Small personal GPS tracking devices are in high demand these days and I have spent the last 3 months testing my new SPOT Gen3 (now Gen 4).
I would like to give you my personal feedback on the SPOT Gen3, including what it does well and what it is lacking in.
What the SPOT Gen3 Does Well
I will list the areas the Gen3 does well in, with some of the information coming from SPOT’s website, but I will only list it here if my experience with it is in agreement with SPOT’s.
- Compact and Lightweight
- They absolutely got this right. Sometimes an easy to use device, that you hardly realize you have on your pack, may be the ideal locator beacon.
- What I love about the SPOT Gen3 is that I don’t feel the weight or bulk from it being velcroed to the strap on my pack. I have to check to see if I really have it on me.
- The SPOT Gen3 would be great to add to your kids packs on a hiking trip as you could have their tracking signal on and they would never realize it was there, except for the cool orange gadget that they have.
- Custom Tracking Rates
- True – You can change the tracking rates between 5, 10 30 and 60 minute tracking rates.
- Movement Alerts
- You can set this at 30 minutes, 1, 4 and 12 hours. This is perfect for customizing how much you move or rest.
- Social Networks
- You can set up notifications to Twitter and Facebook. I personally have no interest in this at the moment but it is a great feature.
- SPOT App
- The SPOT App is extremely easy to use and anyone can install it and see your tracking pins, if you give them the code to your SPOT Gen3.
- This was great for me to use as I was field testing the Gen3. I made sure I was on a trail that had cell service and then I added my self to the contacts so I could see in real time my tracks and what happened when I tested different functions.
- Motion Activated Tracking
- This is a great feature as it conserves your battery when you do things like stop for lunch or just take a break.
- Check In, Custom Message & HELP/SPOT buttons
- are only 1-way messages but it is enough to let your family and friends know you are okay.
- A few times, it took up to 5 minutes for the message to be relayed but most of the time the messages were sent within 2 minutes.
- Flexible Service Plans
- They have 6 plans to choose from, 3 that are month to month, and 3 that are paid monthly but with an annual contract. You can save money on the annual subscriptions and this is great if you use your SPOT Gen3 throughout the year but the monthly plans area great if you only plan on going outdoors a few times during the summer.
- Initial Purchase Price
- This is not listed on SPOT’s website but it is the primary reason the Gen3 was the first Emergency Satellite Messenger (ESM) I purchased.
- I knew how important it was to get something on my pack that would allow me to send messages and make an S.O.S. distress call if the worst did happen, and I was fortunate to find the SPOT Gen3 on sale at Amazon for under $100. The price is normally somewhere around $130 to $150 but you can find it on sale at times. You can check the latest prices HERE if you would like to see what they are selling for now.
What the SPOT Gen3 Lacks In
- Custom Messages
- I’m adding this here also because, even though you have, up to 3 messages you can customize, there are still only 3 and you have to be very strategic about what you want the messages to say. I would prefer a few more customizable buttons but for the price, and having an ESM on me, it’s probable good enough.
- 1-Way Messaging
- Even though it is great to have 1-way messaging, and that may be all many of you need, I really feel the need to move on to a 2-way Emergency Satellite Messenger.
- Here’s my reasoning – I almost always go hiking with small groups and it seems like we split up all the time to check out different areas. With 2-way messaging, you would be able to communicate with the other group, as long as someone in the other group also had an ESM.
Please don’t take my comments as the SPOT Gen3 is not a good emergency satellite messenger.
On the Contrary! The SPOT Gen3 is a great ESM that will meet your needs perfectly and is one of the most reasonably priced emergency locators on the market for people to buy who don’t have a lot of money.
If you have more money, then you may opt for another ESM that has more cool features but the SPOT Gen3 is ideal for 80% or more of outdoor enthusiasts.
Think about it with me for a minute. What are the most important features you normally need or want on an outdoor adventure?
- S.O.S. Distress Call Function
- Custom Messages to let your family and friends know you are okay
- Tracking, so people can see where you are and that you are still moving and haven’t called for help.
If you’re anything like me, these three things are most likely the most important.
Most of the time, we want to get away from the busy lives we have and unwind in the great outdoors and normally don’t want to be bothered. We just want the peace of mind to know we can be rescued and that our family and friends will be comforted knowing where we are and that everything is fine.
If you would like more information on Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and Emergency Satellite Messengers (ESMs), you can learn more at my Emergency Radio Reviews.
You can’t go wrong buying the SPOT Gen3, especially if you are short on money or are new to ESMs and want to buy something that won’t break the bank account.
- S. O. S. - in an emergency, send an S. O. S. With your GPS location to geos, who facilitates search and rescue
- Check in - let contacts know where you are and that you're okay with a pre-programmed message
- Help/spot S. O. V. - request help from your friends and family at your GPS location. OR, ask for help from professional assistance organizations
- Custom message- let contacts know where you are by sending a pre-programmed message with your GPS location
- Track- automatically send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress using google maps
- Service agreement required.
This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.
I would love to hear your comments and feedback below or you can leave me an Email with questions.
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World Wide Coverage3.5/5
Tracking & Sharing5.0/5
Initial Cost & Subscription Plan4.5/5
- Compact & Lightweight
- SOS Distress Call
- Track & Share with Friends
- Rental Options
- Low Initial Purchase Price
- Only 1-Way Communication
- No Smartphone Interface
- No Navigation
6 thoughts on “GPS Hiking Tracker | SPOT Gen3”
Wow, thanks for the detailed information! It’s nice to see one of the GPS alert trackers NOT cost a zillion bucks! This one would be great for the occasional hiker, like me! I definitely wouldn’t want to spend much over $100 for something I might use twice a year, right. That said, not sure why I’d want to update that to FB or Twitter really unless I literally had no one to send an alert to if I was in trouble or if I had an accident. I don’t know. An interesting feature though.
These are so important because all of us think we’re invincible but the truth is we’re not and the older I get, the more I realize that.
The social media is great for people that want to possibly build on on-line business or maybe they want to get people interested in something like hiking. It’s not high on my list either but I guess it is for some people.
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Hello and thank you for your review on this product. I am amazed at the sophistication of this tracker at such a reasonable price point. This would be more than enough bells and whistles for me and my family. Definitely a must have for long and/or multi-day hikes. Thank you again for your expertise and advice. Michael
Thank you Michael for the nice comments. The way I have found to learn more about each one of these is to buy them and field test them until I am sure I know what it’s limitations are. I have always found it is easier to write or talk to someone about a product or issue when I am extremely knowledgeable on the subject. It’s also like talking from experience, rather then what someone else said.
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Thanks for the in-depth look at this GPS hiking tracker. The SPOT Gen3 looks like it would work out perfectly fine for it’s limited tasks when needed, but that there might be other (better) options out there that can be more useful with very useful added functionality & features. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Aly. You are right that there are many to choose from with different functions and options and that’s why I’m careful to never tell anyone that “this one” is the best, because we all have different outdoor activities we like. It’s nice that there are so many to choose from and we can find the perfect one for us.
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