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!