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.

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.

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.

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

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

  1. 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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