For the price of a couple of lunches a month you can let family know where you are, get help from friends instead of tow charges or call in the helicopters if things really go bad, all with a little orange and black puck called the Spot.

Where cell phones fear to go, where ham radio hears only the crackle of static, the Spot Global messenger reassures family, reaches out to friends and is a beacon for Search and Rescue if the need arises. And you get it for an affordable price and in a waterproof, portable, durable package. With your bright orange Spot device clipped to your belt or secured in your vehicle friends and family can track your adventures, get “OK” messages, a “Help” alert to come and get you or “911” for full on swooping in helicopters if needed.

While many people think of personal locator beacons and such as only useful to trans-oceanic explorers or lone wolf type survivalist, something like the Spot Global Messenger is handy for anyone who goes into the outdoors by themselves or small groups and might need help from friends or immediate medical attention. The ability to send an “OK” message reassures family that as is well while in the backcountry even if your delay is cause by nothing worse than waiting for the sunset to be just right. And the “Help” message that goes out to friends means that your long trek out to cell coverage or your wait for another traveler, not to mention the brutally expensive tow charge can instead be a laughter filled gathering in the wilds while getting you unstuck or repaired.

As a point of comparison a personal locator beacon which can not track nor can it text OK & Help messages to friends has prices starting around $500. And that tow truck that you need to get you out of the mud, snow or sand can cost from $100 to $1000 and may not be covered by insurance. And worst of all there are many people who won’t venture beyond cell phone coverage and that is the most expensive of all since it cost you life experience. The Spot Global Messenger runs around $150 for the device and the annual services range from $100 to $160 depending on your needs. Personally giving up a couple of lunches a month was well worth the ability to travel the great outdoors more securely.

When I first bought a 4×4 my adventures were limited to when others could travel with me in case I needed help on the trail. In addition my time outdoors was limited to when I told friends or family I would return. Now with my Spot I can take off when the mood strikes regardless of who is available. And while I still make it a point to lay out a general plan and timeline for loved ones. They know that with a quick log on to my account the Spot will show my travels and if I run overtime I can send OK messages to let everyone know all is well with me. Even as a lower limb amputee I could hike a distance for help if needed but that would not only violate the first rule of survival which is to stay with your vehicle but it would add greater risk to my exploration. With Spot I can send a help message which will go out to those listed in my account and includes my gps coordinates by text message and an email with a link to Google maps showing my location. Before long I know I will enjoy the help of friends and get home safely.


I have personally used my Spot while traveling in areas like the Camino del Diablo (Devils Highway) along the Arizona/Mexico border, in the Chirrachaua Mountains of Southeastern Arizona, in my weekday jaunts into the desert and more. It has worked perfectly each and every time with a simplicity a child could understand and master.

However be aware that you will still want to have a number of communication methods around for other purposes. CB radios are very popular in the 4×4 world and will make your trail runs more enjoyable and safe since you will be aware of oncoming vehicles, trail obstacles and such. Ham radio has even better range and clarity than CB and while not as popular it is gaining ground in the overlanding community. And of course your cell phone when it has coverage is the universal communicator of choice, especially when paired with a quality signal booster. But for near global coverage in places where nothing else seems to get a response the bright orange Spot gets the word out when needed.