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Personal Tracking Device
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Shawn Forry
(porkpie73) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra
Personal Tracking Device on 02/24/2012 19:15:23 MST Print View

I'm currently looking for a personal tracking device similar to the SPOT that can meet the following criteria:

1. Lightweight (duh). Less than 6oz preferably.
2. Tracking feature. Ideally every 10 minutes of so.
3. Have the capability to post to a website in the field.
4. Does not need the use of any external device, GPS, Smartphone, etc.
5. Good battery life or replaceable batteries. 10+ days preferable.

I'm only familiar with the SPOT devices and the initial investment is a bit of a turn off. To meet the above criteria I would be looking at $319. $169 for SPOT2 device, $99 annual membership service, $49 Track Progress additional service.

Any thoughts would be great. In short looking for a simple lightweight system that can be used to verify speed hikes without much fuss.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
SPOT or nuttin', Honey on 02/24/2012 19:22:59 MST Print View

I dunno anything else but a SPOT that can send continuous location updates.

** Maybe the newer SPOT Connect device & your cell phone can work around the $49. Track Progress fee by using texts.

Edited by Danepacker on 02/24/2012 19:23:47 MST.

Shawn Forry
(porkpie73) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra
New Devices on 02/24/2012 20:01:18 MST Print View

Recently Gearjunkie did some reviews of some products. Wondering if anyone has any real world use or other suggestions.

AMOD AGL3080 Data Logger

Pros: Cheap, small and light
Cons: Not waterproof. Only stores waypoints, Must be uploaded after the fact from home.Not very reliable.

Garmin GTU 10 GPS Tracker

Pros: Cheap, light. Garmin quality. Price includes 1yr service
Cons: Relies on AT&T coverage, not satellites, short battery life. Can only view last 10 points in the history.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Personal Tracking Device on 02/25/2012 08:31:26 MST Print View

Cut the umbilical cord invest in backwoods survival and first aid school instead learn a new skill set.
I just don't understand new have to be connected electronically 24/7 culture now days.IMHO

Shawn Forry
(porkpie73) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra
RE: Terry's thoughts on 02/25/2012 08:42:42 MST Print View

Terry, maybe read my entire post before you make assumptions. I've nver even own a cell phone.

>>>In short looking for a simple lightweight system that can be used to verify speed hikes without much fuss.


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Personal Tracking Device on 02/26/2012 01:07:26 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 09/08/2015 15:37:43 MDT.

Steve Hayford
(Cyclesafe) - F
SPOT Expense on 02/26/2012 06:26:02 MST Print View

The SPOT system is likely to be more expensive that you state. Not everyone can get them to work and the company warrants them for only 12 months of ownership. Once they stop working, they might as well be a rock. Sweet concept though...

Rob E

Locale: Canada
SPOT is great, but... on 02/26/2012 07:33:31 MST Print View

SPOT messenger is great as a safety/check-in device. I haven't had a problem with it being able to send a location. I do keep it still for a few minutes and try to send the Ok/check in message from location with the most sky visible, and it seems quite accurate, even in fairly steep valleys with limited sky visible. The real/time tracking won't work as well: you'll have to keep it mounted on the top of your backpack so that it sees the sky, and it will likely lose tracking now and then based on conditions.

It does update your location to a website that others can follow.

The tracking feature will eat through the batteries. It updates every 10 minutes for 24 hours straight. Searching the FAQ at findmespot gives an estimate of battery life:

So under best case scenarios it will give you approx. 3.5-7 days of full 24/7 tracking. Assuming that you turn off the tracking while you sleep will of course extend the battery life.

The spot uses 3xAAA lithium batteries. These are pricey little suckers. By the time you add the $50 yearly tracking subscription and the batteries, the cost starts to climb.

My fist year with the SPOT I had the tracking, but have since cancelled it for this year: I bought the SPOT primarily as a safety device for solo trips. The thought of eating away the batteries on relatively frivolous task of tracking my location every 10 minutes, and then having the device run out of batteries if there is a "real" emergency isn't something I want to experience.

Buy the SPOT for safety. To track your progress keep a map, a pad of paper, and a stop watch.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Smart phone. on 02/26/2012 07:55:18 MST Print View

The 'My Tracks' program on my android phone will do most of this.
If you're in the wilderness with no cell/data connection you'll have to wait till you get to civilization to upload the data.
My cell phone has a pretty good GPS: Samsung Galaxy s2 on ATT.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Personal Tracking Device on 02/26/2012 10:24:17 MST Print View

If you want a personal tracker device you can use the Garmin fortrex or maybe a even a lighter weight nike shoe pod paired with a ipod. Load up at home your tracking on your computer.

