Hiking: A protective eye in the sky

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When you're off the grid, how can you stay in touch with civilization?

We couldn't think of anyone better to ask than Kurt Repanshek, founder and editor in chief, nationalparkstraveler.com, and author of Frommer's National Parks with Kids.*

"I recently kayaked* rafted Colorado's Yampa River, where cell phone service is erratic. To reassure my wife, I brought the Spot Satellite GPS Messenger (findmespot.com, $150, plus $99 annual subscription). It's a tiny waterproof device that can broadcast pre-set messages from anywhere. Every day, I could use it to e-mail my wife that I was okay and enable her to see my location on a Google Map. The device has a button for calling in emergency workers, too, which thankfully I never had to use."

*Correction: Rafting, not kayaking. I regret the error. (Nov. 2, 2009.)

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