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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    So. VT
    Posts
    2,587

    2021 what locator beacon?

    Looking to get a PLB/emergency communication tool for my parents, who live in northern Maine with very poor cell reception.

    Uses:

    Summer: primarily boating in the lake, several times this year they've been out of service area camping and not let anyone know they'd be gone for multiple days.

    Fall: Dad hunts. A lot of opportunities to get a truck stuck, get lost or have an issue in the woods.

    Winter: snowmobiling. They ride the trails and the old logging roads, lots of times they get stuck, get wet and at this stage I worry dad might over exert himself and have a bigger issue.

    Overall want the piece of mind they can get help in an emergency. Even on a good day EMS is hours away once called, a true emergency back in the woods would need a helicopter. I'd also like to be able to check in if it's just been a few days and they may be off grid unannounced.

    Spot?
    Inreach?

    Some other brand?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    tetons
    Posts
    7,777
    Garmin in reach is what we use and what I recommend.
    you can text back and forth too (depending on which pkg you get for the monthly subscription) vs the SPOT which is very limited in correspondence.
    I think I saw a garmin in reach newly posted in GS. id buy that
    skid luxury

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Your Mom's House
    Posts
    7,270
    For that use, InReach 100%. The two way texting capability is crucial for what you need.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    SLC, Utah
    Posts
    2,532
    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    For that use, InReach 100%. The two way texting capability is crucial for what you need.
    +1 on InReach Mini. It's the most popular for a damn good reason.

    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Not Brooklyn
    Posts
    7,634
    Yup. Inreach.

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    So. VT
    Posts
    2,587
    Seems pretty clear, inreach.

    Boy they're pretty proud of those....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    846
    Spot is a terrible company in every way

    Inreach is mostly solid but their subscription options are complicated and expensive if you use it a lot

    I've heard great things about Zoleo but haven't played with it myself yet. Seems very similar to the Inreach Mini at a lower price with a simpler subscription model

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    DownEast
    Posts
    1,737
    There is also the Zoleo. Connects and runs through an app on your phone for texting. I haven’t used either but a sailing partner brought his Zoleo on boat deliveries this Summer with me and was happy with it. I’m just starting to look into a PLB/Satellite Communicator for winter use so am interested in following this thread.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    NW WA
    Posts
    251
    I used to use a Spot Gen3. Gave it to my brother-in-law and bought myself a Garmin InReach Mini, and very glad I made the switch. Two-way texting ability, can use your phone to connect and send the messages, but still can be used standalone in case your phone battery dies. The non-mini versions might be a better fit for the use cases you're describing, and the bigger screen might be nicer for older eyes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Portland by way of Bozeman
    Posts
    3,870
    Another one for Garmin InReach. If they're at all savvy, get the PLB connected to their mobile phone so they can use it as an input device. And set them up with appropriate canned messages. Oh, and snag up on the Mini and save some coin.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    So. VT
    Posts
    2,587
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat Sig View Post
    If they're at all savvy, get the PLB connected to their mobile phone so they can use it as an input device. And set them up with appropriate canned messages.
    Yeah that's a no, certainly not enough to rely on in n emergency. Dad can barely operate a GPS and is kind of scary when I take him places and he tries to figure out where we are on it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Montrose, CO
    Posts
    3,535
    Another happy inreach mini user here. You can setup the canned messages on the mini to be useful for what your parents want to communicate.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Kootenays
    Posts
    1,410
    One of the key differences with the Zoleo is that you get a fixed incoming number. The other ones rotate through a pool of numbers. If you initiate contact from the inReach, then someone can text you back. At some point (not sure of the time span) you won't be able to reply to that number anymore.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    So. VT
    Posts
    2,587
    Quote Originally Posted by snoboy View Post
    One of the key differences with the Zoleo is that you get a fixed incoming number. The other ones rotate through a pool of numbers. If you initiate contact from the inReach, then someone can text you back. At some point (not sure of the time span) you won't be able to reply to that number anymore.
    Woa, so I can't just send them a "All good?" Message at random on an inreach?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Montrose, CO
    Posts
    3,535
    Quote Originally Posted by snoboy View Post
    One of the key differences with the Zoleo is that you get a fixed incoming number. The other ones rotate through a pool of numbers. If you initiate contact from the inReach, then someone can text you back. At some point (not sure of the time span) you won't be able to reply to that number anymore.
    I didn't actually know that. Interesting.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Kootenays
    Posts
    1,410
    You can if you use the email address associated with the device. Just can't text them.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Tahoe-ish
    Posts
    1,769
    This can also allow inreach to inreach communication, but I've found that to be horribly slow in practice. Overall the inreach is the best of the best options and I grudgingly keep paying but wish there were something better out there.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Not Brooklyn
    Posts
    7,634
    Quote Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
    Woa, so I can't just send them a "All good?" Message at random on an inreach?
    You get 3 preset messages that go to a preset group or individual and are free to send.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Portland by way of Bozeman
    Posts
    3,870
    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    This can also allow inreach to inreach communication, but I've found that to be horribly slow in practice. Overall the inreach is the best of the best options and I grudgingly keep paying but wish there were something better out there.
    Well... the message has to go to space and back, so... yah, it takes a minute

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Tahoe-ish
    Posts
    1,769
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat Sig View Post
    Well... the message has to go to space and back, so... yah, it takes a minute
    Or 30 minutes, or sometimes never, IME.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Portland by way of Bozeman
    Posts
    3,870
    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    This can also allow inreach to inreach communication, but I've found that to be horribly slow in practice. Overall the inreach is the best of the best options and I grudgingly keep paying but wish there were something better out there.
    Well... the message has to go to space and back, so... yah, it takes a minute

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2020
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    846
    Depends on terrain and cloud/tree cover. If you're in an open, flat area on a clear day its usually a couple mins max, usually instant. If you're trapped in a tight canyon, inreach might not save you.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    455
    +1 on the Zoleo. Cheaper, but has everything I need and hasnt let me down in 2 years - for quick "I'm ok" messages, fuller text messages, checking weather when out in the field a few days. Fortunately haven't had to test the SOS!

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Warm parts of the St. Vrain
    Posts
    2,062
    Nothing to add really except that I was surprised by the price. Last summer I was outfitting an imaginary Mississippi River through cruise boat and had until then figured this capability would cost much much more for the gain offered. Anyway carry on lol.


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    If we're gonna wear uniforms, we should all wear somethin' different!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    408
    I switched from an ACR ResQLink PLB to an inReach a few years ago. The ability to check in and send details of why I needed help pushed me over the edge. I figure the extra time spent sending a message opposed to signal would pay off when the correct type of help was dispatched. Ive been very happy with the change and find the extra cost worth it. I like that the device can be used solo or linked to a phone. Battery life is fine, if not particularly impressive. Family finds it kind of a pain to send messages to it but enjoys receiving them.

    While the inReach works well for my typical uses, there are still times Id prefer a real PLB. Open water sailing comes to mind.

    Im glad I checked out this thread because Id never heard of a Zoleo. Ill have to do some comparison shopping.

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