SPOT Gen3 Review

Wouldn’t you like to have a wallet sized SOS beacon on your pack and also be able to send messages to friends and family to let them know that you need help or are okay? This little SPOT Gen3 is affordable and it works great!

Here is What the SPOT Gen3 Has to Offer

  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Custom Tracking Rates
  • SPOT App
  • Motion-Activated Tracking
  • Continuous Tracking
  • SOS Distress Call
  • Check In with Friends & Family
  • HELP/SPOT
  • Custom Messages
  • Flexible Service Plans

Let’s get Into these in more detail now.

Compact and Lightweight

You really cannot hardly beat the size and weight of this device compared to almost every other Emergency Satellite Messenger (ESM) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) on the market.

SPOT Gen3 on Daypack

The SPOT Gen3 is 3.43″ tall by 2.56″ wide and 1″ thick. This really is the size of a man’s wallet. It comes in at a really lightweight 4.0 ounces.

Also, have I mention it yet that this is my first Emergency Satellite Beacon to buy?

Custom Tracking Rates

The SPOT Gen3’s customized tracking allows you to change the rate tracks are sent to 5, 10, 30 or 60 minute intervals when you upgrade to one of the new tracking services, Basic or Extreme Tracking. See the Service Plans at the end of this review.

Here is one of my tracks on a 3-mile hike with the tracking intervals set at 10-minutes.

SPOT Website with Gen3 Tracking on 3 mile hike

If you could zoom in you would see the pin location exactly on the trail I hiked on. You can zoom in on SPOT’s website but not here in this image.

SPOT App

SPOT App with Pins on 1st TrailThe SPOT website, combined with the SPOT app makes viewing the trail and making changes extremely simple. Here is the same trail as shown above on the SPOT app. You can update your app on the trail, if you have cell service, and see your pins drop as you make your way along the selected route.

I really enjoyed checking the SPOT app on my phone for my first time out with it to confirm it was dropping pins at the selected time interval and to see how accurate it was. As you well know, cell service is most likely non-existent in the mountains where you live and due to the SPOT Gen3 not being able to sync, you would have to check out some of the other Emergency Satellite Messengers to get that service.

One little tip. Make sure the SPOT logo on the device is pointed skyward as much as possible because this is where the satellite sensor is located.

Motion-Activated Tracking

This is a great feature that non of the other Emergency Satellite Messengers offer. It’s the motion-activated tracking. The SPOT Gen3 will detect if you are stationary for a long period of time and will not continue to mark your location as you would have duplicate pins. What this helps with is pro-longing your battery life.

SPOT Gen3 Batteries Shown

In one of the sections above, I mentioned the custom tracking rates and if the battery life is a concern for you on a particular long trip, setting the tracking interval to 30-minutes or 60-minutes, combined with the motion activated tracking will really help extend the life of your battery. See the image below to get a better understanding of the projected battery life from SPOT.SPOT Gen3 Battery Life

You can see from the tables above, assuming the worst case scenario of cloudy skies and tracking 24 hours per day, that your battery should last around 8 days with a 10-minute tracking interval. Most of us will not need the tracking on while we sleep so assume a 16-hour day hiking, which hurts, a lot, but which many of us have probably done a few times, and you should still get around 15 days of battery life. Of course this is dependent on your weather conditions and colder weather will reduce your battery life.

Continuous Tracking

The SPOT Gen3 will send tracking messages until you turn off your SPOT. There is no need to reset it after 24 hours.

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Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange
373 Reviews
Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange
  • 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.

SOS Distress Call

With the push of a button, the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center provides your GPS coordinates and additional information to local emergency response teams in your area. They will be not be able to message you back as this is a 1-way messaging device. If you want a 2-way satellite messenger then you should take a closer look at the SPOT X Emergency Satellite Messenger.

Helicopter Rescue with SPOT Gen3

The SOS Distres Call button is for emergencies only. You will not be able to call off the search teams once you activate the distress call.

Check In with Friends & Family

Let family and friends know you’re ok when you’re out of cell phone range. Send a pre-programmed text message with GPS coordinates or an email with a link to Google Maps to your contacts with your location.

SPOT Gen3 with Friends

With a push of a button, a message is sent via email or SMS to, up to 10, predetermined contacts and your waypoint is stored in your SPOT account for later reference. Your stored waypoints can be easily integrated into a SPOT Shared Page or SPOT Adventure account.

HELP/SPOT

The HELP/SPOT is a button on the left side of the device (opposite the SOS button) that you can alert roadside emergency services or friends and family that you vehicle is broke down. See the button below and notice that it, and the SOS button, are protected from accidental activation by a cover that flips open.

