Spot Inc $149.94, Service $99/year
As readers know, we are big fans of personal locator beacons for anyone who may need emergency help to stay alive (see the October 2003, December 2005, and January 2007 issues of ÆGIS).
This includes hikers, campers, and those who may end up stranded somewhere (think car falls off the road and you are injured, or breaking your leg half a mile from home, and likely to die if help does not come in a timely manner).
If PLBs have a problem it is that they cost from $500 for perfectly good devices, through $1500 for devices that will fit comfortably in your pocket, to over $3,000 for devices that have a built in radio for communication. An alternative is the Spot Messenger, which uses the Globalstar network.
The Spot Messenger, which clips on your belt, is 4.38 X 2.75 X 1.5” (approx. 111 mm x 69 mm x 44 mm) and weighs roughly 7.37 ounces (209 grams). It works where there is Globalstar coverage, as shown on the attached map. For most readers, this means that you have good coverage in the United States, which is all you will care about. If you travel elsewhere, best check the map. Spot Messenger does four things.
• You can press a button and send a canned message to e-mail addresses or mobile phones saying that you are ok and giving your location.
• You can press a button and send a canned message to e-mail addresses or mobile phones saying that you need help and giving your location.
• You can press a button and send a message to GEOS International Emergency Response Center, who will notify search and rescue
• It allows (as a $49/year add-on) those with your findmespot.com userid and password to track where you are on the internet. Below is a week’s travel for one of the ÆGIS editors, followed by the location of a camping trip. It additionally showed details of any sighting on the track.
Latitude : 31.7263
Longitude: 110.8751 12/09/2007
Time: 03:36:42 PM
More important to travelers, for $7.95/year you can get the GEOS Search & Rescue Benefit., which provides up to $100,000 of additional search and rescue resources, including helicopter extraction around the world and reimbursement benefits. We think the Spot Messenger is a good safety device. At $149 the device itself seems reasonably priced, and the basic yearly service is reasonably priced at $99, as is the GEOS membership at $7.95 a year. If you were thinking of a PLB, but feared it was overkill, Spot Messenger is an alternative well worth considering.