Electronic hiking devices

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by MurrayMinchin, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Do you use one? Which one, and why?

    In my early twenties I used to go for three day hikes in the mountains by myself and wouldn't tell anyone where I was going. Those carefree days are long gone now as I've gotten older, wiser, and met my wife who for some reason wants to know my whereabouts. There was also a tragic event in the family where two members were lost for several days, then found deceased. My wife has never, ever held me back from going wandering and photographing in the bush by myself (there's a zero % chance of finding a hiking/photographing partner), but that doesn't stop the I'm never going to see you again look in her eyes when I head out the door.

    I do have a small GPS device that plots way points or points back to the car, but I'm looking for something a little more elaborate. About a year ago I read an article about a satellite device that one subscribes to where my wife could log onto their website and track my progress in real time. As I recall, it would take a reading of my location every half hour or so, and also came with a "Mayday" feature for situations where rescue was needed. Anyone know what I'm talking about, and could you provide a link?

    Thanks,

    Murray
     
  2. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    Do you mean PLB's? Personal Locator Beacons? I'm not sure, but I think these are specifically meant to assist in rescue, not routine third-party use to locate you.
     
  3. Robert Oliver

    Robert Oliver Member

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    this is for emergency use only... but pretty cool.. the missus won't be able to track online, but a live saving device..

    http://www.acrterrafix.com/
     
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  4. Robert Oliver

    Robert Oliver Member

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  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think a flare gun and a gps unit would have you covered.
     
  6. Paul Cocklin

    Paul Cocklin Member

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    www.findmespot.com

    I just bought one for my upcoming trip to Mexico, and other future trips. I love it so far. $149 at REI, then $99 for an anual subscription to the company, $8 a year for up to $100K USD in emergency evacuation insurance, including usage for helicopter rescue. I think $49 for an annual subscription to enable the 'tracking' feature, but there was a special and I only paid $25.

    It's really cool. I tried it out on a 3 day trip to Reno from where I live. It's got a button to push to send an 'OK' signal, including a customized email and text message to whoever you choose. The track feature doesn't send a message, but they are beta testing (and it seems to work fine) the webpage where the tracks show up. It's powered by Google maps, and when you press the ok, it sends, along with your customized message, lat and long, as well as a link that pinpoints your location on googlemaps.

    It's way cool. :smile:

    It's also got the emergency button, which gets relayed to who ever the closest emergency response people are, as well as an "I need help" button which doesn't notify the authorities, but rather your personal selections by email and text message.

    I love it. I am not in any way affiliated with the company other than being a happy customer.

    The SPOT. It's great! No coverage in subsaharan Africa, though.
     
  7. areaeleven

    areaeleven Subscriber

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    Murray of the north,

    I believe what yer looking for is this:

    http://www.findmespot.ca/en/

    The SPOT Satellite Messenger. Pretty neat. I might get one for myself as I tend to go way into the backcountry without telling anyone as well. Unlike you I haven't grown up yet :D

    Hope that helps. Stay safe!

    c.
     
  8. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    What about a cell phone and topo map (each), for instant updates?
     
  9. Paul Cocklin

    Paul Cocklin Member

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    Forgot to mention, the SPOT's day-glo orange (think black box) about 1.5 inches thick, 3 inches wide and 4.5 inches tall, floats, is waterproof to 1 meter, is fairly light, has a great waistbelt clip, not a cheap one that doesn't work well, the batteries are supposed to last 1 year of being turned on (very low power draw), uh let's see, what else, you can have multiple SPOT messengers on one account, it's great for photography! If you're in the woods and come across a spot you want to find again, or wish to see on a map, just send an "OK!" and when you get home you can reference it. The only downside to that usage is that you can't customize the 'ok' message from the unit, only from your account on their website, so it's not changeable in the field. You can't mark a spot and call it something, although if you have a normal gps, you could mark lat and long and make field notes.

