How to Choose the Best Satellite Messenger or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for Hiking

Like this content? Interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail or other long-distance hiking trails? If so, check out my book of advice for planning a thru-hike, Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail: A Complete Guide. It covers everything you need to know and more than you probably thought to consider.

Introduction

Let me start by saying I am NOT an expert on satellite communication or personal location devices. I’m just a hiker who wanted to know what device was best for my PCT thru-hike and went down the rabbit hole of research (Google, YouTube, FB hiking groups) to find out. What I found was that there are many reviews of specific devices and some comparison reviews of two or more devices, but I didn’t see a good overview of all the different types of devices and their features.

As you will see, different devices are suited to different needs, so there really is no “best” option, even if you will commonly see one or two recommended more than the rest. I hope that this article will help you decide what kind of device might meet your needs and that it will help you create a shortlist of possible devices to research further.

Last Updated: March 2022
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Three Types of Devices

There are three basic types of emergency devices:

  1. Personal location beacon (PLB) devices offer an emergency SOS signal function with no subscription needed and a long battery life. You only use a PLB in an actual emergency situation. PLBs use the NOAA (COSPAS-SARSAT) satellite system for their distress signal rather than the Iridium and Globalstar satellite systems popular with the other communication devices. They use a separate homing signal for location tracking after the distress signal has been sent. Your PLB must be registered in the country where you live (and the device may be pre-programmed with a code of the country where it was purchased, so buy it in your home country). If you travel to another country, your device will inform your GPS coordinates to your registration country and they will contact the rescue team of the country where you are. The registration of a PLB is valid for two years and thus you should re-register it every two years.
  2. One-way satellite communication devices offer SOS, one-way only communication via preset messages, and sometimes tracking features as well. A plan is required for all features, including SOS. This can be useful if you only want to keep loved ones updated on your progress, location and safety, but don’t need two-way satellite communication ability (e.g., you can wait until you have mobile service).
  3. Two-way satellite communication devices offer SOS, two-way communication, tracking, and sometimes other features. They typically pair with your mobile phone and an associated app to accomplish basic or advanced features. A plan is required for all features, including SOS. This is the most robust (and expensive) option and is good for when you want to be sure you can stay in touch with loved ones whether you have mobile phone service or not.

Features

The first, most fundamental, decision you need to make is whether you want communication and/or tracking features or you just want a device in case of an emergency requiring medical attention or an evacuation. If the latter, a PLB (probably combined with your mobile phone when you have service) is the best choice. It’s a one-time purchase, fairly light, and the battery lasts for year (typically 5-10 years).

If you (or your loved ones!) decide you need to stay in touch reliably, regardless of mobile phone service, you will want a satellite communication device. These devices vary on features and price. The following are features hikers commonly consider.

FeatureNotes
Price of UnitRanges between $150 and $450
WeightThere is a big range on size and weight. The lightest on this list is 3.35 oz. (100 g)
MessagingOne way or two-way?
How many different types of preset messages and can you customize them?
Can you send a message (preset or custom) directly from the device or only from the mobile app?
Can you send via cellular, WiFi, or satellite depending on availability or only via satellite?
Dedicated phone #Does the device have a dedicated phone number so loved ones can contact you as they would anyone else?
Subscription PlansThis is where things get complicated! Things to watch out for include: activation fee; monthly vs. annual plan; minimum contract period; ability to pause or cancel your plan (and associated fees) or to switch between plans; number of messages included; preset messages (usually unlimited) vs check-ins (sometimes unlimited, sometimes pay as you go); rollover of unused credits/messages; overage fees; tracking time increments; and costs for weather updates.

Of course, the value of the various device subscriptions will depend on your usage needs. A one-time, 2-week trek in Nepal will be different than a long thru-hike, and both will be different than if you are a year-round active hiking enthusiast. Things like annual vs. monthly cost, the ability to pause your account (and for how long), and activation fees will make some devices better or worse value depending on your needs. Likewise, the number of messages you plan to send each month and/or the tracking you want to use will make a big difference.

