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wahootom
01-20-2008, 21:57
Anybody ever carry a personal locator beacon when hiking solo on the AT? If so, what brand? If not, why not? Thanks.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
01-20-2008, 22:25
I don't carry one because the AT isn't all that hard (well blazed, terrain isn't technically difficult), has far too many people on it and isn't all that remote.

Bulldawg
01-20-2008, 22:27
Anybody ever carry a personal locator beacon when hiking solo on the AT? If so, what brand? If not, why not? Thanks.


Who can afford one of these?!?!?

Pedaling Fool
01-20-2008, 22:28
What's the price range? How big are they?

Pedaling Fool
01-20-2008, 22:34
What's the price range? How big are they?
Never mind, I found out enough info; my life isn't worth that much.
http://www.rei.com/product/47799529.htm

ScottP
01-20-2008, 23:02
If you have one, make sure to padlock it around your neck.

stumpy
01-21-2008, 11:39
What's the price range? How big are they?


I have seen them for as little as 150 bucks, but you have to pay a monthly monitoring fee. The one I am thinking of (can't think of the name right now) is kind of cool, because you can locate it on the internet. People at home could follow your progress whily you thru!

JERMM
01-21-2008, 12:09
Anybody ever carry a personal locator beacon when hiking solo on the AT? If so, what brand? If not, why not? Thanks.

check out this one, I'll be carrying it

http://www.rei.com/product/766529

wrongway_08
01-21-2008, 12:16
Just bring a marine whistle..... that'll be loud enough to hear from anywhere you could get lost along the trail. It takes no batteries and weighs nothing.

Pedaling Fool
01-21-2008, 12:51
check out this one, I'll be carrying it

http://www.rei.com/product/766529
I'll have to admit, that's pretty cool.

hammock engineer
01-21-2008, 14:04
check out this one, I'll be carrying it

http://www.rei.com/product/766529

Do you have any experience with it? I am looking at buying it. I like the "I'm ok" option and the "help from home" giving it a help option not involving helicopters and dog teams. The I'm ok gives the home team your location and lets them know you are still ok. It has only been around since Nov and I haven't been able to find a review involving a lot of use. There was some talk of problems with tree canopy. Probibly the same in PLB's and GPS. Something to consider too is the company makes it known this is not a PLB but a messenger. It is getting a lot of talk in long distance motorcycle touring groups too.

It completly depends on the time of year on whether or not you will see people. Unless you are out at peak seaon, you can go quite awhile without seeing anyone. I was signing in registers as the only person there in 3 or 4 days, and I also knew there was not anyone close behind. My record was 4 days alone with only seeing 1 person driving in their car at a road crossing. There were a lot of stretches where the only people I saw were the people I was hiking with. I don't put any faith in the sit and someone will come along mentaility. Cell phone service is also way too spotty to depend on.

Terry7
01-21-2008, 14:25
You could just get a cell phone, You can just about get a signal anywhere on the AT. I would not have one because I go on the trail to get away from all that. But one of my favorite sayings is "hike your own hike".

hammock engineer
01-21-2008, 14:57
You could just get a cell phone, You can just about get a signal anywhere on the AT. I would not have one because I go on the trail to get away from all that. But one of my favorite sayings is "hike your own hike".


My Verizon phone didn't work in Damasucs, or from there to Ewrin, large parts of the Smokies, any gap I was in, large parts of TN and VA, around Hot Springs. I remember going almost 2 weeks without getting a good signal when I tried it (I didn't make it a point to try everywhere, just when I was stopped or the night or in town or on a long break). I would be very hesitante to say it works anywhere other than some peaks. I did get service in other places depending on the terrain and the closeness to a city.

dessertrat
01-21-2008, 15:30
I don't think the AT is remote enough to bother. However, if you ever set one of those things off by accident, the advice goes that you'd better jump off a cliff, because the rescue team that comes out is going to throw you off of one if they find you unhurt.

Bob S
01-21-2008, 16:02
While the AT is not real remote, if you fall off a cliff and are lying at the bottom of a 100 foot hill with broken bones and bleeding can feel as remote as anyplace on earth. $500.00 for a good one of these is a good chunk of money, but then it could save your life.

I don’t have one yet, but I would like to get one this summer.

ChinMusic
01-21-2008, 16:31
If I were to carry one, right now it would be the SPOT. Like others have said, it is not needed on the AT. IMO, it IS something I would carry on the CDT.

