SPOT Tracker review

WHW Kit Review

There’s been a lot of debate on the forums, a lot of opinion expressed about the application and ramifications of carrying a SPOT. Out of a SPOT, a mobile phone and a GPS, the SPOT is the one I’d take. You can say that folk will press 911 on Snowdon when their flask contents are colder than they expect. Well that’s as maybe, but retards will always find a way of relaunching the “pay for rescue” debate every few weeks whatever we do. For folks like ourselves who’ll use it right, to let family know where we are, to arrange pickup at a pre arranged bale-out point or to call in a SWAT team when an escaped Alladale wolf is chewing on our legs, it’s right on the money. It has applications beyond outdoors use for hillwalkers. kayakers and mountain bikers. Lone workers such as those in forestry and farming would benefit from carrying a SPOT. No doubt the debate will continue, but the important thing that’s getting forgotten is: Does the thing actually work?

Aye, it does.

I’ve used it on over 200 miles of highland terrain. My first run out around the Ardgarten peninsula I was getting used to it and was a bit hesitant and conscious of getting it right. Although the function of it is simplicity itself, there’s only four buttons, each with a specific function. There’s four LEDS and the blink patteren is specific and easy to recognise. Read the book, that’s all you need to do.

I tried in in a variety of situations and I missed a couple of pings that first day. One near the visitor centre and another under a radio mast. On my second Ardgarten round I was more confident with the SPOT. Rather than holding it in my hand and watching it I had it hanging from my rucksack chest strap and let it do it’s thing and it worked fine, missing only one ping in dense forest.

On the WHW we ran the Live Map test with Adventure Trading Post and LFTO and this was the real test of the SPOT. I used it constantly in weather from snow to rain to sunshine, in glens, in forest, by steep hillsides and crags for nearly 100 miles in less than three days. It missed one ping in that time, and I knew it had done so. It was on Conic hill and as I got the lock LED signal I turned 180deg North and broke the connection. I pressed the button again and it went through nae bother as I walked away.

The information you get from the pings is an email with a link to Googlemaps with your position and message attached which you set on the SPOT site before you go. I’ve tested both the OK and HELP signals and they work, as the many folk who volunteered to recieve the emails will confirm. The use of this information is evolving to make it more useful to websites and blogs, so they’re moving in the right direction.

Summary? It works, I like it. I’ll be using one in the future. When I’m away I’ll send a ping to Joycees email and she can show Holly where dad is. That peace of mind for my family makes it worth it’s weight and cost.

8 thoughts on “SPOT Tracker review

  1. Well I was going to say summat sensible but

    “call in a SWAT team when an escaped Alladale wolf is chewing on our legs”

    And now I think I’ve gone and broken summat in my innards laughing.

    Anyhow – I like it as well. I like the way it doesn’t get in the way. I just press the button and it gets on with it. Nothing more to faff with or do.

    I don’t want to know where I am when I’m there. I am, after all, simply and obviously just there. I like a map for precision. Having only ever used a GPS for a lazy confirmation a couple of times when I was concerned others might be getting cold. Or to find an earlier picked out wild-camp spot in the dark after a long drive.

    But I do like knowing where I’ve been. And on longer walks I know my folks like to follow along on the map at home. This will please them no end.

  2. Aye, definitely.

    I think there’s maybe too much concentration on the 911 aspect and the possible misuse. As you say, the other applications are just fantastic.

    I’ve got my own SPOT now and it’ll get it’s first test tomorrow night hopefully.

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