With the rise of smartphones, location-based services have become a mainstay of our lives. We use them to check in at airports and restaurants, find friends at concerts and sports games, and even to navigate our way around new cities.
But there’s still one major problem with location-based services: they only work if you have your phone with you. But what if your phone battery dies when you are outdoors especially on a camping trip or even hiking in the mountains? Well, that’s where the top rated personal locator beacons come into play!
So, today in this article, we have tested and reviewed 3 of the top rated personal location beacons and put together a list of the best beacons along with a comprehensive buying guide. Hence, without further ado, let’s begin!
If you want to jump off directly into the reviews, then you can do so by clicking HERE!
What are personal location beacons?
Personal location beacons are devices that emit a signal that can be detected by other devices, typically in order to determine the user’s current location. There are a variety of different types of personal location beacon available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
a. Active Beacon
One type of personal location beacon is known as an active beacon, which emits a regular signal that can be picked up by other devices within range.
Active beacons have the advantage of being always-on and thus providing continuous tracking information, but they require battery power and may need to be periodically replaced or recharged.
b. Passive Beacon
Another type of personal location beacon is called a passive beacon, which only emits a signal when it receives an external trigger (such as when someone presses a button).
Passive beacons are more energy efficient than active beacons since they don’t continuously emit signals, but they can only provide tracking information while they’re actively being triggered.
How to use a personal location beacon?
A personal location beacon is a small, portable device that can be used to send out your location to others in case of an emergency. Here are some guidelines for using one:
- First, make sure you have properly registered your beacon with its corresponding service provider. This will ensure that people who try to track your signal will be able to find you.
- Once you have registered your beacon, keep it close by at all times – preferably within reach in case of an emergency situation.
- In the event that you need assistance, activate the beacon by pressing the button or flipping the switch (depending on the model).
- The beacon will then start broadcasting your location information via satellite or cellular networks so rescuers can come and find you as quickly as possible.
- Once you have been located and rescued, be sure to deactivate the beacon so it doesn’t continue broadcasting your location unnecessarily.
How much does a personal location beacon usually cost?
If you are considering buying a personal location beacon (PLB), it is important to know how much they usually cost. On average, PLBs range in price from $300-$500. However, there are some factors that can affect the price of a PLB, such as the brand and features.
- For example, one of the most popular brands for PLBs is Garmin. Their beacons typically start at around $350 and go up to about $450 depending on the model and features. Some of their more expensive models include additional features like GPS tracking or satellite messaging capability.
- Another factor that can affect pricing is whether or not the PLB includes subscription fees. Some companies will charge a monthly or annual fee for access to their emergency notification system; this fee may be included in the upfront cost of the device or added on later as an ongoing expense.
Overall, personal location beacons are not cheap devices; however, they could potentially save your life in an emergency situation, so it is important to weigh all factors before making a purchase decision!
Buying Guide to the Top Rated Personal Locator Beacons
So, you are all set to purchase your new personal location beacon! But wait, do you know what factors to look for while buying one?
Well, if you don’t, then you can consider this buying guide to choose the best personal location beacon. Here we will discuss about several factors that are necessary to consider before buying one!
Registration is a crucial factor to consider before buying a personal location beacon. A PLB is only as good as the emergency response system it’s connected to, and in order to ensure you have the best possible chance of being found and rescued in an emergency, it’s important to make sure your PLB is properly registered. There are two main types of location beacons: those that use GPS signals and those that do not.
GPS-enabled devices can provide rescuers with a more accurate location, which can be vital in remote or difficult-to-search areas. However, even non-GPS devices can still be useful if they’re properly registered; this information helps rescue crews know where to start looking for you. To register your device, simply go to the website of the manufacturer or retailer from whom you purchased it and create an account (if one isn’t already required).
Then enter your contact information and any other relevant details about yourself or your family members who also carry beacon locators. That way, if someone triggers their distress signal, responders will know exactly who they’re looking for – allowing them to narrow down their search area significantly!
Personal location beacons are becoming increasingly popular, especially as more and more people head outdoors for activities like hiking, camping, and kayaking. But before you buy a personal location beacon (PLB), there are a few things you need to consider – one of the most important being subscription fees.
Most PLBs require some sort of subscription in order to function properly. This is because they rely on satellite coverage in order to work – and that costs money. The good news is that many PLBs come with basic subscriptions included in the purchase price. However, these often only last for a year or two before needing to be renewed. So, what does this mean for you?
Well, it’s important to factor in the cost of renewing your subscription when considering whether or not to buy a particular PLB model. Some models may have higher initial prices but lower renewal costs; others may be cheaper up front but end up costing more over time. It all depends on your individual needs and budget constraints!