For the AT the SPOT would just be a gadget for electronics freaks (like me) who could have folks at home following your progress via the net. On the AT I look at it as more of a toy. On the CDT I would look at it as a safety net.

Bearpaw
01-21-2008, 16:38
You definitely don't need one on the AT. My advice is don't bet your life on anything with batteries.

Granted, my experience is from 2003 and the quality and accuracy of them have probably improved, but the most common use of a PLB then was to find the body. If you really need it in a remote area, that is likely the only thing it will be good for.

Bob S
01-21-2008, 16:48
I don’t know that I would say it’s not needed on the AT.

About 4-years ago a 70-year old lady never showed up at home one evening from a night at her friends home. Her husband called the police a few hours after she was due home. It started a 2-week quest to find her and her car. The police felt sure foul-play was the reason. A kid walking down the street saw a car that ran off the road and into the trees (only 30 feet off the road.) It turns out she had a mild stroke and ran off the road and lived for several days before she died. This is a main road with thousands of cars going by this spot every day, it was only about 2-miles from a mall. I drive by there almost every day. It’s in a area that houses are only 100-yards from the spot she ran off the road. If it can happen in a city, it can certainly happen to you on the trail. The $150.00 PLB looks like it would be worth having and while we hope we never need it, it sure would be nice to have if you do slip down that hill.

Bulldawg
01-21-2008, 16:57
check out this one, I'll be carrying it

http://www.rei.com/product/766529

Have you checked the monitoring fees on this one? YOu'd better be doing some serious backpacking, like a thru, to justify this thing at my house.

Bob S
01-21-2008, 17:11
Have you checked the monitoring fees on this one? YOu'd better be doing some serious backpacking, like a thru, to justify this thing at my house.


I didnít look at the web site for it till you posted that. The regular ones are looking better. I just did a search for them on e-bay and the range is $3.00 and up. I would rather spend a little more now then to keep having to send them $100.00 every year.

hammock engineer
01-21-2008, 17:41
I didnít look at the web site for it till you posted that. The regular ones are looking better. I just did a search for them on e-bay and the range is $3.00 and up. I would rather spend a little more now then to keep having to send them $100.00 every year.

Another thing to consider is the all or nothing option with the other ones. Vs the Spot with the OK or help from home option as well. I like that if for anything else than to have the people at home stop worrying. The help from home would be nice if for say you sprain an ankle or your car won't start. Someone can come and get you knowing it is not an emergency, but you need help.

The trekking option is another $50 a year.

I guess my opinion is skewed being a southbounder. Not very many people in most sections of the AT from Nov through Jan.

I am also thinking in terms of other hikes I do off of the AT. Almost all of my dayhikes or overnights are solo. Having a little extra insurance to get help if needed is worth it to me.

Another option that is nice with his messenger would be a code to people back home. Something like 2 OK messages would mean I am going to be a lot later than planned or 3 means an unexpected night out and I would be back in the morning.

But that is just me, I think I am getting cautious in my old age.

10-K
01-22-2008, 18:08
Be very careful not to confuse the SPOT with a real PLB. The US Air Force monitors the frequencies (I believe there are 2) that PLB's transmit on whereas the SPOT is monitored by civilians. In an emergency situation I would much rather have trained professionals in the USAF put the wheels in motion to save me than a guy at "SPOT Headquarters".

Having said that, the SPOT looks like a fun toy and the price is right. I read a blurb from someone in the company who basically said that the monitoring service is where they'll make their money.

Also, you can rent a real PLB for $69 a week - http://www.plbrentals.com/default.asp.

Thanks
Thomas

ChinMusic
01-22-2008, 18:46
Be very careful not to confuse the SPOT with a real PLB. The US Air Force monitors the frequencies (I believe there are 2) that PLB's transmit on whereas the SPOT is monitored by civilians. In an emergency situation I would much rather have trained professionals in the USAF put the wheels in motion to save me than a guy at "SPOT Headquarters".
Unless you know something about the lack of training at "SPOT Headquarters", I find this criticism unfair. Do you have any examples where "SPOT Headquarters" blew a case?

For example, my home and office are monitored 24/7 by civilians. When my office was burgled in 98 they handled it VERY professionally.

10-K
01-22-2008, 19:06
I guess I did come down on SPOT HQ a little hard. I don't have any first hand knowledge of the level of training that SPOT monitors have but whatever it is I'd still pick the USAF over SPOT HQ to initiate my rescue.

