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Best Satellite Messengers (2024): Iridium, Tracking Devices, Garmin Best Satellite Messengers (2024): Iridium, Tracking Devices, Garmin
If you want a simpler tracker for single-stint adventures, the Spot Gen4 offers reliable one-way comms and location tracking. Functionality here is limited compared... Best Satellite Messengers (2024): Iridium, Tracking Devices, Garmin


If you want a simpler tracker for single-stint adventures, the Spot Gen4 offers reliable one-way comms and location tracking. Functionality here is limited compared to more capable two-way rivals, but there are some neat safety extras, and the staying power is excellent. This beast goes long.

It’s a one-way messenger, so unlike many of the devices on this list, you can only beam simple outbound notes, you can’t receive replies from the folks back home.

In testing, I used the Spot Gen4 for lots of different one-day ultra runs in the European mountain ranges, and it’s great for offering that simple comfort of safety crews knowing where you are at all times.

I love that you can program it to activate tracking when you reach or depart from specific locations, and powering off while you sit still before turning on when you move, is great for sparing vital battery life.

The SOS functions are easy to use, and the Spot Gen4 is fast to send up the metaphorical flares. Plus, there’s a Spot Assist button that’ll notify contacts that you need some help but your struggles are non-life-threatening—let’s say you’ve run out of gas in the desert, for example.

Outbound messaging capabilities include SMS, email, and certain social media platforms, but this needs to be programmed while you’re still in civilization. You can’t do it on the fly sitting on a rock half way up Kilimanjaro.

Unlike most of your outdoor kit—head light, phone, GPS watch—which now use USB charging, the Spot Gen4 runs on AAA batteries. That has pros and cons. The battery life is excellent, and it’s easier to swap in new batteries than it might be to find a power source, but I did find it slightly bothersome carrying extra kit.



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