SPOT Gen 4 Review & Field Test

You need a satellite messenger, but they all cost too much!

SPOT Gen 4

You need to take a look at this SPOT Gen 4 Review & Field Test, before you go spend 300 to 450 dollars. I may be able to convince you to spend less and give your family and friends the peace of mind you have all been hoping for.

SPOT Gen4 Features

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • One of the Least Expensive Satellite Messengers on the Market
  • Flexible Subscription Plans
  • One-Way Satellite Messenger
  • SOS Feature
  • Two Custom Message Buttons
  • Tracking – Your Family and Friends can Follow You With
  • Check-In Button
  • Help/SOV Button
  • Custom Map Layers

What Makes SPOT Gen 4 GreatSPOT Gen 4 SOS

One of the best things about the SPOT Gen4 is how inexpensive it is, while being lightweight and compact, and offering the majority of people exactly what they really need on most outdoor adventures. You may think you need an expensive, name brand satellite messenger, such as Garmin, but the SPOT Gen 4 really offers what most of us need at a much less expensive price.

Here are the most important things the SPOT Gen 4 offers for $150:

  • S.O.S. Rescue Service
  • 1-Way Messaging – to Let Everyone Know Your Okay
  • Tracking – So Friends & Family Can Find You
  • Satellite Coverage – When Outside Cell Service

This small device sits easily on any backpack, yet offers “life-insurance” in a way, that gives you the potential to be rescued if you ever need to be.

How It Works

  1. Initiate the SPOT Gen4 on the
  2. Select your subscription plan
  3. Update the Firmware for your device
  4. Add contacts to your account & Customize Messages
  5. Download the SPOT app for your smartphone
  6. Test the SPOT Gen4 on a trail close by before heading out on your adventure
  7. Check the SPOT satellite coverage map
  8. Verify the outgoing messages work and were received and that your tracks show up
  9. Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

Initiate Your SPOT Gen4

After installing the batteries, you will need to set up your SPOT account. You will need to set up a New Account, if you don’t already have one. This process will require your SPOT Electronic Serial Number (ESN) and the authorization code. Both of these can be found inside the battery compartment.

SPOT Serial Number & Authorization Code

Select Your Subscription Plan

You will have to select the subscription plan next. It’s best to choose the FLEX Plan if you normally use your satellite messenger only a few times each year. If you use the SPOT Gen 4 often throughout the year then you’ll save money with the contract plans. See the subscription plans below.

SPOT Subscription Plans

Update the Firmware

You will need to update your device firmware before using the SPOT Gen4, and in order to do this, you’ll have to download the SPOT Device Updater. This is an executable file that will be loaded onto your computer.

Add Contacts & Customize Messages

It’s important to add contacts to your account, prior to heading out on your adventure, as you will not be able to add them in the field.

Go to My Devices on the and go down to the Message Profile Settings. You can select each message and change what the message says, plus add any contacts, per message type. You can add a phone number or email. See the screenshot below.

SPOT Contacts

Download SPOT App

Next, download the SPOT app to your smartphone. You don’t have to do this, unless you want to use your smartphone.


I like using the SPOT app primarily, when in cell service, so I can check to see if my tracks are being laid down and my messages are going through. The SPOT Gen4 is not my primary satellite messenger, so I use it mainly when creating reviews or comparing them to other satellite messengers.

Test the SPOT Gen4 Close to Home

I always test my satellite messengers close to home because I have been surprised at how many times there was something I forgot to do or didn’t understand how to use, and had to head back home to figure something out.

The first time I checked my SPOT Gen3, I was unsure how it all worked, and even though everything worked correctly, I felt more confident when I tested it out before heading out on a longer adventure, knowing everything was working perfectly. Recently I bought the SPOT Gen4 and this test was faster as I was already knowledgeable with SPOT.

SPOT Gen 4

Check the Satellite Coverage Map

One drawback to the SPOT satellite messengers is they do not have global, pole to pole coverage. See the map below.

SPOT Coverage Map

You can see that the satellite coverage will not be an issue for most people, but you still should be aware of it if you travel much or live in an area that does not have great coverage.

Verify Your Tracking & Messages Work

Here is a quick example of a recent test I made with my new SPOT Gen4 near Larkspur, Colorado.

SPOT Gen4 Tracking & Messages

You can see here that everything is working perfectly, even though I am not showing every message.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

Here are several screenshots of my 5 mile hike and test of the SPOT Gen 4. This first one is the Check-In message at the trailhead, visible in the top right corner with 10 minute tracks showing up along the trail.

SPOT Check-In and Tracking

This second image is of the Custom Message with 10 minute tracks showing up around it.

SPOT Custom Message

The 3rd image is of the SPOT/HELP message. A special note about this: This message will continue to be sent every 5 minutes or so until you turn it off. I was initially irritated by it but as this is a more urgent message, it’s good that your contacts will be alerted to until the emergency is taken care of.

SPOT/Help Message

This next image is showing all the tracks laid down over the five-mile hike. It shows all the messages, plus the tracks, sent out every 10 minutes.

SPOT Tracks and Messages

This last image is showing the difference between the map views. There are three map views:

  • Standard View
  • Satellite View
  • Hybrid View

SPOT Map Views

Final Thoughts

I’ll start these final thoughts with my favorite satellite messenger is the Garmin inReach Mini, however, for most people and those that need to save money, the SPOT Gen4 may be the best option on the market.

My reasons for saying this are:

  • The SPOT Gen4 is one of the least expensive satellite messengers on the market
  • It’s easy to learn how to use
  • It has flexible subscription plans
  • It’s a simple 1-way messaging that gives family and friends peace of mind
  • It has the all important SOS Function

I really believe that probably 80% of the population only needs or would want a simple satellite messenger like the SPOT Gen4. I was able to buy the SPOT Gen3 on sale for $100, so watch for sales and you will be happy to save your money.

As I said earlier, my favorite satellite messenger is the inReach Mini, but that’s because I like seeing the maps on my phone, plus having weather forecasts and the 2-way messaging has become important to me.

If you want to find out more about other satellite messenger, you can research all of them here on the website.

SPOT Gen 4 YouTube Video

You can learn more about the SPOT Gen4 HERE.

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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.

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