When I was young, single, and without kids, I had no problem packing up and shuffling up into some distant basin with camp on my back, to hunt elk, deer, or bears for days at a time, without any possible way to communicate with the modern world. I still relish the chance to visit the backcountry, but there’s a part of me that worries about what I’m missing at home, be it some milestone or emergency. That’s why I love the InReach Explorer+. Not only does it allow me to send and receive messages from home (via a subscription), it displays my position on our home PC so my wife and kids can follow my trek. The other functions are much like what you’d find on any Garmin handheld GPS, but honestly it’s the abiblity to stay in touch that sets this device apart from others. Some may poo-poo the idea of carrying such technology into places like Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, but the calming sense of relief I have at the end of each day knowing my family is well arguably trumps any cynics argument. In addition, this unit works with Garmin’s Basecamp software, which makes it easy to plot waypoints, landmarks, and all sorts of information using a desktop or laptop computer, and then upload it to the handheld device. The downside, if someone asked for one, is the screen—it’s incredibly tough to see in daylight. Then again, most GPS (and smartphone) screens are.

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