If you like camping, trekking, and adventures on lofty mountains, you may want to gear yourself with the best satellite phone for backpacking.
A satellite phone is a device that enables you to communicate with your loved ones or emergency service when you are in trouble.
Smartphones come with incredible features, but the service provider may not offer towers in remote mountains or on top of the hills.
Hence, you may want to make use of satellite phones. Though we pray that you don’t have to use the satellite phone in case of an emergency, you would like to invest in the right kind of model.
The satellite phone is not something you would normally carry in your backpack, but you must have one for your safety. A decade ago, the military and the US army exclusively meant and used the satellite phone.
Today, you can find ordinary citizens using satellite phones to communicate with each other. Besides, they are affordably priced. We have provided you with a wide range of models to choose from.
Some of them are budget models too. They work almost like regular smartphones. You can activate them by getting affordable plans, depending on your needs. There is no need to go overboard with the device and the plan.
You may consider using satellite communications as well. These devices help you communicate with text and data services. You can instantly contact your loved ones if you face an emergency.
They come linked to your smartphone, enabling you to message your loved ones.
How do satellite phones work?
So, how does a satellite phone work? Satellite technology is primarily used for texting and calling from a remote location. You need to open the antenna and give it some space. This is to ensure that the proper signal is received.
Please be patient with the signals because establishing a connection with the satellite may take a minute or two. The satellite Inmarsat is commonly used by many campers, hikers, and adventurers.
It moves almost on the ground level but can get better in the North and the South poles. Besides, you may not actually see the satellite when you are in the mountains. You also have another option in the form of a Low Earth Orbit.
Buyer’s guide to satellite phones:-
The best satellite phone for backpacking does not come made the same. While some have incredible communication features in them, some may not. Besides, they are not priced the same.
Keeping in mind that our readers may need the mid-range, we have provided you with them. Let us read and find out some of the vital things to know before making the purchase.
It has only one purpose, to work no matter which area you are in. You may not get similar features to a smartphone, but you can use it for communication through speech or text.
That is about it. However, top-end models like the ones from Iridium that are pretty expensive provide you with GPS and Wi-Fi hotspots. Some devices offer SMS and emails to keep in contact with the base camp.
The battery life of satellite phones is not very high. While some models can last 3-4 hours, top-end models can work for 8-9 hours. That is why you want to check the battery before leaving for camping or hiking.
Some devices can also work during rain, storm, and extreme weather conditions. If you are planning to visit a mountain, then you might want to choose the best satellite phone for backpacking.
The device’s coverage is another vital thing you want to keep track of. When you cannot use the device, what is its purpose? Is it not? That is why, before you begin your journey, you must test your communication abilities & coverage.
Most satellite phones are capable of working in any given situation. It also depends on the kind of service providers you want to use. You will not be offered the usual smartphone service network, but you will be provided with a global coverage network.
Rules of different countries:-
Yes, please do your research before heading out with a satellite phone in your backpack. Don’t tell us we did not warn you about that. You will be surprised to know that many countries do not allow you to carry these devices.
Some of them include China, Russia, and India. You may even be arrested for possessing the phone. Of course, there are other countries where you might have to obtain special permission.
Best Satellite Phone For Backpacking – Our Pick
1. SatPhoneStore Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Deluxe Package
Our quest to find the best satellite phone for backpacking begins with the SatPhoneStore Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Deluxe Package. You cannot have a list of the satellite phones without the mention of Iridium.
The manufacturer has been in this business for several years. Their devices find use in the American military for their accurate communication ability. The maker provides you with an Iridium sim card that is preloaded.
You can now converse for 200 minutes for close to 6 months after activating it. The device provides you with excellent voice and data coverage. You can use the device no matter where you want to go.
The device can tell your precise location with the help of a fully integrated SOS button that comes with the emergency response service. Moreover, it is a rugged device that provides you with the reliability and durability you can expect.
It has accessories, including a tempered glass screen protector and a silicone protective case. You get several accessories along with the device, like the battery, charger, and adapters that can work anywhere in the world.
