This guest post was kindly contributed by Michnus who originally published this article here.

These are a few GPS personal tracker and locator comparisons for motorcycle use. Please take note that some of these options are only available in the USA.

Make sure to click and read this article below to understand how the pricing plans and options are structured for these devices. Also how rescue and payment will work when the rescue button is pressed.

Specs and pricing options change – make sure to verify.

Be Careful

It is advisable to always carry and ride with the unit on your person, not attached to the bike.

Zoleo Personal beacon and 2-way communicator.

zoleo-satellite-communicator reviewZoleo is the new kid on the block. It is a robust well-designed unit that does one thing better than its two nearest rivals, which is messaging. The messaging is run through ZOLEO app instead of being split between conventional messaging apps (when using cell service or Wifi) and the Garmin Earthmate app (when using the inReach) or just the device.
The conversations are continuous, with no chance of possibly missing incoming messages because they were sent to the device and not the app or a website.
If your contacts send and receive messages from you through the ZOLEO app messages it can contain up to 950 characters. There is a pre-set message for “I am OK”  when you press the checking button and include your coordinates.
The device is a bit bigger and heavier than the SPOT and Inreach devices but not much that it is a deal killer.
Zoleo is not for breadcrumb tracking as in the case of the SPOT or the Inreach. It is primarily a beacon and 2-way communicator and Zoleo uses the same Iridium constellation as with Garmin. This allows coverage of nearly the entire globe. The plan and cost of ownership are a bit less than with Garmin or Spot. For people who are not interested in tracking this is the perfect solution to stay in contact with family and still have the option of an SOS button.
Currently, only people with US, Canada, and Australian addresses can activate it.
Zoleo also makes use of GEOS for rescue when the SOS is pressed and needs to be set up prior to use.
You can listen to a conversation Jim Martin had on his popular podcast Adventure Rider radio with the main man at Zoleo Morris Shawn. Roughly at 27m46sec

  • Weight: 150 g (5.3 oz)Including built-in battery.
  • HEIGHT:9.1cm
  • WIDTH: 6.6cm
  • THICKNESS: 2,7cm
  • Ingress Protection: IP68; dust- and water-resistant (to 1.5 m for 30 min)
  • Shock-resistant: MIL-STD 810G
  • Power input: Micro-USB Type B connector
  • Covered SOS button prevents false alarms (also cancellable)
  • Internal GPS chip, location-aware (accurate to 2.5 m (8.2 ft))
  • LEDs for: messages, SOS, check-in, and power
  • Battery life: Rechargeable internal Lithium-Ion 200+ hour. Charging time: 2 hours using 1.5 A charger

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

The Garmin Inreach Mini has been with us for the last two years. It is a beautifully designed, very rugged well built unit. It is clear Garmin put much thought into the design and usability of the Inreach Mini. The package includes a mobile application that can be used with this device for settings, maps, and tracking. The small display is easy to read even in sunlight and the unit enables two-way text messaging. The Inreach mini will send and receive inReach messages through compatible Garmin devices, including connected watches and handhelds units.

Optional inReach weather forecast service provides detailed updates directly to your inReach Mini or paired device. The cost of the ownership is quite steep especially if you plan to use it monthly. Tracking is not included and costs additional or per point which can add up the bill quite quickly.

On a motorcycle, it is needed to ensure there is an electrical connection to power the unit when the battery runs flat. We found the battery only last a week or two if we use 8 hours daily. Coverage on the Inreach is excellent and covers most of the world’s surface.

  • HEIGHT 9.90 cm
  • WIDTH 5.17 cm
  • THICKNESS 2.61 cm
  • WEIGHT 100g including build-in battery.
  • Battery: Rechargeable internal lithium-ion
  • Display: Sunlight-readable, monochrome, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Life: Up to 90 hours at 10-minute tracking (default); up to 35 hours at 10-minute tracking with 1-second logging; up to 24 days at 30-minute tracking power save mode; and up to 1 year when powered off.
  • Waterproof: IPX7

Garmin 66i GPSMAP GPS and 2-Way Satellite Communicator

Garmin 66i GPSMAP GPS and 2-Way Satellite Communicator

Garmin 66i GPSMAP GPS and 2-Way Satellite Communicator

The Garmin combines the Inreach features with a state of the art GPS device. One unique feature of the Garmin 66i is that Garmin has replaced the Russian GLONAAS system with the European Galileo system. Galileo is the European Union’s global navigation satellite system. Galileo is a stand-alone positioning system that eliminated the need for the EU to be dependent upon the U.S. GPS or Russian GLONASS systems which can be disabled or degraded by those countries. The only small issue is in order to send messages with the 66i you need to be connected to your smartphone via a phone book or know the details from memory. Currently, there’s not a built-in contacts book like the one in the Inreach.

