The first personal locator beacon we examined is manufactured by ACR- it's the ResQLink. When you buy this particular option, it arrives programs with US country codes- this means that while it will work internationally, the primary authority that will be alerted in an emergency is actually the US Coast Guard agency that the beacon is registered with.
You can actually contact the manufacturer prior to purchase if you want it to be configured and registered with a different country. It's essential that you register your beacon- in many countries, this is actually a legal requirement because once it's activated this information is crucial for search and rescue teams to be able to locate you.
A satellite-enabled a notification device, this option doesn't require recurring payments in the form of annual or monthly subscriptions to function. It only weighs 5.4 ounces, floats, and is marketed as one of the smallest personal locator beacons you can buy- easily fitting in your pocket. It's marketed towards pilots, boaters and people who enjoy water sports.
The way it works, whenever it is activated it employs GPS positioning and signal technology to relay your exact position to search and rescue satellites. The battery itself is engineered and should last for six years and they say has an 11-year shelf life.
- One buyer tells us that he uses this option tied to his life vest- this means that if he ends up overboard in the water he'll be able to activate it.
- Buyers also say that the unit is designed to be activated once and then you'll have to service it- obviously intended only for emergency use.
- One hiker tells us that it needs to be registered with NOAA. Buyers are careful to warn that it needs to be activated only in emergency situations.
- One reviewer says that the company will replace your beacon if it's employed in a life or death situation. Indeed, besides just in ocean-faring situations, buyers are also campers and hikers that voyage deep into the wilderness for extended trips.
- Another buyer tells us that his family enjoys adventure travel and praises the beacon for providing them some peace of mind when traveling in remote locations.
- All you have to do to activate it, he tells us, is flip up the antenna and then turn the device on.
- Another buyer actually had the opportunity to use it- he activated the signal after his boat capsized in the ocean, the Coast Guard contacted his wife within several minutes to verify that he indeed was actually out on the waters, and a helicopter was quickly dispatched.
The second personal locator beacon we examined is the McMurdo. This option that has a six-year battery life and ships with a pouch. This is another no-fee option that can only be used in emergency situations.
Buyers say you're able to test it so you can be assured it's in good working order and that the battery is alive and doesn't need to be serviced by the company.
The third beacon we examined is the Spot Personal Tracker- it's marketed towards buyers on adventure trips and it does require the purchase of a service plan. This device is a little bit different than the previous two- it enables you to allow family members and other contacts the ability to track your location in non-emergency settings.
Indeed, it provides a line of communication whether you are looking for emergency assistance or just letting family and friends know where you are as you travel outdoors every 10 minutes.
When activated in an emergency situation, a distress message is automatically transmitted with your exact GPS coordinates to the international emergency response center- this is done every five minutes and includes your personal information and location.
The responders can be the Coast Guard, local police, the highway patrol, the consulate or another emergency response search and rescue team. It is designed to work in the continental United States, North Eastern Asia, Northern Africa, areas of South America, Australia, Mexico and Europe.
- One buyer who was on a adventure travel in Canada used it to enable his family to track his progress using Google earth in conjunction with this personal tracking beacon.
- One buyer says that when he was hiking in an area with dense tree coverage, the trail he was on obscured the signal.
- Another buyer was provided this beacon by his company because the employees frequently travel to remote areas around the world that do not have cell phone coverage.
The fourth option we examined is the Bear Grylls Bushnell edition personal locator and digital compass. It's marketed as a personal navigation device with just two buttons that's designed to store three locations. It's important to note that this unit only records locations, it doesn't actually contact emergency services. The way one buyer uses it, whenever they are out camping and he wants to explore the surrounding area, he uses this personal tracker to record his starting location to ensure that he is able to return to it no problem.
The Ocean Signal
The last personal locating beacon we examined is provided by Ocean Signal. The way it works, once the emergency button is pressed, your coordinates are relayed to emergency services as an SOS.
The signal will be continuously transmitted for up to 24 hours. It's marketed as a land or sea compatible device with global emergency services equipped to assist you in the event of an unexpected calamity. This option doesn't require an annual or monthly subscription and arrives pre-programmed with US country codes.
As well, it is waterproof, comes equipped with a retractable antenna, 66 channel GPS receiver, and a strobe light. A palm-sized option, buyers say it's easy to activate, though it is essential that it is registered before you begin using it.
- Buyers say that there are many stories in the news of lost travelers or drivers that ended up taking a wrong turn becoming a lost in the wilderness and tragically dying when all they needed was one of these personal locator beacons to alert the authorities to their location.