Quite a few different PLB’s (personal locator beacon) are out on the market these days. A quick Google search will get you started on the varieties and comparisons. Like most products you invest in, it will come down to functionality, product cost and subscription cost. I have tested three different PLB’s, and came to the conclusion that the Delorme InReach Explorer was the best fit for me and my particular circumstances. The following are reasons why I specifically chose the InReach over others.
Subscription Cost: At the time of purchase, Delorme had the best subscription cost for me. Their particular plan allowed me to turn my subscription on and off as I wished. I wasn’t as active in the wintertime and this allowed me to save some money in those months. Other PLB’s had yearly contracts.
Tracking: It was my experience that the Delorme tracked my steps better than other PLB’s I tested. This was reassuring to anyone who was following our movement through the Delorme website. This was also reassuring as I followed preprogrammed routes to specific destinations.
Two-way communication: This was my top priority. I needed to be able to send messages out to specific people. For me, it was a means of reassurance. It was comforting for me, as a mom, backpacking with two or three kids, to be able to communicate out different messages. For example, if we decided to add a day to our itinerary, I can simply communicate that to my husband instead of him worrying about me being a day late or me cutting a trip short to stick to original plan. There was a time that I needed to come off the route three days sooner and get picked up at a different trailhead and this was an invaluable tool. During one of our latest trips, we had to activate the SOS feature and I used the two way communication to text out pertinent information like type of injuries, type of accident, resources needed, etc.
There are many other great features about the InReach that you can find out when you research PLBs. Many of those additional features are also features of other PLB brand. Therefore, do your research and know that you have to figure out what is best for you.