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Wondering if the SPOT GEN3 is better than DeLorme’s inReach Explorer? After all, the SPOT is half the price. Well, I wondered that too so I put them together in a side-by-side three month test. Spoiler alert: the inReach Explorer wins for a number of reasons and is well worth the additional cost.

Why I think DeLorme’s inReach Explorer is worth the extra cost:


Setting up the inReach wasn’t a joy but it was pretty straightforward and easy. You’ll download an app and be walked through a relatively quick set up process.

Getting the SPOT going was a bit frustrating and still tells me I have an update to install, even after pressing the update button only five minutes ago. Once you’re done you’ll never have to set it up again but I truly found myself frustrated with the setup process when I was trying to get the SPOT to go.

Onboard options

To change options (who you want to notify or not notify, custom messages, etc.) you need to plug the SPOT into your computer. Oh, and you’ll need internet in order to access those options on your laptop. You can change most of the inReach settings right through the device in a mostly logical way.

As a side note, if you’re just looking to set it and forget it, the SPOT works great, though though I’ve found the extra features of the inReach very helpful.


The SPOT comes with four batteries included along with a charging port. If you want to actually use the charging port you’ll need to supply your own rechargeable batteries.

Delorme’s inReach contains a sealed battery that’s only rechargeable. While that could also be a deal-breaker for some, almost all of my devices are already rechargeable so I don’t need to think about extra batteries before a trip, only the equipment necessary to recharge them all.

Online tracking

The SPOT has a big downside here. When you visit the online map there’s no actual way to plot more than 25 points on the same map. So if you’re using live tracking (if your wife wants to know when you’re close to home for instance) the first page of the map stops at point 25. To show more points the user needs to know to scroll to the bottom of the page, select the next one, scroll back to the top, select all points, then click once more to plot them. And then they’ll still only be seeing the next set of 25 points. I’d rather not have to explain that downfall to everyone.

DeLorme does a nice job with plotting live tracking on the map and makes it very easy to embed in a website or in a social post.

Two-way communications

SPOT does exactly what it says here and it works pretty well so this is purely a personal preference.

During my testing I went out on a three day adventure motorcycle ride and had a complete lack of cell coverage the entire time. While I could tell my wife that I was doing ok and where I was, I really had no way for her to tell me if one of the kids got hurt or there was another family emergency that might cut my trip short. This feature alone is worth the additional cost for me.

Custom messaging on the fly

SPOT has a button that’s called Custom Message but it works the same way two of the other buttons work. In your online account you can set those messages before leaving on your trip. One press and the message is set. It’s custom in that sense but the inReach takes it one step further.

From wherever you are you can create a completely custom message through the device and choose to send it to whomever you like through text or email. If you didn’t set it up ahead of time, no big deal. Just compose and send. I found this feature helpful when one of my three presets weren’t enough a few times.

Again, this contributes a bit to the cost but it’s worth it.

Custom message character length

SPOT’s GEN3 character limit is 40 characters while DeLorme’s inReach is 160. Enough said.

Receiving messages

Want to receive message on your device? You’ll need the inReach for that.

SPOT does an amazing job sending messages but when you send an inReach message the recipient can reply to the text or email and you’ll receive it right on your device.

Navigation and all that

It’s not really fair to point out all of the navigation features the inReach offers that the SPOT doesn’t even come close to including. The SPOT is a completely different device in this regard but if you’re looking for maps, compass, and altimeter option, the inReach is for you. Think of the SPOT as stripping out all of that to save you money if you don’t need it.

Find me

Though my inReach website I can enable a feature that allows anyone to ping me to find my location. If I get thrown off the bike with the SPOT they’ll eventually find me but I feel a lot better knowing they can see exactly where I am if I can’t press a button.


While I believe the SPOT GEN3 is inferior to DeLorme’s inReach Explorer in almost every way, there’s definitely a place for the device. Tyson and Cally are riding motorcycles down to Baja this fall and taking the SPOT with them without any hesitation. They don’t have family checking in on them, they’re not sending their tracking to an online map, and have little reason to create and send a custom message or receive one. The SPOT is perfect in that application.

My intentions are a bit different so I prefer DeLorme’s inReach Explorer. I want to send and receive messages. Online tracking and the layout/usability of that map for my viewers is important. And I also want to be able to send and receive custom messages on the fly, a nice feature when you’re checking in with family.

Whichever device you end up with you can rest easy in the emergency S.O.S. feature. While the SPOT works on every continent, the inReach guarantees global coverage. If you spend a lot of time in remote locations around the world, this is the best fit for you.


DeLorme inReach Explorer review

DeLorme inReach Explorer

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SPOT GEN3 review


SPOT subscription plans

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For advanced communications and help in no service zones anywhere in the world, the inReach Explorer by DeLorme has you covered.

During months of testing I realized this is the perfect device for me though I may be able to go one level lower to the inReach SE and save a bit of cash ($300 vs. $380 for the Explorer). After connecting with your computer for the initial setup you’ll find most of of the options you need right on the device. That saves the hassle of connecting to your computer and finding WiFi in order to make changes. That’s a smooth feature to have when you want to make a change in the backcountry.

