Irish Mountain
Running Association

Emergency GPS tracker

AuthorDateMessage
Graham ChampApr 27 2021, 4:37pmAfter hearing the terrible news recently about mountain runner missing I started to look into GPS trackers as a backup & some reassurance when there is no phone signal.
I was thinking about the SPOT Gen 4 but after a lot of reading I saw on the last line of small print in their manual that it is not for use in the republic of Ireland.

Does anyone know why they cannot be used in Ireland?
Is there any similar alternative? The Garmin inReach Mini is 2x the price & higher subscription costs too but I cannot see any restricted use for Ireland.

Below is the extract from the SPOT GEN4 manual:

“The SPOT Gen4 has been so constructed that the product complies with the requirement of Article 10(2) as it can be operated in at least one Member State as examined and the product is compliant with Article 10(10) as it has no restrictions on putting into service in all of the EU except Ireland. The SPOT Gen4 cannot be marketed in Ireland

CE IE Not to be Marketed in the Republic of Ireland”
Rachel CinnsealachApr 27 2021, 5:04pmDo you use Strava? If you use the paid version (60 euro a year) there is a feature of a beacon. You can send that to a contact before you go out and they can track you on your entire run.
Stuart ScottApr 27 2021, 5:43pmViewranger also has a Buddy Beacon option. Obviously you'll still need data coverage which isn't guaranteed but even a partial route would help narrow down any possible search considerably. You'd need to make sure your 'buddy' doesn't get overly concerned though if you are just out of coverage!

I'd imagine any better options would need satellite coverage which is probably expensive and not without its own issues. If an option exists then great, but either way, it's worth leaving a detailed route card with a contact including possible escape and bad weather routes every time you go out.
Graham ChampApr 28 2021, 8:29amThanks, I currently use Garmin live track as I never did get the buddy beacon working properly on Vierranger so I gave up on it. Unfortunatly both these options rely on my phone data coverage but like you say it is definitely better than nothing.
I just cannot understand why the Spot is CE certified for use in all of Europe but NOT Ireland. It’s bugging me a bit.
Hazel stapletonApr 28 2021, 2:02pmI have been using an inReach Mini for some time. I can recommend it highly. As I am in my 70s it gives me a great sense of security when I am on my own (trail running, MBT and hill walking). I use it about 5 times a week, so overall I think it is not costly if used often. My location when out is easy to check on the computer at home, it can also send and receive text messages...overall I wouldn't be without it!
Laura FlynnApr 28 2021, 8:04pmGood thread to start Graham in light of the very sad events in the Comeraghs last week. I was just having the conversation with my husband as I often head out on my own, usually on familiar routes but a twisted ankle and change in weather could change everything and your phone is only of use where there’s gps. I think it’s no harm for us all to throw a whistle into our pocket and keep it there. You never know when you might need it. The Omm back-packs we gave us as end of -year prizes a few years ago are excellent for carrying a small bit of safety gear, spare top, torch, survival blanket, food etc and really comfortable to run with. They came highly recommended by our great friend and committee member at the time, Adrian Tucker, who had vast experience in the mountains including one of the earliest completions of The Wicklow Round. If anyone doesn’t have this back-pack I can send you details if you email me at laura.flynn@imra.ie
Laura FlynnApr 28 2021, 8:06pmHazel, thanks for that contribution. I have a prize for you from you great report earlier this year. Can you email me and we’ll arrange to get it to you please
laura.flynn@imra.ie
Hazel stapletonApr 28 2021, 9:06pmemail sent, Laura, thanks
I should have mentioned that I also carry a dog whistle (sound carries a long way) and a personal alarm...both small, lightweight, cheap and effective safety items should one have an accident.
Avril ChallonerApr 29 2021, 9:49amhttps://youtu.be/MIFNZdSjSDo

I found this video by Trail Running Scotland very good. They compare 3 different runners with 3 levels of safety gear all waiting for 30 minutes in the same spot. Even if someone is coming to get you if you are injured on the hills there will be some waiting time.

On viewranger, you can download maps offline in advance and just work off GPS with no data. This won't help if you can't move but would help if you are lost or get slightly injured and just need to find the quickest way to get off the hills.
Conor McElroyApr 29 2021, 10:34pmI had a similar line of thinking Graham, and I too reckon that carrying an emergency GPS beacon is worth considering in Irish mountain running.

