Even if you’re not navigationaly challenged like the four mountain bikers that got lost in Bear Canyon by Mt Wilson last Sunday, you could easily find yourself in an emergency situation when you travel in the wilderness. Cell phones have limited coverage in mountain areas and GMRS radios are not monitored emergency personnel.
The Spot Gen 3 Satellite Messenger works by sending a message including your GPS coordinates to a satellite, which is then forwarded to an emergency operations center for action. Of course, you need a clear view of the sky but that shouldn’t be too hard to find in the wilderness!
The basic SPOT service covers rescue responses and for a little extra money you can increase your benefits coverage for things like helicopter rides and world-wide search and rescue efforts.
What’s more, you can send “I’m OK” messages anytime during your journey and you can also ask your friends for help rather than calling for the cavalry to come get you. These messages can be shared by SMS, email, and even displayed on a map.
PROS: It’s simple and it works.
CONS: Since it is satellite based, it might not work in stormy weather or deep canyons.
Personal Locator Beacons, such as the Resqlink+ operate on a special radio frequency that is monitored by search and rescue centers worldwide. The device sends out a homing “ping”, making it easier for rescue teams to find you. The ResQLink+ also simultaneously sends a message to satellites devoted to monitoring for distress signals.
PROS: Better coverage than a SPOT locator.
CONS: You’ll probably have to pay for the search and rescue efforts.
So Which One Should I Buy?
My advice would be to get both – especially if you like to ride alone in remote areas. The SPOT messenger will get rescue operations to act and keep your loved ones informed while the PLB will make it easier for the SAR teams to find you – even under tree cover or snow. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing help is on the way when you need it.