Without a doubt, I am a fan of the Spot tracker. I have been using them through various generations for the better part of 12 years. I have taken them to the summits of mountains and to the most remote places in Colorado. The Spot trackers are a bit of a mental safety net for me. They don’t take the place of well communicated plans or other means of rescue. They just give an extra level of protection when out of service. I started with the crude but efficient Spot Gen2 then moved onto the Spot Gen3. The Spot x Jeep Edition with its texting capabilities is a whole new animal. This is a true 2-way communicator. Not only can you send an SOS or Check-In, you can literally have a conversation.
Spot X Testing:
I tried our Spot X on an OTC 2nd season elk hunting trip in Colorado. If you know anything about that time of year, you know the weather can change quickly. We started out our trip in a very remote part of Colorado, then backpacked even further off the beaten path. To us, getting further back from others gave us a better chance for spotting the elusive Rocky Mountain Elk. However, with that remoteness comes a new set of challenges. Being able to self rescue and sustain life in remote backcountry is always a risk.
My pack was heavy and my gear was dialed, I had everything I needed if I had to be out longer than expected. My cherry on top of the gear list was the Spot X Jeep Edition hanging from the front of my backpack. I always like to stash it somewhere easy to get to and readily available. If I go down a ravine or hit my head, I want to have it still be attached to me when I come to. Lucky us, this comes with a velcro strap and a carabiner to hook it to virtually anything.
There are a myriad of reasons I love the Spot X Jeep Edition and to be catty, I love the green. I completely understand the orange of the others, they are easy to see in almost any light. I still like the green! The way the unit fits in your hand is great with either gloves or bare hands. It never feels like it wants to slip or pop out of your hand. The actual function of the unit was good. Great would be 100% transmission of all messages 100% of the time, but I didn’t get that. With Spot trackers, you must be in the most open sky as humanly possible. I was certainly in the best of scenarios short of standing in a cornfield in Nebraska. 90% of my messages got through and I was happy with that.
To highlight how much the messaging helped, on day 4 of our hunt a wicked storm ripped thorough. When I left civilization I knew a storm was coming and with the gear we packed, we were going to be fine. Cold, but fine. However, on the 3rd night I had an incoming message from my wife, “You do know there is a foot of snow coming your way with temps dropping to the single digits right?” Me: “uhhhhh”. Turns out the storm progressed way further than we imagined. We ended up packing out and heading home for a few days to wait out the storm. Spot X, saved our tails.
Another example of how the Spot X’s messaging gave us peace of mind was an update about wildfires. As you may know, Colorado currently has 2 of the largest fires in our history burning right now. It has been on the forefront of our minds for months. One evening we began to smell heavy smoke in the air and honestly got a little freaked out. Again, I texted my wife with the Spot and asked about wildfire conditions in the area. She assured me that they were very distant and not to worry. Spot X, once again saved our tails (or minds).
There are few under this category, but only a few and some of them are personal preference. The navigation button (the thin rounded square) in the middle of the unit was a bit harsh to use. On a very cold night and with worn hands from scrambling around rocks, navigating with the button didn’t feel right, it’s almost sharp. When using heavyweight gloves, it was near impossible to click it, it is almost too fine to push. The actual actuation of the buttons when texting are a bit slow and lag a bit. When this thing gets to touchscreen status, it will surely change everything. Lastly, there is no backlight for the unit. In the dark I had to essentially waste the power from a headlamp to see the Spot X tracker.
These are all very small attributes to an otherwise amazing unit. Something to improve upon is always a good thing in my opinion.
The one thing I didn’t touch on was connecting the unit to the Spot phone app while in the field. I didn’t see a need for this in the backcountry. I wanted to test the stand alone unit and not rely on 2 pieces of electronics for communications. If I could use my phone service, I would just use that. I did however, try to connect it to my phone when I was home and it didn’t connect in the 15mins I tried. The Bluetooths weren’t jiving and the App wasn’t my top priority.
In all the unit preformed exactly how I predicted. Would I buy the Spot X Jeep Edition again? Yes of course. Would I suggest it to everyone? Absolutely.