Review: DeLorme inReach Explorer

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Accessories, Bicycle, Gear, Travel 2 Comments

It doesn’t take long to go off the grid here in Alaska. You can be a couple miles from your house, in the shadow of the mountains- and out of cell range.

Last year I purchased a DeLorme inReach Explorer- for my own safety as well as the piece of mind of my loved ones. Put simply, the inReach is a 2-way satellite text messaging unit. The inReach Explorer model offers mapping (though no maps,) whereas the inReach SE does not. There are other options out there, such as those offered by SPOT- but I chose the DeLorme because you can actually have a 2-way conversation. Whether on the boat or in the woods, I’m often out of cell range and the ability to keep in touch with my lady puts her mind (more) at ease. The SPOT can send out preset messages, but that can be limiting if you want to let people know you’re somewhere in between “OK” and “SOS.”

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With the DeLorme- it can be synced via bluetooth and you can email or text from your phone easily, accessing all of your contacts. When you send a message, your Lat/Lon is given as well as speed, elevation etc. For those that are interested, you can update to Twitter or Facebook as well. There is a 160 character limit on sent messages.

This past fall I made my trip across the Copper River- a place that can feel as desolate as the planet Mars. At about mile 32, cell phone coverage stops. Traveling alone in wild Alaska is exhilarating, exciting and potentially dangerous. With the inReach, I was able to keep my lady, as well as Elmer (the guy with a plane that could come save my ass if need be) apprised of my location, what my intentions were, and Elmer kept me updated as to what the weather was going to do on the ever changing Copper River Delta.

When I head out- I track my route, and then when I come home and sync with the online DeLorme site, it brings my track into a map that is far better than Google Earth- at least for the locations I’m traveling in.

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This is the zoomed out route I took on a raft/bike trip to Sheridan. (The one on the right is a bike/raft loop I did to McKinley Lake)

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Zoomed in, the detail gets considerably better than what I’ve seen on Google Maps.

After the MSRP of $379 for the inReach Explorer, you pay for service. You can elect to go with the $25 annual “Freedom Plan” and shut it off when you’re not using it, or sign up for a 12-month contract which starts at $12 a month- and keep the safety plan on (I use the “Expedition” plan in the summer and the “Safety” plan in the winter.) I won’t focus on the monthly charges, they are a bit confusing on the DeLorme site, but they do make a little more sense when you get your bill.

As a stand-alone unit, there are four buttons and a lock switch used for the SOS feature. Simple- though if you are trying to text, it can be time consuming. There is predictive text, which helps- but it’s really hard to beat using the phone (iPhone or Android compatible.)

The DeLorme Explorer boasts a long list of features including:

  • Digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer
  • Odometer and displays useful trip statistics while in the field, such as trip time, max speed, moving average, trip distance
  • Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text for standalone two-way messaging
  • GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
  • Water rating: IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes).
  • Rugged, dustproof and impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810G for shock; IP67 for dust).
  • Internal lithium polymer battery (2,450 mAh capacity at 3.7 V)
  • SOS messages are received by GEOS, a worldwide emergency response coordination center with 24/7/365 staffing
  • Email, SOS and tracking functions work anywhere in the world; SMS availability may vary by country.
  • 100% global coverage via the Iridium satellite network, which is the world’s furthest-reaching satellite communications network.
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces

It’s advertised that the unit has a battery life of up to 100hrs on 10minute tracking- I haven’t tested the full time, but from the 36hrs that I used mine on my trip across the Copper River, with texting and using other features, the math didn’t quite add up that it would last that long.  After 36hrs I was down to 45% battery life, and that was shutting it off over night.

Though DeLorme claims that the unit has a water rating of IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes,) when I was riding, and the sun came out- the whole screen fogged up- presumably from water that got inside. It didn’t affect the functions and eventually went away- but I have to question the water rating- having not dunked it underwater at all.

One thing that bums me out about the unit is there is no map feature. You can plug in waypoints and routes, but they are just on a white screen. A topo map would be pretty handy- bridge the gap between the communication and a separate GPS unit. You have to go home and plug back into the computer to see what the terrain was.

Side note: I also purchased the DeLorme Topo North America map set but was disappointed to learn that it isn’t Mac compatible, and it doesn’t do a damn thing with the InReach. It was a waste of money in my opinion.

If you find yourself going off the beaten path and out of cell range- this unit is a great investment. I’d be curious about ways to charge it (they seem to work with Goal Zero on some power options) or else a dynamo hub (which costs an arm and a leg.) It seems costly, but it is more dependable than a cell phone and it may just save your ass. So go do something awesome.

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Review: 1UPUSA Quik Rack

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, fat bike, Gear, Travel 1 Comment

Last winter, after a disappointing run with my Thule hitch mounted rack, I reached out to 1UPUSA to see what they had to offer. I was out to test a rack that would work with a wide selection of bikes. From a 25c road bike to a 5” tire fat bike, I was looking for one rack to rule them all. Well it’s been about a year and the rack has lived on the truck since day one- through rain, sleet, snow, sand and the salt air of my seaside fishing village.

Enter the Double Bicycle Quik Rack.

