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dla
12-22-2008, 23:16
Tis the season to give gifts and I think my experiences with SPOT might help someone decide. Follow the link in my signature line for usage info, pack mounting ideas and some test results.

Merry Christmas!

Tin Man
12-23-2008, 00:01
speedgoat karl proved how useless spot is

shoe
12-23-2008, 00:12
My spot has proven to be extrememly useful.

RedneckRye
12-23-2008, 02:24
speedgoat karl proved how useless spot is

Didn't he also prove how useless it is to hype up a "record" attempt also?
But I'm sure SPOT's sponsorship money helped out with the RV gas money, support crew, etc.
Can't wait to hear about what the next record setter is going to do next. It would be cooler to find out what a record setter did, after the fact, maybe without some sort of publicity campaign or corporate sponsorship, after he or she has done it.

Tin Man
12-23-2008, 08:17
karl proved there was more to the hike than hype, he finished even after the record escaped him, and he learned from it.

i doubt that spot paid for much more than the device and maybe the code to get the location onto on his website. backcountry.com was the primary sponsor

Tipi Walter
12-23-2008, 08:37
I see the SPOT as a sort of wilderness house arrest. Sort of like wearng an ankle monitor. I like what Doug Peacock had to say about backcountry travel in his book GRIZZLY YEARS: "I seldom tell anyone about my intended routes because I do not care to be rescued."

Tin Man
12-23-2008, 08:46
if you read dla's blog, he states that he accidently set off 911. fortunately his daughter was with him and the call back went to her cell, saving rescue an unnecessary trip. what if they went and were needed elsewhere??

pretty useless.


i agree with tipi, hard to escape into the wilderness when people are tracking you

dla
12-23-2008, 12:15
I don't understand the vitrol againt a pretty good product. Are you just trolling out of boredom, or do you have any 1st-hand experience you could share?

I wouldn't mention SPOT if it didn't live up to it's claims. I sure wouldn't write about it if it didn't offer a great service. I've got plenty of equipment that I wouldn't endorse.

SPOT is expensive enough that I would spend a month researching it first. I suspect that there are others like me out there. Hopefully my experience helps them decide.

Lellers
12-23-2008, 13:17
I really don't understand the attacks against SPOT, either. It's true that some will not find it useful. But I do find it useful. If I'm in trouble and alone, or if my group needs more help than we can provide for ourselves, then SPOT could be a lifesaver. We borrowed a SPOT unit for our August trip through SNP. It worked very well. We used the OK function and we used the tracking function. In fact, what I discovered was that it worked a little TOO well! I was out with a bunch of boy scouts, and we set SPOT to track. We had several non-hiking parents back home who then took on the role of backseat drivers. When we returned, one or two were very critical of our route choices, start/stop times, how many miles we made per day, etc. It was a case of providing too much information to people who didn't know how to process it. In the future, I would probably not use the tracking function in that sort of situation.

I would definitely use SPOT again. It's useful for me. If I come up the trail with it attached to my pack, it's not going to interfere with anyone else's trail experience. Why argue about it? If it's not your thing, don't buy it.

ChinMusic
12-23-2008, 13:34
From what I've read on it, the reviews are mixed.

If you want accurate/predictable tracking under tree cover so folks back home can follow your trip.......you will likely be disappointed.

If you want something that can make contact for you should you need help....I have not seen failures in this task even under tree cover.

Chenango
12-23-2008, 13:43
I don't understand the vitrol againt a pretty good product. Are you just trolling out of boredom, or do you have any 1st-hand experience you could share?

I wouldn't mention SPOT if it didn't live up to it's claims. I sure wouldn't write about it if it didn't offer a great service. I've got plenty of equipment that I wouldn't endorse.

SPOT is expensive enough that I would spend a month researching it first. I suspect that there are others like me out there. Hopefully my experience helps them decide.

I know my wife likes the idea of SPOT to make sure I am safe.

Lucy Lulu
12-23-2008, 13:55
I think there are numeous reasons that people use SPOT. I was given SPOT this past year as a X-mas present, by a family that was adamant I take it. I was pretty adamant about not taking it, but finally conceded, if for no other reason than just to give them peace of mind.

I would turn the SPOT on track in the morning, and turn it off at night. I really forgot it was even there...except of course when my pack was heavy, and it was the first thing I wanted to toss.

My family and friends passed the SPOT link amongst themselves, and it was interesting to watch people's response to the ability to see the trail through google earth. People that had never been interested in my hikes were suddenly fascinated with the terrain and trail. Those that had always been nervous about my adventures, suddenly seemed to be much more at ease with the journeys.

I don't really consider the 911 function too much of an asset, b/c I imagine many situations I could not rectify, would probably be severe enough that it would be difficult to activate the SPOT anyway, since it is kept in the top of my pack and not on my person. This prevents the accidental activation of the device, but also limits it's use. Then again, this is not why I carry the SPOT.

An independent part of me will probably always resist this type of constant tracking, but it certainly has not inhibited my ability to go where I want, when I want to go. If nothing else, it has inspired my family to become more interested, without the constant stress of always "wondering."

Kerosene
12-23-2008, 13:59
I know my wife likes the idea of SPOT to make sure I am safe.I don't normally quibble, but I will in the case of this particular type of device. SPOT does little to keep one "safe"; it provides a little more insurance that someone will be able to find you if you screw up. Personally, from what I've read it is only marginally better than a cell phone, and both provide more comfort than actual assurance. I don't really care if people choose to carry them or not, but I won't bother until the technology (whatever it is) gets to the point where I can depend on it, at a weight that doesn't offset a lot of the weight-saving advances I've already made. In the meantime, I just keep reminding my wife that I was backpacking, with worse equipment and less skill, before I started going out with her in high school. When that doesn't work, I remind her of that she's the primary beneficiary on my insurance policy, which gets me a good punch in the arm. :D

Pedaling Fool
12-23-2008, 14:08
I don't understand the vitrol againt a pretty good product. Are you just trolling out of boredom, or do you have any 1st-hand experience you could share?

