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Personal Locator Beacon

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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Baffman » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:59 pm

I agree. I use a SPOT and have had a good experience with it. Truth be told I had discussed one with Quentinc but he didn't have much love for gadgets. I sure wish he had one for his sake.

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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby RoguePhotonic » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:24 pm

We all make choices in life. What matters is if we have considered them. I was called a fool more then once as I traveled the mountains this summer with no safety net. But I accepted the consequences of what could happen.

If you value your life then get a safety net!
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Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Bluewater » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:36 pm

I have been responsibly using a Spot II for the last two years with good results. At first it was because I travel solo allot, but now I bring it all the time in the backcountry.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby SandStorm » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:06 pm

Slightly off-topic, but in the spirit of the thread: Anyone carry a sat phone? I've used an Iridium in the past and it worked well. Heard good things about the Inmarsat IsatPhone. They're expensive and heavy but worth their weight in gold in the hinterland.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby mshields » Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:29 pm

RoguePhotonic wrote:We all make choices in life. What matters is if we have considered them.


Well said Rouge; put the info out there and let people make there own well informed decision. Part of me hesitates to post so soon on this subject, when Larry is heavy on everyone's heart right now; but in the end it is probably the responsible thing to do.

I recently purchased a PLB this past February (see the below link) and thought I would share some of the factors that contributed to my decision:

http://www.acrartex.com/products/catalo ... qlinkplus/

1) As a husband and father of four young children I feel a little extra responsibility to increase my odds in a life and death situation.

2) Unlike the Spot units, the Personal Locator Beacons (PLB's) require no subscription and/or activation fees whatsoever. Upon purchase they are registered with NOAA + require registration renewals once every 2 years; this is a very simple process and can be done online in a matter of minutes.

3) Upon activating the beacon, SAR personnell are immediately provided with your name, site specific location, and emergency contact information; all of this info is linked to the PLB when you register the unit.

4) It provides additional "peace of mind" for my wife and friends when I am out in the mountains; especially when going solo.

5) The unit I purchased weighs in @ 5.4 ounces, providing a pretty decent weight to benefit ratio.


Just to clarify, overall I am not recommending a particular brand or saying that these are necessarily superior to the Spot units but rather stating a few of the factors that influenced my personal decision to purchase the unit. If anyone does decide to take the PLB route, there are many makes and models out there to choose from. Thanks for taking the time to consider.



P.S. - In Light of Balzacom's request earlier this morning I will try to get back on the HST track and refocus on what really matters "getting out into the mountains and enjoying them"
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby The hermit » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:23 am

Mshields, do you have to pay to register every other year?
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby mshields » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:31 am

The hermit wrote:Mshields, do you have to pay to register every other year?


Hermit,

There are no fees either for the initial or two year registrations.

Thanks
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Jimr » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:58 am

After my little summer adventure, my wife will not let me back into the wilderness without something of this nature; and more life insurance. Being the sole breadwinner for a wife and two kids, I guess that is the price one pays for responsibility. Regardless of my own personal preference, I will do it without reservation. Considerations like this are not only for the solo travelers, it is also a consideration when one leads the less experienced.
What?!
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby BrianF » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:03 pm

PLBs...not just for the solo anymore... Even in a group of experienced hikers a serious accident or medical emergency can happen. A PLB can save the lost time of someone having to hike to the nearest trailhead and alert SAR, which could be days. A PLB is probably more useful in a group beacause the function requires that someone be conscious and able to access the PLB, which is not guaranteed for the soloist in a fall.
My own decision to carry one came several years ago. I am almost always solo in the backcountry and I injured myself (fortunately not too bad to limp my way out over the next several days) on day 4 of a nine day solo trip. I was miles from the nearest trail and it was early october; highly unlikely that anyone would have wandered by. It occured to me that it would have been about 6 more days before SAR would have been called and then they would have had to search for me along my entire planned route.
At that time I bought an ACR PLB since that seemed to be the only option, as said above no fees and great response, built like a tank and weighed like one too - mine was about 12oz. I have since switched to the Spot for both the weight savings(weighs about 4oz) and the ability to send an OK signal. That last is important to the folks at home, but also if done on a daily basis it creates a "last known position" for searchers to begin a search from if you go missing ( and unable to send a signal).
Personally, I send an OK when I set up camp each evening and at the summit of a peak if I am climbing, or at some convenient time during the day if I am off trail. I also always leave a note in my tent as to the day's goals if I am wandering off from a basecamp.
I carry it on all backpacking trips or long dayhikes and climbs nowadays and for me the $100/year subscription is worth it
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby lostcoyote » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:23 pm

