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Ben Strege  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, January 27, 2021 4:16:57 PM(UTC)


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As most of you already know, today was permit day! At least for the BWCA. I'm still waiting on the border to see if we can do our Quetico trip this year. This is what I got:

  • June 14th - My wife is going to do her first solo trip. While she is gone, I'll take the kids to Homer Lake. Probably end up on Vern.
  • July 16th - Taking the scout troop to Lizz Lake. Probably do a short loop.
  • July 29th - I am taking the kids and another family to South Kawishiwi. 5 kids ranging from 7 to 13. South Kawishiwi seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
  • September 2nd - Solo trip to Fall Lake up to Basswood. I have to somewhat stay in touch over Labor Day for work, so I opted to go here. Love it or hate it, there is cell coverage.

I am also planning on a solo trip or two after my semester is done and before the kids get done with school. I have 2-3 weeks in there that my wife said I could use to do solo trips. I did not pick up any permits right now because I want to wait and see about weather and other plans during that time. Staying flexible.

Our big trip is supposed to be June 26th to July 5th in the Quetico. It is the one that my oldest son has been waiting for. We just have to hope that the border will open.

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eagle98mn  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, January 27, 2021 9:59:10 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: Ben Strege Go to Quoted Post

  • July 29th - I am taking the kids and another family to South Kawishiwi. 5 kids ranging from 7 to 13. South Kawishiwi seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

That's exactly what I thought too after considering many entry points. I'm taking my family there one week after you and I'm excited to explore this area. Have you been there to know if there is cell coverage? I usually don't want coverage, but with younger kids I'm trying to determine if I need a separate emergency device to feel prepared for the worst case scenarios. If there is cell coverage I can tuck a phone in my bag and make sure the kids know where it is.

Ben Strege  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, January 27, 2021 10:42:49 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: eagle98mn Go to Quoted Post
Have you been there to know if there is cell coverage?

According to AT&T's coverage map, there is cell coverage. AT&T has a tower on the Fernberg Road. Take that with a grain of salt, though. I went to Trout Lake last year, thinking I would have coverage (needed to stay in touch with work), and it was spotty at best. It was even supposed to be 5G on Trout. It depended on the campsite and even where I was standing in the campsite. I may have gotten 2 bars at some point, but usually it was 1 bar if that. 

I think AT&T is your best shot at coverage. Verizon and T-Mobile show coverage there, too, but it is at the fringe of the coverage area. The maps tend to be optimistic, so I don't think you would get a signal with them.

thanks 1 user thanked Ben Strege for this useful post.
eagle98mn on 1/28/2021(UTC)
AmateurHour  
#4 Posted : Thursday, January 28, 2021 11:49:37 AM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: Ben Strege Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: eagle98mn Go to Quoted Post
Have you been there to know if there is cell coverage?

According to AT&T's coverage map, there is cell coverage. AT&T has a tower on the Fernberg Road. Take that with a grain of salt, though. I went to Trout Lake last year, thinking I would have coverage (needed to stay in touch with work), and it was spotty at best. It was even supposed to be 5G on Trout. It depended on the campsite and even where I was standing in the campsite. I may have gotten 2 bars at some point, but usually it was 1 bar if that. 

I think AT&T is your best shot at coverage. Verizon and T-Mobile show coverage there, too, but it is at the fringe of the coverage area. The maps tend to be optimistic, so I don't think you would get a signal with them.

Verizon had 4G for me all the way from the EP to the Little Gabbro portage.

thanks 2 users thanked AmateurHour for this useful post.
Ben Strege on 1/28/2021(UTC), eagle98mn on 1/28/2021(UTC)
BillConner  
#5 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 6:09:35 AM(UTC)


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I had five bars at eastern end of Bald Eagle a few years ago. T-Mobile
thanks 2 users thanked BillConner for this useful post.
Ben Strege on 1/29/2021(UTC), eagle98mn on 1/29/2021(UTC)
eagle98mn  
#6 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 8:42:24 AM(UTC)


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Sounds like I can expect pockets of coverage in the area. I just have to decide if that is enough for peace of mind. I'm not sure that it is enough for this trip.

I don't carry a SPOT or PLB or anything else on my trips with friends, but with younger kids along on this trip I may just invest in one and be done with it. My wife has many amazing qualities, but navigation is not one of them :) If something happened to me out there, I want her and the kids to have a way to call for help. In August, it is doubtful they would have to wait long for someone to paddle by, but the "what if" game is more real when it is my family's lives I am responsible for.