The inReach Explorer has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from an emergency device, and going a even a few steps further with the ability to do some pretty sweet navigating and offline tracking all in the same unit. You’ll find S.O.S., three preset custom messages and tracking built right in.

One of the coolest features that you don’t find in other devices is the ability to actually receive messages via satellite. Whereas most units only send messages DeLorme added the ability for recipients to reply to those messages or to contact you through their website, a handy feature if something goes awry back home and you need to cut a trip short.

Another sweet feature is the ability to customize your messages on the fly. Other units require you to set those up via your computer before leaving home but the inReach Explorer allows you to type 160 characters from anywhere in the world, albeit through a keyboard you’ll need to access with some old fashioned arrows, finding and clicking on one character at a time. When you’re in the backcountry you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of texting so this is ok.

If that doesn’t sound easy enough, download DeLorme’s Earthmate app to your phone. From there you’ll be back in the familiar comfort of composing a text which is sent through the inReach once connected via bluetooth, from anywhere in the world. Pretty awesome, right?

You can even embed that map within Facebook or another site which ends up looking like this:

Go ahead, click around and try it out.

While the inReach units are more expensive than other devices on the market the piece of mind of knowing that I can receive messages in addition to sending them is worth the additional cost. You’ll find the monthly service plan options are are comparative to other options and allow annual and monthly service with a contract, though you will pay more for the latter option.


DeLorme inReach Explorer

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SPOT GEN3 review

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Without any work at all I can find myself on a crazy adventure with no service and probably by myself. For that reason I always carry a device like the SPOT GEN3 so I can message my wife, ask for non-life threatening help and bring rescuers right to my location if it all goes south.

The SPOT GEN3 primarily excels in a single area and that’s sending messages and requesting help. With the press of a button I can check it, drop a point on a map, tell my wife and family I’m ok, send a custom message (as long as I’ve set it up on the computer first), ask for help when I’m ok, and signal immediate rescue.

The GEN3 doesn’t have much of an interface on the unit. All you’ll find yourself doing with the integrated buttons are the activities above. To change features you’ll need to connect the unit to your computer and make changes while connected to the internet. It’s not the easiest solution but it keeps the cost of the device low ($150 retail) and the interface simple.

I found setup to be less than ideal and a bit confusing, requiring at least one call to tech support after the fact when it wasn’t tracking correctly. As it turned out it was tracking correctly but I didn’t have one of the settings right since it was confusing.

I actually spent multiple times on the phone with customer support in the first couple of weeks while using the device. At the end of one of the phone calls the very nice woman said, “The software isn’t very easy to use and that’s why we’re here to help. Call anytime”. While I appreciated the pleasant attitude of all the folks I spoke with, it seems like making the online interface more user friendly would be the ideal solution.

When entering phone numbers of people who want to receive text messages from you, you’ll be asked to choose their carrier. That’s an annoying step but a necessary one since they convert those messages into emails which are delivered via text, presumably to save texting charges on their end. The problem for me is that it didn’t work with Verizon. Neither my wife nor I could receive the message so I added my neighbor, also on Verizon. No luck there so I added one more friend, all at the request of SPOT. He was the first to be able to receive the message.

SPOT technical support was of no help in this department though they did try over a couple of hours any many emails with me. I eventually found part of the solution within their own support forum which it doesn’t appear they respond to very frequently. The key was to change to with a custom setting in the online app.

Another downside of the device is the plotting of your points and route to their online map where others can follow along. Again, this took a phone call to tech support for me to fully grasp.

At any given time you’re only able to show 25 points on the map. To plot another 25 points (that’s always your limit) you must scroll to the bottom, choose the next page, highlight all the points and select another button to plot only those points. I don’t think that’s super obvious and so you’ll always need to tell people that if they’re following along with you.

The SPOT GEN3 is a great device if you want a small, lightweight package that will alert others to an emergency or if you just want to check in and say you’re doing alright. I normally do all of my tracking on mobile apps even though they don’t post to an online map in real time.

SPOT Gen3 Review



DeLorme inReach Explorer review

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In today’s technologically ridden world, it seems that most people want to know the exact path that lies ahead. Whether you’re getting lost intentionally or unintentionally, metaphorically or literally, it’s a good idea to carry with you the Garmin GPS 64st. It won’t tell you how to get from point A to point B, but it will definitely show you where you are in the present moment. And perhaps, with the way technology seemingly takes us out of that present moment, this will inspire you to again appreciate where you are standing and not where your destination is.

There are so many features included in the 64st that if I tried to include them all, this write-up would quickly turn into a novel.  Physically, the 64st is perfect for any adventure we may find ourselves on. It is comfortable in the hand, perfectly sized for a pack or jacket pocket, and encased in durable rubber. We are huge fans of buttons rather than a touch screen, as we can use it throughout all four seasons. The screen is a good size (2.6 inches) and easy to read in any type of light without distractions from glare.


