Off Grid Communication – Connect With Others From Anywhere


Living off the grid differs by far from living on the grid. By now, you probably know what living off the grid means, especially if you decide to live in a secluded area and away from cities.

You already know that you have to rely on yourself, grow your own food, supply your own energy power and basically get by all on your own. Often you will be far away from friends, family and immediate help.

This makes off grid communication vital for your survival. When there is no satellite communication, when the signal of the network is weak, when there are real emergencies, alternative off grid communication can be a real lifesaver.

So, preparing to live off the grid means also having reliable off grid communication devices that can work under any conditions, even the most extreme ones.

Also, off grid communication is extremely important when you participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, backpacking, and so forth. You want to have the ability to communicate no matter where you are, especially when there is no cell service available.

In this article, I will share with you some of the best off grid communication devices that work when mobile network is down, when there is no Wi-Fi signal, and even when there is no power.

 

Common Off Grid Communication Systems

Before I go over the special devices that work without the use of power or satellite signal, let’s see how you can still communicate using the “ordinary” devices and systems.

By the way, I added links to some of the mentioned products’ Amazon pages, so that you can read more reviews and compare between devices.

 

Cell Phone

Today, almost anybody has their own private cell phone. Thanks to the highly advanced technology, cellphone coverage is available almost anywhere on the face of this planet. Almost. When your battery still has some juice and there is a signal, then you should have no problem to communicate by the cell phone.

First and foremost, try to have a cellphone with you even when you live off the grid. You can reach anyone using a cellphone. The variety of devices is enormous. All of them are usually small, convenient, easy to carry and affordable. When you need to make a call or send a text message, the cell phone should be your #1 choice.

If a signal in your area is too weak, here is a vey useful video from Fowler about how to boost the cell phone signal while being off the grid:

 

Landline

Your second option, when it comes to both off grid and on grid communication, is having a landline. A landline may not be so popular these days, when everyone uses cell phones instead. Nonetheless, in an off grid situation, having a landline phone has its own advantages.

There can be times when your cell phone will not work or will not have a satellite signal. A landline gets its power from phone lines. This means that it will function and work even at the times when the main electric grid is down.

If a cellphone needs cell towers nearby in order to have a signal, a landline phone uses a different technology. It’s less complicated and is not prone to congestion, unlike those cell phone towers.

 

Satellite Phone

Another option for off grid communication is having a satellite phone, which is an extremely reliable form of communication. These phones don’t make any use of cell towers, and instead connect to the satellites orbiting above the Earth.

A satellite’s orbit can be high, medium or low. According to NASA, some communication satellites have high Earth orbit, while those in medium Earth orbit are designed more for navigation purposes and mostly monitor a specific area and region. Low Earth orbit satellites are used for scientific purposes.

Using those satellites for communication requires a subscription plan. Phones from companies such as Globalstar, Iridium and Thuraya are connected to satellites of low Earth orbit. Immasat phones are connected to satellites of high Earth orbit. My tip to you is to always check the regions and countries that are covered by the network before you sign up to a plan.

The satellite phones allow you to do pretty much what a cell phone does. You can make calls, send text messages, and even get online and access the global Internet.

Satellite phones work on a model of subscription. They are often utilized during hikes to remote places and outdoor activities, where there may not be any cell phone signal. There are models of satellite phones that allow you to use them on a daily basis. This means paying some kind of monthly fee or a single-time fee, which allows you to send an SMS message.

Satellite phones may be a bit costly, but they serve as a terrific backup system for off grid communication.

Here are some recommended satellite phones:

Iridium Extreme 9575: The phone allows you to make calls and receive them, send and receive SMS messages, track position using GPS, and use an emergency SOS button to request for help from anywhere in the world. It meets the standards of U.S. military. It’s extremely durable as well as resistant to shock, dust, blowing rain, vibration, and more.

Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1: Just like the Iridium Extreme 9575, this phone lets you make and receive calls, send messages and track your location using GPS. Resistant to dust, water (including jets of water), shock, dirt, and other hazards. It comes with probably one of the best batteries on any satellite phone. This means 8 hours of talk and 160 hours of standby.

