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SPOT Gen3

rated 3.0 of 5 stars

The Spot Gen3 has been discontinued. It was replaced by the SPOT Gen4.

photo: SPOT Gen3 locator beacon

Very slow sending—awful customer support.

Pros

  • Simple device

Cons

  • Customer service
  • Hidden fees

I bought a Spot Gen 3 on Amazon (sold out on REI) for my first overnight four-day backpacking trip on the Timberline Trail.

A couple things about the device itself: the construction is flimsy. The "waterproof" USB cap barely stays in place, which would likely result in the device being destroyed in rain, a fall into a river-crossing, or any other liquid-involved accident. Imagine falling into a river, breaking a bone, and your only way to let someone off the trail know you're hurt is via this shoddily-built device.

Message sending is SLOW. Don't plan on sending a quick message to the family letting them know you're okay. This thing takes 10-15+ minutes to send a message and it must be left face up, not moving, in order to send reliably.

Now let's talk about customer service. My experience with SPOT has been one of, if not the, worst experiences I have ever had with any company. Ever. What SPOT doesn't make clear is that when you activate your device, not only do you have to pay a one-time activation fee of $20, but you also have to sign up for a 12-month, non-cancellable subscription plan. If you go backpacking every month or so, that might be fine for you. But if you're someone like me who goes once or twice a year, that really isn't a great option.

Basically, for your first backpacking trip, SPOT has you on the hook for the price of the device ($150), an activation fee ($20), and a year of subscription fees ($120). $290! The worst part is that when you call them to explain that you needed to use the device for a month only, they basically tell you "too bad, you should have read our 150-page agreement that states you'd be on the hook for 12 months." Legally, that's all fair and good, but it doesn't earn you loyal customers. Now I have to jump through a bunch of hoops to return the device and cancel my subscription via my credit card company.

SPOT could have said to me "not problem, just reactive your subscription when you need it again." I would have been a happy, satisfied customer. Instead, they chose to irritate me to the point that I'm here, writing a 4-paragraph essay on why you should avoid this product like the plague.

I'm absolutely disgusted that SPOT has choose such an anti-consumer business model, especially for products that are literally meant to save lives in the event of an emergency. If you enjoy being nickle-and-dimed by a big corporation, then consider getting a SPOT gen 3. If not, look elsewhere. Thanks for reading!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 100

Excellent insurance for the solo hiker, hunter, or fisher(person).

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Attaches firmly to gear

Cons

  • Contacts have to be carefully prepped to find the info sent.

I am a solo hiker, hunter, and fisherman who needs some insurance against accidents in the wild. I live within half an hour of the national forest, but if I got lost or had a serious accident off the trail, the results could be catastrophic without a GPS locating device.

I've used the SPOT 3 twice this summer and find its periodic reporting of my precise location very satisfactory.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $150

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Specs

Price Current Retail: $99.88
Historic Range: $99.88-$169.99
Reviewers Paid: $150.00
Weight 4.0 oz / 114 g
Height 3.43 in / 8.72 cm
Width 2.56 in / 6.5 cm
Thickness 1 in / 2.54 cm
Operating Temp -22°F to 140°F / -30°C to +60°C
Operating Altitude -328 to +21,320 ft / -100 to +6,500 m
Impact, Water, and Dust Resistant IP67 / Submersible up to 1m for 30 minutes
Vibration Rated Per SAE J1455
Humidity Rated MIL-STD-810F, Method 5073, 95% to 100% cond.

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