Best Satellite Messenger Reviews

Updated June 1, 2020

When traveling outdoors, it’s important to make sure you have a way of communicating with the people you care about – even if you’re outside the range of cell service. This is where satellite phones and messengers come into play.

These devices use a satellite network to keep track of your location, even when you are traveling completely off the grid.

They also enable you to send text messages to your friends and family, and you can even share your location with first responders in an emergency. There are a wide range of off grid communication options available, and it can be difficult to narrow down the best ones for your needs. We have rounded up some of the best satellite messengers to help you stay in touch while you’re off the grid.

Best Satellite Messengers

#PREVIEWProduct
1 Garmin-InReach-Mini Garmin InReach Mini Satellite Messenger
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2 Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator
Best Overall
Garmin inReach Explorer+ Satellite Messenger
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3
Best For Low Budgets
3Spot 3 Satellite Messenger
Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger
Best For Low Budgets
Spot 3 Satellite Messenger
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4 Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger Spot X Satellite Messenger
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5 Satelite Phone Store IsatPhone
Best For Higher Budgets
Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1 Satellite Messenger
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6 Bivystick Satellite Communication Device Bivystick Satellite Messenger
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1. Garmin InReach Mini Satellite Messenger

Highlights
  • InReach Mini connects to the Iridium satellite network to enable two-way text messaging.
  • The satellite network can also connect to a 24/7 GEOS SOS center if you need to alert search and rescue teams. 
  • Garmin offers InReach weather forecast updates as well as NOAA charts and downloadable aerial maps.  
  • It uses bluetooth to pair with your phone or computer to send messages.

The Garmin InReach Mini is a small but powerful satellite radio to help you stay connected while you’re off the grid. It has a small, compact design, weighing approximately 3.5 ounces, and is a great option for anyone who wants to save space while they are traveling. 

It’s small enough to fit in the accessory pockets on many travel backpacks. This messenger is also very durable, with an IP waterproof rating of IPX7, and a battery that can last up to 20 days using the battery saving mode. However, if you keep the tracking mode on, the battery will wear down much faster, in around 50 hours. 

The InReach uses the Iridium satellite network, which requires a separate subscription. This satellite network allows you to send text messages anywhere in the world. The screen on the InReach Mini is small and not particularly bright, but you can use Bluetooth to connect the messenger to your smartphone or computer, which makes it easier to text. 

The satellite network also has an SOS feature that works 24/7. This feature will send your location to GEOS, which provides global emergency response solutions, and they will send a search and rescue team to find you. 

Additionally, you can subscribe to the InReach weather forecast service, which does require an extra monthly fee. This will send weather reports for your current location to your device daily. You can also download the free Garmin Earthmate app, which does not require an additional subscription. This app allows you to download a wide variety of maps, including detailed aerial views, and other information from NOAA. 

You can view all of this additional content on the smartphone or computer you have synced to your InReach Mini. This is widely considered one of the best satellite messengers on the market, because it packs so many great features into such a small device.

Specifications

Range:
Global satellite coverage with unlimited range
Channels:
n/a, uses satellite connectivity
IP Rating:
IPX7
Battery Type:
Rechargeable lithium battery
Battery Life:
50 hours in default mode, 20 days in power saving mode
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • Iridium is a very reliable satellite network, so you can stay connected from anywhere and won’t have to worry about being out of range.
  • It has a lightweight, sleek design that is comfortable to carry around.
  • Garmin apps give you plenty of information about the weather and your surrounding area.
  • GPS tracking enables you to send your location to others or send an SOS to a trusted search and rescue team.

Cons

  • Most features require a separate subscription service.
  • Activation can take time, because the device needs to sync with your subscription service and other devices.

2. Garmin inReach Explorer+ Satellite Messenger

Highlights
  • Garmin’s Iridium satellite coverage enables you to text from anywhere in the world.
  • An automatic SOS feature can send your location to a global search and rescue team that is available 24/7. 
  • The Explorer+ provides access to topographical maps, weather information, and GPS routing to help you gather more information about your environment. 
  • This device has a powerful rechargeable lithium battery which can last for 30 days in power saving mode.
Best Overall
Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator

This is another one of the best satellite communicator options from the Garmin brand. It is a very robust satellite communicator with a durable design and a lengthy battery life. It uses Iridium satellite coverage to enable you to send and receive text messages anywhere in the world. 

You can use bluetooth to pair this satellite messenger with your computer or your smartphone, so you can text even when you don’t have cell service. This device also has the 24/7 SOS feature, which you can use to send your location to a search and rescue team as needed. 

The Explorer+ has a design that is lightweight and sleek, but has a relatively large screen that is bright and easy to read. This means that the device is a good one to use on its own if you can’t connect to a separate computer or phone. 