Plans typically range from $12-20 per month for a low-use annual plan to $50 per month for an unlimited annual plan. Flexible plans are more expensive and often have additional fees and penalties.
InfrastructureWhich satellite system is used, Iridium or Globalstar. Most reviews I read claim Iridium is better.
TrackingCan your device track your progress and, if so, in what time increments?
NOTE: tracking will significantly impact your battery life.
WeatherCan you download weather forecasts specific to your current location? If so, is that included in your plan or pay as you go?
MapsCan you download maps for offline use?
Can you set waypoints?
Can loved ones track your progress on a web portal map?
Can you download tracking points and or create a map of your hike for later reference?
Battery LifeThis will vary by the size of the device and the nature of your usage.
MiscellaneousIs the device waterproof?
Will the device float?
What type of charging cable does it use?

Of the list above, I think the four most important for many hikers are:

  1. The ability to communicate only by pairing with a mobile phone or directly via the device
  2. Preset messages (customizable or not) vs. customized messaging
  3. Size/weight
  4. Price

The Contenders

Now that you know what types of features to consider, let’s take a look at the most popular options on the market.

Personal Location Beacons (PLB)

There are three main PLB devices that I have seen discussed and recommended for hikers.

ACR ResQLink 420 and 425

acr resqlink 73x150 - How to Choose the Best Satellite Messenger or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for Hiking

The ACR ResQLink 425 View model ($369.95 on Amazon) is 5.3 oz. (150 g), has a 5 year battery life (with a test feature to verify it is still working), 28 hours operational battery life, and a digital display which shows live beacon status and GPS coordinates. It is waterproof and floats and has a built-in strobe and infrared strobe to facilitate nighttime or other low visibility rescues. The 420 ($319.95 on Amazon) is essentially the same device without the digital display and a slightly lower active battery life (24 hours).

Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1

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The Ocean Signal rescueME PLB1 ($309.95 on Amazon) is 4.14 oz. (116 g), has a 7 year battery life (with a test feature to verify it is still working), 24+ hour operational battery life, and has a cradle mounting system that can be easily fitted onto your backpack. It is waterproof (does not float unless you use the supplied free flotation pouch) and it has a built-in strobe to facilitate nighttime or other low visibility rescues.

McMurdo FAST FIND 220

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The McMurdo FAST FIND 220 Personal Locator Beacon ($255 on Amazon) is 5.4 oz. (152 g), has a 6 year battery life (with a test feature to verify it is still working), 24+ hour operational battery life, and has a cradle mounting system that can be easily fitted onto your backpack. It is waterproof (does not float unless you use the supplied free flotation pouch) and it has a Morse code flashing SOS light which can be used to attract attention.

Satellite Communicators

My goal here is not to provide a detailed look at each of these options. Instead, I will provide a basic table with the key features I mentioned above and a short note about whether and/or how those features are supported so you can get an idea about which may or may not suit your needs. After you have a shortlist of devices you are considering, definitely visit the product pages and search for online reviews to get more details.

NOTE: I have included direct links to the subscription plan pages for each device.

ACR Bivy Stick

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“Satellite messaging is not like cellular messaging. With cellular, it’s almost instantaneous when you have service. With satellite messaging, you don’t maintain a constant connection. We rely on brief connections to send small bursts of data. The whole process is generally quick, but it can take several minutes even in good sky visibility. Low orbit satellites are constantly moving across the sky. This is why the signal LED light is constantly changing from green, to yellow, to red. This is NORMAL. When the LED is green, it will send or receive pretty quickly.” – Bivy Help Center
FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$199.95 (Amazon)
Weight3.35 oz. (100 g)
Preset MessagesYes; unlimited in all plans but only one message and it is not customizable
Standalone MessagingNo
Custom messagingVia the app but only by satellite (no seamless use of cellular or WiFi)
Dedicated phone #Yes
Subscription PlansBasic – $17.99 ($14.99 annual) – 20 credits; overage – $0.75/Credit
Plus – $29.99 ($24.99 annual) – 60 credits; Overage – $0.50/Credit
Unlimited – $49.99 ($44.99 annual) – Unlimited credits

All plans include unlimited check-in messages and detailed downloadable maps.
1 credit per message.
1 credit for basic weather reports and 2 credits for detailed reports.
Unused credits roll over.
No activation fee, hidden fees or contracts BUT the basic plan is only available after an initial 4 month Plus or Unlimited plan purchase.
InfrastructureIridium and Global Rescue
TrackingYes
The intervals and credit costs are: 2 minutes (min) with 1 credit per 12 minutes, 5 min. with 1 credit per 30 min., 10 min. (default) with 1 credit per hour, 30 min. with 1 credit per 3 hours, and 60 min. with 1 credit per 6 hours.
WeatherYes; costs 1 (basic) or 2 (detailed) credits
MapsYes; can download for offline use; can set waypoints
Battery Life120 hours with normal usage (Lithium Ion Polymer, 1400 mAh)
MiscellaneousUSB-C charging.
Compatible with all GoPro mounts.

