What I have done is to own a "SPOT" and use this regularly. I have the original version and my wife can see on a website where I am and track my movement in the field. For more extreme hunts like when I backpacked for a sheep, I rented a sat phone for one month. I would call in for a few minutes every evening when I was settled in camp. The extra insurance was worth the money.
I run a SPOT 2 and I am very happy with it.
i use a spot. very reassuring to family. and i can be used to create jealosy to friends that are at home working, when you send notifications from the high country. I take it with me on all hunts, but I bought it for my solo hunts...
Thanks alot for the replies everyone, short of a sat. phone it sound like a lot of you run the Spot locator with very good results. I havent seen a Spot yet, but I do have an Iphone 4s and if it interfaces with that, it might be very handy. Do they work well when out of cell range though? I hunt in rough, steep sided, mountain country with a dense conifer canopy that even my Garmin 60 CSx GPS has trouble punching out of once in a while. I walk old, grown up haul roads along the old cut lines til ' I cut some promising sign. Sometimes I may end up getting several miles and drainages away from the truck by the time it's getting to dark to hunt. I really like what some of you said about my wife being able to see where I'm at from the computer at home. I don't like the idea of her worrying about me when I'm hunting and if this is a reliable unit and way to go I'm all in. I've been thinking it would not only be a prudent personal safety item but may save the life of someone your hunting with or you may run across while in the woods.
Bob, the reviews on the smartphone linking SPOT are mixed. Some find it reliable, others don't. The SPOT2 communicator isn't as versatile, but has a good reputation for getting the messages out. I have had very good luck with mine, even in inclimate weather.
have been thinking about getting those rhino gps/walkie talkies which tell you where you are and your hunting partners, but wondering if there is something newer/better out there now?
Personally I'm not worried about myself getting lossed or reading the gps, but family members who are older or younger, ie elderly and/or kids who may not know how to read the map or where they are and I could simply say hey you're over there turn right and come this way.... or actually hike to them if need be, ie if for some reason we split up and they get lost in the process/turned around.
We use an ACR military grade 406 EPIRB. emergency indicating radio beacon transmitting via satellite. No matter the weather, no matter the terrain, you hit the button, SARS is coming for you, it had better be life threatening because you can go to jail if it isn't or pay a heavy search and rescue fine! It is about the size of two packs of cigarettes and nominal in the weight category, so it is worth it to me...
"This is A Way of Life"
The ACR SarLink is the way to go, and the professionals choice of gear. The SPOT works well in most areas, and allows communication at a cost. You can do the same type of check-in with the ACR products for a similar subscription fee. I personally don't use the subscription fee, and only use the EPIRB for its designed use - true emergency signaling. I put it in my pack, forget it, and hope to never use it. But if things get really bad, I can summon help for certain. Far more reliable and accurate than the SPOT.
I spend a lot of time on solo hunts, in wilderness areas and far from any other hunters. The ACR SarLink EPIRB goes with me on those hunts. When hunting with family, which is typically close to civilization, I use the Garmin Rhino's. Great for keeping track of other members of your party and provides sufficient safety factor that the SarLink can stay home. Different tools for different applications...