Greatest contribution to backpacker safety since the compass

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Carl A Mounteer

Re: Greatest contribution to backpacker safety since the compass

Post by Carl A Mounteer »

This is a concern for me too. But the 911 button is smaller and more recessed than the others. Like the other buttons, it has to be held down for at least 2 seconds to be activated. And it can be cancelled if held down for 5 seconds. Also the transmit does not happen the moment it is activated because it takes time to find the satellite and then more time to send the signal. But still, there is a risk of the 911 or Help buttons being accidentally depressed in a backpack with all the bumping around that typically goes on there on a trek. Obviously there is no way to know whether it is on or not if the 911 button has been turned on when it is in the backpack. I try to wrap the unit up in a T-shirt and put it in the middle of the pack to minimize this risk. It has a belt clip. But that, of course, would mean it is also exposed and liable to an accidental triggering.

However, the reviews on REI's website do not show any indication that an accidental triggering of any button has been a problem.

For now, I am willing to take the risk of an accidental 911 call just for the safety and peace of mind for myself and family.
D Dawson

Re: Greatest contribution to backpacker safety since the compass

Post by D Dawson »

There should be some sort of cover over the 911 button to prevent accidental pressing. This, as far as I'm concerned, is the biggest flaw of the SPOT. If I could be certain that the 911 button would not be accidentally pressed, which has reportedly happened a few times, then I would get one in an instant. As it is now, I'm waiting for version 2.0, which will apparently fix the problem.
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dknapp1
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Re: Greatest contribution to backpacker safety since the compass

Post by dknapp1 »

Another review of the SPOT system - about a year old though.

http://www.equipped.org/SPOT_ORSummer2007.htm
Carl A Mounteer

Greatest contribution to backpacker safety since the compass

Post by Carl A Mounteer »

I purchased a SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker and used it in Yosemite three weeks ago. It works like this. There are 4 buttons. One turns it on. One sends a pre-typed e-mail to a designated person telling them in 65 characters that you are ok with a link to Google Maps to show exactly where you are with latitude and longitude listed to six decimal places. A third sends a similar e-mail but asks for help with your exact location linked to Google Maps. The last button is a 911 button with your exact location, as described, which is forwarded to the appropriate search and rescue team. It is to be used only in life & death emergencies and a charge of $375-$750 is imposed if you use it without such an emergency.

In all but one location, it had me pegged exactly where I was despite the fact that I was in the canyon draining Echo Creek with a fair number of trees around. The erroneous location had me about 300 yards from my actual location which was on a ridge overlooking Nelson Lake.

The unit cost me $150 @ REI with a $99/year subscription fee. For $7.95 more you can get $100,000 worth of coverage for a helicopter extraction. (Contrast this with American Alpine Society's $5000 worth of coverage for $75/year.)

Since I have always backpacked alone, these twice-daily messages were an enormous relief to my wife. It also gave me an added sense of security knowing my wife knew where I was and I could always signal for help if needed. Another advantage is that it allowed me a lot more freedom to deviate from the planned route I leave with my wife in case things do not work out as anticipated. I find this happens about 50% of the time. So now, instead of being locked in to a prearranged plan, I can divert with the security of knowing that my location will always be known. Also, if I see an interesting place that is off my planned itinerary, I can take it with little risk of something going wrong and being in a location where rescuers are not likely to look because it is off my designated route.

For an extra $50/year you can get it to track your progress on Google Maps. But the reviews on this feature were not positive.

Obviously, this little, lightweight (approx. 7.5 oz.) device is an enormous contribution to backpacker safety and security. Just think of all of the hikers and backpackers who, if they had it, would have been found before trajedy descended. In my opinion, for solo backpackers, it just is not worth the risk being out there alone without one of these.
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