I had for some time wrestled with the idea of buying the Spot 2 Messenger, and in the end I realised that I would be investing in peace of mind for my wife when I am out of the hills on my own. I almost always walk solo and as anyone knows, phone signals can be a problem. My wife admits that she is worried when I am out and therefore I purchased this Personal Satellite Messaging Unit for SOS purposes and sending I am OK messages when out of phone signal range.
I have read that a number of people have been quite critical of this unit ranging from it does not work that well to it will be over used and cause unnecessary call outs to the emergency services.
However, a lot of the comments regarding the reliability of the unit relates to the first unit and the Spot 2 Messenger has I understand a more advanced GPS chipset producing greater reliability. It is also my understanding that some original users assumed that you could send a message while walking. In my tests this causes problems with the message being received. Others have made comment, if it is not 100% reliable then it is useless as how do you know whether the message will be received ? My counter to this is that if you cannot get a phone signal and you are on your own and require the rescue services and don’t have the Spot 2 Messenger then you no chance at all of notifying anyone!
As to the view that they will be overused and cause unnecessary call outs, I think this unlikely, as the cost of the unit means it will in general only be used by more serious walkers, who like me will only use the SOS button in a genuine emergency. It is my understanding that casual walkers in the hills with a mobile phone signal are more likely to call out the services for unnecessary reasons.
Features and functions of the Spot 2 Messenger
This button sends a message every 5 minutes until power is depleted or a 999 CANCEL message is sent. The message is sent to a centre, located in Texas, who have your personal contact details. They will inform your chosen contacts, keep them inform of the situation and make contact with the rescue services with the exact location details.
Ask for Help
Requests help from your family contact from your exact location. Sends a message every 5 minutes for one hour or until a help cancel message is sent.
A email is sent to your contacts with a link to Google Maps for them to pinpoint your location.
A text message can be sent to mobile phones at a small extra cost.
Lets contacts know where you are and that you’re OK.
Sends three identical messages, but only the first received is delivered.
An email is sent to your contacts with a link to Google Maps for them to pinpoint your location.
Optionally a text message can be sent to mobile phones at a small extra cost.
You get 200 free texts and then costs of 10 cents per message. The email is included in the cost of the service.
Personal Message button
This allows the user to send a message which is set up before setting out on your trip. My message simply says I am at camp, but it could be anything you want. I like this feature, as I often have trouble calling my wife at the end of the day and have to walk around for a while after setting up camp to find a mobile phone signal. The message is sent to e-mail contacts and as a text message.
Like the OK button, it gives a Goggle map location
How the device has performed
I have used the device on several local walks in the Lincolnshire Wolds and have taken the device on a number of business trips sending OK messages from towns and place such as service stations, like Hartshead Moor services on top of the Pennines. I have 100% success on all messages sent. There is one caveat. It is important that you do not try to send a message when walking along, you need to be stationary when sending a message. It does not seem to be reliable if you are not.
Typically from pressing the OK button, it takes about a minute or so, to get a confirmation by the flashing message button. I have also check the e-mail message on my Iphone, where I have had a signal and typically the email comes through in a few minutes, with the GPS location and a link to Google maps.
So far so good, I have to test further and see how it works in dense woods and deep ravines. I have been impressed with its speed and reliability and I course it does mean that my wife is reassured that should I get into trouble, I would be able to get help.