Spot Gen 3 Satellite Messenger | Out of the Box Review

My First Impressions

SPOT Gen3 Just Out of the BoxMy first satellite messenger was just delivered to my door. I bought the Spot Gen 3 Satellite Messenger. It only took 2 days for Amazon to ship it to me. It was one day late of a 12-mile hike, by myself but It will be with me on my future hikes.

It was very nicely packaged and all the parts were present. I’m still impressed with it arriving in just 2 days.

The SPOT Gen3 is really small. It’s only about the size of a wallet, and a small wallet at that. It also comes with a strap to secure it to your pack.

SPOT Gen 3 with Pack Strap

Things I Learned

As soon as I started ready the quick start guide, I learned some things that are not predominately displayed on SPOT’s website.

1st – there no service provided, not even the SOS service without activating your device and paying the monthly or yearly subscription fee. Granted, the subscription fee isn’t much at $11.95 but I guess I was thinking at least the SOS would work without a subscription. I need to read more closely next time.

2nd – they make it really clear that you need a clear view of the sky to obtain a GPS signal and provide the most accurate location information. The Gen3 is not reliable indoors, in a cave or in a very dense forest.

3rd – Orient the SPOT Gen3 with the logo face up toward the sky which will improve its performance. The antenna is located under the logo.

4th – keep the SPOT at least 12 inches away from other GPS devices, as the SPOT can interfere with signal reception for other GPS devices.

Well, the 2nd item makes it abundantly clear that if you fall from a cliff, you better land in the open or be able to pull yourself to where you have a clear view of the sky. I’m making a little joke here but you need to be aware of this. It’s the same as if you had a life-threatening emergency in a dense forest. You must make sure you have a clear view of the sky. It makes you think of where you want your accident to be, just joking.

SPOT Gen 4

A Look Inside

I wanted to give you a quick look inside to see the rechargeable batteries and how the USB charging cable is attached. They have a real nice design because you can open the back with a screw driver or a metal connection pops up and you can easily turn it with your hand. The 4 AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium 8x batteries are included in the package. The back is easily re-attached and the back has a cut out where the USB charging cable can be attached without taking the back off again.

Spot Gen 3 with Batteries Installed

SPOT Gen3 with USB Charging Cable

It took me about 10 minutes to unpack and look through all the documents. It took me about 30 minutes to go through the activation and setup of the Gen3. I still have contact information and a pre-programmed message to set up so my guess is I have another hour or so to set things up and test it out before I hit the trail again. However, saying all that, the setup was easy and the instructions on the website were straightforward and clear to follow.

SPOT Gen3 SOS CoverThere was something else that I was concerned about but SPOT did a great job of taking care of. I was concerned with how easy it would be to activate the SOS distress call button. Fortunately, it and the Help/SPOT S.O.V. buttons have a cover that you have to open in order to activate either button.


SPOT Gen3 Emergency CoverThe SOS button is obvious and you never want to activate it unless you are in a life-threatening emergency but the HELP/SPOT SOV is a non-life threatening message you can send out to friends, family and even an emergency service, but that is an extra charge per month (the extra charge is for the service, not the message to you friends and family). It is free for your family to come and rescue you.


I guess I still have more to add to this review but I will add that review after I test everything out and hit the trail for the first time with the SPOT Gen3 Satellite Messenger. The interval timing settings are set at 5 minutes now and I will also show you the map of my hike with the intervals shown and give you my final thoughts on the Gen3’s performance.

SPOT Gen 4

I do want to leave you with a few last things. Below is a photo of the SPOT Gen3 attached to my day pack.

Spot Gen3 on Daypack

Here is a photo of the SPOT app which is free to install and your family and friends can see where you are at the intervals you have set, plus that is where the messages show up.


I will be back with another update soon after I put the SPOT Gen3 through its paces on the trail. Until then, go out and enjoy the outdoors, and hopefully this never happens to you, but if you do end up in trouble, at least they can come for you.

SPOT Gen3 Helicopter Rescue

If you have questions about other Personal Locator Devices (PLBs) or Satellite Messenger, check out my Emergency Radio Reviews.

SPOT Gen 4

Spot Gen 4 Satellite GPS Messenger | Handheld Portable GPS Messenger for Hiking, Camping, Outdoor Activities | Globalstar Satellite Network Coverage | Subscription Applicable
32 Reviews
Spot Gen 4 Satellite GPS Messenger | Handheld Portable GPS Messenger for Hiking, Camping, Outdoor Activities | Globalstar Satellite Network Coverage | Subscription Applicable
  • MEANT FOR ADVENTURE: Spot Gen4 provides critical, life-saving line of communication when you travel beyond cell towers; Let family know you're ok or push the SOS button to send your GPS to emergency responders if you need help
  • NO CELL PHONE OR SERVICE-NO PROBLEM: With the Tracking feature Gen4 can transmit location updates when you are moving and when you stop; Keep one in your child's backpack for the walk home
  • GLOBALSTAR SATELLITE & SPOT products use GPS to determine location and transmit GPS coordinates to others; SPOT users can notify friends, family or emergency rescue their exact GPS coordinates
  • WHAT'S IN THE BOX: Spot Gen4 device, Strap and Carabiner, USB Cable, Batteries and quick start guide; Subscription required; Two service plans available
  • PURCHASE, ACTIVATE, EXPLORE: Grab a Spot Gen4; Activate by selecting your service plan; Get out there and explore the world with peace of mind

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

If you would like additional information, leave a COMMENT BELOW or send me an EMAIL.

Check out my Top 11 Satellite Communicators of 2023 in this YouTube video below.

