days I can find a place with cell service. I just tell wife where I am and I'm following my itenerary. She says no disaster has happened I should hurry home for.

When I was in the Trinity Alps, cell phone didn't work once.

When I was in the Deschutes River Canyon, there's one place where there just happens to be cell service - there must be a cell tower up some canyon.

I would like to be able to text once a day. DeLorme looks pretty good, but I'm just a bit too much of a cheapskate so far...

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 20:32:53 MST Print View

I agree with the other two posters.

The emergency phone is basically just another cell phone. You claim that it has a GPS tracker function. OK. The manufacture's web site does not claim that, and the user manual does not claim that. You stated earlier that it does not have a GPS function. So, which is it?

Let me explain more clearly so that you can understand. The only location method that can function here is what we call cell-tower triangulation. As its name implies, this is a terrestrial method that requires at least three cell towers to develop a location on the phone. Guess what happens if you don't have three cell towers in sight of your position on the trail. NADA!

You can get cell service from one cell tower, and I believe you that there is cell service that way along the trails that you travel. Now explain how that is going to work if you fall down, break your leg, and you can only get service from zero, one, or two cell towers.

This has got to be a very bad idea. The only good thing about it was the catchy music at the web site.

--B.G.--

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 20:50:18 MST Print View

I guess I'm confused about the choice. If it works with cell service, and you hike in areas that have cell coverage...why not just use your cell phone?

If you aren't hiking in areas with reliable cell coverage, then you do need a PLB of some sort if you want that connection. I have the delorme se and I really like being able to text that I have arrived at camp safe n sound each night. But that's me.

Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
Let me Clarify on 11/17/2013 20:56:54 MST Print View

B.G. I understand what GMS Triagulation is. Thanks for the explanation, though. I am sure some others will find it useful.
As for the GPS question: I am not too clear myself. This page and many others on the Manufacturer's site claim that it DOES in fact have a GPS tracker:
http://www.spareone.com/blog/trade-shows/2013-ces/a-phone-for-all/
I don't know if it works with my wife tracking me or only in emergencies. The manufacturer, like you noted, is extremely lacking in any pertinent details. That is why I had to go back and change it.

I don't text. Not even when at home. I use my cell phone infrequently enough to have a prepaid plan that charges $2/day and have only used $100 or so since April, 2013. I don't use cell phones. I am 29 and my friends shudder ;) But that doesn't make me ignorant of technology and how it all works.

Here is the crux of the issue: I am leaning towards the cell phone thing. It weigh 5 oz. less. I won't use the gps on the Delorme and the service rates are pointless if I won't use it. Remember, this is just something that I am taking for my wife. No use to me unless I get into a major accident (which is always an unknown).
Since it is a device for my wife to check in and make sure I am okay and other wise just an insurance policy, I am unsure that I want to pack an extra 5 oz. and pay for a service that I wont use, especially when there is a similar service for much cheaper.

IF the cell phone has a GPS tracker, like the website says. AND IF the tracking my wife can do is GPS/GMS and not purely GMS triangulation, I will probably go with the SpareOne. Regardless, I still wanted other opinions.

I hope this clears everything up. Thanks for the responses.

Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: DeLorme InReach SE vs. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone on 11/17/2013 21:11:17 MST Print View

One last clarification:

Up until now, I have not even carried a cell phone. Nothing, nada, zilch that could help me contact the outside world. Some might call that foolhardy, but I am not so sure. Since when did we start being so tethered? 10 years ago, when I started backpacking in earnest, a cell phone was truly rare. You used you head and were safe. Accidents happened, but they were as rare as they are today.

When I hike, I never do it in urban areas. I normally go to state or national parks and well kept trails. Sometimes for a week or so, but mostly for a long weekend. Cell phone service is spotty in most of these areas, from my understanding, but is becoming more and more ubiquitous, like it is on the AT, out East.

I am not looking to talk or text or for GPS maps.
I just want a device to track my movements for the benefit of someone else. If there is a Panic Button for emergencies, superb. If not, my loved ones will see that I am not following my itinerary and will send help. If that fails, at least I will die doing what I love. ;)

Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: on 11/17/2013 21:21:44 MST Print View

Maybe there is a GPS tracker somewhere that is SIMPLY a GPS tracker? Something I can put in my shoe maybe that my loved ones can go online and see where I am?

Maybe the CIA will let me have one of those implantable kinds for under my skin?

