View Poll Results: Which device have you personally owned?

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  • PLB of any kind

    7 30.43%
  • SPOT 1

    4 17.39%
  • SPOT 2

    5 21.74%
  • SPOT Gen3

    3 13.04%
  • DeLorme InReach SE

    10 43.48%
  • DeLorme InReach Explorer

    0 0%
  • EPIRB used on land

    0 0%
  • Other

    3 13.04%
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Thread: Personal experiences with emergency locator devices

  1. #31
    Senior Member Damselfly's Avatar
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    Happy with my SPOT. I upgraded the $50 to get tracking (courtesy of my Dad at Xmas each year).... which is cool... as you can give a link to spouses or friends, who can see your progress, and know that you are moving forward. I also like the custom message, which I've configured to: "Running late. All is okay." There is a small learning curve. I see some users with a SPOT dangling from their backpack... but my understanding is that the unit works best when it faces the sky... so I keep it turned on in the "brain" of my pack, facing upward. I don't tend to go out in dangerous weather, but I do bushwhack... and I have enjoyed this unit.
    Celle qui marche dans la forÍt.

  2. #32
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    When I was thinking about buying Spot I considered several factors:
    1. posting my location to my family and/or frineds
    2. tracking
    3. accuracy
    4. cost
    5. weight

    Basically, my wife rarely cares about my hike details, so I send Custom message from where I parked my car. I programmed it to say "Parked/Set up camp here." I then turn on tracking and I think this is significant for two reasons: a) it provides my hike history which may give some useful information if something goes wrong, b) it sends my location even if I got injured to the point that I wouldn't be able to access my Spot and turn on SOS messaging. Tracking also allows me to verify my Spot accuracy and reliability in variety of terrain and conditions. Over time I have found that my Spot sent out erroneous locations at times and also I had some gaps over 1hr in locations that were sent. Most recently the locations seemed to be ok (not always perfect but ok) however my son was doing a Presidential Range Traverse in August and there was pretty long gap in coverage (about 2 hours), so there is room for improvement here.

    Since personally I don't care about 2-way messaging Spot seemed to be the cheapest option for tracking and that's what I chose. It is also lighter and smaller than inReach and that also added to the equation in my case.

  3. #33
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iAmKrzys View Post
    Since personally I don't care about 2-way messaging
    While you may not need 2-way messaging in normal situations, 2-way communication can be very useful in an emergency.

    When I broke my leg while BC skiing, I was able to reach 911 with my cellphone*. I was able to tell the 911 operator my exact location, condition, and what the rescuers needed to bring. (There was someone else with me who could have skied out to call in the rescuers, but I would have been left alone and it would have added at least 2 hrs to the response time.) It only took ~1.5-2 hrs for two rescuers to arrive with a snowmobile, a sled, and a leg brace. Because of the the 2-way communication it was a simple evacuation in minimal time using a minimum of resources.
    * One could argue that a cellphone (when it can contact a tower) or a satphone is the ultimate emergency locator device...

    Studies have also shown that voice communication is much more effective than textual communication in problem solving. (Text is certainly better than a simple "I need help and I am at <location>" and is adequate for simple situations, but if the situation is complex 2-way voice would have a significant advantage.)

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 12-30-2016 at 12:28 AM.

  4. #34
    Senior Member 1SlowHiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damselfly View Post
    Happy with my SPOT. I upgraded the $50 to get tracking (courtesy of my Dad at Xmas each year).... which is cool...
    How much faster does the tracking wear down batteries. I've thought of paying for this but not if it drains the Li batteries fast.

    Quote Originally Posted by Damselfly View Post
    I also like the custom message, which I've configured to: "Running late. All is okay." There is a small learning curve. .
    I use the OK button for "Im on the trail" and send a signal every hour or so. I use the custom msg button for "I am either at a trailhead or at a peak/destination." I customized the "help" button to "I have had some problems and may be real late , but DON'T send in the calvery"
    Marvin from RI,
    http://1slowhiker.blogspot.com
    48/48NH4K, 67/67NE4K, 100/100NEHH, 44/48 WNH4K
    Trail Adopter of Black Pond Trail (pemi)

  5. #35
    Senior Member Nessmuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SlowHiker View Post
    How much faster does the tracking wear down batteries. I've thought of paying for this but not if it drains the Li batteries fast.
    I've had Gen2 running continuously with tracking for as much as 3 days, and i think there was more life yet before changing batteries (although as I mentioned it has to be reset every 24 hours or it will shut itself down). Normally when I use spot, where it is required to be tracking (as it is during the Yukon races), i will replace the batteries after every 2 days of operation. Paddling 1000 miles in 6 days I replaced batteries twice (Lithium).

