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Old 12-31-2010   #11
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,404
To add to wasatchbill's comments, the auto-renewal is a pain in the ass. I just made sure to pay with a card that was going to expire during the year. They kept my device active and emailed me a month in advance to let me know my card was no good. No heads up before the charge attempt though... An annual service should have an option to automatically pay, not a requirement!

Also, if you call their customer service you'll hold for hours and get someone not in the US. They don't send mail in rebates in time, and seem to be pretty small-time for having such global rescue abilities.

However, they work. "911" doesn't call customer service in India, it calls 911. "Help" doesn't charge your credit card, it notifies your friends by SMS and email, that you need help. And the new device allows you to send detailed SMS messages from the field.

SPOTS are cool. I just wish different people were running the company.

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Old 12-31-2010   #12
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 600
I made a similar post awhile back and purchased a older Spot device on clearance for 89$.(never used in the field yet). The 406 mhz devices is faster and more accurate ( 2 sec. to 3 sec. to get notice) and (search area 3 mi. to 5 mi.). I think the newer satellite is stationary (406 mhz) and not orbiting which makes a big difference. The older orbiting satellites connect time depends on when it is in position to detect your device.( sat. phone or pld.)and search area of 20 mi.. to 30 mi.). Plus search aircraft equipment is set-up for the newer equipment and can track straight to the device. I have used this new technology under different applications in the past and asked in ground school how it knows and the answer was PFM (purer fucking magic ). No sooner that you purchase one, a newer and faster one will come out the next day.

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Old 12-31-2010   #13
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2
They both have their place. When I do solo hikes/backpacking I carry a spot. Rafting where weight is not as much of an issue I carry a sat phone. Both have issues in canyons.

The nice thing about the sat phone is you know you have made contact w/ help (on less thing to be FREAKING OUT about when things have gone pear shaped) and provide updates ect. W/ the spot you just have to assume the signal got thru.

W/ the spot while hiking thru forests the tracking signals where not getting thru and the antenna is directional, that is while it was attached vertically on the site of my back pack fewer of the tracking signals were making it out, once I laid it flat on top of my pack it worked like a charm.
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Old 12-31-2010   #14
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Originally Posted by gbmaz View Post
I have been trying to figure out the same choice for myself. Both for rafting trips and for solo motorcycle trips. I have read many good and bad things on the SPOT. No conclusion yet on my part.

This thread from the ADVrider motorcycle websiite has some interesting info from someone who actually works at the company that makes the SPOT. He explains a number of technical issues pretty well. The info is buried in the 155 pages of posts, but is worth looking for.

The Great Big SPOT Thread - ADVrider

(Note that this is a huge multi year thread that started in 2007, but has had regular contributions and questions. If you think Buzz folks can go on and on about gear, you should see some of the 3000+ page threads on certain motorcycle models.)
NO kidding, my husband is an ADV junkie. He told me of a post a while back, maybe a year ago, where a woman was riding solo somewhere east of Riggins ID and wrecked. She was pinned under her bike and something was broken. A backcountry FS road, or maybe even just a trail, and she kept her SPOT on her body. Hit the emergency button, ended up getting rescued. They way he told me the story it was expected she wouldn't have gotten rescued without it. Maybe that story is in the thread you posted. As you say, those motorheads are yakkers (talk talk talk)! The used gear site is amazing, there's tons of gear useful for boating available at 1/4 of retail.

Where I'm going with this, is she wouldn't have been able to get a sat call out, and we're probably going to get a SPOT (or similar, probably a PLB) soon for both boating and ADVing. Sat phones are nice if you expect to need to communicate (like a Dr I know who has to call in every day, or if you have plane shuttles or such) but other than that I would not buy one but would probably rent on extremely remote trips (AK or int'l).
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 01-01-2011   #15
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 332
Sat Phone

If you decide to get a sat phone, check out They have a huge rental program and sell used phones for half the cost of a new one.
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Old 01-04-2011   #16
Boston, Massachusetts
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 4
I always rent a satellite phone from Mobal (Iridium Satellite Phone). Every time I check the rental costs, they always come out as the best deal.

I'm wary of trying the spot because if something goes wrong, I'd like to be able to speak to someone rather than relying on the spot to work correctly.

Also, a week's rental works out less than the $100 annual fee for spot - so it's a bit of a no brainer for me.

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Old 02-05-2011   #17
tallboy's Avatar
Telluride, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 175
Smartphone to SPOT pairing app

Just found this, not sure all the details on pricing, but it seems like a real possibility that a spot tracker will soon be incorporated into the phone. But in the meantime, especially with all the new verizon iphone junkies...check this out

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Old 02-16-2011   #18
Arvada (Denver), Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 250
Coming to Denver 2011

This article says Lightsquared satellite/terrestrial cell coverage is coming to Denver in 2011...

Falcone’s LightSquared Has Accords With Five Customers - Businessweek
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Old 02-16-2011   #19
Blackshire's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 60
AT&T has a sattelight/cell phone

TerreStar Genus is a dual-mode smartphone that uses AT&T's cellular service by default but kicks in with satellite reception as a backup in remote areas. The satellite service offers the standard mobile phone trio of voice, data, and messaging, so it can function as an overall smartphone.

Read more: AT&T launches satellite phone | Wireless - CNET News

This is a good sign, eventually prices will come way down. The AT&T service requires a 25$ a month fee plus 65 cents a minute while in sattelight mode....

Not bad though...

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