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Old 10-23-2013   #11
hojo's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,234
My vote is for anything that can communicate rather than just send an emergency beacon. I look at the recent Tajikistan incident and wonder how that would have fallen out had the group been able to at least send outbound messages. Not implying they did anything wrong. Quite the opposite as they showed the real value a PLB can have. I have gone back and forth on the different PLBs, and my opinion is that they are not producing a set of features that the outdoor community really wants or needs. Not sure why.

On the river, I can abandon who I am and what I've done. However brief it lasts, while on the river I am nothing important and everything insignificant. I am flotsam, and happy to be so.
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Old 10-23-2013   #12
Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 69
I have a PLB. Never used it, so I can't comment on how well it works in emergencies.

There are a couple of reasons I went with it over the Spot. Mainly, it uses NOAA's satelite network rather than the Spot company's one. That means it has better coverage, and it has international coverage in more places than Spot does (I think).

Also, I know a couple of trips where people have forgotten to send out an OK signal for a little bit, and everyone at home freaked out. Maybe this is better than no OK messages at all, but I didn't want to be in charge of giving folks daily updates while in the GC.

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Old 10-23-2013   #13
I'm wrong 50% of the time
brendodendo's Avatar
RFV, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 857
I have an Iridium Sat phone. When needed, I activate a sim card for $50 with a monthly plan for around $65 and get 100 minutes. Sim is good for 6 months and then have reorder a monthly plan or let it lapse and order another for $50 when I want to use the phone again. The cost on this is negligible, when compared to what could happen if you do not have communications. I'm happy to loan it out to friends and family when they need it.
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Old 10-23-2013   #14
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 141
I have a McMurdo PLB I use for multiday trips. I may add a sat phone at some point, but for now I am comfortable with what I have. I work in SAR and we have responded to both PLB and SPOT beacon calls. In NW Washington I think both of them have pretty decent coverage.

In the end I didn't want to pay a yearly fee and bought the PLB.

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Old 10-23-2013   #15
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 332
After an unscheduled 18 mi walk out of a mud pit take out we got an irridium sat phone through outfitter satalite. We thought about the spot but decideded we would rather pay the money than end up on the front page of the paper for a non life threatening incident.
It also comes in handy to call off work It helps to stand next to a rapid or have your friends make wind sounds in the back ground.
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Old 10-24-2013   #16
Placerville, California
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 40
I have and always carry an ACR Aqualink. I've never had to use it, fortunately, but I definitely feel more comfortable knowing a have a reliable tool to send an emergency signal if I get in trouble. I wasn't at all interested in the extra functionality offered by the SPOT (and similar devices) so I just wanted what was most reliable for actually sending an emergency signal. Not knowing much about this type of stuff, I did what research I could and the ACR PLBs seemed to be that. Note that ACR does now have an optional subscription service as well (through that does offer some of the messaging options that the SPOT has. Anyway, my two cents.

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