Personal Locator Beacons
I'm considering purchasing a PLB just so I never have to think about it again and was wondering what people recommend? I don't know anything about them or their other functions (if any), the purpose of this would be to contact emergency services if I was badly hurt or unable to travel in the backcountry. Cheers.
www.skippersmate.co.nz. Have a look at this site good info in the blog. All outdoor types should carry one and at $330ish for 10 years is not expensive, bite the bullet and get one and carry it and hope you never have to use it
The latest Wilderness magazine (February 2020) has an article on PLBs that you might find useful. Also take a look at this link: https://wilderlife.nz/2019/05/where-and-how-do-you-carry-your-plb/
Given your stated purpose I suggest you want to get a PLB with superior satellite coverage in New Zealand. When I last researched this i settled on the Iridium network - I gather it has the best coverage in our valleys. I got a no-bells-and-whistles KTI beacon from www.safetybeacons.co.nz.
>Given your stated purpose I suggest you want to get a PLB with superior satellite coverage in New Zealand. When I last researched this i settled on the Iridium network - I gather it has the best coverage in our valleys. I got a no-bells-and-whistles KTI beacon from www.safetybeacons.co.nz. As I understand it: All these PLBs, including the KTI one you mention work on a dedicated COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system, not the Iridium network. They'll work anywhere in the world, the country coding only specifies which countries Rescue Coordination Centre is notified on activation. ie if I took my NZ coded PLB to say Hokkaido and activated it, the computer at the NZ Rescue Coordination Centre would receive the message about my distress call from Hokkaido. There may be differences between the quality of the GPS units in these devices and their ability to get a quick position fix in a deep Fiordland Valley. It's better to have a view to the northern sky for getting a signal out to the more distant Geostationary satellites, but regardless, a lower flying polar orbit satellite should be overhead in an hour or two and the signal will go out on that. Anything you buy now should have better GPS capability than older units I would think. My old iPhone 5 still gets a GPS fix in Fiordland bush, it just sometimes takes time till the satellites line up more optimally. Satellite two way communicators such as the Garmin Inreach https://explore.garmin.com/en-NZ/inreach/ work on the Iridium satellite network, I think the Spot http://www.findmespot.net.nz/ uses a different network again. From what I read the Inreach on the Iridium network has better coverage, gets messages in and out more reliably in difficult terrain than the Spot units.
have used InReach, The delorme version and Garmin. Both could not always send reliably in some locations. (bush, deep valleys).response time is variable, depending on location so far, the Garmin InReach Mini has been unreliable in showing my map location to text recipients. trying sort this with Garmin still. I take one for messaging about intentions, weather updates etc. deffinitey NOT as a PLB Carry a McMurdo PLB, have don't for 15 years or so. never leave my belt
>so far, the Garmin InReach Mini has been unreliable in showing my map location to text recipients. trying sort this with Garmin still. Thanks for sharing your experience with these. Do you have an idea where the issue with showing position to recipients is? Is it sometimes failing to acquire a GPS fix before getting out the message, so sending the message without position info, or does it happen even in locations where it should have no trouble getting a GPS fix?
Thanks from me as well @TauraruaHunter for the info re InReach. Was considering as a potential replacement for my current unit when its battery expires in a year or so but seems like I will cross it off the list.
I carry an inreach in place of a plb in tamer country like Tararua, Ruahine, Oteake, Eyres. Never had it take more than 20 mins to get a message out in those conditions even in thick bush. But that's at huts and campsites_. Lying at the bottom of a slot gorge would be another matter entirely. Both inreach and plb would struggle to get a full gps fix and transmit it to satellite in those conditions - but the advantage of a plb is that a full fix is not required to get a response initiated - just a brief snatch of distress signal picked up by aircraft or satellite lets them know _someone_ is in trouble. Whereas with inreach full 2-way comms to and from satellite must be established before the emergency message can be sent. So for serious steep country where I spend a long time in gorges or where the risk of an accident is high - eg my ongoing fiordland traverse - I take both.
@tararuahunter - are you using the weather forcasts messages built in to the new inreach? If so - what forcaster do they useand are they accurate? I've been relying on mates to send me metservice forcasts which is a pain for all concerned, and wondered if upgrading to a newer inreach might be worth it for the ability to request a forcast. _IF_ they're accurate.
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