McMurdo Fast Find 210
Rated by users as one of the best personal locator beacons, or PLBs, the Fast Find 210 transmits to the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system and broadcasts homing signals to ground searchers; it does not transmit voice signals. The Fast Find is waterproof, but it has no strobe and it doesn’t float. Both it and the ACR devices (previous) cost a couple of hundred dollars, yet require no ongoing subscription fees, making them the best bet for most anglers and hunters. More info: Fast Find
Produced by ACR Products, these PLBs also transmit to the Cospas-Sarsat system and broadcast homing signals to ground searchers; likewise, they do not transmit voice signals. The units feature powerful LED strobes to guide searchers visually, and they float. ResQLink is a full-powered, GPS-enabled beacon designed for backcountry pilots and adventurers, while the larger, more complex AquaLink (pictured) is intended for offshore use. More info: ACR Electronics
Spot 2 Satellite GPS Messenger
Unlike PLBs, the Spot 2 uses the privately owned GEOSAR satellite system, and requires a monthly subscription. Along with sending out an SOS or a call for non-emergency help, it can transmit preprogrammed e-mail or text messages to assure those back home that all is well. The Spot can also track your progress via Google Maps. Emergency messages go to the GEOS International Emergency Rescue Coordination Centre, which then contacts local search-and-rescue personnel. More info: Spot
On its own, this two-way GPS satellite communicator sends preloaded text and SOS messages to designated recipients, and provides delivery confirmation via flashing LED lights. But when paired with the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w GPS unit or an iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android phone, inReach can also send and receive e-mail, text, Facebook and Twitter messages, along with real-time GPS data. Monthly plans start at $9.95 with a one-year contract. More info: Delorme
No angler or hunter wants to call for assistance, but it’s wise to be prepared just in case you do get hopelessly lost or injured deep in the bush. While we all carry cellphones, they’re of little use without a signal or Internet connection. For making contact anywhere you may roam across the globe, satellite-based emergency locating devices are the way to go. Here are a few of the most popular models.
If you buy a new or used PLB, be sure to register it at the online Canadian Beacon Registry System. It's free, and it's the law.