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SPOT–love it, hate it

Posted by joeabbott on June 30, 2017

I have a SPOT device that tracks my movement by relaying my locations to a satellite that then stores the data. When I’m on a long hike, I can setup a page for Suzy to view and track my progress. The SPOT has only a couple buttons: one to turn it on, another to start tracking regular movement, a third button will send an “I’m OK” message, and a final button can be configured to send a custom message … this could be anything from “come look for me but don’t send authorities” (sending in a search team can cost big dollars!), “drop food at the agreed on stash”, or “I’m getting close to our pick up spot … bring the car to get me!” Again, it could be anything but I’m only allowed a single custom message.

The SPOT also comes with a hotline straight to authorities that will trigger a search and rescue action, and it’s the main selling point of the system. I hike alone far less these days than I did in my youth, but I’ve agreed with Suzy to carry this most anytime I leave home.

When it’s working, I love it. A couple years back I was on a kayaking trip and at the end of the outing, I had a line of dots on the map that showed nearly my every paddle stroke. But when you get under even superficial tree cover or the unit isn’t positioned “correctly”, you get what I got during the ~10 hours I was out last Saturday: a few points the entire day. Here’s the map:


While some of this trip was under trees … the start, as you can tell … most was only moderately covered and I should have picked up more than 8 points. And that includes both those initiated by me as “I’m OK” messages, as well as those that tracked my regular movement. Oh, and when I got back, the three brand new alkaline batteries (yes, I should be using lithium) were completely drained … or the system had turned itself off. And that might be a good feature: for the unit to realize it’s useless and to try saving a little battery or something!

It’s just darned disappointing because when it works, it’s a wonder.

I’ll keep trying to use it, as I have the service for another year, but I’m sure hoping something happens to make this a more reliable tool.

Sorry for the bummer post … believe me, I would have liked something a bit more upbeat!


One Response to “SPOT–love it, hate it”

  1. I liked this post. I hadn’t really thought of software that would track you… I mean, I know there is software that tracks but I guess I didn’t know you were using it. Nice to know

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