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Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?


Postby AyrshireAlps » Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:26 pm

What trackers/personal locator beacons do folks recommend?

I've a 5 day charity/work sponsored walk planned for June in the cairngorms, as my employer is like most, very risk averse, they want to buy one of these for me as part of the risk assessment. I'm not gonna argue, as I think it will be a handy wee bit of kit.

I'd prefer a 2 way type like Inreach or Spot gen 4 (simply for a wee 'I'm Okay' type message to my wife), and at the moment I'm veering towards the Spot - although this is entirely based on youtube reviews, anyone any more experience or thoughts?.

Thanks.
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:56 pm

I use the Rescue Me PLB1 Ocean Signal. Small and light, saves your life if you need it. It may sound far-fetched, but small things can mount up and turn into a terrible situation. There was a person who posted on Walk Highlands, Alison Fox, she died in a blizzard during the storm known as the Beast from the East in 2017. She died because she lost her glasses in the snow, and couldn't read the map to give an accurate grid reference when she phoned the police for help. She died before the rescue team could find her. If she had one of these PLBs she might be alive today.

https://oceansignal.com/products/plb1/
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby AyrshireAlps » Mon Feb 22, 2021 5:16 pm

Aye, a very good and so tragic point, caberfeidh, so easy for a chain of events to happen. 😔
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby Scottk » Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:13 pm

If you go on trek-lite forum, one of the guys (edh), has used a lot and swears by the in reach mini. He used it on the TGOC in 2019 as part of a university study he was part of. The only issue with it is the ongoing subscription but you can start and stop it monthly.
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby WalkWithWallace » Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:00 am

The InReach Mini is a fantastic piece of kit, I'm on the basic plan and get 10 free messages a month and unlimited pre-set messages (up to 3 set messages on the device). I used mine on and off last year and the missus got every message through including a link of where I was at the time I sent the message.

My gripe is the service is expensive at £35pa and £15pm. You can get the £15pm on a flexi plan so if you're not using it you don't have to pay the monthly charge.

I looked into the Spot and read a lot of mixed reviews about reliability, and the Garmin efforts support Galileo, whereas I believe the Spot device doesn't.
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:47 am

I bought an InReach for our wilder canoeing trips, both in Scotland and especially for those in Scandinavia. Unfortunately I've not been able to use it for long enough to really have experience, but it seems like an excellent bit of kit.

I'm on a flexi plan. This means that I only pay the registration/admin fee, then for each month during which I activate it. When I get back, I can suspend it and it costs nothing, and then turn it back on before the next trip. That was the key to me choosing the InReach.

My only test was on a 3 day solo canoe trip on Loch Shiel. It worked well, I could view my route easily through the Garmin software, and test e-mails & texts worked well. Whoever you've added as contacts can also view.
Sending a non-saved message is a bit of a faff (remember the days of texting using a number pad? Its like that, but slower as you scroll through the whole alphabet for each letter). Setting up the saved messages makes it nice and simple (as long as you remember which one is message 1, message 2 etc, as I couldn't see them once out there!

It also has a basic weather forecast feature on it, useful when there's no phone signal. This is not a detailed forecast, and I've not idea who provides it, but it was pretty accurate. Unfortunately it lacks wind as part of its standard text report, but you can get a Premium forecast that does include wind speed/direction. That costs a quid each time (!) but is free with a more expensive plan than I went for. As a paddler, wind is key, and if out of mobile signal, it will be worth the quid every couple of days going forwards.

A mate has a SPOT Gen3, which we've used in Sweden and Norway a few times. That was fine too, but more expensive because it was being used just two weeks in the year.


I always tell at tale of caution when discussing these type of devices. A couple of friends of mine, Fred and Ade were paddling on Loch Affric/Beinn a Mheadhoin, with a SPOT a few years back. Ade had given his wife Cara the tracking details. Meanwhile I was away with other mates in deepest Herefordshire.
At about 11.30 at night, I get a call from Cara, sounding worried. She'd spent the evening fretting about the track on her laptop. After a bit of messing about, I managed to get the track open on a hastily borrowed tablet, to see what she was talking about. On the google map, the track was going round in circles for a while. Then stopped. This was in the middle of a blue bit on the map, about 200m from the island they were expected to be on. Worrying.
Fortunately, before panic set in, I flipped the map to the aerial photo view. Which showed that actually they were on the island, and the going around in circles had all been whilst setting up camp, having forgotten to send the "OK in camp" message. It was the google map that wasn't accurate...
The moral, if there is one, being to make sure you don't forget your "ok" message and to ensure people understand how these things work before leaving.
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby WalkWithWallace » Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:44 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Sending a non-saved message is a bit of a faff (remember the days of texting using a number pad? Its like that, but slower as you scroll through the whole alphabet for each letter). Setting up the saved messages makes it nice and simple (as long as you remember which one is message 1, message 2 etc, as I couldn't see them once out there!


The InReach Mini now displays some of the preset message, so you can easily pick which of the 3 messages you want to send.

You can also use the Earthmate app on the phone to type a message and send it. 👍🏼

I've synced the InReach Mini with my Garmin watch, so I can now send messages via the watch and not bother with the device itself. 👌🏼
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby AyrshireAlps » Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:51 pm

Some good stuff there folks, thanks. The integration with my Vivoactive is tempting tbh, and I've always got on with Garmin kit....
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Re: Spot/Inreach/PLB what ye got?

Postby Scottk » Tue Mar 02, 2021 9:38 pm

Someone is selling a spot for £40 on outdoor gear exchange Facebook group.
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