When you talk about the SPOT Satellite Messenger, you need to know that there are 2 satellite messengers you can choose from.
SPOT Gen 3 ( 1-way messenger)
SPOT X (2-way messenger)
SPOT Satellite Messenger Comparison
Let’s take a brief look at the differences between these two great satellite messengers.
SPOT Gen 3
- 1-way Satellite Messenger
- Least expensive satellite messenger on the market ($99.95 at the time this was written)
- Up to 3 (outgoing) custom messages
- Motion activated tracking (will stop tracking to save battery if you stop in one place for a long time)
- Powered by AAA batteries (can buy re-chargeable batteries)
- Weight = 4.0 oz.
- 2-way satellite messenger
- Built-in Keyboard
- Unique U.S. cell phone number
- Basic navigation (no topo maps available)
- More expensive then the SPOT Gen 3 ($249.95 at the time this was written)
- Weight = 6.7 oz.
There are many more functions and features than this list but these are the primary differences.
My Personal Opinion
I have owned both of the SPOT satellite messengers for over 8 months now and have tested them on many trails here in Colorado. They both perform well for what they were built for and the satellite connections here in North America work well.
SPOT Gen 3 – The Gen 3 is so small that I forget I have it with me many times. It is extremely simple to use and I like knowing I can call for help but not have people bothering me if I had a 2-way satellite messenger. The batter life isn’t a problem as the SPOT Gen 3 will last around 15 days if you turn it off at night when you’re sleeping.
Honestly, this is a great option for many people who hike in places they are familiar with or have another way to make sure they’re on the correct trail. I have found that I use my Garmin inReach Mini’s topo maps a lot when I hike as there are always trails that show up that are not on my map, so the GPS with topo maps has become more important to me these days.
SPOT X – The SPOT X is better in many ways but it is larger and more bulky. I have to secure it to my pack better as it likes to swing around on my, which is annoying. The 2-way messaging is helpful at times but the built-in keyboard makes it much easier to type out a unique message, and much faster (over the Garmin inReach satellite messengers, unless you have them synced to your smartphone).
The SPOT X has a basic navigation built-in but without having a topo map to view, I find the navigation useless. If you are on flat terrain than it could be useful, but here in Colorado, with large mountains, rivers, and canyons, you need to know more then seeing the direction you ultimately need to go in.
If my financial situation was tight, I would definitely buy the SPOT Gen 3 and make sure it was the first thing on my pack.
If money is not an issue, then I would go with the SPOT X as the 2-way messaging may be important to you. I have found the 2-way messaging to be more important with my hiking team, so I would make sure there were at least 2 SPOT X devices with the group, so if we split up for any reason, we could still communicate with each other. Someone may get hurt, but more likely find an incredible place to take pictures or may have found a great camp site.
I know this article is about the SPOT satellite messengers, but I want you to know that after testing out the Garmin inReach Mini and the Garmin inReach Explorer+, I only use the Garmin satellite messengers now. In my opinion, they send and receive message faster, but more importantly, they sync to your cell phone which makes typing messages really simple, and lastly, having the topo maps available is a major plus for me.
I hike different trails every week, all around Colorado, so I am never familiar with the trail, and having the topo maps available, especially when out of cell service is a life saver.
Check out this short YouTube video about the SPOT X and SPOT Gen 3 comparison.
I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with whatever satellite messenger you are using, so leave a Comment Below or send me an Email.
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