Again, not looking for communication. Just GPS tracking. Sorry I was so roundabout. I was trying to get ALL the info out there and failing at keeping it simple.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: on 11/17/2013 21:34:44 MST Print View

Ryan, you've been watching too many television crime shows.

There isn't that much simple about a GPS tracker. First, you need to have a GPS receiver in there to develop your position fix. Second, you need to have a timer to decide when the position needs to be sent. Third, you have to have some means of communicating that position data out to the world, and that is generally some kind of radio transmitter. Fourth, you have to have that position data received somewhere and the data shown on a website map. Additionally, if the position data is not properly or fully received, then the person being tracked will never know about it unless there is also a receiver function on the same device. All of this stuff together requires battery power. Take all of that and implant it under your skin, and you will have an awful big lump. I'm not sure whether that counts as base weight or not.

--B.G.--

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Locating a cell phone and other thoughts on 11/17/2013 21:38:24 MST Print View

All cell phones can be located to varying degrees of accuracy via cell towers.

If the phone is visible to three towers, you can triangulate and get a good location.

If the phone is visible to two towers, you can narrow to two likely locations. If you have a history of different locations, you can quickly narrow down to one. You won't have that history if you turn on the phone just to make a 911 call and stay put.

If the phone is visible to just one tower - at least you've narrowed the search to the service area of that tower. Again, if you have a history of different locations indicating a probably path, that history can narrow the search area considerably.

In the case of the Kim family SAR in southern Oregon, single tower pings helped narrow the search area considerably.

Many cell phones include GPS, and most of those transmit GPS location through the cell system to more precisely locate 911 calls. As with all GPS devices, if the phone can't see the GPS satellites (e.g. deep forests, canyons, rock overhangs, inside buildings), the phone can't send a GPS position. And sometimes GPS locations can be off by a mile or more due to reflections and other problems. Still, transmitting GPS locations is much better than not having GPS most of the time (GPS use does reduce battery life).

Some people confuse cell tower locations with GPS. If GPS capabilities of the SpareOne Plus are important to you, I would ask them to directly confirm that the phone has a GPS receiver, and transmits GPS coordinates with 911 calls, versus simpler cell tower locations. Their web site certainly does not highlight that feature.

As to the value of DeLorme InReach SE versus SpareOne Plus - that depends on your own risk/reward tradeoffs.

If the SpareOne Plus keeps your wife as happy as a DeLorme InReach SE, and you don't care if you get found or not, then go for the cheaper option. People have been tramping in the wilderness for a couple hundred thousand years without cell phones or DeLorme inReach SE.

Just don't expect the SpareOne Plus to work in wilderness locations with no cell coverage. Having cell coverage at the top of a mountain does you no good if you are disabled at the bottom.

-- Rex

Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
Rex, I couldn't have said it better. on 11/17/2013 21:54:06 MST Print View

Thanks, Rex. Those are my sentiments, exactly. I don't care. I just want my wife happy. I think this discussion helped me to realize that more clearly. After a cursory look for simple GPS trackers I found this:
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/retrievor-self-charging-gps-tracking-retrieving

It is tiny (Solar powered and only 14g. $2/month service and highly accurate. GSM but also straight up GPS tracking. It includes all those things that Bob mentioned it needs. Except the thing about letting me know that someone is tracking me, which I don't care about. A quarter sized lump probably would be too big for me Bob, but if you really think there aren't smaller contraptions than this, I have some stories to tell you. Suffice it to say, taking implants out is just as easy as putting them in. How often you swap them is the only question. I once met a dog that had his nads replaced with a GPS tracker. It was the Dollar Thrifty Rental Car Bull Dog. Used to work there in college. The tracker had a 2-5 year life. That was almost 10 years ago. Technology is much smaller now.

So, I think I am set on the $189 quarter sized, 14g, solar charged, $2/month service GPS tracker with all the benefits my wife wants and none of the down sides I don't. If I get off my path, it will automatically send a warning ETC. You guys have a great evening.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Locating a cell phone and other thoughts on 11/17/2013 21:55:20 MST Print View

Rex, it is that "varying degrees of accuracy" phrase that always bothers me.

A few years ago, a certain cable TV company which shall remain nameless was seeking to build up some telecom infrastructure for all of Texas, and the intent was to backhaul the bandwidth for some of the cell phone service companies in Texas. In the process of that network design, they were seeking network synchronization that could be fed back out to all of the cell towers so that they could get a certain accuracy on their location services. I fed them that design, and they shot down most of it. They felt that location accuracy was not a paying service, so they did not want to invest real money in it. They implemented only a loose version of the design so lots of the claimed accuracy of cell tower triangulation was hot air, partly because they know that it is very difficult for anybody to argue about timing precision in single digit nanoseconds.