Garmin inReach (Explorer+ and Mini)

Mini 2: The InReach Mini 2 was recently released (only available at REI initially). Notable differences include:
  • Better battery life
  • An improved user interface along with basic on-screen mapping
  • USB-C charging
  • $50 more expensive than the original model
  • Improved navigational features (breadcrumb trail, on-board compass that displays heading even when stationary)
  • Higher resolution screen
  • Quicker GPS acquisition by using four satellite networks
  • An automatic track-back feature, helping to return the user to their point of origin
garmin inreach mini 150x150 - How to Choose the Best Satellite Messenger or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for Hiking
garmin inreach explorer 81x150 - How to Choose the Best Satellite Messenger or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for Hiking
FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$339.99 – Mini (Amazon)
$699.97 – Explorer+ (Amazon)
Weight3.5 oz. (100 g) – Mini  
7.5 oz. (213 g) – Explorer+
Preset MessagesYes (up to three customizable messages)
Standalone MessagingYes
Messages can be read and typed (albeit painfully slowly) using its small screen and virtual keyboard.
Custom messagingYes (satellite only)
Dedicated phone #No
Subscription PlansSafety – $14.95 ($11.95 annual) – 10 messages; Send/track points and location requests – $0.10 each)
Recreation – $34.95 ($24.95 annual) – 40 messages
Expedition – $64.95 ($49.95 annual) – Unlimited messages

All annual plans require a $29.95 activation fee (no fee to change plan).
Enrollment in Freedom (monthly) plans requires a $34.94 annual fee.
All plans include unlimited preset messages (3 different customizable).
Basic weather is 1 message for Safety and Recreation plans.
Premium weather is $1.00 each.
Tracking maximum is every 10 mins for Safety and Recreation plans, every 2 mins for Expedition plan.
Overage charges – $0.50 each for Safety and Recreation plans.
InfrastructureIridium and IERCC
TrackingYes
WeatherYes
MapsYes
Battery LifeMini – 90 hours at default 10-minute tracking mode (1,250 mAh)
Explorer+ – 100 hours at default 10-minute tracking mode (3,100 mAh)
Mini uses about 10% of the battery over a week just sending out one check-in message a day
MiscellaneousAs of 2021 still using micro-USB charger instead of Type-C.
Needs to be propped up with a rock or piece of gear for the antenna to point to the sky.
No cellular or WiFi messaging capability in the mobile app.

Higher Ground SatPaq

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FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$379 (SatPaq website)
Weight4 oz. (112 g)
Preset MessagesYes
Standalone MessagingYes (480 characters)
Seamless messaging in and out of cell signal.
Custom messagingYes
Dedicated phone #No
Subscription Plans150 messages – $55 ($0.37 per message)
1,000 messages – $180 ( $0.18 per message)
10,000 messages – $1750 ($0.175 per message)

Messages sent or received over satellite are billed on a pay-as-you-go basis.
You can purchase prepaid bundles of messages (MessagePaqs).
Unused messages expire after one year (365 days) unless service is renewed.
An initial charge of 70 Message Credits is billed for the use of SOS Emergency Services regardless of whether initiated over the satellite or over cellular or WiFi. In addition, each message sent or received over the satellite as part of SOS Emergency Services will be billed one Message Credit.
Weather and Dr. Dex will be billed one Message Credit when sent over satellite. These are considered information services rather than a 2-way communications feature, so we only bill for the response which contains the information requested.
The Message Credits currently in your account will not expire as long as your account remains active. To maintain an active account, you must add Message Credits in any denomination of MessagePaq at least once per year. If no addition of Message Credits is made to your account in a one year period (365 days), your account becomes inactive and all Message Credits currently in your account will expire.
InfrastructureGEO (geostationary earth orbit) satellites, IERCC
Higher Ground has licensed bandwidth on a single, very high altitude satellite that “sees” all of North America and sees it from the same angle all the time. With this arrangement, relative to the other two-way satellite messaging technologies available, they can offer inexpensive service and, once acquired, stable satellite connection over time.
TrackingNo
WeatherYes (Dark Sky)
MapsNo
Battery LifeA fully charged battery will send/receive about 150-200 messages and will retain charge for about 4-5 months in storage.
MiscellaneousOnly covers the United States!
Requires attachment to smartphone and cumbersome aiming.
Water resistant not waterproof.
All messages (routine and SOS) can only be sent from within the app.

