It is a bit pricey but, I've looked at several different options and this seems to be the best value for my needs. With the ability to suspend the messaging service on a monthly basis and to customize the level of messaging and tracking the annual subscription cost is very manageable. I can use the device as a GPS without activating and paying for the messaging service for paddles where cell service is legitimate, or I can activate the messaging subscription when I expect to be paddling in remote locations. The fact that the basic safety plan allows the sending of an unlimited number of the 3 messages I can pre-define allows me to provide quick updates to friends or family so they know I'm safe and can follow my progress while I'm on longer trips.
I have been very happy with this purchase, it is one of the more expensive items in the category but the features and subscription options make it very competitive. Even without an active subscription (I activated the device and chose a Freedom plan and have it suspended) the GPS works well and records my trips, so I can see how far I've paddled and can see on the map where I am. The lowest cost plan allows you to send unlimited preset messages that can have your location embedded to a list of recipients, and a limited number of free form text messages (10) a month. Most of where I paddle has good cell phone coverage, some places do not, on one trip after the second day of no coverage I had to hike 5 miles before finding an area with coverage so I could let my wife know we were safe and on schedule. Of course without cell tower coverage the GPS function on my phone wasn't working either. Yes, this is one of the more expensive devices out there, but without needing a separate GPS and the ability to tailor the satellite communication plans to what I need when I need it, this unit should prove to be a cheaper alternative over time. The included access to the Garmin Explore website, Mapshare, and the Earthmate app are additional features which will prove useful the more I use them.