5 Best Personal Locator Beacon Reviews (Updated 2019)

Best Personal Locator Beacon ReviewsIf hunting in the backcountry, hitting the open trails, or scaling remote mountains – or any other activity that involves being removed from civilization and has the potential of being hazardous – you know how crucial it is to take strides to protect yourself. There are various types of equipment that can improve your safety when you’re in a remote area; long range walkie talkies and waterproof two-way radios, for example.  Another essential piece of equipment that you should always have on-hand when you’re in a remote area and could potentially run into trouble s is a personal locator beacon (also referred to as a PLB).

With a PLB on your person or in your pack, should a situation arise where you need someone to find you, you’ll be able to get the much-needed help you require. These tools can turn around life-threatening situations.

If you’re shopping for a PLB, you’re going to find that there are a lot of options to choose from. To help you find a highly reliable, feature-rich, and easy to use unit, we’ve put together a list of the top five personal locator beacons out there.

Personal Locator Beacon Review Center 2019

To learn more about each PLB, read through the following reviews. Once you decide on one that you want to purchase, click on the yellow link to find the best prices currently available on Amazon.

#1 – ACR PLB-375 ResQLink + 406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon

Acr Plb 375 Resqlink+ 406 Buoyant Personal Locator BeaconMeasuring just 4.5 inches and weighing in at just over 5 ounces, the ACR PLB-375 ResQLink + 406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon is small, compact, and lightweight, so you’ll have no trouble strapping it on your person or putting it in with your gear, because it definitely won’t weigh you down. The fact that it floats also makes it an exceptionally useful tool, especially for mariners, or anyone else you plans on partaking in water activities, as it can be used as an EPIRB.

This personal locator beacon is a full-powered, GPS-enabled rescue beacon. It’s similar to a handheld GPS unit or a marine GPS device, except instead using it to find your route, you’d use it to let search and rescue teams know your exact coordinates. It has a 406 MHz signal, as well as a 121.5 MHz homing capability, so you can have confidence knowing that your position will be accurately relayed to a global network of search and rescue satellites. There’s a built-n strobe light, which not only allows you to see in the dark, but also makes you more visible. There are a total of 66 powerful GPS channels, so this unit can guide search and rescuers to your position within 100 meters. Used within the continental US, search and rescue teams will usually be alerted of your location in as little as five minutes. It has long-lasting battery life, too; it’s certified for 6 years and has an average shelf life of 11 years. All of these features, plus, it’s incredibly easy to use.

What We Like About It

  • Lightweight and compact; weighs 5.4 ounces and measures 4.5 inches
  • Buoyant design, so it’s ideal for boaters, pilots, and anyone who engages in water-based activities
  • Advanced GPS technology with a 40 MHz signal and a 121.5 MHz homing capability
  • Built-in strobe light for nighttime visibility
  • Long lasting battery life
  • Easy to use

Reasons to Complain

  • It’s a bit pricey
  • Some users said that the factor seal was damaged when they received it

Final Verdict: Overall, we were quite impressed with the ACR PLB-375 ResQLink + 406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon. It’s lightweight, offers powerful technology, and is incredibly easy to use.

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#2 – Garmin inReach Mini

Garmin Inreach MiniGarmin is one of the most reputable manufacturers of navigational tools. They offer an extensive line of car GPS and motorcycle GPS devices that are outfitted with the most advanced technologies, so it comes as no surprise that their inReach Mini is feature on our list of the best personal locator beacons. It can be used as more than a PLB, too.

This unit is featured two-way text messaging through the 100% global Iridium network, which means that you will be able to communicate with others, no matter where you are, so it can essentially function as a long range two-way radio. It also has access to access to the Garmin Earthmate app via a compatible device, which lets you view handy NOAA charts and maps. With optional access to inReach weather service, you can use it as weather radio, too, as you’ll be able to access the latest weather forecasts. When an emergency arises, just press the SOS alert and it will automatically disperse a message to the GEOS emergency service team, letting them know your exact coordinates so that search and rescue teams can find your location. The unit is compact and lightweight, so you’ll have no trouble carrying it around, and it’s waterproof, too, so it can withstand all types of environments.

What We Like About It

  • Can be used for two-way text messaging communication
  • Features built-in GPS
  • Access to the latest weather updates
  • Efficient SOS feature for fast emergency response
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Waterproof and exceptionally durable
  • Easy to use

Reasons to Complain

  • A few customers noted that the battery life didn’t last as long as they hoped it would
  • Others noted that they had issues with the unite right out of the box; however, contacting the manufacturer remedied the situation

Final Verdict: If you’re looking for a personal locator beacon that can be used as a GPS, a weather radio, and an emergency radio, the Garmin inReach Mini is definitely an option that you should consider. With this tool on-hand, you’ll have confidence knowing that you’ll be able to access help in emergency situations; plus, you can use it to improve your safety when you’re out exploring.

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#3 – ACR 2880 ResQ Link PLB-375 Personal Locator Beacon

Acr 2880 Resq Link Plb 375 Personal Locator BeaconACR offers such high-quality, reliable personal locator beacons that we’re actually featuring more than one of their PLBs on our list. Their ResQLink PLB-375 Personal Locator Beacon is just as effective as the previously mentioned unit by the manufacturer, but it’s slightly less expensive. Plus, it’s smaller and more lightweight, as it measures just 3.9 inches and weighs just 4.6 ounces; it’s literally smaller than the average cell phone. It’s ideal for use in the US, as it’s pre-programmed for registration with the American country code, so while it can be used anywhere in the world, the first contact in an emergency will be the search and rescue teams in the US.

