Last updated: 24-Oct-18
I first came across Spot after I had gone out for a long run/scramble on my own in the desert hills which surround the tiny oasis of Tighmert in the Sahara and had climbed up onto the ridge and traversed it, only to find that the descent was both difficult and in some places quite dangerous.
There was nothing life threatening but I realised that if I fell and twisted or broke something – quite possible – I would be in a fix because no-one would actually be able to find me.
When I got safely back home, I was told about Spot and so I asked to give their tracker a go. The Gen 3 is basically a live satellite tracker, through which you can spot where the person carrying it is, and follow their progress or go to their aid if necessary.
- Tracking: SPOT Gen3’s customised tracking features sends track updates when you are moving and stops when you do. It is motion sensitive.
- S.O.S.: If you push the S.O.S button, GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center provides your GPS coordinates and information to local response teams – for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America and 1-1-2 responders in Europe. The S.O.S. button is for emergencies only.
- Check in: To let family and friends know you’re ok when you’re out of mobile phone range (or out of battery), you can send a pre-programmed text message with GPS coordinates or an email with a link to Google Maps™ to your contacts with your location – up to ten people pre-programmed. Your stored waypoints can be easily integrated into a SPOT Shared Page or SPOT Adventure account.
- Help/SPOT S.O.V. (Save Our Vehicle): Alert your personal contacts that you need help in non-life-threatening situations. Or, use SPOT S.O.V. for professional services on land. (Additional service required).
- Custom message: Stay in touch while off the grid by sending your custom message. Set up a message before leaving to send to contacts with your GPS location. Use this feature as a secondary OK message or transfer your personal help alert to this message function if you are using a SPOT S.O.V. service on your Help button.
- RRP: £124.90
- Height 3.43″ (8.72 cm)
- Width 2.56″ (6.5 cm)
- Thickness 1″ (2.54 cm)
- Weight 4.0 oz (114g) with Lithium batteries
Operating temp -22F to 140F (-30C to 60C)
Operating altitude -328ft to +21,320ft (-100m to +6,500m)
- Humidity rated MIL-STD-810F, Method 507.3, 95% to 100% cond.
- Vibration rated Per SAE J1455
- Impact, water & dust resistant Submersible up to 1m for 30 minutes
PROS: what’s good about the SPOT GEN 3 satellite tracker
It is very small, light and robust. It uses batteries so you aren’t reliant on electricity (although you can also use rechargeable batteries) and it is easy to attach to your hydration vest, although it must be able to see the sky so you can’t put it inside.
It has all the functions you need to show where you are at any given time and the motion sensing means that it also shows if you have stopped for longer than usual. This could alert your contacts if the stops are very long or unplanned.
It works off the grid, where there is no mobile phone coverage, so if you have it with you, you can feel safe in the knowledge that someone knows where you are even when the phone isn’t working.
If you come up with a REAL emergency, all you have to do is press the S.O.S button and a message will be sent to the emergency services in your location. I did not actually try this feature as calling out emergency services when there is no emergency is a total no no! But I triple checked with the Spot help team and they assured me that it would work anywhere in the world.
The Spot is an excellent way for people to track you for interest as well as emergency if you are doing a longer expedition.
CONS: what’s not so good about the SPOT GEN 3 satellite tracker
My one con is that I found it difficult to understand how to use it initially.
This could partially be because I was using a test piece of kit which meant I couldn’t register in my own name and so the setting up of email addresses for contacts in the beginning and the information you need to add for those contacts was a bit problematic.
The mechanism itself is super easy, but I did also find the subscription side of it a bit confusing (again that could be down to the testing – see above).
This is an excellent personal safety device and if you are considering a longer adventure where you will be out of range or off the grid, I would seriously consider investing in one. It is also useful if you run out across country on your own.
Really, it is an insurance policy for if something goes wrong when you are doing something solo. It also gives you good tracking for sharing with others later.
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