    My pit crew understands that the "help" button means we are safe, but unable to continue the race to the end, so meet us at the next possible take-out access (which could be as much as a couple hundred miles yet downriver). As long as tracking shows us as still moving, if only limping, we are ok. Haven't had to use that function, yet. "SOS" means send in the cavalry to our current location to get us out of trouble.
    Last edited by Nessmuk; 12-30-2016 at 08:59 PM.
    "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

  6. #36
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    I've been using Spot Gen 3 for 2-3 years for reasons many hikers use it. Similar to Beth Z I try to avoid hiking in risky weather, but I have a passion for off-trail navigation. Due to hectic work and family life I have hard time juggling schedules with collaborators so I'm going solo most of the time. I'm also NOT list oriented. Enough-said about that.

    SPOT has been pretty good. To conserve battery life I generally leave it off and only send I'M OK messages from time to time to my wife. Deep valleys and tree cover results in many messages going un-received. SPOT has always seemed really slow and uncertainty of sending makes it seem shaky to me.

    I've been hearing good things about Inreach so I thought I would give it a try. I too was attracted by having option to send text messages to offer flexibility to better suit variety of situations one gets into. I ordered it earlier this year, but haven't had free time until this Christmas break to activate the device and start playing with it. Preliminary impressions are very favorable. As follows:

    IMO Subscription rates and terms are very reasonable. I opted for the $12/month option. I think the cost for additional text messages ($.50 each)and tracking points ($.10 point) is very reasonable. I don't intend to use the tracking very much, but would be nice to have the option to do so in event a particular outing entails some extra risk. Circumstances might result in my not being very active for any given month or maybe I'll get lucky and get out alot. The base plan handles this very well.

    I like the way I got an invoice for services rendered from Delorme listing charges and yes state and federal taxes. I've never gotten that from Spot.

    I started testing message function today. I went to Home Depot with my son Peter this afternoon and sent a test message to him standing there in the nice open sky in the parking lot. He received his text message in something like 1 minute.

    I like the way Spot's emails give recipients option to click on link which takes the recipient to map web page showing your location. Inreach also does this. Peter clicked on the link and one is take immediately to internet map page showing location with options for aerial, topo, or street map.

    Accuracy appears to be impressive as well. I sent a test message from our back deck placing the unit on the deck railing to my wife. The message my wife received showed my location as being right on the deck railing as verified by aerial photo. I tried same test on myself and my location was within 5 feet of the deck railing as verified in the aerial photo view.

    The Inreach has square arrow button similar to Garmin Map GPS family, but the action of the arrow button is not as good as the Garmin arrow button. It is too easy to select the wrong action. I've always found the Garmin arrow key very easy to use especially with light weight gloved hand such as typically used in winter. I've been using my phone as GPS to cut down on weight with my bad hip, but now that winter is here and hip all better I find the phone GPS is STUPID as you have to take the gloves off to operate. Phone is still ok to take pictures though....

    The communication port cover is weak. It doesn't seem like it seals very well and looks like it will easily pop open in field conditions. Otherwise the unit appears to be fairly rugged.

    Hopefully now that Delorme has been bought by Garmin, they will replace the klugy Delorme arrow key with Garmin's arrow key. Hopefully long range Garmin will come out with a single GPS unit that combines good features of Delorme and Garmin MapGPS into one unit. That would be an example of synergy.

    I am looking forward to trying this device out on the trail this weekend. I think the fact that the unit has an actual external antenna contributes to superior message sending. One can wear the unit from a sternum strap and antenna always points up towards the sky whereas the Spot in the pack lid could be pointing in any direction. Tracking at 30 minute intervals may be good option at $.10/point. Then one doesn't have to always try to remember to turn on the unit and send a message like I do now with SPOT.
    Last edited by Jazzbo; 12-30-2016 at 06:26 PM.
    On #67 of NE67
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  7. #37
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    While you may not need 2-way messaging in normal situations, 2-way communication can be very useful in an emergency.
    I should probably rephrase it a bit - I don't care enough to pay the extra premium for it. I wouldn't communicate with my wife since I reason that she would not be able to help me in any way. Being able to communicate with rescuers obviously is advantageous but just beyond what I want to pay for the service.