The ability to use the device as a GPS and a personal tracker is a huge benefit. Although the unit had to be mounted on a motorcycle, it is safer to have a personal tracker attached to a person’s body and not the bike. In the event, the rider and bike are separated during a fall. The unit has limitations for motorcycle navigation as it is smaller than the normal Zumo660 or 395 units. The sturdy, button-operated GPSMAP 66i has a large 3” colour display. Expedition mode up to 200 hours of battery life while using inReach technology. In the default tracking mode, you get up to 35 hours of battery life, and your device will save your location every 10 minutes.

  • HEIGHT 16.3 cm
  • WIDTH 6.60 cm
  • THICKNESS 3.5 cm
  • WEIGHT 241g with Lithium Batteries
  • IMPACT, WATER, & DUST RESISTANT (IP67)
  • Display: Transflective colour TFT
  • Battery: Rechargeable, internal lithium-ion
  • Line Power with a 5v USB connection
  • BATTERY LIFE: Up to 35 hours at 10-minute tracking; up to 200 hours at 30-minute tracking (power save mode)

inReach Explorer+

inReach Explorer+

inReach Explorer+

The Inreach Explorer is a full satellite communicator with maps. It is a beautifully designed, rugged well build unit. Maps are already installed and include a mobile application that can be used with this device for settings, maps, and tracking. The TFT display is easy to read even in sunlight and the unit enables two-way text communication messaging and able to send and receive messages through compatible Garmin devices, including connected watches and handhelds units.

Both the inReach SE+ & Explorer+ offer identical messaging capabilities. The GPS navigation is different though. InReach SE+ uses GPS to provide basic grid navigation and allow you to drop waypoints, mark key locations, track your progress, and follow a breadcrumb trail back to base — the inReach Explorer+ goes a step beyond, providing full-fledged GPS on-map guidance with preloaded TOPO mapping and waypoint routings viewable directly on the unit.

The cost of the ownership is quite steep especially if you plan to use it monthly.

On the basic plans tracking is not included and cost additional or per point which can add up the bill quite quickly. Coverage on the Inreach is excellent and covers most of the world’s surface.

  • HEIGHT 16.4 cm
  • WIDTH 6.8 cm
  • THICKNESS of 3.8 cm
  • WEIGHT 213g including build-in battery.
  • Battery: Rechargeable internal lithium ion
  • Display: transflective colour TFT
  • Battery life: Up to 100 hours at 10-minute tracking mode (default); up to 75 hours at 10-minute tracking with 1-second logging; up to 30 days at the 30-minute interval power save mode; and up to 3 years when powered off
  • Waterproof: IPX7
  • PreLoad Maps: Yes, depending on country or continent.

Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1

Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1

Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1

Compact, affordable “help me” button in your pocket. The rescueME’s sole purpose is to send an emergencyOceanME rescue personal tracker GPS signal, this is all this unit does, and it does it well.

OceanSignal makes a very small unit, it is robust and strong and will take quite a beating. They use the proven COSPAS-SARSAT international Search and Rescue technology and protocol. The Ocean Signal is less expensive than the next nearest competitor, requires no paid subscription.

The device taps into the COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue satellite network, which covers the entire globe. If your device can “see” enough of the sky to connect to satellites, you can press the SOS button anywhere on Earth and expect the device to get a signal out.

The unit can be registered with GEOS or any other rescue agency. Once you press the SOS button the agencies will coordinate the rescue that does not matter where you are. For people that do not want subscription fees and other costs, this is the unit to have. It is a peace of mind device that you are able to summons help when needed. No chatting and checking with people.

  • HEIGHT 7.7 cm
  • WIDTH 5.1 cm
  • THICKNESS 3.2 cm
  • WEIGHT 116g with Lithium
  • Environmental: IPX7 (waterproof 15m drop 1,5m )
  • Operating temperature: -20c to 55c
  • Battery: Lithium
  • Line Power with a 5v USB connection BATTERY LIFE: 7 years replaceable.

SOMEWEAR personal GPS tracker

SOMEWEAR satellite personal GPS tracker

SOMEWEAR satellite personal GPS tracker

These units need connectivity with a mobile phone to send and receive messages. The Somewear unitsSomewear GPS personal tracker leverage the Iridium satellite network which is the same as Garmin, and offers 100% global coverage.

Somewear offers two-way communication, mapping, and navigation features, weather reports. This unit also has a very useful tracking feature. The maps-set is downloadable similar to what you would have done on Google offline maps.

What sets this unit apart from the mobile phone connectivity units is that you do not need your phone to send an SOS from Somewear. This is a great feature of this unit In a crash the SOS button can be pressed. Somewear has two-way communication so that once the S.O.S. is activated you can communicate by text.

The Somewear will be useful for people who want to check with the family and not pay a bundle for SMS satellite services and subscription. There’s a variety of subscription plans and it cost less than the current SPOTGen3. This unit slots between the SPOTGen3 and the InreachMini. Somewear is in partnership with GEOS Worldwide for rescue coordination.

Lastly, the battery power on this unit is very good for the size and good for long stints before needing a charge.