Somewear Global Hotspot

somewear 150x150 - How to Choose the Best Satellite Messenger or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for Hiking
FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$279.99 (Somewear Website)
Weight4 oz. (115 g)
Preset MessagesYes
You can share your current location as a preset messages or as a waypoint (via the power button).
Standalone MessagingNo
Custom messagingYes (seamless use of cellular, WiFi and satellite)
Dedicated phone #No
Subscription PlansUltralight – $8.33 (annual contract required; 10 satellite messages or 75 satellite track points; $1/ea. for additional messages).
Plan 1 – $15 (20 satellite messages or 150 satellite track points; 50¢/ea. for additional messages).
Plan 2 – $30 (75 satellite messages or 600 satellite track points; 50¢/ea. for additional messages).
Plan 3 – $50 (Unlimited satellite messages and satellite track points).

All plans include unlimited cellular and WiFi messaging, 10 minute tracking, and weather reports (each report is costs 1 message).
Plans 1, 2 and 3 receive the first month free when you sign up with an annual plan.
All plans require a one-time activation fee ($25 for Ultralight and Plan 1, $35 for Plan 3).
There are no additional fees for pausing/starting your monthly subscription.
Data does not accumulate/rollover month to month.
Each additional pin drop is approximately $0.08 once you exceed your plan’s allocation (Ultralight plan is $0.16).
InfrastructureIridium, IERCC
TrackingYes 
WeatherYes (Dark Sky)
Every time you request “Weather” you will receive a 24-hour report and a weekly report with temperature, precipitation and sunrise/sunset data.
MapsYes
Maps cannot be downloaded over satellite.
Maps support custom waypoints.
Battery Life10 days with 10 min interval tracking
MiscellaneousUses Micro USB charging
When it’s laid flat on the ground, as it’s designed to, its antenna points at the sky.
while guiding, text conversations do not get disjointed when the connection changes.
The device gives little indication about its operations. It doesn’t beep or vibrate, and it has just one external white-only LED light with three blinking patterns (for on, pairing, and tracking modes).

SPOT Gen4

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FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$149.95 (Amazon)
Weight5.0 oz. (142 g)
Preset MessagesYes
Check-in location messages can be sent to up to 10 people.
You can set up custom preset messages.
Standalone MessagingYes
You cannot type custom messages but you can send preset messages from the device.
Custom messagingNo
Dedicated phone #No
Subscription PlansBasic – $14.95 ($11.95 annual) – Unlimited Help and check-in messages and tracking.

There is a $19.95 activation fee and an annual $24.95 fee for the Flex Charge plan.
There are additional services you can choose, including enhanced mapping, the Global Overwatch & Rescue™ Plan, a product replacement plan, and SPOT S.O.V. (roadside vehicle assistance).
InfrastructureGlobalstar, FocusPoint International, Inc.
TrackingTracking, in frequencies of 5, 10, 30, and 60 minutes (all included with the basic subscription), plus a 2.5-minute interval with a $6.25 service upgrade. Can be motion-activated (instead of just running continuously) to conserve battery life.
WeatherNo
MapsYes
Requires separate fee ($2.50 or $5.00 depending on features).
Battery LifeUses 4 AAA rechargeable batteries that can send 1,250 Check In and Custom Messages when fully charged.
MiscellaneousCan send outgoing messages only, limited to: SOS, Help, Check in/OKAY, and custom (must be pre-programmed).
Help messages let you request help from your friends and family at your GPS Location in non-life-threatening situations.
SPOT’s satellite network (Globalstar) is not as extensive or as reliable as Iridium.
Micro USB

