Last Updated: July 28, 2022

Best Satellite Communicator in 2023

Spending time in the furthest reaches of the outside world is something that we all love. There is nothing like getting into remote areas of the planet and experiencing nature at its most pristine but it doesn’t come without its risks and worries.

Staying in touch with loved ones, navigating, and being able to contact rescue teams simply isn’t something a cell phone or cell service can provide. Therefore, a key piece of outdoor gear adventurers need is a satellite communicator.

Satellite communicators allow you to send messages to loved ones, receive messages, use emergency messaging, and lots more, anywhere on the planet. So they certainly take the risk out of remote adventures but not all satellite communicators are made equal and since they are expensive, we want to make sure you buy the right one.


At A Glance: Our Top 3 Satellite Communicators


Join me as we take a look at some of the best satellite communicators on the market so you can find the best value and the best satellite messenger for your outdoor needs.

Top Product Overview

Garmin inReach Mini 2 (Flame Red) Satellite Communicator & Personal GPS Tracker Hiker's Bundle with PlayBetter Portable Charger, Carabiner, & Lanyard | Compact & Lightweight Navigation Device
Best Allrounder
  • Lightweight, compact, and portable
  • Durable waterproof build
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Best On A Budget
  • Great satellite coverage
  • Super light and compact
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Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps and GPS Navigation
Best Of The Best
  • It is the complete package, GPS + Comms
  • Full turn by turn navigation
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  • Super affordable option
  • Connects to data and WiFi
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Spot X with Bluetooth 2-Way Satellite Messenger | SOS Protection | Handheld Portable 2-Way GPS Messenger for Hiking, Camping, Cars| Globalstar Satellite Network Coverage | Subscription Applicable
  • Easy to use
  • Fully standalone satellite messenger
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ACR Bivy Stick Two-Way Global Satellite Communicator Device with SOS, SMS, Tracking, Weather Report, and Shared Location
  • Light, compact, portable
  • Increased battery life
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Spot Gen 4 Satellite GPS Messenger | Handheld Portable GPS Messenger for Hiking, Camping, Outdoor Activities | Globalstar Satellite Network Coverage | Subscription Applicable
  • Simple to use
  • Super affordable
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Best Satellite Communicator


Best Allrounder

Garmin Inreach Mini 2

Garmin inReach Mini 2 (Flame Red) Satellite Communicator & Personal GPS Tracker Hiker's Bundle with PlayBetter Portable Charger, Carabiner, & Lanyard | Compact & Lightweight Navigation Device

One of the most popular and best satellite messengers around is, without a doubt, the Garmin Inreach Mini 2. The Garmin Inreach mini 2 works as a personal locator beacon, and two-way satellite messenger, and it has a ton of useful navigation features too.

You can use these Garmin devices as a standalone device or by pairing them to your cell phone via the Garmin Earthmate app. This means you can choose to use the Garmin Mini to send and receive messages with or without your cell phone such as two-way texting with your family, sending emails to loved ones, and more.

The in-built personal locator beacon allows you to share your location with loved ones and it will track your location too. The SOS button on the side will do the same but will send an SOS message to Garmin IERCC, a 24/7 staffed emergency response coordination center that will put a rescue team in action.

You can also use the Garmin Inreach Mini to navigate as it features a trackback feature so you can follow your route back, there is also a built-in compass to navigate with, and you can get a weather forecast to avoid any adverse weather conditions on their way in.

The Garmin Inreach Mini uses the Iridium satellite network which provides excellent coverage all over the planet so you can stay in constant comms during international travel too. This satellite communicator doesn’t allow the app to be used on WiFi or data though, it is a satellite device only.

You get all of these amazing features in a tiny, compact, light, and easy-to-use satellite communication device that is fully waterproof, durable and has max 14-day battery life.

The main issue with this Garmin satellite messenger is that the subscription is expensive and you will need to pay a $34.95 annual program fee plus a $14.95 monthly fee, so $50 for the month of use.

This subscription plan for the Garmin Inreach Mini 2 might suit regular users but it is a bit expensive for occasional users compared to others.

Pros

  • Lightweight, compact, and portable
  • Durable waterproof build
  • Pairs to your smartphone
  • Simple user interface
  • Awesome battery life
  • Excellent features like location tracking
  • Useful navigation features
  • Weather reports
  • Location sharing, trackback, electronic compass
  • Global coverage
  • Works without a smartphone

Cons

  • High subscription costs
  • App doesn’t work with data/wifi - sat only

Product Information

  • Type: Two Way
  • Satellite Network: Iridium
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Dimensions: 1.03 x 2.04 x 3.9 inches
  • Battery life: Up to 14 days
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • Wifi: Bluetooth
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Best On A Budget

Somewear Global Hotspot

The Somewear Global Hotspot from Somewear labs is a satellite messenger that has been turning heads of late and has become one of the best satellite messengers around.

