Bivystick?

DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
I'd say get an Inreach mini for now. Great for all the reasons above (though not perfect). Secret amazing sauce is in field remote communication with your team via Inreach text. That has been a blast and saved our bacon in the wilds more than once. To be able to send a status update with basecamp is more important than communication with home in many circumstances. Also really nice to get a ping about a hatch happening (ei buddy gets into some angry cutties) a half mile away. Off you go with refreshments for the troops... Some quirks to get used to. Be sure to download a good base map from Garmin into the Earthmate app for the above uses. I don't use Garmin for real nav either, that's Gaia or Backcountry Navigator Pro backed up by paper. It's a field communication device.

This will all change rapidly in a year or so with Starlink. Elon Musk is currently wiping the floor with Iridium, Globalstar, Hughes etc. The consumer level stuff that will come along will change things fundamentally.
 

Red90

Adventurer
Zoleo is a better choice. I've had one since the spring. It works well.

There are pros and cons between Zoleo and Inreach and it depends on your type of usage.
 

Red90

Adventurer
The SOS function on a SPOT/InReach/Zoleo/Bivy is a pared down version of travel assistance for medical assistance and extraction. It's not intended to be a general purpose, full-service assistance service.
This is misleading. With all of the two way devices, you can use the SOS for any purpose including getting a tow truck. They respond and ask you the situation and what type of help you need before sending anything. There is no issue with using them to call for something as simple as a tow truck.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
This is misleading. With all of the two way devices, you can use the SOS for any purpose including getting a tow truck. They respond and ask you the situation and what type of help you need before sending anything. There is no issue with using them to call for something as simple as a tow truck.
Good information to know, didn't know that. Makes sense that they'd not want to send more than necessary. Original post edited to make the correction. Sounds like @Bravo30 will be fine with any two-way device in this case.
 
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Rando

Explorer

This pairs with your phone with an app, unit is only $199, has cheaper contracts, and uses Iridium network when no cell or WiFi network.


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I am not really seeing the advantage of this one over the inReach either. Besides the device being a little cheaper than the inReach mini, the plan cost is about the same, it is dependent on a smartphone for most of it's functionality and it is bigger and heavier than the inReach mini.

The other thing that worries me about Bivystick (and to a lesser degree Zoleo) is their continued support. Both of these companies are relatively new companies and in my mind neither has a clear strategic business advantage over Garmin/inReach or SPOT. I would be a little concerned that they are not going to make it for the long haul, leaving you with a paperweight. Particularly with the coming developments with Starlink, the long term viability of these companies is not clear.
 

Chuck1

Active member
I have tried off brand electronics from amazon, all of then died within months. one had 1000+ 4.5 rating, it died in about six months and the company disappeared.

China has rep farms, one person will have 200 phones on a tilted desk so each review looks like a different person giving the reviews.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I am not really seeing the advantage of this one over the inReach either. Besides the device being a little cheaper than the inReach mini, the plan cost is about the same, it is dependent on a smartphone for most of it's functionality and it is bigger and heavier than the inReach mini.

The other thing that worries me about Bivystick (and to a lesser degree Zoleo) is their continued support. Both of these companies are relatively new companies and in my mind neither has a clear strategic business advantage over Garmin/inReach or SPOT. I would be a little concerned that they are not going to make it for the long haul, leaving you with a paperweight. Particularly with the coming developments with Starlink, the long term viability of these companies is not clear.
Garmin/InReach/Globalstar/Iridium/SPOT have the advantage of being established in the segment. But Iridium and Globalstar have both had financial difficulties over the years and Garmin isn't known for being a cutting edge technology company. They of course maintain a core market of people who want dedicated GPS receivers and that's shrunk I imagine about as much as it's likely to at this point. So with Starlink I have to think they'll all get squeezed. The only thing about Starlink is the size of the terminal and antenna is unlikely to be very small anytime soon and when it does shrink to a smartphone size the throughput it supports can't be like the ground terminals. Then the question of reliability, where a PLB wins IMO hand's down over any of them. Having the pilot-down and man-overboard type use an ACR PLB is just about as close to a guarantee of summoning help as you're going to get, albeit without the tracking, mapping, weather and two-way dialog options. But you punch SOS on one and it's pretty sure GEOS is going to know it.
 

