PLB which model chose?

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I'm planning to purchase a PLB but having no idea and never own/use one before it seems not straightforward. For those of you who own one, which model will you recommend of these four listed(below)? My first choice will go for #4 as it is the least expensive of all but I'm rather pay more if the trade-off is reliability. Any help/tips much appreciated. 1) rescueMe PLB $549 406MHz with seven-year battery storage life, seven-year warranty, 66 channel GPS, minimum 24hr operation, floatation pouch, mounting clip, bright strobe light. 116g. 2) McMurdo Fast Find 220 GPS PLB $599 406 and 121.5MHz, bright LED SOS light, 50 channel GPS, waterproof to 10m, minimum 24hr continuous operation, six-year battery storage life, self test, battery use indicator, lanyard, flotation pouch. 152g. 3) ACR ResQLink $599 406MHz, bright LED SOS light, 66 channel GPS, self-test and GPS test features, minimum 24hr continuous operation, waterproof to 5m, six-year battery storage life. 130g. 4) KTI Safety Alert $329 Salt water corrosion resistant, self-buoyant, high-intensity LED strobe, impact-resistant case, retention lanyard, mirror, 10-year battery life, 66 channel GPS, 406MHz and 121.5MHz. 140g.

hi. there was a discussion on this a while back where people talked about what plb's they had, have a look through, feel free to ask any more unanswered questions you have

I have a KTI. Looks good light and it floats acording to the manual. Havent tried it out in anger though. Tramping club has GMEs which may not be available any more but they are at end of battery life and the batteries cost almost as much as a new beacon which will add gps functionality

As far as I've ever been able to tell, there's no way to compare performance reliability because nobody's allowed to set PLBs off except in an emergency. I'm definitely interested if anyone knows a way. Online reviews are hopeless: They're full of "this PLB saved my life" and "OMG you have to get this PLB or you're an idiot because you shouldn't go anywhere without a PLB". I think it's really only possible to compare based on the stated specifications, like cost, weight, and the frills around the edges. Without more info it's necessary to assume they're all fully reliable, and I find that concerning but don't really know what to do. Not so long ago the KTI plb stood out easily if buying from NZ because it was cheapest (in NZ), lightest, bouyant without a pouch, had a built-in strobe light, and the longest stated battery life. It looks as if the RescueMe PLB1 is well ahead on weight right now, so I guess it comes down to what you prefer to sacrifice. If buying today I'd probably personally buy a KTI plb because I don't care about 34 extra grams when saving so much money.. taking into account you also get 3 more years from it. The one I own, though, is an ACR ResQLink+, which was the lightest I could find before the KTI was out. At the time I think ACR was desparately trying to compete with competing PLBs that were bouyant and had strobe lights, because they were giving away a free bouyancy pouch and separate strobe light with the PLB. To take them doubles the bulk and the weight, though. Assuming you plan to register it in New Zealand, make sure whatever you buy is coded for registration in New Zealand and not some other country. This is most likely an issue if you buy from overseas. If you need to have the code changed inside the PLB after you've bought it, especially from within NZ, it can end up being much more expensive.


Another option to consider - a SPOT locator beacon. With dedicated PLB you hope never to use it, and then it does nothing for you apart from providing peace of mind. I use SPOT every trip, so family & friends can see I'm OK (I'm near 70), they can also figure out when to get to the road head to pick me up. It also gives me a permanent record of my trips. I've never used the SOS feature, which is equivalent to PLB, but different satellite system. . Here is an example of how I use it. Spotwalla is a service put up by a kind soul in USA. You might need to adjust the % of points visible. This was my 2012 NZ trip - Rabbit Pass, Mt Alpha & Banks Peninsular walk Downside is annual subscription - US $115 at present. But if you need the emergency facility who's counting the cost.

SPOT, inReach, etc are definitely worth considering as satellite tracking devices. If doing so then be mindful that they're designed for different purposes. They're not emergency devices as PLBs are. With satellite trackers, the emergency function is merely stapled onto a system that's designed underneath with a higher acceptability of failure in mind. For a sat tracker's intended primary function it doesn't matter so much if you wander out of reception. A few transmissions might be missed, but your track just re-connects when you move along a bit, or if another satellite eventually comes into view. The emergency function will probably work in most situations, and that might be an acceptable compromise when you considering all the extra non-emergency stuff you get from those devices, but if I found myself in a genuine emergency that needed help as rapidly as possible then I'd definitely rather be pressing a button on a PLB than a SPOT. PLB emergency advantages which come to mind: (1) The satellite system is more reliable and satellites are more likely to be visible. (2) The emergency notification goes directly to the RCCNZ, also whichever centre is responsible for the area where you've triggered it, as opposed to going via a centre in Texas or wherever. (3) The 'brickiness' of a PLB is in some ways a feature: Not being able to run the battery down for anything else means you should have an adequate battery for it to function fully if you actually need it, as long as you've been monitoring the battery's expiry date. (4) If, for some reason, the device cannot ascertain its position from the GPS network for transmission, PLBs provide transmissions with rescue services can identify, triangulate and eventually locate you from anyway. This type of locating has been used multiple times in New Zealand in recent years, either because terrain or some kind of fault prevented the GPS from working. (Some PLBs are built without a GPS, although I think most do these days, but just be sure you understand what you're getting.) Not to say that satellite trackers don't also have potential emergency advantages over PLBs. eg. If, for some reason, you're unable to press an SOS button on whichever device you have, then once you're overdue a Tracker would probably give your contact person a fairly rough idea of where you are, as long as you had it switched on leading into wherever you stopped. It's unlikely that you'll have an emergency. Most people don't, but when considering the chances that it might happen, it's really up to you to consider the balance of what you're trying to do and what you want from it. Some people carry 2 devices, but the obvious down-side of that is the extra weight for a PLB that's only covering for a possibility that the emergency function of a satellite tracker might not work.

SPOTS are far more unreliable. their satellite coverage is bad downunder, transmission power is a tenth of a PLB and theres no external aerial to help with connectivity, SPOTS seldom work under bush or in deep gorges.... I have one and it is often unreliable at sending a signal...

Which SPOT version do you have @wanowski? There are multiple versions out there and I've seen often-mixed reviews. There are some highly detailed explanations and reviews elsewhere in the forum with a decent search.

The limitation with SPOT is the satellites, not the model. Their orbit takes them from 52 degrees north to 52 south so their satellites will almost always be north of you. So spot will only work where you have good visibility of the northern sky. And they will more often than not be liw on the sky.

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Forum Gear talk
Started by lupin
On 29 April 2017
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