 

 

Advanced Off Grid Communication Systems

And now it’s time to go over the more interesting and advanced off grid communication systems, those that work where regular systems fail. Most of the devices here are used and designed for outdoor activities and ventures, but can serve you throughout your off grid living as well.

 

goTenna Mesh

When you find yourself in a place where there is no Wi-Fi, power or mobile network, goTenna Mesh is a great communication option and device. You can use it during emergencies, natural disasters, while off the grid living in remote places, or during such activities as fishing, hiking, climbing, and so on.

The goTenna Mesh is first paired with your own cellphone device through Bluetooth, and then it allows you to communicate with other users of up to 4 miles. Neither Wi-Fi nor cell service are required. A lot of adventurers use this device to keep in touch when travelling in groups to places with weak or no cell signal.

Using the goTenna Mesh, you are also able to:

  • Share GPS locations
  • Communicate during emergency situations
  • Create group chats
  • Download maps (free and offline)
  • Share your whereabouts and location
  • Send messages (private messaging, too)
  • Emergency beacon (an emergency message that you can program)
  • Encrypted private chats
  • goTenna Plus (app that allows you to transmit a message using a nearby user, who has a cell service, to anyone else)
  • Battery can last for 24 hours

Click here to read reviews and compare prices.

 

Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger

When you find yourself in an emergency situation, the Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger lets you send an S.O.S. using your location via GPS, allowing search and rescue teams to know your exact spot.

The Check-In feature is a message that you can program ahead and let your friends and family know that you are okay and safe.

You can also send and save the location, which allows the contacts to track your progress with the use of Google Maps.

Click here to read reviews and compare prices.

 

Garmin inReach Explorer+

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ uses 100% global Iridium coverage. This lets you message, track and use interactive SOS anywhere on the globe. The interactive SOS is a 24/7 search and rescue center that helps any time you find yourself in emergencies and life-threatening situations. You can also track as well as share your location to notify friends and family where you’re at.

Download maps, aerial imagery in color, U.S. NOAA charts, and more by using a free-of-charge Earthmate app. You can exchange messages with any cellphone as well as contact email addresses from anywhere on the globe. When you use the interactive SOS service, you can even get a confirmation when help and rescue are on their way to you.

Click here to read reviews and compare prices.

 

Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger

The Spot X, like the other devices is also a great device for emergency situations. It lets you exchange messages with cellphones and emails no matter where you are in the world. Send an S.O.S. distress signal to the search and rescue center that works 24/7, and receive a message when help is on your way.

Your friends and family can follow your progress using Google Maps, and you can share your tracking activity with them.

The Check-In feature can let everyone know you’re safe and okay. You can even post a link to various social accounts, which is also a way to update your close friends and family about your progress and condition.

Click here to read reviews and compare prices.

 

Radacat Team Messenger

This is a radio communication device that knows how to pair with your cellphone via Bluetooth. It’s excellent to have on you, when you engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, skiing, and more. This device can be a lifesaver in cases of emergencies and even during international travels.

Even when the cell signal or service is down or unavailable, you can still operate the Radacat for all your needs. Use the GPS offline, send messages (both text and voice), and share your location in real time with other users.

By creating a private network, you can communicate and use GPS tracking even when there is no cell signal. There’s no need in any fee, no weekly fee, no monthly fee, no need for Wi-Fi, cell or satellite services.

Here are some more great features of this device:

  • Create private chat groups
  • Send messages using an app, or send automatically using the shake-to-talk feature
  • Mesh networking is long range. Peer-to-peer can reach a range of up to 4 miles, or even more when you’re in open spaces and environments.
  • Download HD quality maps from anywhere in the world to prepare for your next trip, and use the maps offline.
  • The battery can work and last for up to 36 hours.

Click here to read reviews and compare prices.

 

Beartooth Walkie-Talkie

The Beartooth Walkie-Talkie is a device that works with your cellphone. It lets you make calls, send messages, use maps and share location with other Beartooth users, among other things. All these features are available to you, even though there is no cell service.

So, how does it work? A localized network is created between users in a specific range of one another. Whenever one of the users begins to talk, sends a message or shares his location in the app, this data is transferred through the created network.

Here are more features of the device:

  • It is small and comfortable to carry and handle
  • The device can be used as a backup battery for your cellphone
  • The networks are independent and don’t need any cell signal or Wi-Fi to operate
  • The device operates in the ranges of 902-928 MHz

Click here to read reviews and compare prices.

