I use SPOT and I'm pretty happy with it. I've attached a link to a kml file that shows a
hike to unnamed lakes in Idaho (they litterally lack names - I'm not trying to hide the location). The hike is a typical mix
of canopy, open space, bare rock, etc. Good example of the TRACK and OK message features on a real hike. TRACK messages
are sent every 10minutes - you can see where a couple didn't make it - most likely because the unit couldn't get a GPS fix.
The OK messages were sent by me at lunch or when I camped for the night. All OK messages went out - if I can see the sky clearly
then SPOT will get the message out.
When hiking I mount the unit face up on the top of my pack. I sewed a little loop on my pack and I use a
rubber band around the belt clip and unit to secure it to the loop. I've also got a little lanyard on the unit to the pack
in case it get's knocked off in heavy brush. Maybe I'll post a picture of this one of these days.
The messages shown were available to my family via a shared webpage, email and text messages (only the OK
messages via email and text message). They could follow my adventure real-time, which provided peace of mind. Had there been
a problem, loved ones and Search And Rescue would've known where to find me.
I've got about 40hrs of use on one set of batteries. I'm not sure how long they will last, but they've certainly
lasted a long time. SPOT is very easy on batteries. As I said earlier, if I can see the sky clearly SPOT will get the message
out. I haven't used it in nasty, rainy weather yet, so I don't know the effect on performance. It does work on the dashboard
of a Ford Ranger pickup - so auto glass doesn't seem to bother it.
SPOT is very rugged, reasonably priced and offers unique communication features. In most cases, SPOT is
more than adequate for communicating an emergency situation. And given that most people lack any means beyond a
cell phone, (with its limited service area), a SPOT represents a huge step forward in responsible backcountry practice. But,
and this is important, as good as SPOT is, there are better single-purpose EPLBs. IF you are engaging
in ultra-nasty activities, like climbing Mt. Everest (or climbing Mt.Hood in Oregon), then you would be better served with
a true EPLB. Why? Because an EPLB has a higher power transmitter, a homing beacon frequency, is less sensitive to orientation,
and will signal an emergency even under forest canopy. OK, having said all that, SPOT is plenty for me - I hunt, fish, backpack
and generally wander around.
I don't sell SPOT - I'm just a happy user (got one for Father's day). I hope this information helps you
decide if SPOT is right for you.
PS. I accidently sent a 911 message while traveling down the road in my pickup. Happened because I smashed
the SPOT unit into a kleenex box on the dash to keep it from vibrating against the windshield. The Emergency Response people
called my wife first - left a message. Then they called my daughter who was sitting next to me. We told them what happened
and they cancelled the 911 message. Less than 10 minutes. I was embarassed but relieved at the same time. It was good to know
that the 911 service is real.