GPS Beacons?

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lalahikesnw
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GPS Beacons?

Post by lalahikesnw » April 29th, 2019, 7:52 am

Want to purchase a GPS locator as I primarily adventure solo. Curious as to what people recommend? Been looking at the Garmin inReach and SPOT. SPOT doesn't have great reviews. I'd like something that has messaging/check in and SAR capabilities.

Would love some opinions! thanks!

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Bosterson
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by Bosterson » April 29th, 2019, 11:04 am

I have read lots of great reviews of the InReach Mini - many of the features of the full InReach, works through a smartphone app, you can send limited preset messages depending on your plan, etc.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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aiwetir
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by aiwetir » April 29th, 2019, 2:30 pm

I'll throw in that my friend who works for SAR bought himself a SPOT and I've used a SPOT and would myself only consider a SPOT because of the price. I've had friends cross remote areas of Canada by canoe and we all watched their progress which was both fun and safe
- Michael

RobFromRedland
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by RobFromRedland » April 29th, 2019, 4:52 pm

aiwetir wrote:
April 29th, 2019, 2:30 pm
I'll throw in that my friend who works for SAR bought himself a SPOT and I've used a SPOT and would myself only consider a SPOT because of the price. I've had friends cross remote areas of Canada by canoe and we all watched their progress which was both fun and safe
SPOT has been pricing itself out of the market - the initial cost is cheap, but the yearly fee keeps going up. It looks like the new SPOTx might be very similar to the Garmin inReach and the pricing looks similar as well. I've had an inReach for a year now and it has worked really well for me. I send my wife a preset message when I get to the trailhead and one when I'm back at the truck. I also have 10 messages a month on top of the unlimited preset messages. I pay about $12/month for the service.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

Webfoot
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by Webfoot » April 29th, 2019, 10:28 pm

I won't try to dissuade you from a two-way device but an ACR ResQLink also has advantages. An InReach I rented would fail to connect from within canyons, but I also didn't do a full test of the ResQLink at the same time to see if it would have worked any better. (You only get a limited number of full tests before the battery needs to be professionally replaced.)
timbernet wrote:
November 1st, 2018, 2:53 pm
Advantage of the ACR ResQ PLBs -- penetrate canyons and tree cover better due to the frequency they operate at. They also don't have a monthly fee. BUT they are one time use... activate and wait for rescue, but you can't re-use.

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aiwetir
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by aiwetir » April 29th, 2019, 11:16 pm

RobFromRedland wrote:
April 29th, 2019, 4:52 pm
SPOT has been pricing itself out of the market - the initial cost is cheap, but the yearly fee keeps going up. It looks like the new SPOTx might be very similar to the Garmin inReach and the pricing looks similar as well. I've had an inReach for a year now and it has worked really well for me. I send my wife a preset message when I get to the trailhead and one when I'm back at the truck. I also have 10 messages a month on top of the unlimited preset messages. I pay about $12/month for the service.
Ouch, they have gone up in price. I'm guessing they can't absorb any costs as well as Garmin can. I guess I'll consider a PLB of some sort in the future then since I don't think I need really many of the features but the 'send help now' feature
- Michael

RobFromRedland
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by RobFromRedland » April 30th, 2019, 6:06 am

aiwetir wrote:
April 29th, 2019, 11:16 pm
RobFromRedland wrote:
April 29th, 2019, 4:52 pm
SPOT has been pricing itself out of the market - the initial cost is cheap, but the yearly fee keeps going up. It looks like the new SPOTx might be very similar to the Garmin inReach and the pricing looks similar as well. I've had an inReach for a year now and it has worked really well for me. I send my wife a preset message when I get to the trailhead and one when I'm back at the truck. I also have 10 messages a month on top of the unlimited preset messages. I pay about $12/month for the service.
Ouch, they have gone up in price. I'm guessing they can't absorb any costs as well as Garmin can. I guess I'll consider a PLB of some sort in the future then since I don't think I need really many of the features but the 'send help now' feature
I can't find info on the "old" SPOT units pricing - I have two friends who have them, and I thought they said last time they renewed it was like $200/year or something like that. The initial cost was cheap, but then they kept increasing the yearly fee. The new SPOTx units seem to be priced more in line with the Garmin units. Don't know how they perform in relation to the Garmin units, though.