I wouldn't mention SPOT if it didn't live up to it's claims. I sure wouldn't write about it if it didn't offer a great service. I've got plenty of equipment that I wouldn't endorse.

SPOT is expensive enough that I would spend a month researching it first. I suspect that there are others like me out there. Hopefully my experience helps them decide.


I really don't understand the attacks against SPOT, either. It's true that some will not find it useful. But I do find it useful. If I'm in trouble and alone, or if my group needs more help than we can provide for ourselves, than SPOT could be a lifesaver. We borrowed a SPOT unit for our August trip through SNP. It worked very well. We used the OK function and we used the tracking function. In fact, what I found out was that it worked a little TOO well! I was out with a bunch of boy scouts, and we set SPOT to track. We had several non-hiking parents back home who then took on the role of backseat drivers. When we returned, one or two were very critical of our route choices, start/stop times, how many miles we made per day, etc. It was a case of providing too much information to people who didn't know how to process it. In the future, I would probably not use the tracking function in that sort of situation.

I would definitely use SPOT again. It's useful for me. If I come up the trail with it attached to my pack, it's not going to interfere with anyone else's trail experience. Why argue about it? If it's not your thing, don't buy it.
I think most criticize SPOT because of this year's high-vis failure of it during Speedgoat Karl's hike. Not sure why it fell short, but the prevailing answer seems to be tree cover. I'm not bashing it, but I would consider not getting it, now, (I am considering a GPS unit) because of it's poor performance with Karl.

Maybe someone who has more working knowledge of why it did so poorly during Karl's hike can chime in.

Tipi Walter
12-23-2008, 15:04
I don't understand the vitrol againt a pretty good product. Are you just trolling out of boredom, or do you have any 1st-hand experience you could share?

It's not a criticism of the product but the philosophy behind the product. Do we go back to the stone age with nylon packs or do we bring along the nanny state? You can't bring up a piece of gear and be immune to the scrutiny of whether that piece of gear is actually needed or not.


I really don't understand the attacks against SPOT, either. We had several non-hiking parents back home who then took on the role of backseat drivers. When we returned, one or two were very critical of our route choices, start/stop times, how many miles we made per day, etc.

My point exactly, the nanny state.




An independent part of me will probably always resist this type of constant tracking

I agree with this sentiment. When I head out no one really knows where I am except Miss Nature, and she's got me covered.

kanga
12-23-2008, 15:19
I see the SPOT as a sort of wilderness house arrest. Sort of like wearng an ankle monitor. I like what Doug Peacock had to say about backcountry travel in his book GRIZZLY YEARS: "I seldom tell anyone about my intended routes because I do not care to be rescued."


totally agree. i go to the woods to get lost anyway. if i fall down and die while i'm out there, then leave me, i'm where i want to be. plus, having someone know where you are all the time is just creepy. next thing you know someone will want to take away my guns while they watch me.

Mags
12-23-2008, 15:22
I think the overall consensus of SPOT is "good idea, needs to be tweaked for it to work in the real world".

People who don't own it, but have reviewed it extensively, gave it mixed reviews. Owners, like any piece of expensive equipment, seem more invested in what they bought.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/spot_satellite_personal_tracker.html

"On paper, the SPOT unit is an innovative concept for improving backcountry safety. In the field, it did not deliver "virtually every message" as the SPOT unit's literature claims, and the unit has usability problems. As such, we believe is has yet to deliver its promised functionality and message delivery reliably."


On a philosophical level, well I've discussed that before and probably does not need to be rehashed again. :)

If it makes your loved ones happy and you get outside, guess it serves its purpose... :)

BrianLe
12-23-2008, 15:47
The big concern I have about a PLB (personal locator beacon) becoming more affordable and thus --- in more widespread use --- is about the expectations of the folks at home.

I suspect that it's common that friends or relatives back home have relatively little sense of perspective about a hike, and so if they expect their hiker to check in every day like clockwork, what percentage of them will set SAR (Search & Rescue) into motion as soon as a checkin is missed? The device can be dropped, or lost, the battery can be dead, the terrain could be so heavily treed and structured to prevent signal, or the hiker could simply forget or otherwise (not in a dire way) be unable to send the signal.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that folks not use this device, more just (a) if you do, I think you have an obligation to have some real clear and complete "about expectations" conversation with those receiving signal at home, and (b) just general concern about the potential for "boy who cried wolf" scenarios that could overtax SAR resources.

FWIW, the one time I've ever needed --- really, just "wanted" --- to connect with home for support, it was a scenario in which the limited vocabulary of a PLB would have been almost as bad as having nothing. In my case, I walked until I had cell reception, and then literally about a half hour conversation ensued where I explained the situation to my wife, got the key info from her that she could and would come to pick me up, then we talked through directions and where and about when to meet, etc. Had I just had the option of pressing "help, non-911 emergency" or the like, she would have had to guess (at best) at what to do to help, even knowing my current location.



Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

MOWGLI
12-23-2008, 15:49
If it makes your loved ones happy and you get outside, guess it serves its purpose... :)
That says it all!

dla
12-23-2008, 19:05
I think the overall consensus of SPOT is "good idea, needs to be tweaked for it to work in the real world".

People who don't own it, but have reviewed it extensively, gave it mixed reviews. Owners, like any piece of expensive equipment, seem more invested in what they bought.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/spot_satellite_personal_tracker.html

"On paper, the SPOT unit is an innovative concept for improving backcountry safety. In the field, it did not deliver "virtually every message" as the SPOT unit's literature claims, and the unit has usability problems. As such, we believe is has yet to deliver its promised functionality and message delivery reliably."


