Most backcountry adventurers have heard of SPOT. We’ve had them available for rent at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters for a number of years now. It’s a device that can track your waypoints, send GPS coordinates to others and alert help in case of an emergency. I’ve used them on Boundary Waters trips and we’ve rented them to folks who have nervous folks back at home wanting to know if their loved ones are ok.
The downside to SPOT is there have been a number of cases where people press the SOS button for non-emergencies or on accident because there hasn’t been a way for two-way communication. Now with SPOT Connect you can do just that.
Technology simply amazes me. And the thing about it is it isn’t just for wilderness travelers. As we all know there are plenty of dead cell phone spots where you just can’t get signal. The SPOT Connect can help you in a situation like this whether your on the side of a road with a vehicle broken down or hunting elk in the mountains and break your leg. It allows you to communicate your situation before asking for 911 help.
Consider this situation. Your friend is lost on a trail you’ve hiked a million times. They get turned around and text you to ask for help. You text them to look for the big spruce with the top missing next to the ripple in the river. They find it, find the trail and no one(except the two of you) need to know.
Now say your buddy just has the SPOT locator that doesn’t allow him to text. He hits the SOS button and a search and rescue team is activated, a helicopter goes in the air, ground crews head out and in the process one of the rescuers trips, falls off a cliff and dies. Anytime a rescue team heads into the woods there is a chance one of them will get hurt or worse. Maybe your buddy could have waited for another hiker to come along, or listen for the traffic on the road that was just ten feet away, but rescuers had know way of knowing whether or not it was a real emergency.
The new SPOT Connect allows you to communicate through your iPhone! It costs $169.00, that’s pretty inexpensive for an insurance policy these days. I’m guessing we’ll be buying a few of these for the upcoming BWCA paddling season at Voyageur. It weighs less than a satellite phone, is smaller and it can do all of the things a SPOT does and more. I’m excited to try it and I’ll probably even bring it when I go out hiking solo the next time so I can send a quick text letting everyone know I’m ok. Then I won’t have to keep an eye on my cell phone for signal or disrupt the quiet of the woods with conversation on a cell phone. And the SPOT Connect will let me send my kids out into the BWCA on their first adventures without me even if it is just a day trip.
This is exciting stuff!