My main point is that it is important not to confuse the SPOT with a real PLB. The SPOT is cool and has a lot of features a PLB doesn't - I'd wouldn't mind having one but first I want to get a watch with a thermometer. ;)

Thanks,
Thomas

Bob S
01-22-2008, 19:20
There are indeed 2 frequencies used for these things 121.5 & 406.0 MHz. The 406.0 ones are the better ones at least from what I have read on it that seems to be so. 121.5 MHz. is also shared with other emergency use so the 406.0 MHz ones are less likely to have interference because they operate at a higher power level.

Here is some good info telling you what why the 406.0 ones are better to have then the 121.5 MHz. ones. If you buy one and are betting your life on it, get the better of the two.

http://www.equipped.com/406_vs_1215.htm (http://www.equipped.com/406_vs_1215.htm)

Red Hat
01-22-2008, 20:21
I had to laugh when I saw this thread, as that's how LOJAC got his trailname. His mother wanted him to carry one. He hiked in 05, first with Chef Boyardee, then with Skylarke.

JERMM
01-23-2008, 08:39
Do you have any experience with it?



I talked to a park ranger yesterday, his wife carries one, he said it is excellent for keeping up with her when she's out on a hike and it gives him peace of mind.

I have mine ordered, so no personal experience yet

JERMM
01-23-2008, 08:44
Have you checked the monitoring fees on this one? YOu'd better be doing some serious backpacking, like a thru, to justify this thing at my house.

I don't have any problems with the monitoring fees. If carrying one keeps peace of mind back home it's worth it not to mention if I ever need it for an emergency.

10-K
01-23-2008, 14:15
I talked to a park ranger yesterday, his wife carries one, he said it is excellent for keeping up with her when she's out on a hike and it gives him peace of mind.

I have mine ordered, so no personal experience yet

Please come back and post a report after you take it out in the field. I'm really interested in hearing first hand how well it works. I'm most interested in the "Spotcasting" feature. I've read conflicting reports on other forums about outages and areas where the transmissions weren't recvieved.

As this is new piece of hardware I'm halfway waiting to see if a 1.xx or 2.xx version is released to address any issues that may have found their way into the first production run.

Thanks
Thomas

Spastic
01-23-2008, 15:39
What sort of protectionsdoes the SPOT have against accidentally sending out a 911 call? it looks like all the buttons are on front, easily pushed by accident while in a backpack or pocket. i'd figure there'd be something to lock the power button or the 911 button. i have a Grundig shortwave radio with a similar placement of buttons, and darned if it doesn't always turn itself on in my bag. It sure would be awkward to be taking a squat over a cathole and have a SAR team come sliding down on ropes from a helicopter because you mistakenly pressed a button. The lack of a button lock or other form of protection from accidental transmissions is what is keeping me from getting this device. Otherwise i'd be sold. :-? Maybe the only way to prevent accidental transmissions is to remove the batteries when not in use, but that seems like a pretty lame solution.

BlackCloud
01-23-2008, 15:40
Yea, I've got the $700 REI version. I am almost always alone, whether I'm cycling, backpacking, whatever. It's only "needed" if it's needed, right?

It's like an insurance policy I suppose; hope never to use it. It weighs what it weighs, and takes up some space. Batteries must be replaced every 5 years, and the registration (free) must be renewed @ least every five.

I find it interesting however that some would not "trust" anything that runs on batteries. I guess he doesn't have a flashlight! I consider a good light a 1st Aid must.

hammock engineer
01-23-2008, 15:47
What sort of protectionsdoes the SPOT have against accidentally sending out a 911 call? it looks like all the buttons are on front, easily pushed by accident while in a backpack or pocket. i'd figure there'd be something to lock the power button or the 911 button. i have a Grundig shortwave radio with a similar placement of buttons, and darned if it doesn't always turn itself on in my bag. It sure would be awkward to be taking a squat over a cathole and have a SAR team come sliding down on ropes from a helicopter because you mistakenly pressed a button. The lack of a button lock or other form of protection from accidental transmissions is what is keeping me from getting this device. Otherwise i'd be sold. :-? Maybe the only way to prevent accidental transmissions is to remove the batteries when not in use, but that seems like a pretty lame solution.

I remember reading a review with the same complaint. I think it also said there was a way to cancel the call for help. It also said you have to hold the botton in for 2 seconds for it to start. One could always leave the batteries out.

