The Best EPIRBs For Offshore Boating

Whether you’re a seasoned mariner or a weekend boater, understanding the importance of a reliable EPIRB is crucial for safety.

Drawing from my own experiences on the water, I’ve selected options that balance functionality, durability, and ease of use.

Join me in navigating these lifesaving devices, ensuring your peace of mind while you enjoy the vast, beautiful ocean.

Best Overall EPIRB

Ocean Signal Rescue ME EPIRB1

A reliable and compact emergency beacon for peace of mind during offshore fishing and ocean sailing passages.

✅ 10-year battery life
✅Compact design with retractable antenna
✅ Fast and accurate positioning with 66-channel GPS

✖️ Red plastic tab may break off easily
✖️ Inadvertent activation possibility
✖️ Hardware quality could be improved

The Ocean Signal Rescue ME EPIRB1 is an excellent addition to your safety gear when you go offshore fishing, sailing, or boating. Its compact design, featuring a retractable antenna, allows for easy storage on your vessel. The 10-year battery life ensures you won’t have to worry about your device running out of power during critical moments.

One of the most notable features of this EPIRB is its fast and accurate positioning, thanks to the 66-channel GPS. This feature, combined with a 48+ hours operational life and easy activation, will provide quick location information to rescuers in an emergency.

However, there are a few concerns to consider. Some users have reported the red plastic tab breaking off, and hardware quality could be improved.

Additionally, accidental activation might lead to an unexpected visit from the authorities. It is essential to follow the instructions carefully to avoid such situations.

Ocean Signal RescueME EPIRB1
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Best EPIRB For Offshore

McMurdo Smartfind EPIRB

The McMurdo Smartfind EPIRB is an ideal safety device to invest in due to its advanced features and high ratings.

✅ First EPIRB to include localized alert via AIS
✅ Combines benefits of multiple life-saving products
✅ Accidental activation protection

✖️ May be more expensive than other options

When it comes to prioritizing safety on your vessel, the McMurdo Smartfind EPIRB is a top choice. It is the first-ever EPIRB to feature localized alerts, making it innovative and efficient at the same time. This device can send out immediate alerts in an emergency, providing your location to search and rescue services for speedy assistance.

Another advantage of this EPIRB is that it combines various life-saving products into one beacon. With built-in AIS, multi GNSS, and Galileo connectivity, you can rest assured that your location will be accurately transmitted during dire situations. This is crucial in ensuring a timely response from rescue teams in emergencies.

However, a potential downside is that the McMurdo Smartfind EPIRB is on the heavier side, weighing 2.7 pounds. But to be honest, it’s an EPIRB, so you won’t be carrying it often.

It also requires six lithium-ion batteries, which might be an additional expense. But knowing you are investing in a reliable safety device with accidental activation protection, this EPIRB can give you the peace of mind needed when sailing.

McMurdo Smartfind EPIRB with GPS, AIS, and Homing Beacon
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Best Category 1 EPIRB

Ocean Signal SafeSea EPIRB1 Pro

The world’s most compact EPIRB pairs compact stature with durability. The EPIRB1 Pro is a reliable emergency beacon, perfect for various water-based activities.

✅ Compact design with a 10-year battery life
✅ 406 MHz satellite band for international distress frequencies
✅ Automatic release housing for hands-free deployment

✖️ Slightly heavier than some competitors at 3.42 pounds

The Ocean Signal SafeSea EPIRB1 Pro is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a compact yet highly effective emergency position-indicating radio beacon. Its small size and long battery life make it a convenient addition to any vessel, whether for commercial, fishing, or leisure purposes. 

This EPIRB ensures a rapid response from search and rescue teams, thanks to its connection to the international distress frequencies monitored by Cospas-Sarsat.

One of the standout features of the EPIRB1 Pro is its Category I Automatic Release Housing, which makes it possible for the device to deploy itself from the bracket and activate automatically in emergencies. 

