Are you happy with your SPOT?

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by bluegroove, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. jsb223

    jsb223 ADV Rookie

    May 18, 2006
    Waco, Texas USA
    I've got a Gen 2 with tracking.

    The tracking drops on occasion if you are moving fast under tree cover.

    In clear view it is near 100%.

    It's a peace of mind for the family device.

    The full txt message would be nice (gen 3 I believe)
    but I'll hang with this one for now.
  2. WYO George

    WYO George It's not you, it's me.

    Sep 1, 2005
    left of nowhere, WY
    Cool, it's yours in January.
    Klrhani likes this.
  3. C185N9921X

    C185N9921X Adventurer

    Apr 9, 2017
    Still have my original Gen 1.
    Works perfectly.
    Annual charges have almost doubled over the last 5 yrs, but still less than competition. only paid $50 for the unit. Replaced battery this year.
    Happy camper.
  4. bluegroove

    bluegroove Motorcycle junkie

    Feb 24, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks everyone for responding. So many different views it's hard to decide, but it's all helpful.
  5. I922sParkCir

    I922sParkCir 2000 R1150GS

    Feb 12, 2013
    Southern California
    I have the Spot Gen 3 and I would say it's send rate is about 95% in tracking mode and with an open sky 100% for messages.

    To me it's pretty much a no brainer:

    • InReach
      • Do you need two way messages?
      • Will you be in the open ocean, somewhere else outside of Spot's coverage?
        • The InReach clearly has complete global coverage, but I didn't need that.
    • Spot 3
      • Do you just need to send:
        • "I'm ok.",
        • Preset custom message like "I'm camping here/stopping here/we are heading back/we made to x.", "I need a hand."
        • "Send Helicopters." (SOS)
      • Need Tracking?
        • My girlfriend has this requirement for what I carry. She checks occasionally and knows who to contact if I haven't moved in a while.
    • EPIRB
      • Do you not want a subscription?
      • No need to let anyone know how you are doing.
      • Just need an emergency backup in case something goes wrong?
    Motor7 likes this.
  6. Hessian42

    Hessian42 Been here awhile

    Aug 12, 2012
    the end of the line
    used a spot i got as a gift from another inmate for three years on the road. Started with the basic of basic plans which used to cost $99 a year. After i stopped traveling decided to keep the service for weekend solo cycle and climbing trips then got hit with a mandatory service upgrade and fee increase of over 50%. called SPOT CS and after a lot of bitching and threatening to leave the service they credited me and brought me back to my original plan. Following year without an email, letter or any notice what so ever they pulled the same stunt again. Called CS again and this time they refused to budge. Ended up having to call my credit card and file a dispute. won the dispute got my money back and stuck the unit in the drawer. When i eventually travel long term again will be looking for something else to replace it. would never go back to spot based on their shady business practices.

    as for the service it self. i used the send a message home feature nightly and 99% of them went through. never had to use in an emergency.
  7. stormdog

    stormdog Long timer

    Feb 19, 2006
    Almost Southern Oregon
    I switched from a spot to an inReach for a couple of reasons
    But the main reason was that the one time when I did use my spot for a rescue, my wife was contacted by spot to confirm my general location before sending the info to the local authorities. Which is good, it avoids false alarms.
    The problem was it took my riding buddy 3 plus hours to phone her with the details and my location.
    I was flown almost 4 hours from home, so while I was in good hands, she was a mess, and it delayed her getting to the hospital I was flown to.
    Another big problem was we were in a steep canyon and had no way of knowing if the signal went out, so my buddy pushed his spot also. Which ment both our wives were spun out of control for hours
  8. EnduroRdr

    EnduroRdr Woods Racer & D/S Rider

    Feb 15, 2008
    Formerly South MS, LR-Ar, Houston-Tx, now BR-La
    Dropped my spot account (for same reasons you guys listed) and switched to inReach. (older Delorm yellow basic model), I’ve now had it a few months basic plan $15 a month with option to suspend if not needed, and I love the ability for 2 way texts (your wives would love that also).
    So far every test and text have worked. I’ve tested in rural MS, AL, AR and NC.
    Can’t speak to its performance out west but so far is been a good move for me.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. 45Guy

    45Guy Adventurer

    Feb 1, 2016
    Southeast AZ
    My InReach has worked 100% over the last three years in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.The Freedom plan is awesome, and I have had no problems changing the plan month to month as needed.
  10. LateToTheGame

    LateToTheGame Been here awhile

    May 9, 2016
    I've had a Gen 2 SPOT since 2013. I think the unit works well for what it is. I've not used it to send a HELP message yet, but tracking and "I'm OK" messages were received, apart from a couple sent while backpacking down a steep canyon. The unit is small, light, and battery life is quite good.

