Emergency Contact Devices / Garmin? Other?

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
20
Hi! Newbie backpacker working on planning a 100 mile trek plan. I'm interested in finding the best emergency backcountry device and/or satellite phone.

To be honest, I wasn't thinking these were very critical and many YouTube videos say if you are fully prepard you don't need the expense. Well, my mind has just changed ! My work colleague who is an experienced hiker and adventurer went solo in Southern Utah for a planned 7 days. Despite being well prepared, he took a very bad fall on his first day out. His leg was broken in two places & tendon torn [surgery required], He literally couldn't move. He had fallen below phone reception, and he had no way to contact anyone or call SAR. He would not be missed for 7 days. Suddenly in a dire situation. He tried to bundle up as much as possible, shock setting in, and dehydration. Miraculously, some hours later a Search and Rescue crew was called to look for another hiker in the area. They randomly came across my friend. I'm still really shaken up about this situation. If all the stars had not aligned, I don't think he would have lived to tell his story.

I am now an advocate for investing in ways to reliably call for help. Most likely I will never need it. But, you just never know. Being prepared is critical. Since I'm just getting started and not sure how much hiking I'm going to do this year, is there a way to rent these? "try before you buy"? Is a Garmin Mini pretty much the way to go? Any other devices/plans recommended? Also, how do you recommend best keeping them on your body if you fall?
 

Wanderlust073

Member
.
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
838
Here's a quick list of past discussions around various PLB options on this site:

https://bit.ly/3grGI5m

Here's the list without 'spot' littering the results with guess the spot type conversations:

https://bit.ly/3asbEii

You can rent an inreach if you don't want to buy one, just google for it there are lots of options.

Good old youtube. A lot of advice that assumes nothing will ever possibly go wrong...
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
Joined
Mar 1, 2015
Messages
312
I agree that anyone going hiking in remote places should at least strongly consider buying one of these. If you want to save money and buy something simple, an acr plb is reliable for sos messages (but lacks two-way communication)
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,848
Hi! Newbie backpacker working on planning a 100 mile trek plan. I'm interested in finding the best emergency backcountry device and/or satellite phone.

To be honest, I wasn't thinking these were very critical and many YouTube videos say if you are fully prepard you don't need the expense. Well, my mind has just changed ! My work colleague who is an experienced hiker and adventurer went solo in Southern Utah for a planned 7 days. Despite being well prepared, he took a very bad fall on his first day out. His leg was broken in two places & tendon torn [surgery required], He literally couldn't move. He had fallen below phone reception, and he had no way to contact anyone or call SAR. He would not be missed for 7 days. Suddenly in a dire situation. He tried to bundle up as much as possible, shock setting in, and dehydration. Miraculously, some hours later a Search and Rescue crew was called to look for another hiker in the area. They randomly came across my friend. I'm still really shaken up about this situation. If all the stars had not aligned, I don't think he would have lived to tell his story.

I am now an advocate for investing in ways to reliably call for help. Most likely I will never need it. But, you just never know. Being prepared is critical. Since I'm just getting started and not sure how much hiking I'm going to do this year, is there a way to rent these? "try before you buy"? Is a Garmin Mini pretty much the way to go? Any other devices/plans recommended? Also, how do you recommend best keeping them on your body if you fall?
How about don't go solo in places where you won't see people.....
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
20
How about don't go solo in places where you won't see people.....
That's certainly valid. For now I do plan to always hike with someone else. However, whether solo or duo, I don't think it's advisable to assume there will always be other people around to help in an emergency. What if the injured person needed continual care in order to keep them alive? I'm certainly not going to want to abandon my BFF or husband and risk them bleeding out / going into shock / stop breathing while I desperately try to find a cell signal. It seems to me that carrying an alert device is not only taking personal responsibility for the risks of choosing to be in the wilderness, but a courtesy to fellow hikers who become obliged to drop all of their plans to participate in a rescue.
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
20
Here's a quick list of past discussions around various PLB options on this site:

https://bit.ly/3grGI5m

Here's the list without 'spot' littering the results with guess the spot type conversations:

https://bit.ly/3asbEii

You can rent an inreach if you don't want to buy one, just google for it there are lots of options.

Good old youtube. A lot of advice that assumes nothing will ever possibly go wrong...
Thank you!
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,493
I generally carry one of the one-shot, one-way emergency beacons on any significant trip, cause why not?

I had zero desire to own a sat phone but ended up going in on an Iridium one with a friend who I often travel with. We just rent a SIM from a local SLC place when we want to use it, so there's no ongoing cost. It sucks for incoming reception -- has proved extremely unreliable at receiving even texts, even when it's sitting there with perfect reception for like 10 minutes. This got me in trouble with my wife one time and I'm still pissed off about it. It works great for outgoing calls though. We've not used it in an emergency yet, but use it to get brownie points at home by occasionally calling in from the middle of a trip. The key is to keep expectations low: don't *expect* to hear from us. Cause the very last thing you want is SAR getting called cause the stupid electronics did the wrong thing.
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
.
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,580
Feel bad plugging my own stuff, but something very similar happened to me recently while hiking - fell and broke my foot, and had to crawl out to the road. If civilization had been any farther away, my PLB would have been essential to my survival. I'm a pretty conservative decision-maker, and have a decent amount of experience. Despite that, I've had two pretty serious backcountry accidents in less than a year. I think my attitude toward PLB's is moving from resentment to acceptance.