    It's awesome! I got it because my girlfriend was always paranoid that something will happen to me. She said that something happening would be bad enough, but not knowing would be what kills her. So now she'll know (within a reasonable amount of time). I made a deal with her that I would send twice a day, 9AM and 9PM. I'm allowed to miss one by accident, but once I miss two, she notifies the authority.

    I'm planning some trips to some rough parts of South America next year, so this will come in handy.

    Whoops, Chris is right, you would want the canadian website.
     
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  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I find internet access to my wife's and my joint bank account to be a reliable indication where she is or has been :smile:.

    Matt

    P.S. - it works well the other way too
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Somehow this reminded me of a local millionaire who grounded his boat (nice, new, 42ft, 700 Hp engine) on a rock, and admitted he'd been too busy looking at the sunbathing girls to keep an eye on the GPS.

    My reaction was that if he really thought looking at the GPS is the way to avoid collisions or groundings, he shouldn't be allowed to drive a boat...
     
  12. domaz

    domaz Member

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    Assuming cell phones don't work in your mountains (I'm sure they don't) either you could look at getting a satellite phone. They are much cheaper nowadays ($250 for phone then 9.95/month for the plan.
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Very cool, Chris. The 80 year old skier who got lost last winter in the Highlands could have used one of these gadgets.

    Which means I should probably have one for every day...


    .
     
  14. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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  15. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    "Wat wee hav heeeer, iz uh fay-lyur to co-moon-i-cate"

    My wife and I did a six month sea kayak trip along BC's coast before GPS and satellite phones, using old fashioned deck mounted compasses and charts instead. We took line of sight hand held marine radios for emergencies, but never had to use them. I also have hundreds of solo hiking trips under my belt in trail-less forests and mountain valleys which may get less than ten human visitors a year. This isn't for me, it's for my wife's peace of mind.

    There's been many times when I've told her I'll be heading up creek 'A', but when I get there creek 'B' looks way more interesting...my choice then is to either go up creek 'B' and risk it, or hike back to the car and drive back towards town far enough that the phone will work so she knows where I'm really going. Did you read the OP? Do you think I want to put her through that sort of thing again?

    To add a new wrinkle our daughter is turning seven this summer and has the bush legs of a young moose. No kidding - just yesterday she half ran and hiked behind fourteen and ten year old boys for half a day and didn't break a sweat :smile: Our horizons are expanding faster than my wife's comfort level will allow, but she doesn't want to see us stagnate in town either. Me-thinks sometimes techno-devices can free us up instead of shackling us.

    Murray
     
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  16. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Murray Minchin;

    Yup, as others have mentioned the SPOT is what you were describing. I first saw it while attending the SARCENE2007 Canadian National Search and Rescue Conference in Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia last October. It does seem to work. The US Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest is also adapting a SPOT system for tracking the search patterns of their SAR aircraft, having had the concept demonstrated using an amateur radio system. I should have some information on the results of their trials later this summer.

    As someone who is active in SAR, at this time I can only suggest a satellite telephone system as the most versatile with the best coverage for someone going about in the bush. The per minute talking time charge is something that you will feel, but it is effective. The cost of the device has dropped below $ 1000 in the last year or so for the Globalstar unit, and you do need to have batteries or a charging system. While not as versatile, yes, the SPOT is certainly worth considering for only $ 150 plus the $ 100 per year service fee. The new personal EPIRB type devices are also a possiblity at about $ 600, but they need to be registered, and they should be set off only in time of a true life threatening emergency.

    Well, we are talking about devices for a photographer going into a wilderness area, so I think that this is not a subject that is "off topic."

    Enjoy;

    Ralph Javins
     
  17. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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  18. Davesw

    Davesw Member

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    Spot is very cool but only an 406 EPIRB has true world wide coverage. a Globalstar phone is the same. you need Iridium for gloabal voice anywhere in the world. the good news is :for les than $1000 you can get a hand held mapping gps and a GPS\EPIRB. Thats cheap when you are talking about saving your butt!
     
  19. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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    I have an ankle device which helps the police keep track of me.

    PM me for details on how to get one.
     
  20. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    :smile: :smile: :smile: !!!
    Great.
    G.