Help Me Choose

There are primarily two types of hiking emergency beacons. They are the Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and the Satellite Messengers. The easiest way to keep them straight is to think of the PLB as a One-Way SOS Distress Signal with little or no way to communicate. The Satellite Messenger also has the SOS Signal but they typically allow for two-way texting, smart phone syncing and some even have topo navigation with maps.

Hiking Emergency Beacon

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs)

  • Sends SOS message to rescue teams only
  • Cannot cancel the SOS call
  • No subscription fees
  • Usually works better in remote areas internationally
  • It has a stronger signal than satellite messengers
  • Long battery life, as in years, not days (the PLB is not using the battery until it is activated)
  • The SOS distress calls are monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)
  • The PLB acts as a beacon to help the rescue teams find you (a built in strobe light would be helpful)
  • You are required to register your PLB with personal information about you only

Emergency Satellite Messengers (ESMs)

  • Sends SOS messages to rescue teams, PLUS you can send messages to family and friends
  • You can cancel the SOS call in many cases
  • Significant subscription fees
  • Coverage depends on the company and the signal may not be as strong as the PLB
  • Unobstructed view of the sky is needed
  • Shorter battery life due to all of the additional features, plus it is on while you are on your adventure.
  • Some models have topo navigation with maps
  • Way point tracking for family and friends, and even social media
  • Most models are capable of bluetooth pairing with your smartphone
  • Some models will sync with your fitness watches and devices

Things to Consider

Satellite network coverages are strong throughout the U.S. but make sure you check the coverage maps when traveling internationally and also confirm that your device is allowed in the country you are traveling to.

Remember to use your cell phone, if you are fortunate to have reception, as you will be available to provide more detail to the rescue teams looking for you. You can provide them with more detail on your approximate location and the condition you are in.

Only send an SOS call or distress call if your life is in immediate danger and will result in loss of limb and/or life. Rescue teams are being stretched thin at times as they are having to respond to “non-life” threatening calls.

Which Hiking Emergency Beacon is Right for Me?

There are some great options on the market that have many different options plus it gets more complicated with the different subscription plans. Here are some things to consider to help you make your decision.

  • What is most important to you? Determine your priorities.
    • Cost
    • Quick Messaging
    • Battery Life
    • Size
    • Navigation tools
  • Do you need the locator all year or only seasonaly?
  • Is texting and communicating two-way important?
  • Are pre-set messages good enough for what you need?
  • Do you want to pair the locator to your smartphone?

As you can see, only you can determine what is best for you. Consider what it is that is the most important thing for you. It may be enough to save some money, yet have the peace of mind that a rescue team can find you if trouble already has.

Here are Some PLBs and Satellite Messengers for you to Consider

Garmin inReach Explorer+ [Satellite Messenger]

  • Send and receive text messagesGarmin InReach Explorer
  • Setup pre-determined messages
  • Creates messages on the device but does not have a keyboard
  • The only model that serves as a handheld GPS navigator with built-in topo maps
  • Built-in altimeter
  • Built-in barometer
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • Request weather updates
  • Larger and heavier
  • IPX7 – Waterproof
  • Size = 6.5″ x 2.7″ x 1.5″
  • Weight = 7.5 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Easy 2-way messaging
    • Great smartphone app
    • Loaded and proven global network
  • Con’s
    • Expensive initial purchase
    • Heaviest of the satellite messengers

Garmin inReach Mini [Satellite Messenger]

  • Send and receive messagesGarmin InReach Mini
  • Setup pre-determined messages
  • Create messages typed on the device but there is no keyboard
  • The InReach Mini has many of the same features as the InReach Explorer+ when synced to a smartphone
  • Can be synced with the Garmin Forerunner935 or the Fenix 5 series watches
  • Request weather updates
  • Monthly subscription plans are available if you only plan on using it part of the year.
  • Polo to pole coverage internationally
  • IPX7 – Waterproof
  • Size = 3.9″ x 2.0″ x 1.0″
  • Weight = 3.5 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Small
    • 2-way messaging
  • Con’s
    • Typing a message is slow