Background Image for HELP SPOT Button

Custom Messages

Stay in touch while off the grid by sending your custom message. Set up a message before leaving to send to contacts with your GPS location. Use this feature as a secondary OK message or transfer your personal help alert message function if you are using a SPOT S.O.V. service on your help button. This is an extra service you need to sign up for.

Flexible Service Plans

Here are the service plans provided by SPOT for the Gen3 Emergency Satellite Messenger.

As you can see from the table above, the plans start out as little as $11.95 per month and can go as high as $24.95 with the monthly Flex Charge. They can actually go up slightly from that if you want to add some other nice features.

SPOT Gen3 Service Plans

My Final Thoughts

I was amazed at how small the SPOT Gen3 was when I received it. It only took 2 days for the delivery and I had it setup within about 30 minutes. It is easy to attach to your pack and get moving on the trail with a simple click of the tracking feature button.

The SPOT app and SPOT website is easy to navigate around and I have been extremely happy with the Gen3 so far.

The SPOT Gen3 is not the perfect Emergency Satellite Messenger for everyone. There are several other models I will be purchasing and trying out over the next year but when I took a hard look at my finances, the best choice for me was the SPOT Gen3. I was able to at least add some emergency locator service with a few out going messages and that makes me extremely happy…for now.

Please Email Me with your questions or thoughts on the SPOT Gen3 Review or Leave a Comment Below.

You can also explore more Satellite Messengers models HERE or Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) HERE.

Sale
Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange
373 Reviews
Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger - Orange
  • 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.

If you would like to see all the Satellite Messengers in another review, see my Emergency Radio Reviews.

Return to Home Page

SPOT Gen3 Satellite Messenger

2.6

World Wide Coverage

3.5/5

2-Way Messaging

0.0/5

Navigation

0.0/5

Tracking & Sharing

5.0/5

Initial Cost & Subscription Plan

4.5/5

Pros

  • Compact & Lightweight
  • SOS Distress Call
  • Track & Share with Friends
  • Rental Options
  • Low Initial Purchase Price

Cons

  • Only 1-Way Communication
  • No Smartphone Interface
  • No Navigation

6 thoughts on “SPOT Gen3 Review”

  1. Wow, you have done a 16-hour day hiking? That is pretty amazing. But it is good to move around and be outdoors. These devices definitely will help keep you safe. The Wilderness can be full of all sorts of different things, and in case anything were to happen to you, people would know your location so they could come and save you. 

    That’s great that the battery life lasts so long. I think this is a very interesting subject for a website and I hope that people Google the subject and find you.

    Reply
    • A few 16 hour hikes were enough for me. It was usually done by (I wonder what’s around that corner?) and it was a day hike and then 10 miles in, we realized we had 10 miles to get back to our camp. That was one miserable day in the Rocky Mountains. Usually no day in the Rockies are miserable, but that one was.

      I appreciate your comments and well wishes. This is something that is important and I love hiking and being safe so it’s a great match for me.

      Rick

      Reply
  2. This is a really thorough review I am definitely considering SPOT Gen3 now. I love hiking and this seems like the perfect lightweight packable tracking device to take along with me. It’s awesome how it send messages to your friends and family when you are out of service range. This is so helpful in case of emergencies! Great article!

    Reply
    • Thank you Sarah. I love having the SPOT Gen3 with me on hikes now. Many times I am off hiking by myself and sometimes in rugged mountains away from everyone and I really like having it with me then. 

      There really is no reason to not have one of these Emergency Satellite Messengers with you as you can find one within your price range and if something ever happens, you will be thanking yourself (or me) for convincing you to go ahead for buying one.

      Rick

      Reply
  3. Awesome review! This gadget can really make a difference in hiking. Just some questions, does it have to be registered to NOAA? What if you hike in a different country, do you also have to register it to a specific country’s search and rescue operation system? What would be the cost? Thanks for clearing this up for me.

    Reply
    • Unlike the Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) you are not forced to register these, however, you will not get any service until you sign up for one of their service plans…so I guess you are forced to sign up. You do not have to sign up with NOAA or any other services. If you activate the SOS distress call, the emergency center will provide your GPS coordinates to the search and rescue teams in your area.

      As far as I am aware, there is no need to resister the SPOT Gen3 in the country you are traveling to, however, some countries don’t allow GPS locators, so you would want to check on that.

      The only cost is for the device itself and the service plan you choose.

      I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Rick

      Reply

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