 

Gotoky

Another great option for off grid communication is the Gotoky (a Kickstarter project). It works on a mesh network, allowing you to make calls, text, navigate, activate emergency location beacon to call for help, and generally stay connected. All of this is made possible even when coverage of network is unavailable.

The group chats, which include both calls and texts, are secured. But wait, there is more. Need to navigate your way? No problem. You get access to offline topographic maps, share locations, live tracking, create events, etc.

So, how does the Gotoky work? The Gotoky is paired with the cellphone through Bluetooth. When the two are paired, it can connect to another Gotoky device, even if it’s miles away, thus allowing the two devices to communicate.

Another great feature of this device is that you can double the range when creating your own network. The range can also be extended by other users. This means that in cities, valleys and forests the range can be extended up to 1.6 km/1 mile. In mountains, sea and open fields the range can be extended up to 8 km. In high buildings and mountain tops the range can be extended up to 30 km.

Want more?

  • Private chats (1-on-1 as well as groups)
  • Record voice messages
  • Hands free speaking
  • Location pinging
  • Route recording
  • Share your GPS coordinates
  • Compass
  • Store up to 1,000 messages on the device without connecting to the cellphone
  • Integrated antenna, so it won’t break
  • Works on 868 MHz as well as on 915 MHZ frequencies
  • Resistant to dust and water
  • 1 Watt of output power for high-powered transmissions
  • Battery can last for up to 72 hours

 

Fogo

Fogo (another Kickstarter project) is so much more than just a device to communicate off the grid. It combines a walkie-talkie, GPS and flashlight, and can serve as a backup battery.

The device is built to answer the needs of the outdoors. You can carry your cellphone in the backpack and keep it safe. Communicate outdoors? Just use the Fogo. Use it as a walkie-talkie to talk to other users. Hiking? Use it for activity tracking and get stats of speed, elevation, distance, time, and more. Plus, you can share your location and even use this device as a flashlight in dark places.

The Fogo does not need any cell service or Wi-Fi in order to work. It can operate in a radial range of 16 miles when conditions are good, and 7 miles when weather conditions are bad or challenging.

Here are afew more great features of this device:

  • Powerful flashlight (1200 lumen)
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Can work in extremely harsh conditions (above 35 degrees Celsius and below freezing temperature)
  • The device and its software are especially designed for communication and navigation off the grid
  • The battery can last for weeks and even months (depending on the use)
  • Can charge your cellphone’s battery

The only drawback of this device is that it communicates through peer-to-peer, and it’s not supported by mesh network.

 

Ham Radio

The ham radio is ideal for off grid living, but not for outdoor activities like the devices I’ve just mentioned above. It costs less than the previous devices, and can be a crucial lifesaver during emergencies and disasters.

It takes some time to get to know to operate the device quickly (which is important especially during emergency situations), and it needs to be connected to a power supply. However, the ham radio is cheaper than the other devices and very reliable for off grid communication.

The ham radio is mainly for those who:

  • Live off the grid
  • Live in remote locations
  • Live alone
  • Live in areas that are prone to natural disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes)

Here is a good video that demonstrates using ham radio while camping for off grid communications:

 

Related Questions

How can I connect to an off grid Internet? There are a few available options. Some of the devices I’ve mentioned earlier have a full Internet access. It’s also possible to get a private hotspot. Coupled with a signal amplifier and a Wi-Fi antenna, it will supply online access throughout your entire homestead. In addition, you can join a service such as Unlimitedville that lets the members to use its own routers and hotspots. There are more options to get off-the-grid Internet connection, feel free to check my post on off grid Internet for more info.

What additional equipment is important when living off the grid? This is quite a large question to be answered in one paragraph. Basically, you will need an off grid energy source, such as a solar panel or a wind turbine. You will need assorted tools for your house’s upkeep, for gardening, for cooking, and so forth. You will need a water filtering system and a composting toilet. Naturally, this is not the complete answer, but luckily for us, I go into more details in my article about preparing for off grid living.

Alex Rejba

Alex is a seasoned survivalist, with a passion to all things related to prepping, hiking and living off the grid.

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