Earlier this year, we reviewed the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator and found it to be an essential piece of gear for backpackers and backcountry hikers. It’s a small GPS device that connects to an app on your phone, making it easy to stay in touch with friends and family when you have zero cellular reception.
This fall, one of the 50 Campfires team members decided to embark on a 50-mile hike along the Superior Hiking Trail. It’s a 310-mile trail in Minnesota that is notorious for dead zones as it twists and turns its way up into the northeastern region of the state. It’s also well known for Lake Superior’s breathtaking views along much of the trail, and if you ever get a chance to hike it, you should.
Many of you who follow 50 Campfires know this adventurous spirit as “Kayak Jana.” She is a true outdoor enthusiast who spends most of her free time hiking, kayaking, fishing, and biking. On this particular outing, we wanted to get creative with the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator, so we decided to create a Facebook group called “Stories From The Trail.” The plan was to have her husband stay in touch via the ZOLEO and post trail updates for friends and family.
The Facebook group quickly amassed over 50 followers who checked each day to see Jana’s trail updates. If they had questions for Jana, her husband could send them, and she would answer them when she had downtime in the evening. Updates were easy for her because the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator allows for 950+ character messages via the ZOLEO app. With a battery life of 200+ hours, she also didn’t have to worry about charging the device all week.
On one particular afternoon, Jana decided to do a little unplanned exploring, which took the better part of the day. As a result, she decided to both extend her trip and change the pickup location. The ZOLEO made this a stress free situation because she could easily stay in touch with her husband to communicate updates to the itinerary. So, not only does the ZOLEO make a backcountry trip safer, but it also allows for flexibility and spontaneity.
The countless comments on Jana’s “Stories From The Trail” Facebook group made clear that everyone enjoyed the trail updates as she spent a week alone in the wilderness. Incorporating social media was a fun way to keep everyone in the loop, and we’ll definitely be using the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator in this way on our upcoming adventures. It was easy to set up and easy for Jana to send updates. If you like to get off the grid but want to keep loved ones in the loop (and ease their worries), we’d highly recommend using the ZOLEO in this way. It made Jana’s trip memorable and exciting, not just for her, but for everyone following along every step of the way.