I recently bought the SPOT X 2 way satellite messenger and decided to take it out for a field test.
I was happy that it performed exactly like SPOT said it would and it was extremely easy to navigate around on the website and on the device in the field.
Let’s take a look at what I found out in my first field test in the Rocky Mountains.
Setting up your account on SPOT was a simple process. First you setup your account or log in if you’re an existing user.
I was able to go directly to My Devices and Add New SPOT Device. I did call and talk to a customer service representative to make sure I was doing everything correctly and the two representatives I have talked to in the last month have been extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
After you activate your SPOT device and select a subscription plan, you will be able to select your device under My Devices. You will see a screen similar to this one.
There are several things you can change here, such as your device name, tracking rates, etc. Make sure you go through each one of these and see if there is something you should change or customize.
This next section is where you can select contacts and also add information to your S.O.S. message and the SPOT S.O.V.
You can customize each of the messages and select what contacts you want on different ones. For example, I don’t want my sister in the messages for help because she lives over 1,000 miles from where I am hiking so it would do no good to include her. It would only make her worry. I choose my contacts carefully, especially on the emergency alert messages, because I want these people to be close by and know how to handle themselves in the mountains if they have to come out to help me.
Fully Charged Battery
Make sure you fully charge your re-chargeable battery each time before heading out into the back country. You’ll appreciate a full charge if you have to activate the S.O.S. function and have to wait several days for help to arrive.
Next, I always research my new trails on AllTrails. You can check them out here at AllTrails.com.
The first thing I did when I reached the trailhead was to activate the tracking function on my SPOT X. The tracking feet symbol show immediately at the top of the screen.
You can also see the tracks that were laid down on my last hike on the Legault Mountain Trail, near Conifer, Colorado.
The Check-In button is accessed from the SPOT main menu on the device and is at the top right of the screen.
It is really easy to navigate around the menu using the arrow keys below the screen. The rectangular button in the middle of the arrow key is the selection tool.
The SPOT X comes with 14 predefined messages, but you can change any of these to say what you want. Check out the messages that came on my SPOT X (I did change a few of them already).
You can’t read the entire message unless you select one. You can edit each message and delete it if you wish. Here is my message “I am safe and staying here for…)
The custom messages are one thing I believe the SPOT X does better than all the other competitors, due to its built-in keyboard.
It was really easy to type in a message to my daughter. It’s easy to use and the caps function is at the bottom right and I was able to adapt to the keyboard quickly.
Change Tracking Rate
The tracking rate was easy to change and I made adjustments to the rate several times on the trail. The tracking rate can be changed on the icon on the lower left of the screen.
Navigation & Waypoints
I will be honest with you and let you know that I need to research and test the navigation and waypoints more. I was able to add several waypoints to the SPOT X from the website before I left for the field but I was in a hurry on the hike and did not have time to test it thoroughly on this field test.
I will follow up with a second field test to take a closer look at the navigation abilities of the SPOT X.
Ease of Menu Navigation
The on-screen menu is extremely easy to navigate. You can use the arrow keys, selection button and back on screen button to easily get to where you want to go. It has enough options to make it a powerful device without making it to complicated and cumbersome.
Ease of Typing a Custom Message
I really think that SPOT X has a real advantage here over other models. It was so easy and comfortable to type in a new custom message. It’s pretty much exactly like using your smartphone. I haven’t tried out the Garmin inReach Explorer+ yet but I’m sure it is quicker to type out a unique message on the SPOT X then the Explorer+. I will be able to test my assumptions later this year after I buy the inReach Explorer+.
You can learn more about the Explorer+ at my Garmin inReach Explorer+ Review page.
Carrying the SPOT X on my pack wasn’t as easy as carrying the SPOT Gen3. You can see from the picture below that the SPOT Gen3 easily attaches to the top of my strap and many times I forget I have it on me.
It may be harder to see but the SPOT X on my left shoulder is connected by a strap and hook. I like having it attached this way because I do remove it more often then I did with the Gen3 as I want to look at my navigation and type in unique messages.
I realized after climbing over some more difficult areas that my SPOT X was moving around a lot and flipped over and it was starting to irritate me. I was able to use my trekking pole strap to hold the base of the device down so it wouldn’t move. I need to make a trip to REI to find a small strap that will work well to hold my SPOT X down because I do have trekking poles now and will need those straps for them.
I have been really happy with my SPOT X so far. It has been easy to set up, customize and use in the field. I am most impressed with the builit-in keyboard which makes creating messages much faster and more intuitive.
Having the S.O.S. distress call function combined with the 2-way messaging is incredible and I’m looking forward to using the SPOT X often on many outdoor adventures.
Take a look at the SPOT X Review if you would like to learn more about it.
Check out a short video of my SPOT X on the Legault Mountain Trail, near Conifer, Colorado.
I would love to hear your comments on the SPOT X or other emergency location devices you may have or know about. Leave a Comment below or Email me.
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