What happens with the SPOT is a service center ran by the company recieves your transmission. Then they call your emergency contact person and then call for help. If it were to accidentaly go off and you get a cell signal you might be able to cancel it that way. All of this is second hand reading, so incert the usual warning and disclaimers.

I would like to see the next generation have more of a mechanical activation. I heard the real PLB's turn on in a way that they cannot be aciddentally turned on.

Having said all of this, depending on when I get a job I am still planning on getting one of these within the next month or so. I think it is the best thing out there if it works as promised for my needs.

Pedaling Fool
01-23-2008, 15:51
I have a cheap little disc player that has a switch that prevents an inadvertant channel change, volume change....Nothing special, not sure why same couldn't be done for this device.

Bob S
01-23-2008, 17:26
I have a cheap little disc player that has a switch that prevents an inadvertant channel change, volume change....Nothing special, not sure why same couldn't be done for this device.


I have a few portable shortwave radios, they have a kill-switch (called a travel switch) to prevent the radio from being turned on accidentally. I have installed a few of these on other things I have to make sure the batteries did not get killed. While itís not all that easy to put in a master kill switch (travel switch) itís nice to know you will have battery power when you need it.

hammock engineer
01-23-2008, 17:29
I have a few portable shortwave radios, they have a kill-switch (called a travel switch) to prevent the radio from being turned on accidentally. I have installed a few of these on other things I have to make sure the batteries did not get killed. While itís not all that easy to put in a master kill switch (travel switch) itís nice to know you will have battery power when you need it.

Good point. With a little wire, a switch, drill, screwdriver, and wirecutters you could add one. I would be a little hesitant to do that though.

Bob S
01-23-2008, 19:06
Good point. With a little wire, a switch, drill, screwdriver, and wirecutters you could add one. I would be a little hesitant to do that though.


It never bothered me to modify things to do what I want them to do. I am fairly skilled with electronics and mechanical skills so itís easy for me. As far as warrantee, I have little concern over that. I buy things to do what I want them to do, if I need to make changes to it (and many times I do) I go and do it. Manufactures make products to appeal to a large number of people to sell the highest number of items, lots of times an individual has to live with what the features the Manufacturer decides to put in or not put an item. I try not to by changing it to fill my needs.

The need I see for a PLB is for it to work by having a good battery, to me itís foolish not to make changes (if needed) to insure it will work when I turn it on. I actually enjoy modifying things to do more or get more use out of them. My only problem with it is that family & friends are always dropping things to be fixed or modified.

kayak karl
01-25-2008, 20:11
i have a SPOT. works good. took it to work today. when i press the OK botton it puts it on google maps. im not carrying this for 911 on the trail, but for other reasons. this is my map from today at work. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ie=UTF8&om=0&msa=0&msid=112746510977574609048.000444819ee928822fe14&ll=39.643503,-75.526199&spn=0.062259,0.11673&z=13
pressed OK at each job. you may notice times are off? it must be where the satilite is at that time? i like the hiking PEOPLE:). they didn't have freezing a** off symbols:D

SGT Rock
01-25-2008, 20:21
I carried a PLB for a while, but not on the AT. I never had to activate it. IMO it ain't really needed for an AT thru-hike.

Pedaling Fool
01-25-2008, 20:21
i have a SPOT. works good. took it to work today. when i press the OK botton it puts it on google maps. im not carrying this for 911 on the trail, but for other reasons. this is my map from today at work. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ie=UTF8&om=0&msa=0&msid=112746510977574609048.000444819ee928822fe14&ll=39.643503,-75.526199&spn=0.062259,0.11673&z=13
pressed OK at each job. you may notice times are off? it must be where the satilite is at that time? i like the hiking PEOPLE:). they didn't have freezing a** off symbols:D
Pretty cool. Why is there two little green hikers per "OK" hit?
I would like to see how the map display would look for when you're on the AT, that'll be cool.

kayak karl
01-25-2008, 20:27
Pretty cool. Why is there two little green hikers per "OK" hit?
I would like to see how the map display would look for when you're on the AT, that'll be cool.
they didnt have 1 people hiking:)

kayak karl
01-25-2008, 20:28
they didnt have 1 people hiking:)
im planning the Batona Trail, NJ in a few weeks. that will be the test.

handlebar
01-25-2008, 21:57
I got one for my planned PCT thru since I'm starting out way early--April 3rd. I see three uses for it: 1) let my wife know I'm OK even where there's no cell reception; 2) give me GPS coordinates via a text msg to my cell phone where there is cell reception; 3) call out SAR if I have a serious accident out there. Starting when I am, there's unlikely to be very much traffic on PCT.

