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Spot Gen3 usefulness?


Original Post
Crushtian Black · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 295

Hey guys! 

I’ve been wanting to get an emergency/personal locator beacon type device for some time now as I’ve found myself in a few situations in the backcountry where I’d be totally f*ked without emergency medical contact if something happened. The Spot Gen3 is currently on sale for 50% off at REI so I was thinking I’d pick one up on sale. I’ve read reviews and know all the functionality of it, I’d just like to hear some personal anecdotal information from some climbers on how/if they found it a useful, worthwhile purchase (or namely whether or not to upgrade to a Delorme Inreach Explorer). 


Thanks!

beatfeet · · Nashville, TN · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 5

I've used one in patagonia, the himalaya, and alaska.  Never needed it for rescue purposes, so thus far it's only made a couple folks back home panic when they tracked us bailing off into the patagonian ice cap on an aborted climb.  But they were able to get our "I'm ok" check ins for what that's worth.  I'm contemplating upgrading to the inreach for all the obvious reasons.  Would let go of my perfectly good gen3 for $40 if REI has them for $75+ tax.  

SkyB · · PDX, OR · Joined May 2012 · Points: 0

SPOT is also good for those situations when you don't have cell coverage and something essential dies on your car. 

baffledsloth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

There are better alternatives if you just want a button to press to summon SAR. $250ish for a PLB instead, and no annual fee or fees of any kind after purchase. Lightest/smallest: Ocean Signal Rescueme PLB1. Most well known: ACR Resqlink. Another option, heavier: McMurdo Fastfind. I have the PLB1, it's 4oz and the battery lasts 7 years. Got it for $240 off amazon.

Ryan Marsters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 976

Two way communication is near essential in a true rescue situation, not to mention a simple courtesy for the volunteers trying to decide the extent of resources they need to allocate for you.

I've used both a Spot (poor to fair) and InReach (fair to decent). The resources expended by SAR and remote medical advice received were fairly critical components that would not have been possible without two way communication. The only thing I dislike about either is the devices' chain of communication and vetting procedures. They both could eliminate a couple middle men to increase response time, particularly internationally.

Jonathan Awerbuch · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 36
baffledsloth wrote:

There are better alternatives if you just want a button to press to summon SAR. $250ish for a PLB instead, and no annual fee or fees of any kind after purchase. Lightest/smallest: Ocean Signal Rescueme PLB1. Most well known: ACR Resqlink. Another option, heavier: McMurdo Fastfind. I have the PLB1, it's 4oz and the battery lasts 7 years. Got it for $240 off amazon.

Wow, that's cool.

I used a spot for a while, and then I wasn't using it so tried to cancel the service. Two years later, I noticed that they had billed me for another year on my credit card. I looked back to the previous year and saw that they had continued to bill me annually despite me cancelling the service and getting a confirmation email. I called them and they wouldn't remove the most recent charge, so I had to dispute via my credit card company. What a nightmare. You can have my old Spot gen 2 if you pay for shipping.

Edit to add: if you google it, you'll find lots of stories like mine.

Shelton Hatfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 585

Stoked on my PLB1. Small and light enough that it always gets brought along. To me the inReach would be an obvious choice if cost wasn't a problem and the weight and size worked for your needs. I've used an inReach for work, and it was great, but I can't justify the price.

7+ years of battery on the PLB1 with an option to send in for replacement and no monthly subscription? Yes please. Obviously not ideal if you want more than just an "oh shit button".

I've heard of people having issues with the reliability of the SPOT, specifically. I'm sure that they function as intended more often than not, but no thanks.

*Edited to be less controversial

Crushtian Black · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 295

Wow thanks for the great responses guys! It seems like it may be worth it to upgrade to the Inreach Explorer, but I don’t know if I spend enough time in the backcountry just yet to justify the price. I like he idea of the PLB, although I think my gf would really appreciate the functionality of the “I’m okay” feature of the Spot. Tough to justify because of the annual fee and it seems like a good amount of people have had poor customer service issues with the Spot. Tough decision. 

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 240

I have an older InReach that I picked up after having a Spot.   For me is worth the extra cash to be able to send texts to my wife or give friends last minute plan changes when they are driving out to meet me in the desert.   My wife really likes the fact that I can text with the InReach and it gives her great peace of mind.  I use it a few times a month on climbing day trips when I am out of cell range.  Don’t waste your money on the Spot. 

baffledsloth · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

I have an older InReach that I picked up after having a Spot.   For me is worth the extra cash to be able to send texts to my wife or give friends last minute plan changes when they are driving out to meet me in the desert.   My wife really likes the fact that I can text with the InReach and it gives her great peace of mind.  I use it a few times a month on climbing day trips when I am out of cell range.  Don’t waste your money on the Spot. 


Yeah for me it would either be the inreach or a PLB, roughly the same cost yearly for the delorme with more function.


Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

I just purchased a Spot Gen 3 for a solo backcountry trip in a remote area of Utah. My wife was very appreciative of the "I'm OK" check-ins and it gave me peace of mind for emergencies. Actually it was the vehicle break-down aspect - I was doing extensive 4x4 off-grid - that was more comforting than the SAR call out capability. I really wouldn't want an SAR response for a broken drive-train.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Jonathan Awerbuch wrote:

Wow, that's cool.

I used a spot for a while, and then I wasn't using it so tried to cancel the service. Two years later, I noticed that they had billed me for another year on my credit card. I looked back to the previous year and saw that they had continued to bill me annually despite me cancelling the service and getting a confirmation email. I called them and they wouldn't remove the most recent charge, so I had to dispute via my credit card company. What a nightmare. You can have my old Spot gen 2 if you pay for shipping.

Edit to add: if you google it, you'll find lots of stories like mine.

And there are similar stories with Garmin (who purchased DeLorme some years ago). From the Amazon reviews of the $450 InReach Explorer:

This is actually a pretty good product, but, you're not just buying the device - you're also buying the service.

*** BEWARE: THE SERVICE IS A SCAM ***

Here's what happened. I am a Pilot and thought this would be a nice addition to my flight bag. I setup the service and selected the minimal service option since I expected to use it infrequently. My credit card expired during my service contract and Delorme sent me an email that I found in my Outlook Spam folder informing me that my service was deactivated. These things happen so I called the next day (within 12 hours of their email) to give them the new credit card number and restore the service. I was SHOCKED to be informed that since my service had lapsed they would require me to pay all of the remaining payments on my contract term - (around $149) - in order for me to open a new contract on the device. Ok, I thought - I'll pre-pay the rest of my contract - my card DID expire and I forgot this was one of the automatic monthly payments going out on that card.

The very friendly rep then informed me that I would not be pre-paying the remaining payments but rather paying out the initial contract so that I could then re-subscribe under a new contract.

*** if your credit card expires.... and you don't remember to update it.... you will pay a lump sum equal to ALL your remaining service months and receive NO SERVICE for those payments. ***

*** If you don't pay they "lock" your device and send you to a collection agency ***

Did they copy this from an early 90s cell phone contract? I'm pretty sure this would be an illegal consumer contract, however, for under $200 it's not worth calling my attorney. I just want to make sure this doesn't happen to someone else

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
cmqr9001 Black wrote:

The Spot Gen3 is currently on sale for 50% off at REI so I was thinking I’d pick one up on sale.

It's also 50%  off on the Spot website until Dec 31.

Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 279

If you're thinking of buying an InReach then try to get the older model DeLorme InReach SE. If you hunt around you might be able to find one for around $250. The newer Garmin-branded models are a lot more expensive, and they're no different as far as satellite messaging is concerned. What they do add is some mediocre GPS navigation & mapping features that are comparable to a standalone GPS from 15 years ago. If you think you need those features a smartphone app will do a better job for $10-$20 or so.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Kyle Tarry wrote:

If you have a PLB, no news is good news (i.e. if they don't have to go rescue you, that's pretty much the same as "I'm ok" all the time).

Unless you're incapacitated in some manner.


akafaultline · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 225

I have the spot and am happy with it.  The inreach hasn’t been worth the extra $$ and the monthly plans are $$$ as well.  I can kind of forget about the spot monthly fee more or less. I’ve used it all over alaska and Mexico and Canada and the southwest desert.   In addition it is durable as crap. Drove over one with my 3/4 ton truck and had a tiny crack thati just needed to seal again-spot even said they’d send me a new one just because-i haven’t bothered.i find the reception adequate but most of the time that i use it I’m well above treeline or on the shore of Alaska oceans. 


Honestly for the durability alone i like the spot-and the company just offering to replace it without me asking was cool. It seems to be fast and accurate on location-even when boating in tiny alcoves on the ocean or remote spots.  

I disagree that silence is golden and means everything is fine-i personally like leaving a check in case of a bear mauling, boat capsize, rock fall etc so people know where you last were and that expedites the search much sooner and much more accurately.  That’s one reason i don’t have a plb with no “check in” option.  In addition-i had a motorcycle break down 20 miles in the backcountry-the spot had the “help option-but not an emergency.” My family came with a truck and picked me up. With just a plb i wouldn’t have had that option and i would have been walking back 20 miles.  

Jonathan Awerbuch · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 36
Marc801 C wrote:

And there are similar stories with Garmin (who purchased DeLorme some years ago). From the Amazon reviews of the $450 InReach Explorer:

Ugh, and I had such high hopes for my new InReach. Thank you for the heads up.

FWIW, if you only need the service a few months out of the year, the Garmin service is (theoretically) much cheaper. Spot is now $200 per year. Garmin freedom plan is $25 per year plus $15 per month that you want it active (or about $144 per year for the annual contract option).

Skibo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 5

I guess billing is sort of like water knots.  Keep track of your credit card expiration and expenses, and you probably won't have problems.  I get a billing statement from Garmin on a monthly basis via email--easy to check.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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