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  1. #1
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    SPOT Personal Locator Beacon

    Not sure if this the right place to post this, so mods please redirect if necessary.

    Since the majority of my 2-3 rides per week are solo, just thinking about some emergency response options in the unlikely event something bad happens. The favorite seems to be the Spot, but confused by all the plans for their monthly or annual subscription services. Any other options being used out there?

  2. #2
    Now, THAT'S gonna hurt!
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    Been rolling with a SPOT for several years. Just figure out what you really intend to use it for and buy a plan accordingly. I'm still working with a Gen 1 unit so my only option is Basic Service and Tracking. I get the tracking option primarily since I use it when I tour on my motorcycle. I'm solo a lot so it gives my wife and friends that I may be heading to see, the ability to track my progress and know that I am still shiny side up and moving. I also use it when running my offshore boat on fishing trips.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, between fishing, snowboarding, motorcycling and trail riding, I just want to be able to notify search and rescue when I'm out on my own and need help. The tracking feature would be nice to have so my wife could be updated. The reviews for Spot Gen3's have been mixed with reliability issues. Thanks for your feedback.

  4. #4
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    I am also in the market for this. Besides the SPOT, I've been looking at the Delorme InReach. Costs more but has a lot more functionality. Probably go over to the store tomorrow and take a closer look at these devices plus hear what the store people have to say.

  5. #5
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    I have been using a Spot2 for a few years now. My wife and I have a system that works for us. I send a start/finish message when I am beginning. Then, I send an I'm OK message every hour on the hour. At the end of the ride I send the start/finish message again. Works for us.

    I have never had to use the help or SOS messages.

  6. #6
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    the SPOT is not really a personal locator beacon. Real PLB's use a totally different satellite network and tend to be more reliable when they're needed.

    PLBs and Satellite Messengers at REI

    SPOT, Delorme InReach, and Cerberus fall under "Satellite Messengers" and function a little differently and really have slightly different intended uses than real PLB's.

  7. #7
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    If you want simple extreme emergency rescue consider the McMurdo Fastfind. Only cost to buy and no subscription charges. Five year battery life on mine. For emergency only. No messaging.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    the SPOT is not really a personal locator beacon. Real PLB's use a totally different satellite network and tend to be more reliable when they're needed.

    PLBs and Satellite Messengers at REI

    SPOT, Delorme InReach, and Cerberus fall under "Satellite Messengers" and function a little differently and really have slightly different intended uses than real PLB's.
    Thanks for clarifying.

  9. #9
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    I"ve had a spot 2 for a few years now. I just do the basic plan, lets me send a pre typed custom message, ok, help and emergency. Never had to do the help or emergency (thankfully). It's always sent the message through, with an accurate location. I wonder if some of the folks having reliability issues aren't letting it get a fix on the satellites and giving it time to send the message. The way I use it (occasional use, off unless I'm going to send a message) I figure it needs at least 5 minutes to get a fix and a "handshake" with the communication satellites.
    I'm looking forward to regretting this.......

  10. #10
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    I'm using a Spot 2 (son uses my Spot 1 now) and have the annual sub + tracking.
    I like the tracking option as then I don't have to press the buttons during the day.

    I have the OK button set to txt & email "All OK, just checking in", and the second button "On my way home".

    Son's profile (when he was using my Spot 2) was "All OK" and "Spending another day"

  11. #11
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    I know a guy who dropped a SPOT on a long remote expedition and he was using the tracking. because the thing didn't move for days, the friends and family watching it got nervous and called the local SAR (that knew about his expedition and his checkin plans and whatnot), and just for "training" they went out to see if they could find him. guy was fine, and ahead of schedule because he knew people would be nervous about the SPOT transmitting a static location for several days.

    But it is something to think about WRT using any kind of tracking function. Personally, I don't WANT people to be able to keep such close tabs on me. I leave a plan of where I'm going, and people can come looking for me if I miss my checkin. I'd rather use a regular PLB for emergency messages only, so that I don't ever create the expectation that I'm going to allow people to follow me everywhere. If someone wants it "for peace of mind" then they will have to take peace of mind from my other preparations and the ways that I have taken into account my personal safety.

  12. #12
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    ^^^^ As I'm sure you're aware, the tracking function can be turned off (or the service not purchased at all) on a Spot. I'm with you that I don't necessarily want people expecting to track my every move.
    I'm looking forward to regretting this.......

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyspoke View Post
    ^^^^ As I'm sure you're aware, the tracking function can be turned off (or the service not purchased at all) on a Spot. I'm with you that I don't necessarily want people expecting to track my every move.
    I'm aware of that. Like I said, I don't want people to have the expectation that they can follow me around everywhere when I'm out. If I bought something like that and used it ONCE, that expectation would be there. I also think that if I bought something like that with the capability, but never activated it, there'd be pressure from certain people in my family to use it. I've received comments from certain family members about being nervous about me taking long trips into the woods, and wanting me to provide them with nearly constant contact. Frankly, that's not an idea I'm willing to entertain. The reason I go out is so that I can get my mind off of certain things, and family tends to wind up on that list at times.

