View Full Version : Spot advice or thoughts on gps iphone apps

02-23-2014, 16:53
Hi there.

I am from the Uk. I will be doing the Appalachian trail this year and have been looking into getting a Spot 3 / Spot connect. Maybe overkill, but I am getting heat off my girlfriend.

Normally when I go overseas I turn my iphone to airplane mode or at least turn off the mobile data, 3G and data roaming to keep my phone bill to a minimum.
Will the spot 3 / spot connect still work if I do this?? Without turning on roaming or results in hefty phone bill.

I have messed around with google latitude today and a few other gps apps. Latitude seems to work with mobile data, 3g and data roaming off. Has anyone had any success using this app to track trail progress to keep the misses happy back home?


02-23-2014, 18:18
I am from the Uk. I will be doing the Appalachian trail this year and have been looking into getting a Spot 3 / Spot connect. Maybe overkill, but I am getting heat off my girlfriend.

Okay, but what are your (er, I mean your GF's) objectives? Is she demanding a Spot out of concern that you'll be injured somewhere and need to summon help? Or is it that she would just like the daily "I'm okay" message with the associated GPS coordinates?

If it's the former, then I'd say you're entirely wasting your money for an AT hike. The AT is not a particularly remote trail and it tends to get a fair bit of traffic. If you do happen to slip and break an ankle (or some other mishap), then essentially you just sit there on the trail itself until the next hiker walks by and you ask them to summon help at the next road crossing (in most cases you'd probably only wait an hour or so until somebody passes by). In the worst case scenario, it's getting close to dark, so you just get into your bag and spend a miserable night until the next person comes by in the morning.

If it's a daily message that she wants just so that her mind is at ease, that's a different story. A Spot certainly does a fine job of sending out the "I'm okay" e-mail. However, you might consider whether you wouldn't prefer to simply use a mobile phone to send a text message instead. For most of the AT, you'll have mobile phone service at some point nearly every day. If you are planning to send text messages back to England, you'll need to be pretty careful about which service provider you select as intl texts can be a little steep, particularly when you are envisioning the possibility of sending at least one hundred of them during your hike!

The advantage of carrying a mobile phone instead of a spot is that the phone will be lighter, and will offer a great deal more functionality for the days that you spend in town.

In any case, I am virtually certain that you will not want to use your English mobile service plan for a 5-6 month hike in the United States. You'd be virtually impoverished upon your return as a result of the roaming charges. You should carefully consider the possibility of buying a U.S. pay-as-you-go SIM card to insert into your existing handset. Look at the coverage maps carefully because some companies have better rural and remote service than others...

One little trick that I learned a few years ago is that TracFones use Verizon's network, which has really great coverage. The nice thing about Verizon is that you can send a text message to an e-mail address for no extra cost, which means that you can send a note back home without getting dinged for intl text charges.

Anyway, carry the Spot if you absolutely must, but from my perspective for the AT it would be a little like hiking with a 8 or 10 ounce stone in your pack as it doesn't really offer a great deal of functionality or security!

02-23-2014, 19:50
Take a look at the Delorme Inreach. More GPS functionality than a Spot. And with the Inreach you can actually text.

02-24-2014, 06:28
Great advice.

I was considering the spot as a means of letting the misses know my location and thought that it would kinda get her more involved in the trip. I have read lots of things that confirm that the trail is well populated and help will be at hand. After seeing some dude getting help boppered out off of a trail in Yellowstone last year it just got me and the misses thinking about my safety.

I have read that snake / spider bites are rare, but this is another concern. I have read a lot to say that this is a rarity, but there is always a chance.