The Somewear Global Hotspot has become super popular because it is more affordable, reliable, easy to use, compact, portable, and it does everything you need it to. You can only use it with a smartphone though, it is not a standalone device but it is super simple to get your head around.

Simply turn on the Somewear Global Hotspot and connect it to your phone via Bluetooth, open the app, and start using it as a satellite messenger. You can send text messages to loved ones, send an SOS to rescue centers via the SOS button, grab a weather report, and share your location with anyone.

The personal locator beacon is super accurate down to 2.5 meters and the Iridium specific satellite network is very reliable with satellite signal around the world too.

The satellite messenger app also works with a cell network and WiFi, so you can use the smartphone app when in areas with cell towers too, unlike a lot of other satellite messengers that are satellite only.

To top it all off, this satellite messenger comes in a tiny, lightweight package with just a few buttons, is shockproof and waterproof too, so it is going to last.

The subscriptions are affordable too and you will only need to pay a $25 activation fee (for the base-level plans) and an annual subscription of just $8.33 per month for the most basic service plan. If you were to upgrade, options like pausing contracts comes into play which is handy.

The only downside to this otherwise excellent satellite messenger is that it only works with cell phones, it is not standalone, so you will have to carry your phone and more battery power to keep your cell phone charged.

Pros

  • Great satellite coverage
  • Super light and compact
  • Incredibly easy to use
  • Shockproof and water-resistant
  • Affordable satellite messenger
  • Affordable subscription plan
  • Pairs to your smartphone
  • Weather forecasts, SOS, location sharing, check-ins
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Doesn’t work without a smartphone
  • No unlimited preset messages or check-ins

Product Information

  • Type: Two Way
  • Satellite Network: Iridium
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Dimensions: 3.0 x 3.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Battery life: Up to 10 days
  • Waterproof: IP68
  • Wifi: Bluetooth
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Best Of The Best

Garmin Inreach Explorer+

Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps and GPS Navigation

The Garmin Inreach Explorer+ is the most comprehensive satellite messenger on the market as it does it all since it is a satellite communication device built into a fully functioning GPS.

Out of all the satellite messengers featured in the article, this is the only one that does it all standalone, and still connects to your phone too. Imagine the Inreach Mini just with a full functioning GPS.

You can use the device to receive and send messages to loved ones, for SOS messaging for the SOS button or app, location sharing, check-ins, by using the app on your phone or via the easy to read 2.3 Inch screen.

While you’re sending and checking messages you use the preloaded topographic maps for turn by turn navigation, check the weather forecast, and use the compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer to find your way around any remote areas.

While this unit is heavier and bulkier than the new and original Inreach Mini, you don’t need to carry your phone with you, so it actually ends up being lighter. Just like the mini, it is easy to use, waterproof, shockproof, and ready to survive any adventure.

As with all things better and bigger, this is more expensive than other satellite messengers but you don’t have to buy any handheld GPS units to go with it. Plus it uses the Iridium communication network and is therefore extremely reliable.

Being a Garmin unit, the subscription and activation fees are a bit spendy but worth it if you’re in remote places on a regular basis.

Pros

  • It is the complete package, GPS + Comms
  • Full turn by turn navigation
  • Works without a smartphone
  • Interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue
  • Preloaded topographic maps
  • Two way messaging
  • Barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer
  • Awesome communication reliability
  • Real time location accuracy is excellent
  • Location share
  • Pair to smartphone

Cons

  • More expensive than others
  • A bit heavier than others

Product Information

  • Type: Two Way
  • Satellite Network: Iridium
  • Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Dimensions: 1.5 x 2.7 x 6.5 inches
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • Wifi: Bluetooth
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Zoleo Satellite Communicator

The Zoleo Satellite Communicator is another great option as far as satellite messengers go as it is affordable, functional, easy to use, and has some great extra features.

When you own one of these satellite messengers you are given your own dedicated phone number and email for your friends and family to use. This makes two way communication very easy and clean in the app and by using Iridiums satellite networks it will reliably send and receive messages.

These devices work with data and wifi too so when you are in cell range it will switch from satellite com,s, something different devices don’t always do, like the Inreach device.

You can choose to send check-in messages with GPS coordinates, location GPS tracking, or SOS messages via the app or a dedicated button on these two-way devices. You can also use the two-way messenger to send check-in messages to loved ones without a phone/app.

Emergency messaging will be sent to the emergency services and local search and rescue plus you can communicate with them via the app too.

The app allows you to download offline maps on which you can see your location, a breadcrumb trail of your movements, and navigate with. You can also use the weather reporting feature to see what to expect while you are in the wilderness.