    There is actually one more criterion that I forgot to mention in my original post:

    6. user replaceable batteries, preferably of standard size

    This matters on longer backpacking trips (although Spot claims that a set of batteries should last 2 weeks with tracking.) I also changed my batteries mid-hike in cold temperatures when I started my hike with partially used batteries.

  8. #38
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iAmKrzys View Post
    I should probably rephrase it a bit - I don't care enough to pay the extra premium for it. I wouldn't communicate with my wife since I reason that she would not be able to help me in any way. Being able to communicate with rescuers obviously is advantageous but just beyond what I want to pay for the service.

    There is actually one more criterion that I forgot to mention in my original post:

    6. user replaceable batteries, preferably of standard size

    This matters on longer backpacking trips (although Spot claims that a set of batteries should last 2 weeks with tracking.) I also changed my batteries mid-hike in cold temperatures when I started my hike with partially used batteries.
    When I was using the SPOT3 the batteries lasted for quite awhile. Many hikes plus the downtime in between without charging. I used both lithium ion and rechargeables in the SPOT. Both lasted a long time and both gave me problems transmitting. Based on others comments it would appear that a less than full charge affects the reliability of sending messages.

    The InReach has a USB charged battery that I also get numerous hikes on. I took it to Baxter this year and after 4 days of continuous use it still showed about 40% life left. How low the battery is has not affected my message sending in any way. Couple this unit with a portable charger and you could go quite a long time away from an outlet with the InReach.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

  9. #39
    Senior Member JoeCedar's Avatar
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    I used a SPOT Connect (discontinued model, used a smartphone as user interface) for about three years, or should I say tried to use. My wife was not interested in looking at a track on a web page so I sent messages periodically (which were prewritten and selected on the phone, or typed and sent). This product had a great concept but the software and hardware were not up to the task. Often I got home and found out the messages were not received. I now think I should have had tracking running all the time even though I was not using it. The redundancy of SPOT's 10 minute tracking helps minimize the likelihood of a bad location or failed transmission. I found that I had to be stationary with excellent sky view and wait for several minutes, e.g., stopped on a summit or there was a high probability that either the GPS position or satellite transmission would fail (either prevents a successful message).

    Five weeks ago I got a inReach SE and I am really impressed. It works so much better. A very important feature is a "whistle" reply from the satellite that the message was received. On a summit the reply is in a few seconds before I even put the device back in its holder. Other times it may be a minute or two, but unlike SPOT it gets through. Delorme mentions redundancy in sending if the inReach doesn't get the reply (but don't say what the interval or retry attempts are). The tracking feature also works very well with almost no lost time intervals (by viewing the exported tracklog in a track editor program, such as Garmin's Mapsource or Basecamp). I have also overlaid the tracks with simultaneously-acquired handheld Garmin tracklogs. They are as closely similar as could be expected for consumer devices, certainly close enough for a rescuer to find you easily.

    Winter temperature and battery power are not a problem (mounted on a pack strap) even below zero F, but of course the phone needs to be kept close to the body or it will shut down. Inreach has three prewritten messages synced to the device which are quick and easy to send with minimal gloves-off time. I only write a custom message with the phone infrequently, but it does work (if the phone doesn't shut down). I agree that the selection rocker is touchy and doesn't always go in the desired direction. This should be an easy fix.

    Overall, as a former SPOT Connect user I am completely satisfied with inReach SE. The web viewing and user control sites are excellent, unlike the clunky software operated (and never improved) by SPOT for years. Technologically, SPOT is years behind at this point and haven't introduced a new product since SPOT 3 in what, three years? They are just milking the high-margin subscription service while they can.