They also provide you with a hands-free earpiece, a microphone & a leather case. You also get the CD that consists of the manual. It is priced at less than $2055. Yes, it was pretty expensive.
However, those of you who camp outside often or are of the adventurous type might find this device quite handy. You never know when you might have to use it during an emergency.
- The model is rugged in design.
- The unit comes with great features.
- It comes with an Iridium sim card.
- It has a fully integrated SOS button.
- They provide you with many accessories.
- It is a pretty expensive device for its numerous features in it.
Users and we highly recommend the SatPhoneStore Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Deluxe Package. It is a second-to-none product that is extremely useful for outdoor purposes. Using a reliable device, it is good to be prepared when trekking on a dangerous trail.
2. Garmin Montana 700i – Satellite phone for hiking
Next on our list of the best satellite phone for backpacking is the Garmin Montana 700i. Garmin has been producing several outstanding devices. You would know what we mean if you have used a product from their brand.
They are durable, provide accurate details, and come affordable too. Unlike the Iridium model we read above, this one is much cheaper. First, let us read about the features.
The device comes rugged in design. There is a 5″ touchscreen display larger than the earlier device. Now, you can view all the information that you want to see. Besides you can also mount the device on your vehicle if you’re going to.
It has an interactive SOS that the GEOS 24/7 monitoring center can track. Moreover, it offers you the provision of two-way messaging. It is done through the Iridium satellite network.
Multi-GNSS (GPS and Galileo) support and city navigation features exist. This is done with the help of the 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. It comes pro-connected with ANT+ technology, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Now, you can access BirdsEye Satellite image downloads. You also have the Connect IQ app support. When the need arises, you can explore the Garmin website to find the waypoints, activities, and routes.
You can use tracks and review trip data from the field. It is priced at less than $700.
- The unit has a rugged design.
- The model comes with having 5″ touchscreen display.
- It has an interactive SOS that the GEOS 24/7 monitoring center can track.
- It comes with a fantastic battery life of 18 hours.
- Multi-GNSS (GPS and Galileo) support and a city navigation feature.
- The product is priced steeply.
The Garmin Montana 700i is a suitable device with many features like two-way messaging, interactive SOS & global connectivity.
You can also use the battery life that helps the device work for 18 hours.
3. OSAT Thuraya XT-LITE Satellite Phone
The OSAT Thuraya XT-LITE Satellite Phone is another excellent product that we felt was worthy of being the best satellite phone for backpacking. This is a brand for a value product. It provides you with the exceptional build quality.
When you want to connect to a device securely, the model can offer you an uninterrupted connection. This model provides dual GSM/satellite abilities through a single SIM card.
Moreover, users have commented on how simple it is to use and work with.
You can send SMS and make phone calls using the device. The maker provides stunning accessories with the model, including four adapters that can be used in any country.
It comes with a user manual that can be read in 13 languages. The battery working life can work for six houses and 80 hours of standby time. All you need to do is charge your smartphone and then use it.
It makes a lot of sense to use the device when planning to travel to a remote place, island, or locality. You can work within any latitude but ensure that it is completely charged. Remember, it can work for 6 hours only.
The model is priced at less than $801. The model comes priced kind of high because of the intense features that you can find in it. Besides, you can note that it has a robust build quality that enables you to use it in severe climatic conditions.
- It provides a dual GSM/satellite through a single SIM card.
- It is simple to use & operate.
- Phone calls or SMS can be sent from any part of the world.
- The battery working life is good at 6 hours.
- The product comes with a user manual in 13 languages.
- Apart from the price, we don’t see anything else to complain about this model.
The OSAT Thuraya XT-LITE Satellite Phone is a phenomenal device that allows you to stay in contact with loved ones & emergency services. It is simple to use and comes having a fantastic battery working life of 6 hours and 80 hours of standby time.
4. Garmin GPSMAP 66i, GPS Handheld, and Satellite Communicator
The Garmin GPSMAP 66i, GPS Handheld, and Satellite Communicator are fourth on the list of the best satellite phone for backpacking.
