Personal Locator Beacons

Cameras, GPS, headlamps, solar chargers....talk about it all here.
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robislookin
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Personal Locator Beacons

#1

Post by robislookin » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:06 pm

What is everyone’s opinion about “Personal Locator Beacons” I live in the US and I will not be too far off the beaten path but I will be doing solo hikes and I will be back country. Do I really need the added expense?


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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#2

Post by rhjanes » Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:50 pm

My wife started pitching a fit when I informed her of my plans to head into Arkansas wilderness on a solo 5 day hike trip...where there is ZERO cell signal (unless you fall up to the top of one of two mountains where you might...MIGHT get a signal). Don't even ask about what my mother was saying, but it was along the lines of "I brought you into this world......" So I got the Delorme InReach. I set it up to text her "I'm starting here" and "I'm stopping here" and set the interval to like 1 hour. She LOVED it. She could text me back over the system, could see where I'd been, where I'd stopped and such. Peace of marriage was well worth it.
I just have the basic "freedom" plan at like $14 a month and leave it at that. If I was going out for a trip of over a week, I might upgrade it (you can do that and it takes effect right away...but the DOWN grade to a more basic plan, starts at next billing cycle).
Anyway, well worth it.

The SPOT seems less expensive, but when I was shopping, the plans for the SPOT made it the same cost over a years time.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#3

Post by BillyBob66 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:18 pm

robislookin wrote:What is everyone’s opinion about “Personal Locator Beacons” I live in the US and I will not be too far off the beaten path but I will be doing solo hikes and I will be back country. Do I really need the added expense?
You probably don't need it. I have hiked some serious, remote wilderness for 30+ years and have not yet needed any of those devices.

But I now have a Delorme(now Garmin) inReach Explorer, which was bought at a pretty good discount/sale price. (probably would not have got it otherwise).

As a guy who goes off trail all the time, in places where even the trails see little or zero traffic during the weekdays at least, at 68 years old, I consider possible scenarios that I never considered even a few years ago. It has an emergency SOS button on it which brings in the Calvary. Although I have not used it yet, it has a setting that allows folks at home to view a track of where I have been and where i am at.

I can also send and receive text with it, no phone signal needed. And those texts show where I am on a map with coordinates. This is great for my wife, if i decide to hike in some place where there are no other campers, or if I take my grandchildren(she worries more about them than me, LOL! ) A quick text to say that I have arrived at, or am leaving, camp, or am now back to my truck, really cuts down on her concerns. Though age has caused me to be more paranoid about things that could go wrong, I suppose if I had a bad stroke or heart attack, if I was still alive, I would not be able to send an SOS or text for help. But maybe I could, and if instead I took a bad fall, broke a leg or got snake bit and unable to walk out, I most certainly could send a help message, which would show the exact lat/long coordinates for my location.

The GPS that was included on my model is extremely basic, and not very pleasant to use though it will get me back to a waypoint. However, there is a free iPhone app, and if used through the iPhone it is fairly competitive with other GPS apps, plus the messaging benefit. Since I am probably going to have my phone with me anyway, I guess that is good enough. Also, the battery last a really long time, and if I turn of most phone features(probably no phone signal anyway) except for Bluetooth by which it is connected to the inReach device, and only turn my phone on say every 30 minutes for a quick check of where I am at(I like to use paper map and compass most of the time anyway), I find the batteries of both inReach and phone last a long time.

They have just improved these devices, but I don't yet know what all the improvements are. I have a $15 a month plan which I can cancel for the months when I'm sure I won't use it. The GPS device is not usable as a stand alone, you must have a subscription plan, and that sucks. But I mainly bought it for the messaging/SOS capabilities, and that part is great.

I do not really need this thing, but I sure do like it!
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#4

Post by SitDown » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:32 am

I have a Spot. That way friends or family can track my progress. Also a SOS function. Love it. Google Spot.


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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#5

Post by Mophead » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:15 pm

What part of the US?

