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Discussion Starter #1
I'm just wondering if any of you carry/own a Personal Locator Beacon? There are ones like the Spot that you pay a third party subscription service for annually and then there are ones that you pay more upfront but no subscription service is required and they link directly to the search and rescue network.
I am pondering getting one in the somewhat near future. I'm curious what you have and what you think of it or if you're in the same boat as me.
One of the ones I was looking at is this one: ACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon (2880) - GPS Central Canada

It does have a level of water proof-ness, if that's a word as you can see by the specs in the link. NO I am not associated with this site, etc.
 

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I use the Delorme InReach. The 2 way text and online tracking are why I have it. I don't like the monthly subscription cost. I think the ACRs are a better emergency device, but the InReach is more versatile.
 

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We have a spot and considered a plb but decided against it. We like the other features of customized messages with the spot. We use one for motorcycle trips my hubby takes on backroads which is a msg that he is broken down and come pick him up. Not an emergency but also not ok. Also like the tracking function- a friend of a friend of a friend dumped their bike and got pinned and couldn't get to their spot. With tracking I can see if he stopped moving, didn't send in an OK, and then I'd go get him. Basically we decided the need for the sos button was likely going to be never, and the ability to use the spot in other ways is nice. And we still have sos just in case. We recently looked at the delorme to be able to send msgs but decided it was too much money for the benefits.
 

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I have an InReach as well. It is spendy, but I like the 2-way text capability. Based on what Lhowe said, it sounds like the Spot in transferrable. I have not tried to sync my wife's phone to my InReach account, but I do not think it is transferrable between smart phones. I could be wrong.
 

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I have had SPOT for 4 years now. Never used it for Emergencies yet, I have friends who have and it worked great. I used it a lot for notifying family I am ok. Delorme inReach looks good as well with 2 ways txting.

When it comes to safety, cost is no object to me. I carry SPOT on my pfd and satellite phone with me on big trips in my dry box. I usually TL, so hate to get caught with my pants down in the time of trouble.
 

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no tengo
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so far I have been on the side of not owning one and dealing with whatever comes our way. I have done 4 grand canyon trips without one, but I don't oppose those who bring one. The ranger mentioned that it may be required sometime in the future.

I do get spot texts from one of my friends and recently got a text that they were at Diamond but decided to proceed due to flash flooding. It was pretty simple to tell the shuttle company that they were continuing on downstream and I think that helped everyone out.
 

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Travel with kids

I never carried any form of beacon, until I started travelling with kids. I don't need/want the 2-way communication, but want to be able to call for help for life threatening emergency.

We carry this one (and have never used it, thankfully) ACR AquaLink Personal Locator Beacon - GPS Central Canada

I supply these for folks that work for me in the deep backcountry:
GeoPro Messenger - GeoPro LBS These can serve as a PLB and do 2-way communication, but require a monthly service plan.
 

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emergency use

I do not have a SPOT but have a friend who does and she uses her SPOT on all her trips. She recently did a GC trip and gave me access to her SPOT web page. I used that page with Google Earth to follow the trip down the GC. Really worked well and interesting.

On the other hand, my rafting buds have been using Sat Phones for a long time. We just include rental in our longer river trips cost sharing.

Over the years, the Sat Phones have come in real handy. Once on a lower canyons Big Bend float we got caught in a Texas winter storm and lost a couple days tent bound. Used the Sat Phone to call our shuttle driver and he arranged a pickup for us that got us out of a possible jam. Made a possible bad deal into just another adventure.

The second time was last September on a GC float. I had a serious accident at Horn Creek and had to be airlifted out to Flagstaff. We were lucky, got on the Sat Phone immediately, got connected to the awesome chopper rangers and in a bit more than one hours time I was in the chopper. The speed of the sat phone and rangers chopper probably saved my life.

I think any of the personal locator systems are great tools to have on any trip outside of cell phone coverage.

Sat Phones tho, my opinion, are the best all around tool to send routine messages home, make routine trip changes (ie bring in gear or people at Phantom Ranch is common) or in a emergency to get help fast.

Only problem is cost for sat phones. They are coming down. But, groups can pool money for a shared group phone purchase (depends on the group tho) or do like we do just rent a sat phone and include costs in group sharing.

Either tool is something that gives a lot of security - and we never know when bad things happen to even otherwise well prepared river trippers.
 

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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.
 

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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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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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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.

Kyle
 

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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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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 406Link.com) that does offer some of the messaging options that the SPOT has. Anyway, my two cents.
 
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