    Having said that, I am eyeing the InReach. The ability to send and receive text messages could be helpful in certain circumstances. Our first backpacking trip with the SPOT we had a trail issue that led to us coming out at a different trailhead from the one our buds were expecting. They could see our movements via the SPOT, but we had no way of telling them why we had deviated from plan or what they should do to help. Luckily the extra 14 miles we hiked was mostly downhill and dropped us on a road only 2 miles from a FS Ranger Station. Would have been nice to text our friends to get one of them to pick us up at the new trailhead.
  11. tooofast

    tooofast Been here awhile

    Aug 28, 2006
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    I have use a Gen 1's for about 8 year and they worked pretty well. Like all technology there are pro and cons and nothing is 100% reliable but mine has been a solid 98% with messages. For me i want a one way system where i can check in to let people know i am OK, I'm not looking for 2 way messages. I was in the middle in the desert with a broken back so i am never going to complain about the cost of the service, being alive is worth every penny every day. Good info on other units and services too.
    I just got a Gen 3 this xmas so it anyone wants my gen 1 with at least one and perhaps 2 RAM mounts, and wants to cover the $8 shipping let me know.
    joe a likes this.
  12. Mark G

    Mark G Been here awhile

    Aug 6, 2007
    I've had a gen one since about 2009. It misses at least one location ping every time I use it. And last November, it missed about 100 miles while going across the AZ desert. When I'm out of cell phone range and send an "OK" ping, I feel I always have to send it at least twice. My annual bill is now $212. I will not renew, and will get an Inreach for the two way texting.
  13. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer

    Oct 12, 2010
    This is another user who found Spot had issues with trees. We have lots of trees here in the southern Appalachians.

    And an additional issue:

    Geosynchronous satellites get better reception in lower latitudes and closer to the satellites. I may be wrong, but I think Spot uses these satellites, like XM radio. Notice that many of the thumbs up posts for Spot on this thread are from relatively more southern latitudes and out west with few or no trees.
    The overlapping eccentric orbit satellites (like Sirius radio) should be better for northern latitudes, steep canyons, or too far east or west from the sweet spot of the geosynchronous satellites. And maybe also better with a canopy of trees in mid latitudes. I experienced this in eastern Newfoundland recently, which is far from the geosynchronous satellite's sweet spot. Basically did not work.
    Does this mean InReach is a better option than Spot for the OP? Maybe.
    Tech experts, please weigh in.
  14. Need For Speed

    Need For Speed Ridin' foolishly and frequently

    Apr 24, 2012
    Pacific North Wet
    I am a SPOT fan too. In dense forest the signal can get blocked, but is easy to use and outside of that it has worked well for me.

    I like to use the check in feature (which also shows your location on a map) at a lunch stop in the middle of nowhere, on one of many epic roads I ride, so my contacts can be envious :tb

    I'm not worried about the price, I waste lots of cash on my m/c addiction, and this one could save my bacon someday.

  15. 71tr

    71tr Been here awhile

    Jun 26, 2009
    I've been a SPOT user for a number of years having taken my Gen3 unit across the US, around Mongolia, Australia, Namibia and Patagonia. SPOTs coverage area has some limitations I think in part due to their satellite network but also their ground station locations. I've had generally good experience in both tracking and "OK" messages, but in Patagonia I had many tracking signals not received by their network. This could have been caused by the mountainous terrain or being on the edge of their full coverage area. Their coverage map is readily found on the web.

    SPOT does what I want; it sends tracking data which can be viewed by friends and family back home, it sends one way pre-defined text messages at the push of a button and it brings help when I hit the SOS signal. I've never used the SOS myself but came across a couple of Aussies on the Oodnadatta Track in Southern Australia after one of them suffered a broken leg from a moto wreck. A four wheel drive ambulance was dispatched and carted him out, I believe weather (yes it was raining) limited the availability of airlift. The only other hardware features I would like to see on any tracking device would be two-way messaging capabilities and a stronger transmitter.

