Rating: 9.5 / 10
Value for Money 2.0
Ease of use 2.0
Battery Life 2.0
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are like insurance; a total waste of money until you actually need it and then its priceless. Like insurance some hikers will choose not to use these devices based on the type and location of their activities. If you only walk in areas where there is cellphone coverage, on well marked trails that have plenty of people around or you are close to help then you probably don’t need one. However when your activities are extreme e.g. there is no phone signal, you are travelling alone and you know you won’t see anyone anytime soon, then a PLB becomes an essential piece of equipment.
In a perfect world hikers shouldn’t undertake activities that exceed their skill levels unless they are with someone to provide that skill and knowledge but we know that this happens. What we have no control over is accidents. Being bitten by a snake, tripping and seriously injuring yourself, unexpected medical conditions, are all things that experience levels can’t influence. In addition, what happens if the experienced group leader is the one who has an issue and they’re now dependent on a group of inexperienced hikers?
PLBs aren’t really one of those pieces of equipment you discuss ad nauseam with your friends while sitting around the fire at night. Those produced to meet Australian Standards are all pretty robust, reliable and lightweight. For me the choice came down to a number of factors when I brought my KTI SA2G PLB in early 2016. These were:
While the KTI SA2G has a ten year battery life you should do an annual check to ensure that it works. Equally as important is that the whole group should know where it is located and be trained in its use.
The KTI SA2G is currently the cheapest (readily available one at least) dedicated PLB on the market and it does what it intends. These units are sold through marine and fishing stores and are available at good prices online so look around before you make your purchase.
Listen to podcast episode 24 on PLB’s
The KTI SA2G unboxed
$249-$270 AUD as at June 2018. There are always good prices on the internet in particular from marine and fishing stores
This is the only PLB that KTI produce and it currently is the cheapest readily available unit on the market. Other brands exist in the market and are sold at specialist hiking stores as well as online
This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by the reviewer
KTI SA2G in hand. The unit is pretty compact
KTI SA2G with aerial extended