Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post or a review, just more for awareness and comparison as the world is starting to reopen slowly and personal safety has become more of a concern.
You are out in the wild and just maybe somebody wants to know where you are, maybe even follow your tracks as you travel around your country, your continent, or even the world. Or you want peace of mind for a rescue if the unthinkable happens.
There are a few options out there but probably one of the names that pop up the most is the Garmin InReach, formerly DeLorme.
A little insight, PLB or Personal Locator Beacons –
A personal locator beacon, or PLB for short, is a personal electronic transmitting device that is designed to alert potential rescuers to a life-threatening situation in the air, on water or in remote areas. When activated, the PLB sends out a signal on either a 406MHz frequency or Local Area System using 121.5MHz, VHF DSC and/or AIS.
Example scenarios of when a PLB may be required are:
Skier caught in a landslide
Hiker lost or trapped and unable to call for help
…and of course a motorcyclist injured from a fall, as a solo, or with a group of riders in need medical help
…but as communication quality has increased there is an advantage now that a lot of ADVriders like is a breadcrumb trail, displayed on a map, to show ‘your personally selected followers’ where you are, which you as the operator determine who gets to see. ***NOTE not advisable to put this out in general circulation for personal safety reasons.
And now good consistent communication when a cell phone has no coverage, text messaging (SMS) and emails are added options
So, how does the old hand stack up against the new kid on the block?
|GARMIN FREEDOM PLANS US$||$14.95/mo||$34.95/mo||$64.95/mo|
|TRACKING INTERVALS||10 min+||10 min+||2 min+|
|SEND/TRACK POINTS||$0.10 ea||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|LOCATION REQUESTS||$0.10 ea||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|BASIC WEATHER||1 text msg ea||2 text msg ea||Unlimited|
|PREMIUM WEATHER||$1.00 ea||$1.00 ea||$1.00 ea|
|PREMIUM MARINE WEATHER||$1.00 ea||$1.00 ea||$1.00 ea|
|ZOLEO Plans (US$)||Basic||In Touch||Unlimited|
|Monthly Fee||$ 20||$ 35||$ 50|
|Satellite Messages Included||25||250||Unlimited|
|Additional Messages||50¢/ea||25¢/ea||Free (unlimited)|
|Cellular & Wi-Fi Messages||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Satellite SOS Alerts||Included||Included||Included|
|GEOS SOS Monitoring Service||Included||Included||Included|
|Add-on: Location Tracking||$6/mo||$6/mo||$6/mo|
A few things to keep in mind –
A $20 activation fee applies when activating a ZOLEO monthly plan., and the unit does not have a keyboard, all messages must be done via your phone, so this means you need your phone on your persona at all times in case you are thrown from your bike. There is also a fee of $4 monthly if you want to keep your number/ email but suspend the subscription…and that breadcrumb trail will cost you an additional $6 per month.
The Garmin InReach has the capability to use your Garmin GPS as the keyboard on a lot of newer GPS units or the unit itself can send messages either ones you type or predetermined, so no need to keep more than the PLB on your person.
It also has activation fees of $30-35 depending on the option you go with.
The new Garmin Montana and I’m sure others from the company have the InReach option built into the GPS, but personally, I don’t think this is the best option if you are a solo rider because of the likelihood of being thrown from your bike and not being able to get to it to use the SOS, or bike falling down a mountainside and you staying on a precipice injured or vice versa…same goes for storing it in your tank bag map pocket.
The Zoleo is almost double to the size of the InReach (minus the antenna) so where you can put the unit on your person can come into play.
A few companies do make holders, Giant Loop comes to mind for the InReach, as well as Klim, their hydration pack has pockets on the shoulder straps to hold the inReach comfortably. The Zeleo does fit, but it is very snug.
Battery life is another thing to consider
Up to 35 hr.
10-minute tracking send interval and 1-second log interval
Up to 90 hr.
Default mode with 10-minute tracking send interval
Up to 24 days
Extended tracking mode with 30-minute tracking send interval
Zoleo was a little vague on their battery life, only stating 200 hours, and didn’t mention if the battery life varied when tracking was applied.
Lots of ‘small print’ in their respective contracts that must be read to find the unit that suits you and your riding locations/ style…or do you have a better option than these two? Share your experiences below in the comments
Spot users might want to read this article from 2019 – Is Your Spot Device REALLY Working?