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#1150652 - 08/01/16 08:10 AM Spot vs Inreach vs ???
grandpa Offline
member

Registered: 12/21/06
Posts: 198
TRs: 0 Photos: 5
Loc: North Dakota
I've decided it's getting time to consider a locator device, and would like a comparison from experienced users, not just the advertising by the device companies. Anyone care to share the +/- of their devices?

Thanks in advance...
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#1150659 - 08/01/16 01:47 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
JasonG Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 2615
TRs: 99 Photos: 1575
Loc: Mount Vernon
Some discussion a short time ago: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1136049/PLB_PSA_plug

There are older threads out there too that I haven't had time to dig up.

Rad did an excellent review here (though a bit dated now): http://www.alpenglow.org/nwmj/10/101_Rescue.html

I have a McMurdo FastFind PLB and I'm pretty biased that a PLB is the way to go over SPOT or InReach. There have been some high profile failures with the latter during emergencies since they don't use the military satellite system. The maritime industry, aviation, and the military-industrial complex all use the same network as the PLB.

I don't care about two way communication when I'm in the hills, though. When I push the button I want assurance that a rescue is being initiated ASAP above all else.
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#1150668 - 08/01/16 08:46 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: JasonG]
grandpa Offline
member

Registered: 12/21/06
Posts: 198
TRs: 0 Photos: 5
Loc: North Dakota
Originally Posted By: JasonG
...I don't care about two way communication when I'm in the hills, though. When I push the button I want assurance that a rescue is being initiated ASAP above all else.


Yes, that's essentially all I want. I'll look into the one you suggested.

Thanks....
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#1150670 - 08/01/16 09:39 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
JasonG Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 2615
TRs: 99 Photos: 1575
Loc: Mount Vernon
The ACR ResQLink is another well regarded PLB.

Plus with PLBs there is no subscription fee like with the SPOT or InReach.
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#1150724 - 08/03/16 11:50 AM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
YakCLimber78 Offline
journeyman

Registered: 12/12/09
Posts: 68
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: Yakivegas
I've assisted people in selecting a PLB..... THe ACR is by far the best, it uses the maritime/military system. The Spot is finicky at best..... It's great if you want to update people how your trip is doing, but your "emergency" goes thru a third party and they are sitting in a cubicle. As far as the InReach, I have no experience with that unit.

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#1150726 - 08/03/16 12:06 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: YakCLimber78]
JasonG Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 2615
TRs: 99 Photos: 1575
Loc: Mount Vernon
Just to be clear, ALL PLBs use the military satellite system.

SPOT and InReach aren't classified as PLBs, because they use a private satellite system.

To use the military system, all true PLBs go thru rigorous testing. I think anything by the two main companies (McMurdo or ACR) would be just fine.
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#1150933 - 08/11/16 11:02 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
cjm84 Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/19/16
Posts: 16
TRs: 1 Photos: 9
Loc: WA
I have had a delorme in reach for 6 months now. I like it and it has served me well so far.

Pros:
- Bluetooth connection to phone (allows me to SMS text anyone on my contact list thru the device)
- Tracking is live updated on a website that friends/family can track (password protected). I have it set for 10 min interval updates (when static, the device power saves and only sends every three hours)
- GPS is okay / I prefer my phone with Gaia GPS app
- Adjustable subscription plans
- Battery life (50% battery after 3 days of constant on)

Cons:
- Expensive
- Subscription plans (the gift that keeps giving)
- Needs a clear line of sight to the sky (keeping it in the pack disrupts tracking signal)
- Has turned off on me accidently while in a bag/pocket
- Texting does take forever to go through, but at least you can see if it did or not
- Family being able to track means...they worry more actually

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#1153381 - 01/28/17 02:19 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: YakCLimber78]
chris Online   happy
veteran

Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 1471
TRs: 24 Photos: 150
Loc: Seattle
ACR and PLB also send a signal to a cubicle - only it's normally someone in a military uniform, who then notifies the local SAR resources.

I think there is a real advantage to two-way communication - being able to tell SAR exactly what resources I may need will generate a faster response then a blanket call out for any help. Also, being able to tell everyone that its not an emergency when I'm running late is a benefit too.

The latest In Reach also offers a month-to-month plan or a slightly cheaper subscription rate. I've been thinking of using the inReach so that I can adjsut my plan as needed throughout the year.

