High-tech solutions to getting found
The digital age has reached the backcountry. Hikers, snowshoers, skiers and hunters can turn to high-tech gadgets to help them get out of...
The digital age has reached the backcountry. Hikers, snowshoers, skiers and hunters can turn to high-tech gadgets to help them get out of sticky situations in the woods. But should they?
Some of the gadgets below are endorsed by search-and-rescue personnel, while others are still unproven in the eyes of experts. All might be worth a look by anyone heading out into the woods:
GPS receivers. The most current GPS technology on the market comes from the folks at Magellan, the same company that introduced handheld GPS receivers to the outdoor market in 1989. The new Triton Series (above left) is anchored by the Triton 2000. With an icon-driven touch-screen menu, the Triton comes with detailed topo maps as well as road and travel content. It features fast satellite-signal acquisition and good coverage under forest canopies and heavy overcast. For non-emergency use, the 2000 includes a 2-megapixel digital camera that lets you link pictures to way points, and a voice-recorder for audio notes about your trek. $499. www.magellangps.com.
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). Each ACR TerraFIX PLB unit (left) has a unique identifying number attached to its signal — which you register with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). When activated, the PLB alerts rescue agencies that you are in need of immediate assistance. It also pinpoints your location via satellite tracking, so rescuers are able to quickly reach you. Prices start at around $400. www.acrterrafix.com.
Rescue Laser Light. Though these look like standard laser pointers, they emit a fan of light rather than a narrow beam. The Emergency Signal Laser (above) spreads out so when it crosses the vision of a searcher — such as the pilot of a search aircraft — it can be seen as a bright red flash on the ground. It does not interfere with the vision of the target person, thus poses no threat to pilots. The effective range is 20-plus miles at night and up to 5 miles in daylight. $100. www.greatlandlaser.com.
— Dan A. Nelson
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
NEW - 7:51 PM
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