On a philosophical level, well I've discussed that before and probably does not need to be rehashed again. :)

If it makes your loved ones happy and you get outside, guess it serves its purpose... :)

Frankly, I find that review to be full of crap. I've come to the conclusion that there are some people too stupid to use SPOT and that includes the reviewers at BPL.

If I were the only one using it successfully, I wouldn't recommend it. But there's a vast great unwashed mass of happy SPOT users. So I think it is sad that people would pay $4.95 to read a really bad review. And I believe that BPL shows the low-brow nature of it's publication by putting nothing but a mindless negative sound-bite on the free preview.

The issue isn't whether or not SPOT could be better, the issue is whether or not you want to get a valuable service not available anywhere else. Outfits like BPL are used to testing tents or headlamps where there are literally dozens of alternative products. Consequently they lack the skills to evaluate a new and unique product - and therefore you should save your $4.95 for Starbucks and read free reviews instead.

Tin Man
12-23-2008, 19:17
If it makes your loved ones happy and you get outside, guess it serves its purpose... :)


That says it all!

Actually, this too can be problematic. If the person at home does not get your signal, they will likely panic. If you didn't have spot, they will just be their regular nervous selves until you call in.

Spot is useless. No vitriol, just the facts. :)

skinewmexico
12-23-2008, 19:30
Going into the wilderness, without going into the wilderness. And hey, let's take that chance, it's easy to call for help if it doesn't work out.

Tipi Walter
12-23-2008, 19:31
Actually, this too can be problematic. If the person at home does not get your signal, they will likely panic. If you didn't have spot, they will just be their regular nervous selves until you call in.

Spot is useless. No vitriol, just the facts. :)

I agree. The people that really need to be monitored are the ones you leave at home. The wife and girlfriends. Wait a minute, that doesn't sound right . . . . . .

Mags
12-23-2008, 19:32
This review is free AND people review GPS and PLBs. :)

http://www.gpsmagazine.com/2008/01/spot_satellite_messenger_perso.php

Verdict: Unique Features. A Great Idea. Not Sensitive Enough.


The comments section by people seems esp interesting:

I have found also that the SPOT does not work as advertised. In fact I thoroughly field tested it in the Wyoming Wilderness both with a clear view and with some trees and canyons. I am a seasoned veteran commercial outfitter for 23 years.

SNIP

. It was real clear the person I received knew nothing and was offended I honestly told him it DID NOT send one OK message in a 5 day wilderness trek, AND we gave every benefit of the doubt to the unit because I truly wanted it to work. I told him how can I trust this for a 911?


I think renting a satellite phone may be a less expensive and (most importantly) a more reliable option.

nufsaid
12-23-2008, 19:37
I don't normally quibble, but I will in the case of this particular type of device. SPOT does little to keep one "safe"; it provides a little more insurance that someone will be able to find you if you screw up. Personally, from what I've read it is only marginally better than a cell phone, and both provide more comfort than actual assurance. I don't really care if people choose to carry them or not, but I won't bother until the technology (whatever it is) gets to the point where I can depend on it, at a weight that doesn't offset a lot of the weight-saving advances I've already made. In the meantime, I just keep reminding my wife that I was backpacking, with worse equipment and less skill, before I started going out with her in high school. When that doesn't work, I remind her of that she's the primary beneficiary on my insurance policy, which gets me a good punch in the arm. :D

My policy is to not be more valuable to someone dead than if I am alive. Just look at CourtTV to see why.

Tin Man
12-23-2008, 19:42
totally agree. i go to the woods to get lost anyway. if i fall down and die while i'm out there, then leave me, i'm where i want to be. plus, having someone know where you are all the time is just creepy. next thing you know someone will want to take away my guns while they watch me.

totally agree. the other thing that people seem to be missing is when spot works, it tells you where spot is. that does not necessarily mean that is where you are or that you are okay or not okay.

if i had a loved out in the wilderness, i would want to hear their voice, not just see a spot on some map telling me where the device is located. cell phones do the task just fine in most cases and satellite phones in more remote areas of the world.

handlebar
12-23-2008, 21:13
I carried the SPOT on my PCT thru this past summer for two reasons:

1) For 3 weeks and over 300 miles I was hiking alone Sobo from Walker Pass in early April. I saw only 5 parties of hikers and wanted a way to contact emergency support if something untoward might happen. I'm confident that SPOT would have functioned for that purpose, as it sent all my "I'm OK" messages.

2) I knew I'd be out of cell phone range much of the time and wanted to be able to assure my wife that I was indeed OK. I used it every evening if I hadn't had cell service that day. To my knowledge it never failed. I did, of course, place it with a "clear view of the sky".

I never accidentally did a "911" call, but I foresaw that might be a problem if something from my pack poked the recessed button and kept the device packed in such a way to avoid this.

My beef with SPOT is this: It will tell everyone else where I am, but not me. For 1/2 pound, it would sure be nice if it had a lat/long LCD display to tell ME where I am. For my upcoming CDT thru in 2010, I'll want that functionality, but not all the other functionality available on a GPS device.

dla
12-23-2008, 21:42
[quote=handlebar;744639
My beef with SPOT is this: It will tell everyone else where I am, but not me. For 1/2 pound, it would sure be nice if it had a lat/long LCD display to tell ME where I am. For my upcoming CDT thru in 2010, I'll want that functionality, but not all the other functionality available on a GPS device.[/quote]

That would be a nice feature for a next-generation device. I also think they could provide a limited (limit the number of messages over time) SMS service. But an LCD display would be unreliable in the cold and use more power. And adding more stuff violates the KISS dictum. Tradeoffs.

My biggest worry about SPOT has more to do with company financials than system performance. The system performance has been excellent for me, (I wonder how somebody in Wyoming could have such problems), but with the economy in bad shape Globalstar could bite the dust.

J5man
12-23-2008, 22:13
I know my wife likes the idea of SPOT to make sure I am safe.