The best tool might be the SPOT/Global Star phone...
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#1153456 - 01/31/17 08:19 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
sepultura Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/03
Posts: 192
TRs: 6 Photos: 140
Loc: Unalaska, AK
Inreach use the Iridium satellite network, which is is very expansive and will work anywhere on the planet. Spot uses Global Star with limited satellite coverage. If you are planning trips to Alaska, northern Canada and the greater ranges I would stick with Inreach

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#1153461 - 01/31/17 10:44 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
pcg Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 442
TRs: 0 Photos: 51
Loc: OR
Suppose you are carrying a standard PLB that does not have a tracking feature and you are injured and cannot activate the PLB, or you are injured and immobile and activate it, but the signal is not received because you are shielded from satellites (cliff, forest, whatever). Then what?
Eventually people will realize you need assistance, but how will they find you?
If you had been carrying an inReach with tracking on, all they have to do is go to the web and see your trail.
I understand that Iridium is not the military satellite network, but it works everywhere. During a recent outing after a minor emergency occured (no injuries) I was able to text details to a family member using an inReach Explorer (not paired to anything) from inside a tent in pouring rain in a treed area - not a dense forest, but I was surrounded by leafed-out trees, including overhead.
PLBs are supposed to have a stronger transmit signal, but once again, if you cannot activate it, or if it's blocked, you're screwed.
I don't carry a Smartphone so I can't speak to the pairing feature, I will say that texting from the inReach Explorer keypad is slow and tedious if you are creating a custom text, and not using a pre-created message. It takes a while to get used to, but it is pretty nice to be able to communicate with someone from a remote location anywhere in the world, and I like knowing that if I need assistance and cannot activate the SOS, people will at least have a very good idea where I am. If the inReach's signal is not blocked, they will know exactly where I am.

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#1153467 - 02/01/17 02:21 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: pcg]
JasonG Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 10/12/00
Posts: 2615
TRs: 99 Photos: 1575
Loc: Mount Vernon
There is no perfect device and the best insurance is to not get hurt in the first place. i.e. Your SPOT/InReach/PLB shouldn't change your risk tolerance or decision making in the hills.

If you are so badly injured that you or someone in your party can't trigger the device then you've typically got little chance of a successful rescue, especially if your loved ones wait a few hours to make sure your track doesn't come alive again. However, I suppose I can see your point if you primarily travel solo (which I almost never do).

And, from what I've read, the satellite network is typically robust enough that terrain blocking of a PLB is quite rare (slot canyon?). The battery fires for 24+ hours, giving ample opportunity to link with a satellite.
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#1153494 - 02/02/17 05:30 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
diepj Offline
member

Registered: 01/09/12
Posts: 116
TRs: 6 Photos: 113
Loc: PDX
Good points all around.

I have the ACR and I think it is great and fits my needs. Totally robust, totally reliable. Never out of battery. It's great for all the reasons Jason mentions.

I also used the InReach on an expedition. It also worked great, but fit a totally different need/purpose. We used it mainly for 2-way with out meteorologist. Didn't really get into the social media aspects. (The point of climbing is getting away from that, right?). Texting is a bit of a pain with the device, but workable. Very easy when paired up.

I question the importance of 2-way when initiating a rescue. Is there any difference in the response that the local agency is going to initiate whether you have a compound femur fracture or a head injury? By definition you activate a PLB or an SOS call when the team needs help extracting. The response is going to depend more on the local resources available and the current and forecast weather conditions, etc.

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#1153495 - 02/02/17 05:59 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
genepires Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 06/27/01
Posts: 3759
TRs: 8 Photos: 59
Loc: sharing-hood
Whatever you can do to make the rescuers job easier, the better the outcome. 2 way communication will make their job easier. It is all about intel to make the mission go smoothly.
They will be prepared for anything as they are professionals, but maybe victims should act professionally also?
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#1153496 - 02/02/17 07:02 PM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: diepj]
mthorman Online   content
member

Registered: 03/24/13
Posts: 184
TRs: 12 Photos: 206
Loc: Spokane, WA
Originally Posted By: diepj
I question the importance of 2-way when initiating a rescue. Is there any difference in the response that the local agency is going to initiate whether you have a compound femur fracture or a head injury? By definition you activate a PLB or an SOS call when the team needs help extracting. The response is going to depend more on the local resources available and the current and forecast weather conditions, etc.


