|Rating:||9.5 / 10|
|Value for Money||2.0 / 2|
|Ease of Use||2.0 / 2|
|Battery Life||1.8 / 2|
|Weight||2.0 / 2|
|Durability||1.7 / 2|
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are like insurance; a total waste of money until you actually need one and then its priceless. Like an insurance policy some hikers will choose not to carry a PLB depending on the type and location of their activities. If you only walk in areas where there is guaranteed 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 or 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 doesn’t always happen. What we have no control over is accidents. Being bitten by a snake, tripping and seriously injuring yourself or unexpected medical conditions, are all things that your experience level only has minimal impact on. 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 can 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. The Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 is the second PLB that I have owned and while I have a preference for carrying devices that have messaging capability like the Garmin inReach Explorer range, there are a number of advantages to carrying a PLB. These include:
My previous PLB, the KTI SA2G is still working but is coming to the last few years of its battery life so I had been eying off a new PLB for the past few months. The reason for this is that its not unusual for Gill and I to be hiking separately on well marked trails and while its wonderful that I was protected, she would often be hiking without an emergency device and we decided that it was time to remedy this.
The UK produced Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 has been around for a number of years and and still looks like it did many years ago. This unit is physically small and very lightweight coming in at 116 grams making it the smallest readily available PLB on the market. Most outdoor stores sell this model and the recommended price is AUD $419.00 RRP but it’s not unusual to find this model at a cheaper price.
The Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 has an easy to deploy antenna – to retract it there’s a small dial on the top of the unit. The activation and test button is located on the front of the unit and it’s protected from accidental activation by a sting mounted button cover. The owners manual recommends that you test the unit on a regular basis and typically I will test it out before a trip to make sure its still in good condition.
As part of the purchase this PLB comes with its own flotation pouch and while this is helpful if using this on the water, the pouch is low profile enough that it will attach to your belt through the loop on the rear of the pouch. If you don’t feel like using the pouch you have the option of using the cradle mount which also lets you attach the PLB to the shoulder strap of your pack if you wish.
To activate this PLB just fold back the spring loaded button cover and activate. To get a good signal the unit needs to have the antenna extended and have a clear view to the sky. The signal connects in around 50 seconds which means that if you set it off accidentally there’s and opportunity to turn it off. Like other dedicated PLBs this unit has a 24 hour battery life once activated which is more than enough time for emergency services to locate you.
Overall this is a robust little unit that is well priced and does the job that it’s designed to do. It’s well worth considering as your means of emergency contact.
Listen to podcast episode 24 on PLBs
You can purchase the Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 from Snowys
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AUD $419.90 RRP
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 size chart
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 the packaging
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 in a large male adult hand
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 in a large male adult hand with the sling loaded activation button cover open
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 with the antenna deployed
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 expiry date and antenna rewind knob
Ocean Signal RescueMe PLB1 mounting cradle and strapping
This review was done with product purchased by Australian Hiker from a retail store