For those of us who love to venture out where there are no cell phone signals, we are instantly rewarded with the peace and quiet that goes with isolation. It is a wonderful feeling to leave the hustle of everyday life behind for a few days of relaxation on the trail. But being alone comes with a whole new set of drawbacks.
In an era of instant communication and social connection, our loved ones might find it hard not knowing where we are, or if we are okay. Our friends might enjoy checking in on a favorite social network to see our progress on a trip. And if there is an emergency, there might be no way to reach out for help.
For these situations, we have come across the perfect product, the SPOT Connect from SPOT. The SPOT Connect is a compact satellite receiver that pairs with your iPhone or Android smartphone via Bluetooth where it is then controlled by a downloadable App. The transceiver hardware is ruggedized, waterproof to the IPX7 standard, and weighs only 4.9 ounces (with two AA batteries). In addition to being portable, it can easily be attached to a pack or RAM mounting system.
Once connected, you have access to a global satellite network that allows you to send custom Type & Send (41 characters) or predefined messages (120 characters) as well as GPS coordinates from almost anywhere via text message or e-mail. You can track and record your trip’s route and progress and later see your waypoints overlaid on Google Maps or the SPOT Adventures page. You can send help request messages to recipients in your contact list. You can even upload your status and coordinates to Facebook or Twitter.
We recently used the SPOT Connect on our drive to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, to post our coordinates to the Four Wheeler Facebook page. For those readers that were following and finding us, we had great Four Wheeler swag on hand. While this was more of a fun exercise to see how well SPOT Connect works, it also has a more serious purpose—the ability to request help in an emergency.
Using the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC) as a point of contact, the IERCC will alert the proper agencies, no matter where in the world you are, and initiate a rescue response. Once activated, SPOT Connect will send GPS coordinate updates every five minutes until the request is cancelled or the batteries are depleted. The distress signal will also be sent to your emergency contacts. As of May 2012, the SPOT family of systems has initiated 1,829 rescues in 70 countries, 205 in 2012 alone.
Currently the SPOT Connect unit retails for $169.99 and a one-year subscription is $99.99, which is nothing compared to not having it in an emergency and with the mapping and social networking features, you can use it for recreation too. SPOT offers two-year service plans, as well as enhanced features at additional cost.
Whether you have fun letting friends and family know about your current adventure, or you use it as insurance on the trail, we can tell you that SPOT Connect has become part of our recovery bag, and we won’t be leaving home without it.