Last week the wife and I decided to take our two year old daughter out for a ride around North Georgia via some FS roads. While in the middle of our most remote part of the trip we had a mechanical failure. This was a failure that I was not able to fix on the trail, and was going to need a tow. While we were pretty remote, I somehow had a faint cell phone signal, and only in the spot we broke down. Maybe because we were on a high ridge. I was able to call my brother-in-law with a Dodge 3500 and trailer to come get me. My iPhone was able to drop a pin on Google, then send him my location. He came right to me. The wife and I are pretty good about wilderness survival if it comes to that, but we don't really want to come to that point with our daughter just yet. This has made me want to find some better way of communicating back in the woods.
As of now I have narrowed it down to two options, both of which I don't know much about. The first one is the InReach by Delorme. http://www.inreachdelorme.com/
Basically it seems this $249 device will link to your cell phone and kinda "convert" your phone into a sat phone. I do kinda like this because I should be able to take this with me on hiking trips and it would accomplish my goal of getting help if something were to happen. What I don't like is its a subscription service you have to buy to be able to access the service, meaning I would be tied to a contract and more money every month. This would not do anything for basic trail communications either compared to my other option which is...
A HAM radio. While this option seems more, involved, I guess is the word, it definately has more options. To the very novice person (me) it appears this is a high power CB that requires a license. The license part does not scare me. I am really just trying to see who has experience with these and what are your feelings. I know there are alot of radio operators out there but does anyone have experience with the InReach? The only thing I don't like about HAM is my understanding is someone has to be listening for help to be summoned. Right now I don't know anyone I could call on one. And while its range is better than a CB, its still not as good as a cell phone.
I honestly want to find a reason to get a HAM, but not just because it appears cool, I want it do what I need. I have heard there is someway to patch a cell phone call with a radio, unsure on this but it would be a HUGE plus. Plus, the radio doesn't have a monthly fee (that I know of) compared to the InReach.
Enough rambling, is a HAM a reliable source of emergency communication for summoning help, or should I spend more money for a device that appears to turn my cell phone into a sat phone?
Again, I am leaning toward a HAM.