I was not really excited about spending $12/month, but I view it as a cheap form of insurance. I've also used it in some useful ways. Pablo and I sent a few messages back and forth on one trip when we were coming from different ends of a trail. Something you definitely can't do with a phone or PLB. I've also used it to communicate with my wife for unexpected things - like a change in trip plans after I left home - due to conditions.

Occasionally it takes a while to get the message out, but I've only had one instance where I couldn't get a message - and it was odd - it was when we were hiking in the redwoods and we were on Redwood creek (a very wide creek). I couldn't get a signal out unless I went to one side of the creek. It was odd because the hills on either side weren't that high. My friend who had a SPOT had the same problem. Otherwise, I've had no issues getting a signal out, even in heavy tree cover. It usually just takes longer.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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aiwetir
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by aiwetir » April 30th, 2019, 9:31 am

Older SPOT pricing was $99 a year I believe but then they added an annual fee that made it like $145. I think that eventually SPOT will get buried by Garmin if they can't make something different enough (price or feature wise) to get people to buy it. As far as it being a cheap form of insurance, yeah I guess it's like the cost of 1 month of decent car insurance for a year of service
- Michael

harrow.ing
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by harrow.ing » August 15th, 2019, 5:54 pm

Reviving an older thread here, just wanted to add my 2₵ for folks coming across this down the line!

After a lengthy bit of research I pulled the trigger on the Garmin inReach Explorer 2 years ago and it's been fantastic. Some quick notes from my experience-
  • It's been on multiple bikepacking trips where I've dropped it while careening down a steep hill, no issues whatsoever (though I do use a screen protector- highly recommend)
  • I load my routes onto it in advance to use it as a backup GPS in case a phone breaks, which has definitely been a trip-saver once already.
  • I loan it out to a close mycologist friend who's used it to drop pins for certain finds as well as tracking her off-trail forays. She's able to use it in the rain w/ gloves when pulling out a phone would be less than ideal. It also keeps me sane knowing she's got the SOS in case she gets lost off-trail!
  • 2 way SMS can be a bit frustrating and sometimes sorta defeats some of the purpose of going off grid, but can be extremely useful if you or your companions need it. I've updated & coordinated w/ folks on major changes in plans due to trip conditions that would've left them worrying for at least a day till I got cell signal, and I'm able to keep my mom from freaking out when her daughter's alone in the middle of nowhere, which is always important.
  • SOS, obviously really good to have. Never had to use it, hope to keep it that way, but the peace of mind is great.
  • Haven't looked at recent SPOT pricing, but last I checked Garmin was the only one offering a totally flexible plan. I can turn off service in the winter when it's not in use (though honestly I forgot the last 2 years).
Bunch of that stuff is applicable to most GPS devices, but the GPS+Satellite combo is super nice. Highly recommend the inReach Explorer, also pretty excited about the reviews I've seen on the inReach Mini.

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Crusak
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Re: GPS Beacons?

Post by Crusak » August 16th, 2019, 12:03 pm

I've been using the (older) DeLorme inReach SE for about 5 years now. It's been a great device and I haven't had any issues with it. I keep it set to mark my location every 10 minutes while 'tracking' is on, and occasionally it will missing sending the location due to poor satellite connection. But overall it has been a good investment IMO.

The newest Garmin, the GPSMAP 66i has been plagued with issues during it's initial release. If you're considering an all-in-one system I'd wait until they get the kinks worked out of that unit.

My family enjoys the ability to follow my wanderings online, and even send me messages when necessary.
Jim's Hikes

Solvitur Ambulando

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