I have one and have used it with mixed results but this is the same reason I got one (for peace of mind for my fiance). An added benefit that I actually enjoy is that I will mark (send an OK message) certain areas of interest as I hike and I have myself (email) as a recipient. It will send a Google Earth mark of where you were and then you can pull it up and see the geography in several different views of where you hiked. Pretty cool.

ChinMusic
12-23-2008, 22:17
My biggest worry about SPOT has more to do with company financials than system performance. The system performance has been excellent for me, (I wonder how somebody in Wyoming could have such problems), but with the economy in bad shape Globalstar could bite the dust.
While this is crucial for the company, it matters little to the consumer. If the idea is good someone else will run with it.

IMO, the idea is good. I think the company over-promised and is suffering the bad PR it created.

J5man
12-23-2008, 22:19
I also have my Dad who lives in another state as a recipient of the OK message. It gives him an opportunity to "virtual hike" with me in a sense. He pulls it up on the computer and looks at the Google Earth map and can "see" where I am hiking. I think a lot of people get a SPOT "for other people" more than for themselves (personal safety).

Phreak
12-23-2008, 22:28
You can't bring up a piece of gear and be immune to the scrutiny of whether that piece of gear is actually needed or not.

You can argue that any/all gear is not necessary. Do you hike in shoes/boots? Some would say they aren't necessary. To each their own.

I have a SPOT and it has worked well for me. I'm speaking from personal experience, not from something I read about it. :rolleyes:

Mags
12-23-2008, 22:44
I have a SPOT and it has worked well for me. I'm speaking from personal experience, not from something I read about it. :rolleyes:


Sorry, but you don't have to read something to know that the results are mixed. Really, I am glad it worked for you. But the reviews have been troubling.

I wouldn't buy a car that has mixed reviews. I wouldn't buy a camera that had mixed reviews. I never install the latest Microsoft OS until the OS matures (Vista anyone?) I am sure as heck not going to buy something marketed as an emergency device that has had mixed results.

I think the fairest review of this product is what many sites are saying:
Great idea, needs work.

Cool it works for you, but I would not advise this device to anyone to use and depend on in an emergency.

I think owners are just invested in this device. Cool. Glad it makes you and your loved ones happy.

For anyone else considering this device, wait a year or two until the bugs are ironed out. Don't believe me..believe the owners who said "Meh".

bredler
12-23-2008, 23:24
I came across the SPOT on a two week hike this past spring. I researched it for a while when I got back and have been keeping an eye on new reviews news etc.

...it looks like it's kind of a novelty. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) at 406MHz with GPS seems to be much better for 911 emergencies. The PLBs can cut through tree canopy easily and if a GPS signal can get through at all, your position will be more accurate. They're not cheap, and they don't yell to your family/friends every day where the SPOT unit is and that the "OK" button is being pressed on it, but it has stronger signal, is regulated by the government to work before it goes on the market and has no service charge.

Conclusion:
For fun and a chance of 911 rescue: SPOT
For emergency use to hail a 911 rescue: PLB or ELT

Kerosene
12-23-2008, 23:29
believe the owners who said "Meh".Don't know about anyone else, but I've never heard anyone say "Meh". I've seen the "word" in print a few times over the past year, but that one's not in my vocab. :D

Mags
12-23-2008, 23:33
Don't know about anyone else, but I've never heard anyone say "Meh". I've seen the "word" in print a few times over the past year, but that one's not in my vocab. :D

Geek speak.

Since we are talking about a technological doo-dad, probably appropriate.

And since I make my money working in the tech field..I think "MEH" is appropriate. ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meh

Tin Man
12-23-2008, 23:42
... adding more stuff violates the KISS dictum.

your'e funny - SPOT ain't KISS, by a long shot


I also have my Dad who lives in another state as a recipient of the OK message. It gives him an opportunity to "virtual hike" with me in a sense. He pulls it up on the computer and looks at the Google Earth map and can "see" where I am hiking. I think a lot of people get a SPOT "for other people" more than for themselves (personal safety).

um, try a camera and show him afterwards. all this need it now stuff is what you need to be hiking away from, not bringing with you.

Lellers
12-24-2008, 00:51
I think most criticize SPOT because of this year's high-vis failure of it during Speedgoat Karl's hike. Not sure why it fell short, but the prevailing answer seems to be tree cover. I'm not bashing it, but I would consider not getting it, now, (I am considering a GPS unit) because of it's poor performance with Karl.

Maybe someone who has more working knowledge of why it did so poorly during Karl's hike can chime in.

I'm not sure why the SPOT performed so abysmally during his hike. We hear a lot about "tree cover". On our hike, we had plenty of tree cover, too. The signal always went through, day and night. BUT, we did have problems now and then, and it was all chalked up to "pilot error". I think it was a little complicated to operate. Since we borrowed our unit, I don't have the instructions in front of me anymore, but I remember we had to hold one button for a certain amount of time, maybe hit another after that. It would blink one pattern, another, etc. etc. I certainly don't consider myself to be dull-witted, but it took me a few tries to master the combination button-pushing-waiting sequences. There were a few times when we THOUGHT we had started the tracking process, saw the blinking lights and thought all was well. Then at lunchtime, we'd noticed the light wasn't blinking the way it should to track. Eventually, we realized we weren't holding one of those buttons long enough to really get the tracking started. Once we had that sorted out, everything worked well.

So I wonder if Karl was having the same issue at least part of the time.

We borrowed the SPOT unit. It did what we expected it to. We never thought of it as something that would keep us safe. We hoped it would help us be found if we needed help, but thankfully we didn't have to use that feature. We also expected it to help our loved ones at home participate in our adventure, to a certain degree. It did that. I think the controls could be simplified. I'm sure with the current mixed reviews, SPOT will be improved in coming years. I'll keep an eye on it, and perhaps at some point I'll invest in one of my own.

dla
12-24-2008, 01:00
While this is crucial for the company, it matters little to the consumer. If the idea is good someone else will run with it.

