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Gear Review

2 5

Questionable reliability

I borrowed a SPOT from a friend who has owned it for a year, but he seemed to have "spotty" results with it. Figured I would give it a try on a 3-day safe trip in Glacier National Park. Plenty of open sky. I set up the email addresses and did a test message while still in town, and it appeared to be working. My wife and friends back home never got a successful message or tracking update while I was on the trail. Not one... Turned the unit off and on several times to "reboot". Still nothing. I left it on "tracking" for most of the trip with absolutely nothing between me and the sky. I also sent multiple "OK" messages. A safety device that has only one function should have a much higher rate of reliability and a way of verifying that it has successfully performed its function. The various combinations of blinking lights seemed confusing. (Admittedly, I should have carried a copy of the instructions with me into the backcountry.) I'm going to have to have a much better proof of reliability before I take this unit with me again.

Responded on

The blinking lights are the key indicator that your message was sent successfully. There is a little bit of confusion with SPOT at first for sure, but the key to using it successfully is understanding the lights. My guess is you probably turned it off before the message actually sent; sometimes it can take 10 minutes or so. I have never tried using the "tracking" function though, so I can't speak to what could have happened there.