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Personal Locator Beacon

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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby riverwalker » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:05 pm

Thanks everyone for your input. I'm going to buy one of these things this weekend. I'm comparing the Spot II (about $100) and the ACR ResQ+ 406 ($287 on Amazon). I like the idea of no annual subscription for the ACR, but it appears you have to subscribe to an optional annual service to "self test" the unit. There seems to be a lot of negative reviews for the Spot II. Does anyone have any experience with the ACR ResQ+ ?

It looks like ACR is also running a promotion on this unit with some freebie gear, for what it's worth:

Edited: Oops, thanks mshields, I missed your post about the ACR unit. Does anyone else have experience with this unit?


I picked up the ACR REsQ this past spring. I had a $500 gift card from Amazon that was burning a hole in my pocket and I got a $50 rebate too. Anyway I dropped in for a couple reasons...I have started taking my young boys on multiday trips so it is added peace of mind in an emergency. In addition, I have started to do some solo stuff again after a 10 year break. My wife appreciates the backup. I have never had to use the device, but I usually give it a test when out and it has always locked and given a good test (quick too). The only disadvantage as has been mentioned is that you have to push the button, but I find that the advantage also. If my wife was relying on an okay or seeing tracks from a SPOT and then didn't, I feel that would be worse for her concerning her peace of mind and making a decision for help. I am happy with the purchase, it is fairly small and light. Hopefully it will be a piece of gear I carry needlessly.



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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Scouter9 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:48 am

I've been reluctant to purchase and carry a PLB, if only because it's one more thing to carry beyond my cell phone, and I'm gonna have the phone in my pack for sure.

Without the phone, I couldn't follow Sean Hannity's twitter feed, after all...

Well, to be honest, I have no idea whether Sean Hannitty has a twitter feed and I don't use Twitter at all, but I do carry an Android and spare battery(ies) in the eastern Sierra where we're backpacking most of the time, because we've got Verizon signal in all but the lake basins but including places like Clark Lakes. Frankly, at night, I turn on the phone, email out a photo of the Scouts taken earlier that day with the phone and give the parents and such an update regarding our adventure, the weather and more. Where we're headed into null-zones for a day or more, I just tell them in advance.

Now, if disaster struck in a null zone, we'd be in good, old traditional trouble -- especially if disaster related to large, old men that outweigh 2+ Scouts... (yeah, zip it!) So, there's certainly an argument for the PLB. However, I do ensure that every adult leader has a phone, conserves battery and puts the Ranger Station number into their phone book. Our Scouts know that, in the event it's necessary, their SOP will be to take two men, two phones and hike to a ridgeline for signal where they can call 911 and the Ranger Station. I know my boys can't carry me out if I've blown a knee, back or gasket... but feel like we can rely upon the cell coverage in emergencies --where we go, so far.

Plus, I can get in a round of Angry Birds. #-o

Now, solo hiking? The issues might change for me, now that I'm no longer invincible.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby frediver » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:02 pm

Just some things that come to mind.
How using is a beacon if disaster strikes You?
Consider if you fall you could be incapacitated and not be able to activate a beacon: Spot has a tracking function at least, but I do not care for the subscription requirement.
However a Beacon (ACR etc) has a much more reliable operating system than spot, satellites used etc.
From the few reports I have read Spot has had some real holes in its implementation/system.

I also wonder how well the Spot signal would be if you fell into a crack, ie body hidden from sight, etc.?
I also wonder about the ACR Beacon system but have a little more overall faith in its system.

Truth I often wonder if a more passive system would be better for hikers considering that truly incapacitating type of disaster's are more likely to happen. By passive I mean a system that will be able to
turn on when the beacon receives a local search signal. Like the current offering of Spot, the unit
turns on every few hours and if a trigger signal is received it then turn's on the main beacon, no need for a
expensive or little used subscription plan. IMO this feature would be a handy upgrade to Spot or a traditional 406 Beacon. A three position switch, Off-Standby-ON.
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby rlown » Tue Nov 13, 2012 11:18 am

Scouter9 wrote:I've been reluctant to purchase and carry a PLB, if only because it's one more thing to carry beyond my cell phone, and I'm gonna have the phone in my pack for sure.

Without the phone, I couldn't follow Sean Hannity's twitter feed, after all...


If your phone works in the back country, you're not out far enough. And you're missing the point of the experience. Bugs me as much as the ipod crap. Remember when we used to just sing songs? not be plugged in..

The mountains have their own sounds.. That's the part that's worth hearing. It can be scary silence or a tree falling or rock slide or animals telling you to go away.

I prefer those sounds..
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Re: Personal Locator Beacon

Postby Scouter9 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:12 am

rlown wrote:If your phone works in the back country, you're not out far enough. And you're missing the point of the experience. Bugs me as much as the ipod crap. Remember when we used to just sing songs? not be plugged in..


:D I do remember that. I also remember being surprised at how far "in" Verizon signal now goes. You might be, too, when you find out. By the way, sat-signal reaches everywhere other than caves and Big Brother can read the High Sierra Topix decal on your Bear Vault if you leave it out. (You're not paranoid, they really are watching. :wink: )

I'm very sure that I'm not missing "the point of the experience", however: I am able to take adults and youth to places you may find pedestrian or "old hat", but that I have loved for more than 30 years and that, for many of them, are seen for the first time by my companions. For me, this is the point of the experience, not my own Luddite tendencies.

If I get my companions "hooked", or incite the Sierra Epiphany, my job is done and you should just be happy we're not crowding up the trails or snatching all the fish from the more exotic locations you prefer!

As to PLB's and the ability to check in, etc... I am eagerly reading another thread that's arisen. Once I became responsible for others, beyond even my family, my approach to safety and communication began to evolve. Darnitall if electronics aren't creeping in.
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