I just am getting ticked people don't know basic outdoor skills and are depending more and more on electronic like the spot to let family members know they are okay . Or using GPS units just to drive around town or back country navigation instead of using maps.
I read a article in Outside magazine on how the personal beacons are sending out false alarms, I am lost messages when their not lost at all . Search and rescue are searching for them or ignoring them because their is so many false alarm sent out.

I guess I am old fashion I don't own a cell phone like you because of the cell phone their are no pay telephone booths any more. I still use dial up for internet and over the air television antenna instead of cable.

Kickin and screaming in to the electronic age,

Edited by socal-nomad on 02/26/2012 10:24:48 MST.

Ben F
(tekhna) - F
Smartphone on 02/26/2012 11:10:12 MST Print View

Just get a smartphone with a high-quality GPS. Which is basically any smart phone these days. There are tons of programs that allow you to do GPS tracking without a data connection, whether it's Android or iPhone. Seems like the most sensible multi-use solution to me too. Lets you ditch your camera too.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Smartphone on 02/26/2012 12:13:09 MST Print View

"So under best case scenarios it will give you approx. 3.5-7 days of full 24/7 tracking. Assuming that you turn off the tracking while you sleep will of course extend the battery life."

If this is true, then there isn't a smartphone I know of that could come close to matching it. If you turn constant tracking on in a smartphone, it won't even last a full day.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: SPOT is great, but... on 02/26/2012 12:20:13 MST Print View

After hearing Dave Chenault's story of how he dropped his spot while crossing a river. While floating downstream it activated the 911 button. No response was ever sent. Toy.

Jeffrey List
(jlist) - M

Locale: Cape Cod
Personal Tracking Device on 02/26/2012 12:55:46 MST Print View

Shawn is going for the "unsupported fastest known time (FKT)" on the Colorado Trail this summer:

The FKT website guidelines for such an attempt strongly encourage some kind of digital verifcation.

The Spot2 is probably the best, most self-contained, device for this, and would probably work pretty well since much of the CT doesn't have thick forest cover. The expense is a major drawback, but it can be rented for a one-time trip for a lot less, e.g.:

The other route is to carry a GPS and record the track and post it to site like That has been used for FKT verification before. However, for a 10+ day treck, the battery requirements would be a dealbreaker. One idea, however, would be to only turn the GPS unit on, and record a bit of track, each time you're 1/2 way between car-accessible trailheads. That would pretty much prove you did it because it would be no easier if you got car rides. However, I'd run that idea by the FKT site administrator first before using that method for verification.

Good luck Shawn!!! Going 486 miles with NO food re-supply can't be easy.

Jennifer W
(tothetrail) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal.
GTU 10 on 02/26/2012 13:18:54 MST Print View

When a group of friends did the Leadville 100 (mountain bike) last year, we tested a few options so we could track their progress and be ready for them at the pits . It was also for all the family and friends back home to get live updates from the course.

One of the guys had a SPOT and we tried the GTU 10. The GTU 10 was way more accurate and timely in displaying their location. We created geofences before and after each of the checkpoints and would get email/text alerts within a few seconds of them crossing the "fence." The SPOT was much slower to give an update, so by the time the screen showed their location, it was at least five minutes later. This may not make much of a difference for your purposes, but for us, we needed it to be as precise as possible.

We did testing during their training rides and came to the conclusion that the GTU was the clear winner. Since the SPOT was fine for a backup, they just took both devices for the race. It was interesting to see the comparison of the maps after the race.

While the battery life is stated to be one day to one month, it really depends on how often you will need to have pins dropped. I think it lasted for a couple of weeks of training rides.

And, as you know, this uses AT&T for the service. So, if you will be outside of cell phone coverage, this may not work for you. Also, it definitely held more than the last 10 points of history, I never counted them, but I'd say at least hundreds, if not thousands.

Edited by tothetrail on 02/26/2012 13:24:16 MST.

Shawn Forry
(porkpie73) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra
Clarification on 02/26/2012 14:06:07 MST Print View

Jeffrey, you beat me to the chance in trying to clarify what I would be using this device for. Your info was exactly what I was looking for. Great tip on the rental program. I was going to borrow a friends SPOT1 and then pay the activation fee, but this is a way cheaper option, and saves me from having to purchase something I'll probably never use again.

I have an old Geko 301 that might serve your idea of uploading the way points after the fact for verification purposes. It will be much better in the long run if friends, family and sponsors can follow the progress as well. Something to consider.

Jennifer, thanks for the first hand experience with the GTU 10. I'll have to give it some deeper thought, but based on price I think I'm still leaning towards the SPOT.

I'm wondering with the rental program if I can still set up a SPOT Adventures webpage and have it saved after I return the device. I'm thinking so given that the webpage asks for your device ID number and I'm sure all the past adventures aren't keeping current activation plans. Thoughts?

Great info everyone, Keep it coming!

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Personal Tracking Device on 02/26/2012 17:59:50 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 09/08/2015 15:35:54 MDT.