Contributors to this thread:
Does anyone use the SPOT device? My wife is a bit concerned about my well-being and she considers this a good investment. Does anyone use this and have some insight they would be willing to share?
I have used a SPOT and ended up buying a DeLorme InReach a few years ago instead. The SPOT worked pretty well on my goat hunt (I had borrowed it from a friend). I noticed a couple of my OK messages never got sent, I'm not the only person that has happened to. I bought the InReach instead because you can receive text messages too, you can only send messages with a SPOT. I like having something like this since we have small kids, I want to be able to get information from home in case something happens while I'm gone. Another benefit of the InReach is you can sign up for the service on a month to month basis instead of for the whole year, which offsets the initial purchase being more expensive.
If I had to do it again I would purchase the Inreach even thought is costs nearly $400 for the unit.. I purchased the Spot two years ago on sale for $75, but they just raised their yearly charge to $200. In the long run, I think the Inreach might be the better deal with more functions.
I used a SPOT 3 device on a moose hunt in Ontario in 2015. Did not have an emergency but all messages and the tracking were spot on (pun intended). In the end it really does not matter which device you pick as long as you have a plan in case of emergency. Most of us have family to return to. If you are interested I have the SPOT 3 model for sale in Classifieds section. Have fun, be safe, come home, repeat.
SPOT works pretty well. You can send a couple different pre-programmed texts. InReach is better if you want to carry an actual conversation via texts. I have a SPOT pm me if you want it.
Picked up a Delorme Inreach last week off of Amazon (The GPS Store).
I've been using the SPOT for four years. I like it because it's one-way communication so I don't have to deal with any drama at home. When I'm hunting I want to focus on the hunt. My wife needed to find me once and drove right to my camp on a remote two-track where she's never been before. The daily location maps are right on.
One thing I learned is that you need to leave it on for 20 minutes after sending to ensure your message gets through. You can watch the progress LEDs as they go from GPS to Send to Sent.
I didn't get a notice that the fee had been raised. I was paying $12 a month (for the SPOT 2) and use it year round so it's worth it just for the 911 and check-in functions, which are all I use.
I also have a message saying "I'm not hurt but have a problem and need help" that I can send to wife and a couple trusted friends in case of a vehicle breakdown, stuck, non-emergency medical problem.
I have used InReach for a couple of years now and really like it. It has done everything I have needed as far as staying in contact with family and business. I especially like the feature of being able to sign up as needed for a month of service instead of the usual yearly plans and "activation fee" punishments if you let it lapse while not in use.
Just checked my SPOT bill and it's $165 for the coming year. I don't do any of the social media crap with it so I just have the basic plan. Don't want anyone to know where I'm hunting or scouting!
InReach for sure. Love the weather reports and texting option.
I prefer the ability to get feedback from the homefront in case there is an actual emergency. Better to get the info quick than having to wait for first responders to come and find you...
Inreach over SPOT any day IMO. I've owned both.
How much is the annual fee for InReach?
Depends on what you want - https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/
I guess for someone who wants two-way messaging and has some issues at home or work that need attention it would be a good thing. Looks like it would be north of $600 a year for an active outdoorsman who needs to send- receive a lot of stuff.
I'd rather leave all that behind when I plunge into the woods. Not sure how we all got by before the days of 24-7-365 connectivity everywhere. A check-in button and 911 is about all I can tolerate. To each his own.
I own both. I started out with the SPOT, which honestly was as much piece of mind for my wife as anything. I also liked having it when hunting with my kids. I had one of them carry it as if something happened to me, I knew they could get help. I know have the InReach and think it will be better given the ability to have the texting option. My kids are also old enough now that I think they can manage it even under stress etc ...
Delorme you can activate/deactivate when you don't need it. I only have mine active for portions of Aug-Jan. It's not calendar month, but month from activation date. Basically $20/month and something like $20 annually for the ability to turn your service on/off. My annual fee ends up being <$100.
You get free pre-programmed messages that you can customize, so you can send those messages as often as you like for no charge. I rarely send more than just the pre-programmed messages.
I don't do any chit chat conversation or track points to social media. But it's nice to be able to know about anything that were to come up on the home front that I need to take care of. While I like to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors, family comes first, so if something hits the fan and I need to get home I'd rather have the ability to know than to blissfully be in the woods.
Plus I've found the Delorme to be much more dependable in sending messages. It confirms that the message is sent, so you're not wondering whether it went out or not, or having to leave it on for 20-30 min to be sure a message goes out. Delorme tells me and it's usually within a minute or 2.
I've had a Spot for 8 years now. Does everything I need it to. Wife loves it because she knows we're to go to pick up the pieces and collect the insurance.
My wife works in the medical field and actually looked at some of the literature on the SPOT/Inreach while at work today. Her big concern is snakes out in South Dakota while I am spot/stalking antelope. I have only seen one while I was hunting and I am not sure that the juice is worth the squeeze.
