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member (6)member
05/04/2024 12:17PM  
I need to buy a rescue button for my upcoming trip. I don't know much about them. In case something bad happens and I need to call for help what should I be buying?? I'm not very up to date with electronics and have never used one before.
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05/04/2024 12:23PM  
Many outfitters rent them if you want to go that way. Popular ones are Garmin Inreach and Zoleo, but there are others. Besides those 2-way Satellite Communicators, there are also PLB's (Personal Locator Beacons. You will find good info on hiking guy dot com.
member (6)member
05/04/2024 12:39PM  
I dont need two way communication. I am just looking for an SOS button in case something horrible happens. I would be willing to spend $150+ to get something for myself.
05/04/2024 01:02PM  
The communicators are fine but they require charging and a service subscription.

The PLB (personal locator beacons) such as the ResQLink 400 has a battery that lasts five years. No subscription. You buy it, register with the NOAA, and that's it. Battery is replaceable.

ResQLink 400
05/04/2024 03:01PM  
If I thought something bad was going to happen, I wouldn't go.
05/04/2024 05:56PM  
BuckSutherland: "I dont need two way communication. I am just looking for an SOS button in case something horrible happens. I would be willing to spend $150+ to get something for myself. "

You need to read up on the options . . .

You won't get a PLB for $150 unless someone is selling a used one.

The 2-way text communication on my Garmin Inreach is only to SARSAT or some one I send a message to; you won't be getting regular calls/emails, etc.

If you'll only use it on this trip, renting would be a good option.
senior member (65)senior membersenior member
05/04/2024 07:57PM  
I have been using a Spot for the past few years. It sells for about $150 and sometimes goes on sale for less. It runs on lithium batteries that don’t need to be recharged. They have long life especially if you leave it off and just have it along for the SOS. It’s one way communication but in addition to SOS you can send preset OK messages to people that you list in your account. It does require an activation fee and subscription plan. I use the flex plan so I’m only charged in months I’m using the device.
05/04/2024 08:57PM  
I have both a Spot and a ResQLink 375. I bought the Spot as it was required for the Border Challenge. I bought the ResQLink in 2018 to put my wife at ease. I’ve made > 12 trips into the BWCA/Q with the ResQLink so far. Battery is still showing it has power when tested recently though I will replace at the end of this year, regardless. I take the ResQLink every time I head into the Wilderness. I have a good friend that had to use his while traversing Roper’s High Route in the Sierras - it saved his life.

Some differences between the two ….The PLB works on a different frequency than the satellite messengers. The PLB works on inter-government satellite systems and has more coverage globally. The satellite messengers (Spot, InReach, Zoleo, Bullitt all work on private satellite networks (Globalstar, Iridium, Inmarsat and Echostar) and the network depends on which device you have. Newer iPhones (14 and above) also have SOS capability and use the Globalstar satellite system, I believe. The PLB does not offer a communication function, the satellite messengers do. The PLB is registered with the NOAA, the messenger is not. The second link below goes into more detail on the differences between the two options.

It really depends on what you want the device for - how you plan to use it. Personally, this is one of those cases I consider “wasting” money on something I never end up using worth it in the end.

PLB info - NOAA

PLB vs Satellite Messenger
distinguished member(1982)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/04/2024 10:09PM  
I've also been using the SPOT locator for years. You can do a basic annual fee and then just do a monthly payment for the months you will be on trips. One tip though, use a piece of electrical tape over the rubber flap for the USB port. It is too easy for it to get knocked loose and let water in.

Or you can just rent a device from an outfitter.
05/05/2024 10:45AM  
BuckSutherland: "I dont need two way communication. I am just looking for an SOS button in case something horrible happens. I would be willing to spend $150+ to get something for myself. "

Neither a sat communicator or dedicated PLB can be sourced under $150. You may need to rent something.

As has been mentioned do some research and learn the different options.
Personally my wife reused to work with any method of texting, the basis of most messengers except sat phones. I chose the PLB a dedicated NOAA/Government backed system. $300 or so with a 6 year lifespan till mandatory battery replacement (installed my self around $75). This went on every trip, backpack, hike, and cross-country drive I have done in the past 15+ years, uses many do not think of and I road trip out west to the mountains from Canada's border with Idaho south to Phoenix with some large areas without cell coverage. Never pushed the button but feel more secure in getting assistance if needed.

distinguished member(2980)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/05/2024 01:03PM  
Zoleo for me.

