< Go to Personal Locator Beacons
Hands-on Gear Review
ACR ResQlink 406 Personal Locator Beacon Review
Cons: Unless the lack of messaging is a con for you, we found no faults with this device.
Bottom line: The best emergency locator beacon in our tests. No 2-way messaging.
The SOS function of the ResQlink is probably the most effective of any device we tested. It transmits your SOS message at 5 watts of power, compared to 0.4 watts for the Spot Gen3 Satellite Messenger, and 1.6 watts for the Garmin InReach Explorer+. If the lack of messaging is not a deal-breaker for you, then this device is the least expensive over time.
RELATED REVIEW: Best Satellite Messengers and Locator Beacons of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Ease of Setup
Like any SEND device, the ACR must also be registered. There are, however, no annual fees to pay in order to register or be rescued, and when you register your device (for US customers, at least), you do so with NOAA, which gives a certain sense of security. With no smartphone pairing and no subscription plans to choose from, that part is simple and worry-free.
The ResQLink, operating on the COSPAS/SARSAT military satellite network described above, is arguably the most effective of all the devices tested when in SOS mode. But, realistically, it only has an SOS mode. ACR does offer a limited "Self-Test" message service that seems meant to help it compete with SEND devices but, due to the finite battery life, the ResQLink is only good for 220 self-test "OK" messages without GPS information, and 12 messages with GPS information, during the battery's five-year lifespan. To add this service to your device costs $60 (www.406link.com). We can't really think of many situations in which this could be viewed as a valuable function, other than to occasionally reassure yourself that the ResQLink is capable of sending messages. Based on ACR's track record alone, we would be more than happy to trust that it would work when needed and we would not buy this device if messaging was a priority.
The ResQLink's lack of real messaging capabilities is not a reason to overlook it. If your main concern is having the most powerful and reliable beacon to use in case of emergency, and tracking features aren't crucial, then this is definitely the device for you. The dual SOS transmission (406MHz / 121.5MHz) and 5-watt transmission power coupled with the reliability and global coverage of the COSPAS/SARSAT constellation makes this the most "serious" device that we tested, in pure SOS terms.
ResQLink Plus 406 Personal Locator Beacon
AquaLink 406 GPS Personal Locator Beacon
AquaLink View 406 Personal Locator Beacon
— Chris McNamara and Matt Gerdes
You Might Also Like
Best Satellite Messengers and Locator Beacons of 2017What is the best personal locator beacon or satellite messenger? We researched 15 options and choose six for detailed...
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 25, 2016