Really, the only reason I posted this was to let people know of a decent deal on a PLB if interested. I can admit I have never used mine, but when working with a SAR group, we only wished that everyone used one. And when they did, it was failsafe.
A messenger device like SPOT or Delorme are different than a PLB. First two are used for messenger and home locating and for (hopefully) an emergency signal, if needed; whereas, the PLB is solely used for emergency purposes only.
However, if looking for an in case of EMERGENCY beacon
, a PLB is the best bet, by all means. If you want someone to track you in addition to an emergency signal, then the SPOT or Delorme InReach are probably best with the Delorme having a better rep than than the SPOT but at a lot higher price tag.
SPOT is dependent upon Globalstar satellite network and that is why they note on their website, "96% OR BETTER PROBABILITY OF SUCCESSFULLY SENDING A SINGLE MESSAGE WITHIN 20 MINUTES. I rented a Globastar for use in UT once and it took over 20 minutes to connect, in clear sky. Thankfully, it was for a phone call, not an emergency.
DeLorme uses Iridium, which is by far the best Satellite system, and I can attest to their network, having been issued one of their phones when working for the Federal government and being in places that only dream about phone service.
There is a distinct difference between the devices. REI gives a decent write up on the pros and cons of the SPOT and PLB. But the main difference for the emergency notification is that the SPOT signals to a private owned satellite on a 1610 MHz frequency; PLBs signal to a US SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite Aiding Tracking) Satellite with a full 5 watt signal on 406 MHz frequency. (Not sure of the DeLorme frequency.)
PLB also transmits a 121.5 MHz homing signal that is used by most local SAR groups. And this can be very important considering at times, someone will activate the beacon but keep on moving, and figuring it might take the SAR to respond to a given location in about an hour or likely more, that person can move quite a way in that time span, so the original GPS location can be off by quite a bit. And in night locations it can be hard to find a person.
From Rocky Mountain SAR Group....
"The SPOT must have a line-of-site to the sky both to acquire position with the GPS and to send a message to satellites. This reduces their coverage as compared to the PLB. (In light forest they might work, but in heavy forest in a deep canyon they may not.) It is possible that a SPOT might send a distress alert without a location, or with an inaccurate location, illustrating the importance of leaving trip itinerary information with a trusted emergency contact known by SPOTs RCC."
Costs are also different.
I can get a PLB at normal price of $249, with the rebate info I posted I can get it for $199.00 and that is it for five years (life of the battery).
SPOTS are about $80-100, and then $99 per year to keep the service activated.
Costs would be a wash if only needed for one trip.
However, if going to AK, I guess I would take a close look at coverage map of Globalstar...AK is not in their primary coverage area....
Coverage Map - Voice/Duplex
vs. Irdium which covers the earth, including the poles.
And SARSAT coverage is...
So you have GEOS 15 Sat coverage across the entire state.
Interesting review done by Outdoor Gear
The Best Personal Locator Beacon and Satellite Messenger | OutdoorGearLab
It really all depends on what you are looking for....
I carry one when in deep woods, canyons when hiking since if I need to pull the switch, it will be an emergency and want the most reliable system out there. I do all this alone or with two dogs.
If I was always hiking with someone else, then I would think of something different, like a SPOT or a DeLorme, since the second person could (hopefully) render emergency aid if needed.
Hopefully, the information helped.
And have fun in AK.....