"Spot" are there alternatives?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Longbow, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Longbow

    Longbow Vroooom

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    Like the title suggest, are there alternatives?

    This has been my first season riding a dual sport. I almost always go out with a friend, but there are times I go alone. Although I always tell family the area I will be riding in, but I still have it in the back of my mind. "What if" I should go down and get hurt. I don't always have cell reception up in the mountains.

    I have been looking at the Spot, but the more I read the reviews the more I feel it would be a major PITA to set up. And from what I understand it can run as much as $300.00 to get it up and going.

    I would love to hear of your experience with the Spot. Do you think it was a worth wile investment? Have you found an alternative?
    I am still very ignorant when it comes to these things and GPS's.

    Thank you in advance for your help and in site.
    #1
  2. El Gato

    El Gato Been here awhile

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    If you're looking for a lower-cost alternative the answer is no.

    If you're looking for a better unit with more functionality and 2-way SMS messaging look at the Delorme Inreach SE. Far superior, IMO, to the SPOT.
    #2
  3. Hikertrash

    Hikertrash Wasted Rock Ranger

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    The other competitor is Delorme Inreach. I've owned the Spot and after having two units replaced, I stopped using them and bought the INREACH. There are two types on INREACH, I've owned both but have the SE now for instant text messaging to family/friends. It costs more depending on the service you want, but it uses a much reliable satellite system (iridium). If you do a search on Delorme Inreach, you'll find quite a few threads. I like the fact that I can text from anywhere in the world whenever I want and text whatever I want, not just preset messages. You can't beat that unless you invest in a satellite phone.

    #3
  4. alaninsea

    alaninsea Been here awhile

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    I ended up pruchasing the ACR ResQLink for around $300.

    This unit ties in directly to the Search and Rescue satellite system, and accurate to within 100 yards. Once you purchase it, you register it by sending the serial and model number, your information, and emergency contact information to I beleive was NOAA. It does state that it is for use in Life Threatening Emergency Use Only. The unit requires line of site to the sky - that's it.

    No additonal yearly activation service fee for the Emergency Service Locating Service. I don't know if you have to pay for the rescue, but if you're needing to activate it - who cares. ACR recommends you send it back every 5 years to replace the battery.

    If you like the Spot feature, there is a way to utilize it to send info to friends and family for a yearly fee ( think it's $59 a year). Check their website for more info.

    This is the same style units utilized in boats and aircraft, but of course those are larger and more expensive. ResQlink is the size of a cell phone, and waterproof to around 10 feet. Best part is that you can still take it boating, hiking, hunting, etc with you.

    You pay more up front, but I beleive it's worth the cost and peace of mind.

    When I was researching the Spot style system, I didn't like the fact the Emergency portion of it requires a yearly fee. If you forgot to pay, the unit does not work.

    Check out for info on their system on the website (Google ACR EPIRB).

    Alan
    #4
  5. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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  6. Hikertrash

    Hikertrash Wasted Rock Ranger

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    LOL, they won't let you forget to pay. They make you set up for autopay. Some folks have mentioned how they didn't know that and were charged the $100 fee again without them knowing.
    #6
  7. StoneAgeMan

    StoneAgeMan Wanderer

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    I had the SPOT coverage for a while. They auto-bill your credit-card, so you can't "forget" to pay. Now if you're in the habit of closing your "old" credit cards and getting new ones AND you do the same with your email addresses, then the coverage might lapse.

    s
    #7
  8. sarhog

    sarhog Ride far...

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    There's an article in the fall 2013 edition of Ironbutt magazine about an android app called "BubblerGPS". I have an iPhone, so I have no experience with the app.
    Might be worth a read.
    #8
  9. Longbow

    Longbow Vroooom

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    Thanks for the help guys, it has really shed some light on the subject for me.
    I have been looking hard at the ACR PLB-375 ResQ Link Personal Locating Beacon by ACR and the DeLorme AG-009871-201 inReach SE
    But am really leaning towards the ACR unit.
    #9
  10. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Long timer

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    I'm very pleased with SPOT ! ! !
    However I did not like the auto-renewal part... I use prepaid Gift Cards for that kind of payment. They notified me 30 days ahead via email. I have access to Gift Cards for no extra charge at my bank.
    The peace-of-mind the SPOT gives my family is well worth the extra payment effort.
    Just my 2 cents...
    #10
  11. Chisenhallw

    Chisenhallw Avowed Pussbag

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    Some friends of mine in Southern MD recently took a trip up to northern Canada to ride on the Trans-Taiga. During that trip, a member of their crew came off his bike at speed. Aside from a concussion & being pretty shaken up, the rider was ultimately fine. However, at the time, it was dire enough that they activated the SPOT SOS system. Within 20 minutes the RCMP was on the way to their location. That was good enough for me to consider investing in the system for my next real long-distance trip.

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=913843&page=5

    Scroll down, the summation begins at post 64.
    #11
  12. Flounder

    Flounder Adventurer

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    I'm the technical editor for Overland Journal magazine. I just completed a six week review of PLBs and satellite trackers to be featured in a 15 page piece which is at the printer this week. It will be available in about 3 weeks.

    I'll try to offer a short brief. The InReach SE is probably the best thing out there for 2-way messaging with proper emergency service provided by the GEOS response center in Texas. The Cerberlink from Briartek is better for comms, but no so great for emergency services.

    PLBs will be the cheapest option due to the fact they do not require a subscription. But, they only summon help, and here's the catch....only if you can push the button.

    The Spot is still a great way to go, though. Totally depends on what your needs are. Tracking? Emergency comms? 2 way messaging?
    #12
  13. bluegroove

    bluegroove Motorcycle junkie

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    #13
  14. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    I would agree with Flounder's brief observations. I've used an ACR, SPOT I,II,Comm and both inReach units around the world.

    If minimalism is the objective, then an EPIRB is about as good as it gets. But, keep in mind that even NOAA has to make a call to "local" SAR/First Responders.

    As for the other options, I'm currently using the Delorme inReach SE and have found the service to be the most reliable of any of the commercial PLB's plus it has Two-way Text Messaging which works very well everywhere. If you are ever going to be traveling outside of North America, check the systems coverage maps. The inReach works everywhere around the world. I believe that on one of the inReach Service Plans you can also "suspend" your account for a portion of the year.
    #14
  15. StuInFH

    StuInFH Been here awhile

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    Maybe, but who doesn't want to also be able to make contact for non-emergency help when out of cell range? Like for a truck or fuel or just say no worry/gonna be delayed a few days cuz the fishing is good?

    DeLorme inReach SE works for me. :-)
    #15
  16. ZEmann

    ZEmann want to be riding

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    good timing I was just looking into the SPOT

    I find it strange that cell phones even when you don't pay can call 911

    but a emergency device like this won't

    I get it, but it's funny the phones do work because of liability but the emergency device won't because that is it's value or only commodity so to speak :eek1
    #16
  17. Hokem Malarky

    Hokem Malarky Been here awhile

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    I carry an ARC ResQlink but just started looking for something that also does non emergency messaging and tracking (and like the OP, not SPOT since I've read way too many bad reviews). Thanks for pointing out the Delorme InReach SE. I'll be giving that a serious look.
    #17