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As part of my work as a wilderness volunteer with various national forests, I have started to carry a PLB--a personal locator beacon. I do it mainly because when people see me in the backcountry, they expect that I will be able to help them. And while I have taken a short wilderness first aid course, the PLB is one more way of offering assistance.

(Image from Andrew Skurka)

I initially chose an InReach Mini, but quickly learned that there were some registration issues that were unresolved...and I needed the thing to work. So I returned it and bought a Zoleo. It's half the price of the InReach, although the monthly charges are slightly higher. It would take five to seven years for there to be a real savings with the Mini, so I'm fine with the Zoleo. In five to seven years, I may just be able to use my phone!

But I've noticed that carrying the Zoleo has changed my thinking just bit on the trail. When I am deep in the backcountry, I still worry about getting hurt and needing help. But now, instead of thinking that I would be a dead duck, I have started thinking about how long it would take for rescue to arrive, and how they would ever find me in the remote and rugged landscape.

Make no mistake, I would still be a dead duck. But at least with the Zoleo, they'd have an idea of where to start looking for the feathers...

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