by Rebecca Peltz

Going for a hike is usually motivated by a desire to go outdoors and enjoy nature. Mixing technology with this desire to connect with the outdoors seems more like something to avoid than embrace. However, as hikers, climbers, and skiers continue to push the boundaries of where they want to go, one technology is worth considering, as it could save your life.

Many travelers swear by luggage trackers, which help manage bags when traveling in a way that separates them from the traveler. Luggage trackers are GPS trackers that you can put in a suitcase and then use a mobile application to see where the suitcase is at any time. GPS trackers are also available to track people and offer many more features that can help if a problem arises. Trackers can use cell or satellite communication, depending on the device.

While several personal GPS trackers are on the market, the Garmin inReach is popular with hikers, climbers, and skiers because it offers many methods of communicating the location and status of the person holding it. The inReach also includes an SOS button. This is used when the hiker needs help. Garmin has a response team that will alert local rescuers to this need. Earlier this year, kayakers and their dog were rescued near Bellingham by using their inReach. However, Garmin reports that most SOS calls are from hikers and backpackers. See this if you want to learn more about Garmin inReach rescues.

The image above shows the inReach device. It is hand-held but can also be mounted to a car. You should put the device in your backpack or pocket if you’re hiking.

The inReach devices not only relay messages to a central Garmin server but also offer a subscription plan that allows friends and family to track the device’s location. This feature, accessible through the Garmin website, provides a sense of peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones can keep tabs on your whereabouts during your hike. The topo images illustrate how the Garmin website displays the device’s location as it accompanies you on your outdoor adventure.

Rattlesnakes, slippery rocks, cornice collapse, ice, or getting lost can cause a situation where a hiker needs rescue. We are lucky to have many great rescue teams ready for dispatch. A GPS tracker can help send out the call.

Editors Note: The writer Rebecca did not receive any perks in exchange for the gear recommendations made above. 

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