SPOT X [Satellite Messenger]

  • Send and receive messagesSPOT X
  • IPX7 – Waterproof
  • IP67 – Dustproof
  • Will not sync with your smartphone
  • Built-in keyboard
  • Programmable waypoints
  • Comes with a unique U.S. mobil phone number
  • Operates on the Globalstar Satellite Network
  • Larger and heavier
  • Size = 6.5″ x 2.9″ x 0.9″
  • Weight = 6.7 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • 2-way messaging
    • On-device keyboard for easier messaging
  • Con’s
    • Bulky
    • So smartphone interface

SPOT Gen3 [Satellite Messenger]

  • Send messages ONLYSPOT Gen3
  • Three message options to choose from
  • The custom messages have to be composed at home, not on the device
  • Messages can only be sent to, up to 10 pre-determined, contacts before your trip starts
  • IPX7 – Waterproof
  • Monthly and yearly service plans available
  • Can charge with a re-supply power pack or extra AAA batteries.
  • Size = 3.4″ x 2.5″ x 1.0″
  • Weight = 4.0 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Compact and lightweight
    • Rental options
  • Con’s
    • Only 1-way communication
    • No smartphone interface

Somewear Global Hotspot [Satellite Messenger]

  • Offers global coverageSomewear Global Hotspot
  • Ultralight
  • Compact
  • Text communication
  • Bluetooth
  • Location tracking
  • Weather reports
  • IPX7 – Waterproof
  • Size = 3.6″ x 3.0″ x 0.8″
  • Weight = 4.0 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Small
    • Affordable subscription options
    • Proven satellite dispatch networks
  • Con’s
    • Only supports SOS on the device itself

Bivystick [Satellite Messenger]

  • 2-way satellite communication, with synced smartphoneBivystick
  • Share your location via text message, Facebook or Twitter
  • Tracking at 10 minute intervals
  • Detailed 3 or 7 day weather forecasts
  • Access to downloadable offline maps
  • Battery backup
  • Affordable monthly plan
  • Communicate with rescue teams directly
  • Weght = 12.0 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Reliable network and dispatch service
    • Solid construction
  • Con’s
    • No functionality without your smartphone
    • Large and heavy

Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 [Personal Locator Beacon]

  • Waterproof to 15m
  • SOS for emergency services
  • Fast accurate positioning
  • 7 year battery life
  • No subsription
  • High intensity (1 candela) strobe
  • Homing beacon to aid in location by rescue teams
  • Size = 3.0″ x 2.0″ x 1.3″
  • Weight = 4.1 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Reasonable initial purchase price
    • No paid subscription
    • Proven global network
  • Con’s
    • No “non-emergency” messaging

ACR ResQlink View [Personal Locator Beacon]

  • BuoyantACR ResQlink View
  • LED strobe light
  • Self test
  • 66 channel GPS
  • Easy emergency activation
  • Antenna clip
  • Battery replacement free of charge if you use it
  • Size = 4.5″ x 1.9″ x 1.6″
  • Weight = 5.4 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • COSPAS/SARSAT’s reliablilty and long track record
    • No annual subscrption fees
    • Simple operation
    • Excellent “emergency-only” personal beacon
  • Con’s
    • Large and heavy

ACR Aqualink View [Personal Locator Beacon]

  • BuoyantACR Aqualink View
  • LED strobe light
  • Self test
  • 66 channel GPS
  • Easy emergency activation
  • Screen displays GPS and LAT/LON
  • Battery replacement free of charge if you use it
  • Size = 5.8″ x 2.3″ x 1.5″
  • Weight = 9.2 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • No annual subscription fees
    • Simple operation
  • Con’s
    • Large and heavy

GoTenna Mesh [Satellite Messenger]

  • Send text and GPS without cell or wifi
  • Works with any smartphone
  • Up to 4 mile range
  • Great for communicating with groups
  • Affordable
  • Size = 5.0″ x 1.2″ x 0.5″
  • Weight = 1.7 oz.
  • Pro’s
    • Light and compact
    • Customizable communication network
  • Con’s
    • Limited coverage area
    • Limits to secure emergency services

Check out these articles HERE to learn more about Hiking Emergency Beacons.

