SPOT vs PLB vs InReach Comparison

2023 Update // Stay tuned for my review of Australian-owned, Zoleo, which appears in the April issue of Great Walks Magazine.

Emergency Beacons

One of the most important pieces of gear you can have in your backpack for remote, bush or wilderness areas is some form of emergency communications device. It’s the piece of gear that you don’t ever want to have to use, but when you do, you need to rely on it.

Personal Locator Beacon
The tiny RescueMe PLB (116g). One of the smallest options available to adventurers.

Borrowing from a history embedded with EPIRB technology (from the maritime industry), the options available to bushwalkers, hikers, trekkers and adventurers today has grown to include devices like the SPOT TrackerGarmin InReach or a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).

emergency communications
Emergency comms and much more… Garmin InReach

Each of these gadgets has different features and benefits, pros and cons, so I thought I’d create this simple one page summary below of the key information for each, to help you choose the best remote area emergency comms device for your needs.

emergency communications
SPOT Tracker (114g). Another lightweight option, with limited 2-way comms.
Personal Locator Beacon

If price is a major factor for you, then a straight PLB is a good choice for you. However, if you want to have extra features (especially two-way communications) like those offered by the InReach or SPOT, then you’ll need a device that not only has a one-off purchase price, but also an additional monthly and ongoing charges. In all these cases, it’s important you read all the fine print from the supplier and service provider so you’re not caught out with added costs you weren’t expecting.

For more information about beacons in Australia, checkout the AMSA website which has loads of information about choosing the right beacon for you, an explanation of the difference between a PLB and an EPIRB, as well as being the registration service and authority for beacons in Australia.

And if you’re wondering what I carry? I have the little RescueMe PLB.

nb: Some links on this page are affiliate links to suppliers of these gadgets. This simply means that if you buy via these links I receive a small commission, whilst you pay no more… we both win!

Writer, producer and content creator by trade, search and rescue volunteer by passion, Caro Ryan started to inspire, teach and encourage people to get into hiking and the outdoors safely.

It’s all about connecting people to wild places in meaningful ways, so they can look after themselves, their mates and these precious places we visit.

She teaches wilderness navigation, authored the book, ‘How to Navigate’ and hosts, ‘Rescued - an Outdoor Podcast for Hikers and Adventurers.

In the bottom of her pack you'll find coffee grounds, instant noodles past their used by date and an insatiable curiosity.

Bushwalking & Hiking Tips from an Unexpected Outdoors Chick

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