If you get lost without cell service, these 3 gadgets that may just save your life

best personal locator beacons and satellite messengers spo2 thumb
Calling 911 in the wilderness can be spotty at best. Even with advancements in cell phone services, the natural topography of the landscape and forest growth can inhibit your ability to call for help in an emergency.

Although commercial and military distress beacons have been used for decades, the FCC has only approved them for individual use since 2003. Since their introduction to the consumer market, the devices and services used to provide this lifeline to civilization have evolved into something everyone should have. Knowing what these top devices and services offer will help you select the best one for your needs.

No hidden fees — ACR ResQLink+ Personal Locator Beacon ($241)

ACR ResQLink+ Personal Locator Beacon

At 5.4 ounces and only 4.5-inches long, the ResQLink+ is both a small and buoyant Personal Locator Beacon. With three levels of integrated signal technology, 66-channel GPS, a powerful 406 MHz signal and 121.5 MHz homing capability, the ResQLink+ quickly and accurately relays your position to within 100 meters or less to a network of internationally monitored, government operated search and rescue satellites.

ACR Electronics Inc., the ResQLink+ manufacturer, stands behind their product with a 5-year warranty against factory defects in materials and workmanship from date of purchase, and will repair or replace it at no cost. There are also no other fees, beyond the purchase price, to operate. Simply register your ResQLink+ PLB online with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at and hit the trail.

Backed by the most reliable network of search and rescue satellites, the ACR ResQLink+ is right for you if your top priorities are safety and peace of mind, and you want no extra fees or hidden costs. It is also highly recommended if you plan to adventure beyond the borders of the continental U.S.


The lightweight option — SPOT GEN3 Satellite Personal Tracker ($150)

best personal locator beacons and satellite messengers spo1 thumb

Launched in 2007, the original SPOT was one of the first to introduce enthusiasts to the concept of emergency satellite messaging devices. Since then, SPOT has continued to develop and release a line of products allowing you to stay connected to family and friends, and when needed, request emergency assistance from remote locations in the wilderness.

SPOT messenger’s onboard GPS chip sends your location and preselected messages to communication satellites, which relay them to specific satellite antennas around the world. Satellites and a global network route your location and messages to the appropriate network, which are delivered (depending on your instructions) via email, text message, or direct emergency notifications to the GEOS Rescue Coordination Center.

SPOT GEN3 can be purchased at most outdoor retailers for $150 but also requires a basic yearly service plan to operate for $150 or $15 per month. There are two service plan upgrades offered for more customizable tracking and messaging for additional fees.

At only 4 oz with lithium batteries, the SPOT GEN3 is extremely packable and with over 4800 rescues to date, it is worth the additional weight. The SPOT GEN3 is right for you if you are looking for peace of mind regarding safety, especially when out of cell phone coverage.


For text addicts — DeLorme InReach SE Satellite Communicator ($243+)

best personal locator beacons and satellite messengers 57

From “hi” to “help” and any messages in between, the DeLorme InReach SE makes it possible to stay in touch where cell phones don’t. Using InReach SE’s color screen and virtual keyboard, you can both send and receive text messages and easily share your journey with family and friends, all thanks to the Iridium satellite network with 100 percent global coverage. In the event of an emergency, you can trigger an SOS, receive delivery confirmation, and then have a two-way text conversation with the search and rescue monitoring center until help arrives.

The durability and accuracy of DeLorme InReach SE has made it a favorite of outdoor adventures. The device’s GPS boasts an accuracy to +/- 5 meters, and has sustained incidental water exposure by being submerged one meter for 30 minutes. Its exterior case is rugged, dustproof and impact-resistant to Mil-STD-810G for shock and IP67 for dust. The InReach SE is also energy efficient with 100 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode.

All these features come with a price tag, starting with the InReach SE purchased at most outdoor retailers for around $250. An active satellite subscription is also required to use the unit. First, there is an initial account activation fee $20. Then you must choose between two categories of plans — either one of the annual 12-month contract plans with lower monthly fees or freedom plans, which require only a 30-day commitment. These plans range from $20 a month to $100 a month.

The DeLorme InReach SE Satellite Communicator is by far the best for sending and receiving messages. The InReach SE is right for you if money is no object and your priority for staying in touch when you’re out of reach. If there are concerned loved ones who want to track you, this device is by far the most reliable and it’s the only device that reliably lets you communicate two ways.

Each of the devices covered here have a proven track record and could save your life. Ultimately, the decision lies in how connected you want to be when on the trail and how much you are willing to pay for it.



This discounted smartwatch is a cheap Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa alternative

The Amazfit Bip isn't an Apple Watch or Fitbit Versa, but at the discounted price of $67, it's a very affordable alternative packed with useful features. With built-in GPS and 30-day battery life, this cheap smartwatch is a great option to…

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for February 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

Amazon slashes prices on Fitbit Versa smartwatches for Presidents’ Day

Amazon is offering a solid $30 discount on this great fitness tracking smartwatch right now. So if you're looking for a wearable that can help you track steps, sleep, and activity, now is a great time to pick one up for less.

Uber’s bikesharing service is eating into its regular business

A bikesharing service acquired by Uber nearly a year ago is causing riders to take fewer car journeys with the company. It is, however, part of the plan as Uber looks to offer an integrated mobility platform for cities.

Keep the rain away and the bugs at bay with this hybrid camping hammock

The new Kammock Mantis hammock is a lightweight all-in-one solution that includes a rainfly, built-in insect netting, onboard storage, and tree-friendly straps to create a complete and comfortable camping system that is easy to set up.

These wireless earbuds use an A.I. to get you moving faster

The new Soul Blade wireless earbuds provide the ability to track your heart rate during a workout while an A.I.-powered coach gives advice and info on how to improve form and efficiency while exercising.

The Naseka electric snowmobile is built for kids, but you’ll likely want one too

The Naseka electric snowmobile is a vehicle built for kids, allowing them to have a safe and efficient ride on snow, with the ability to trade out the ski for a wheel for use in the summer too.

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.

Under Armour drops prices on Gore-Tex Jackets, Pants, and backpacks

The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on right now through Monday, February 18. During this time, you can get up to 40 percent off a huge range of outlet items, including Gore-Tex rain gear.

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.

The best heated gloves keep your hands toasty warm in all temperatures

When temperatures plunge, the first thing that gets cold are your fingers. Ward off frostbite and keep your digits toasty warm with these best heated gloves.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

High-tech but low-key, these are the amazing materials inside your outdoor gear

We take a look at some of the materials that are used in the creation of our favorite outdoor gear, making our jackets, sleeping bags, tents, and other items warmer, drier, and more comfortable even in harsh weather conditions.