Delorme InReach SE Review

The second feature of use is the most obvious and the only feature I was unable to test. I’m going to be honest, there were times during my hikes that I hoped to see a 4x4 turned over in a ditch needing help just so I could push that button to find out what would happen. Luckily that moment never came and I never had an opportunity to try the SOS feature. I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work judging from the way the rest of the unit functioned. I did like that the SOS feature is not just a button. It has an on/off toggle that must be switched to the on position before the SOS beacon can be activated. I found this to be a very useful feature for a dad of a three year old, as I found my daughter walking around pressing the red button.

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The third useful feature of the Delorme SE is the automatic tracking. I think I liked this feature more than all the rest. I started tracking myself every time I set out and noted my treks along the way. This is very different from plotting a course with a handheld GPS receiver. The Delorme InReach SE is not a fully equipped GPS. It does however pair with the Earthmate app on the phone to do some useful GPS functions. A basic map is available for download to be used in the app on the phone, but it is not a very detailed TOPO. The auto tracking points are displayed on this Earthmate map while the tracking takes place and after the tracking is turned off. The tracking feature can be viewed by anyone you wish as long as they have a computer. Each time you initiate the tracking feature you are given the option of sharing your location. Sharing will send a message with a link and a password to whomever you choose. They will then be able to log in to the Delorme page and view your progress. I enjoyed sending my location to my wife because it allowed her to watch as I went along. I think it put her mind at ease knowing that she could see the exact coordinates of my location. I am not much for social media but this device also has the capability to send messages to social media to allow the whole world to track your progress… Not exactly my cup of tea so I only sent it to my wife.
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The Earthmate app is pretty useful, it has a built in compass, altimeter and shows a simple base map while listing your approximate coordinates. I used the app to help a friend survey a fence line and it ended up being very accurate; I was quite impressed. The map that shows up in the app is quite useless for navigation because of the lack of TOPO detail. The app displays all tracking points like a string of bread crumbs which would allow you to find your way back if need be. It also displays tracking points from previous trips until you turn them off. The tracking points are not continuous it marks a point every 10 minutes and sends it out to the Delorme webpage. I had no problems using the app and the InReach SE together, they always linked automatically via Bluetooth after the initial set-up.

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Design and construction
The InReach SE is a robust handheld device about the size of a regular GPS or UHF radio. The unit seems to be well made and durable. I took it jogging with me and let it swing back and forth in my sweat soaked pocket for over an hour, a feat that has ruined several of my cell phones, and it had no problems. The buttons are firm to the touch and are not activated on accident, but are still easy to use when desired. I did not try the InReach with gloves on but feel confident there would be no problems using it with gloves. Where the design struggled was in the user interface. The use of the buttons to navigate the menu and select items as well as type messages seemed outdated and frustrating at times. I think it could benefit from a center select button like on my TV remote… The InReach SE did have a predictive text feature that helped speed up sending messages, but not enough to make me want to use it instead of the phone. The battery lasted a long time on a full charge. After about four hours of hiking it had only used 5% of the battery. I left the unit turned on but not tracking and the battery lasted nearly a full week. It uses rechargeable built in batteries that feed off of a USB port. It had no problem charging from my standard phone charger transformers in the wall or truck or on my portable solar powered battery charger. It only takes a couple hours to go from 0% to 100% charge.

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All things considered the Delorme InReach SE is a well-made useful emergency communicator and locator device. If you have proper expectations of its functionality you will not be disappointed with its performance.