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Showers Pass over the Rangers

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle No Comments

I’ll just start this off with the most important thing on the internet today- Darkeys & The Keys.

I feel better already.

Showers Pass has been adding to their line with stuff to keep riders warm and dry whether on or off the bike for a while now- their newest offering is a packable rain jacket which weighs 10.6 oz (for a puny medium.) The Metro Jacket, as it’s called- comes in navy blue- looks to be a slim fit, is seam taped and is described as a hardshell (though breathable.) It retails for $199, and is available at your LBS or at the Showers Pass website. Stay dry, my friends.

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In other news, Blackburn is looking for ambassadors, or “Rangers” again- for their second year. You can hear a guy talk about it while music that is too quite to discern what it is and pictures come across the screen here:

This year the 6 chosen Rangers will be on a set path. Either the Pacific Coast or the Great Divide. worthy rides to be sure.

Myself- I think they should go for the 4 riders of the Apocalypse, or they could make it a ride to the death- the last ranger standing would then become “The Lone Ranger.” But that’s why I don’t get allowed to make decisions.

If you’re up for it and want more details- Go HERE.

Now I’m going to see when Darkeys & The Keys will be playing next.

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Frosty Bottom 2015.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Alaska, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, fat bike, Races No Comments

As I said on my last trip to Los Anchorage, it is home to one hell of a fatbike community. Nearly 300 racers came out last Saturday, to race the 9th annual Frosty Bottom 25/50. A race that starts at Kincaid Park, heads up to Hilltop (where the 25 ends) and/or back to Kincaid (for the 50.) The race is open to runners and skiers as well, but the fairly dry and fast conditions only brought 2 skiers to the finish line- with most of the participants choosing a bike over shoes, like a civilized person would.

I got into town Friday and like most of my trips to Anchorage it started like this:

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A delicious beer from Midnight Sun Brewing that I enjoyed with my lunch at Cafe Amsterdam. A Cohoho Imperial IPA on Nitro. So good. The nitro gave it such a creamy consistency and opened up a lot of flavors that I hadn’t noticed in bottle or C02 draft. My food, like most found in Anchorage, at least in my price range- was ok. I didn’t get dysentery, but it was nothing to write home about. From my experience, you won’t find great food or an amazing cocktail in Anchorage- but you can find some good beer, a lot of it brewed in our wonderful state.

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Bicycle auction for Davis Phinney Foundation

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Bike Porn No Comments

This is for those with deep pockets and big hearts.

Not familiar with Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement, chiefly affecting middle-aged and elderly people. It worsens with time and currently we know neither the cause, nor the cure. It is associated with degeneration of the basal ganglia of the brain and a deficiency of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

The Davis Phinney Foundation was founded in 2004 by Olympic medalist and cycling great, Davis Phinney, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000 at the age of 40. Today, Davis is both a role model in the cycling community and an inspiration to the estimated 1.5 million Americans and estimated 10 million worldwide who are currently living with the disease.

Seven Cycles, Mavic and Rapha have come together for one hell of an auction to raise money for the Davis Phinney Foundation, and you have the chance to not only help the cause, but to ride away with a beautiful bike as well as some bonus accessories. As of this time, the auction will end in 9 days  (on 12/21 at 4pm.) The Ebay auction link can be found HERE.

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Global Fatbike Day, Anchorage. The recap.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Alaska, Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, fat bike, Rides No Comments

I got back from a shitstorm of fun on Sunday night, after an amazing weekend in Anchorage. I went up for Global Fatbike Day, and since my move back to Alaska- Anchorage is my new Portland. Turns out there are lots of dirtbag bike folks that like to drink beer and have bum fires in parks. Sure, the weather is about 50 degrees colder- but a little whiskey warms the body and good conversation warms the heart.

I met too many people to remember- but all were nice.

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Time in Anchorage when coming from a town with no road out is not without the errand running to stores, purchasing things that aren’t available in Cordova. Since I’m currently doing construction, I made a stop to buy some hand tools. I also made the rounds to the bike shops, to see what might be new and interesting. Here’s what I found in my rambling around Anchorage:

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Cadence Denim.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear No Comments

Last week I gave away a Cadence hoody that has seen some wear, though had lots of life left in it. Yesterday I was sent an email with a video attached, showing a little of what Dustin has been up to. I’m glad that he’s making stuff in the US, and though the fit won’t likely be right for us Clydesdales, you skinny fuckers should love these.

Cadence Denim from cadence studios on Vimeo.

They are raw denim, so expect some break in (they do have 2% lycra which is great for cycling pants)- but after that, the double seat should maintain their “strong as shit” characteristic, because of some stitching that I didn’t understand after watching the video twice.

Personally, I’ve never worn raw denim. Dustin says they are pants for people that live in them and they will take the shape of the person. Maybe I can get a pair of these and a raw denim shirt and build a denim person that will go to work for me.

Cadence Raw Denim (18 of 21)

These here pants retail for $110. Not outrageous when you consider made in the US raw denim. Like lots of pants sewn by cycling companies, I’d suggest trying them on if you can find a shop that carries them. Or just roll the dice and buy them here.

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