We test the Spot Gen4 satellite messenger which can send check in and customised messages or distress signals at the touch of a button

A satellite messenger can be a great way of letting those at home track your adventure if you’re heading away from a guaranteed mobile phone signal, and can’t afford expensive satellite communications equipment.

Spot Gen4, by Globalstar, offers a cheap and simple way of doing just that.

The small unit (88mm x 67mm x 24mm, 142g) is powered by four AAA batteries, which should be adequate for even long trips, depending on the tracking frequency selected, though it is non-rechargeable.

The satellite messenger is IP68 waterproof (up to 30 minutes at 2m depth).

While this isn’t a GMDSS safety device, you can issue an SOS distress alert (to local emergency services via the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center) by pressing the covered distress button.

Spot Gen 4, Satellite messenger

A one-way messaging and tracking system that sends check-in or customised messages or distress signals at the click of a button. Credit: Theo Stocker

There’s a non-emergency help button for mechanical breakdown situations.

Using Globalstar’s network of 24 low earth orbit satellites, it has near-global coverage.

Log in to your account online or via the app to programme tracking frequency (from 2.5 to 60 minutes) and how long before an alert is raised if you stop moving.

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Selected contacts receive check in or custom messages and can view your location and track on the Spot website, or via Google Maps.

You can embed the tracking map on your website or set it to share on social media.

The Check In button lets contacts know you are OK, and the custom message button sends pre-written text.

If you have internet access or a phone signal, you can update these via the online or app account, but they cannot be changed from the device itself, unlike the Spot X (£300, plus service plan).

How does the Spot Gen4 satellite messenger compare?

Spot Gen4 has annual or monthly service plan options with different levels of tracking and messaging included.

You can add enhanced mapping interface, GEOS member benefits to cover search and rescue costs, and additional SMS messaging.

Compared to the tracking-only Spot Trace (£66), the Spot Gen4 gives you the option of calling for help and sending messages, but you don’t get the two-way messaging or Bluetooth interface of the Spot X.

For a marine application where you may already have a PLB or EPIRB, the SOS function is less critical, but as a tracking device that can also call for help, you could have satellite tracking for three months, including the device and service plan for £200.

That seems good value to us.

Service plans (all prices include VAT)

Basic service: £149 per year (£12.24 monthly)

Extreme tracking: £61.40 per year (£5.12 monthly)

Geos Insurance: £15.50 per year (£1.43 monthly)

Buy it now at Amazon (UK)

Buy it now at Amazon (US)

Buy it now at eBay (UK)

Buy it now at eBay (US)

More details at: www.findmespot.eu

Other satellite messengers on the market

Spot X Bluetooth

Globalstar Spot X Bluetooth

Offering similar tools to the Spot Gen4, plus two-way messaging from the device or via Bluetooth, SOS and Check In functions.

Subscription plans are still more affordable than the competition.

Price: £300

Buy it now at eBay (UK)

Buy it now at eBay (US)

More details at: www.findmespot.com

Garmin InReach Mini

Garmin InReach Mini

With monthly subscriptions from £12.99 to £64.99, fewer messages and tracking points included, this is pricier.

It offers weather forecasts, navigation, two-way messaging, and Bluetooth-connected device tools.

Price from £300

Buy it now at Amazon (UK)

Buy it now at Amazon (US)

Buy it now at eBay (UK)

Buy it now at eBay (US)

More details at: www.garmin.com

YB Tracking YB3

YB3 satellite messenger tracking

 

An ARC favourite, thanks to its user-friendly tracking platform, using Iridium satellites and rental options.

The basic model offers tracking only, while the standard (£538) has Bluetooth two-way messaging.

There is no subscription cost.

Price £419

Buy it now from ybtracking.com

More details at ybtracking.com


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