IMO, the idea is good. I think the company over-promised and is suffering the bad PR it created.

Uh no. You can't "run with it" unless you've got a satellite constelation.

dla
12-24-2008, 01:07
I came across the SPOT on a two week hike this past spring. I researched it for a while when I got back and have been keeping an eye on new reviews news etc.

...it looks like it's kind of a novelty. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) at 406MHz with GPS seems to be much better for 911 emergencies. The PLBs can cut through tree canopy easily and if a GPS signal can get through at all, your position will be more accurate. They're not cheap, and they don't yell to your family/friends every day where the SPOT unit is and that the "OK" button is being pressed on it, but it has stronger signal, is regulated by the government to work before it goes on the market and has no service charge.

Conclusion:
For fun and a chance of 911 rescue: SPOT
For emergency use to hail a 911 rescue: PLB or ELT

Wrong conclusion. For affordable communication with loved ones and quick 911 rescue in 99% of situations: SPOT

Out of reach cost with 911 rescue eventually after they zero in on the signal and no communication capability:EPLB

double d
12-24-2008, 01:08
I think its very simple about SPOT technology: Mother Nature always wins over human made technology. For example: Hacket Jack left his rifle for the next guy who found him frozen to death in the mountains to own and have, so maybe a fellow hiker will leave their semi-trusted SPOT device to the next hiker if they die on the trail because they didn't get rescued before the NPS brought in the swat team to save them.

dla
12-24-2008, 01:15
I'm not sure why the SPOT performed so abysmally during his hike. We hear a lot about "tree cover". On our hike, we had plenty of tree cover, too. The signal always went through, day and night. BUT, we did have problems now and then, and it was all chalked up to "pilot error". I think it was a little complicated to operate. Since we borrowed our unit, I don't have the instructions in front of me anymore, but I remember we had to hold one button for a certain amount of time, maybe hit another after that. It would blink one pattern, another, etc. etc. I certainly don't consider myself to be dull-witted, but it took me a few tries to master the combination button-pushing-waiting sequences. There were a few times when we THOUGHT we had started the tracking process, saw the blinking lights and thought all was well. Then at lunchtime, we'd noticed the light wasn't blinking the way it should to track. Eventually, we realized we weren't holding one of those buttons long enough to really get the tracking started. Once we had that sorted out, everything worked well.

So I wonder if Karl was having the same issue at least part of the time.

We borrowed the SPOT unit. It did what we expected it to. We never thought of it as something that would keep us safe. We hoped it would help us be found if we needed help, but thankfully we didn't have to use that feature. We also expected it to help our loved ones at home participate in our adventure, to a certain degree. It did that. I think the controls could be simplified. I'm sure with the current mixed reviews, SPOT will be improved in coming years. I'll keep an eye on it, and perhaps at some point I'll invest in one of my own.

I think you've hit on the major reason why there are "haves" and "have nots". In other words, there are people who can't make it work and there are those who can. The user interface is not intuitive. And the usage model isn't clear. I skip the UI in the manual and simply turn the unit on and off to change modes. The unit runs forever on the 2 batteries, yet a lot of people believe they have to turn the unit off. I leave it on until I'm camping for the night.

There's lots of people who use it like me. And there are other people who can't seem to get it to work. Sure, some people are a little slow, but SPOT has a crummy interface.

Wise Old Owl
12-24-2008, 01:31
I see the SPOT as a sort of wilderness house arrest. Sort of like wearng an ankle monitor. I like what Doug Peacock had to say about backcountry travel in his book GRIZZLY YEARS: "I seldom tell anyone about my intended routes because I do not care to be rescued."


As much as I hate new stuff Tipi, I would never think you would take that post you just wrote. What I mean is I like being alone for weeks at a time I still tell relatives and freinds my travels in writing so there is no misunderstanding. In short no worry when on walkabout. I honestly do not want to make the same mistakes as Aron Ralston as I am sure you would not want to do. Am I wrong here? I am asking because I do care.

Pedaling Fool
12-24-2008, 09:58
...Mother Nature always wins over human made technology....
Who the hell is Mother Nature?

garlic08
12-24-2008, 10:12
I came across a SPOT once on the AT, it was sitting in a shelter, all alone. Poor thing got left behind. That's just one more possible user error mode.

I tried to think of some way I could help reunite it with it's owner, but I had no way of knowing if NOBO, SOBO, purposely left it behind, spontaneously combusted, so I just said, "Meh."

mudhead
12-24-2008, 10:38
http://postholer.com/brianle[/url]

Very good point. I have read of this abuse with cell phones. Probably deserves a thread of it's own. But this is a happy day, and I hope no one goes hiking at 2 PM, gets lost and calls 911.

MOWGLI
12-24-2008, 10:45
Funny. When I hiked the JMT this summer with my daughter, I asked my wife if she wanted me to get one of these. Primarily because of the kid - who was coming off knee surgery. She said "no", and for that, I'm grateful.

double d
12-24-2008, 10:48
John Gault, look out your window, that should explain who the hell Mother Nature is. Or to put it this way, Mother Nature is a symbol of the greatness and maybe the "danger" of the outdoors. A little device like SPOT ain't gonna cut it when your back is up against the wall when humans do foolish things out on the trails of America. Gravity is a good example of the laws of nature, thats what Mother Nature is! When people try to climb Mt.Everest, and if they die or lose their nose like the good doctor from Texas did, well, thats just how it is, its Mother Nature, nothing less, nothing more.

skinewmexico
12-24-2008, 10:52
I agree with an earlier poster, if you're that worried about needing help, carry a PLB. Otherwise it's just another thing in our "must be connected at all times" society.