    Having said all that I just got off the phone with SPOT after cancelling my service. I don't need the unit on a monthly basis, just when I do a big trip a few times per year. Every year SPOT raises their base fee and adds new fees, this year was a new "network maintenance fee". At $99/year or even $150/year I could accept the cost of my SPOT service, but this year they demanded $256 which they slipped onto my credit card with their auto renew feature without so much as an email notification or invoice. I called to complain and they offered me a $50 credit, I declined. They then offered an $85 credit if I could find a new user of my unit since I planned to cancel, I declined. They reluctantly cancelled my service and issued a refund. Difficult customer service, auto renew contracts without notification and constant price increases were the end of our relationship.

    I will be exploring either a dedicated ACR device or the InReach service. Dedicated ACR is attractive because of the full global coverage, single up front cost with no monthly contract and a more powerful transmitting device. However, I want tracking and two way texting capability so InReach gets the edge. InReach also offers more flexible subscription options with both annual and month to month contracts, as compared to SPOT.
  16. The Walrus

    The Walrus Gone and back again.

    Nov 9, 2003
    Freshly minted Millcreek
    I've not been a big SPOT fan but have used their service for my trips around the Rockies and into Mexico. I received a renewal notice and called to cancel renewal. The man I reached was a total A$$hat and would not validate my account with my name, address, ESN and account number. He obviously did not want to process the stop service. So, I logged in online and sent the same information which resulted in an auto reply email. I again responded to customer service and stated, DO NOT RENEW this account. I have found the service useful in the past but will not support the fees and poor customer service. I will pick up the Delorme InReach for it's versatility, I seldom need or use more than a few months a year. I documented all this so that if they do charge my CC for renewal, I have plenty of ammo to reverse the charges. I really hope someone at their company evaluates the business model, I have never been impressed and now I'm actively in opposition to SPOT.
  17. BryceB

    BryceB It's OK, we know the Mayor!

    Jan 5, 2007
    Acworth, GA
    I called last month, threatened to cancel and they credited my account $65 that went towards my overall renewal this month.
  18. Menhir

    Menhir Been here awhile

    Mar 11, 2017
    I've taken my SPOT 2 along on motorcycle and hiking trips for quite a few years. My wife likes the occasional check in (I never use the tracking feature. I just send an occasional "I'm OK" message.) and I like the ability to let her know with an "I've arrived" message when I've reached my days end destination in an area where there is no cell service.

    I've never had to use it's emergency features so I can't speak to that.

    For my purposes, it works fine. It does, however, occasionally miss a ping.

    Like others here, I'm getting a little annoyed at the price increases, especially when they justify the increase by including features I didn't want in the first the auto-tracking. So far, as a long time subscriber they've worked with me on the price which has kept me as a customer, but as they get closer and closer to the costs of other alternatives, I might go over to the dark side.

    It's like the cable companies reacting to cord-cutters by raising their rates.
  19. drrod1

    drrod1 Been here awhile

    Feb 17, 2013
    I had a Spot for a couple of years. It was spotty with its pings. Therefore, as an ELB it was not very useful. I went to an InReach and have been very happy. It has worked flawlessly (as far as pinging goes). My daughter uses it in the back country as well. She is very happy with the InReach as compared to the Spot. As she said " you push the SOS on the Spot. Then what? Did they get the message? There is no way of knowing. With the InReach, you know that it was received via the 2way messaging. You can then make decisions regarding what to do. eg. stay with the injured or go for more help....." That alone, was a good reason to change.

    Here is an example of how the Spot missed pings. Screenshot (11).png
  20. ravenranger

    ravenranger rave

    May 15, 2007
    I've really liked my SPOT Connect. It's the one that's a little black square that can be paired with your cell phone to send real time messages instead of just pre-selected messages. Initially, it was picky about pairing with the phone but a software update fixed that. It does have a tendency to shut itself off when it gets really hot and it also burns through batteries (that blue-tooth connection with the phone is a real battery drain). But, for the most part, it does pretty good and being able to send a custom message was something I really, really liked (don't know why SPOT abandoned the Connect).

    Of course, SPOT's auto-renew policy, lousy customer service, and pricing is ridiculous. If I didn't need tracking for LD rallies, I'd let it go in a snap. Not quite ready to jump to Garmin either, though. Seems like there ought to be some type of tracker that doesn't cost $200+ a year....hmmm business opportunity?