The farther you get out toward the wilderness, the looser those things work.

--B.G.--

Ed Biermann
(longstride) - F
Re: Let me Clarify on 11/17/2013 22:18:38 MST Print View

This page and many others on the Manufacturer's site claim that it DOES in fact have a GPS tracker:
http://www.spareone.com/blog/trade-shows/2013-ces/a-phone-for-all/

Well that link quotes HealthWorksCollective.com not the manufacturer

The manufacturer states this "Location capabilities work on a triangulation system based on GSM cell towers through a secure and protected service. Whenever you request to locate your SpareOne Plus on the web interface or a signal is issued through the SOS emergency button, the nearest cell tower will indicate (+/- 100m) of where the SpareOne Plus is at that moment."
Alert Services
When the SOS button is pressed, each specified guardian will receive an email and/or text notification with the time, approximate coordinates, and a link to a map of where the SOS emergency button was pressed. This function enables the nearest guardian to administer support and provides lifesaving coordinates in the event search and rescue efforts are needed.


So no GPS tracker. It works off cell phone towers. Also you better hope that someone is watching your progress is something bad happens as official SAR are not notified unless you have them set up.

That location feature also costs $30 annual.

I understand not wanting to spend the money on something you don't want to use. This device does not sound like a good choice though.

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Rex, I couldn't have said it better. on 11/17/2013 22:37:41 MST Print View

Ryan, I'm still getting the sense you're expecting continuous tracking from that GPS chip to your wife (apologies if I'm wrong).

Your wife will only get the tracking signal as long as you're in cell phone range, and if there are only intermittent spots with cell service she'll only get tracking data once you reach those spots.

Now, only you know how much cell coverage your hikes have, but keep in mind that if you only have cell service every few miles the chances of that off-path warning (or any other message) getting out are extremely low. (I.e. anything bad enough to require a panic button is likely going to prevent you moving very far.)

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: Locating a cell phone and other thoughts on 11/17/2013 23:19:08 MST Print View

Bob wrote:
Rex, it is that "varying degrees of accuracy" phrase that always bothers me.

After doing some more digging, accurate locations for 911 calls in the United States turns out to be a very big problem and a very big mess.

In California, only 19% to 57% of 911 calls contain accurate location information, depending on your carrier, and it's getting worse for AT&T and T-Mobile.

This is disturbing news with many complex elements. I'll start a new thread and edit this message to point there.

New thread: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=84235&skip_to_post=718703#718703

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 11/18/2013 10:35:13 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Locating a cell phone and other thoughts on 11/17/2013 23:30:43 MST Print View

"In California, only 19% to 57% of 911 calls contain accurate location information, depending on your carrier, and it's getting worse for AT&T and T-Mobile."

That's probably true.

The ability for a cell service provider to do position triangulation was what you might call an unfunded mandate (by the FCC). They don't collect any user fees from that service, so where do you think they will cheapen up their service implementation in order to stay competitive?

--B.G.--

Ryan Friend
(OzarkHiker)

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: Rex, I couldn't have said it better. on 11/18/2013 00:21:05 MST Print View

Jeremy, are you talking about the little chip I found on indiegogo? If so:

"The new technology inside Retrievor is the industry’s smallest, fully integrated GPS module with on‐board antenna.This module is complete SiP (System‐in‐Package) featuring advanced miniature packaging technology and an ultra small footprint.

The integration of a SiRFstarIV™ GPS processor enables the unit to operate in challenging GPS environments, such as indoor tracking or when the end-user is on the move. This high level of GPS performance is achieved by using innovative GPS firmware which can detect changes in context, temperature, and satellite signals, and opportunistically update its internal parameters which enables near-continuous navigation.

The revolutionary SiRFstarIV™ architecture is optimized for how people really use location‐aware products: often indoors with periods of unobstructed sky view when moving from place to place.

Innovative GPS firmware can detect changes in context, temperature, and satellite signals to achieve a state of near continuous navigation availability by maintaining and opportunistically updating its internal parameters while consuming mere microwatts of battery power."

That sounds like GPS from Satellites. From What I have read, it uses the easiest method, so cell towers when available and Satellites when not.