The 8 Best Satellite Communicators
This wiki has been updated 5 times since it was first published in April of 2020. Whether used for safety, navigation, obtaining weather reports, or simply checking in with home, a satellite communicator can be an essential part of a traveler’s arsenal. Similar to satellite phones, these devices are primarily used for tracking people in outbound destinations, reporting locations to contacts, and signaling for help where terrestrial lines of communication don’t exist. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
May 07, 2020:
There are a few factors to take into consideration when selecting a satellite communicator. One is the data provider and plan that you wish to use. Among the most popular of these is the Iridium network, which is favored by most products in this ranking, including the Garmin inReach SE+, Garmin InReach Mini, Bivystick Satellite, and ZOLEO Two-Way Global. This provider has one of the biggest global networks of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites, that covers the United States, Canada, Central and South America, and most of the planet beyond.
Another factor to consider is the type of communicator that you wish to use. Some, such as the Garmin GPSMAP 66i and the Garmin inReach Explorer+ come complete with color screens, GPS, and preinstalled maps as standard, and function well as dedicated communication devices (although they can connect to a smartphone to expand their functionality). Others, including the ZOLEO Two-Way Global, and the Spot 3 GPS Messenger, must be linked to a smartphone to access the full array of features on offer. In addition, the Bivystick Satellite also functions as a power bank for charging phones and devices; an encouraging option, considering you may be without a power source for some time while the device is in use.
One more consideration should be how you wish to use your mobile communicator. If it is purely for sending an SOS signal to responders in the event of an emergency, then a compact messaging device, such as the ZOLEO Two-Way Global or the Spot 3 GPS Messenger should satisfy your requirements. If, however, you wish to use a full array of satellite-based services, including GPS navigation, location-based weather warnings, in-flight communication, tracking mode, etc., then you may wish to opt for a more comprehensive model, such as those in the Garmin inReach product line featured in this ranking.