As a rescuer myself, I can tell you that knowing information helps a lot. No it probably won't change the timeframe that help arrives, BUT it will ensure that help brings the necessary supplies and streamlines the process. Usually we have everything but if we can pair down to only what we know we need it helps rescuers be more efficient. Also it will probably really help speed the process up in the actual evacuation. It depends on the team and location but many times the decision about method of evacuation isn't made until after the first rescuer arrives on scene to assess the patient. If the team has good information about the patient's condition they can be ahead of the curve and start lining up whatever method of evacuation is chosen.

Think of the following example: A PLB gets activated and its location is up in the Enchantments about 4 or 5 miles from the trailhead in what looks like steep ish terrain. Depending on the situation you might get the ground team or a helicopter on scene 1st. But if it is the helicopter it most likely won't be set and prepared to do an immediate short/long haul. They will just drop a rescuer off to access whether the person has a broken leg, a concussion, or is just "lost". If you had a way to communicate to the rescue team that your partner had fallen 20 feet off a small cliff and was unconscious with a head injury I bet they would put a helicopter as the #1 priority and rig it immediately for a haul.

In the end though all the devices are better than none if you truly need something....they just all have their own pros and cons.

I really like Jason's advice though and think more people should take it to heart. "Your SPOT/InReach/PLB shouldn't change your risk tolerance or decision making in the hills." I just finished my AIARE Level 1 course and the instructor said something similar about the avalanche air bags and risk. "If you feel like you need to have your avalanche air bag out and ready than you shouldn't be there in the 1st place."

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#1153498 - 02/03/17 07:41 AM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
pcg Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 08/25/10
Posts: 442
TRs: 0 Photos: 51
Loc: OR
All good points. The biggest value to me of the inReach Explorer is the peace of mind it gives family members. I travel solo almost exclusively and I like the freedom to wander and make changes to a pre-determined plan. I can do all this and still have my location and status updated so that others can access it, without my having to think much about it.

Two other nice features...
-Two inReaches can communicate with each other (never used this)
- Weather forecasts. I have used both the free forecast and the more detailed forecast. It takes a few minutes at most to get a forecast once you have submitted a request.

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#1153499 - 02/03/17 08:59 AM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
diepj Offline
member

Registered: 01/09/12
Posts: 116
TRs: 6 Photos: 113
Loc: PDX
MT - Thanks for adding input from rescuer perspective and some next-level thinking.

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#1153542 - 02/08/17 11:05 AM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
Rad Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/11/03
Posts: 2404
TRs: 28 Photos: 760
Loc: The Emerald City
If you haven't read it, you might check out my old NWMJ article on how signaling devices affect outcomes and risk tolerance.

And here are some facts on the matter: NWMJ supplement
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#1154145 - 03/05/17 08:55 AM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: Rad]
grandpa Offline
member

Registered: 12/21/06
Posts: 198
TRs: 0 Photos: 5
Loc: North Dakota
[quote=Rad] If you haven't read it, you might check out my old NWMJ article on how signaling devices affect outcomes and risk tolerance.

And from the above article, I find this:

"Spring 2010, Mount Rainier - Two climbers fell 75 feet into a large crevasse just below Camp Muir. They called 9-1-1 from the bottom of the crevasse, but bad weather delayed rescue teams. Fortunately, the party had camping gear with them. They pitched a tent on a ledge inside the crevasse and waited in their sleeping bags until rescuers arrived to pull them up to safety."

I was not aware of any significant crevasses below Camp Muir, especially of this magnitude. The only ones I've seen were narrow, maybe an inch or two in width. As a grandpa who often takes "the kids" up there for a day hike, where would I find such a crack in the snow?
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#1154152 - 03/06/17 11:17 AM Re: Spot vs Inreach vs ??? [Re: grandpa]
Bronco Offline
Deskjockey

Registered: 02/16/01
Posts: 3520
TRs: 14 Photos: 111
Loc: Port Gardner, WA
I could see someone describing the Cowlitz and Nisqually Glaciers as being located "below Camp Muir". They certainly would feature some 75' holes.

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