If you would like additional information or to see other models, go to my REVIEW PAGE, leave a COMMENT BELOW or send me an EMAIL.

Return to Home Page

SaleBestseller No. 1
Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow - ALUFT 2.0 Compressible, Compact, Comfortable, Ergonomic Inflating Pillows for Neck & Lumbar Support While Camp, Hiking, Backpacking
680 Reviews
Trekology Ultralight Inflatable Camping Travel Pillow - ALUFT 2.0 Compressible, Compact, Comfortable, Ergonomic Inflating Pillows for Neck & Lumbar Support While Camp, Hiking, Backpacking
  • SMALL in SIZE - BIG on COMFORT! This is the most compact & lightweight inflatable camp pillow on the market – folds down to 5x2 inches, smaller than a soda can! Inflates to a comfortable pillow for head or lumbar support. Deflating back down in only seconds. This backpacking pillow can easily be carried in your backpack or pocket for convenient access. Weighing a mere 3.4oz (100g), lighter than a can of soda!
  • New in 2.0! NOW MORE DURABLE THAN EVER! Enhanced design with latest highly durable elastic TPU fabric that boasts water resistance. So, whether sleeping under the stars in the mountains, in your boat on the open seas, tenting at your favorite national park or staying at a hotel on holiday—your Aluft comfort travel pillow is the perfect travel companion.
  • New in 2.0! SLEEP WITHOUT WORRY with OUR PROPITIATORY DOT and LATCH DESIGN - No more slipping off your pillow in the middle of the night! The new Aluft 2.0 pillow back contain rubber anti-slipping dots to increase frictions between your pillow and the sleeping mat. A latch strap pairs well with air inflatable sleeping pads canfurther prevent your pillow from moving around while you sleep. All these features are designed with your ultimate comfort in mind!
  • New in 2.0! NEWLY STYLISH DESIGNED with YOUR ULTIMATE COMFORT in MIND - Improved Ergonomic Design with Enhanced neck support for a restful night’s sleep! The Aluft 2.0 Comfort Air Pillow is ideal for back, side and stomach sleepers alike. Inflates to a generous 16 x 12 x 4 inches, in a mere 3-5 breaths (approx.). Ergonomically designed for superior neck and back support while you travel—sleep like at home. The only thing left to decide is where to go.
  • EASE OF USE! With the simple click of a button, Inflate pillow by mouth with approximately 3-5 breaths. Once you are done you can conveniently deflate the pillow with the Quick Deflate feature which rapidly releases air after use in only seconds. With the unique technology in this compact and light pillow, you are able to adjust firmness to your personal sleep preference. You can Rest easy with our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!
Bestseller No. 2
TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping; Hunter Green
2,279 Reviews
TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack; High-Performance Backpack for Backpacking, Hiking, Camping; Hunter Green
  • NOT YOUR BASIC BACKPACK: Continues to be the top selling internal frame backpack on Amazon at a great price for all the included features; Backpack for men and women. Waist Belt- Adjustable 26 - 60 inches. Torso Length- Adjustable 15 - 19.5 inch
  • VERSATILE QUICK TRIP PACK: Just right for youth and adults for light backpacking trips; best for 2-4-day adventures; 3400 cubic inches (55 L) capacity; weighs 4.5 pounds (2 kg)
  • COMFORT YOU CAN CUSTOMIZE: Multi-position torso adjustment fits wide range of body sizes; Durable open-cell foam lumbar pad and molded channels provide maximum comfort and airflow
  • TRUSTED QUALITY: Hiking backpack with hundreds of verified 5-star reviews testifying to the quality and design; sleeping bag compartment, compression straps, and exterior pockets for strategic packing
  • TETON SPORTS PROMISE: Reach out to our AMAZING product support team if you have any questions or concerns; YOU CAN COUNT ON US to get you taken care of and back OUTDOORS with TETON Sports
Bestseller No. 3
