/ Personal Locator Beacons
Anyone carry these for solo-walking in the UK, specifically Scotland?
I do most of my walking solo, often never seeing another person on the entire walk, and after a recent incident, think carrying one might be wise.
What models are out there? I've seen the Fastfind ranger but it seems expensive at about £250.
There was quite a lengthy/volatile thread on this some while ago, I seem to remember. Might not be wise to resurrect it...
Consensus seems to be that while climbers may or may not see the need for them they are pretty much mandatory if you walk within 10m of a horse.
Something like that anyway.
Newer was so many UKC's united against so few, as on that old locator beacons for horses thread
Only because we are a bunch of evil horse haters who get off on watching riders die in the middle of nowhere.
Or maybe that's just me.
It's not their fault. I was scarred for life by a traumatic incident involving some sugar lumps when I was 5...
For the benefit of the OP, there was a very long and acrimonious thread on here where a horse rider asked people to sign a petition to legalise these things. The general mood was against, but said horse rider was persistent.
The general feeling was (IIRC):
- They are dependant on an infrastructure that did not exist at the time, and (Mountain Rescue?) resources/money could be better used elsewhere. As they are now legal, this argument is now irrelevant.
- They will cause many unnecessary callouts as people become dependant on the 'safety net' they give and/or there will be many numpties pressing the button because they're lost and a bit cold (as has been the case sometimes with mobile phones)
- They give only very basic information to the rescue services - A grid reference and your personal details from a database. If you need mountain rescue, they will have to send someone to assess your condition, then likely send a second group with any specialist equipment needed.
Compare with GPS+(sat)phone, where you can describe the problem to MR and they can provide the best response first time, and give you advice.
Personally, I'm not buying one any time soon. If walking alone I carry a GPS and a phone. If I'm going to a remote place with neither signal nor people, I tend to scale things back a bit, and stay on safer ground.
Never mind the old thread: if PLBs are now legal in the UK, then who cares about that old argument.
I don't own a PLB and wouldn't myself buy one for use in the UK but, if you're out and about on your own a lot, then it's worth thinking about.
They are very common in 'bushwalking' and 'tramping' circles in Australia and New Zealand, since there you can be a very long way - e.g. ten days walk - from help. In fact, the authorities in both countries encourage their use, and actually hire them out. For up-to-date information about the various options, and pros and cons, you could do worse than search the threads in http://bushwalk.com/forum/ , for example.
There are a range of contending devices too, e.g. the so-called 'Spot.'
Someone mentioned sat-phones above. Are they an affordable option here? I'd like to know more.
For Scottish use, it would also be worth trying to find out the state of conventional mobile phone coverage, which presumably varies by network. I get out in the Scottish hills very frequently, but I don't use a mobile so I can't really comment on that.
Please post back with any interesting conclusions you reach.
This summer I met the woman who started this whole thing. She reaaaaaalllllyyyy doesn't like us!
She also is under the impression that all of the MRTs in the UK were behind the idea and have been glad of the change in law, and that it had 'saved many lives', with no accidental activations. I had to break the news that the one in Cotswolds in ByC had been accidentally activated half a dozen times...
> Only because we are a bunch of evil horse haters who get off on watching riders die in the middle of nowhere.
I just like glue.
> It's not their fault. I was scarred for life by a traumatic incident involving some sugar lumps when I was 5...
was that to do with horses or uncle jimmy?
From my own use, the bit about unnecessary call outs, re feeling a bit cold / wet / tired or getting lost doesn't apply. How others use them will not influence my decision on whether to get one or not.
A Sat phone is way too expensive.
About 99% of my walks are done alone and though I carry both a gps and a phone, lack of signal is a common problem in Scotland, especially in places where you might have an accident. As for scaling things back, the incident that I experienced shows this to be inadequate: my accident happened while walking in a glen across easy terrain, not far from my starting point (no mobile signal). Any further scaling back would have had me snoozing in a pub. However, any number of factors could have meant things turned much more serious: had I been further along in my walk, higher up, over rougher ground, the weather worse, had a stream to cross, a gulley / ravine etc and I might have had a far worse struggle to get out.
The perspective of a solo walker is different from a climber who, in most cases, will have a partner.
PS: The ACR ResQLink seems to be rated as a currently good model. Price in the UK maybe £200 to £250. So it looks like that's the kind of amount you need to think of spending.
The battery in those seems to be rated for 6 years - so that's a cost of maybe 40 quid a year. Not an arm and a leg.
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