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Reader Reviews

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Axonn,LLC Spot Satellite Messenger

in First Aid and Survival Gear & Accessories

Average Rating
2.75 / 5 (4 reviews)

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Bob Chilson
( bob.chilson )

eastern high sierra
Axonn,LLC Spot Satellite Messenger on 11/27/2007 09:17:36 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

This product will enhance safety to a new, high standard. It allows you to make a list of people to contact in case of an emergency to send help or just to check in to let them know you are OK. They are contacted by mobile phone message and computer email. You pre-makeup the message and you can set up to have as many contacts as you want. The unit is also able to contact an all out search and rescue mode. I have tested my unit in the canyons of the eastern high sierras and it worked getting a message out, while my cell phone had no service. The Spot is also able to track you on Google maps every 10 minutes for an addtional fee, but just the basic service is only around $100 a year. The computer address for the Spot messenger is I know this sounds like an advertisement, but the Spot messenger will probably revolutionize safety communications for just about all aspects of hiking, motorcycle touring, backcountry skiing etc. I'm sure there is a review coming by BPL. I have tested the spot in cloudy snowing weather and it appears not to work. I assume it is because there is not a clear shot of the sky. Hopefully I could hang on until the sky clears. Yes, it is a pain to watch to see if the message is sent, but now I just leave it alone for a half hour or so and assume that if it is clear, that the message is sent. So far it works 100% that way. As for me, it is better than nothing, at least I have a chance of rescue while I am trying to help myself. If I were to find that I could save or help myself then I would leave some sort of message where I had been in trouble, and then notify whoever at the first opportunity.

Edited by bob.chilson on 12/19/2007 12:48:28 MST.

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Mike Saxton
( Hokie )
Spot Messenger on 12/01/2007 02:46:14 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

Enthusiasm for SPOT is very logical with its potential, but I recommend awaiting a thorough BPL review which I believe was noted somewhere would occur. I used mine on the AT (NY-CT section)several weeks ago and found it transmitted only 2 times in 12 when I thought it had sent messages. It never worked when I carried it on my hip, but only when I laid it out flat on the ground pointing to the sky for a period of at least 15-20 minutes. Also, batteries that are supposed to last a year, where down to 30% according to the red light indicator it includes after 2 days in the cold (30's with ice and rain). When it works, it is fantastic, but I was alarmed to realize how seldom it actually transmitted and I realistically could not tell when it had or had not. The lights "glow" for 5 seconds when it transmits but unless you stare at it for 15-20 minutes waiting for the "connection", you might miss it. I suspect the real "911" feature will work reliably and I was only testing the other two as I did not want to test the 911. I am still convinced this is a useful item and am unclear why it performed so poorly for me. I planned to wait and see what a more thorough review from BPL notes, and continue to hope my experience was isolated. For the few times it did send the signal, the google map feature was fantastic and accurate.

Edited by Hokie on 12/01/2007 02:47:00 MST.

Brian Gunney
( gunney )

Northern California
great when it works, but I can't depend on it on 06/21/2010 18:43:18 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I used the Spot (original version) on a backpacking trip and
a long and fast day hike.

The good news is that the Spot transmits reliably from the
road when placed on my auto dash board. It also worked well
when placed on the ground for 20 minutes with a clear view
of the sky. (I've not used the unit under overcast skies,
however.) Unfortunately, there are lots of bad news.

My unit didn't send anything after being left out, faced up,
for 5 minutes with a wide open view of the sky. I attempted
this about 4 or 5 times during the day hike, and got
nothing. This is a bad limitation for my hike because I
didn't rest for more than 5 minutes at a time. I had a
10-minute lunch, but forgot to set the unit out until half
way through. Sat phones that I have used acquired and
connected to satellites in under a minute, so why does Spot
take so long?

The design is inappropriate for hiking use. These units
don't work well if they are not facing up. This is a bad
limitation because I can't hold it face up while using
hiking poles. My pack doesn't have a reliably flat,
up-facing surface to strap the Spot to. Even if I could
mount it face up on the top of my pack, I'm not sure I want
a strong electromagnetic signal being emitted that close to
my brain every 10 minutes. Although the clip seems to imply
that you can hang it vertically, the manual and my
experience clearly showed it would not work that way.

My unit got the wrong coordinate at a very critical time. I
was doing a one-way hike of the Ohlone Trail (SF Bay Area)
and told my wife I'd exit at either Sunol or Fremont,
depending on where I am when I send the help message. She
was told my coordinates were 99999,99999, which the Google
map said was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Those were clearly
invalid coordinates, so why didn't the unit try again to
acquire correct coordinates?

The unit eventually sent the correct coordinates, but by
then, my wife was already off guessing where I was. I had
the message sent to her phone, but I'm not sure how one
would easily find my location based on a text message. She
arrived an hour late, but the worst part was not knowing
whether the battery was too weak, the unit was
malfunctioning or maybe my wife had some emergency.

Some of these problems could be easily be remedied by better
feed back from the unit. I'd like to know: Did the unit
successfully send a message? Can I put it away and continue
hiking? Did it get the correct GPS coordinates? A
coordinate display would be extra useful because it would
replace basic GPS coordinate finding. I thought this was a
no-brainer until someone explained to me that the company
considered this feature but did not implement it because of
the added complexity of making the display waterproof. I
still think a display would be worth it.

I hope the second generation device works better.

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Allen C
( acurrano )

SF Bay Area
decent on 07/20/2014 10:32:37 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

Spot 2 worked ok on a section hike of the JMT in 2013. Tracking mode enabled, worked some of the time with some big gaps.

I recently emailed them to cancel the service as I rarely use it. They offered me a 50% reduction of the $100 annual fee if I renew. Not sure if I will do it but if you already have one this strategy could save you $50 on your renewal. You do need to contact them a month before your subscription ends or they automatically renew you.

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