Satellite Messenger Comparison Tables

Here at Treeline Review we’ve culled the S.E.N.D (Satellite Emergency Notification Device) field of more than 26 items down to the 7 best for your adventures. I relied on personal experience, read nine professional comparative reviews, interviewed outdoors people, customer service, and even a CEO of one of these companies, and did some informal surveys among Facebook hiking groups.

For our full Best Satellite Messenger and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) story here, as well as tips on who pays for rescues, how devices work (and fail), and how to choose which device to use based on your needs.

Read the full Best Satellite Messenger and PLB story

See the Comparison Tables

The Basics

The table below summarizes the weight, dimensions, satellite network and coverage, waterproofness, and batteries. IPX7 and IP67 are international standards that rate waterproofness. IPX7 is immersion in water 1 m for up to 30 minutes. IP67 means the item is fully protected from dust and can withstand 1 m of water for up to 30 minutes (similar to an iPhone; for more on waterproofing in outdoor electronics, see our Best iPhones for Outdoors people story).

DEVICEWEIGHT (ounces)DIMENSIONS (inches)SATELLITE NETWORKCOVERAGEWATERPROOFBATTERIESBATTERY LIFE (reported)
3.52.04 x 3.90 x 1.03IridiumGlobalIPX7Rechargeable lithium ionUp to 90 hours at 10-minute tracking with 100% clear view of sky
7.52.7 x 6.5IridiumGlobalIPX7Rechargeable lithium ionUp to 100 hours at 10-minute tracking mode with 100% clear view of sky
72.9 x 6.5 x 0.9GlobalstarNear GlobalIP67Rechargeable lithium ion240 hours of battery life in continuous 10 minute tracking mode with 100% clear view of sky
42.56 x 3.43 x 1.00GlobalstarNear Global1 meter for 30 minutes4 AAA408 hours of battery life in continuous 10 minute tracking mode with 100% clear view of sky
4.13.0 x 2.1 x 1.3Cospas-SarsatGlobalyes, to 49 feetLithium (not rechareable; replacement due after 7 years)24 hours at -4˚ F
5.44.5 x 1.9 x 1.6Cospas-SarsatGlobalyes, to 15 feet and floatsLithium (not rechargeable; replacement due after 6 years)24 hours at -4˚ F
 

Cost

With the satellite messengers, data charges apply. Each manufacturer offers many different plans with different features. Keep in mind that the cheapest plans may not have the same coverage between companies. Here we summarize the cheapest plans and the unlimited plans.

DEVICEDEVICE COSTCHEAPEST ANNUAL PLAN (annual contract)DEVICE + ANNUAL COST WITH CHEAPEST PLAN (annual contract)CHEAPEST MONTHLY PLAN (month to month)UNLIMITED PLAN (annual contract)DEVICE + ANNUAL COST WITH UNLIMITED PLAN (annual contract)UNLIMITED PLAN (month to month)
$350 $143.40/year + $19.95 activation fee$513.35 $14.95/month + $24.95 annual fee$599.40/year + $19.95 activation fee$969.35 $64.95/month + $24.95 annual fee
$450 $143.40/year + $19.95 activation fee$613.35 $14.95/month + $24.95 annual fee$599.40/year + $19.95 activation fee$1,069.35 $64.95/month + $24.95 annual fee
$250 $143.40/year + $19.99 activation fee$413.34 $14.95/month + $24.99 annual fee$359.40/year + $19.99 activation fee$629.34 $39.95/month + $24.99 annual fee
$150 $199.99/year + $24.99 annual fee$374.93 n/a$299.98/year + $24.99 annual fee$474.92 n/a
$280 n/an/an/an/an/an/a
$290 n/an/an/an/an/an/a
 

Messaging Capabilities

All of our picks vary in their capabilities: two-way text messaging, weather reports, and more are shown below.

DEVICETWO-WAY TEXT MESSAGING?TRACK AND SHARE LOCATION?PAIRS WITH PHONE APP?CAN TEXT TO OTHER UNITS?PRESET I'M OK MESSAGE?WEATHER REPORTS?
yesyesyesyesyesyes
yesyesyesyesyesyes
yesyesnoyesyesno
pre-set messages onlyyesnonoyesno
nononononono
nononononono
 

Battery Life

The chart below compares the battery life of our satellite messenger picks. The numbers shown are manufacturer reported battery life using continuous 10-minute intervals with 100% clear view of the sky. Our picks for personal locator beacons only (devices with no messaging capabilities) are not shown here as they are “one and done” devices and are not re-chargeable. (PLBs can last from 5-7 years without needing new batteries or a recharge as long as they are not activated)

A graphic chart of the battery life for our top satellite messenger picks.
 

Weight

Weight conscious? See the chart below for a graphic representation of the weight for each of our top picks. (Y-column is in ounces)

A graphic chart of the weight of our top personal locator beacon picks.
 

Didn’t Make the Cut

The devices we considered but didn’t make the cut are shown below.

DEVICEREASON
goTenna MeshNot a PLB or satellite messenger
Somewear Global HotspotMessenging does not operate without a smartphone
SatPaqMessenging and SOS do not operate without a smartphone