This device comes with Garmin’s free Earthmate app, which you can use to browse and download a wide range of maps as well as charts from NOAA. The Explorer+ also comes preloaded with helpful weather and navigational features, including a digital compass, GPS routing, a barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer. It also has a number of topographical maps preloaded onto the device.

Specifications

Range:
Global satellite coverage with unlimited range
Channels:
n/a, uses satellite connectivity
IP Rating:
IPX7
Battery Type:
Rechargeable lithium ion battery
Battery Life:
100 hours in default mode, 30 days in power save mode
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • The Explorer+ has a wide range of navigational features built in to help you stay safe and informed on your travels.
  • A reliable satellite network makes it easy to communicate with your loved ones and share your location, no matter where you are.
  • This device has a durable design that is highly waterproof and has a long battery life, suitable for rugged outdoor conditions.
  • Large, bright screen is easy to use if you choose not to connect to your personal smartphone.

Cons

  • The satellite coverage requires separate subscription.
  • After turning the device on, you will need to wait a short period of time for it to sync your GPS location.

3. Spot 3 Satellite Messenger

Highlights
  • You can set this satellite messenger to track your location as often as you want, so you never have to worry about going completely off the grid.
  • The Spot 3 allows you to pre-set your contacts and messages to let your loved ones know where you are. 
  • In an emergency, the SOS button will send your location to local first responders. 
  • The Spot 3 has a very long-lasting battery that can send over 1,250 messages before needing to be replaced.
Best For Low Budgets
Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger

The Spot Gen3 Satellite Messenger is a compact, streamlined device that can help you stay safe while you are off the grid. It tracks your location using satellite GPS, and you can then send it to up to 10 friends and family to let them know where you are. You can also add a pre-programmed text message or email, which you can set up when you first receive the device. 

There is also a help button that you can use to let your contacts know where you are in situations that are not life threatening. A separate SOS button sends your location to first responders in your area using GEOS technology. You can set your Spot Gen3 to track your location automatically at certain points throughout the day. For example, you can have it track your location every 10 or 30 minutes, or you can have it track your location every time you move.

Specifications

Range:
Global satellite connectivity. Some areas of Africa, the Middle East, and the Far North experience a weaker signal.
Channels:
n/a, uses satellite connectivity
IP Rating:
IP67
Battery Type:
2 lithium metal batteries
Battery Life:
Depends on update cycle, can last approximately 10 days with regular updates

Pros

  • This device is very simple and easy to use, which is convenient for those who are very busy spending time outdoors.
  • There are several motion-tracking options to choose from, and you can even have the messenger track your location every time you move as needed.
  • The SOS feature connects to GEOS, which is a world-renowned first responder system that is available globally.
  • This device is small and lightweight, so it’s very easy to carry with you.

Cons

  • Spot 3 requires a satellite subscription service that is more expensive than the device itself.
  • The messages are pre-programmed, so you cannot customize them in real time.

4. Spot X Satellite Messenger

Highlights
  • Spot X uses satellite communication to allow you to send text messages, emails, and social media updates. 
  • Bluetooth connectivity allows you to link the device with your smartphone or computer. 
  • An SOS signal is available 24/7 and will send your location to a trusted search and rescue agency. 
  • Custom tracking allows you to decide how often you want to record your location.

This is a large and complex satellite tracker from the Spot brand. This model has a screen, and its features are more advanced for those who want more peace of mind while out in the wild. You can use bluetooth to connect this messenger to the Spot app on your smartphone, which you can use to send text messages or emails anywhere in the world. You can even use it to update your social media. The device has a bluetooth range of 30 feet. 

This satellite communicator also has an advanced tracking feature that you can use to plot your location, as well as to let others know where you are and that you’re okay. You can decide how often you want the device to track your location – you can choose as often as every 2.5 minutes or as infrequently as every 60 minutes. If you don’t have time to send a text, you can use the check-in feature to send a pre-programmed message letting loved ones know you are okay. 

If you need help at any point along your adventure, the device has an SOS signal that will send your location to a global search and rescue team. No matter where you are or what time it is, they will dispatch a team to your location for help. The Spot X also has a compass, and tracks your elevation and coordinates. While it doesn’t have advanced mapping capabilities, it gives you enough information to stay safe in a remote area.

Specifications

Range:
Global satellite connectivity
Channels:
n/a, uses satellite connectivity
IP Rating:
IP67
Battery Type:
Rechargeable lithium battery
Battery Life:
10 days of battery life using 10-minute tracking mode.

Pros

  • The location tracking on this device is very accurate, and you can choose from many different tracking intervals.
  • You can send and receive custom text messages and emails from remote locations.
  • The setup process for the Spot X is very quick and easy.
  • It has a durable, waterproof design that is rugged enough for outdoor use.