    If I bought a PLB, there wouldn't be that expectation. My family would know that I could contact emergency services if necessary, but would otherwise realize that they should not expect to hear from me on a regular basis. They can live with intermittent phone/text communication for that. Where I live has pretty good cell coverage, anyway. In places with the worst coverage, I can usually climb a hill and get a text message out, at least. It may not be good enough to have consistent coverage across the whole ride (for example to use a phone app for live tracking), but there also aren't enormous gaps in coverage.

    SPOTs can be rented for specific occasions if I ever want a tracking feature.

  14. #14
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    I've found people don't really care about following your tracks unless you're late for dinner and they want to know where you are.
    It's not constant contact as it's only one way.

    5 minutes of biking from home and I'm out of cell coverage.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    I've found people don't really care about following your tracks unless you're late for dinner and they want to know where you are.
    It's not constant contact as it's only one way.

    5 minutes of biking from home and I'm out of cell coverage.
    I don't really care about people watching the tracks all the time or not.

    It's more about a few specific people who don't care what I do any other time, but when I go out into the woods, they worry like hell and expect me to check in on a specific regular basis, tell them where I am, or whatever the case may be. Buying something like a SPOT would create unrealistic expectations for them that I can ALWAYS keep them informed, which would be feeding their irrational fears. Re-read about the guy I know who lost dropped his SPOT down into an impenetrable ravine and got his friends and family worried. There was never any issue, but the SPOT created anxiety because the tracking signal didn't move for days. His friends and family handled the situation pretty well and there was never an unnecessary emergency created...but his friends and family were already used to him doing trips like this before the SPOT came into the picture.

    My wife knows what's involved and has a healthy response to things. I would be okay with taking measures to keep her informed of my status. Not tracking, but once daily okay messages would be good for her, and she would not develop any ridiculous expectations of me giving her excessive information. My other family, on the other hand, WOULD get weird about it, and they WOULD get jumpy and probably call for an emergency evac in the event of a minor glitch.

  16. #16
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    I have had a spot for quite awhile now. I have the 1st generation. I just have the message side of the service. I have never purchased the tracking side. Works well.
    I have though of getting a newer one for the size and weight.

  17. #17
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    I use my Spot a lot. Just today, my wife knew I went riding but when I got to the place I thought I was going to ride, the snow wasn't to my liking so I changed locations. No one knew that and I was not in an area where my cell phone worked. It was easy to send my wife a "spot". And then turn on the tracking so she knew where I was. It's not for everyone to know where I'm at, it's just for her. Tracking can be made public or private.

  18. #18
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    Nate, I'm on board with your rationale. I carry a PLB and have no desire for a SPOT for some reasons you mention.

    For me, a SPOT is more likely to be a problem because of my own failing to updating messages or otherwise keep in touch. I don't want to add that activity to my solo rides for mainly that reason.


    This may help the uninitiated:

    PLBs and Satellite Messengers: How to Choose

  19. #19
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    The problem with a PLB is that you have to be able to use it when you need help. If one is only doing short rides on designated trails then neither are probably needed.

  20. #20
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    Agree with your first point, alph.

    I suppose we each have to balance what we expect out of solo adventures versus acceptable safety measures.

    Cheers...

  21. #21
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    Re: SPOT Personal Locator Beacon

    Quote Originally Posted by She&I View Post
    Nate, I'm on board with your rationale. I carry a PLB and have no desire for a SPOT for some reasons you mention.

    For me, a SPOT is more likely to be a problem because of my own failing to updating messages or otherwise keep in touch. I don't want to add that activity to my solo rides for mainly that reason.


    This may help the uninitiated:

    PLBs and Satellite Messengers: How to Choose
    They list all the features and response times of plb's and gloss over satellite messengers like they aren't worth the time to do any research.

  22. #22
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    Thanks for all the great responses! Ended up picking up the Spot Gen3 from Amazon. Had a $100 gift card sitting around, so I put it to good use.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    The problem with a PLB is that you have to be able to use it when you need help. If one is only doing short rides on designated trails then neither are probably needed.
    This is where telling people where you're going and when you intend to return is important. I never go riding anywhere without at least my wife knowing where I am and when I intend to finish. That kind of thing doesn't require technology.

    With a SPOT, you also need to be able to use it to signal for help. If you use tracking, someone can check your tracking page and see if you've moved. But if you have not moved, that does not automatically indicate that you're in trouble. It could mean you had a mechanical and are delayed because you have to fix it. You could have dropped your SPOT (as in the example I cited above). The SPOT could be having technical problems, which do occur from time to time. There's no guarantee unless you push the SOS button, which is really no different than activating a PLB when you need help.

    If you're WITH others, you have the possibility that someone else can activate the device in an emergency, which is another layer of security not often talked about that does not rely on technology, but can augment it (as someone can also try to get help in other ways).

  24. #24
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    Been carrying an inReach SE since it first came out. Just great. Turn on tracking and anyone can find me, the two way communication solves all of the is it a big problem or no problem just gonna be late issues.

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