Bivy, an app that lets users find, record, and share trails for hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, and more, today announced a Kickstarter campaign launching BivyStick, a two-way satellite communication device.
BivyStick will work with your existing smartphone and offers all of the benefits of a GPS unit and satellite two-way communicator to send SMS messages, track and share location information, access GPS maps, get up to date weather forecasts, and notify EMS in the event of an emergency.
Cellphone use in the liftline and in the backcountry seems more and more commonplace (How else will you get that siiick Instagram shot?), but trusting your phone will be able to make and receive calls in an emergency situation is risky.
Consider the lack of cell coverage in remote and mountainous areas, combined with your phone’s increasingly unreliable battery life.
While a BivyStick (or a satellite phone, if you have one) cannot and should not replace common sense, careful route planning, and communication, adding a tool that could help you or others find your location and communicate it is worth considering.
“Ease of use was tantamount to our process with BivyStick and it was a natural evolution for us to design around the app and use an interface that we're all familiar with; the smartphone,” founder Vance Cook said in the announcement. “Getting into the outdoors is good for the mind and soul. We just want to help people do it safely and enjoyably."
BivyStick works by linking to users' smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth or an included cable and will have enough battery capacity to run the device and recharge the smartphone if needed. Like a satellite phone, it works where cell phones cannot because it beams data directly to and from satellites orbiting Earth and isn’t reliant on being in range of a cell tower.
Traditional satellite phones can cost between $600 and $1700, depending upon the network, and typically require users to prepay for minutes of call time (even if they go unused) at rates as high as $10 per minute.
Conversely, a BivyStick will cost $299 and data plans are designed to be ﬂexible and don’t require an annual contract or subscription. Users can instead purchase credits and active them by simply turning on the BivyStick when they need it and turning it off when they don't.
The BivyStick Kickstarter campaign is now live and will run through July 30. BivySticks are expected to be deliver in early fall 2018.