If you want to use the InReach the way you currently use your SPOT, it costs about $12/month for an annual contract. That gives you unlimited preset messages and unlimited access to the SOS. They call it the Safety Plan. If you want to use more of the communication features including the two way texting it'll cost more.
That said, I like the freedom to cancel and activate as needed. The month to month feature is great for someone like me who finds themselves in the backcountry for just a few trips out of the year. I typically end up buying their Expedition plan which gives you unlimited texting. I'll usually have it active for 2-3 months at most and am therefore paying about $150-200 per year to have unlimited two way communication in the backcountry.
I have one of the very first InReaches. I've been running it for over five years now and it still works great.
@RD in WI: You are right. Go with GOD, stay with GOD, and you will be OK. However, there is a small, almost minute, chance that something will go wrong. What does GOD have to say about that? "God helps those who help themselves". We do have the gift of free will after all. If money is more important to you then you have already made your choice.
I understand your wanting to get away from the connectivity, Jaq. I don't have texting conversations with back home.
If there is a problem, I can give more details with the InReach. It's a way to communicate with your hunting partners. You can contact friends for pack duty or a pack outfitter on call. The weather feature is the biggest advantage to me.
Don K's Link
I would need to convince my wife that I can text her but she can't text me back....
You can get the Inreach SE for 250 bucks right now
For you guys with the in reach does it take the place of your GPS or am I reading that incorrectly?
I have the original that definitely does not take the place of a GPS. It can track your location and send or log coordinates but there's no interface to see them on a map. The newer versions (Explorer, SE, etc) may have more GPS functionality that someone else can speak to.
well my daughter bought me a SPOT and subscription, because I trap and hunt solo in the western UP, easy to twist an ankle or worse, now that I am looking at 68.... anyway a MI state trooper told me, that when I would have to hit that spot, it goes all out, including the coast guard, in Lake Superior,,,,,,,, he said, we will know exactly where you are at............. getting to you might be tougher, ha ha
I do not need to text anyone, too busy in the woods, too much to do, but nice to know, that if I need help, it is coming
inReach user here. I also use the $12 plan until September then switch to unlimited for a month. I picked mine up for $250 last year on B&H Photo.
Like midwest stated, weather forecast is awesome and my favorite part is I can use the app via bluetooth to my iPhone so the inReach stays in the pack. Allows for easier typing when texting. Can't say enough about it!
"For you guys with the in reach does it take the place of your GPS or am I reading that incorrectly?" You don't need the inReach for that. Although when you have a subscription the app comes with mapping including aerials (have to be dowloaded) and topo. So your phone can be your GPS, Weather, SOS and text function to others while bluetoothed to your iPhone.
NOTE: running the gps function on my phone with the garmin earthmate app is not battery friendly. The GPS while if used heavily burns up the battery at least in my and cnelk's experience.
I also used to have a SPOT, but "upgraded" to an inReach about 2 years ago. If you get the inReach plan that lets you suspend service for much of the year, and don't go crazy with text messages (you get 10 per month with the cheapest plan), then the cost difference between the SPOT and inReach is minor. Yes, for some people there is a downside to having 2-way communication, but I have found it very useful. My wife knows not to text me if the plumbing is backed up, just call a dang plumber! As others have mentioned the weather forecast feature is pretty neat, I was in AK last Fall and it was surprisingly accurate.
My wife has decided to buy me a personal locator beacon that we will register with NOAA. I guess that you only turn it on when something bad has occurred and then the cavalry comes to find you. Thank you for all the advice and insight. I appreciate it.
RD I would double check on that
We in Search and Rescue recommend having a PLD with you. We evaluated the different models and found that the Spot was the easiest to use, but the highest "fail to send" rate. The Spot transmits at .5 watts and if you are in heavy timber or fall on top of it, it will not have the power to get to the satellites. The others transmit at the limit allowed by the FCC ( I believe it is around 5 watts) and can find most all of the satellites in your sector. The Spot utilizes its own satellite system and maintains its own central emergency center. The other units utilize the government satellite system and your request for help goes directly to the Air Force Search and Rescue Service at Tyndall AFB. They take your Lat/Long reading and contact the Law Enforcement for that area, and Bingo, help is on the way. As a SAR volunteer, the worst problem we have is people hitting the emergency button and then moving their location trying to help people find them. It does no good for us to go to a lat/long location to find only footprints leaving the area.
I've used the Spot 3 for a few years and never had a problem with the "I'm OK" messages being sent. Would be interesting to know how many of the calls in "failed to send" total were simply because the unit was turned off quicker than recommended.
This is important......you need to have a unit that records a "breadcrumb trail". So if the unit or YOU becomes inoperable there will be the breadcrumb to your last location. That is where SAR will start to look for you. The ACR is a great unit and has more "power" and also transmits to Air Force center, it does nothing until you trigger the SOS. There is not a monthly/yearly fee. You have to be conscious to trigger the SOS with any of these units. With the SPOT or Inreach the people you designate can watch your progress on their computer.The new Inreach SE and Explorer are GPS units that can also text. The SPOT gen 3 can send programmed text-"I am OK"- "Going To Plan B" etc.