Also, keep in mind that you can buy single-purpose PLBs, that don't have any sort of functionality except for summoning a helicopter, and don't have any monthly subscription costs either. For years, that's been my preferred choice.

 

zionsky

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Messages
521
I rent from these guys every year for my solo trips in the backcountry of southern utah. Less than $50 for a week and piece of mind. Let's just hope I never have to use it :)
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
.
Joined
Feb 15, 2020
Messages
125
I love my inReach Mini - with a wife and two little kids at home it makes it easier for me to get out on more trips. Anything that does that is something I'm happy to have. But my family knows to assume "no news is good news" because you never know when connectivity is gonna be delayed.

It's also nice, since my kids are too small to join on most trips, that they can follow my route at home and feel involved.

I do understand people that feel connection taints the "wilderness experience" though - even if it's not a feeling I happen to share. HYOH and all.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
.
Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
2,604
I've rented from Skycall Satellite in Salt Lakes a handful of times. If you're in the area, you can pick up a unit from them directly, otherwise, they ship. It's pricier than the other option mentioned here. I eventually just bought my own because the rental costs added up quickly.
 

regehr

Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2012
Messages
1,493
I've rented from Skycall Satellite in Salt Lakes a handful of times. If you're in the area, you can pick up a unit from them directly, otherwise, they ship. It's pricier than the other option mentioned here. I eventually just bought my own because the rental costs added up quickly.
Russ at Skycalll is great, that's where we rent SIMs for my sat phone
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
20
I rent from these guys every year for my solo trips in the backcountry of southern utah. Less than $50 for a week and piece of mind. Let's just hope I never have to use it :)
Wonderful! Thank you.
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
20
Feel bad plugging my own stuff, but something very similar happened to me recently while hiking - fell and broke my foot, and had to crawl out to the road. If civilization had been any farther away, my PLB would have been essential to my survival. I'm a pretty conservative decision-maker, and have a decent amount of experience. Despite that, I've had two pretty serious backcountry accidents in less than a year. I think my attitude toward PLB's is moving from resentment to acceptance.

Also, keep in mind that you can buy single-purpose PLBs, that don't have any sort of functionality except for summoning a helicopter, and don't have any monthly subscription costs either. For years, that's been my preferred choice.

I always appreciate you sharing your personal stories and ideas @LarryBoy ! HOLY SHIZ!! I just read your grizzly attack post. :eek:
A ton of excellent information in there. I'm awed at your amazing survivalist skills. It's very impressive how you handled such a life and death situation ... and I'm grateful to learn from your story. I don't know how you were able to tell that story so calmly. [adding "Buy Bear Spray, and practice using it" to my To-Do list] How are you doing now? Did you heal up okay? Have you experienced PTSD from the attack? Is it hard to go solo in bear country now?
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
.
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,580
I always appreciate you sharing your personal stories and ideas @LarryBoy ! HOLY SHIZ!! I just read your grizzly attack post. :eek:
A ton of excellent information in there. I'm awed at your amazing survivalist skills. It's very impressive how you handled such a life and death situation ... and I'm grateful to learn from your story. I don't know how you were able to tell that story so calmly. [adding "Buy Bear Spray, and practice using it" to my To-Do list] How are you doing now? Did you heal up okay? Have you experienced PTSD from the attack? Is it hard to go solo in bear country now?
All things considered, the actual injuries from the attack were pretty minor. Got a few gnarly scars on my chest and shoulder but other than that, I'm fully recovered. Like @TheMountainRabbit mentioned, I was only out of commission for about 2.5 weeks before I was healed up enough to hike again.

As far as the mental game goes... I was surprisingly okay. I attribute that to a few different factors:

1) Disposition. I'm a very logic and reason-oriented person by nature, and so the fact that it's incredibly unlikely to get attacked by a bear, especially if you're not being an idiot, gives me plenty of comfort
2) I'm a person of faith, and believe that God's got me no matter what.
3) I'd mentally practiced/visualized this happening (and my reaction to it!) a hundred times before, So while you're certainly never expecting to come face-to-face with a griz, I was prepared as best I could be in the moment.

It's funny, the griz attack gets all the headlines, but the injuries from my recent fall were far more serious. Had surgery, at least 3 months of no walking, lengthy rehab, uncertain whether I'll get back to 100%. But #2 above gives me a lot of comfort.

I'm glad you took something away from the bear attack post. That's the whole point... to encourage others to take the appropriate precautions in grizzly country.
 

ImNotDedYet

Member
.
Joined
Sep 28, 2018
Messages
114
Consider the satellite network of the item - it's one of the reasons I chose the inReach mini. The Spot version(s) at the time were on a network that supposedly didn't work as well in areas both within the US and internationally.

Consider the plan(s) you have to pay for the item - more applicable once you choose to actually buy vs. rent. But if you're renting with the intention of buying if you like it, then perhaps considering the cost of plans should factor into which item you rent.

Consider what is covered in the costs. There's a relatively small upcharge on my inReach mini plan that covers rescue team costs and getting me to the nearest hospital. That cost can be a huge cost in the event something happens.

I chose the inReach mini because at the time it was on the best network, provided the best overall coverage of something happening to me and needing help getting out, (I still consider my cell phone a necessity as typing messages on the mini is horrific) allowed me to turn on/off my plan and provided some other functionality I might find of usefulness. This was at the time of my purchase a couple years ago. Many things may have changed with new items on the market now.

My dad always told me insurance seemed like a waste of money...until you needed it. I view my PLB as insurance.
 

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