Off-the-grid outdoor experiences are one of the few pleasures that have made it through the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed. Spending time in the outdoors with your family or QuaranTeam appears a healthy activity, giving many in Utah a much-needed outlet. With that said, it’s more important than ever to be able to communicate with others which can often be challenging when you’re on a 700-mile bikepacking route in Bears Ears or just doing some stargazing near Capitol Reef State Park. Cell service doesn’t always play nicely with remote adventure, when being able to call for help in an emergency or check in with loved ones is essential. Utah-based company BivyStick is looking to change that with innovative, affordable devices that turn your cellphone into a satellite-enabled lifeline.
“We want to help people mitigate the uncertainty and risk that comes with spending time outside,” says BivyStick marketing director Sus Edmundson. “The company’s foudner, Vance Cook, was climbing Everest when a devastating earthquake struck, and he wasn’t able to contact anyone to let them know he was okay. That experience and having to hunker down in a cave overnight while climbing the Grand Teton were catalysts that led to creation of BivyStick.”
There are other emergency communication devices available from the likes of Garmin or SPOT, but those are primarily SOS devices that don’t let you communicate details or require expensive hardware and onerous contracts. BivyStick, on the other hand, is used in conjunction with an app on your cellphone and comes with flexible payment plans. “The advantage of using an application is users can upgrade it just like they would any other app on their phone,” explains Edmundson. Once you’ve purchased the base unit, the user interface is easily updated from the app store, and because it’s on a cellphone most people will find it intuitive to use.
BivyStick connects to your phone via Bluetooth, linking it to a satellite network. This won’t turn your phone into a wifi hotspot or connect you to a cellular network. Instead it uses a dedicated messaging and mapping application that allows you to send text messages and navigate accurately, and it should work from any open air place on earth. There’s also a direct link to emergency services using an SOS feature that completely bypasses the app if you get into real trouble. You can purchase a set number of satellite credits before you head out beyond the bounds of cellular service, allowing for flexibility that should suit a lot of outdoor users.
So BivyStick isn’t a tool to let you check your email and text your boss while deep in the wilderness, but it does provide a link to check in with friends and family to let them know your progress or call for help in an emergency. Everyone from serious backpackers looking to explore deep in Utah’s canyon country, to overland 4×4 drivers far from paved roads, to families looking to stay connected on weekend getaways can enjoy the peace of mind BivyStick offers. Flexible messaging and payment options make this satellite communication option more accessible than ever before. Visit the BivyStick website for complete details.
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