  • HEIGHT 7.62 cm
  • WIDTH 9 cm
  • THICKNESS 2.2 cm
  • WEIGHT 114g with Lithium Batteries
  • Environmental: IPX7 (waterproof at 1m for 30 mins)
  • Shockproof: MIL-STD-810
  • Operating temperature: -20c to 60c
  • Battery: Lithium
  • Line Power with a 5v USB connection
  • BATTERY LIFE: 10 days on 10 minute continuous battery life.

SPOT Gen 3

SPOT Gen 3

SPOT Gen 3

The SpotGen3 must be the hands-down best value for money personal tracker. We have been using this unit for around 3 years. It is also one of the smallest, lightest, most basic satellite messenger available. The Gen3 has the ability to send one-way SOS or preset messages and has a motion-activated tracking feature. It is a no-frills personal tracker and locator and very basic. It is however rugged and well build and has been on our bikes for all that time.

A pre-programmed text message with GPS coordinates giving your location can be sent to anyone of ten contacts loaded into the Gen3. Your stored waypoints can be easily integrated into a Spot Shared Page or Spot Adventure account on your home computer. If you are not a texter or talker, and if family and/or friends do not insist that they have the ability to reach you this is a perfect unit. We did have issues with the signal at times, but speaking to SPOT they assured us the coverage has increased the last couple of years. Their entire satellite system is being built upon regularly.

The cost and subscription package is nearly half the cost of the Garmin Inreach. For long travel and tracking the SPOT is an excellent option.

  • HEIGHT 8.7 cm
  • WIDTH 6.5 cm
  • THICKNESS 2.5 cm
  • WEIGHT 114g with Lithium Batteries
  • OPERATING TEMP -30C to +60C
  • OPERATING ALTITUDE -100m to +6,500m
  • IMPACT, WATER, & DUST RESISTANT (IP67)
  • Submersible up to 1m for 30 minutes
  • Battery: 4 AAA Lithium Batteries 4 AAA NiMh Rechargeable Batteries.
  • Line Power with a 5v USB connection
  • BATTERY LIFE: 408 hours in continuous 10-minute tracking mode with 100% clear skies

SPOT X

SPOT X 2-WAY SATELLITE MESSENGER Stay connected beyond cellular. Get peace of mind with S.O.S.The Spot X is a fully contained two-way messenger unit that doesn’t use a phone link to make its features more user-friendly. Instead, Spot X has an illuminated QWERTY keyboard. The Spot X keyboard is unique but still difficult to use and the keys are tiny for someone with big fingers.
The two-way messaging capability is incredibly helpful if you’re sending out an SOS. It makes a big difference to be able to tell rescuers what the situation and rescue needs are. The coverage is adequate but in some parts of the world, the unit did not track due to poor reception to satellites.
Spot X has something else from the other satellite messengers, it is that it has its own unique cell phone number. Anyone with that number can send you an sms. What might be a problem is that Lithium 4A batteries are not everywhere available and the unit needs strong batteries to operate.
The cost of owning and tracking is nearly half the price of the Garmin units. And auto-tracking is included in the plan. Still, the Spot X is a good option for travellers who don’t want to rely on their phone or don’t want to carry a phone but still need communication. You would still need a GPS or phone to navigate through.

  • HEIGHT 16.61 cm WIDTH 7.37 cm 
  • THICKNESS 2.39 cm
  • WEIGHT 198g with Lithium Batteries
  • OPERATING TEMP -30C to +60C
  • OPERATING ALTITUDE -100m to +6,500m
  • IMPACT, WATER, & DUST RESISTANT (IP67)
  • Submersible up to 1m for 30 minutes
    Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Line Power with a 5v USB connection 
  • BATTERY LIFE:  240hours (10days) in 10min tracking mode. This is twice as much as the Garmin

 

SATPAQ Satellite Phone

SATPAQ Satellite Phone

SATPAQ Satellite Phone

This little device uses a mobile phone connection to send and receive messages. The device runs on fullSatpaq satellite phone applications from most newer model mobile phones. Weather forecast and an interactive, artificial intelligence (AI) service that answers first-aid-related medical questions. The service is also linked GEOS for rescue. The device is waterproof, offers mapping and navigation features. SatPaq offers tracking only in that your route is traced between one text message and another.

The cost is only the messaging bundles and billed on a pay-as-you-go basis. SatPaq eliminates the monthly fees associated with other satellite messengers. The message credits holdover until you use them.

This device will be useful for people who want to check with the family and not pay a bundle for SMS satellite services. The drawback of motorcycle use is that in a crash you have to be able to get the device and phone connected to send a rescue message. There is no SOS button on this unit.

Currently, Satpaq only offers USA coverage.

  • WEIGHT 113g
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery
  • Line Power with a 5v USB connection
  • BATTERY LIFE: A fully charged battery will send/receive about 150-200 messages and will retain charge for about 4-5 months in storage.

 

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