The next point to consider is coverage! There are three main types of coverage in personal location beacons: satellite, terrestrial, and hybrid.
- Satellite-only beacons use the Global Positioning System (GPS) network to determine their location and transmit it via radio waves to a designated rescue centre. They have no way of receiving information from the ground, so they can only be used in areas with clear skies and line-of-sight access to GPS satellites; otherwise, they will not work.
- Terrestrial systems rely on both GPS signals and cellular networks for locating and transmitting data. This means that as long as there is cell phone reception in the area, the device will still work even if there are heavy clouds or trees obstructing its view of GPS satellites.
- Hybrid devices come equipped with both kinds of antennas needed for simultaneous communication with both satellite constellations (e.g., Iridium) and terrestrial cellular towers. The advantage here is obvious: Even if one type of system goes down, you’ve got backup available immediately!
If you’re in the market for a personal location beacon (PLB), one of the most important factors to consider is battery life. A PLB with a long battery life will obviously be more useful than one with shorter battery, so it’s worth taking the time to compare different models and find one that meets your needs.
There are two main types of batteries used in PLBs: lithium-ion and alkaline. Lithium-ion batteries are generally considered superior, as they offer longer run times and don’t have the “memory effect” common with some other types of batteries. However, they can be more expensive than alkaline options. When comparing different models, pay close attention to both the type of battery used and the stated runtime.
Ideally, you want a model that uses lithium-ion batteries and has at least 24 hours of runtime; however, many PLBs only have 12 or 18 hours of runtime on their highest setting. If you’ll primarily be using your device in an emergency situation where every minute counts, opting for a longer runtime may be worth any extra cost difference between models!
My Suggested 3 Best Personal Location Beacons
1. ACR ResQLink View Personal Locator Beacon
The ResQLink View is a small but resilient Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). It has been professionally engineered and tested to withstand even the harshest elements. The beacon requires no subscription for use and includes a digital display providing live status and GPS coordinates.
The ResQLink View quickly and accurately transmits your location to a global network of search and rescue satellites thanks to its three levels of integrated signal technology: GPS positioning; a powerful 406 MHz signal; and 121.5 MHz homing capability.
Additionally, a built in strobe light facilitates night time or other low visibility rescues. Plus, the ResQLink’s satellite precision will help ensure you have peace of mind when travelling into remote areas. You can rely on the ResQLink View to help bring you home!
- Screen size: 1-inch
- Waterproof: Yes
- Map type: Satellite, Worldwide
- Battery life: 28 Hours
- Extremely compact and rugged
- Has been tested to withstand even the harshest elements
- Requires no subscription for use
- Features three levels of integrated signal technology
- Built-in strobe flashlight facilitates for night-time rescues
- The battery replacement cost is just too high ($157), and it has to be replaced only by the company, otherwise it will void your warranty!
The ACR ResQLink View Personal Locator Beacon is an extremely compact and rugged personal locator beacon that has been tested to withstand even the harshest elements.
It requires no subscription for use, features three levels of integrated signal technology GPS positioning, a powerful 406 MHz signal, and 121.5 MHz homing capability and has a built-in strobe light to facilitate night-time rescues.
So, whether you’re hiking alone in the wilderness or commuting back home after work you should never go anywhere without this device on hand!
2. McMurdo FAST FIND 220 Personal Locator Beacon
The McMurdo Fast Find 220 is a personal locator beacon that can help you signal for help in an emergency situation.
This PLB is easy to operate, with no subscription needed, and it has a high brightness LED SOS light that can be seen from far away. The Fast Find 220 also has a minimum 24hr continuous operation time, making it ideal for boating, fishing, or any outdoor lifestyle activities where you might need to signal for help.
In case of an emergency, all you need to do is activate the beacon and it will start transmitting a signal that can be picked up by search and rescue teams. With the Fast Find 220, you can have peace of mind knowing that help is on the way!
- Screen size: 1-inch
- Map type: Oceania
- Included components: Location Beacon, Documentation, Flotation pouch
- Weight: 0.81 Pounds
- Easy to operate
- No subscription needed
- Comes with a high brightness LED SOS light
- Can be used for a minimum of 24hrs continuously
- Ideal for boating, fishing, or outdoor lifestyle
- The instruction manual isn’t that clear!
If you’re looking for an affordable, easy-to-use personal locator beacon that you can use for boating, fishing or other outdoor lifestyle activities, the McMurdo FAST FIND 220 Personal Locator Beacon is a great choice.