Cons

  • Messages send very slowly in some remote areas of the globe.
  • The user interface is not intuitive, you will need to read the user’s manual in order to get the hang of it.

5. Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1 Satellite Messenger

Highlights
  • IsatPhone’s global satellite coverage allows you to make voice calls and send text messages from anywhere.
  • It has global GPS tracking, as well as an SOS button that sends your location to first responders in the event of an emergency. 
  • It has a shock resistance rating of IK04 as well as a water resistance rating of IP65, as well as the ability to withstand a wide range of temperatures.  
  • It comes with every accessory you might need on your travels, including multiple chargers, a bluetooth earpiece, and a belt holster.
Best For Higher Budgets
Satelite Phone Store IsatPhone

The IsatPhone is designed to function more like an actual cell phone and less like a tracking device. Although it does not have the advanced features of a smartphone, this product is a good option for those who want to really stay connected to their friends and family while they are on the road. This device allows you to make and send phone calls from anywhere in the world, and you can also send SMS text messages. 

It has a very long-lasting battery, so you don’t have to worry about the device inconveniently running out of power during your trip. Satellite Phone Store provides 24/7 support for their customers, so you can always call if you have an issue with your device. The IsatPhone does require a separate SIM card and airtime subscription purchase. You can opt to purchase monthly or yearly plans that will give you a certain number of minutes. 

One of the biggest advantages of this device is that it is extremely durable. It is both shock and water resistant, which makes it a popular choice for boat trips. It can also stand up to a very wide range of temperatures, from extremely hot to extremely cold.  It also resists damage from dirt and dust. It uses GPS to track your location, and has an SOS emergency button if you need to send your location out to a first response team. 

This device comes with a wide range of accessories – you get an international AC charger as well as a DC charger for your car and a USB cable, as well as a bluetooth earpiece and a holster. This device is a great option for anyone who wants truly rugged design and wants to connect with friends and family via voice calls.

Specifications

Range:
Global satellite connectivity
Channels:
n/a, uses satellite connectivity
IP Rating:
IP65
Battery Type:
Rechargeable lithium ion battery
Battery Life:
8 hours of calling, 160 hours on standby
Warranty:
2 years

Pros

  • This device allows you to make voice calls anywhere in the world in addition to sending text messages.
  • It is highly suitable for outdoor conditions, with great water and shock resistance.
  • It is easy to activate and has a simple user interface that is very intuitive.
  • Satellite Phone Store offers great customer service to help you learn how to use the phone.

Cons

  • The device requires a SIM card and a separate subscription service, the SIM card is only sent once you have purchased the subscription plan.
  • The IsatPhone does not come with any advance mapping features.

6. Bivystick Satellite Messenger

Highlights
  • The Bivystick has a small compact design that’s easy to carry in a pocket or hook to your belt loop.
  • It connects to your smartphone, where you can download the Bivy app to send text messages, track your location, and access maps and weather forecasts. 
  • This device has a long battery life that can give you two full smartphone charges. 
  • You can easily send your location to friends and family, or use the SOS button to send your location to first responders in an emergency.

The Bivystick has a very sleek, space-saving design that sets it apart from other satellite communication devices. This small device does not have an interface, but instead connects to your phone so you can communicate using the Bivy app. This app has a number of different features that will come in handy on an outdoor adventure. It connects to the Iridium satellite network, so you can send and receive text messages anywhere in the world.

It also has an SOS feature that connects to GEOS, a globally recognized first responder service. When you press the SOS button, GEOS will send nearby first responders to your location, regardless of where you are or what time it is. 

The Bivystick also tracks your location at up to 10 minute intervals, and you can easily share this location with your family and friends to let them know that you are safe. The location feature is also very helpful for you, as you can use it to track your own movement and ensure you don’t get lost. You can also access a huge range of maps using the Bivy app, and plan your route ahead of time to ensure you stay on track. 

Additionally, the Bivy app has a weather forecast feature where you can check temperature, humidity, wind, and more. This device can be used as a charger for your phone as well, should it run out of power. While it does require a data subscription to use, Bivy’s is relatively affordable when compared with other options, and does not require a contract.

Specifications

Range:
Global satellite connectivity
Channels:
n/a, uses satellite connectivity
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • This device is very small and easy to carry around, so it is ideal for those who need to save space.
  • The Bivy app offers a wide range of features and is very easy to use.
  • It has a very long battery life and can even be used to charge your phone.
  • Although the Bivystick does require a data plan to connect, it is affordable and you can cancel at any time.

Cons

  • This device does not have its own interface for texting, you must connect it to your smartphone.
  • Depending on your location, messages can take several minutes to send.

