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Thread: Spot messengers

  1. #1
    Member as.ks.ak's Avatar
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    Default Spot messengers

    Curious what guys' experience with spot messengers have been up here? I would like to go this route vs. the satellite phone route for my longer trips. Anybody have any opinions that's be GREAT.

    Thanks in advance!


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  2. #2
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    It's a little more expensive than Spot, but the InReach units by DeLorme have worked for me in the Alaska Range and south. No experience with it further north.

    If you have no need for text messages or location tracking via a web page, the Spot could meet your needs. It's been ba few years since undid research but you really want to dig into the satellite network and see what long term health if that is.

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  3. #3
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    I've had the spot it's junk and reliable service is spotty!
    I know have Delorme inreach works flawlessly no issues all all. Use my drome and reach from north slope all the way to Kodiak. 


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  4. #4
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I had solid experiences with my Spot - never had a message that didn't go through to include the Brooks Range. That said, I switched over to the Delorme InReach last year due to its increased functionality.

  5. #5
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    InReach. Like Brian said, functionality, and as AKMike said, reliability and range. It is a good GPS unit, and the ability to back and forth text is great. They have some pretty inexpensive, comparatively, plans as well. Only drawback to the texting is that it is slow using the arrow keys. I don't know if the newer units have improved that or not.

  6. #6
    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    SPOT's worked great for me, only time I've had issues connecting is when I'm in the trees, then it's tough for anything. If you want more then just sending a premade text go with the DeLorme. But for me, all I have it set for is...I'm alive and ok. Bring the plane and come get me, the Help button says a critter just died and the SOS button.
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  7. #7
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    InReach. Like Brian said, functionality, and as AKMike said, reliability and range. It is a good GPS unit, and the ability to back and forth text is great. They have some pretty inexpensive, comparatively, plans as well. Only drawback to the texting is that it is slow using the arrow keys. I don't know if the newer units have improved that or not.
    InReach units will pair with a smart phone over Bluetooth. You can type any message you want on the phone and transmit it that way, if you're of a mind to bring the phone in the field. If just using the InReach itself, it is indeed a PITA to send a custom message. You can configure a couple of preset messages though, such as "Checking in, all OK". One negative for InReach is that if you send a single message to 2 parties, that counts as 2 messages. Depending on which service plan you end up with that may not be a concern.

  8. #8
    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    In Alaska you will have much better coverage using a Delorme over a spot due to them using the iridium satellites. The ability to receive texts is a big bonus. I had the original one and have been using one since they came out I have since upgraded from the bigger original unit to the Explorer model and it will also work as a GPS. If you do use a smart phone and pair it with the Delorme you can download topo maps as well as satellite imagery for the area you will be in and the Delorme will show you your track as well as location on your phone, pairing it also makes it easier to send texts. One nice feature that the Delorme just added is the ability to get a 6 day weather forecast for where you are at. I have used this for weather forcast and it is a much more detailed forcast if paired with a phone, on the unit it's a little vague. It'll also give marine forcast but haven't used that feature yet.
    Delorme hands down is a much better unit with a lot more features.

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  9. #9
    Member as.ks.ak's Avatar
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    I really appreciate all the feedback guys!

    The application for me will be when sheep and goat hunting mostly. Being able to send my old lady the "I'm alive" text because I go out solo quite a bit.

    Here's my issue with the delorme.

    -it doesn't function on AA or AAA batteries.

    -have to bring along a power source.

    On a 10 day sheep or goat hunt, (I like to use my phone for digi-scoping as well) I just don't see the justification to carry a delorme over a spot, because then I've got to come up with a reasonable way to charge these two units.

    (I won't drain my phone if all I'm doing is taking pictures, but I will if I'm texting from it as well).

    With the spot I can carry a few more of the same batteries I'll need for my Garmin GPS anyways. And seeing as I'll be above treeline 90% of the time, I'm leaning towards the spot....

    For you delorme believers, does that seem unreasonable of me for my weight saving mindset here?


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  10. #10
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if Spot still offers good deals/rebates on new ones, but if you want a 1st generation Spot, I've got one that I'll hand off for free. (At least, I think I still have it.) You'd still have to pay for service, of course, but I have no need for it any longer. It always worked well for me, but it is a bit bulkier than the 2nd generation units.

  11. #11
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    The battery issue is valid, and depending on use I'm giod for maybe up to a week before I need to charge. My application has been on moose hunts where I bring along a gel cell battery and solar panel. There are lighter options for charging an InReach but I imagine all are overkill on a sheep hunt.



