SPOT Messenger

I’ve been intending to share the gear that I use with my readers. I’ve been laggin’ on that, but the SPOT has been the topic of conversation 3 times in the last week. I figured that maybe it was a sign to say something about it.

I bought the SPOT when it came out. Yes, I’m an early adopter kind of guy, and this thing was something that appealed to me. At the time that I bought it I was only riding my moto. I was traveling out to the desert, or up into the Sierras. Places where there may or may not be any cell phone coverage. This device looked like a necessary piece of equipment for anybody doing any type of adventures away from the city. Basically, it’s a GPS enabled tracker. It’s not a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), and it’s not a sat phone. It has 3 main options, and one optional one.

1) OK/CHECK-IN:It can send an email or text to whomever you want to let them know you are OK. It uses the GPS to share your location, and the people that receive your messages can see where you are on a map.

2) HELP: It can send an email or text to whomever you want to let them know you need help. This is for non-emergency help. maybe a tow or a mechanical breakdown.

3) 911:Probably the most important option is to call 911. If you push the 911 button, the GEOS tracking center can locate you, and determine the best way to reach you. This doesn’t necessarily mean an airlift, but it can, depending on where you are.

4) Live Tracking:. If you enable this option, your family or friends can follow along on your adventures. You can share a webpage that shows your SPOT on a map so they can see where you are at all times.

I always carried the SPOT on my moto trips, mostly to check in with my wife. My plan was that I’d send a Check-In message at night, and then again in the morning if I had no cell coverage. Then she could follow along throughout the day to see where I was, and I would try and check in by phone when I could. Luckily, I’ve never had to use either of the HELP options. When I crashed down in Baja, my friends and family saw that I had stopped for a long time in one area thanks to the Tracking. However, I never felt like there was an emergency so I didn’t hit the 911 button.

I’d been thinking about using it on my bike, but kept talking myself out of it. I didn’t see the point of carrying a GPS, which I do, and the SPOT. However, this weekend, a friend was out a ride that turned bad. He’s the only other cyclist I know that has a SPOT, and unfortunately he had to use his. Here’s his story.

The website said the crest was open, but, after walking 4 miles in snow just past Crystal Lake, I found that angeles crest road had snow at least 4 feet. So I walked another 8 miles through more snow & realized at 2:30pm not having reached cloudburst summit that I am seriously in danger of being stuck in the snow. So I tap 911 on my spot GPS & sit down & use snow for hydration. Then keep walking each step dropping 1 foot in snow, then sometimes the bike would sink in the snow. Jenna gets the call from Spot & they ask is he in trouble? She goes online and sees I’m moving at 1.2 miles per hour, but still moving. She calls the fire dept & then 2 hrs later sheriff’s helicopter drops a guy down. I must have looked like an alien in the snow standing with my bike & dressed in my assos. I was dehydrated, hungry, but not injured. They drop a line and airlift me out but the bike stays on the mountain – to windy to land the heli.

After talking to him and seeing his pics, I’ll be carrying my SPOT with me more often. I’m really glad that I have one. Depending on where your going, it can save your life. If, or when, I return to Baja I will have my SPOT with me, alongside a PLB and a sat phone. They are all good compliments to each other.

There’s a cool new feature on the SPOT website that allows you to share your adventures so I think I’ll try it out. Keep an eye out for it!