SOMEWEAR GLOBAL HOTSPOT
Safety is an important factor on any mountain bike ride. A helmet, gloves, multi-tool, snacks, pads, extra tube, tubeless repair kit, water and even a compact first-aid kit are all on our checklist. While this list is just a simple starting point, recently we’ve been adding some technology to the mix with the Somewear Global Hotspot.
More often than not, adventures take us into areas with no cell service or ability to contact help when needed. The Somewear Global Hotspot gives any smartphone the ability to keep working when cellular service is out of reach. With 100-percent global satellite coverage, this small device is designed to be an asset for every adventure. Let’s jump into the tech that makes this system work.
The Global Hotspot uses wireless connectivity with integrated, low-energy Bluetooth to pair to a device. It can be charged via a micro-USB, and the battery will last 10 days set to 10-minute-interval tracking (more on function coming up). All of the hardware inside the Somewear Global Hotspot is shock -and vibration-tested under MIL-STD-810. This is a U.S. military standard of testing, so needless to say, this device is built tough. Beyond withstanding shock and vibration, the device is water-resistant at 2 meters deep for 30 minutes. We tested it in a bowl of water, and it even floats! All this tech is packed into a compact, 4-ounce device.
On top of the $279 it costs to purchase the device, the Somewear Global Hotspot also requires a satellite data subscription plan. This means there is a monthly fee to properly connect the device and utilize its off-grid applications, such as messages, tracking or receiving weather information on the mobile app. Worth noting is that even though it gives you service to send text messages through the app, this is not meant to make phone calls. For our review, we were set up with an unlimited plan to test the performance of the device. Here is a quick breakdown of each option and what it offers (note: all plans offer unlimited cell and Wi-Fi messaging, along with 24/7 GEOS SOS monitoring):
The Hotspot essentials turn your phone into a supercomputer when properly connected to the Somewear Mobile app. In the app, a simple text messaging (much like iPhone or Facebook) interface is used to touch base with friends or family. The other main functions include tracking and weather. To go more in-depth, let’s transition over to how it handled our adventures.
A new owner will have to create a Somewear account, register the Hotspot, download the app and then connect the device via Bluetooth. The registration takes a few minutes, but connecting the Hotspot is just like linking your phone to your car stereo or wireless earphones. This might not be intuitive for everyone, so we advise new users to use Somewear’s handy video on their site (SomewearLabs.com) to go over how it connects.
With the device fired up and connected, we made sure the app responded correctly and got familiar with how everything functioned before heading into the mountains where we knew there was zero cell service. For the best messaging/tracking experience, have the contacts that you will be messaging download the app and set up an account in advance. We even sent a few test text messages to confirm all was in working order.
Once we got out of the range of cell service, the device did not disappoint. The tracking function is not only handy to retrace steps, but it gives family members peace of mind knowing that they can get location updates or messages when a loved one is off-grid. Although we were on the unlimited plan, we set up the tracking interval to ping our location every 20 minutes. With such a simple setup, the Hotspot is easily forgotten about so you can stay connected to the outdoors and not to an electronic device.
We love that the Somewear Global Hotspot is lightweight and brilliantly equipped to handle any adventure, so there is almost no reason not to bring it along just in case help is needed. We will be honest, the initial investment may seem steep, and the last thing someone might want to do is sign up for another monthly online plan. This purchase comes down to what your safety is worth. While we were fortunate enough not to face an SOS situation during our testing, it’s important to take the risks of mountain biking seriously and be realistic about your riding ability. Backcountry adventures can be a lot of fun, but if you run into trouble, having a way to communicate could be a lifesaver.
• Simple, like setting up a Bluetooth speaker
• SOS feature brings peace of mind to any adventure
• Not limited to mountain bike adventures
• Staying on top of monthly service plans