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Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

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Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Brad6260 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:33 pm

I guess I should be thankful my wife still likes me enough that when she caught wind of the PLB's that are on the market she made me buy one because of the amount of solo alpine routes I do. Considering the size (4.6 oz) , reliability and relative low cost (about $215.00) I really can't dispute the logic.
I am curious how many others are carrying these units.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby ywardhorner » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:54 pm

We've been carrying Spot beacons for several years. I was against it at first, because I felt that it took something away, but my husband really wanted one. I still feel that it takes something away, I guess, but I carry one anyway. I would only use it to call for help in the most dire life or death situation. A lot of my friends have them now.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby TimB » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:17 pm

I have been using one for just over a year. Most all of my climbing/outdoor adventures are done solo. Gives my family and I some piece of mind.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Fletch » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:36 pm

I use a PLB on solo outings and/or overnighters... in todays age, it seems silly not to...
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Brad6260 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:48 pm

I agree Fletch. I just can't see any downside to it and at 4.6 oz it's an easy manageable "plan B" to have when ___ hits the fan in the backcountry. I wish they had a combo unit that was both a legit avalanche transceiver and PLB.
Terrible to say but I rarely take the ortovox transceiver on solo trips because let's face it without someone very close by they serve no rescue purpose other than an easier body recovery.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Jarpup » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:48 pm

Good thread/question. I'm considering one for the same reasons (solo stuff) but I'm still sorting out all the options/prices/ratings, etc. I think my biggest question is whether the ability to send updates/messages is worth the added cost, or whether to just go with one that only sends emergency signals. I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts.
It would definitely be awesome if somebody built one that had an avalanche transceiver..

I agree with you, ywardhorner: It better be life or death before I use it. There are plenty of stories of people abusing this technology.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby adventurer » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:03 pm

A PLB is a great device and I agree you're better off with one than without. That said, don't let the PLB lull you into a false sense of security. Always leave info about your intended route and expected time of return with a trusted relative or friend. Failure to do so may mean that you're betting your safety on a set of batteries.

Also, as others have said, don't use the thing unless you have a real emergency.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Brad6260 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:41 pm

Adventurer,
You bring up one of my concerns. As these devices become more and more in numbers that will also produce more and more idiots that either don't know how to use them correctly or misuse it for less than dire situations. You end up with a potentially unmanageable demand put on the state ,local and federal good folks who are called on to respond to an activated beacon. Do we see a point in the future where the manpower just isn't there to respond ?
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby MoapaPk » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:45 pm

The most common device used for unnecessary/questionable S&R calls is... ta-dum... the cell phone. While the questionable use of SPOTs gets a lot of attention, cell phone calls for S&R assistance are far, far more common.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby DukeJH » Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:07 pm

I do a lot of solo work and I have used the SPOT (2nd generation) and the Spot Connect.

I have had difficulty with consistently being able to send "I'm OK messages" and tracking with both. The SPOT was much better than the Spot Connect. I spent more time futzing with the Connect that I am about ready to take it back to REI and use the refund on better boots for my wife so I'm not solo all the time.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Fletch » Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:31 pm

When I researched this a few years ago, my take aways were mainly this:

PLB Cons: more expensive, could not send 'OK' messages, and was heavier/bulkier/more fragile than a SPOT.
PLB Pros: different/more reliable network - also public/government, not via private lease, works outside the US (needs to be registered with the local government though --- haven't done that yet).

SPOT Cons: the contract/service fee, customer service, older generations having problems integrating with newer models (i.e. my SPOT would be obsolete after a few years)
SPOT Pros: able to send 'OK' messages, lighter, more durable, cheaper, friends had them/knew how to use them

In the end, it was the SPOT customer service that ended up swinging me to a PLB. Apparently, it's worse than getting out of a Bally's membership or a Dish contract... 99 out of a 100 online reviews were TERRIBLE... call me old fashioned, but customer service is my #1 most important thing and so at the end of all my research, it was a no brainer for me...

And all the talk about people taking more and more risks because they have a SPOT in thier back pocket - I don't buy it for an instant. Most people that are idiots, were born that way...

I carry mine so that if I break an ankle I can call someone to come get me... not so that I can push my limits... I keep a pretty good watch on my pace, mileage, elevation, weather, emotional/mental state... i'll be the first one to throw in the towel... and I'm not afraid to call SAR... but I also hope to never need them... not worth it in my opinion...