It’s lightweight and small enough to fit in your pocket, so it won’t weigh you down while you’re out on the water or hiking through the woods. Plus, there’s no subscription required!
3. RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon
Does your family know where you are when you go hiking, camping, or kayaking? Do they worry about you when you don’t check in for a few hours? With the RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon, they won’t have to worry anymore. Just clip it on and forget it until you need it.
If there is ever an emergency, simply activate the beacon and it will transmit your location to search and rescue teams via satellite within minutes. The beacon has a 7-year battery life with free use – no subscription charges! It also features a high brightness strobe light (greater than 1 candela) visible even in daylight conditions, so rescuers can easily find you.
Plus, the 66 channel GPS receiver ensures that your position can be pinpointed accurately. This product is easy to use while being rugged enough to withstand extreme weather conditions; perfect for those who enjoy spending time outdoors!
- Supported application: GPS
- Weight: 4.09 ounces
- Battery life: 7 years
- Warranty: 7 years
- Comes with a 7 year long battery life
- Programmed to function continuously for 24+ hours when needed
- Free to use, no subscription charges
- Features a high brightness strobe light
- Built-in GPS receiver with 66 channels
- Extremely rugged and tested for extreme weather conditions
- There are no significant drawbacks to speak of!
With a 7 year long battery life, the RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon is the perfect solution for your outdoor adventures. With no subscription charges, this beacon can be programmed to function continuously for 24+ hours when needed.
It even features a high brightness strobe light in case of an emergency and can be used in extreme weather conditions. Plus, the 66 channel GPS receiver will ensure you are located quickly, while the rugged build means it can last through any adventure!
1. Which personal locator beacon is the best?
With so many personal locator beacons (PLBs) on the market, it can be hard to know which one is the best for you.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line PLB with all the bells and whistles, then the Ocean Signal RESCUEME PLB1 is definitely worth considering. Here’s what makes this particular PLB stand out from the rest:
- Small and lightweight: At just 4.09 ounces, it won’t weigh you down when carrying it on your person or in your backpack.
- Easy to use: Even in stressful situations, you’ll be able to quickly activate this beacon with its simple push button interface.
- Durable design: Thanks to its tough ABS plastic housing and water resistant construction, this Beacon can withstand being dropped or submerged in water (up To 33 feet).
- Long battery life: With up 24 hours of continuous operation on a single set of batteries, this is one of longest lasting beacons available.
2. Is a personal locator beacon worth it?
When activated, a PLB sends out a distress signal that includes your GPS location. The signal is then picked up by satellites and relayed to rescue crews who will come to your aid.
So, is a personal locator beacon worth it? That really depends on how often you venture into the backcountry and what kind of risks you’re comfortable taking. If you love spending time in remote areas where help may not be readily available, then investing in a PLB could literally mean the difference between life and death.
On the other hand, if you generally stick to well-travelled trails close to civilization, then carrying a PLB might not make sense for you – unless of course peace of mind is worth the extra weight on your pack!
3. Can you use your phone as a personal locator beacon?
Most people never leave home without their phones, so it stands to reason that your phone can be used as a personal locator beacon in case of an emergency. Here’s how it works!
If you’re ever lost or stranded, you can use your phone to send out a distress signal that will help rescuers locate you. There are several different ways to do this, but the most effective way is to use a dedicated app like Find My Friends or Life360. These apps let you share your location with others in real-time, so they’ll always know where you are.
You can also set up safety zones and receive notifications if someone enters or leaves them – perfect for keeping track of kids or elderly relatives. However, remember that these apps are not very effective. So, in cases of camping trips, hikes, or any other outdoor ventures, its best to carry a personal locator beacon!
4. Should I get a PLB or satellite messenger?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether you should get a PLB or satellite messenger. Here we will outline the key differences between the two devices, and help you make a decision on which is best for your needs.
- PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons) are emergency beacons that use satellites to send out a distress signal with your GPS location.
- They require no subscription and can be used anywhere in the world where there is an unobstructed view of the sky.
- However, they only work when activated manually – meaning if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to activate it yourself, someone else will have to do it for you.
- In addition, PLBs have limited messaging capabilities – so once your beacon has been activated, all you can do is wait for rescue crews to arrive.
b. Satellite Messengers
- Satellite messengers (also known as SPOT devices), on the other hand, offer two-way messaging capabilities via satellite networks even without cellular coverage.
- This means that not only can friends or family track your progress and see your current location online, but you can also send them messages letting them know how things are going – perfect for keeping everyone up to date on long hikes or backpacking trips through remote areas!
- Plus, most satellite messengers come equipped with additional features like SOS buttons that automatically trigger a distress call along with your GPS coordinates (although this does require an annual subscription).
