When you're out in the woods, miles from the nearest cell tower or where cell coverage is blocked by the inconvenient placement of a rather sizable rock, your phone isn't going to do you much good. And while sat-comm devices are gradually becoming more user-friendly and affordable, it's the cost of using them that's often the deterrent.
That's where the Bivystick comes into play.
Made by the creators of the Bivy app, Bivystick connects to the Bivy app on your phone via Bluetooth. The device, which mostly just looks like a portable power bank, lets you send and receive text messages, share your location, track where you've been and send an SOS message, all while you're out of a cell coverage area. You can also access weather forecasts using Bivystick.
To be fair, this is pretty standard stuff for a satellite communicator. But since Bivystick integrates with the Bivy app, you'll also have access to trail data for over 45,000 trails, climbing routes and waterway information. Plus, it has a built-in 6,000 mAh battery.
What truly sets Bivystick apart, though, is that you don't have to have a contract for satellite airtime, and there are no activation fees. Instead, it works much more like a prepaid phone service, where you can buy credits for just what you need.
Each action using the Bivystick uses one credit. Sending or receiving a text message is one credit. So is sharing your location, checking the weather and two hours of tracking your path.
Packages for credits start with a minimum of 20 and "scale to as many as you want," says Bivy. Those credits are valid for just 30 days, though, and if you want to save unused credits, there will be a small fee to carry them over to the next month. So don't go nuts. Just buy what you need, when you need it.
Bivystick is currently on Kickstarter seeking $35,000 to get the project off the ground. It's at $9,114 at the time of this writing, just one day after the launch of the campaign. Pledges start at just $259 for the early bird pricing for one Bivystick and 20 credits. Once that pledge level is gone, the price goes up to $279. Bivystick is expected to ship in September of this year.