Another little tidbit - most of my friends that have been involved in a SAR actually used a SPOT/cell phone/PLB for someone else --- remember, it's not always the person with the beacon that gets injured... I like to think that I could be of some help to someone else too... that's an added benefit to carrying one...
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby mrchad9 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:03 pm

Well... I guess the title of the thread (though no fault of the OP... I am not sure how else you could title it) is largely only attracting the members who have PLBs or SPOTs.

I have one, that was purchased for me, but I never use it. Never even put batteries in it. Now if you have a wife and kids sitting at home I can see the advantages... I'd probably want one that could send them an OK signal so they can track what it going one.

But I don't use one. There are certainly downsides to having one. It's another piece of gear to deal with, and 4.6 oz is more than zero. Does that include batteries? Regardless... it all adds up. And there is the expense. There are pros and cons and the magnitude of each is different for each individual (obviously). Otherwise either every person out there would buy one, or no one would at all.

For the same reasons I don't use one, only one of the partners I have ever climbed with uses one. And he has it to keep his kids happy. He took it to Denali, and it was fun to watch his progress in real time. I'd take one for something like that. But I know many, many people who don't bother with it, regardless if there is cell coverage or not, or if climbing with me or they are off on their own.

So... I only mean to point out that there are tons of people out there that don't use them, and many that do. The responses here are not a scientific sampling of that. Just have to determine what fits your individual situation best.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:53 am

I have a SPOT, but often recommend PLBs to people. Many people don't have an SO who needs reassurance, or notification if there is a change in plans; they just want personal safety in a "sh*t-has-hit-the-fan" situation, and aren't worried about comforting someone else. PLBs are better in deep canyons, and have no yearly fee. The battery replacement can be quite expensive, but after 5 years, you may want to go to another model/technology.
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby Fletch » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:55 am

mrchad9 wrote:Well... I guess the title of the thread (though no fault of the OP... I am not sure how else you could title it) is largely only attracting the members who have PLBs or SPOTs.

I have one, that was purchased for me, but I never use it. Never even put batteries in it. Now if you have a wife and kids sitting at home I can see the advantages... I'd probably want one that could send them an OK signal so they can track what it going one.

But I don't use one. There are certainly downsides to having one. It's another piece of gear to deal with, and 4.6 oz is more than zero. Does that include batteries? Regardless... it all adds up. And there is the expense. There are pros and cons and the magnitude of each is different for each individual (obviously). Otherwise either every person out there would buy one, or no one would at all.

For the same reasons I don't use one, only one of the partners I have ever climbed with uses one. And he has it to keep his kids happy. He took it to Denali, and it was fun to watch his progress in real time. I'd take one for something like that. But I know many, many people who don't bother with it, regardless if there is cell coverage or not, or if climbing with me or they are off on their own.

So... I only mean to point out that there are tons of people out there that don't use them, and many that do. The responses here are not a scientific sampling of that. Just have to determine what fits your individual situation best.

Oh stop. You just don't want to carry one because you're afraid to be seen with one... :lol:

You can certainly afford it and you are a very strong and qualified climber. You have the capacity for another 4.6oz. If you don't, you're really letting it hang out there... we just gotta find you a girl... :lol: ... you'll change your tune...
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Re: Do you carry a PLB ( Locator Beacon) ?

Postby mconnell » Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:50 pm

mrchad9 wrote:Well... I guess the title of the thread (though no fault of the OP... I am not sure how else you could title it) is largely only attracting the members who have PLBs or SPOTs.

I have one, that was purchased for me, but I never use it. Never even put batteries in it. Now if you have a wife and kids sitting at home I can see the advantages... I'd probably want one that could send them an OK signal so they can track what it going one.

But I don't use one. There are certainly downsides to having one. It's another piece of gear to deal with, and 4.6 oz is more than zero. Does that include batteries? Regardless... it all adds up. And there is the expense. There are pros and cons and the magnitude of each is different for each individual (obviously). Otherwise either every person out there would buy one, or no one would at all.

For the same reasons I don't use one, only one of the partners I have ever climbed with uses one. And he has it to keep his kids happy. He took it to Denali, and it was fun to watch his progress in real time. I'd take one for something like that. But I know many, many people who don't bother with it, regardless if there is cell coverage or not, or if climbing with me or they are off on their own.

So... I only mean to point out that there are tons of people out there that don't use them, and many that do. The responses here are not a scientific sampling of that. Just have to determine what fits your individual situation best.


I am married, have kids and have no use for carrying one. Never felt the need. My wife is comforted in knowing that, if something goes really wrong, she has a big ass life insurance policy on me.
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