It is the second Garmin product on our list. The maker has mastered to art of producing magnificent satellite devices.
The unit has a 3″ monitor that provides exceptional readable quality outdoors. It comes infused with a preloaded Garmin TOPO mapping. There is also the direct-to-device Birdseye satellite feature where you can download images.
It does not require any yearly subscription. Besides, it also has global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) support and navigation sensors. The cellular connectivity feature provides access to weather forecasts and lives geocaching.
You can use it with the Garmin website to find routes and collections effortlessly. There is a decent 35-hour battery that can be used in various modes. The maker has provided you with an ultimate power pack.
A notable feature here would be an interactive SOS message to GEOS. You can share your location with anybody you want to in an emergency. They can view your progress, and you can use the GPS feature too.
The product is priced at less than $610. The model is reasonably priced for the features that are present in it.
- The model provides a large 3″ color display for easy viewing.
- The unit has an interactive SOS to the GEOS 24/7.
- It comes preloaded with Garmin TOPO mapping.
- It provides you with weather details.
- The product has a powerful 35 hours of battery life.
- It does not replace a phone.
The Garmin GPSMAP 66i, GPS Handheld, and Satellite Communicator come infused with remarkable features. The model SOS to the GEOS 24/7 comes preloaded with Garmin TOPO mapping, offers you weather details, and has a powerful 35 hours of battery life.
5. SatPhoneStore Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone
The SatPhoneStore Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone is next on our list of the best satellite phone for backpacking and communication. The phone comes with an Iridium sim card already preloaded with 200 minutes of talk time.
You can use it for six months once you have activated the device. Like most brand models, you can experience global coverage. Additionally, it offers you data & voice solutions for all parts of the planet.
It could also provide communication solutions in the ocean, land, and airway. Moreover, you could visit Polar regions as well. The model is quite rugged in a design similar to most manufacturers’ devices.
The device can withstand any climatic condition present. It is no surprise that some of the clients of the model are the US military and Airforce. The maker provides you with several accessories.
That means you are covered with the battery, foam inserts, travel charger, adapters, and hands-free headset. They also provide you with a tempered glass screen protector to ensure the device’s protection.
The unit is priced at less than $1995. A device that is priced close to $2000 can be termed expensive. However, you are getting a wide range of opulent features in the satellite phone, making it a second-to-no product.
- It comes preloaded with 200 minutes of talk time.
- It offers you data & voice solutions for all parts of the planet.
- The model is quite rugged in design.
- The unit comes with a host of several accessories.
- The product is durable and can last for years.
- The unit is pretty costly.
The SatPhoneStore Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone is costly and not meant for everybody. When you find yourself climbing remote hills & mountains, requiring a device that can communicate with your loved ones and emergency services, it has to be this one.
6. Garmin 010-01879-00 InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator
The Garmin 010-01879-00 InReach Mini, a Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, is another exciting model. We found it worthy of our list of the best satellite phone for backpacking and communications. Let us read to find out why.
When you are looking for a portable, light, and rugged model, it has got to be the Garmin InReach Mini. It helps you communicate by offering 2-way text messaging using the global Iridium network.
Of course, you need to have a satellite subscription. You can have an interactive SOS when you are in an emergency kind of situation. The monitor is small, but you can see all the information in the digital format.
You can view maps and images in the color format and perform more tasks using the Garmin Earthmate app, which is free. An optional InReach weather forecast service provides updates on your paired device for a basic & premium package.
You can receive and send messages to compatible devices with your model. They include connected wearables and handhelds. The satellite phone is priced at less than $350. The product is relatively cheap compared to most of the other models we have listed here.
Moreover, the model has astonishing features that can get you through a tedious trek or hike.
- It is lightweight and portable.
- It comes with 2-way text messaging.
- You can use the interactive SOS.
- There is an optional InReach weather forecast service.
- Receive and send messages to compatible devices.
- The monitor is small.
The Garmin 010-01879-00 InReach Mini, a Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator, is excellent for hiking or trekking. It is light, infused with outstanding features, and affordable.