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  12. #12
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    I have very deep reservations about using a device in Alaska that doesn't use disposable batteries, to be honest. I have a SPOT and it's worked well for me but I do know people who've had issues. It depends on the version and which firmware you've got.

    I've been blogging a lot about distance dogsled racing and technology and have discussed issues with trackers (well, SPOT, specifically) in Alaska and the Yukon on trails like the Quest, the Iditarod, and many mid-distance races iincluding ones in places like south central AK and Kotzebue. There's definitely a pattern to signal loss, which I looked at in a little more detail in this Facebook video: https://www.facebook.com/MushingTech...5879408253004/

    I think SPOT is a good value and is generally reliable. If you're looking for something dead reliable and that doesn't use GEOS (who've been known to drop the ball a few times on rescues), and you don't care about tracking etc, I'd use a real PLB instead. The InReach is a big win if you want to send messages out, but as I said I don't trust the battery situation, in case you're stuck out longer than you expect, if it turns very cold, and so on.
    Mushing Tech: squeezing the romance out of dog mushing one post at a time

  13. #13

    Default Gomadic external power source

    [QUOTE=as.ks.ak;1545532]

    Here's my issue with the delorme.

    -it doesn't function on AA or AAA batteries.[/QUOTE

    You asked for an opinion and the responses favor the inreach....but you are trying to justify the SPOT. If power is the issue, you can power your phone and the inreach with a small GOMADIC AA battery pack. A few ounces for more function and reliability.

  14. #14
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    Battery issues are not a problem. Buy an power bank charger. I have one I carry with mine. I can recharge my cell phone 5 times. Not sure how many times it will recharge the inreach since I've never had to recharge in the field.




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  15. #15
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Battery is the only issue on the inreach. I text probably twenty times a day with the wife on hunts, battery will last four or five days is guess. If you are texting a message every night I doubt you'd need a charge. I carry a solar panel with a pre charged battery cell. Goal zero makes it. Charge my iPhone to, cold sucks battery from my cell phone wayyyyy fast. I do not use it paired with my inreach. I just type my messages on the inreach. Slow but not a deal breaker for me.
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  16. #16
    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by as.ks.ak View Post
    I really appreciate all the feedback guys!

    The application for me will be when sheep and goat hunting mostly. Being able to send my old lady the "I'm alive" text because I go out solo quite a bit.

    Here's my issue with the delorme.

    -it doesn't function on AA or AAA batteries.

    -have to bring along a power source.

    On a 10 day sheep or goat hunt, (I like to use my phone for digi-scoping as well) I just don't see the justification to carry a delorme over a spot, because then I've got to come up with a reasonable way to charge these two units.

    (I won't drain my phone if all I'm doing is taking pictures, but I will if I'm texting from it as well).

    With the spot I can carry a few more of the same batteries I'll need for my Garmin GPS anyways. And seeing as I'll be above treeline 90% of the time, I'm leaning towards the spot....

    For you delorme believers, does that seem unreasonable of me for my weight saving mindset here?


    Can't shoot 'em where they ain't.
    The Delorme is easy on batteries when I'm using mine I bring an 8000ma solar battery bank and that will charge my phone as well as the Delorme about two times each without sunlight and weighs only 4.5oz. I keep mine on when I'm moving and it'll last about 4 or 5 days of having it on all day and sending a tracking point every 10 minutes and turning it off at night. Delorme claims 100hours of continuous use at 10 minute tracking intervals. If you are just going to turn it on to send or receive a message and power it back off it'll probably last a few weeks on one charge.

    Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk

  17. #17
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I only turn mine on to send messages or use other features, then turn it off. I last charged it in March, I think. It's doing just fine on that charge. Obviously it would use more battery with consistent use, but it will hold a charge for a looong time if only using it to check in.

  18. #18
    Member as.ks.ak's Avatar
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    That's good to know. I would only be turning it on at night to check in. I wanted to be stubborn about the spot but y'all are swaying me to the delorme very quickly.


    Can't shoot 'em where they ain't.

  19. #19
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    In reach is awesome. 5 days on kodiak, turned it on twice a day to check and send messages. Probably came home with 75-80 percent battery still. We considered the spot, but the extra benefits of the in reach are worth it. We subscribe to the safety plan which is only 10 bucks a month or so. You only get 10 texts, but even when we went over heavily we only paid an extra 20 bucks that month.


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  20. #20
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    I have a spot for about 5 years now. In SE Ak the messages fail to get out about 25% of the time.


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