We have a spot. I bought it for my husband's mountaineering trips (boyfriend tracker
). We take it on longer backcountry (ski, river, backpack, cave, mountaineering) trips. Sometimes we tell people we have it, sometimes we don't - depends on the crew and the adventure. I have also used it for work when I was in the middle of freaking drug cartel no-where Mexico with my coworkers and employers on the notification list. I think this type (spot/delorme) of device has a couple advantages over PLBs.
- grandma and grandpa, and other potentially interested parties can live vicariously or know you are okay when you aren't where you should be. It sends "OK" messages to cell phones and email accounts. You could even give a trusted emergency contact access to your account.
- it has a help needed function that does not activate EMS/SAR, but tells your friends (who you might want to save your arse instead of EMS/SAR) where you are and that you need assistance.
-if you check in daily, and then all the sudden you aren't checking in, people will at least know your last position. PLBs won't provide any information unless you are "with it" enough to push the button - which in a catastrophic emergency you might not be. At least the searchers will have a last known point for body recovery if the spot is used often. Keep in mind that if your friends and family know you can be checking in, and you aren't, they freak out.
If money isn't an object, get a sat phone. We rented one once for an adventure that required being able to call the pilot with landing conditions and cloud ceilings before he'd come get us.
Don't forget that if EMS/SAR comes it will cost a bundle, get hiking cards, fishing permits, etc. Good cheap insurance.