Having the right communication device can be a lifesaver in an emergency.

Your mobile phone may not be enough with New Zealand’s sometimes spotty coverage in the outdoors, even on some short tracks. You should consider carrying a second communication device if you know coverage will be unreliable or if you are unsure.

Two devices could be a mobile phone and a satellite messenger device, or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). There are a range of devices available with some device types are listed below. We recommend you do research into what works for you ahead of your trip.

Why Take a Communication Device?

There are a number of reasons you'll need to be able to communicate to others. You might: 

  • Get lost and need rescuing
  • Change your route and need to alert a friend
  • Be running late and need to stay an extra night
  • Want to get updates on the weather along the way
  • Get injured or be in an emergency situation and require rescue.   

Communication Devices

Remember – if you have a device, learn how to use it. 

Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your equipment is also important. For example, a mobile phone is easy to use, and you may already have one, but it will be no use if there is no coverage.

Evaluate the device's functions such as coverage area, type of message or signal sent, capabilities of receiving messages, costs vs benefits and lifespan of the device (especially the batteries).

Explore the various options below:

Watch our video as we discuss outdoor communication options

Communication Device Properties

What to Do Next

Continue your preparation with our online resources, there is still plenty to learn to ensure for a safe and enjoyable trip!

Explore Our Resources

  • Get the skills | in Planning, River Safety and more essentials in our Skills Section
  • Read our manuals | Access the NZ Bushcraft Manual and other digitised resources here
  • Watch our how-to videos | Learn how to cross a river safely, how to pack and many more useful tips
  • Tramping Activity Guide | Read our online guidebook to learn more about communication devices in the outdoors
  • Plan My Walk app | Use our free planning tool to choose tracks, get alerts, build a gear list and share your plan with others before you go.

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