SPOT X

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FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$249.95 (Amazon)
Weight7.0 oz. (198 g)
Preset MessagesYes
You can customize 14 preset messages.
Standalone MessagingYes
SPOT X is the only device with a keyboard.
Custom messagingYes
Dedicated phone #Yes
Subscription PlansBasic – $14.95 ($11.95 annual) – 20 custom messages ($0.25 each additional)
Advanced – $29.95 ($19.95 annual) – 100 custom messages ($0.25 each additional)
Unlimited – $39.95 ($29.95 annual) – unlimited custom messages ($0.25 each additional)

All plans require a $19.95 activation fee.
Annual contract Plans can be paid monthly or if paid one time get all allotted messages in advance.
Flex charge plans require an annual $24.95 fee.
No charge applies to changing to a more inclusive annual plan; a $24.95 fee applies to changing to a less inclusive annual plan.
All plans include unlimited check-in and predefined messages.
Basic plan has no movement alerts; other plans have 30 min, 60 min, 4 hr, 12 hr alerts.
There are additional services you can choose, including enhanced mapping, the Global Overwatch & Rescue™ Plan, a product replacement plan, and SPOT S.O.V. (roadside vehicle assistance).
InfrastructureGlobalstar, FocusPoint International, Inc.
TrackingYes Basic – 10, 30, 60 minutes (tracking will have to be reset after 24-hours) Advanced – 5, 10, 30, 60 minutes Unlimited – 2.5, 5, 10, 30, 60 minutes Advanced and Unlimited plans can use motion-activated tracking (instead of just running continuously) to conserve battery life.
WeatherNo
MapsLimited (you can only get access to maps when synced with your smartphone when you are in cell service) Built-in compass and programmable waypoints.
Battery Life240 hours (tracking set at 10 minute intervals)
MiscellaneousMicro USB Messages can be predefined, custom, or posted to social media.
No ability to display signal strength.
Many users report that the SPOT satellite network (Globalstar) is not global nor as reliable as Iridium.
Some users complain that the keys are too small and it is hard to press only the letter you intend.

ZOLEO Satellite Communicator

zoleo 150x150 - How to Choose the Best Satellite Messenger or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for Hiking
FeatureNotes
Price of Unit$199.99 (Amazon)
Weight5.3 oz. (150 g)
Preset MessagesYes/No
“Okay” check-in message button only (no preset messages).
Standalone MessagingYes/No
There is a physical Check-In button, but you must use the mobile app to send custom messages.
Custom messagingYes
Dedicated phone #Yes
Subscription PlansBasic – $20 (25 satellite messages; $0.50 additional messages; unlimited cellular and WiFi messages)
InTouch – $35 (250 satellite messages; $0.50 additional messages; unlimited cellular and WiFi messages)
Unlimited – $50 (Unlimited satellite messages; unlimited cellular and WiFi messages)

All plans require $6 add-on to get unlimited preset messages (with location sharing) and tracking $20 activation fee.
No account suspension in the first 3 months; suspended plans incur a $4 per month fee; re-enable a suspended plan without activation fee.
InfrastructureIridium, IERCC
TrackingNot included in plans but available for an additional $6 per month fee.
WeatherYes (Dark Sky)
MapsYes
Battery Life200 hours when checking messages every 12 minutes.
MiscellaneousMessaging works seamlessly across cellular, WiFi and satellite.
Waterproof and floats.
Plans currently available only in USA, Canada, Australia, but work globally.
Micro USB.

About the SOS Function

The various satellite devices use either the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) (formerly owned by GEOS but bought by Garmin in 2020) or Global Rescue to monitor and handle your SOS call and dispatch the appropriate Search and Rescue based on your location. PLBs use whichever service is in operation in the country where you register the device, which is National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States.

Depending on your location and needs, you may be responsible for any cost associated with a rescue operation. In the U.S., many states provide SAR services for free. You should check this before you start a long thru-hike. I have read that most or all of the PCT is free, but I haven’t verified this. If you know for sure about any of the Triple Crown trails, please let me know in the comments.

Also note that some countries require prior permission for the authorized use of a satellite communication device and some countries have banned the use of satellite communications devices. In addition, United States embargoes prohibit providing satellite communications products and services in some countries. The list of countries provided by ARC includes: China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, Russia (and Crimea region of the Ukraine), Thailand, Vietnam. The list provided by Garmin includes those and adds: Georgia, Myanmar, Sudan, and Syria.

