GPS Beacons?

Ask questions and share your experiences with hiking & backpacking gear, and share trail recipes and gadget tips. Please see classifieds forum for buying/selling stuff.
Post Reply
User avatar
lalahikesnw
Posts: 23
Joined: August 2nd, 2015, 2:19 pm

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!

User avatar
Bosterson
Posts: 1879
Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

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.

User avatar
aiwetir
Posts: 487
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 11:54 am
Contact:

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
Posts: 973
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

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
Posts: 1137
Joined: November 25th, 2015, 11:06 am
Location: Troutdale

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.

User avatar
aiwetir
Posts: 487
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 11:54 am
Contact:

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
Posts: 973
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

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!

User avatar
aiwetir
Posts: 487
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 11:54 am
Contact:

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

Post Reply