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Any new SPOT input/reviews?
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Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 05/31/2012 14:36:02 MDT Print View

I did a search and found some old reviews and some not very helpful threads where most everybody participating lacked actual SPOT experience. I'm considering getting SPOT and I would like to get recent user feedback before spending my money.

I've seen posts suggesting that Globalstar launched new satelites, so I'm thinking that the SPOT service should be better.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 05/31/2012 14:50:11 MDT Print View

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/spot2_personal_locator_review

But you have to be a member to view the article.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: SPOT on 05/31/2012 14:53:29 MDT Print View

I've had a gen2 for 24 months now, and am reasonably happy with it. There are still cases (thick trees in narrow valleys esp.) where multiple signals did not go through. I cannot recall a case where I had a false positive, i.e. the indicator said a message had gone through when it did not.

The addition of the custom message is especially useful. My wife and I use it to coordinate pick up times and signal changes in routes.

Don Abernathey
(OldGuysRule) - F

Locale: PNW
Been using one from the beginning on 05/31/2012 23:20:59 MDT Print View

Here's a relevant read that you might find helpful: https://sites.google.com/site/hobbyhintstricksideas/Home/spot-messenger-information

Seth R
(Lerxst) - F

Locale: Northeast
Good link, Don on 06/01/2012 03:18:36 MDT Print View

I have been using a Spot 2 this year in the White's. Essentially it's a hall pass for me to go solo. My wife can track me, and I get to play outside. I've used it on four hikes and it seems to track about 75% of the time. Check in/Ok messages are about 90%. Ascents and ridges have been flawless. Descending has been an issue as far as track goes. I'm really unsure why? At first I thought it was the ridge blocking out the signal, but all the ridges I've gone down are in different directions. All ascents and descents have tree cover. Most ridges are open. I mount it facing up on my shoulder strap. Perhaps I should put it on the back of my pack? So far so good.

Koen Derks
(Pantalaimon) - M

Locale: Netherlands/Norway
Re: Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 06/01/2012 08:04:49 MDT Print View

I have used it on a couple of shirt trips. The intro on the BPL review stated it is not essential for comfort and safety. It's not so simple because in some more difficult weather/terrain(or where you don't have a lot of experience) it is wise to carry one especially while travelling solo. For your family to let you know you're OK, or for your family and yourself if things get really bad.

But does it work? Yes. The OK messages are coming through(SOS luckily not tried). The Tracking function is not 100% accurate, because it depends on terrain and obstruction to sky. Other functions like SOS keep trying if it can't send, Tracking mode has less priority.
I have to attach the SPOT2 to one shoulder strap for good view of the sky. Some reviews talk about very limited amount of messages coming through. Maybe they put it in their bags, but how much accuracy do you need? I find it is good enough, how much accuracy do you need while walking?

Very helpful product, maybe even the most wise product I bought.

Jim Larkey
(jimlarkey) - MLife

Locale: NoCO
Re: Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 06/01/2012 08:20:59 MDT Print View

Financial...SPOT didn't improve bottom line...

Gstar

Devon Cloud
(devoncloud)

Locale: Southwest
mine works fine on 06/01/2012 08:37:48 MDT Print View

Mione is the newest model. I got mine so my wife would also be okay with me going solo. I sent her two messages a day to let her know that I was okay. All went through without a hitch in the Ouichita National Forest in Arkansas, pretty thick cover. I like the devise... heavy and not the safest of the emergency help beacons but is good for what it is. It's a bit heavy, but worth the peace of mind it give my wife... and given I am a big person that has more potential to get hurt on the trail I think it is worth it for myself too I suppose.

Bill Law
(williamlaw) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 06/01/2012 10:31:28 MDT Print View

I've used a Spot for years, the Spot2 for two years, I think.

I'm perfectly happy with it. I had a good experience with their Customer Support, also.

I do not use the real-time tracking, just for sending daily Ok messages. Almost all get delivered.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 06/01/2012 11:04:42 MDT Print View

I've been using a Spot Connect (pairs with my iPhone) for about six months and while I like what it does, it's certainly less than 100%. Since I've not used the regular Spot device, I can't say if the Spot Connect is worse than the regular Spot.