Satellite Messenger Buying Guide

Technology

When choosing a satellite communicator, it’s important to look at the technology the device uses to track your location. It’s very important that the device can keep track of your location no matter where you are in the world. 

When you send a message using your device, that message is first sent to a satellite in space, which then sends it back down to a station on earth that can route it to the correct destination. Most satellite messengers will also automatically send your location to the satellite in regular intervals to track you. 

Iridium Satellite Tracking

Iridium is the biggest satellite tracking network currently available, and it’s something to look for when choosing a satellite device. There are some satellite devices that use the Globalstar network instead, but it generally offers slightly less global coverage. 

Satellite Texting

A satellite texting device is one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with friends and family while you are in remote locations that don’t have normal cell phone service. When choosing a device for satellite text messaging, it’s helpful to consider how the texting functionality works. Many of these devices connect to your smartphone, so you can text using an app. Some also allow you to text from the device itself. 

The simplest satellite messengers will only allow you to send pre-planned messages, instead of allowing you to customize the message each time. 

If you are planning to text from the device itself instead of from a connected smartphone, it’s important to consider the keyboard design and screen size of the messenger. Many satellite messengers are designed to be small and portable, but it’s important that it is still easy to use. 

Satellite Tracking Devices

Satellite messengers can track your location when you are in a remote area to help keep you safe. When shopping for a satellite messenger, it is helpful to look for a device that has very accurate location tracking. 

You should also look at how often the device tracks your location, and if you can adjust the frequency. If the device tracks your location too often, it can wear down the battery, but if it doesn’t record your location often enough, it can make it harder for others to find you in an emergency. 

Satellite Cell Phone Tracking

These satellite messengers also can serve as a GPS satellite locator. With satellite GPS tracking, the device will record your location at designated intervals as you move. You can then opt to send your location to friends and family so they can find you. 

The device can also send your location to a search and rescue team during an emergency if needed. You can also use the location feature to ensure that you are staying on course. Many satellite devices even come with detailed map features to help you with this. 

Uses

There are a number of different uses for satellite messenging devices. Anyone who frequently spends time in remote outdoor areas should have one, as they can help keep you safe. They can also make trips through remote areas much easier and less stressful. 

GPS Hiking Tracker Emergency

Many satellite messengers come with SOS signals. In most cases, this feature sends your location to GEOS, which is a global first response agency. They are accessible 24/7 and will send your location to a nearby emergency response team. 

Communicating Without Cell Service

Satellite messengers are also very helpful for anyone who needs to communicate with loved ones, but does not have access to cell service. 

Many popular areas for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities do not have cell phone service available, but a messenger can help you stay in contact with your family and friends no matter what happens. A satellite messenger can also be helpful for weather emergencies that may interfere with your cell signal. 

Geographic Information

In addition to using a satellite messenger for texting, many outdoor enthusiasts use them to gain information about their surroundings. 

Many satellite messengers come with access to topographical maps and charts that you can use to chart your course and explore your surroundings. Additionally, many popular models of satellite messenging devices come with access to weather forecasts, which can also be very helpful for planning on long-term outdoor trips. 

Pricing Range

Satellite messengers can vary widely in price, depending on the features they offer. The cheapest satellite phone options are less than $100, but high-end options can be over $500. 

The most expensive options offer more features and more accurate satellite coverage. When considering the price of the satellite messenger, you will also need to consider the price of a data plan. Most satellite messengers require a separate subscription service, which can also range widely in price. 

Features

There are a number of specific features to look at when choosing a satellite messenger. Here are some additional things to keep in consideration while you’re shopping.

Weather Resistance

It’s very important to have a waterproof satellite phone while you’re out in the wilderness. You never know what type of weather you are going to encounter, and it’s important that your device can stand up to some moisture. The water resistance rating will tell you how much water the device can safely be submerged in. You may also want to look at the shock resistance of the device, as this will tell you how much impact it can safely take. 

Battery Life

Another key feature to look at is the battery life of your satellite messenging device. When you’re off the grid, you likely won’t have a way to recharge the battery easily, so it’s very important to make sure it can last a long time. 

Many messengers are designed to last for days or even weeks when in power saving mode. The best way to extend the life of your battery is to keep it in power saving mode for most of the trip, and use more frequently location tracking only when you feel most vulnerable.

Our Verdict

A great satellite messenger is an important investment for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors in a remote area.

Whether you enjoy hiking, rock climbing, boating, skiing, or any other outdoor activity, you never know what’s going to happen when you’re on the road. It’s always best to be prepared and make sure you can share your location if something happens.

There are so many different options when it comes to choosing a satellite messenger. We particularly love the Garmin InReach Mini and the Explorer+ because of their depth of features and their reliability. However, there are many other great options out there that can help you stay safe, and you can use our satellite phone reviews to help you decide which one is best for you.