Rando

Explorer
Garmin is going great guns, and consumer handheld GPS is only one part of their market (they also have marine, avionics, wearables, etc), so I don't have concerns about their long term viability, or Iridium either as the DOD is very heavily invested in their success and with Iridium Next their performance will increase markedly. Gloabalstar I am not so sure about. Companies like Garmin, Bivy, Zoleo, are just using the Iridium SBD service to route messages from the user to their servers, where they parse the messages and send them on to where ever they need to go (SMS, GEOS etc). If the company (ie Bivy) goes under, so do all their devices as their servers go down.

For vehicular applications, I suspect Starlink will put some pressure on the weaker performers (Bivy etc) but Starlink is not going after the handheld market (at least at the moment), their phased array technology doesn't really support it.

Personally, I would (an do) take an inReach over a PLB any day. The two way communications are a game changer in an emergency (and even more so in a non-emergency) situation and having used iridium professionally for years, I can speak to it's reliability. When you activate your inReach you know it worked because you get a message back from the operations center. You can then coordinate an appropriate response and know the status of the rescue. In the couple of situations I have been in, this is critically important - knowing that rescue will be there in 2 hour or 12 hours is the information needed to decide on risking a spinal cord injury moving the patient back to camp or having them die from hypothermia waiting for rescue in place.

The other key thing is that I use my inReach most every time I am out, I am super familiar with it's operation, and know it works. The PLB on the other hand will languish in the bottom of your pack for 5 years before you might need it, if you even bother carrying it. I also normally use the inReach in track mode, primarily to have a record of my adventures, but as a result even if something happens where I can't push the button (say avalanche or a car crash), rescuers would know where to find me.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Garmin is going great guns, and consumer handheld GPS is only one part of their market (they also have marine, avionics, wearables, etc), so I don't have concerns about their long term viability, or Iridium either as the DOD is very heavily invested in their success and with Iridium Next their performance will increase markedly. Gloabalstar I am not so sure about. Companies like Garmin, Bivy, Zoleo, are just using the Iridium SBD service to route messages from the user to their servers, where they parse the messages and send them on to where ever they need to go (SMS, GEOS etc). If the company (ie Bivy) goes under, so do all their devices as their servers go down.

For vehicular applications, I suspect Starlink will put some pressure on the weaker performers (Bivy etc) but Starlink is not going after the handheld market (at least at the moment), their phased array technology doesn't really support it.

Personally, I would (an do) take an inReach over a PLB any day. The two way communications are a game changer in an emergency (and even more so in a non-emergency) situation and having used iridium professionally for years, I can speak to it's reliability. When you activate your inReach you know it worked because you get a message back from the operations center. You can then coordinate an appropriate response and know the status of the rescue. In the couple of situations I have been in, this is critically important - knowing that rescue will be there in 2 hour or 12 hours is the information needed to decide on risking a spinal cord injury moving the patient back to camp or having them die from hypothermia waiting for rescue in place.

The other key thing is that I use my inReach most every time I am out, I am super familiar with it's operation, and know it works. The PLB on the other hand will languish in the bottom of your pack for 5 years before you might need it, if you even bother carrying it. I also normally use the inReach in track mode, primarily to have a record of my adventures, but as a result even if something happens where I can't push the button (say avalanche or a car crash), rescuers would know where to find me.
The irony is perhaps that SpaceX is who's been boosting the next block of Iridium into orbit.

A PLB is pretty foolproof - flip up the antenna and push the "ON" button. It's literally a rip cord approach. From there it starts beaconing on the 406 MHz SARSAT (NOAA administered in the USA) and 121.5 MHz homing frequencies. It's a different approach. Designed to activate and help you be found now no matter what happens, e.g. what you want if you're sailor or pilot.

There'll be a place for both Iridium and Starlink for the foreseeable future. Globalstar seems the odd one out unless they can come up with a device that's truly compelling.
 

samer0214

Member
Zoleo is a better choice. I've had one since the spring. It works well.

There are pros and cons between Zoleo and Inreach and it depends on your type of usage.
+1 on the Zoleo. I just purchased one because of the flexibility in turning off the service when you don’t need it.

Two more reasons: Initial price of admission, and the fact that you can send long detailed messages to anyone who installs the Zoleo app on their phone. Your counter party doesn’t need to own a Zoleo, they just need to download the app and sign up for a free account.

Activation is only $20. When I bought mine they were running a promo: free activation and one year premium subscription to Gaia GPS.


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