I've found the tracking to be particularly poor with probably about 50% of my track points being generated correctly. I mention "correctly" because often when the Spot loses it's lock it will pile up previous track points that it couldn't send, onto my current location (it tries to send one every ten minutes). If it can't send a track point at the correct interval, it saves it and sends it when it gets a lock... fairly useless in my opinion and gives the false impression that I have stopped moving. I suspect it's just a way for the Spot folks to claim that a higher percentage of their points are being sent... pretty poor in my opinion. I have tested under moderately heavy tree cover, carrying it in hand, pointing skyward, and watched it fail to send track point after track point. I doubt I will renew the tracking feature next year.

The OK messages have a better reliability but that is probably because when I send an OK message I tend to look for an open area when I send it. I really like the custom message feature of the Spot Connect. I can compose a custom message on the Spot's iPhone app while in the field ($.50 per message). It also supports over a dozen canned messages that can be send to selectable mailing lists (this is part of the paid for service, no extra charge like the custom messages). That's a very nice feature (ie. so I can register my bosses email and send him a message to say I won't be at work on Monday :). The custom message feature and multiple mailing lists are enough to keep me happy with the Spot Connect.

I like the idea of the Spot but the reliability needs to be improved. I wish a company like Garmin (that builds quality receivers) would enter this area of service.

Edited by skopeo on 06/01/2012 11:06:20 MDT.

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Works except when it doesn't on 06/01/2012 11:51:15 MDT Print View

My wife and I have been using the Spot 2 for over a year now, since reading the very positive review here. We don't use the tracking feature, just use it to send OK messages a couple times a day so her mother doesn't panic and send out the cavalry (we got the Spot after she almost called out SAR when we were on an overnight, because the temperature had gotten down to 20F and she was convinced we had frozen to death).

We have had 100% success in sending OK messages, EXCEPT for the trip a year ago when it sent the OK from the starting trailhead, the OK 4 days later at the ending trailhead, and NOTHING in between. We were in the White Mountains of NH and I was sending OKs every evening when we made camp and the next morning before we left. By Day 4 her Mom and my parents were frightened enough to call the State Police, who apparently didn't understand what a Spot is because they just said nobody's phone works in the Whites; don't worry about it.

I had been leaving the unit undisturbed, face up, for the 6 minutes Spot claims it needs to send the message, then turning it off to conserve battery life. This had worked fine in our previous trips, but not this one. Two changes I've made since then: I leave the unit running for at least 15 minutes, and I send a mid-day OK, usually at an overlook with a much better view of the sky than we often get in camp. We haven't had a failure since then, but I just don't trust it. We are seriously considering the new Inreach for Smartphone when our Spot subscription runs out (in order to get delivery confirmation and have two-way messaging in an emergency) but it's a lot more weight, volume, and cost.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
device on 06/01/2012 13:33:42 MDT Print View

on the last page of the comments you can read an update from one of the reviewers from the BPL test ...

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/spot2_personal_locator_review.html?forum_thread_id=39875&startat=60

particularly concerning is

Fourth, I have now had two SPOT-2 devices COMPLETELY FAIL while on hiking trips, one in May2011 and the other in Oct2011. The GPS chip stopped working, and the devices were dead-weight. In both cases SPOT replaced the unit. However, this level of reliability is a huge problem. This is one reason I think it's critical that the home-base knows that an absence of messages does not necessarily mean there is a problem. I'm still a fan of the SPOT concept and functional design. However, the reliability problems I've had make me eager to see some other company offer a competitive product.

an emergency device needs to work ... period ... hopefully SPOT has fixed any device issues ...

Seth R
(Lerxst) - F

Locale: Northeast
Well.... on 06/01/2012 14:57:32 MDT Print View

"an emergency device needs to work ... period ... hopefully SPOT has fixed any device issues ..."

Any critical electronic device has the ability to fail. From airplanes, to anesthesia machines, to SPOT's. Hopefully you have the ability/tools/mental stability to overcome the failure. I don't mean you personally, BTW.