FISHPOLE wrote: It looks like they will send out a signal for 30 plus hours.


this isn't very much time. if one got into trouble, lets say, 1 week before expected exit, then your battery's going to be dead long before anyone calls out a search party.
maybe some of these units can be set up with pulsed beacons to save battery life instead of a continuous beacon?? i dunno - but 30 hours doesn't cut it.

whereas with something like SPOT, it will send out a GPS coordinate to the satellite which in turn, sends out the distress email with one caveat: you must be in good visibility with the satellite.

for me, some of my SPOT messages did not get thru in the following conditions:

1. heavily forested area without a clear view of the sky
2. heavy overcast conditions even above timberline
3. down in deep canyons with clear view of sky
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Steve_C » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:26 pm

I attended a workshop where SEKI staff discussed their "preliminary draft alternatives for the Wilderness Stewardship Plan" earlier this week and got a surprising attitude from the ranger presenting the plan. I discussed his comments after the presentation, and he was pretty arrogant toward the idea that anyone carrying a communications device in the wilderness could have any sort of "full wilderness experience". I was dumbfounded by his attitude, and am sure most rangers don't quite share his feelings.

Like BrianF, I carry a SPOT II. I carry it for several reasons... First, so family and friends can be reassured that I am ok. My wife is very uncomfortable when I hike alone. Also, I felt more "ok" to be hiking on my own cross-country. I crossed several little-used routes, and at several times, I knew that there was a remote chance of a random slip causing serious trouble. In those places, hiking with others adds some security, so lacking a hiking buddy, the SPOT was a viable replacement. And of course, if I had become immobilized, it was nice knowing I could summon help.

I used it two ways: When hiking in easy cross-country, and on trails, I'd leave it off for hours, activating an occasional "Track" or "Ok". But when climbing treacherous passes and peaks, I'd make sure it was in "Track" mode. In that mode, it is even better than a PLB, because if a fatal slip occurred leaving me unable to even activate the SOS button, the unit would have sent my last known location, making it simple for SAR to target a search.

I know the ranger with attitude and many others would disagree, but I think it is more responsible to carry and use a Spot than not.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:57 pm

Given that a PLB or SPOT potentially can save so much SAR time, I feel a co-supported system is optimum. I would like to be able to rent this item from the FS or park service, just like you can rent a bear cannister. The costs are still pretty high, particularly for SPOT if you have to pay a yearly fee , especially for those who may take only one trip a year. Plus, with the advancement in technology, anything you buy could quickly become outdated. Also, since almost everyone is paying for cell phone service, why can't a PLB feature could not be part of the cell phone?

The low-tech old fashioned "personal locators" are screaming neon gear and clothing, a signal mirror, ability to build a smoky fire, a detailed travel itenary that you stick with, and going with a buddy or two, or your dog. Even with a PLB, you need to have some old fashioned backups.

The impetus for me to use a PLB would be to save SAR from the kind of effort they have had to do the last 10 days and to save my family from grief. I personally would be willing just to take the risk of meeting my end in the mountains (who would not rather die of a quick heart attack dropping a fly into your favorite high remote alpine lake over rotting in a nursing home), but realistically, if I go missing, they WILL search for me and MY FAMILY will go through much agony. I cannot control that.

So far I have used the "low tech" methods. I ALWAYS take one or two items of really bright clothes or bivy sack, reflector, and leave a very detailed route plan (I identify several options of routes and destinations of which I choose a few to actually do and also identify any alternate bail-out routes). I am now really torn about taking the leap to high tech SPOT or PLB. Now that they are down to the 5oz range in weight, the cost is the only thing holding me back.
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