Pedaling Fool
12-24-2008, 11:32
John Gault, look out your window, that should explain who the hell Mother Nature is. Or to put it this way, Mother Nature is a symbol of the greatness and maybe the "danger" of the outdoors. A little device like SPOT ain't gonna cut it when your back is up against the wall when humans do foolish things out on the trails of America. Gravity is a good example of the laws of nature, thats what Mother Nature is! When people try to climb Mt.Everest, and if they die or lose their nose like the good doctor from Texas did, well, thats just how it is, its Mother Nature, nothing less, nothing more.
Oh I get it a symbol from all I read before (I keep hearing about her) I thought Mother Nature was some mythical creature bent on killing and maiming people.

FWIW, I think some people do believe Mother Nature is a conscious force, not a symbol.

Tin Man
12-24-2008, 11:49
Mother Nature is a donating member on White Blaze and, from what I understand, a very classy lady. :)

kanga
12-24-2008, 11:56
Who the hell is Mother Nature?

she's a no. ga hiker

Mags
12-24-2008, 15:09
Remember that nature and the elements are neither your friend or your enemy; they are actually disinterested.
--Department of the Army Field Manual FM 21-76 "Survival" Oct. 1970


:)

Lucy Lulu
12-24-2008, 17:32
My experiences with SPOT are firsthand, and I have to agree with some points made by "dla" and "Lellers." Issues I had with SPOT were typically "user error" (not holding the button long enough or letting batteries run low). The device is also not very intuitive. You definitely have to read the directions.

Maybe all SPOTS are not created equal, b/c I rarely ever lost my signal, and tree cover was not an issue in blocking the signal.

There does seem to be somewhat of a correlation between users and opinions of the SPOT, with some exceptions of course. Those that actually used the SPOT extensively appear to have had far less issues with the device, than those that simply reviewed it, or read reviews about it. Interesting. :-)

Pedaling Fool
12-24-2008, 18:19
Remember that nature and the elements are neither your friend or your enemy; they are actually disinterested.
--Department of the Army Field Manual FM 21-76 "Survival" Oct. 1970


:)
Good one.:sun

kayak karl
12-24-2008, 19:12
My experiences with SPOT are firsthand, and I have to agree with some points made by "dla" and "Lellers." Issues I had with SPOT were typically "user error" (not holding the button long enough or letting batteries run low). The device is also not very intuitive. You definitely have to read the directions.

Maybe all SPOTS are not created equal, b/c I rarely ever lost my signal, and tree cover was not an issue in blocking the signal.

There does seem to be somewhat of a correlation between users and opinions of the SPOT, with some exceptions of course. Those that actually used the SPOT extensively appear to have had far less issues with the device, than those that simply reviewed it, or read reviews about it. Interesting. :-)
same here. not any problems that were not mine.
these are three maps with SPOT in tracking mode. a few gaps in time:
heavy tree cover/ spot in pack
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ie=UTF8&om=0&msa=0&z=11&msid=112746510977574609048.00044e27d5d54ea0f640b

again tree cover/ spot on pack
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ie=UTF8&om=0&msa=0&ll=39.724089,-74.674759&spn=0.2498,0.43602&z=11&msid=112746510977574609048.000459b6e59c89631c1b6

no trees , kayak
<small>http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ie=UTF8&om=0&msa=0&z=15&msid=112746510977574609048.00044e26670d6f0dcbafa
(http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=us&ie=UTF8&om=0&msa=0&msid=112746510977574609048.00044e26670d6f0dcbafa&ll=39.6875,-75.456076&spn=0.010944,0.013325&source=embed)</small>

double d
12-25-2008, 09:05
Haa John Gault just having some fun with you regarding "Mother Nature"! SPOT technology is fine, if the little box of technology makes someone feel better, thats great.

Tipi Walter
12-25-2008, 09:49
...it looks like it's kind of a novelty. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) at 406MHz with GPS seems to be much better for 911 emergencies.

Personal locator beacons are used by dogs and two year old children. I guess some backpackers and outdoorsmen might fit in that category.:)


As much as I hate new stuff Tipi, I would never think you would take that post you just wrote. What I mean is I like being alone for weeks at a time I still tell relatives and freinds my travels in writing so there is no misunderstanding. In short no worry when on walkabout. I honestly do not want to make the same mistakes as Aron Ralston as I am sure you would not want to do. Am I wrong here? I am asking because I do care.

You gotta remember that Doug Peacock was a Green Beret who just got back from being a medic in Vietnam and expressed himself strongly, somewhat fearlessly, and jaded with any positive attributes human might have. When he had to cross roads on foot in some national parks, he would actually hide and wait for cars and the dreaded RVs to pass before traversing. During winter snow trips he carried a white sheet so when a plane passed overhead he would cover himself and his pack and wait for it to pass.

When I head out I use a calender and put the dates I'll be backpacking and a general idea of where I'll be at, mainly where I'll be leaving my car and a general two or three day window of when I'll be back. I could get snowed in by a blizzard or the creeks may rise, etc. The only reason I do this is because I have a significant other(udder?)in my life at this time, but for decades I went out and told no one cuz no one cared. Lived alone, hiked alone, etc.


Remember that nature and the elements are neither your friend or your enemy; they are actually disinterested.
--Department of the Army Field Manual FM 21-76 "Survival" Oct. 1970


:)

Leave it to the US Army to share its wisdom on nature while at the same time(1970)dropping thousands of gallons of dioxin agent orange over Vietnam. And the same US Army who followed a policy of native american extermination during the 19th Century. I'd say if anyone knew whether nature is our friend or enemy it would be the American Indians, and when you study their words they continually mention the close, intimate and "friendly" relationship they had and have with nature.

Mags
12-25-2008, 15:47
It is a joke TP, it's a joke.

