I have a Garmin InReach that I bought after seeing how well they worked for Wilderness Traverse. Previously, we used an older SPOT model that wasn't as useful. I also used to have a personal SPOT tracker until I saw the features of the Inreach tracker. I've been using the InReach for years. No complaints.
If you're going to get a GPS tracking device, I would get one that allows free form 2-way communications with just the device:
- If you're going to spend the money on a GPS tracking device, it's not worth getting a tracker that can only send pre-set outgoing messages like "I'm OK", "Help" or "SOS". At WT, I've received many communications from people carrying GPS trackers, and there is always more detail/nuance in their communications than you could get from a pre-set message. If there is an emergency, details are especially important.
- I'm not keen on GPS devices that require you to link to your cell phone to send outgoing communications. That means you have to keep two devices dry, charged and in your possession. WT racers haven't always had success with that. If you decide to get a GPS tracker, I would get one that can handle 2-way satellite communications (free form texts) on its own. It's awkward to write messages but the GPS devices tend to be more reliable and waterproof than cell phones. Linking to your cell phone by Bluetooth is easier and great when it works, so if the device can also do that, it's a nice bonus feature. But I wouldn't want to count on it.
A few products that work this way are the Garmin InReach, Garmin InReach Mini and SPOT-X (not the SPOT Gen 3). I haven't read reviews lately so there may be one that is better rated than the others. If the Mini is getting good reviews now that it's been out a while, it might be a good choice since it's a nice size and weight. Mike Simpson has one so you could ask him how it's been working.
Another thing to research is the plan for each device, which is like a phone plan. Garmin allows me to suspend my plan during months when I don't use it. I think I pay $3.95 while suspended and $45.00 in a regular month.
I suspect that many of your adventures would be suited to the "Find My" app on the iPhone (which has absorbed the former Find My Friends app). If you and your families don't have iPhones, maybe there is a similar app that works on other phones. This is the cheapest alternative. It doesn't require the person being tracked to have cell signal; the app uses the GPS on your cell phone. We have used "Find My" at Wilderness Traverse to check the locations of volunteers who don't have GPS tracking devices.https://www.macrumors.com/how-to/locate-friends-us...