If you’re someone who enjoys venturing into the backcountry, then your safety should be a primary consideration, and the ability to share your location and alert emergency services in the event of an accident is crucial. In the past, I’ve been a fan of SPOT Satellite Communication Devices (generally alongside a second “burner” mobile phone, and at sea, a Marine VHF radio). ACR Electronics has just released their Bivy Stick satellite communication device, and it looks to be a great alternative.
ACR Electronics design and manufacture a complete range of safety and survival products for the brands ACR, Artex, Skytrac, Flight Data Systems, Ocean Signal, United Moulders (UML), Latitude Technologies, and NAL Research. The company’s products include emergency position-indicating radio beacons, personal locator beacons, ARTEX emergency locator transmitters, flight data monitoring, GADSS, search and rescue transponders, strobe lights, life jacket lights and inflators, boat searchlights, and other associated safety accessories. It’s no surprise that the company has been “recognized as a world leader in safety and survival technologies for over 60 years.”
ACR’s latest offering, the Bivy Stick two-way satellite messenger and app, looks to continue the company’s reputation for class-leading safety equipment and is “the world’s smallest and most simple satellite communication device.” The Bivy Stick offers outdoor enthusiasts an innovative and affordable option for sending SMS messages, tracking and sharing location information, accessing GPS maps, viewing live weather forecasts, and initiating a distress call. The ACR device is a subscription-based solution, weighs just 100 grams, and works with a user’s smartphone.
The device can be used in conjunction with the ACR Bivy app, which identifies and collates crowd-sourced details and locations of voyages/adventures experienced by the Bivy community (I’d recommend checking out ACR’s Survivor Club to understand the real value of their products). This 4.5- x 1.8-inch accessory promises to work anywhere with a view of the sky with 100 percent global satellite coverage. It is designed for backpackers, mountain bikers, hunters/fisherman, OHV users, skiers/snowboarders, boaters, kayakers/paddlers, global travellers, or anyone accessing remote areas. The Bivy features a high-power antenna for reliable connectivity, two-way text satellite communication (enabling the user to send text messages to phone numbers or email addresses), alongside the ability to share and track location.
The Bivy is engineered to provide the full range of benefits when paired with a smartphone whilst also including a dedicated check-in button for updating friends and family with a preset message at a specific location. There is an SOS button to contact rescue services in an emergency, and can also be initiated via the app. ACR Bivy members also gain free access to Global Rescue, providing 24/7/365 medical, security, evacuation, travel risk and crisis management services to travellers around the world (users can sign up for Global Rescue insurance to cover any associated costs).
ACR states the Bivy Stick “offers a more flexible pricing structure than similar products, allowing users to pay for only the months they use the device, with no annual contract or activation fee required.” This is a nice touch as most users won’t require the Bivy and its associated services year-round. The “unlimited fee” is $50 per month, whilst there’s also two credit plans: 20 credits for $18 per month or 100 credits for $40 per month (credits do not expire, so they can be saved for when you need them). One credit is the equivalent to one SMS message, one tracking interval, one location request, or one basic weather report; SOS and preset messages are unlimited.
As an avid explorer, I consider a satellite communication device an essential item for the backcountry. If things go wrong in the wilderness, things often happen fast and escalate quickly; it’s imperative that you have a full-proof safety protocol in place. The Bivy Stick is competitively priced, packed with features, and might just save your life.
$350 | acrartex.com