I used this in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park a few weeks ago. I preloaded our route and set up the phone numbers for the “significant others” for everyone in our group. We set up the broadcast for every ten minutes and headed out. The auto update function worked very well, and the update texts that I sent went out as we had good visibility of the sky. I do recommend thinking about how you want to attach this to your pack -before- you arrive at the trailhead, and find a spot high and in the open on your pack. I had mine in a pocket for three days, and that did affect how quickly our texts went out (my mistake, not the unit’s). I left it in tracking mode for three full days and had more than half of the battery life left when we finished. Overall, it was a great addition to our trip, especially providing peace of mind to those at home. The navigation feels a little slow in our smartphone world, but the EarthMate app makes that easier to deal with for text-heavy entry on the trail too.
I used this on the Cooksie Creek trail in the Kings range. Without this device I would have not been able to stay on the trail and I am a former Army scout. In dense vegetation with the occasional opening nothing can beat this thing. User does have to spend time with the device to learn and get used to it. Especially before your first trip. I was able to text family from a completely remote area no issues. Interface with phone is great. Device by itself can be clunky. In bluetooth mode linked to my cell in airplane mode with only bluetooth the thing uses 25% battery a day on average with moderate to heavy use. It's a life saver and worth the weight though. It also able to send text and Email up to 160 characters. I use and 8000mah battery, a solar panel to keep this and my cell going indefinitely. Outstanding device for remote travels!
I purchased this for hiking and mountain biking but haven’t had a chance to give it a real test. I’m still learning and have tested many of the functions including the shared mapping, locations requests, and both the preset texting and regular texting while traveling through four eastern states. Everything functions exactly as advertised. I’m a little intimidated about plotting and following a route but being perfectly honest, I haven’t tried. My only critique is that there aren’t enough detailed videos available to learn all the functions. I would like to see how to make each function work not just that it has the capability. I’m well over fifty so I wasn’t born with electronics in my hand. I have fat fingers an need readers to see the fine print so I have more of a learning curve than my kids BUT this is not hard. For me it just took a little practice and because I consider this a piece of safety gear I want to know all of the functions before I need them. Most importantly, without learning ANY other function, the SOS button is easy to operate and completely functional without any additional information other than the service subscription. In our testing my wife though it was a little creepy that my son could track us on our travels but in the same breath wants this to work for my excursions since I’m usually in the wood alone and almost never have any cellular coverage
Bought this for extra security on a 5-day Sierra backpacking trip with Boy Scouts. The free unlimited quantity of pre-set satellite "text" messages (to email addresses) was very reassuring to families while we were far from the trailhead and gave our pinpoint location with every message. Just make sure the little triangle is filled in on the display, indicating satellite communication, for faster sending. Sending may also take a couple minutes. The GPS map overlay feature was also key for us finding an "un-maintained" trail again after it liked to disappear. The small display has a high degree of zoom, so you won't need a second GPS device. Has waypoint features, though I haven't used them yet. Will connect via Bluetooth to your phone if you need a bigger display. Download the app and setup your pre-set messages on-line before you go. You must then sync the unit to the on-line changes via the included USB cable. The unit arrives charged. SOS button cannot be accidentally activated and also has a protective cap. The required satellite communication service contract can be suspended to save money. 1-month minimum increments. The product is surprisingly light and comfortably clips with the included carabiner to a pack shoulder strap. Construction seems rugged. Would buy again.