About the Weather Function

Some of the devices use Dark Sky. Andrew Skurka claims that it poorly predicts mountain weather. It was also purchased by Apple so it is unclear if it will continue to be supported in the future.

False Sense of Security

Having some sort of emergency signalling device is very prudent, but keep in mind that you will need a clear view of the sky, possession of the device (and, depending on which you are using, a functioning smart phone) on your person, and the physical ability to activate the SOS feature. Any or all of these essentials may not be in place when you most need them. Whenever possible, try to hike with others, keep loved ones informed of your itinerary and regularly check in, and have some kind of plan in place in case you become unreachable.

Which One to Choose?

If you just spent some time reviewing the features for each device, you may be scratching your head a bit about which device is best for you. I feel your pain. I am still trying to decide for myself as I write this.

I like the simplicity of a basic PLB, especially since I don’t really need to maintain always-on contact with family. I am fine with just messaging via my mobile phone if and when I have service. But, I also like the idea of having one of the lighter two-way communication devices with a rechargeable battery and the ability to activate and de-activate a plan for my infrequent long hikes. I also think the various features that the associated mobile apps offer are a nice little added bonus as I probably care more about weather alerts and mapping than I do about tracking or always-on messaging.

So, as I write this, my short list includes the ACR Bivy Stick, inReach Mini, and Somewear Global Hotspot.

I have read too many negative things about the quality of the SPOT network to consider either of those devices.

I hesitate to add the Zoleo to that list because of the weight and the $4 inactive plan fee.

Somewear seems like the best value for plan pricing but at the moment it is sold out. I don’t know if that is due to COVID-related supply chain issues or if it indicative of a possible problem with the future of the company and it’s service.

Everyone raves about the inReach Mini and there is something appealing about its size, weight and on-device functionality, but it’s pricing isn’t well suited to my infrequent usage needs and I don’t like that it has no cellular or WiFi messaging capabilities. It would also be nice if it used a Type C USB cable (NOTE: the newer Mini 2 does).

I think in the past the Bivy Stick had some negative reviews but it seems like it has improved a lot (especially its mobile app) since being bought by ACR. I don’t like that you are required to purchase one of the higher-leel plans for four months before you can switch to the lower plan or pause the account but it’s low initial price does help offset that additional cost.

Here’s my totally subjective look at best options for the different features on offer.

FeatureBest Options
Price of UnitACR Bivy Stick
Zoleo
Preset MessagesSPOT (14 customizable)
Garmin (3 customizable)
Standalone MessagingGarmin inReach Explorer+ (touchscreen)
SPOT X (keyboard)
Garmin inReach Mini (cursor based)
Custom messagingZoleo (dedicated mobile phone #; switches seamlessly between mobile, WiFi and satellite)
Somewear Global Hotspot (switches seamlessly between mobile, WiFi and satellite)
WeightACR Bivy Stick (3.35 oz.)
Garmin InReach Mini (3.5 oz.)
Somewear Global Hotspot (4.0 oz.)
Annual cost for SOS functionalityPLB devices (no subscription required)
Any satellite communicator except SatPaq
Subscription for Seldom Use CaseSomewear Global Hotspot
ACR Bivy Stick
Zoleo
SatPaq (US only)
Garmin (annual fee)
Subscription for Regular, Low Frequency UseSPOT or Garmin if mostly using preset messages
SPOT or ACR Bivy Stick
Subscription for Regular, High Frequency UseAll devices comparable for unlimited plans (about $50)
InfrastructurePLB devices (most reliable satellite network)
ACR Bivy, Garmin, Somewear, Zoleo (all use Iridium)
TrackingGarmin
Somewear Global Hotspot
WeatherA bit hard to compare but one YouTube review showed Garmin with the best weather.
MapsGarmin
ACR Bivy Stick
Somewear Global Hotspot
Battery LifeDifficult to say as it depends on your usage scenario.
Based on product descriptions: Somewear Global Hotspot, SPOT X, and Zoleo.

I hope you found this overview of PLB devices and satellite communicators useful. If you have any personal experiences, opinions, or recommendations, please leave a comment.

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Like this content? Interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail or other long-distance hiking trails? If so, check out my book of advice for planning a thru-hike, Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail: A Complete Guide. It covers everything you need to know and more than you probably thought to consider.

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