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Product Review: SPOT Satellite Messenger

By Andrew Skurka / December 23, 2011 /

My mother is not a backpacker or a hiker, and “outdoorsy” is definitely not among the Top 10 adjectives I would use to describe her. But, as a mom, she gets gravely worried and concerned when her hyper-outdoorsy son goes into the backcountry, usually alone, regardless of the season, and almost always with the intention…

Pros, cons, & my picks: PLB’s, satellite messengers, & phones

By Andrew Skurka / October 4, 2015 /

Beyond the reliable range of cell phones, there are three types of satellite communicators that can make or maintain contact with family, friends, and — God forbid — emergency response teams: Personal locator beacons (PLB) Satellite phones Satellite messengers In this post, I will detail each device, identify its pros and cons, and share my buying…

Long-term Review: SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger

By Andrew Skurka / October 6, 2015 /

My mother has requested only once that I buy an outdoor product. It wasn’t an uber warm sleeping bag, a highly engineered stove, or a rain jacket that was guaranteed to keep me dry. No, it was a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. She was not shy about her motivations. While a messenger would allow me…

FREE: SPOT Gen3 Messenger & SPOT Global Phone

By Andrew Skurka / November 3, 2015 /

Through December 31, the SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger, SPOT Trace, and SPOT Global Phone are FREE after mail-in rebate. These devices normally retail for $150, $100, and $500, respectively. Product commentary For starters, read my in-depth comparison of PLB’s, satellite messengers, and satellite phones. Last month I published a long-term review of the Gen3 Messenger. It’s ideal…

Best practices: Definitions & protocols for SPOT messages

By Andrew Skurka / December 31, 2015 /

The SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger can send three preset messages (OK, Help, and SOS) and one Custom message that can only be modified through SPOT’s website. Communication is one-way: it cannot receive messages from family and friends, emergency response teams, or SPOT. In this regard, the Gen3 is most similar to a personal locator…

Comps: inReach Mini vs SE+/Explorer+, SPOT Gen3, and PLB’s

By Andrew Skurka / May 11, 2018 /

For Outside I have written a piece on the primary differences between the new Garmin inReach Mini, which was released last week, and existing satellite communication devices like the inReach SE+, inReach Explorer+, SPOT Gen3, and personal locator beacons like the ACR Electronics ResQLink. Here’s the link: The Garmin InReach Mini vs. the Competition If…

Preview: SPOT X || 2-way messenger with physical keyboard

By Andrew Skurka / June 6, 2018 /

SPOT revolutionized backcountry communication in the late-2000’s with its original device, the SPOT Personal Tracker (my review), which retailed for $170 (plus an annual service plan) and which could send three one-way messages: Okay, Help, and SOS. The Tracker was less expensive to own and operate than a satellite phone. It was more functional than…

Review: SPOT X Satellite Messenger || I’ll keep my inReach, thanks

By Andrew Skurka / October 23, 2018 /

Exactly one week after Garmin announced the inReach Mini in May, SPOT released its first new device in five years and its first device with two-way satellite messaging. The SPOT X retails for $250, weighs 6.7 oz, and features a 2.7-inch dot matrix illuminated screen and physical QWERTY keyboard. It looks like an orange Blackberry with an over-sized antenna.…