Links and Resources
The thought of being injured and stranded in the wilderness, or simply being irretrievably lost out there, is enough
to scare many people away from the woods. For the rest of us it's a risk we're accepting, but given another option
most of us will gratefully grab the rescue line no matter how it's presented. Several companies now offer rescue
services and personal location devices -- some are barely legitimate, with fine print user agreements that absolve
the provider of any real responsibility, and hidden costs that punish users who actually ask for help. Even the
electronics involved is marginal and doesn't work reliably. Makes you wonder how yachtsmen get ahold of that
neat emergency transponder that saves so many sailor's lives.
Well, there's now a practical emergency device which does offer a similar level of security to hikers and other
wilderness travelers. The ACR SARlink PLB or Personal Locator Beacon gives users that essential weatherproof
reliability without promising a ton of extras that probably don't work. The basic notification service is free, but
rescue itself may be costly -- many modern Search & Rescue agencies will send you a bill later, especially if you've
fallen into desperate circumstances through some foolishness of your own. But, staying alive is always good, and
some extra years might be a welcome tradeoff for those S&R payments.
The ACR SARlink does need some setup, in an area where there's a clear view of the sky. That consists of properly
deploying the antenna and turning the unit on -- a simple procedure that doesn't require an expert in electronics.
Optional services are available which for a very reasonable annual subscription fee allow an owner to actually test
the service by sending an email message through the satellite system. The first question any buyer should have is
"Does this thing work?" and SARlink allows you to find out. The subscription service includes an option for a preset
"I'm OK!" email message destined for up to five friends or family members. With advanced units capable of GPS
location, that OK signal can include map coordinates. That's especially handy if your battery died at the trailhead
and you need a ride home. Uncle Fred probably won't charge as much as the local Mountain Rescue Team, and with
some strategic pre-set emails you can save that OK message to family and friends for something really important.
Sarlink and Aqualink -- Personal Location Beacons for Land or Sea
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Looking for the Good Gear, and the Unusual
Outside the Window
I spent most of my time in school
looking sideways out the window and
planning my escape. I made lists of
things I would need and things I'd need
to learn. What I wanted was more than
just visiting the outer world or
surviving it long enough to get home. I
wanted to live out there.
Just the Essentials
Gear still fascinates me. I like to try it
out, even if I don't think I need it.
Actually, you don't need a whole lot to
live out there. If you go and you stay
awhile, the gear gradually goes away
and you find other answers. Most of
what you really need fits inside your
head. The rest is temporary.