7. Special Jeep Edition SPOT X GPS
The Special Jeep Edition SPOT X GPS is an exceptional model from Jeep. It has several exciting features that made us place it in our list of the best satellite phone for backpacking. An SOS feature is automatically sent to the country’s rescue services.
It messages them with the kind of emergency you have, and you get the confirmation when they are on the way. You can also exchange messages with any device or email address anywhere.
You can also use the Spot X app when you want to use it. You can connect with the help of Bluetooth and use satellite connectivity. This cloud-based mapping also provides you with intervals you can choose depending on your requirements.
Does it come with any drawbacks? A user has written that this unit helped save his life when facing an emergency. He was able to contact his partner and rescue services. However, the Bluetooth kept going off for some time.
He suggests you use the tracking mode; messages will take 15-20 minutes to reach the receiver. So, you may want to be patient. Otherwise, the user also felt that the battery’s working life was sound.
Users have commended the ease of use of the device. Though it is somewhat heavy, you can easily fit it inside your vehicle or self and move around effortlessly. The GPS model is priced at less than $250. This is one of the cheapest models from Jeep that you can find sold in the market.
- It has an automatic SOS feature during emergencies.
- It comes with the Spot X app when you want to use it.
- There is a powerful cloud-based mapping feature.
- The model has a low price to it.
- The unit comes with commendable battery life.
- You need to turn on the tracking to use it sublimely.
The Special Jeep Edition SPOT X GPS is a stunning device. It is the best when you need a reliable device to contact your loved ones and rescue services during an emergency. Besides, they have priced it quite affordable as well.
8. ZOLEO Satellite Communicator Two-Way Global SMS Text Messenger & Email
The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator Two-Way Global SMS Text Messenger & Email finds its way on our list of the best satellite phone for backpacking. Initially, we were not convinced that this was a phone, but we were highly impressed once we read the specifications & feedback.
The device comes sturdy in design, meaning you can use it in any climatic condition. It is ideal for rain, snow, and even storm. So, you do not have to worry about the communicator getting ruined or spoilt.
It can help you link using the free ZOLEO app on your tablet or smartphone. You can choose the amount you want depending on the monthly plan. The device provides you with SOS, cell, and Wi-Fi features.
The model has a kit that can keep your device safe from outside elements. You can use the cradle kit to lock your device in there. You can also place other items in the cradle kit, including the mount, connector, and belt.
Using this device, you can now connect with anyone globally. However, please ensure that the country where you want to operate allows you to do so. They also provide you with the text message feature.
You are provided a dedicated US SMS text number and email address. The product can message emergency services when you have a problem. Besides, it provides them with your GPS coordinates.
A location share+ tracking feature shows your loved ones where you are based. The unit is robust in design and has a remarkable battery life of 200 hours. You can make use of it for eight days.
You can charge it with the micro-USB Type B for 2 hours. It can work in temperatures of -4°F to 131°F. It is priced at less than $200. As you can see, the product is quite affordable and suitable for hikers, trekkers, and a host of other users for outdoor usage.
- The unit is rugged in design.
- The model comes with IPX8 resistance.
- It has a cradle kit for placing all your items there.
- It comes with a text message feature.
- The product has a location share+ tracking feature.
- You need a compatible smartphone.
The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator Two-Way Global SMS Text Messenger & Email is a splendid device to use when outdoors. It can offer you seamless connectivity when you need it high up on the mountains or when present on the oceans.
9. Garmin InReach Mini Handheld Iridium Satellite Communicator
Our final product on the list of the best satellite phone for backpacking and communications would be the Garmin InReach Mini Handheld Iridium Satellite Communicator. Yes, we agree on that; Iridium and Garmin have dominated the satellite phone segment.
Though some worthy competitors and rivals are striving hard to do a decent job, some are yet to reach the top of their game. The inReach Mini helps you manage with a sublime off-the-grid contact.
The model is relatively compact and lightweight. You can place it effortlessly on your pocket and palm. You can receive & send text messages, track your journey, and send SOS messages. This can help communicate to the emergency response team.
