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Locater beacons


John B
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I'm considering purchasing a satellite enabled/smartphone compatible locater beacon. The price seems to have come down far enough, and text enabled features are on both of the models I'm considering:

1. SPOT Connect Satllite Communicator ($149.9). Links with your smartphone to enable text messages in addition to allowing folks to track your progress. Requires $99.99annual subscription. Runs on 2 AA batteries 4.9oz

2. Delorme InReach SE ($299.95). As I understand it can link with your smartphone also, but I'm unsure if it allows text messages without the link? It is also a GPS. Can download unlimited topo and NOAA maps when connected to internet (I assume at home thru your computer). 7oz has rechargeable lithium battery (via USB or wall outlet).

I'm not too bothered by the price difference as I (believe) it could replace my present GPS.

Does anyone use either of these units, or suggestions as to others I might consider?

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Hey John,

The inReach SE definitely allows you to both send and receive messages with or without a smartphone. However, if you want to use the mapping features of the related Earthmate app you'll need the phone and app, and Delorme's topos can be downloaded through the app when you're online for offline use in the field. Depending on how you use your GPS, the app may or may not be able to replace that function...I basically only use it to pinpoint my location and refer to paper maps from there if needed. But if you're carrying your phone there are other apps you can use for navigation as well...the limiting factor is probably the battery life of the phone. A recent update from Delorme allows you to view your coordinates much more easily than it was before, so you can also compare the coordinates on the device against a good map.

Like the Spot the inReach SE does also require a service plan...offers tracking, etc...However you gain 2-way messaging, (You can have a conversation vs. outbound only) use of messaging without your smartphone, and it runs on the Iridium Network. The Spot is cheaper and lighter...Although weight wise, you can leave your phone at home with the SE (If you don't need the Earthmate app) and still utilize all the other features.

If you haven't yet had a chance, check out our full inReach SE Review in Issue 10 for more info, testing, screenshots, etc. as well as some more discussion Here.

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Aaron,

Thanks for the links to the review and discussion. The review touched on everything! Still trying to decide if I need all the features of the inReach, or can get by with the Spot. Really just want the ability to yell for help if in a remote area, thus leaning toward the Spot. Your review of the inReach has me thinking, though-sounds like a really sweet unit!

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Thanks John. The inReach SE continues to work great in my case. If all you're looking for is the ability to send out a distress signal in an emergency you might also want to check out a dedicated PLB designed just for that purpose, which won't require a subscription and monthly or yearly fee.

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Aaron,

That' also on my radar. Saw one at REI for $280 can't recall the mfg or model though.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Sounds like the ACR ResQLink. Looks like a light and compact solution if you don't need messaging capability, although you could set up an outbound check in message (With a plan and battery limited at 420 messages over the 5 year life of the battery) through 406Link.com.

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John B,

As a Wilderness First Responder, I applaud your interest in what many people view to be a 'optional' component of one's system. IMO, it is a 'necessary'! A few years ago I found a McMurdo FastFind PLB at REI on clearance for 50% off. It is much like the ACR products, no subscription fee/only for emergency SAR. If you're looking for no frills, this might be a good option. My wife enjoys the peace & quiet when I'm not around, and I don't mind a $10/month/year/decade bill not gnawing away at my earnings.

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Thanks! I'm leaning toward a stand alone PLB (the ACR), but this also appears very similar in specs and features. Thanks for the info!

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  • 3 weeks later...
tmountainnut

Thanks! I'm leaning toward a stand alone PLB (the ACR), but this also appears very similar in specs and features. Thanks for the info!

I personally carry a ResQLink with me on all of my trips. i use the regular one, not the plus version since i don't really need it to float (i don't spend that much time on lakes/ocean).

I haven't had to use it, and i hope i never need to, but its nice to have in case of a disaster (breaking a leg/ankle/foot or other immobilizing injury). Its quite small, and the registration process is pretty easy. I know you can use the 406link service if i wanted to, but i would rather not pay the extra fee, so i don't use that feature. Its a much more powerful transmitter than the spot beacons for sure too. Apparently the only thing required is to replace the battery in 2019 since its required every 5 years, so until then its paid for.

-Ted

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