techstar | |
Every bug-out bag should have one

Imagine you’re driving or trekking, or living, hours from nowhere and things go seriously wrong. Medical emergency, auto failure, up to your neck in quicksand, even under attack from looters. No cell-phone reception and nobody around to send for help. Now what?

With a cell-phone-sized Spot Emergency messager, just push the appropriate button and rescuers are on the way. The SPOT Satellite Messenger is what’s known as a personal locator beacon, designed to summon aid from places conventional communication can’t reach.  Buy it here in the US. Buy it here in the UK.

For anything less than a life-and-death situation, a Help button transmits your GPS coordinates to your emergency contacts via text message and e-mail — accurate to 20 feet based on testing. Contracted professional services are notified as well. That info goes out every 5 minutes for an hour or until you cancel it.

In dire circumstances, like those listed at the top of this article, the SOS button sends your message and coordinates to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, where it’s relayed to the emergency personnel best suited to your location. That might be any agency from the local police to your local Embassy if you’re in a jam overseas. SPOT claims more satellites in its SOS network than anyone else in the business, allowing the receiver to get a fix and get the word out when speed counts most.

When all’s well, the OK button sends a preprogrammed thumbs-up text/e-mail message to reassure everybody back at the ranch. Or send a different note by holding down the Custom Message button. Changing messages or contacts is as easy as logging onto the SPOT website and typing. All that will cost you $99 for a year of basic SPOT service, plus $169.99 for the GPS Messenger.

Engineered to withstand temperatures from -20 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the 5.2-ounce unit is tougher than any survivalists. It’s quite waterproof as well. After nearly a year of being dropped on concrete floors and bouncing around in tankbags and jacket pockets, a SPOT test device is still accurate and bulletproof.

Negatives: As with any GPS receiver, you need a clear shot at those satellites. The Messenger can have a hard time finding itself under heavy tree cover or in a narrow, rocky ravine. Power comes from three AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries, which should last about three months —  carry an extra set just in case. Even if you never send for help, just knowing you could is worth the initial investment. SPOT offers various alternatives, including the Connect, which lets a Smartphone talk to communication satellites when you’re way off-grid.

Price: $169.99 plus $99 per year. But there are others such as ACR Aqualink 406 2882 Personal Locator Beacon Includes Internal GPS, 5-Year Battery, Belt Clip, Lanyard and LED Strobe Light

Contact: SPOT LLC


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