  10. #40
    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    The InReach has a USB charged battery that I also get numerous hikes on. I took it to Baxter this year and after 4 days of continuous use it still showed about 40% life left. How low the battery is has not affected my message sending in any way. Couple this unit with a portable charger and you could go quite a long time away from an outlet with the InReach.
    There are many options when setting up the InReach on a continuum that ranges from (1) maximizing battery life, (2) striking an appropriate midway balance between battery life and frequency of communicating with messages and your position/track or (3) sending so many updates to social media that many of your acquaintances (perhaps even family members) won't mind much if the battery expires shortly before you do ...
    sardog1

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  11. #41
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzbo View Post
    I like the way Spot's emails give recipients option to click on link which takes the recipient to map web page showing your location. Inreach also does this. Peter clicked on the link and one is take immediately to internet map page showing location with options for aerial, topo, or street map.
    If anyone is curious as to Spot shareable page you can take a look at my today's hike - here is a link: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/f...IBM8qiclX5S5CV . Spot keeps data on shared pages for 7 days, so it will go away, however I can still download my data points for a month. My complaint about shared page address is that it is too long for text messages (in addition to a message), so I had to shorten it using goo.gl. When looking at the Web page you can run the mouse over "Map" button and check off "Terrain" checkbox.

    The data has a 50 minute gap in transmission and I took a detour during that time using a snowmobile trail. Also my Custom & Check-In messages that tried sending from parking area did not go through. I compared the track with my gps and the points that went through were within 50 ft of my Garmin eTrex 30.

  12. #42
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    Disappointing results from yesterday's field trials on Inreach. I snowshoed Tecumseh and tested out Inreach in mild winter conditions. I attempted to send pre-set message from the summit. The directional keypad proved to be even more difficult to use necessitating removing my light-weight gloves to operate. Even then I found it difficult to control actions. The pre-set message was very difficult to select required many frustrating attempts taking me to actions I did not want. It took a long time to get the message out. I was hiking solo. I'd hate to be keeping a group waiting. Pressure to get it done would make mistakes even more likely. Conditions were very mild. I would hate to be trying to do this in very cold or windy conditions. It was really hard to select contacts. I sent one message to Paradox by accident.
    On #67 of NE67
    On #99 of NEHH
    On #45 of WNH48

    "Commuteróone who spends his life
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    And then rides back to shave again." EB White (1899-1986)

  13. #43
    Senior Member 1SlowHiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzbo View Post
    Disappointing results from yesterday's field trials on Inreach. I snowshoed Tecumseh and tested out Inreach in mild winter conditions. The directional keypad proved to be even more difficult to use necessitating removing my light-weight gloves to operate.
    FYI , with the SPOT mounted on my shoulder strap in the winter I am able to send signals by pressing the buttons with the pointy end of the grip on my hiking stick.
    Marvin from RI,
    http://1slowhiker.blogspot.com
    48/48NH4K, 67/67NE4K, 100/100NEHH, 44/48 WNH4K
    Trail Adopter of Black Pond Trail (pemi)

  14. #44
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzbo View Post
    It took a long time to get the message out..
    Really? I almost always get a successful transmission in under a minute even in my pants pocket. I take it out, hit the send feature and put it back in my pocket. I did Ammonosuc Ravine trail yesterday and had no issues even down low in the ravine with messages or tracking. Every now and then I get a message that takes several minutes but that is rare. I've never had a message fail.

    I do agree the arrow pad is hard to use in gloves/mittens. I use a convertible glove/mitten with liner gloves so all I have to do is flip up the mitten part and I have good use of fingers. No different than my GPS unit. Same key pad really. Typing out actual messages is a pain on it. Like texting on older cell phones. I set up the three preset messages to communicate the basics when I hike and generally that is all I use. That in conjunction with the tracking feature gives my wife more than enough info to know I'm doing OK.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

  15. #45
    Senior Member Trail Boss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzbo View Post
    .. I attempted to send pre-set message from the summit. The directional keypad proved to be even more difficult to use .... It was really hard to select contacts. I sent one message to Paradox by accident.
    • Preset Messages contain text and the intended contacts.
    • Quick Messages contain text only.


    1. Go directly to Preset Messages by pressing and holding the "Quit/Preset Messages Shortcut" button ("X").
    2. Scroll down to the desired Preset Message then press the "Power/Enter" button (checkmark).
    3. Done.




    https://youtu.be/vpaVpqtWjYo?t=6m59s
    Last edited by Trail Boss; 01-03-2017 at 08:49 AM.

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