Recomendations for PLB with GPS- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Recomendations for PLB with GPS

    Anyone have advice and/or experience with personal locator beacons (PLB)? I would use it for mountain biking, backpacking, and anything else when outside of cell range. I'd like something that can send emergency signals and non-emergency messages. The specs for the SPOT II look like exactly what I want but the reviews I've read seem to suggest that the durability and functionality is inconstant. I am now leaning towards something like the ACR PLBs.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
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    take a look at the Delorme InReach. not out yet, but supposed to offer 2-way messaging through the Iridium satellite network in addition to an emergency beacon.

  3. #3
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    I've just never felt confident enough about either the SPOT 1, SPOT 2 or SPOT Connect to buy one. Have to position them just right to get a connection, seem to have issues in canyons and heavy cover, have to reset the unit every 24 hours, only run on Lithium batteries, etc...


    I'd also say to wait a bit and see what the InReach has to offer. The unit is supposed to be released in October. For now, here is a link to some initial info from DeLorme and some additional info in the Q&A link.


    http://blog.delorme.com/2011/06/03/d...communication/

    http://blog.delorme.com/2011/06/07/d...on-and-answer/

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys, I think I'll probably wait and see what the consensus is on the InReach.

  5. #5
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    I have a Spot II that I am reasonably happy with.
    The Spot II allows me to let my wife know that I am ok, and the tracking should show roughly where I am if something happens to me and I am unable to active the help message. A PLB like the "McMurdo Fastfind 211 PLB with GPS" should be more reliable (and only weighs 150g), however you can only use it in a real emergency (a broken chain probably does not count), and will not help you if you are too seriously hurt to activate it.
    For now I am evaluating how reliable the Spot II communication is, and may end up buying a PLB as well.
    The PLB does not have an ongoing subscription cost. The only cost is replacing the batteries every 5 years, which can for some units be as much as buying a new PLB.

  6. #6
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    The DeLorme inReach looks like a major step up from the Spot II. With the Spot you never know if your message was received. The $24.95 a month subscription cost for unlimited tracking is not cheap though.

  7. #7
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    Hmm...I've had a spot 2 for about 9 months now. While I don't use it constantly, I've used it on several occasions, mostly to let my wife know where I am camping for the night, or sometimes just where I am at the time. When I've gotten back home and look at the emails ( I have them copied to myself also) they always go through and always show where I am on google maps within about 20 feet. Seems reliable enough to me.

    I didn't sign up for the "live" tracking.

    Haven't had to use the Help or 911 features (knock on wood) yet though.
    I'm looking forward to regretting this.......

  8. #8
    Church of the Wheel
    Reputation: mtb143's Avatar
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    ACR recently released the product that I've been waiting for: ResQLink PLB / Cobham - Beacon Solutions

    Small, light, is a true personal locator beacon (unlike the Spot) that works worldwide (for free) on the international 406 MHz frequency. I won't trust Spot with my life, but I will trust ACR.
    "I thought you'd never love me without my Mojo." -Austin Powers

  9. #9
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    Depends on your needs...

    It’s really hard to compare the PLBs with the Satellite Messengers that also have 911 capabilities. Determining which is best depends on what you need.

    I went with the ACR PLB… I didn’t really need the I’m OK messages. While my wife thought it would be cool to get the message, it was not realistic that she’d be sitting around waiting for it. She looks at my Garmin data after the ride if she wants to see a track of where I went. Real-time data, just wasn’t what she needed. She was more concerned with me making it home alive when I ride by myself on remote trails in the Sierras that not many people know exist... In fact, I can tell her I’m riding the such-and-such trail and she doesn’t even know where it is! Add to that the fact that I have no cell service on these trails...

    The PLB is really a device of last resort you only use when you want to call in Search and Rescue… Thus I’ve never really used mine beyond throwing it in the Camelbak and feeling better about it.

    I am not affiliated with the company at all, but found these videos useful education on how PLBs work and the other systems available.

    Why a Personal Locator Beacon - Part 1 - YouTube

    Why a Personal Locator Beacon - Part 2 - YouTube

  10. #10
    3 Legged Big Top
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    I currently use the Delorme PN 60 with the Spot Communicator. It is nice to be able to send a text if running late to get home, or I am back at the car heading home soon when there is no cell service available. I have not had any issues with dropped messages. I have my email and text connected to every outgoing group so that I can verify the send from various locations.

    Problem with my setup is I dont find the Delorme GPS to be that bike friendly. On remote rides I find myself carrying a Garmin edge, cell, SPOT, Delorme GPS. Once my term is up for renewal with SPOT I will likely switch to the SPOT Connect. SPOT Connect Same idea but it works with a smartphone rather than the GPS

    That will eliminate the Delorme GPS from the carry list.

    Curtis

  11. #11
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    Questions

    I considered buying such a system last spring. But it appeared you had to pay a monthly or yearly service fee for them? From what I gather the SPOT Connect would not require any service fees?

  12. #12
    3 Legged Big Top
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    SPOT Connect subscription fee is $99.99 per year for the basics. Add $49.99 for tracking. Messaging varies based on the number you of messages you need.

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