Best Satellite Phone for Backpacking

best sat phone for backpacking

When you are alone in the wild the Best Satellite Phone for Backpacking is imperative. It is basic common sense for general safety. You don’t have to go far off the grid to know that cellular service drops out, that’s when satellite phones save the day. Phones communicating via satellite provide the clearest voice quality and the fastest handheld data speeds. Four major operators who have global coverage are Iridium, Globalstar, Thuraya, and Inmarsat.

Five Best Satellite Phones for Backpacking:


Best Satellite Phone for Backpacking

Iridium Extreme 9575 Satellite Phone

Iridium is a well-known brand & reliability is what they stand for. What sets this satellite phone apart from its opponents, is its internet access. With this satellite phone, you can turn it into a WiFi hotspot. This phone has global coverage, so you can call or message whilst backpacking. It is water, dust & shock resistant. We also like the fact that it has a high capacity battery. This is an important factor to take into account when purchasing a satellite phone for backpacking, as you will not always have the facilities to charge.


  • Worldwide coverage

  • Internet access
  • GEOS tracking / SOS
  • Access to a wi-fi hotspot

  • 2-way SMS and email
  • Best satellite phone for durability
  • Water, Dust & shock resistant
  • High-capacity battery (up to 4 hours talk time)
  • Battery stand by up to 30 hours
  • illuminated keypad
  • Wide operating temperature range
  • Small & robust handset


  • Only comes with one sim card, when really for backpacking you will need two
  • Most expensive of 5 sat phones reviewed


best satelite phone for hiking

Iridium 9555

While we are on the Iridium Extreme line of satellite phones, we will review this phone as well. It is worthy of being on this list. These satellite phones, the 9555 included, are built to last. Industrial grade materials are used in the construction of these phones. These satellite phones are also extremely popular as they are easy to use. Very durable in design this is a great option for backpacking.


  • Hands-free option

  • Made from industrial-grade materials
  • Extremely Durable
  • Easy to Use

  • Intuitive user interface
  • SMS and email capabilities
  • LCD backlit display
  • Up to 4 hours of talk time, 30 hours of standby
  • Integrated speakerphone
  • Upgraded mini-USB data port
  • Comes with 18 months extended warranty


  • The antenna is stored internally, & needs to be pulled out before each use
  • The battery life is not very long.


Best Satellite Phone for hiking

BlueCosmo Inmarsat Isatphone 2.1

The nice thing about the Isatphone 2, is that it comes ready to go. With dependable connectivity, worldwide coverage, and GPS tracking to pinpoint your location worldwide, your safety is covered and you are able to make and receive calls and messages anywhere whilst backpacking. The sim card is included with this sat phone package. The IsatPhone 2 is dependent upon and used across many sectors worldwide to improve safety and improve operational efficiency. Across the globe, Remote Mining teams, exploration teams, growers and livestock farmers, workers in the utilities and maintenance sector all use the IsatPhone 2. There is something to be said for so many organizations over many sectors choosing the Inmarsat Isatphone 2.

To test your IsatPhone 2, follow these steps. (Make sure this is followed regularly)

Extend the antenna upwards

Wait until “ready for service” appears

Dial full number, including international code

Press the green button to call


  • Easy and ready to use

  • Multiple languages choice
  • Robust, rugged build
  • Compact design

  • Best coverage of all satellite phones (99.9% of network availability
  • Highly dependable connectivity
  • High voice quality
  • Extended battery capacity (8 hour talk time, 160 hours standby)
  • Voicemail, text, and email messaging
  • Emergency SOS / Assistance button - send GPS location data
  • Text to pre-set emergency number
  • Tracking - send location information
  • Bluetooth for hands-free
  • Incoming call alerts while the antenna is stowed
  • 18 months warranty comes with worldwide support and service


  • A heavy unit


best sat phone for camping

Globalstar GSP 1700

The Globalstar GPS 1700 satellite phone is the smallest and lightest satellite phone from Globalstar. This phone communicates via satellite providing the best voice quality and the fastest handheld data speeds in mobile satellites today.


  • Battery-life of 3.75 hours of talk time / 19 hours standby time

  • Lithium-Ion battery
  • Battery meter
  • Signal strength indicator

  • Voice mail notification
  • 99 Memory location with call restriction
  • Call history log


  • Does not have worldwide coverage

  • Can be slow with connection


best sat phone for hiking

Thuraya X5-TOUCH  Satellite Smartphone

The Globalstar GPS 1700 satellite phone is the smallest and lightest satellite phone from Globalstar. This phone communicates via satellite providing the best voice quality and the fastest handheld data speeds in mobile satellites today.


  • 5.2” full HD touchscreen

  • Satellite phone runs on Android
  • GSM cell phone


  • Does not have worldwide Satellite coverage


satelite phone for backpacking

Thuraya XT-LITE

The Thuraya XT-LITE provides reliable satellite connectivity as well as unbeatable value for money. This phone is designed for the budget-conscious backpacker, who needs to stay securely connected, without compromising on a clear and uninterrupted connection. This is one of the phones that offer dual GSM and satellite voice calling through one sim card. It is very easy to use. You can make calls and send SMS messages in satellite mode whenever there is no terrestrial network available, where ever you may be hiking.