5. Do you need a license for a PLB?
When it comes to personal locator beacons (PLBs), the simple answer is yes, you need a license. However, depending on which country you’re in, that license may come from the government or from a commercial provider.
In either case, though, having a PLB with you when heading into the wilderness is always a good idea – after all, these devices can literally be lifesavers. Here’s everything you need to know about getting licensed for your PLB in the US.
- In the United States of America, licensing for PLBs falls under the authority of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- According to NOAA regulations, every person who owns or operates a 406 MHz distress beacon must obtain an authorization certificate from NOAA prior to operating their device.
- This certification is obtained by submitting an application form along with proof of identity and U.S citizenship.
- Once approved, applicants will receive their Certificate of Registration-Beacon Owner/Operator which must be kept on board any vessel or aircraft equipped with said beacon.
6. What is better EPIRB or PLB?
There is no clear answer as to whether an EPIRB or PLB is better. It really depends on the situation and what your needs are. Here are some things to consider:
- An EPIRB is required by law if you’re on a boat in international waters, whereas a PLB is not. However, a PLB can be used in any emergency situation, including on land.
- An EPIRBs signal will be picked up by satellite and relayed to rescue services, who will then come to your location. A PLBs signal goes directly to rescue services without being routed through a satellite first.
- EPIRBs usually have more features than PLBs (such as GPS), but they’re also larger and more expensive.
7. Why are personal locator beacons so expensive?
Personal locator beacons (PLBs) are a vital piece of safety equipment for anyone who ventures into the wilderness, but they can also be quite costly. Here we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why PLBs tend to be on the expensive side.
- One reason for the high cost of PLBs is that they contain sophisticated electronics and software that allows them to operate in very remote locations. This technology doesn’t come cheap, and it’s one of the main things that drive up the price of these devices.
- Another factor that contributes to the expense of PLBs is their durability. These devices need to be able withstand all sorts of abuse, whether it’s being dropped or submerged in water. All this tough construction comes at a price though, which helps explain why personal locator beacon prices can sometimes seem so high.
- Finally, it’s important to remember that personal locator beacons are life-saving devices. They can literally mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation, so their high cost is actually a reflection of their value. When you consider all these factors, it’s easier to understand why PLBs tend to be on the pricier side.
8. Can beacons detect distance?
Beacons are devices that broadcast signals at a very specific frequency. These signals can be picked up by other devices that are tuned to receive them, and the signal strength can be used to determine how far away the beacon is.
The accuracy of this distance measurement depends on a number of factors, including the type of beacon being used, the quality of the receiver, and any obstacles between the two points.
In general, however, beacons can provide quite accurate estimates of distance over a range of 1-2m!
9. When should you activate a PLB?
There is no definitive answer to when you should or shouldn’t activate your PLB, but there are some general guidelines that can help you make the decision.
If you find yourself in a survival situation where immediate rescue is necessary, then activating your PLB is usually the best course of action. This could be due to severe injuries, being lost in an area with no hope of self-rescue, or other life-threatening circumstances.
However, if there is any chance that you can safely wait for rescuers to arrive without activated your PLB, it’s generally advisable to do so. This will help conserve battery power and increase the chances that your signal will be picked up by searchers!
10. Who pays for PLB rescue?
In order to ensure that PLBs are available for anyone who needs them, there are a few different organisations and programmes that help cover the cost of rescuing people with PLBs.
Here’s a look at some of the main groups involved in paying for PLB rescue:
- The National Park Service offers free loaner radios and satellite phones at many visitor centres across the country. They also reimburse 100% of eligible search and rescue expenses incurred while responding to beacon signals from within national parks.
- Most state governments have laws mandating financial responsibility for search and rescue (SAR) missions conducted on behalf of missing persons, regardless of how they got lost or what type of equipment they were using when they went missing. This means that if you get rescued after activating your PLB, it’s likely that your state will foot at least part of the bill.
- The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers boater education classes which include training on proper use of flares and other maritime signalling devices, including EPIRBs and PLBs. They also offer a financial reimbursement programme for volunteer flotillas that assist in actual search and rescue operations.
If you are looking for more tutorials, walkthroughs and troubleshooting about camping and enjoying the outdoors, here are some additional posts to check out:
The Bottom Line
So, there you have it: the 3 best personal location beacons!
If you’re looking to stay safe and secure on your adventures, a personal location beacon can be a great investment. While there are several different types of beacons out there, these 3 are among the best for personal use! Thanks for reading, If you think I forgot something or if you simply want to share a story or some advice, feel free to leave your comment below. Be Safe and Have Fun!