The inReach connectivity, as you might know, is one of the most stable connections. It can contact anybody you want based anywhere in the world. Of course, you need to have the right kind of plan.
There is also a cloud storage facility for you. You can also make use of the trip planner. This is meant for a long off-roading journey into the unknown. The Garmin devices provide access to the Garmin Explore website.
You can remotely control the device and get messages on devices compatible with Garmin devices. The maker provides a silicone case that protects the device from dirt, dust, and scratches.
You can access the ports and the buttons on the cover. That should not be a problem at all. The model is priced at less than $350. It is affordable and offers incredible features that ensure you are safe and sound.
- It is a compact device that can be placed inside your pocket.
- It has a cloud storage facility.
- You can remotely control the device.
- The maker provides you with a silicone case.
- The device is priced reasonably.
- A user received messages after 16 hours.
The Garmin InReach Mini Handheld Iridium Satellite Communicator is a great device for hunting, trekking, hiking, and so on. You may want to use a service provider who offers exceptional service so your signal works in top-notch condition.
(Q) What is the best brand of satellite phones?
The best satellite phone for backpacking brands is Iridium and Garmin. We have provided you with two of their best models, the SatPhoneStore Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Deluxe Package and the Garmin Montana 700i, Rugged GPS Handheld with Built-in inReach Satellite Technology.
Of course, other brands are good enough, and we have also mentioned their models. You can choose the one depending on your requirement and budget preference. Iridium & Garmin are the most expensive due to the present features.
(Q) Can somebody track your satellite phone?
Yes, most satellite phones have GPS features that can be tracked. After all, that is the purpose of using a satellite phone so that your location can be tracked. This helps your rescuers locate you when you are lost or hurt on a hike.
But these models cannot be hacked as they come infused with strenuous encryption software. However, there have been several cases of journalists tracked down using satellite phones in war-torn countries.
(Q) Is it illegal to own a satellite phone in a country?
It depends on which country you reside in or plan to use it. Satellite phones are banned in most Asian countries like China, Russia, and India. You may be arrested, and your satellite phone will be taken away.
So, please make it a point to first know the country’s rules before purchasing the device.
(Q) Why are satellite phones so expensive?
The best satellite phone for backpacking are expensive because of the small number of customers that use it. You would be stunned to know that there could be less than a million users in America alone.
Of course, the military is permitted to make use of the device. Hence, the satellite phone manufacturers must increase the device’s price to produce a sublime product. Besides, you are charged more than regular mobile services every month.
(Q) Can you make free calls using a satellite phone?
No, you cannot make calls for free using a satellite phone. The devices come with a package for monthly usage. Unfortunately, the price of the package is higher than the regular service. Typically, plans cost around $100 per month for 60 minutes of use.
There is an additional talk-time rate that is quite expensive at $1/minute. The device comes with batteries that can work for 30 hours. It also depends on how complex the satellite can work to locate you and the talk time from 4 to 9 hours.
A final thought on satellite phones
We have come to the end of our review on the best satellite phone for backpacking and communications. It is always nice to know that you have some backup when trekking or camping.
You can call for help during emergencies rather than depending on your regular smartphone, which may not be able to track your rescuers. Moreover, the devices are lightweight and portable, enabling you to place them inside your pocket or backpack.
They can offer you sturdy voice calling, immense global coverage, and an affordable monthly service package. We highly recommend the SatPhoneStore Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Deluxe Package, the Garmin Montana 700i, and the Thuraya XT-LITE Satellite Phone.
Yes, they are slightly priced higher than most models. But they come with excellent features. You have a durable product, breathtaking features, and long battery life. It can help you reach anywhere you want on Earth.
When you want a cheaper option that provides robust coverage, consider using the ACR Bivy Stick Two-Way Global Satellite Communicator Device and the Garmin 010-01879-00 InReach Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator.
Did you like what you read in the above post? Did we miss out on something? Have you already used any of the products we mentioned on the list of the best satellite phone for backpacking & communications?
Please tell us all about your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and feedback about the models. We would be delighted to hear from you. Since you know what to do, what are you waiting for?