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#198716 - 07/10/17 08:33 AM What are my options for personal locators??
willie1280 Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/17
Posts: 8
As i mentioned in my trip planning post, i'm planning to go to Alaska at the end of August. Since cell service will be non-existent once i leave anchorage, trying to find what devices are out there for safety tracking and possible communication back home.

The SPOT device looks to be around $150 bucks but then you MUST sign up for a full year of service which is $200. Bit pricey for a 1 week trip.

The ResQlink is the other one. Around $250 and there doesn't appear to be any service contracts or cost.

Are there others out there that you've used? Any of them offer texting (send/receive) ability?

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#198719 - 07/10/17 01:34 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: willie1280]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 124
Loc: PNW
I've got a Garmin Explorer+. Expensive, but worth it to me. Tracks, sends/receives texts, has an SOS button. And you can get the service month by month, you don't have to sign up for an entire year.

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#198720 - 07/10/17 02:03 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: JustWalking]
willie1280 Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/17
Posts: 8
Oooohhhh...i likey me some Garmin products smile

How much does the service piece cost?

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#198722 - 07/10/17 04:33 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: willie1280]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 124
Loc: PNW
There are a variety of plans available. See them here.

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#198731 - 07/11/17 11:01 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: willie1280]
DH024 Offline
newbie

Registered: 10/26/15
Posts: 5
Loc: Alberta, Canada
You can still find the Delorme branded InReach devices, which are less expensive than the Garmin branded versions (but they are still more expensive than a SPOT device).

The advantage to the InReach system is two-way communication via text, which could be very useful in an emergency situation to speak to dispatch or first responders en route, or to receive emergency messages from family and friends.

The other advantage is that InReach plans only have a one-month minimum. Activation/reactivation fees are about $30, or you can temporarily suspend service indefinitely at about $3 a month (note I am quoting Canadian pricing, and US plans are likely a bit cheaper).

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#199081 - 09/11/17 06:19 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: willie1280]
Weston1000 Offline
member

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 15
Probably your trip is over by now, so I will answer in general. For this purpose one can consider using a simple mobile radio transceiver with a solar panel, and an external wire antenna. The communication range of radio tranceivers is related to their watt output, frequency range and antenna type. One may need a permit for this equipment.

It seems wise to ask these questions also on a local internet forum of the destination area.

Solo hiking is highly unsafe IMO, especially in predator areas and cold climates. People at home should know exactly when to call in search and rescue, and where to search.

For a trip like this one needs to carry a survival kit and light-weight survival manual.

For signaling one also needs a signal mirror, signal whistle, orange tent, and crank flashlight in a transparent waterproof plastic bag.

For navigation a printed map and a non-electronic compass are necessary as a backup.


Edited by Weston1000 (09/11/17 08:31 PM)

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#199082 - 09/11/17 07:43 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Weston1000]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1357
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I suspect you're going to get a sizable number of disagreements about solo hiking (I'm just going to be first in the line. smile )

While I agree that solo hiking requires a different response to the risk assessment, I don't agree that solo hiking is highly unsafe. You have to think more about what can go wrong, and plan your gear and contingency plans accordingly to reduce your risk to a manageable level, but hiking solo is still probably safer than the drive to the trailhead. In my own case, I tend to avoid solo hikes that involve significant off-trail travel (it's something I don't have extensive experience with, and it makes it harder for SAR to find me, should it come to that.) Other than that precaution, the only thing I do is leave a more detailed route description with my wife, and I don't change my route once I'm out there - again, making it easier for SAR if I do become incapacitated. I also make darned sure that I get out when I say I will, and immediately call my wife to let her know I'm out.

But, on the trail, I don't believe it's any less safe to go solo. I've done it many times, and intend to in the future. I don't recommend it for first-trip beginners - but I don't think it should be prohibited, either.

I strongly agree with you that a map and compass are essential - and not just for solo travel. Every group (and I'd argue that every person in a group) needs a map and compass. Electronics can fail - usually at the worst possible time (and shortly thereafter, it begins to rain.) And, it's not enough to have them: you need to know how to use them.

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#199083 - 09/11/17 08:22 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Weston1000 Offline
member

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
I don't agree that solo hiking is highly unsafe. You have to think more about what can go wrong, and plan your gear and contingency plans accordingly to reduce your risk to a manageable level, but hiking solo is still probably safer than the drive to the trailhead.


Driving a car is also highly unsafe, as we can learn from traffick statistics, but is sometimes hard to avoid. It would be interesting, to find risk percentages about solo-hiking under different conditions.

Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
In my own case, I tend to avoid solo hikes that involve significant off-trail travel (it's something I don't have extensive experience with, and it makes it harder for SAR to find me, should it come to that.) Other than that precaution, the only thing I do is leave a more detailed route description with my wife, and I don't change my route once I'm out there - again, making it easier for SAR if I do become incapacitated. I also make darned sure that I get out when I say I will, and immediately call my wife to let her know I'm out.


Many people do not have that discipline, I'm afraid. When I was younger, I have done pretty stupid things in that respect, from lack of knowledge.

Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
But, on the trail, I don't believe it's any less safe to go solo.


Why do you think that military personel and S&R-personel are usually with a buddy on missions?

Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
I've done it many times, and intend to in the future. I don't recommend it for first-trip beginners - but I don't think it should be prohibited, either.


Your personal life is an n=1 experiment. Is hiking unsafe, if one in ten-thousand of solo-hikers perish in their lifetime? Or one in hundred-thousand? That is pretty subjective. Maybe proper equipment and a hiking exam should be mandatory for hikers.

Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
I strongly agree with you that a map and compass are essential - and not just for solo travel. Every group (and I'd argue that every person in a group) needs a map and compass. Electronics can fail - usually at the worst possible time (and shortly thereafter, it begins to rain.) And, it's not enough to have them: you need to know how to use them.


I hope that many younger hikers will read this discussion, and learn what I should have learned earlier.


Edited by Weston1000 (09/11/17 08:29 PM)

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#199086 - 09/12/17 11:35 AM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Weston1000]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 838
Loc: Torrance, CA
While I agree with you that it is less safe than hiking in a group... I don't think it is unsafe by any stretch of the imagination. I work in an office and I tell people all the time, the most dangerous thing we do is sit and stare at a computer all day. It would be interesting to get statistics on the dangers of hiking vs. hiking solo. I've never seen anything along those lines. Like Glen, I think the most dangerous thing about hiking solo is the drive to the trailhead.

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#199087 - 09/12/17 12:11 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: BZH]
Weston1000 Offline
member

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By BZH
While I agree with you that it is less safe than hiking in a group... I don't think it is unsafe by any stretch of the imagination. I work in an office and I tell people all the time, the most dangerous thing we do is sit and stare at a computer all day. It would be interesting to get statistics on the dangers of hiking vs. hiking solo. I've never seen anything along those lines. Like Glen, I think the most dangerous thing about hiking solo is the drive to the trailhead.


Too little physical activity or exercise is life threatening in the long run.

The risks of solo hiking depend on mental and physical fitness, age, survival-knowledge and -experience, equipment-quality, preparations, carrying a radio for weather reports, distance, weather, terrain, bear threat, etc.

If the friend at home does not know EXACTLY how and when to call in search & rescue, there is a good chance, that he will wait a few days too long, to do so, fearing to be held accountable for an embarrasing false alarm.

This friend at home should also know the color of your tent and clothing. And one should know beforehand, who will pay for expensive S&R in case of such false alarm.

http://diaryofawanderess.com/is-hiking-solo-dangerous/


Edited by Weston1000 (09/12/17 12:18 PM)

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#199088 - 09/12/17 01:58 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Weston1000]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
This info is all on my registration with the government for my PLB, and is also on the info I send to my primary and secondary contacts before a trip. I give them a specific time and date to call, allowing a day extra in case I want to stay out longer, or can self-rescue but at a slower pace. I also list alternate bail-out points in case I have to get out earlier.

For me, hiking with a group is more hazardous. That's because I am slow (and getting slower with age), and attempting to keep up with a faster group inevitably leads to falls. When alone, I hike at my own pace, take plenty of time over rough spots, and don't attempt anything beyond my current ability just because a group wants to do it--a situation I have frequently encountered on group trips.

I've also read a number of accounts in which groups got into big trouble despite supposedly experienced leaders. One prime example some years ago was a meet-up group advertised as an introduction to winter camping. The leader ignored the weather forecast (TV reporters were touting the coming weekend weather as the "winter storm of the century," which meant that it at least was not a mild storm). No effort was made to ensure that the participants had the proper gear--in fact, participants were told not to bring snowshoes, and they were not told how to keep their gear dry. They also camped in an unprotected location with poor drainage. Nobody died, but some toes were lost due to frostbite and the entire group (including leader) had to be rescued because the snow was too deep for them to walk out.