There are a few downsides to this basic device though, one it is heavier than others and you will have to carry your phone with you, plus the $20 a month subscription is more expensive than other two-way satellite messengers.

READ: GARMIN INREACH MINI 2 VS ZOLEO

Pros

  • Super affordable option
  • Connects to data and WiFi
  • Pairs to your smartphone
  • Basic standalone comms
  • 2 way messaging, weather forecasts, SOS
  • Check-in & GPS location sharing
  • Download offline maps
  • Follow your trail in the phone app

Cons

  • Expensive subscriptions
  • No “start-stop” subscriptions
  • A little heavier than others

Product Information

  • Type: Two Way
  • Satellite Network: Iridium
  • Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Dimensions: 3.58 x 2.6 x 1.06 inches
  • Battery life: 200 hours
  • Waterproof: IP68
  • Wifi: Bluetooth capability
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SPOT X

Spot X with Bluetooth 2-Way Satellite Messenger | SOS Protection | Handheld Portable 2-Way GPS Messenger for Hiking, Camping, Cars| Globalstar Satellite Network Coverage | Subscription Applicable

The SPOT X is a little different from all the other devices featured and it looks just like an old Blackberry and it uses different satellite systems than the others too.

But, the Spot X is easy to use, works with or without a phone, and still provides all the things you need for safety in the wilderness.

These two-way messengers come with a full QWERTY keyboard which makes sending messages quick and easy. You can send a text, email, track yourself and share your location updates, check in to loved ones with a GPS location, and of course, do some SOS emergency messaging too.

When compared to other options, the Spot X doesn’t quite compete. Firstly it uses the Globalstar satellite network and can take ages to connect, draining the battery.

If you are deep in a valley or have tree cover, getting a connection can be almost impossible – you need a line of sight to the sky.

It is also slower to process message sending so don’t expect to have live chats with anyone as messaging takes a while to come through and go out.

You should think of the Spot X as more of a basic option and one of the more affordable options off the shelf but be warned the subscriptions are expensive.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Fully standalone satellite messenger
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • Pairs to your smartphone
  • Tracking, check in, compass, SOS
  • Send & receive messages - texts & email

Cons

  • Less coverage than Iridium
  • A little heavy
  • Buttons can stick
  • Slow processing
  • Expensive subscriptions
  • Custom messages take while to send

Product Information

  • Type: Two Way
  • Sat Network: Globalstar
  • Weight: 7 ounces
  • Dimensions: 2.9 x 0.94 x 6.54 inches
  • Battery life: 240 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • Wifi: Bluetooth
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ACR Bivy Stick

ACR Bivy Stick Two-Way Global Satellite Communicator Device with SOS, SMS, Tracking, Weather Report, and Shared Location

The ACR Bivy Stick is an awesome satellite communication that provides seamless communication via an app on your phone or via the unit itself.

You can send non-emergency communication in the form of a check-in with one touch and send for emergency help with one touch via the device itself. All the other features are utilized via a Bluetooth connection to your phone and the app.

Non-emergency messaging can be done through the app for custom messages and tracking, as can weather forecasts and locating sharing too. You can also download maps for offline use for navigation too which is super handy.

The actual device is compact, extremely light, and built to be shockproof and waterproof so it will survive almost anything. It is also very affordable to buy plus it is credit-based and thus great for occasional users, but there is a 4-month subscription requirement of $30-50 which is still cheaper than similar devices.

Custom messaging on this unit is a bit slower than on others though and the app isn’t so easy to use. But, it does use Iridium so you can be confident that all your emergency and non-emergency messaging will go through as the coverage is excellent worldwide.

Pros

  • Light, compact, portable
  • Increased battery life
  • Easy two way messaging
  • No activation or annual fees
  • Credit based is ideal for occasional users
  • Very affordable
  • Excellent coverage
  • One touch check-in button
  • Pairs to your smartphone
  • Offline maps for navigation
  • Weather forecasting, location sharing, tracking\

Cons

  • App is cumbersome to use
  • Slower messaging than others
  • 4-month Plus or Unlimited data plan required

Product Information

  • Type: Two Way
  • Sat Network: Iridium
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.47 x 1.85 x 0.83 inches
  • Battery life: 120 hours
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • Wifi: Bluetooth
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SPOT GEN4

Spot Gen 4 Satellite GPS Messenger | Handheld Portable GPS Messenger for Hiking, Camping, Outdoor Activities | Globalstar Satellite Network Coverage | Subscription Applicable

The Spot Gen4 is the only one-way device featured in the article and as you can guess with one-way devices, incoming messages are not possible, you can only send them, not receive them.

