SpotGen3: How to use a Personal Locator Beacon and How I use it

If tools and technology are available, should we use them and how do we use them? While in remotest Africa, I show you how I use this SPOT Gen3 personal satellite locator beacon (PLB). Remote travel and adventure both close and far from home carries risks. Features like the tracking beacon, check-in, and the SOS buttons could save our life one day. For me, that’s pretty cool. If something goes horribly wrong, these devices could save our life and the lives of those responders searching for us.

These tools are part of our Better Preparedness

A distress tool like these satellite beacons is not enough. It has to be part of your overall proactive preparedness.

  • Knowing when it’s safe to go out there and how to be safe
  • Being equipped to be safe and be ready for crises
  • Knowing how to use your gear and emergency items
  • A compact emergency kit (whistle, mylar blanket, 1st aid, …)
  • Notifying friends/family of your route and start/finish times
  • A Plan B and Plan C are great ideas

Distress and Emergency Communications Tools and Devices

There is a range of low and high tech tools available to us and the costs are in the reasonable range these days. If we can afford a mobile phone but we frequently venture away from signal, it’s worth considering a 1-way or 2-way personal locator beacon (messenger).

Remember, each of these has pros and cons. The whistle will reach out to anyone within a few hundred metres, including searchers. The signal mirror could catch the eye of an aircraft or boat searching for us. The locator beacons are critical to helping us be found more quickly and with less risk to the searchers and responders. Learn how to use these tools and devices.

Disclosure: The following are Amazon Affiliate links and if you buy something, I get a small commission (at no cost to you!) and that’s awesome because those few bucks help me pay for running this website. 🙂

1. Emergency Whistles:

2. Sun Signal Mirrors:

3. 1-Way Satellite Beacons/Locator Beacons


ACR ResQLink 400 Buoyant:

4. 2-Way Satellite Beacons/Satellite Messengers

Garmin InReach Mini:

Spot X 2-Way:

Garmin InReach Explorer+:

5. Satellite Telephones (Satphones)

Iridium Extreme:

IsatPhone 2.1:

Iridium 9555:

What Activities Can Benefit from a Personal Locator Beacon?

Mobile phones are awesome but they have their limitations such as network coverage or battery life. A 1-way SPOT Gen3 or (even better) a 2-way SPOT X satellite locator beacon has the potential to notify friends/family or authorities swiftly and let them know where you are. If I break my leg or suffer major equipment failure, and am stranded, using one of these beacons could save my life and help get help to me without searchers looking randomly for a needle in a thousand hay stacks.

Here are some of the applications for a Personal Locator Beacon:

  1. Hiking and Trekking
  2. Trail running
  3. Cycling and Mountain biking (MTB)
  4. Motorcycling
  5. Snowmobiling
  6. Hunting/Fishing
  7. Camping/RVing
  8. Solo/remote travel
  9. Skiing (downhill, cross-country, downhill, touring, hors-piste, …)
  10. Sporting events
  11. Elevated risk travel
  12. Search and Rescuers
  13. Canoeing/Boating/Sailing,…
  14. Backcountry wilderness travel
  15. Remote living locations
  16. Remote forestry, tree planting, or prospecting jobs
  17. What else can you think of?

Your Comments: What are your views on satellite locator beacons and messaging tools?

How do you feel about these satellite locator beacons and messaging tools? Do you use one? Which one?
What are your top tips?

Please add them in the Comments below!

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