Emergency beacon for hikers? Do you need one?
What is an Emergency Beacon?
An emergency beacon’s primary function is to call for help in a life-threatening situation.
The manufacturers have started adding additional features to make these more functional, such as adding messaging, cell phone syncing, navigation and weather forecasts.
Are There Different Types?
There are two types of emergency locators. They are:
- Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)
- Emergency Satellite Messenger (ESMs), better known only as a “Satellite Messenger.”
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)
The personal locator beacon does one thing really well, and that is to place an S.O.S. distress call, that can be received anywhere in the world. A call center receives the message and relays your location and additional information to local search and rescue teams in your area.
These have long battery lives, around 5 to 6 years, and typically do not have any monthly or yearly subscription fees.
Emergency Satellite Messengers (ESMs)
The emergency satellite messengers have the S.O.S. function but they have also added things like 1 or 2-way messaging, tracking, cell phone syncing, navigation and weather forecasts.
They do not all have the same features, but I have broken these down for you hear in my HELP ME CHOOSE article.
Do I Need One?
In a word…YES!
I have spent over 34 years hiking without an emergency locator, but I have recently listed all the times I was in a situation where I may have needed one. You can read about those potential emergencies HERE. It’s a little scary to think that I have been in at least 7 potential life-threatening situations in all of my hiking trips.
I am no different then any of you. I always plan for the trip turning out perfectly, knowing there could be a little rain, but never preparing for serious injuries or life-threatening emergencies.
We all know that we are invincible and “it will never happen to me.”
Let’s just say that I never go on an outdoor adventure anymore without my emergency satellite messenger. If you’re wondering, I use the SPOT Gen3, as it was one of the least expensive location devices that fit my budget at the time. You can read more about it at my SPOT Gen3 Review.
Do you need one? I would say yes, and I don’t leave home without mine these days.
What Beacon or Messenger is Better?
This is a question that needs to be answered by each person individually, based on your needs, wants and what kind of outdoor adventures you go on.
I have gone into an in-depth review of each emergency locator HERE and have also created a review of each Personal Locator Device below:
Here are the links to each Emergency Satellite Messenger review:
- Garmin inReach Explorer+
- Garmin inReach Mini
- SPOT X
- SPOT Gen3
- Somewear Global Hotspot
- Go TennaMesh
Where Can I Buy One?
There are many places you can buy an emergency location device, but I prefer to purchase mine through Amazon. They always seem to have the best prices and have extremely fast shipping.
You can find my favorite Emergency Satellite Messenger at Amazon – Garmin inReach Explorer+.
Please don’t misunderstand me writing about these emergency locator devices as me trying to make money. This is something I have seen over the years as extremely important and one of my essential hiking items that I always take with me on all of my outdoor adventures.
You know from personal experience, if you have hiked for very long, how many times you have faced a potentially dangerous situation. Don’t wait until you are in one and then wish you had taken safety precautions for yourself and your family.
If you would like to see all the Personal Locator Beacons or Emergency Satellite Messengers, see my Emergency Radio Reviews.
Take a Look at My Favorite Satellite Messenger
- 100 percent global Iridium satellite coverage enables two way text messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription required)
- Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center
- Track and share your location with family and friends. Water rating : IPX7. Battery : Rechargeable internal lithium ion
- Pair with mobile devices using the free Earthmate app for access to downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more
- inReach Explorer+ device adds preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps with onscreen GPS routing plus built in digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer
Please Email Me with your questions or thoughts on Emergency Beacons for Hikers or Leave a Comment Below.
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