The benefit of the Spot Gen4 one-way messenger is that you will save money as it is more affordable, and you don’t have to deal with a paired phone or smartphone apps. You can send a tailored preset message to communicate with loved ones at the push of the button, check in, track, and of course, SOS.

This makes life extremely easy since you can ensure no one is worrying and send out a distress signal when you need to in an emergency. The device is also incredibly simple to use, light, compact, waterproof, and durable too.

Unlike some of the other Spot devices, this runs on AAAs and the battery life is great plus you don’t have to worry about charging it, just remember some spares.

Of course, the simplicity does come with downsides. You can’t two way message, use any nav features, and the Globalstar satellite system isn’t as reliable as Iridium plus the subscriptions are expensive too.

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Super affordable
  • Tailored preset messages
  • Tracking, SOS, Checkin
  • Modern personal location beacon
  • Long battery life
  • Replaceable batteries

Cons

  • No two-way messaging
  • Doesn’t pair to a cell phone
  • No navigation features
  • Expensive subscriptions
  • Coverage isn’t as good as the Iridium network

Product Information

  • Type: One Way
  • Satellite Network: Globalstar
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Dimensions: 1.04 x 2.66 x 3.48 inches
  • Battery life: AAA batteries
  • Waterproof: IP67
  • Wifi: Bluetooth
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What To Look For In The Best Satellite Communicator

Type

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want a standalone device that doesn’t need a phone to work, or one that you pair to a phone and use an app to communicate.

The joy of having a standalone is not having to add weight to your pack as you won’t have to constantly charge your phone to use it, or even carry your phone at all if you don’t want to. It also adds an extra element of safety in case your phone dies.

That being said, not many people go places without their phones these days, so a connective device is also a solid option.

Networks, Budgets, & Subscriptions

All these devices require satellites and their providers to function and you have a choice of two, Iridium & Globalstar. Iridium’s satellites provide far better connection and coverage so I recommend choosing them.

When it comes to budget you need to think about both the cost of the device and the cost of the subscriptions as they vary quite a lot. Be sure to check the subscription costs as they can be very high on an affordable unit.

Minimum Feature Set

The final thing to consider is the minimum feature set you want from your communicator and your options are below:

  • One or Two-Way Messaging
  • SOS
  • Tracking
  • Check-in
  • Weather Updates
  • Location Sharing

The features above are must-haves in my eyes as they keep you safe and keep your loved ones from worrying.

You then also have the option to choose a device with a compass, maps, GPS navigation, and lots more but the more features you get the more expensive it will be.

Our Favorite Satellite Communicators

The all-around favorite satellite communicator is the Garmin Inreach Mini 2. It works with or without a phone, is super durable, light, portable, plus it has an amazing battery life.

The features are excellent, coverage and communications are reliable, and with two-way messaging, tracking, check-ins, plus maps and navigation, you couldn’t ask for more.

Garmin inReach Mini 2 (Flame Red) Satellite Communicator & Personal GPS Tracker Hiker's Bundle with PlayBetter Portable Charger, Carabiner, & Lanyard | Compact & Lightweight Navigation Device
21 Reviews
Garmin inReach Mini 2 (Flame Red) Satellite Communicator & Personal GPS Tracker Hiker's Bundle with PlayBetter Portable Charger, Carabiner, & Lanyard | Compact & Lightweight Navigation Device
  • GARMIN INREACH MINI 2 HIKER'S BUNDLE: Garmin inReach Mini 2 (2022 Model) Handheld Hiking GPS, Garmin Carabiner, PlayBetter 5000mAh Portable Charger & PlayBetter GPS Tether Lanyard (Black), & USB Charging Cable
  • YOUR SURVIVAL GPS FOR EVERY ADVENTURE: With an active satellite subscription, this Garmin satellite communicator enables two-way messaging and interactive SOS globally. Enjoy a topping battery life of up to 14 days in 10-minute tracking mode with this compact, lightweight, and mini GPS for hiking.

The best satellite messenger if you are on a budget is the Somewear Global Hotspot. Not only is the unit affordable but so are the subs. And the features are great too. You can send custom messaging via texts and email, track, share location, check in, SOS, and get weather updates too.

You will however need to have a smartphone to use it though as it is not standalone, but it is super easy to use.

The best of all the satellite communicators featured has to be the Garmin Inreach Explorer+ as it really does do it all.

It has everything from a GPS that will guide you over preloaded topo maps to two-way messaging, weather updates, tracking, location sharing, SOS, and it is fully functioning as a standalone so you can leave your phone at home.

If you are looking for one unit to explore the world with that will get you where you need to go and let you communicate along the way, this is it.

Sale
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps and GPS Navigation
1,541 Reviews
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with Topo Maps and GPS Navigation
  • 100 percent global Iridium satellite coverage enables two way text messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription required)
  • Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center

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