It is my turn to work in the salt mine on a holiday (12n - 9pm no less. I have no holiday! ). We deal with financial companies who want to makes sure there is no glitch in getting the credit card bill out from all the shopping for today. ;) (It is also why I am interviewing for jobs after 1st)

If anyone should be grumpy, it should be me. :)

But you know what? I had a nice morning hike with friends I had not seen in a while. The skies were so clear, the air was crisp and I was able to play tour guide for people new to town.


Besides, to think the natives were peace loving nature hippies only is just as bad as thinking they were bloody savages. Both views simplify and are in error of a very complicated and interesting people.

Remember, there were many large mammals extinct in North America because of the people who communed with nature. ;)


Finally, I take the Army (and Taoist) view of nature: It just is!

Enjoy it for what it is..not what you want it to be.

MOWGLI
12-25-2008, 15:55
Merry Christmas Mags! May 2009 bring you a nice new job, and a nice new trail to hike!

Pedaling Fool
12-25-2008, 16:39
It is a joke TP, it's a joke...
Your "joke" didn't escape me, but it's still true. What's the difference between getting wet from a garden hose and a torrential downpour? There's more water in the downpour. It's no more or no less natural, it's just more water. Nothing magical or special, just more water.:sun

double d
12-26-2008, 01:45
John Gault, I always like reading your posts, but....you have an interesting why of explaining your logic! But hey, its interesting.

A New Convert
01-16-2009, 20:55
Took one on my paddling trip through the everglades last week. I didn't have one message get lost. They were all there. It made my nervous wife less so and helped her get involved in the trip. She thought it was 'cool' being able to figure out where I was and home far we had travled that day. Was worth the cost to me as I was able to be out without worrying about her worrying.


That said we talked about how it might not work and not to freak out if she didn't hear from me for a few days. Told her the only reason to call the ranger station was if we didn't come out when we were supposed to or if she got a help message from me. If she didn't get a mesage for the entire time I was out there it just meant that the SPOT was a POS and to not worry.


BC

dla
01-21-2009, 21:49
Did you use the tracking feature?

A New Convert
01-22-2009, 02:13
Did you use the tracking feature?


No. I bought it for the sake of my wife more than anything. Whenever we took a long rest (paddling a 700lb canoe against current tide and 20mph requires many breaks :) ) or stopped for the day I pulled it out and sent an ok message. At night I would send multiple ok messages so that I was sure one had gotten out. When I got home most of my camp sites were marked at least 3 times. Sometimes as many as 5 times.

Only 2 ok messages that I know of weren't received that I really wanted received. Both were to mark the beginning of a long section of river that I wanted to get an average speed for. In both cases the message didn't get received, and in both cases I didn't have a very clear view of the southern sky. (tree cover and a bad angle)


BC

ofthearth
01-22-2009, 15:57
I don't understand the vitrol againt a pretty good product. Are you just trolling out of boredom, or do you have any 1st-hand experience you could share?
......................... material removed ................


In answer to the question please see following post:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/images/icons/icon1.gif How Many Forum Members Does It Take to Change a Light bulb?
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=44826&highlight=lightbulb

Hikerwannabe
01-24-2009, 03:08
Well I am all for the Spot Sattilite Tracker. I bought one for Kayak Karl before he began his through hike. It Tracks him all through the day and he sends me a OK signal when hs is done for the day. Its a wonderful Tool for someone on the AT....I would recommend it highllllly to watch over your loved one,,,Has been totally great for us............

johnnybgood
01-24-2009, 14:43
Good to hear . I been thinking about getting one , waiting for all the bugs to be gotten out .

ofthearth
01-30-2009, 09:42
In case anybody missed it.
http://www.rei.com/gearmail/gm013009_1b/cm?cm_mmc=Email_com_gm-_-SPOT-_-013009B-_-img_spot

zohar
02-03-2009, 11:44
I wonder if they're pushing the rebate to clear out old stock before introducing an improved model.

gcobb1990
07-29-2009, 16:18
Me carrying the spot is going to help my mom sleep at night. It is definitely more for the comfort of those out of the wilderness than those in. I can handle the extra weight and the responsibility to press an "OK" button every day just so I can know she is "OK".

sheepdog
07-29-2009, 16:51
I think there are numeous reasons that people use SPOT. I was given SPOT this past year as a X-mas present, by a family that was adamant I take it. I was pretty adamant about not taking it, but finally conceded, if for no other reason than just to give them peace of mind.

I would turn the SPOT on track in the morning, and turn it off at night. I really forgot it was even there...except of course when my pack was heavy, and it was the first thing I wanted to toss.

My family and friends passed the SPOT link amongst themselves, and it was interesting to watch people's response to the ability to see the trail through google earth. People that had never been interested in my hikes were suddenly fascinated with the terrain and trail. Those that had always been nervous about my adventures, suddenly seemed to be much more at ease with the journeys.

I don't really consider the 911 function too much of an asset, b/c I imagine many situations I could not rectify, would probably be severe enough that it would be difficult to activate the SPOT anyway, since it is kept in the top of my pack and not on my person. This prevents the accidental activation of the device, but also limits it's use. Then again, this is not why I carry the SPOT.

An independent part of me will probably always resist this type of constant tracking, but it certainly has not inhibited my ability to go where I want, when I want to go. If nothing else, it has inspired my family to become more interested, without the constant stress of always "wondering."
Well said. A good device to give family peace of mind.

sheepdog
07-29-2009, 16:54
Going into the wilderness, without going into the wilderness. And hey, let's take that chance, it's easy to call for help if it doesn't work out.
It's not like the AT is wilderness. It's a recreation area.

Mags
06-25-2010, 14:04
Merry Christmas Mags! May 2009 bring you a nice new job, and a nice new trail to hike!


Isn't that funny..written 1.5 yrs ago and look what happened:

I was laid off from the job I could not stand in 2009...
Did the BMT and the TRT...
Skied A LOT...
Hiked A LOT...
Got to down to (and maintaining!) my PCT thru-hike weight...
Started a job that pays more money, has better hours and working conditions than my old job...
And somehow found myself in a LTR.

