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PLB's for backcountry emergencies

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  • PLB's for backcountry emergencies

    So, I have to the conclusion that I should probably start carrying some sort of Personal Locator Beacon for my backcountry hiking and off-road trips. Last year I was in a remote part of the Grand Canyon (Clear Creek), and personally observed how a SPOT significantly expedited the rescue someone (in a different party) who unfortunate tumbled down a cliff to rest against an overhang in a life threatening situation. (My buddy and I tried to rescue this poor woman ourselves, but after three hours in the dark and cold, came to the realization that we were likely to do more harm than good. An SAR team arrived by helicopter the next morning and extricated her. After she was safely evacuated, we had an opportunity to talk with the SAR guys, who confirmed that we made the correct decision.)

    I have been researching PLB and satellite phones, and have come to a couple of initial conclusions. I don't like the SPOT device or the SPOT service. Satellite phones are prohibitively expensive to purchase and anyhow overkill for my needs. I am not really enamored with the idea of satellite phones rentals, as a couple of rentals will quickly overshadow the cost of a PLB. Plus, for my needs, a PLB is probably better than a satellite phone.

    I am seriously thinking about a DeLorme InReach (without the navigation function, as I already have a dedicated handheld GPS), which I can get for ~$200.00. The Freedom service plan seems pretty cost effective too. I especially like the ability to text via satellite, using a phone Bluetooth interface.

    http://www.inreachdelorme.com/produc.../inreachse.php

    Any thoughts, opinions or experience with PLB's?

  • #2
    I am going to necropost my own lonely thread from 2015 ... because of some PLB discussions.

    So, I did actually buy the InReach noted above, and good thing I did ... as I actually had to call an SOS while backcountry hiking last year.

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    • #3
      My siblings have been bugging me to get a GPS locator on my mobile in case of a mishap, but I usually forget my phone and $499 is a bit much since I don't really go far, I mostly head towards the river down the road from my house. This comment is basically a waste of your time reading.

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      • #4
        Here in New Zealand PLB's are pretty common and we also have a lot of PLB rental outlets especially around the regions where tramping, hunting, rafting and the likes are common. They get a fair bit of use too.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nancy View Post
          My siblings have been bugging me to get a GPS locator on my mobile in case of a mishap, but I usually forget my phone and $499 is a bit much since I don't really go far, I mostly head towards the river down the road from my house. This comment is basically a waste of your time reading.
          $500.00 USD? Why so expensive?

          PLB's present a dilemma as old as the insurance industry: they are an expense, seemingly wasteful, until actually needed.

          This really boils down to a question of risk tolerance and mitigation, and everyone will have a different opinion.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by GB_FXST View Post

            $500.00 USD? Why so expensive?

            PLB's present a dilemma as old as the insurance industry: they are an expense, seemingly wasteful, until actually needed.

            This really boils down to a question of risk tolerance and mitigation, and everyone will have a different opinion.
            I usually go with a knife, compass and lighter. I feel I'll be right for where I go walk abouts. If I was hiking somewhere far and unfamiliar like the backstreets of Sydney or if I was to go horseback riding in N.Z for sure I'd invest in either buying or renting one.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Nancy View Post

              I usually go with a knife, compass and lighter. I feel I'll be right for where I go walk abouts. If I was hiking somewhere far and unfamiliar like the backstreets of Sydney or if I was to go horseback riding in N.Z for sure I'd invest in either buying or renting one.
              Why would you want a PLB for an urban setting, with cellular coverage?

              A smartphone is a far better tool, assuming cellular coverage.

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              • #8
                I use ACR Electronics ResQLink+

                5.5 oz, no too heavy or bulky. Stays on my person whenever going solo.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Devil Child View Post
                  I use ACR Electronics ResQLink+

                  5.5 oz, no too heavy or bulky. Stays on my person whenever going solo.
                  I have read really good reviews of the ResQLink.

                  If I understand correctly, ResQLink does not require a subscription data plan (unlike Delorme/Garmin) but does not support a satellite text feature.

                  My anecdotal experience is that the 2 top devices are ARC and Garmin. Spot, less so, but even then it seems they too have improved their product line.

                  Not sure about linking to other forums, but Expedition Portal has a number of good informative threads on this subject.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gafkiwi View Post
                    Here in New Zealand PLB's are pretty common and we also have a lot of PLB rental outlets especially around the regions where tramping, hunting, rafting and the likes are common. They get a fair bit of use too.
                    I know of people here in the US renting Satellite Phone, but not PLB's.

                    Satellite Phones, however, present major PITA, and temporary minute bundles are stupid expensive.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by GB_FXST View Post

                      Why would you want a PLB for an urban setting, with cellular coverage?

                      A smartphone is a far better tool, assuming cellular coverage.
                      I've noticed a few black spots through out the area where it drops to zero coverage. I've gone through about 5 mobiles in the last 6 months, so either they're all shit or the cellular coverage around here sucks. If the latter, Sydney can't be any better.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nancy View Post

                        I've noticed a few black spots through out the area where it drops to zero coverage. I've gone through about 5 mobiles in the last 6 months, so either they're all shit or the cellular coverage around here sucks. If the latter, Sydney can't be any better.
                        Wow. Interesting!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nancy View Post

                          I've noticed a few black spots through out the area where it drops to zero coverage. I've gone through about 5 mobiles in the last 6 months, so either they're all shit or the cellular coverage around here sucks. If the latter, Sydney can't be any better.
                          GB_FXST In Australia, even the best network (Telstra) has black spots. There is one on the Minden range as an example, which is a major highway, but calls more often than not will drop out as you go over. We have a farm very close to a number of large cities and towns, yet we have no signal.

                          Vodaphone is popular, but it has black spots in cities. Which isn't that good. I used to work with people who had Vodaphone and if they left the city we would send a Telstra work phone with them.

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