I love mine. Use it for Quetico solo trips. Works flawlessly.
It does also have two way texting so if you don’t want to talk to anyone or then you don’t want this unit. You need to connect it to a smartphone via bluetooth for texting.

distinguished member (399)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/06/2024 07:28AM  
I wouldn't rule out any of the smaller inReach devices or similar just because they have the capability to message. I have a Mini 2 and I rarely use it to message anyone. I do love the weather reports though, they have always been very accurate. Battery life is plenty sufficient as well.
05/06/2024 10:47AM  
I use the Inreach to send an OK message every day. I only share the address with immediate family members with instructions not to reply or message unless an emergency. I have the original mini; the new mini2 has upgraded battery life and a track back feature. I like the weather reports and have verified my position once or twice just to see. I've used it on 2-week+ trips and had over half the battery life remaining.
distinguished member (105)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/06/2024 11:17AM  
bobbernumber3: "If I thought something bad was going to happen, I wouldn't go."

i dont think anyone plans on having something bad happen to them, but things do go wrong sometimes that are out of our control, even if we are taking proper precautions, mitigating risks, and being mindful to put safety first.

these devices are not for everyone. some see them as a distraction and are an example of the things we are trying to get away from when in the bush.

others however, have decided the small inconvenience, and cost of having one, may be out weighed by the potential benefits
distinguished member (105)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/06/2024 11:22AM  
BuckSutherland: "I need to buy a rescue button for my upcoming trip. I don't know much about them. In case something bad happens and I need to call for help what should I be buying?? I'm not very up to date with electronics and have never used one before. "

there are a lot of options out there. i just went through the whole process of researching these devices.

first, i agree with others that if you only need for one if you are not in the bush

i settled on the zoleo.

it can be used as a stand alone unit without a cell phone if all you want is the sos and check in features without two way communication.

you can pause your subscription for the winter if you want to. there is reactivation fee whenever you do this but it still saves you some money.

it also has access to weather info that some other devices do not. this was a selling feature for me.

i got mine on sale around christmas last year. i think it was under 200 cad.

i have chosen to link it with an old samsung cell phone that i bring with me anyways to take photos. i just had to install the app. this will give me the advantage of having two way communication if it is ever need. i tell my wife specifically not to message me (she also had to install the app on her phone) and not to respond if i simply send a check in message. i also reminded her not to hit the panic button if i did not check in as anything could have caused that. i might forget, not care lol, lost the device, or it may have died. but if there was a real emergency, the ability to have two way communication may be invaluable. it might even help avoid possible extraction if for example they can talk you through a medical issue or get you back on track if you become lost.

plus, the old phone (that i have with me anyways) can be a back up navigation device by using offline maps i have pre loaded. i do not really on this as i always plan my route and bring maps and a compass with me.

so in my opinion there was no downside to me having two way communication as an option. none. not even any extra cost. so why not have it?

i just used my zoleo for the first time this past weekend to check in with the wife and check weather a couple of times as it gives wind forecasts as well which is quite handy.

she gets a message through the app on her phone along with a link that shows my exact location.

what i would not do is have it turned on all day sending regular updated positioning to my wife or using it for regular communication back and forth. that for me is not why i got it.
distinguished member(8664)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
05/06/2024 06:13PM  
I always think about the tracking and how it would make it easier to find me if I did not check in or show up. It would get SAR to me quickly. But so far have not activated it.
distinguished member (386)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/06/2024 07:52PM  
REI has their anniversary sale coming up end of May. I would look into one to buy during that time to save some $
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14437)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
05/06/2024 09:19PM  
I read about injuries, heart attacks and deaths up there every year. This is the reason I have the Garmin InReach Explorer unit. But there are many other reasons for me like text messages, email messages, family can check in or watch my travels, weather forecasts for your area, compass, maps.

But for the $150.00 price your options are finding a rental at one of the outfitters. You might try contacting Garmin directly and see if they have any used or refurbished units. That would still require you to have a subscription plan, kind of like a cell phone. So rental price is your best bet.
05/07/2024 08:36AM  
Another option to stay under the $150 target is to purchase a used Garmin Inreach device off of various auction websites.

I did this a couple years ago, and it has worked flawlessly for me. It is not the latest Mini II, but an older SE, but it allows me all of the functionality of the newer models in a slightly larger form factor.

I paid around $100 for it. A quick scan now shows multiple units about the same pricing today. FOR ME, I liked the garmin functionality and reliability, the ability to just sign up for a month here and there during the year when I'd need it.

distinguished member(1455)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
05/07/2024 11:54AM  
I had a Spot X for years. Another guy has a Garmin Inreach. I now have a Zoleo

I highly recommend the Zoleo primarily for its additional features. Let's say you are unsure of whether or not a evac is needed. The Zoleo will allow you to connect with medical personnel to walk you through treatment on site, and advise you on evac.

We have not had need of evac, but it would have been helpful over the years to talk to someone regarding some of the issues that have come up.

The ability to communicate with medical people is the feature that I think puts the Zoleo hands down ahead of the rest.
05/07/2024 06:57PM  
Zoleo for me
member (6)member
05/08/2024 07:11AM  
Thanks so much for all the replies everyone.

I went to T-Mobile and we looked on my iPhone. The guy I dealt with there said that my phone has an SOS button that would send a signal if something happened. My wife's phone also has it. We are just gonna go with that and possibly rent a unit from the outfitter we are using. My brother turned his T-Mobile phone on last year and actually had cell service from where we are going. I will look into some of these other devices if I make a big trip into Quetico next year.

Thanks again.
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