Personal Locator Beacon | Hiking

There are many types of emergency locator beacons or satellite messengers but for today, I want to focus on personal locator beacons for hiking. Of course, these beacons can be used for anything, including backpacking, white water rafting, hunting, rock climbing, snow shoeing, camping and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are incredible at one primary service. They can reach search and rescue services anywhere in the world if you are in a life-threatening situation.

Helicopter Rescue

See the definition HERE for emergency locator beacons.

They don’t have a lot of “extra” or “cool” stuff because they are meant to save your life. You cannot get a better device if all you want is an S.O.S. distress call with a battery that will last 5 or more years.

If you want “more cool stuff” then look at my satellite messengers in my Emergency Radio Reviews.

The “Big 3” Personal Locator Beacons

There are primarily only 3 serious contenders in the Personal Locator Beacon market for hiking. These are:

The Ocean signal is the smallest of the three but the two ACR personal locator beacons offer a few additional features.

Note of Interest: Verification of the S.O.S. distress call can take up to 60 minutes and 99% of all distress calls are FALSE, so use caution when handling these devices.

The verification does not include the time for the nearest SAR team to reach you. This is only a verification of the signal.

Ocean Signal RescueME, PLB1

This is really known as the PLB1 on the Ocean Signal website. This little locator beacon is about the size of a small wallet but packs a big punch. Here is a list of incredible features from the Ocean Signal website.

  • MEOSAR CompatibleOcean Signal RescueME PLB1
    • MEOSAR – Medium Earth Orbiting Search and Rescue
  • World’s Smallest PLB
  • Waterproof to 15m
  • No Subscription Required
  • Link via Satellite to Emergency Services
  • High Intensity (1 Candela) Strobe
  • Fast Accurate Positioning
  • Easily Deployed Antenna
  • 7 Year Warranty
  • 7 Year Battery Life
  • 24 Hour Operation Life
  • 66 Channel GPS Receiver
  • Unique Mounting Clip
  • 30 Percent Smaller
  • Flotation Pouch
  • Homing Beacon to Aid Final Location by Search and Rescue Teams.
  • Operates on the Global Cospas Sarsat Rescue System
  • 406Link Compatibility

It’s hard to pass up on everything the PLB1 offers when it comes in such a little package. Convenience and portability is important.

ACR ResQLink View

The ACR ResQLink View is significantly larger but wait until you see what it has to offer. These functions come from the Acrartex website.

  • Buoyancy Built-InACR ResQLink View
  • Waterproof
  • Digital Display
  • No Subscription Required
  • GPS and Galileo GNSS
  • Strobe and Infrared Strobe
  • Global Coverage
  • MEOSAR Compatible
  • Small and Lightweight
  • 5 Year Battery Life
  • 28 Hour Operational Life
  • Multi-Function Clip System Included
  • Exclusive ACR Skins Included with Purchase (Customize Your Beacon)
  • 406Link Compatibility

A few things really catch my attention with this ACR ResQLink View and those are No subscription, Infrared strobe and global coverage.

ACR AquaLink View

My personal opinion of the AquaLink View is that this one is meant for marine users, primarily. I would be happy to take this with me on a hike, but I don’t believe this is the best device for hiking, from my research.

  • Head Offshore with ConfidenceACR AquaLink View
  • Digital Display
  • GPS Positioning
  • Transmission Bursts
  • Buoyancy Built-In
  • Waterproof
  • Quickly Relay Position to Satellite Network to Reduce Search & Rescue Time
  • 35 Hour Operational Life
  • 406Link Compatibility

Differences Between PLBs

Here are a few significant differences between the PLB1, ResQLink View and the AquaLink View.

  • PLB1 is significantly smaller than the ResQLink and half the size and weight of the AquaLink.
  • The ResQLink and the AquaLink have a digital display.
  • The ResQLink has an infrared strobe light.
  • Both ACR beacons have the buoyancy built-in. The PLB1 has a flotation pouch.
  • The ACR AquaLink View is the largest of the three Personal Locator Beacons.

The Bottom Line

These Personal Locator Beacons may be perfect for you, but I want to remind you that, even though they are great at sending out an S.O.S. distress call, they do not provide 1-way or 2-way messaging. Only the Emergency Satellite Messengers (ESMs) provide this function. You can learn more about the Satellite Messengers HERE.

You may be saying to yourself “well, I don’t want people to be able to message me. I want to be left alone on my outdoor adventure.”

I am with you on this one and this may be the real reason I end up with a PLB instead of an ESM. I have already purchased the SPOT Gen3 and the SPOT X satellite messengers, but will be buying the Garmin inReach Explorer+ and most likely the ACR ResQLink View soon, in addition to all the other emergency locator beacons.

RESCUEME PLB1 PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON - USA PROGRAMMED
ACR ResQLink 400 - Buoyant GPS Personal Locator Beacon (Model: PLB-400)
ACR AquaLink 350B PLB
RESCUEME PLB1 PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON - USA PROGRAMMED
ACR ResQLink 400 - Buoyant GPS Personal Locator Beacon (Model: PLB-400)
ACR AquaLink 350B PLB
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RESCUEME PLB1 PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON - USA PROGRAMMED
RESCUEME PLB1 PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON - USA PROGRAMMED
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ACR ResQLink 400 - Buoyant GPS Personal Locator Beacon (Model: PLB-400)
ACR ResQLink 400 - Buoyant GPS Personal Locator Beacon (Model: PLB-400)
ACR AquaLink 350B PLB
ACR AquaLink 350B PLB
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I want to know for myself what each of these have to offer so I can pick the right one for me and in turn, help you decide what emergency locator beacon or satellite messenger is right for you as well. I hope this has helped you understand more about Personal Locator Beacons. Now go out and enjoy the outdoors but with added safety and peace of mind for you and your family.

Enjoy Nature

Please leave me a Comment below or EMAIL me if you have any questions.

Rick

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12 thoughts on “Personal Locator Beacon | Hiking”

  1. Hello,
    may I ask you more details about this:

    “The RescueME can be used on land or sea, but my personal opinion is that it may be better for someone on a large body of water and not on land, especially in the mountains.
    I would love to have the RescueME on a hike or backpacking trip if that was all I had but this would not be my first choice as I do most of my outdoor excursions in the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado.”

    I would love to buy it for hiking on Alps but I want to be sure that it works in every situation, at every temperature and any altitude.

    Any further comments or suggestions are welcomed.

    Reply
    • If you want to have the best emergency satellite messenger that has world wide coverage, pole to pole, I would recommend the Garmin inReach Explorer+. Not only does it have world wide coverage but it also has built-in navigation. Another great option would be the Garmin inReach Mini. I currently have the SPOT X and SPOT Gen 3 but they do not have true world wide coverage and the SPOT Gen3 is only a 1-way messenger, where the Explorer+, Mini and SPOT X are 2-way messengers.

      SPOT does, however, offer great coverage in Europe.

      I agree that the RescueME is great for large bodies of water but are not the “go to” rescue beacons for land use.

      I also live in and hike a lot in Colorado, and the higher location accuracy and 2-way messaging are more important here. I also like have the navigation maps which the SPOT X does not have. It has navigation and waypoints but I have to use something like AllTrails to give me a location on a map but then I am relying on my cell phone, which I am not fond of.

      I hope this helps. Please send additional comments if you have more.

      Rick

      Reply

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