SPOT LLC sent me the SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger for me to test and provide an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I spend hours trail running in the woods alone with Sitka most weekends and always thought about carrying a satellite messenger with me, just in case, but ultimately never actually went out and bought one.
I basically lived in the “I’ll figure it out if something goes wrong” mentality, and while I feel comfortable with my outdoors skills and always bring the 10 essentials, that’s not exactly a safe way to venture out into the backcountry, especially since I go alone most of the time.
So when SPOT contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out the SPOT X, I took them up on the opportunity.
Now, I can’t imagine not bringing this along on all of my backcountry adventures. While I rarely have to use it, it gives me peace of mind that if something were to go wrong, I’d have a way of communicating with friends, family, and emergency responders.
The budget-friendly SPOT X 2-way satellite messenger is great for anyone who spends time in the backcountry and wants to let friends and family know that they’re ok or have a way of communicating with a Search & Rescue team in the event of an emergency.
About the SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
The SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger allows for back and forth communication via text or email between your contacts and emergency responders when you’re off the grid or outside of cellular service zones.
Thanks to its partnership with Globalstar, SPOT X devices have “near global” coverage 2/47.
Each SPOT X comes with it’s own US phone number, so friends can message you just the same as though they were sending a text message, anytime.
You can connect your SPOT X to your phone via Bluetooth using the SPOT X app to access messages, set tracking intervals, communicate with friends and family and Search and Rescue teams, send check-ins and more.
The SPOT X looks a bit like an original Blackberry and features a full backlit QWERTY keyboard for easier messaging. It can also be used as a tracking device.
Sending Messages with Your SPOT X
There are a number of ways to send messages and emails to loved ones or a Search & Rescue crew using your SPOT X device.
First, you will need to add your contacts to your device using either the device itself or you can add them on your dashboard online at findmespot.com under Contact Settings.
If you have downloaded the app, then all of your contacts will show up automatically and you can send them messages without having to pre-load the information into your phone.
You can also send a check-in message with the push of a button to deliver your GPS location with friends and family you’ve designated to receive such messages.
Messages are limited to 140 characters and you have the option of typing out your own message or sending out preset messages that you create before you depart. The app has several pre-loaded messages in there already.
Sending time averages around 3-5 minutes or so, depending on your location. For best results, you want to be in a clear location, outdoors, with the antenna pointed toward the sky.
Communicating with Emergency Responders
The SPOT X comes with a handy S.O.S. button that allows you to contact Search & Rescue crews with the touch of a button. It sits underneath a “door” labeled “S.O.S.” so you don’t accidentally hit it while you’re hiking.
The button sends out an S.O.S. to the 24/7 Search & Rescue and enables you to message back and forth with them about your situation and location.
Tracking with SPOT X
One cool feature you can set up in SPOT X is real-time tracking using a SPOT Share Page and Google Maps.
Set up live tracking and get a link to send friends and family from your online SPOT dashboard under “Maps.” The link takes you to a map, where you can turn on live tracking.
Your friends can track you live and watch your progress. I love using this feature during trail races so support crew can have an idea of when I’m arriving and friends can follow my progress.
To turn on tracking from your device, click on “Track/Fetch Intervals” and then set the tracking interval. The time varies depending on the plan you have, and the default is every 10 minutes, which is good for most excursions.
To initiate tracking, long press on the Track button (which looks like a shoe print) for three seconds, until you see a set of footprints in the status bar at the top of the screen. Now, your SPOT X will send out
SPOT X Service Plans
SPOT X offers two different service plans to fit your lifestyle and budget: Contract Plans and Flex Plans.
Contract Plans are great for those who get outdoors and off the grid all year long. Think trail runners, backcountry skiers, and hunters. With a contract plan, don’t have to worry or think about whether you have service with your SPOT X before heading out.
There are three different contract plan options: Basic, Advanced, and Unlimited.
The Basic plan starts at $11.95/month, going up to $29.95/month for the Unlimited. Each charges a one-time activation fee of $19.95. You can also pay annually and save some money.
The main differences between the plans are the number of messages you can send per month, the tracking intervals, and movement alerts.
Flex Plans are paid on a month-to-month basis and require a one-month subscription. These plans start at $14.95/month and go up to $39.95/month. This plan is ideal for those who venture out part of the year, like during the summer months.
In addition to the same $19.95 activation fee for new devices, there is also an annual Annual Flex Charge of $24.95 payable upon activation, and then again annual upon renewal. This charge allows the user to suspend service at any time without incurring a new activation fee.
The plan fees are comparable to those of the Garmin InReach.
Updating Firmware on the SPOT X
Your device will let you know that you are in need of a firmware update. Always check before you head out on a backcountry adventure to ensure that you’re not stuck in the woods with no way to communicate when you need it most.
To update your SPOT X, you’ll need to connect it to your computer and download the appropriate updater for your computer. For more information on updating firmware, see detailed instructions here.
Additional SPOT X Features
The battery life on the SPOT X is pretty remarkable. I’ve only charged this a handful of times in the several months that I’ve had it. When set to continuous 10-minute tracking intervals, the SPOT X can last for 240 hours (10 days).
Other noteworthy specs include:
- Operating temperature range is -4°F to 140°F (-20°C to 60°C)
- Operating altitude range is -328 ft to 21,320 ft (-100m to 6,500m)
- Waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
- Impact, dust, and water resistant
In conclusion, the SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger is a great budget-friendly option for those who venture into the backcountry and want a way to connect with friends and family to let them know their safe.
It also provides peace of mind should you ever experience an emergency and need to get in touch with emergency services.
I bring this with me trail running and carry it in a pocket in my running vest. I barely notice it’s there, despite it’s larger size.