I researched these beacons late 2019 so I may be a little out of date.

The McMurdo fastfind for about 250euros is sold by chmarine in cork.

I've never used one but it seems to be the smallest lightweight, emergency beacon that would suit both mountain sports and time on the ocean such as kayaking.

As for the mini inreach I'm not sure if it is also compatible with watersports (of course this may not be of concern if its sole use is planned in the mountains. Mind you we know how wet the hills can be!)

Also there are technical considerations to be mindful of - I believe the Spot devices may use different broadcasting systems and are better thought of as a texting / breadcrumb trail devices as opposed to an emergency "save the life of you and your team members beacon"

Kerry mountain rescue team publicly acknowledged about 1-2 years ago that they rescued a stranded hiker more quickly and easily as he activated a beacon he was carrying.

A sailing buddy of mine reminded me - if you THINK you need a beacon, then you NEED a beacon !
Fabio BaltieriApr 30 2021, 1:46pmMy take on this:

I always have my phone with me, for basic safety I have permanent Google location sharing with my partner and few other people: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/9363497. You set it up once and forget about it, it's somewhat of a best effort service that updates the location sporadically if it detects that you are moving and has negligible battery life impact. Your point simply shows up on maps of people you share with, together with the position accuracy and device leftover battery.

For solo runs and races, Garmin Live Tracking is really good. Takes a minute to setup the first time (adding the contact emails) and then it's a one click on the app to enable it for the session (https://support.garmin.com/en-IE/?faq=HbqxxbiBGA3mDhlLX4GUw8). Gives high precision location with one minute updates, and it's free and works with pretty much every Garmin device produced in the last few years. It uses the GPS location from the watch so the battery life impact on the phone is minimal. Worth noting that modern high end Garmin watches also have automatic fall detection as well (https://support.garmin.com/en-IE/?faq=RfaXahBWkH8Q7pVFLsuUmA).

Obviously this is only available on Garmin stuff, but there are loads of free alternatives that do not depend on a watch, simplest in my opinion is the WhatsApp share location feature. That keeps the phone GPS on though, so it is going to drain the battery. I would use a power bank in that case, which is cheap and pretty much the same weight as a dedicated tracker anyway.

All of the above obviously relies on phone coverage so they are useless in many situations, but at least they would give a last known position.

For seriously remote stuff, Iridium based trackers (such as the inReach series) are pretty much the only option. They are relatively expensive and require a subscription, but then if one does activities that are so remote and wild to require such a thing, it's probably well worth the cost considering is something that may save your life.
Harold PerezMay 2 2021, 1:50pmA few years ago I started to carry a safety whistle on long runs, but I was always conscious that I didn't have one for my everyday trail runs. I recently bought a dozen and attach them to every piece of gear to make sure I always have one on me.

Avril - good video, specially adapted to our environment. Often you see advice for US or Spanish environments, which give you an idea, but this video is much more closer to what we experience.

Is there a list of min/ideal/max safety equipment to carry for our conditions?
Graham ChampMay 4 2021, 11:36amSome good advice here, thanks guys & gals.

Just an update, I have spoken to Spot & they told me there is no reason it will not work in Ireland & she said the only reason it is "not for marketing in Ireland" is that they do not have a retailer here.

I think using one of the phone tracking systems, Garmin, ViewRanger, Google, etc. should be a must as it does not cost anything & is priceless in the unlikely event of needing it.

So now I am torn between Spot Gen 4 & Garmin inReach, but I think the price over features will be the decider for me.
Alistair HodgettMay 4 2021, 4:22pmHarold, re: lists of equipment, I find the RD requirements for longer runs to be a good starting point which I can adjust up or down based on the where & when of the run I am doing, e.g. the Wicklow Way kit list is:

Waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers
Mobile phone - battery fully charged
Head Light and spare batteries
Hi-Viz/reflective upper outer layer
Map of Route & Compass
Food & Drink
Whistle
Gloves & Hat/Buff
Foil Blanket

My adjustments to the above are: a non-smartphone is lot easier to operate in wet weather so I bring an old Nokia with buttons that work in all conditions. The kit list for the Art O'Neill also includes a basic first aid kit with a field dressing, elastic bandage and plasters (for negligible weight, it might allow you to walk off the mountain) and a survival bag or bivvy. As Laura said, this'd all easily fit into the Omm 15 back-pack.