My love of hiking, travel, drones and mountain bike adventures have seen me travel all over Australia and the world. For the past 5 years, I’ve been carrying a personal locator beacon or PLB inside my backpack. This device provides my family and friends with added peace of mind when it comes to my safety and well-being in the Australian bush.
How do Personal Locators Work?
If you find yourself stuck, hurt, lost or have no other option to safely return home you can push the PLB Emergency button so authorities are notified. When you push the distress button on your device, GPS satellites pick up your signal and transmit to the Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra. In other countries, it could be the Navy, Coast Guard or nearest emergency centre. Your location is transmitted allowing rescuers to pinpoint your location as close as 3 to 50 meters.
- PLB should be registered with AMSA as well as the current activity, location and contact details. Once they pinpoint your location and verify your identity a rescue team is sent. This could be other hikers, a helicopter, police, SES etc.
- Common Misconception: It doesn’t need to be a life-threatening situation to set the PLB off. Although the personal locator beacon is not a taxi/uber service. You must try all other methods and self-rescue first.
ResQlink by ACR
I currently own the ResQlink personal locator. I’ve carried this for the past 5 years. Since the batteries for this ResQlink PLB needs to be replaced every 5 to 6 years I started to look for a replacement this year. I was shocked to find out in Australia, it’s almost as expensive to replace the battery as it is to buy a brand new one. I love the size and portable option of the PLB, but the battery replacement cost was too high. Battery Replacement with Delivery Registered Post = $200.00 AUD.
KTI Safety Alert SA2GN PLB (No longer available)
I came across this PLB locator made in Australia. It has all the same features as the ResQlink. The size and weight are almost identical, with the KTI Safety Alert SA2GN only 10 grams heavier. After reading comments and researching this device the battery was one of the main reasons for this purchase.
New: How to Test KTI Safety Alert SA2GN Personal Locator Beacon
“Battery: Non-hazmat LiFe02, 20-year shelf life, 10-year replacement”
That’s right 10 years for a battery replacement. I’m thinking in 10 years, I would just buy a new one since the technology would be better and paying an average of $25.00 per year is a small investment for your safety.
PLB – Personal Locator Cost Comparison
ResQlink by ACR – $300.00 (Estimated yearly price on investment $50.00 – 5 Year Battery)
KTI Safety Alert SA2G – $247.00 (Estimated early price on investment $24.70 – 10 Year Battery)
Check out my current hiking and travel gear list with links.
Personal Locator Functionality
In terms of functionality both PLBs provide fast GPS acquisition, strobe light, testing buttons, antennas and waterproof. Both operate on Frequencies: 406.040MHz and 121.500MHz (homing signal). (I believe both float as well without an added floatation device.)
It wasn’t an easy decision to switch from ResQlink to the KTI Safety Alert SA2G PLB. The cost of the battery replacement vs battery lifespan was the contributing factor. Hopefully, in the future, I will never need to use this piece of technology. But knowing this is in my travel bag, will help ease my doubts and keep me safe on my next 10 years of adventures.