I got mine yesterday and tested it on long hikes then and today. I signed up for the basic service---a little pricey. Basic service does not include the tracker feature, but that would wear out the batteries too soon on a long distance trek as I'm planning. It would be nice if the service period allowed shorter subscriptions than the standard 1 year deal.

The case is pretty solid---looks like it can take a good deal of abuse. Literature says it's waterproof and it seems so. Runs on 2 AAs, Lithium only. Battery door and belt hook are held onto main body with screws that have a little bail so you don't need a screw driver to operate. Still, it would be a hassle to remove the batteries whenever it was not in use. For my hike, I may take off the belt hook. With batteries my scale says it weighs 7.25 oz, 7.125 oz without the belt hook.

The device has some of the issues of GPS's when operated under tree cover in my observation, but that's unlikely to be an issue on PCT. It does give you feedback if it can't make a GPS fix. In 911 or Help mode it will transmit a message even if it can't make a fix. Also noticed a delay time between pressing the check-in key and the transmission of the message----could be several minutes. When it does send a message the indicated key lights a few seconds, but if you don't happen to be looking at it at the time, you won't know the message has been sent. The "Check-in" messages may be sent to multiple email addresses and/or cell phone text messaging devices. The GPS fixes are pretty accurate.

I'm not too concerned about accidental activation of the emergency 911 transmission. First, I'll only be powering it on when I want to send an OK check or when I need to send a "Help" or 911 signal. Second, the Help and 911 keys have to be pressed for a couple of seconds. They are small and somewhat recessed to help with accidental activation.

Overall, I'd say this little gizmo be worth it if only that it'll give my wife a little peace of mind knowing where I am and knowing that I can summon emergency assistance if needed. It'll also make me a little more confident on while solo hiking.

Wanderingson
01-26-2008, 01:26
I'm not sure if I would use something like the SPOT for the AT, but I am still a few years away from my planned thru. Technology will continue to evolve by the time I get to thru.

This is the first I have seen on the SPOT and I am beginning to check this out seriously for other applications. My wife and II travl the world extensively and this could become a very valuable part of our travel kit. I know family members tend to worry about us when we are traveling abroad and this could be a cool little tool to let then track our status.

I'm starting to like this SPOT, but will need to do a little more research on this.

Check out this link:

http://www.findmespot.com/spot_commercial_port/index120.html

Les Stroud is featured in this 120 second commercial.

hammock engineer
01-27-2008, 20:47
It never bothered me to modify things to do what I want them to do. I am fairly skilled with electronics and mechanical skills so itís easy for me. As far as warrantee, I have little concern over that. I buy things to do what I want them to do, if I need to make changes to it (and many times I do) I go and do it. Manufactures make products to appeal to a large number of people to sell the highest number of items, lots of times an individual has to live with what the features the Manufacturer decides to put in or not put an item. I try not to by changing it to fill my needs.

The need I see for a PLB is for it to work by having a good battery, to me itís foolish not to make changes (if needed) to insure it will work when I turn it on. I actually enjoy modifying things to do more or get more use out of them. My only problem with it is that family & friends are always dropping things to be fixed or modified.

Yeah I like to mod everything I can. Besides it is fun. What would concern me is not being able to fully test every function afterward, without calling in the helicopters and dogs.

I have thinking of places off the AT and other hikes. Still though I don't buy into the people everywhere on the AT mentality. I just saw too many places alone or with only the people I was hiking with.

Wise Old Owl
01-31-2008, 22:04
I have a few portable shortwave radios, they have a kill-switch (called a travel switch) to prevent the radio from being turned on accidentally. I have installed a few of these on other things I have to make sure the batteries did not get killed. While itís not all that easy to put in a master kill switch (travel switch) itís nice to know you will have battery power when you need it.

Before you do all that, Why dont you just take the battery out until you need it?

Bob S
02-01-2008, 00:14
Before you do all that, Why dont you just take the battery out until you need it?

Both the portable shortwave radios I have came with the travel lock (kill switch) no need to install one.

As far as other things, I always have modified things to suit my needs. Iím fairly good at it, I use to do it for a living. I use to work at a fabrication machine shop. Iíve got lots of parts on shelves and I enjoy doing it to get what I want.



And sooner or later the tabs that hold the battery door on will break off, taking the battery in & out every day will hasten this process. So if I can stop it by putting in a switch, why not?