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2018 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: SPOT tracker vs PLBs  (Read 460 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Sea Lion
  • ****
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  • Location: San Mateo
  • Date Registered: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 1093
I bought a SPOT Gen3 a year or two ago and carry it in my PFD pocket as a last-ditch SOS device if my VHF and phone fail. It is small and light enough that I sometimes forget I even have it. I received an email from them today saying that they are increasing the annual fee to $215. That seems excessive for something that I only carry for emergency use (I'm not using the tracking or messaging features).

That got me looking at PLBs like the ACR ResQLink+, which are bulkier and only send SOS messages, but have no annual fee, since the satellite network they use is government-funded. I'm curious if anyone has tried both and can comment on the tradeoffs.

I called SPOT to cancel and they offered to give me $50 off the annual subscription, so I decided to stay with them for the moment. I kinda sensed that they might even be willing to drop the fee further.

Anyway, if you have a SPOT and don't use the messaging features you can save yourself some money by threatening to cancel.


  • Manatee
  • *****
  • View Profile
  • Location: Fremont, CA
  • Date Registered: Feb 2007
  • Posts: 22491
I have a SPOT device that I have been paying $149 annually. Just noticed that this year's fee is approx 165. No texting. Just emergency button. I like to let friends/family know where I am going on trips. I did not use it when I ended up in a ditch near Shelter Cove (why? who knows)...was eventually helped by local residents. I will probably cancel the service before renewal next July unless, like you, I am offered a reasonable discount.


  • Sea Lion
  • ****
  • 44.5"/38.5#
  • View Profile YouTube Channel
  • Location: Hermit in LG Mountains
  • Date Registered: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 6511
I'd be interested to hear opinions on this too.

I have the ACR ResQLink+. The biggest issue I have is that you're never quite sure whether the thing will actually work. You can do a limited number of self-tests (about once per month, as I recall). But I'd really like to test it every time I go out, like a radio check on the VHF.
Some kind of happiness is
Measured out in miles...

E Kayaker

  • Sea Lion
  • ****
  • View Profile
  • Location: Vacaville
  • Date Registered: Sep 2010
  • Posts: 4009
I replaced my spot with the InReach. It is an upgrade from the spot because you can send text and email plus use the SOS. I went fishing at Hell Hole Reservoir and my alternator died. There is no cell service and I was stuck two hours drive from Auburn. A PLB wouldn't help me because I didn't need search and rescue. An older spot would be better than nothing. When I used mine I set up one of the preprogrammed messages to call my family for non emergency help like a car breakdown. Since I had my InReach I was able to text my family and ask my wife to bring me a new battery. She was able to text me back when the parts clerk asked questions she couldn't answer. It has a monthly payment plan that varies depending on the number of free messages. You can also suspend the service. My bill for Sept was $18.61 which is the low end. I paid $41.37 the month before to have unlimited messages while on vacation. We were out of cell service for a week in Oregon. Another feature is gps and maps. You can also get weather reports and marine weather reports for your location or for another location. It's not free or even cheap but it has features you can't get on a PLB.

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.  ~John Buchan