I would say that hiking alone is (assuming the leaders are far more competent than in the above example) more hazardous for inexperienced hikers. Those of us with many years' experience in varied environments (75 in my case) are probably better off solo.

I personally think the drive home after the trip is the most hazardous--the driver is tired, it's getting dark, and the road is filled with equally tired (and often inebriated) drivers trying to get home as fast as they can!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#199089 - 09/12/17 02:38 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: OregonMouse]
Weston1000 Offline
member

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
For me, hiking with a group is more hazardous. That's because I am slow (and getting slower with age), and attempting to keep up with a faster group inevitably leads to falls. When alone, I hike at my own pace, take plenty of time over rough spots, and don't attempt anything beyond my current ability just because a group wants to do it--a situation I have frequently encountered on group trips.

I've also read a number of accounts in which groups got into big trouble despite supposedly experienced leaders. One prime example some years ago was a meet-up group advertised as an introduction to winter camping. The leader ignored the weather forecast (TV reporters were touting the coming weekend weather as the "winter storm of the century," which meant that it at least was not a mild storm). No effort was made to ensure that the participants had the proper gear--in fact, participants were told not to bring snowshoes, and they were not told how to keep their gear dry. They also camped in an unprotected location with poor drainage. Nobody died, but some toes were lost due to frostbite and the entire group (including leader) had to be rescued because the snow was too deep for them to walk out.

I would say that hiking alone is (assuming the leaders are far more competent than in the above example) more hazardous for inexperienced hikers. Those of us with many years' experience in varied environments (75 in my case) are probably better off solo.

I personally think the drive home after the trip is the most hazardous--the driver is tired, it's getting dark, and the road is filled with equally tired (and often inebriated) drivers trying to get home as fast as they can!


Although you will profit from your vast experience, every year your age will increase your medical risks, like cardiac, stroke or breaking a limb, etc.

One could keep radio contact or telephone reach while hiking. And you could try to find like minded people in your region via the internet to hike. There may be more people that prefer a slower speed.

Hiking guides and survival instructors, who risk the lives of their trustful students, should be prosecuted and punished by the government.


Edited by Weston1000 (09/12/17 02:42 PM)

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#199090 - 09/12/17 05:43 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Weston1000]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1357
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Interesting point - got me to thinking: for me, the friend at home is my wife. And, the insurance is paid up. Then there are those times I've been introduced as "my first husband." And, I am approaching full retirement ("...married you for better or worse, not lunch...")

Maybe I need a new friend at home? At the very least, I might need to put seat down. smile

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#199091 - 09/12/17 05:46 PM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Weston1000]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1357
Loc: Southwest Ohio
That was a good, balanced article. I'd also refer you to Colin Fletcher's Complete Walkers for another perspective on the pleasures of solo hiking.

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#199114 - 09/16/17 01:19 AM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
The key to hiking safely alone is also the key to hiking safely at any time, whether with or without others: identifying dangers correctly and successfully avoiding or mitigating them, through good preparation and good judgment. If you can do this consistently, you will hike safely.

As far as I can see, hiking with another person does not guarantee that any of those safety factors will be increased, and if the other person has bad judgment, or is ill prepared or overconfident, they are more likely to get you into trouble than make you any safer.

About the only thing that having others around will guarantee is that, once you have failed to recognize and avoid a danger, and consequently have injured yourself, or become hypothermic, or lost, there will be another person who might assist you in extracting yourself to a place of safety or can administer aid. But this, as I say, is the case only after you've failed in your primary task of keeping yourself safe, sound and whole. In other words, it didn't make you safer, but only makes it easier to rescue you from your failure.

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#199116 - 09/16/17 07:21 AM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 855
Loc: Michigan
Actually I think that I have gotten off on the wrong trail more frequently while hiking with others than I do while hiking solo. While hiking with someone else it is easy to just go with the flow and assume that the other person knows what they are doing. When hiking solo I tend to pay more attention. It is also easy to get in to precarious situations because the other person is doing it and you do not want to appear to wimp out.

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#199118 - 09/16/17 11:24 AM Re: What are my options for personal locators?? [Re: GrumpyGord]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
There was an interesting article on BackpackingLight some years ago (before I stopped following that site) about two experienced hikers who were so busy talking with each other that they missed a turn and ended up going the wrong way, not realizing it until they were almost back to where they started from, and noticed that the bridge they were crossing was very familiar!



Edited by OregonMouse (09/16/17 11:25 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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