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.

rescueME PLB1

ACR ResQLink 400

ACR ResQLink View

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.

Personal Locator Beacon

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.

Garmin GPSMAP 67i

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
RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon - USA Programmed
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RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon - USA Programmed
RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon - USA Programmed
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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. People’s fears is actually understandable when it comes to going hiking and not wanting to do it alone. I have also been in such situations but with the personal locator beacon, it is close to impossible to miss your way out there and that is why even I recommend it to anyone who wants to go out there on expenditures. You have listed here three of the very best. Like you mentioned, they are not fancy, they are meant to connect with help. Nice post!

    Reply
    • I appreciate the compliments on the article. I don’t leave home without one any more and I plan on buying the ACR ResQLink View in the very near future. 

      My daughter is part of the mountain search and rescue team in Gunnison, Colorado and they had two potential searches last night and this morning but the hunter and hiker turned up prior to the search team being activated. She has several stories of people being lost or injured and none of them had emergency locator beacons on them which would have been a tremendous help to the search team and the individual.

      Rick

      Reply
  2. Hiking is a fine thing which most people get involved in, and the feeling is one thing I hope to have some day myself. Going on such expenditures would make sense, but not getting lost in the woods or mountains is something we should be concerned about too. Having these locator beacon with yourself is a nice idea and from its features like battery life,waterproof and it being able to connect to a satellite and it having a GPS is nice. For those that connects to satellites, is there a required distance you’ll need to be from the satellite before it can connect?

    Reply
    • These emergency locator beacons use Medium Earth Orbiting satellites so all you need is a clear view of the sky and you will have service.

      Thank you for the comments and questions.

      Rick

      Reply
  3. Hi Rick,
    Great synopsis of the PLBs.
    Boy, things have sure changed since I was a kid hiking through the woods with my fellow Boy Scouts!
    We were on our own. We did have people that knew where we were going, what trail we would be using, and when we were expected back. But, if there were an emergency situation, we were likely going to be waiting until 24 hours after the time we were expected to be back.
    Technology is awesome!
    Which of these do you own/recommend?

    Reply
    • I always leave a trail map with friends and family, even with technology, but there have been several times where we had to make a change to our plans and were not in cell service to let anyone know of the changes.

      I don’t own a PLB yet. I own the  SPOT Gen3 satellite messenger but will be buying the ACR ResQLink View, probably by the first of 2020.

      Rick

      Reply
  4. Thank you for your post. It is useful topic for me. I am a hiking-lover and do hiking year around. In my hiking journey, I fell off cliff several times. In such environment, there is usually no phone service. These accidents almost caused my life.

    Your article on Personal Locator Beacon is a life-saving information. I don’t agree with you that I don’t want people to be able to message me and I want to be left alone on my outdoor adventure. In my cases, it is important to have the capacities to communicate with emergency personal and ask for help immediately. I would like to purchase one with 2-way messaging function.

    It is kind of you sharing this life-saving equipment with us.

    Reply
    • I agree with you that the 2-way messaging is important and one service that I will have but I say I don’t like to be bothered and that is a direct reference to my wife wanting to call me and message me all day long.

      I’m just wondering if I can keep it from her that I can be contacted on the trail. I am smiling while writing this because I am partially joking and also laughing about how my wife just can’t seem to live without me.

      Rick

      Reply
  5. Wow, this is very nice to see here. I must say that you have so far done a very good job so far on your website and now you are defining what the Locator emergency beacon is. I have to say this is really nice to see. They really aren’t so fancy but they are only meant to help one get safety in cases of emergency. I take them with me when i go hiking but i haven’t had a reason to use it yet. Nice one you have here.

    Reply
    • Thank you John. This has been a great fit for me, living in Colorado and hiking a lot. I often go out on hikes by myself, and maybe to much but I have really seen the value of being able to communicate with others and also to be able to send an S.O.S. if I ever need to,

      Rick

      Reply
  6. 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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