The highest performer in our test fleet, the nReach Explorer+ is the best device for nearly-comprehensive communications when cell service is out of reach. Not only is it less expensive than a satellite phone, but we like it more. The smartphone interface for texting is clearer and more user-friendly than most sat phones. The inReach offers the only option for two-way texting and uses the most reliable, most wide-spread satellite network. Cost, of course, is a concern. However, when you consider the other pros and cons, and factor in subscription costs, the inReach is the best performer, at a surprisingly reasonable cost overall. Nothing else offers greater value until give up non-emergency messaging.
If you're willing to give up some of the navigational features of the inReach Explorer+ — check out the $400 Garmin inReach SE+. Navigate with your smartphone and save some dollars and battery life with the non-Explorer+ model.