  • Up to 9 hours talk time, standby time up to 100 hours

  • SOS button
  • Small enough to fit in your pocket
  • Micro USB charger
  • Cellular communication
  • Wireless
  • Smartphone
  • Dual GSM & satellite voice calling through one sim card
  • Easy to Use


  • Does not have worldwide coverage

  • No US coverage

Here are a few questions answered on Satellite Phones:

Who is the best Satellite phone provider?

Best sat phone for hiking

Globalstar coverage map

best sat phone for backpacking

Iridium coverage map

Satelite phone coverage

Inmarsat coverage map

The three largest providers of satellite phone service are Iridium, Globalstar, and Inmarsat. Iridium has the highest service prices because they offer full global service, effectively covering the entire planet with a network of 66 low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites.

Are satellite phones worth it?

Satellite phones are imperative for safety when out of cell range.  As with any technology, satellite phones are far more affordable than they used to be.

Can I turn my Cell phone into a satellite phone?

The answer is, Yes, you can turn your smartphone into a satellite phone.  You can use your smartphone in satellite mode when you are outside mobile coverage areas. The SatSleeve Hotspot and SatSleeve + are simple to use, just connect your smartphone and SatSleeve via Wi-Fi through the SatSleeve Hotspot app to stay connected. Another good option is the Iridium Go which enables a hotspot for you normal GSM phone.

How long does a satellite phone battery last?

How long does each battery last? It is different for each phone and provider and is definitely worth looking into as they do vary greatly.   The average is about 3.5 hours of straight talk time, 19 hours of standby, and if the phone is turned on and off intermittently, the battery can last up to a week. On saying this, the BlueCosmo Inmarsat Isatphone 2.1 Satellite phone has 8 hours of talk time & 160 hours of standby time. So if battery life is on the top of your list, the Inmarsat Isatphone 2.1 is a solid leader. 

What does it cost to rent a satellite phone?

Rates: 1 - 30 Days from $10 per day. 31 - 42 Days from $8 per day. 43 - 60 Days $8 per day.

What is the cheapest Satellite phone service?

Iridium Satellite Phone Monthly Plans and Airtime. As Low As $55.99/Month Requires one-time $35 activation fee.

Iridium GO! Monthly Airtime Plans. …

Inmarsat IsatPhone North America Monthly Service Plans. As Low As $34.99/Month.

Inmarsat IsatPhone Global Monthly Service Plans. As Low As $39.99/Month.

Are satellite phone calls free?

No, incoming calls and text are free. Satellite phones use international phone numbers so these calls will be higher than average call costs.

How do I choose a satellite phone?

Take into consideration where you will be travelling to, and make your decision based on the antenna technology used on each handset, not the network, as both will give you global coverage, take note the Inmarsat satellites can't see the north or south poles.

Do satellite phones work indoors?

Satellite phones need a direct line of sight to the satellite to work, therefore cannot be used indoors.

Do Satellite phones have Internet?

Many satellite phones offer data services, not many offer Internet access and most have a  limited bandwidth. 


Six top things to Consider when Choosing the Best Satellite Phone for Backpacking


The durability of the satellite phone is one of the main factors that make the phone suitable for backpacking. The high cost of the device makes it important  that the phone should be able to withstand falls & rough treatment.. The features that determine durability include a tough outer shell; sturdy, rugged built; and a display that does not break easily. 

Protection from weather

 Protection from extreme weather is important. Backpackers usually find themselves in places where there is no, or limited protection from rain, snow or dust storms. The weatherproof design should make sure that the phone remains operational despite exposure to wild weather


 Backpacking is all about making the best use of a small space. Because you have limited space when hiking, only small, portable & essential items are packed.The best satellite phone for backpacking must not be bulky. Being small and lightweight, means you can carry your phone for long periods of time whilst backpacking. 


Satellite phones should have network access worldwide, however some phones and providers don’t work in some remote regions. So it’s important to make sure that your choice of phone has access to a satellite or satellites wherever you go. 


The power needs of a satellite phone are high compared to normal phones. Anywhere between 6 and 8 hours of power on a full charge is good for a satellite phone. 

A battery related feature to take into account is the charging mode, avoid satellite phones without a USB cable charging option. With this, you shouldn’t face any difficulty finding a power source with a USB port to recharge the battery

Price Factor

Good satellite phones are expensive. Even if you decide on a cheaper satellite phone with all the basic features, you will still be spending extra money on more expensive calls.

Emergency communication is now part of the outdoor experience. Many of the world’s greatest adventurers and similarly a vast amount of backpackers hike off the grid and this takes place out of reach of cell signals. To gain emergency assistance and communicate from the wild, a personal locator beacon and satellite messenger is required. Look for the features you will require and choose wisely. Relax and enjoy your next backpacking experience, knowing you are always in touch.

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