Thanks for the responses!

BillConner  
#7 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 9:20:58 AM(UTC)


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Safe to say cell service is not guaranteed anywhere in BWCAW despite my experience (which convinced me to never take my cell phone on treks again.) If worried about summoning help for an emergency without exception, a satellite device is probably needed. Sat phones, Spots, and Garmin devices can be rented from outfitters.

You need to decide if this is for communicating one way or two way, and if for emergency only - send the rangers or emergency rescue people as fast as possible - or for just staying in touch with someone. I got a Spot to appease my wife over 10 years ago but that one way "I'm OK" is no longer sufficient for her (without kids in house and work mates) and I'm looking at satellite devices with two way texting and at sat phones.

If emergency only probably better off with a PLB.

BTW If used responsibly I don't think any of the offered rescue insurances are necessary in BWCAW or most places in continental US at least. Not Quetico either. I have not researched further.
Ben Strege  
#8 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 11:58:55 AM(UTC)


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I have one of the original SPOTs, and the one-way communication is limiting. You don't really know if the message has gotten through. I am looking at upgrading to a Garmin inReach mini. I do not need the extra features of the larger models. As Bill mentioned, you can rent SPOTs and satellite phones from outfitters for reasonable prices.

BillConner  
#9 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 12:27:29 PM(UTC)


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I will say that I have high confidence in my Spot transmittiing.  Yoy will see a number of complaints about it didn't send.  There is a indicator led on the device that says "sending".  It does not say "sent".  That light will go out after it's sent.  I learned that earely, but not first use.  RTFM is all I can say.  I carry a one sheet print of it so I dont forget.

I usually hit "send" when I make camp, and set it on a rock atthe fire ring.  it will eventually auto off itself.  I don't use tracking and am on same set of batteries for three years - but I do carry a back up.

My defense of Spot, but some folks need the two way as my wife says I do now.  And Spot does have a two-way device, with it' own chicklet keyboard.  I think Garmins is paired with cell phone but not sure.

Regarding tracking, both have it.  I have not used it but may on basis that if Iwere unable to use SOS function, others would know where I was likely to be by end of tracking blips.

A lot of ins and outs on plans - per month or annual, fees for months youdon't have it on, etc.; as well as number of messages in a plan.  Too complicated for my brain.

I'm researching sat phones. My wife wants to hear my voice after more than a couple of days.  If I need help and am able to call, thats all good.  If I can't call, what better place to pack it in and  my wife is well provided for.

PS I ike replaceable batteries - not plug in to recharge.  I carry extra batteries - 3 triple A lithiums IIRC - and they last for years.  A charger woud be a PITA for me.

PSS check out Bivystick https://www.bivy.com/stick  .  Interesting alternative.

Edited by user Friday, January 29, 2021 12:50:19 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Ben Strege  
#10 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 1:45:52 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: BillConner Go to Quoted Post
PSS check out Bivystick https://www.bivy.com/stick . Interesting alternative.

That looks interesting. Plans are much cheaper than others.

BillConner  
#11 Posted : Friday, January 29, 2021 3:08:22 PM(UTC)


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I guess so - basic plan one month $17.99 - and store till next year. Does email and texts I think.
BillConner  
#12 Posted : Sunday, January 31, 2021 11:00:42 AM(UTC)


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Ohmygosh another. https://www.zoleo.com/en.../satellite-communicator/

Quick review says similar yo Bivystick except I don't quickly find tracking feature - may have it in smart phone app - and service plans seem more burdensome - you can't just buy one month a year. Offset some perhaps by apparently much lower initial cost - but I did not shop, look for sales or discounts, etc.
Ben Strege  
#13 Posted : Monday, February 1, 2021 4:42:00 PM(UTC)


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Originally Posted by: BillConner Go to Quoted Post
Ohmygosh another. https://www.zoleo.com/en.../satellite-communicator/

Quick review says similar yo Bivystick except I don't quickly find tracking feature - may have it in smart phone app - and service plans seem more burdensome - you can't just buy one month a year. Offset some perhaps by apparently much lower initial cost - but I did not shop, look for sales or discounts, etc.

I saw a review about that one. There is no tracking. I don't use tracking very often, though.

I am planning on going with the BivyStick Blue. I read some very favorable reviews. I like how small it is, too. I do not want to be tied to my cellphone, so a requirement for me is being functional without the phone. They are going to be selling it in combo with a solar panel, so that is a way for me to get a solar panel at a discount.

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