Technologically speaking, the Garmin 64st is loaded with functional, fun, and user-friendly features that make for safe and amazing adventures. One of Tyson’s favorite features is the Smart Notification. Through Bluetooth connectivity (iPhone 4s or later), you can wirelessly receive text messages, emails, or phone call notifications from your phone on your GPS. This is huge when we are mountain biking or dirt biking. Instead of cluttering the handlebars with technology, the only thing that needs to be mounted is the GPS. We don’t really need to see text messages or phone calls when we are out enjoying the outdoors but for emergency situations, this is a really neat feature.


Among other things, the Garmin 64st comes preloaded with TOPO U.S. 100K maps and includes a one-year subscription to BirdsEye satellite imagery. Most people today are probably more accustomed to finding their way with satellite imagery rather than TOPO maps. While it’s a good idea to know how to read topographic maps, BirdsEye gives the user the option to see everything with satellite imagery. The one downfall of the BirdsEye is that we feel as though it takes a while to upload mapping areas. It is an application that you download on to your computer. Once on the computer, you go in and dedicate which areas of the U.S. you want BirdsEye for. For instance, if you are taking a trip out to Moab, Utah, you can select the area that you will be exploring, download that selected area, and then upload to the GPS. You will only have satellite imagery for the selected area but it is then very easy to figure out where you are based on landmarks etc.

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.10.20 AM

The satellite imagery is very nice and user-friendly but what we love even more than satellite imagery is the Custom Mapping feature. We have a lot of really nice, detailed, and informational mountain biking maps of the Moab area. Instead of carrying a GPS and multiple paper maps, Garmin has come up with Custom Mapping. You can scan to your computer a paper map, overlay the paper map on the satellite imagery matching it up exactly, and uploading that layer to the GPS. This is an amazing feature that is not only efficient but you will have less to carry and instead of trying to match your GPS with your map, it is all on one device and tells you exactly where you are.

For those of you that are outdoor adventure bloggers, there is a really cool feature that allows you to invite your readers, families, and friends along for the adventure. Via Garmin Connect, your readers can track your adventure in real time. While this is a cool feature for your friends and family, it could also be helpful in an emergency situation.

The versatility of the 64st is remarkable and will make you grateful for Garmin’s forward thinking ideas. Not only can you view terrain in topographic form or satellite imagery, you can also download marine maps or road maps. Perfect for worldly travel, backcountry adventures, or everyday use, it’s easy to prove that this is the only GPS you’ll need.

It is evident that the features of the Garmin 64st are user-friendly and functional and that this is indeed a feature-packed, versatile GPS to pack with you on any adventure. Garmin has a diverse and extensive line of GPS products so be sure to check them out to make sure you get the GPS that most fits your lifestyle. If you love to explore the outdoors in a wide array of fashions (hike, bike, dirt bike, canoe, sail), the 64st will be a great companion to have out there with you.




Garmin GPS 64st

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Small and lightweight is my mantra so when a company called Aurosports approached me with an opportunity to review the 10×22 binoculars, I threw them on the motorcyle and headed out for a trip.

With 10×22 magnification you get a 10x zoom in a 22mm lens. The field of view isn’t large but you should normally be able to find and see what you like without having to carry something big and heavy to do it.

While on my trip I was also scouting new rock climbing areas. These binoculars are small enough to fit handily in my tank bag so I didn’t have to get off the bike and root through my luggage to find them. While something more powerful would be nice I also recognize that making them handy on my bike or in my backpack would be more of a challenge and I would likely find that I’d use them much less than I do now.

For a good binocular that doesn’t break the bank (currently $24 on Amazon) look to the Aurosports 10×22.


Aurosports 10×22 Binocular

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Buying a motorcycle jacket is no easy affair and with all of the options and riding styles out there you can image just how long it takes, especially since it’s a large purchase. Because they’re so expensive (Klim’s Overland Pants retail for $410) it’s nice to get just one jacket that will handle a lot of situations.

Like many adventure riders I split my time between the pavement and the dirt. Some days it’s 90% pavement to 10% dirt. Today’s ride was 85% dirt, 10% mud puddles and 5% pavement.

So I need a pair of pants that will look good on the road or when I stop into a restaurant, keep me protected on the trail from tree branches and falls, and be waterproof from rain and puddles (I swear that big puddle today looked like it was only 2 inches deep, but there I was, stuck up to the seat and trying to push it out).

Klim’s Overland Pants fit the bill for whatever I seem to put them through and at $410 retail are a nice compromise between features and price.

The fit throughout the legs is a bit on the lose end for me while the waist is snug. Nothing is uncomfortable but for someone with a 34″ inseam and 31″ waist I’d like to see less room in the legs and more in the waist. I’m wearing a Tall 32.

The Overland seems to take abuse well. From falls, hikes, wading through streams and many adventures. My kids have enjoyed hosing me off at the end of the day and the pants still look fairly new.

D3O™ T5 EVO ‘XT’ range knee and hip pieces will help protect if anything should go awry and two vents in each leg will help you keep your cool.

Klim Overland Jacket


Klim Overland Pants

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