iunio Portable Trowel Shovel 10 inch Length with Carrying Pouch Multitool for Camping Gardening Hiking Backpacking Outdoor Survival (Mini Black)
482 Reviews
iunio Portable Trowel Shovel 10 inch Length with Carrying Pouch Multitool for Camping Gardening Hiking Backpacking Outdoor Survival (Mini Black)
  • Sturdy & Durable - Made of stainless steel which is high-strength and wear-resistant. This portable shovel trowel has passed the durability tests and our destruction tests.
  • Multifunctional - This portable shovel trowel features a regular trowel doesn't even have: Shovel Blade, Saw, Ruler, Nail Extractor, Hex Wrench, Paracord(110 inch). It can also be used as a spare tent stake by burying this portable trowel in the dirt, sand or snow to use as a tent peg on a windy day.
  • Versatile - Ideal for backpacking, camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, gardening outdoor activities. Also great for anyone to use, campers, backpackers, hikers, gardeners, survivalists, hunters.
  • Portable - This shovel trowel fits in a convenient carrying pouch with a belt loop to carry at your side. It's easy for you to hang it on your belt to carry.
  • Iunio trowel lasts for life: Our trowels are built to last! You take care of our trowel and we'll take care of you! All replacement requests are supported by our awesome customer service team anytime!!!
Bestseller No. 4
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
9,588 Reviews
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
  • Award-winning LifeStraw water filter is a must-carry tool for hiking, camping, travel, and emergencies; no disaster kit is complete without it
  • Filters up to 1000 liters of contaminated water without iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals; does not require batteries and has no moving parts
  • Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters to 0.2 microns; surpasses EPA filter standards
  • An alternative to iodine tablets and bulky purifiers, it weighs 2oz for ultralight portability, and has a high flow rate for drinking from the source
  • Comes in a sealed bag, perfect for storing in a bugout bag or other prepper gear supply kit; measures 9 x 1 x 1 inches.BPA Free materials
SaleBestseller No. 5
Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer, Poppy Orange, One Size
206 Reviews
Osprey UltraLight Roll Organizer, Poppy Orange, One Size
  • Large secure pocket holds bulkier items and toiletries
  • A multiple pocketing system ensures dedicated space for certain items
  • Hanging clip loop allows the organizer to hang from bathroom hooks or tree branches
  • An added mirror makes sure you look good or can help start a fire
  • Pockets: 4 interior zip

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

2 thoughts on “Help Me Choose”

  1. I have both the Acr Resqlink and the Spot X. I tried the Spot 2 weeks ago and was not impressed. I hike in a forested area with a limited view of the sky. I sent 7 messages to the same number and 3 were received.
    I carry the acr with me and leave the Spot at camp.
    Any idea of which 2 way communicator works best with limited sky view?

    • Hi Jim.

      All of the satellite messengers and personal locator beacons will have issues with limited views of the sky but I prefer the Garmin inReach Mini and the Garmin inReach Explorer+. I believe they are more reliable and have additional functions that are important to me. They also have global, pole to pole coverage, where the SPOT products do not.

      I personally carry the inReach Mini as my primary satellite messenger. It is synced with my smartphone so I can get the topo maps and most of the same functions that the inReach Explorer+ has. My son uses the Garmin inReach Explorer+ as his primary satellite messenger. I do mostly day hikes or short overnight backpacking trips, so the inReach Mini is perfect for me.

      Let me know if you have any additional questions.



Leave a Comment