PLB: Personal Locator Beacon

Spent weeks trying to decide whether to buy a PLB. After much soul searching, and given that I hike quite a bit and plan on doing some solo hikes, and that I hike a lot with the ASCHG, it seemed prudent to acquire a PLB. My research lead me to the ACR ResQLink as my preferred choice.

A PLB is a device of last resort. If you find yourself in a life or death situation and you have determined that a timely self-rescue is not possible… or you are with a group and the group has determined that a timely group-rescue of an individual who is in a life or death situation is not possible, simply deploy the antenna, activate the unit and, within minutes, the Search-and-Rescue (SAR) team responsible for the area you are in will be notified and SAR will be on the way to your location in short order.

A PLB is a serious piece of gear. It operates through SARSAT, the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking network under the control of NOAA and the USAF, at least in the USA. By law, all PLBs in the USA must be registered with NOAA and there are heavy fines for irresponsible or frivolous use.

I won’t go into detail about how a PLB works in this post because I intend to post another article on the differences between a PLB and the SPOT Satellite Tracker/Messenger/Beacon and why I chose a PLB over SPOT.

Click here for my blog article on why I bought a PLB and not a SPOT

I received my ACR ResQLink last Wednesday and I will take it on my first hike tomorrow. With a PLB hanging on my pack, I will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if I, or someone I am hiking with, has a life-threatening accident or health emergency, a timely rescue is just a button-push away.

Well, the above does assume a couple of things: 1) If I am the one that gets hurt and I am hiking alone, it assumes I remain conscious and retain the use of at least one hand, and 2) If I am hiking with a group and I am the one that gets hurt and I am unconscious, it assumes my limp, unresponsive carcass (and thus my PLB) remains accessible to my hiking companions. Consequently, my falling over a cliff, or down a steep ravine, etc. is not allowed unless someone else is also carrying a PLB. 😉

NOTE: If anyone is contemplating the purchase of an ACR PLB, now is the time to pull the trigger because ACR is offering a $50 mail-in rebate, which was the final push I needed to make this purchase now. There are two models of this PLB. One floats, the other one doesn’t. I bought the one that floats, not that I need a PLB that floats, but the one that floats has a slot at the top and bottom (see pic below) and comes with a Velcro strap that makes it easy to hang the PLB from a D-Ring on the left shoulder strap of my pack. The model that doesn’t float does not have the slots and has to be carried in a pouch, which is not what I wanted.

ACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon

ACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon