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codyac21's picture
Location: Denver, Co
Joined: 09/07/2009
Posts: 94
SPOT or SAT Phone

I have been looking into renting a sat phone to take out hunting in case of emergencies.  I have heard negative things about the SPOT system and  I am curious to see what others are taking into the bush for emergency backup.  Does anyone have a preference or alternate solution they are using?

Ca_Vermonster's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5813
Just curious, what have you

Just curious, what have you heard negatively about the SPOT messengers?  I was thinking about one of those, and had heard decent things about them.

GooseHunter Jr's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/28/2005
Posts: 3748
I have heard good and bad

I have heard good and bad things about the SPOT, mostly good things.  I have always thought it would be nice to have one just in case.  My wife really wants me to get one, as I hunt alone alot.  But I can just see her sitting at home watching my every move all week long.  Would put her at ease but at the same time if it were to have a problem and she were to panic I may see some helicopters houvering above me.  For the most part I think they are agood thing to carry especially if hunting alone or in the deep back country and still in the high country!

hunter25's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Colorado western slope
Joined: 11/13/2009
Posts: 3040
I have only heard good things

I have only heard good things about the spot system myself but have not yet tried one. Sattelite phones are just too expensive to be an option for me.

If hunting way back in  I usually always have someone with me but if I'm hunting close to home or after work I will always be alone. I do make sure everyone knows where I'm heading but That won't really help much if things go real bad and you need help fast.

I think The SPOT is the way to go and plan to get one soon.

buckykm1's picture
Location: Vicksburg, Mi
Joined: 11/24/2010
Posts: 366

Everything that i have heard about the Spot is bad, there are some other PLB out there that are very good, and they don't have the yearly activation fee. i can't think of the name of them right off, but if you do a google search i am sure that you can find them. they cost a little more, but with no activation fee, in 2 years you will be money ahead.

i looked it up, they are called a ACR


Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4422
The big trouble with any

The big trouble with any personal locater beacon is that it depends on GPS and satellite coverage to work.  If you are really planning on buying one or the other you need to take a GPS into the area that you plan on being in and seeing if it will work.  If you hunt in flat lands with no canyons or tree canopy then either one will work quite well.  But if you are in some deep canyons and heavy tree coverage then quite possibly neither one will work.  It would be quite hard if you fell and broke a leg having to crawl up to the ridge top or trying to find a clearing where it will work. 

So before you buy  either one Google them up and read the reviews that campers, hunters, boaters and or any other person has of them and then take your chances when you buy it that it will work where you wander.

One problem that I have seen with a satellite phone is that they are bulky and eat batteries when used.  That along with the big expense of when you use them.  Now if you only used it when you needed then the price would pay off.   

338ultra's picture
Joined: 05/29/2011
Posts: 27
I've contemplated this same

I've contemplated this same question. I personally think with the advancement in GPS signals the Satellite phone is the way to go. You can pack a solar charger to keep it charged, along with your other digital devices for back pack trips. I know my wife would much rather hear my voice once or twice while I am on a trip rather than a blip on a computer screen. For me personally the Satellite phone would be the way to go.

buckykm1's picture
Location: Vicksburg, Mi
Joined: 11/24/2010
Posts: 366

A few years ago, i did a lot of research on both, the Sat phone would be nice, but they are expensive, and so is buying minutes for them, and the minutes only last for one year then they exspire, and you have to buy more.


Jdizzle's picture
Location: Boulder, CO
Joined: 09/02/2011
Posts: 58
I have been doing research

I have been doing research for myself on these for a while. Spot seems to be the worst. The coverage is not that good and their customers service seems to be even worse. From what I can gather Spot uses a private satellite and charges $100 a year plus fees that make it $150 or so. They also make you set up an automatic payment to your credit card. The others like Mcmurdo and ACR use  COSPAS-SARSAT.

COSPAS-SARSAT is an international satellite system that provides distress alert and location data to assist Search and Rescue operations. So there is no middle man like spot and there is no monthly fee

Here's the downfall that I have found is both Mcmurdo and ACR have expensive batteries, about $175, so figure the same yearly cost on all of them.

Sat phones are just to pricey for me. The best I found was $600 for the phone and $150 for 75 minutes. Hope that helps. None of them seem like great options to me. If the other PLBs besides Spot used AA batteries then I would have one already.

Location: north idaho
Joined: 06/11/2004
Posts: 610
I have used both and own a

I have used both and own a spot.  both have advantages and disadvantages.  the sat phones and spot both need a clear line of sight to the sky.  It helps to not be stuck in some hole with lots of trees.  spots don't work indoors.  Spot lets you send preprogrammed messages.  Sat phone lets you talk to the person.   I took a sat phone on 2 different hunting trips because i had family that where in very bad health.  the sat phone let me talk to them and feel a little better about what was going on.  Since than i haven't needed a sat phone. 

The spot lets me let my wife know that i am a ok.  the help button can be set up for whatever message you want.   come help i have a bull down.  or "I got my ram".  that was a fun message to send out.  IS there a learing curve with the spot?  yes. 

also with the spot, if you don't pay for a feature you don't have access to it.  So if you don't want people following your every footstep, don't pay for that feature or just don't turn the spot on.  I have the basic plan,  I don't have the plan that lets people track me.  I just send a ok text when i am back in camp for the day.  the wife is happy and i don't have to use up expensive minutes from a sat phone. 


I would like to see how the new spot connect works.  Supposedly intergrates certain smart phones with satelite.  I just don't know the details. and i don't have a smart phone.

i will say i don't know how to operate a gps(map and compass work for me) but i do know how to work the spot.


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