This feature is especially beneficial for those who are unable to reach the EPIRB in time physically. The included adapter also allows for simpler retrofitting, which means it can easily be mounted using existing mounting holes from older EPIRB models.

While the EPIRB1 Pro has a slightly heavier weight than some competing beacons, its practical design and additional safety features make it a strong contender in the market. 

Ocean Signal RescueME EPIRB1 Pro Category I GPS EPIRB
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Best Value EPIRB


This EPIRB offers advanced features but has room for improvement in its mobile app and registration process.

✅ AIS Locating Signal for local rescue
✅ Return Link Service for distress message confirmation
✅ Waterproof and buoyant with a 10-year battery life

✖️ Complicated registration process
✖️ Lackluster mobile app performance

Using the ACR GLOBALFIX V5 AIS EPIRB, you’ll appreciate the peace of mind it brings during offshore adventures. Its AIS (Automatic Identification System) Locating Signal increases the chances of a swift rescue by broadcasting your distress signal to nearby vessels.

One standout feature of this EPIRB is its Return Link Service (RLS), which confirms that your distress message has been received, providing added assurance when the worst happens. Additionally, the device is designed to withstand harsh marine environments, being waterproof, buoyant, and equipped with a 10-year battery life.

However, not everything is smooth sailing with the ACR GLOBALFIX V5 AIS EPIRB. Some users have reported a complicated registration process, along with a less-than-stellar mobile app that freezes and underperforms. 

Buying Guide

When choosing the best EPIRB for your needs, there are several factors to consider. To ensure you make the right choice, let’s discuss key features to look for when purchasing an EPIRB.

EPIRBs transmit on different frequencies, such as 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz, and 406 MHz. The most common and recommended frequency is 406 MHz because it provides increased accuracy and faster response times. 

Additionally, ensure the EPIRB you choose is recognized by the Cospas-Sarsat system, ensuring global coverage and comprehensive search and rescue support.

An EPIRB with an integrated GPS increases the accuracy of your position, helping rescue teams locate you more quickly. This significantly reduces the time it takes for help to arrive, making GPS integration a highly recommended feature.

EPIRBs should have a battery life of at least 48 hours when operating in typical conditions. Check the product specifications for the battery life expectancy, and be sure to factor in the frequency of your voyages when making your decision.

It’s vital to register your EPIRB with the appropriate national authority. Registering your device ensures that emergency responders have accurate and up-to-date information. Be sure to also note the EPIRB’s maintenance requirements, such as battery replacement schedules and testing procedures.

If you’re considering whether an EPIRB is necessary for your boating adventures, then know the legal requirements in your cruising area.

EPIRBs can be activated manually or automatically when submerged in water. An automatic activation feature can be beneficial, but manual activation is still important in case the device doesn’t activate automatically. Therefore, look for an EPIRB that offers both manual and automatic activation options.

To learn more about hydrostatic release units and how they function with automatic EPIRBs, explore this article on hydrostatic release units.

Frequently Asked Questions

When selecting an EPIRB for offshore use, consider factors such as battery life, signal range, and durability. I highly recommend the McMurdo Smartfind EPIRB due to its excellent performance in these categories.

An EPIRB is recommended for all sizes of boats, especially when venturing offshore or in remote areas. It is a crucial piece of equipment that can significantly improve the outcome of an emergency.

The choice between an EPIRB and a PLB depends on your needs and activities. EPIRBs are designed for marine use and are typically larger, while PLBs are smaller and can be used in various outdoor activities. For a detailed comparison, check out this EPIRBs vs PLBs article.

EPIRBs are recommended for use in any offshore or remote locations, regardless of the distance from shore. They can significantly increase your chances of being located and rescued in an emergency. Additionally, don’t forget about registering an EPIRB before your trip to ensure the quickest possible response.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Sailing Savvy. I spent a decade working as a professional mariner and currently, I mix those experiences with digital publishing. Welcome, and I hope that we can be the hub you need for safe passage.