If you enjoy backpacking, hunting, or other activities that take you off the beaten trail, then safety can be an issue. In many remote areas your cell phone is useless because there is no services or very limited and inconsistent service. You need a way for loved ones to check in with you or at least to call for help if something goes awry. Thanks to modern technology, you have a couple of options.
A locator beacon is one of the simplest options, but it only works for safety and not for calling home to check in. These beacons are commonly referred to as Personal Locator Beacons, or PLBs. They are very small and lightweight – you can carry one in your pocket. In fact, it's best to have it on your person at all times in case you are separated from your pack. The simplest of these beacons have a button that you push in the event of an emergency. The beacon then uses satellite technology to send your coordinates to the nearest emergency service.
One way trackers
Sometimes referred to as Spot devices due to one of the popular brands, a tracker sends one way messages. This allows the device to work as a PLB, but as an added benefit someone at home can also track your location and progress. One way this surpasses a PLB is you have to be conscious to press the emergency button on a PLB. With a tracker, someone at home can call for help if they notice your device hasn't broadcast any movement for some time or that it has ended up in a dangerous area.
If two way communication is preferable, then the least expensive option is a ham radio. These broadcast or a relatively far reaching bandwidth, so they are cheaper to own and operate compared to satellite devices. Where they fail is that you and your contact person at home must both have a Ham Operator's License to utilize the radios.
Two-way satellite radio
A dependable two-way option that doesn't require any special license is a satellite two way radio. These are one of the more expensive options, but also one of the safest if staying in contact with home or emergency services is a high priority. Higher end radios are lightweight and as simple to use to make calls as a cell phone. Lower end models can be larger and the audio quality isn't always tops, but they work well for short conversations and emergency use. Just keep in mind that the radio will only work when it can send an unbroken signal to the satellite in the sky. This means you may have interference if you are under heavy tree cover, in a cave, or have a mountain blocking the satellite.
For more help, talk with a dealer of satellite and emergency contact devices.