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12 thoughts on “Spot Gen 3 Satellite Messenger | Out of the Box Review”

  1. First congratulations on getting your own spat gen3. Big thanks to you for giving us full details on this device. As you have said the device must have an uninterrupted space to the sky before it can catch a signal, are there any means one can go through in situations where there isn’t such space like you said a cave?

    • I would like to offer some great advice on this issue and I will do my best but the bottom line is there are limitations with every piece of technology.

      If I were out in a heavily wooded forest, I would stop periodically when I had a better view of the sky and make sure I was able to get a satellite signal and then move on.

      If I were in an area such as a canyon, with steep rock walls, again, I would make sure to get out in an open area where I could verify I had a signal from a satellite.

      The bigger question comes if there is a life-threatening emergency and you can’t pick where that will happen. The best thing I can say there is that you may have to move yourself, by dragging yourself or with whatever means possible to make sure you have some view of the sky.

      I will be testing my SPOT Gen3 to see what the limitations are and will be writing a blog post about it soon. I will also be testing it against the Garmin inReach Explorer or Mini to see if there is a difference in being able to acquire a satellite connection.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.


  2. Hi

    Thank you very much for a very detailed review of this messenger device, which could be the difference between life and death. It will provide so much peace of mind to anybody caught out in doing their favourite pastime. I have a number of questions that I would appreciate being  answered.

    Can you use a satellite phone instead of this messenger? What happens if the device becomes separate from yourself, or if it is damaged?

    Thank you


    • A satellite phone is a great option for communicating with others but they can be expensive and have expensive subscriptions. The other problem is, do they have an SOS distress call button that can get emergency service moving toward you in life-threatening situations. The Satellite Messengers are a great option because they have the SOS function and many of them allow for 2-way messaging. It’s not a phone call but most people prefer to text anyway these days.

      The issue is the same for any device that is damaged or gets separated from you. There are times you have to rely on yourself and your group to make your way to safety or send a healthy person for help. 

      Technology can be a great help and advantage but we can’t completely rely on that.


  3. The spot gen 3 satellite messenger is yet another fantastic gift idea for anyone who works or does sport or adventure trails in remote or potentially dangerous areas or terrain, in fact tracking devices such as the spot gen 3 satellite messenger are an essential piece of equipment, no matter how experienced or safe someone may think they are, there is always the danger of an unexpected accident, as with all satellite tracking devices the spot gen 3 can absolutely save lives and as I said at the beginning of this comment, it really would make an ideal gift, thank you for sharing.      

    • Hey Russ. I will never go out again on a hiking trip without the SPOT Gen3 or other emergency locator beacon. I will be buying a few others to get first hand experience them to then relay that information on to everyone here.

      The minimal thing to do is to make sure at least one person in your group has a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or Satellite Messenger but there is a problem with that also. Almost every backpacking or hiking trip I have taken has led to the group splitting up at times and then only the group with the person with the emergency locator has the emergency service.

      So, as tough as it may be for people to get one for everyone in the group, it is much more advisable than only having one, but at least one would be better than none.


  4. The best feature of this would be the emergency responder in case of accidents. It has a great tracking that provides the hiker the safe feeling that whatever happens, he/she can be easily located. No one knows what peril might come to you while hiking. It’s best to be equipped with this kind of technology just to be sure.  Spot Gen 3 Satellite Messenger is an innovative and a  smart product that is on top of the line.  It should be invested especially my active hikers. Thanks for sharing. I hope to read your follow up review of Spot Gen 3 soon. 

    • Thanks for your thoughts on the SPOT Gen3. It really is nice to have, and a must to have, for me and I am looking forward to seeing how it functions on some challenging trails here in the Rocky Mountains.

      It’s a great gift idea also for adventurous people and its nice for family and friends to know they can communicate with and or know the loved one can get help if needed.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  5. Technology is so dynamic, and locator devices are very important There has been a progressive increase in the sophistication of these devices, which is welcome. The beauty of these devices is the adventure it encourages, you don’t have to worry of losing touch with your direction when hiking for instance.

    • As much as I like heading into the mountains to get away from the crowds and technology, its nice to have enough reliable technology to get you out of trouble if it ever finds you.

      It’s fascinating to think where where we be in another 5 or 10 years as fast as this technology is progressing.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.


  6. This Spot Gen 3 Satellite Messenger seems to be just what is needed for explorers, hikers,and travelers generally,any one who needs to know where they are at any time in their travels.

    It is small and compact,and lightweight,and yet it has GPS,which seems however to be a little bit temperamental in some situations,ie in a dense forest,or in a cave, but you can send an SOS to family, or to the authorities,

    It seems that the device needs a little more work on it’s capabilities to make it more reliable in every situation,and place, as you can’t choose where you will fall or be injured,

    The various help/spot and SOS buttons were of great interest to me,I am glad that they are covered,and I am glad that they cannot be accidentally switched on,but they seem to have a lot of extra charges, eg Help/Spot S.O.V. ,and the SOS services, I would have thought it would have been included,in the initial cost and then so much a month as you go forward?

    • I thought initially that the SOS function would be part of the initial cost but I was incorrect about that.

      The bottom line is that the SPOT Gen3 was around $97 dollars, on sale, and the monthly subscription fee is only $11.95 so at this time, I really can’t complain about the cost or how they have configured their pricing and subscription plans.

      I agree that you have to be aware of the capabilities and limitations of any device you buy. Nothing is perfect. I will be adding additional blog posts in the near future as I try it out on the trail and see how it works in the forest and in deep canyons and will update everyone on what I learn.



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