Jul 21, 2013 at 9:33 am #1305624
Bradley JayBPL Member
I am looking to purchase a PLB for a 10 solo hike through New Hampshire's 4000' peaks. Last year on the JMT I rented a SPOT II after family expressed concern about being alone. I found the process of checking in to be unreliable and ultimately a cause for more concern for those close to me. This time around I think a PLB makes far more sense. "Checking in" causes added stress for everyone and the SPOT service seems to be very hit or miss. So I'm basically looking for a light, reliable, subscription free PLB.
I've been able to ID the REsQLink+406 and the FastFind 220 as the two lightest devices available. Is there anything lighter out there? Does anyone have experience with either/both?
Any info would be appreciated. Best!
BradJul 21, 2013 at 9:52 am #2008033
>I've been able to ID the REsQLink+406 and the FastFind 220 as the two lightest devices available.
The plain ACR ResQLink PLB (without the "+") is lighter than both of those, and probably the lightest PLB actually available, at 130 grams:
— RexJul 21, 2013 at 9:58 am #2008034
Those are the lightest ones that I know of. The ResQLink has been on the market for at least a couple of years. The Fastfind is new. Most of the weight in these units is in the batteries. The batteries are only factory replaceable.
I have the ResQlink but have never had the need to turn it on.Jul 21, 2013 at 10:13 am #2008039
Rex, I wasn't aware of the + version. Is the only differece the weight and the fact + is boyaont?Jul 21, 2013 at 10:23 am #2008042
>Rex, I wasn't aware of the + version. Is the only differece the weight and the fact + is boyaont?
— RexJul 21, 2013 at 11:46 am #2008073
People carry these things like a talisman – i.e a good luck charm. Back in the days of old, when you couldn't test them, everybody drank the koolaid that the COSPAS-SARSAT system was just soooo much more reliable than a "commercial system".
Well now that folks can actually test these units they are finding out that they have all the same quirks of the SPOT system. The reviews are dribbling in and they are enlightening. They need to get a GPS fix. They don't always hit a satelite. They don't work in canyons or under canopy any better than SPOT.
So what's my point really? Test before you bet your life on it. Understand it's limitations. Don't carry an expensive, heavy, lucky rabbits foot.Jul 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm #2008128
>Well now that folks can actually test these units they are finding out
>that they have all the same quirks of the SPOT system. The reviews are
>dribbling in and they are enlightening. They need to get a GPS fix. They
>don't always hit a satelite. They don't work in canyons or under canopy
>any better than SPOT.
Reviews are not always accurate. For example, PLBs do not need to get a GPS fix; GPS fixes are in addition to Doppler location fixes from LEO satellites. GPS was added for speed, accuracy, and redundancy.
Using a PLB test service is not the same as activating a PLB for a real emergency. Among other differences, in a real emergency your PLB transmits continuously until the battery dies, specified for at least 24 hours; a test runs for a short time to keep from depleting your battery. A real activation is much more likely to reach a satellite than a test.
Like any device that uses satellites, your PLB needs to see the satellites to send a signal, so try to activate in an open area. But 'PLBs also have a built-in, low-power homing beacon that transmits on 121.5 MHz. This allows rescue forces to home in on a beacon once the 406 MHz satellite system has gotten them "in the ballpark" (about 2-3 miles).'
Every device has pros and cons; choose wisely, and be prepared for the real risks of heading into the wilderness.
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