What a difference 1.5 yrs makes. :)

scott bonder
09-29-2010, 15:05
Backpack with my 5 and 7 year old. Love the SPOT. Gives me some hope that if one of us is hurt that we can get help. Was hiking along a cliff and was wondering what the kids could possibly do if I broke a leg. They know how to use it and I love the ability, even if it may not work in some tree cover, to get help. Better than nothing.

Turtle Feet
10-04-2010, 10:22
Anyone here have issues with the SPOT customer service?

I was ready to place my order for the unit until I read the hellish customer service reviews! Who needs that kind of headache?

couscous
10-04-2010, 10:52
I have one of the first units .. believe the poor customer service reviews. Once they get your credit card information, they will ignore any emails, faxes, or phone calls asking to discontinue the renewal process and deactivate the unit. The only thing I found that worked was sending a letter with delivery confirmation, but their customer "service" still tried to claim they never received a notice to deactivate the unit and were planning to charge me for another year's service. Caveat emptor.

Turtle Feet
10-04-2010, 11:02
I have one of the first units .. believe the poor customer service reviews. Once they get your credit card information, they will ignore any emails, faxes, or phone calls asking to discontinue the renewal process and deactivate the unit. The only thing I found that worked was sending a letter with delivery confirmation, but their customer "service" still tried to claim they never received a notice to deactivate the unit and were planning to charge me for another year's service. Caveat emptor.


Thank you SO MUCH Couscous! That seals the deal for me. Too bad too, why do companies not 'get it'???

Good news travels fast - bad news travels faster! :(

Panzer1
10-04-2010, 14:26
Me carrying the spot is going to help my mom sleep at night. It is definitely more for the comfort of those out of the wilderness than those in. I can handle the extra weight and the responsibility to press an "OK" button every day just so I can know she is "OK".

Why couldn't you just carry a cell phone and call your mom each night and tell her where you are and that you are OK and not to worry about you. If she actually hears your voice that would have to be better than just seeing your location on some web site. Also, with a cell phone you can call 911 for help and actually talk to someone. Or you could also use the cell phone to contact whiteblaze and ask for help from the membership.

I carry a cell phone when I'm on the trail and call my wife each night, let her know what's going on. You can also use a cell phone to send a quick text messages.

Panzer
(don't need any stinking spot devices)

Spokes
10-04-2010, 14:43
How many more Snickers Bars could you carry if you ditched the SPOT?

Just wondering.....

SGT Rock
10-04-2010, 14:47
2 king sized snicker bars or 4 regular sized snickers.

sevensixtwo187
10-04-2010, 16:30
Backpack with my 5 and 7 year old. Love the SPOT. Gives me some hope that if one of us is hurt that we can get help. Was hiking along a cliff and was wondering what the kids could possibly do if I broke a leg. They know how to use it and I love the ability, even if it may not work in some tree cover, to get help. Better than nothing.

That is EXACTLY why I have one. Better than nothing for my 12 year old if something were to happen to me.

sevensixtwo187
10-04-2010, 16:32
Anyone here have issues with the SPOT customer service?

I was ready to place my order for the unit until I read the hellish customer service reviews! Who needs that kind of headache?

I have only had to deal withthem once but they were extremely responsive and kind. Perhaps I just got lucky for once ..LOL:D

Turtle Feet
10-04-2010, 19:00
I have only had to deal withthem once but they were extremely responsive and kind. Perhaps I just got lucky for once ..LOL:D

I happen to check out the reviews on REI.com, that was my first 'red flag'. Looks like you were either lucky, or maybe they've gotten their act together. Either way, I'm going to keep looking...

TF

Spokes
10-04-2010, 22:11
2 king sized snicker bars or 4 regular sized snickers.

I know what I'm carryin'........

SunnyWalker
12-18-2010, 23:25
Spot is the greatest. Keeps me from worrying about my wife's worrying about me. She gets the ok messages and is just fine. It's the greatest.

trailangelbronco
12-19-2010, 00:31
The 1st Gen Spot was a piece of crap. The new Spot is alot better and works alot better.

I use one out West here where I am often way the hell out away from roads, or going off trails in some pretty remote areas. Alot of my favorite places out here you could go weeks without seeing anyone else. My favorite trail last summer I went six days without seeing a soul and got snipped by a rattlesnake on my Gaiters, luckly didn't penetrate but I was really happy that I had my spot with me. I send "I'm ok reports to my wife who can look up where I am at each night.

With that said, I wouldn't waste neither money or weight on a Spot for the AT. The AT is so full of hikers now days that Spot isn't needed there.

Another 20 years and they will put Mcdonalds and Hotel six's evry 20 miles on the AT, and LL Bean will sell UL toilet paper and lemonade at each road crossing.

Shutterbug
12-19-2010, 23:15
Spot is the greatest. Keeps me from worrying about my wife's worrying about me. She gets the ok messages and is just fine. It's the greatest.

Yes. I know it is expensive, but for me it is money well spent.

I got one of those Delorme/SPOT combinations that allow one to send text messages. In addition to sending "Ok" messages, one can send a customized message, like "I am camping here."

My purpose for carrying a SPOT is so my family can feel like they are participating in my hiking adventures on a "real time" basis. The ability to send customized text messages adds to that feeling.

For those who have not seen how a SPOT works, check out my website. My wife and I climbed Mt. Wrightson yesterday. Our family was able to watch as we climbed and descended. If you look at it, be sure to use the "hybrid" tab. http://www.davemcclung.com

max patch
12-19-2010, 23:26
Spot is the greatest. Keeps me from worrying about my wife's worrying about me. She gets the ok messages and is just fine. It's the greatest.

And the first nite she doesn't get the ok message because a signal can't get out she's gonna freak....