I don't have any health issues and mostly hike around the eastern US. I feel it's a lot harder to get lost or in a dire situation here. Wilderness is much smaller here compared to out west. If you did get lost you are probably a days hike out to a town 99% of the time. I just tell a couple people where I am going, where I plan to hike, and the latest I expect to be back. Then I'll call them as soon as I am done and back in cell service.

If I were seriously diabetic or had some other health issue where I could likely get hurt and time is really of the essence or if I was out west I might think more about it. I'd probably think more about having a good GPS unit. The phone apps that billybob described in conjunction with the unit sound like a pretty nice feature.

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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#6

Post by thanhliem24 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:24 am

Mophead wrote:What part of the US?
If I were seriously diabetic or had some other health issue where I could likely get hurt and time is really of the essence or if I was out west I might think more about it. I'd probably think more about having a good GPS unit. The phone apps that billybob described in conjunction with the unit sound like a pretty nice feature.
I agree with Mophead's opinion. You should have a GPS device.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#7

Post by BillyBob66 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:15 am

BillyBob66 wrote:.........................................
The GPS that was included on my model is extremely basic, and not very pleasant to use though it will get me back to a waypoint. However, there is a free iPhone app, and if used through the iPhone it is fairly competitive with other GPS apps, plus the messaging benefit. Since I am probably going to have my phone with me anyway, I guess that is good enough. ........................................
I just re-read my post, and I need to clarify. The above line about using my iPhone with this device, especially where I say doing that makes it fairly competitive with other GPS phone apps "plus the messaging benefit", kind of makes it sound like I need the iPhone for messaging. If so, I gave the wrong impression. If you have the subscription with Deloeme, you can send SOS signals, text and even have some basic GPS functions, NO PHONE OR PHONE SIGNAL REQUIRED. It is just that pairing the DeLorme/Garmin with a smart phone(with or without a phone signal, but none required) makes both messaging/texting and GPS use MUCH easier, plus adding topo maps to the GPS function. Much easier using the larger phone screen, the phones touch screen and larger keyboard and having topo maps. I think sometimes you can even use voice to text/speech recognition, but don't hold me to that. But the phone is NOT required for any SOS or texting function, which is really what this thing is made for, nor is a phone required for the most basic GPS functions. It is spectacular for putting a spouse at ease having received the occasional text from me which will include my coordinates shown on a map, particularly when I have the Grand Kids with me, often off trail, as I train them in map and compass use.
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#8

Post by Polkster13 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:39 am

I don't usually use anything in my first aid kit (except vitamin I) but I still carry it just in case. I also rarely backpack alone unless I am somewhere like a state park where I know I will run into other hikers on a regular basis. If I was to backpack alone in a very remote area, I would definitely look into taking something like the Spot. I keep thinking of the hiker who got his hand stuck in a rock slide and after several days, he amputated his hand using a very dull knife that he had been using to try and chip out the rocks around his hand. I also think about the couple that got lost in Big Bend State Park and almost died before being rescued. In both cases, if they had had a way to call for help the results would have been far different. Do you "need" one? Ultralighters and Light-weight backpackers will tell you that you pack for your "fears". If it gives you or your loved ones "peace of mind" then I would say it is worth carrying.

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Re: Personal Locator Beacons

#9

Post by Scott » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:10 pm

I like the idea. On our hike last month, on the 3rd day we unexpectedly got a signal strong enough to text but not send pics or calls. It was nice to let my wife know our kids and I were OK, where we had made it to, and just check in. I don't see that as any different than a different device to do the same thing. Some purist may argue that is not getting away, we are still connected, ect. We can pick and choose our modern conveniences I suppose. No cell phone, but yes to a camera? No music, but OK for a modern fiber tarp. I will admit it changed the feel knowing that even though we were 10 miles from the nearest road, we could communicate. But it didn't change how tired we were, or that we still had 25 miles to walk. Made my wife feel good. good enough for me.

The people who have used it to summon rangers because they ran out of bottled water and wanted them to bring more, well, they don't get it on many levels.
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