This GPS-enabled personal rescue beacon offers three levels of integrated signal technology, including GPS positioning, a 121.5 MHz homing device, and a 406 MHz signal. With such advanced technology, you’ll have confidence knowing that rescuers will be able to accurately pinpoint your location. It also boasts a built-in strobe light, so you’ll be more visible in the dark. Once deployed, this unit will direct search and rescuers to your location within 100 meters or less. Plus, if used in the continental US, rescue teams will be alerted of your call usually within five minutes or less.

What We Like About It

  • Offers powerful GPS positioning
  • Features a 40 MHz signal
  • Has a 121.5 MHz homing capability
  • Built-in strobe light for faster nighttime rescues
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use

Reasons to Complain

  • The price is a bit high
  • Some customers said that it was damaged when they received it

Final Verdict: If you’re looking for a super lightweight and compact PLB that offers exceptionally reliable technology, the ACR 2880 ResQLink PLB-375 Personal Locator Beacon is an excellent choice. It offers three levels of integrated signal technology, as well as a built-in strobe light to ensure you can be found with ease.

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#4 – Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger

Spot 3 Satellite Gps MessengerIf you’re looking for a reliable personal locator beacon but you don’t want to break your budget, then you should consider the Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger. This unit is one of the more affordable options on our list, but it still offers robust technology that makes it comparable to the other PLBs we’ve featured.

When an emergency arises, you can use this unit to instantly send an SOS out to search and rescue teams, complete with your GPS location. It works fast, too; typically, rescuers will receive your contact within just a few minutes. This unit can also be used to communicate your location with your friends and family. It has a check-in feature, which you can send out with a pre-programmed message to let your contacts know your whereabouts and that you are safe. If you’re in need of help but don’t require the full assistance of search and rescuers, you can use the Help/Spot SOV feature to request backup from your loved ones; the unit will send them your GPS location so they can find you. Lastly, the unit can be used to send and save your location, which contacts can track using Google maps.

What We Like About It

  • Offers robust GPS technology so that search and rescue teams can find you quickly
  • A check-in feature allows you to let your contacts know your whereabouts
  • The Help/Spot SOV feature can be used to send your GPS coordinates to family and friends
  • Tracks and sends your locations to your contacts so that they can keep track of your progress using Google maps
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Affordably priced

Reasons to Complain

  • Some users said that they felt it wasn’t as durable as they expected it to be
  • Others said that they had a hard time getting it to work

Final Verdict: The Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger is an affordable personal locator beacon that can be used to allow your family and friends to keep tabs on you as you’re exploring, too. It’s affordable, easy to use, and compact for easy travel.

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#5 – PrimeTracking LLC Personal GPS Tracker

Primetracking Llc Personal Gps TrackerLast up on our list of the best personal locator beacons is the PrimeTracking LLC Personal GPS Tracker. If you’re looking for true affordability, this is the unit for you, as it is the most affordable option featured on our list of the best PLBs.

This unit may not be as robust as the others we’ve featured; however, it is still quite handy and can certainly keep you safe while you’re out exploring. It offers real time tracking, so your family and friends can keep tabs on your location from the computers, tablets, or smartphones. You – and your loved ones – will receive instant updates of your location, as well as directions. Your family and friends will even be able to use it to see what path you’ve taken as you’re taking it. When an emergency arises, just deploy the SOS feature and it will instantly send out a signal that you need help. Your loved ones and authorities will be able to find your location via the GPS technology.

What We Like About It

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Offers advanced GPS tracking technology
  • SOS feature is easy to use
  • Ideal for loved ones to keep track of seniors and children
  • Affordably priced

Reasons to Complain

  • It’s not as advanced as the other PLBs featured on our list
  • Some users said that they had issues getting it to work

Final Verdict: Overall, we found the PrimeTracking LLC Personal GPS Tracker a highly useful tool. While it isn’t as advanced as other options on our list, it is certainly useful for parents and caregivers who need to keep tabs on their children or elderly loved ones; plus, it can be used to send out alerts when help is needed.

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The Best Personal Locator Beacon: A Buyer’s Guide

Personal locator beacons (abbreviated PLB) were first introduced in 2003. They were developed as a way to provide individuals who are in a state of emergency with a way to get the assistance that they required. These devices can be equated to EPIRBs, which have been in existence for a longer period of time, but serve as emergency assistance devices for mariners. They work in the same manner as EPIRBs send out distress signals to search and rescue authorities via satellites. Once your signal is received, authorities can access your location and send out emergency help. PLB are designed for use on land, as well as at sea (make sure it’s waterproof if you plan on using it on the water)

Features to Consider

In order to ensure the personal locator beacon you are selecting will provide you with the security and assistance you need in an emergency, consider a unit that offers the following features:

  • GPS technology. If you want to get help as fast as possible, invest in a PLB that features GPS technology. With this feature, your coordinates will be sent out to search and rescue officials, which will speed up the recovery effort.
  • Self-test. With this feature, you can ensure that your device is working properly so that in the event that you do need it, you won’t be left stranded.
  • Even if you aren’t planning on using it at sea, you should still invest in a waterproof PLB. That way, if you are stuck in a downpour or drop it in, say, a stream that you’re crossing while hiking, it won’t be damaged and will still relay your emergency signal.

Conclusion

Whether you’re hiking, mountain climbing, white water rafting, camping, hunting, or engaging in any activity in which you may require emergency assistance, a personal locator beacon is a must-have. These life-saving devices can also be extremely useful if you don’t engage in extreme activities but you reside in an area that is prone to severe weather. All of the devices featured on our list offer the most advanced technologies and provide reliable connectivity to ensure you get the assistance you need, should you ever need it.

Sources:

REI

The Outbound

Outside Pursuits