Carl Zimmerman
(CarlZ993) - MLife
SPOT Device on 06/01/2012 15:28:06 MDT Print View

I've owned both models of the SPOT. Been very happy with both of them. The newer version is lighter and you're less likely to inadvertently activate the 'Help' or 'SOS' ('911' in the older model) buttons. This used to happen w/ the older model. A few year ago at a Boy Scout High Adventure Base in Canada, I was required to remove the batteries while canoeing with the older model. Earlier in the season, a 'Help' message was set out accidentally. You had a bunch of parents called the Base wanting their group rescued. The 'Guide' on the canoe trip had a Sat phone (kept off) and they never called in a problem (as there wasn't one).

The newer model has removable plastic covers over the 'Help' and 'SOS' buttons (not all countries use '911' as their emergency number). In NZ, I had to use the 'SOS' button with the newer model. I came upon a really bad motorcycle wreck in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. No cell coverage whatsoever. It worked like a charm (I also had other drivers go for help in opposite directions). When the police showed up, they were asking if anyone had an emergency beacon. They also got two belated calls for assistance on the two drivers.

It should be noted that the SPOT operator called the two emergency contact people on my list (step-son & daughter of the couple we were traveling with). They questioned them about any health issues (as there were many with my wife and the other couple). Once the NZ police found out the we weren't injured, they notified SPOT that we were okay. SPOT in turn contacted the emergency contact people and let them know that we were okay.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
What would you want if you life depended on it on 06/01/2012 15:36:34 MDT Print View

In my opinion, SPOT devices are not reliable enough to be used for SOS purposes. If your primary use will be to send OK messages then you obviously are in good shape and can take the time to find a good location. However, when you are seriously hurt, alone and cannot move to a better location you need it to work 100%. If that's your primary purpose for the device then I would get something like McMurdo Fast Find 210 linked below. It uses a much much more reliable communication system with 406MHz signal to the subscription-free COSPAS-SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite) system and also produces a homing signal for precise location.

http://www.rei.com/product/791972/mcmurdo-fast-find-210-personal-locator-beacon-with-gps

Devon Cloud
(devoncloud)

Locale: Southwest
RE: What would you want if you life depended on it on 06/01/2012 15:49:10 MDT Print View

I guess it all depends on what you want your devise to do... IF your main reason is to have an emergency beacon in case you get hurt, then you would be correct and spend two or three hundred dollars on a good beacon locator.

If your main concern is to let a spouse know you are okay when you are by yourself backpacking, then the becon is not the answer and the spot is.

Koen Derks
(Pantalaimon) - M

Locale: Netherlands/Norway
Re: RE: What would you want if you life depended on it on 06/01/2012 16:22:07 MDT Print View

That's right. And what about a mix of those? How accurate does such a device need to be?
Some people tend to react negatively if a 200 dollar PLB it doesn't work like a 500 dollar PLB. Just because it is not 100%.
For the price paid it is a versatile peace of equipment I would say.

Mike W
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Spot2 on 06/01/2012 17:58:23 MDT Print View

I really like my Spot2. It does what I need it to do which is keepIng my immediate family updated with my status when I am out hiking. They know that not receiving an update is not a reason to call SAR and even if they received an SOS, it may be due to someone else needing help that does not have a Spot or PLB.

Jim Larkey
(jimlarkey) - MLife

Locale: NoCO
Re: Any new SPOT input/reviews? on 06/01/2012 18:53:13 MDT Print View

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/23917903/detail.html

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: RE: What would you want if you life depended on it on 06/01/2012 19:44:39 MDT Print View

"If your main concern is to let a spouse know you are okay when you are by yourself backpacking, then the becon is not the answer and the SPOT is."

Provided your spouse knows to Not freak out if OK messages suddenly stop.

Our understanding is "Don't worry until the sheriff calls."
So I carry the McMurdo FastFind 210 mentioned above, making the "I'm OK" the default.




"Some people tend to react negatively if a 200 dollar PLB it doesn't work like a 500 dollar PLB. Just because it is not 100%. "

Sort of like a $200 brake job instead of the $500 brake job. You hope they work when you need them, and hope they don't just quit without warning. But hey, what's the worst thing that could happen, right?

Edited by greg23 on 06/01/2012 19:51:04 MDT.