Gear Scout: SPOT Gen3

After a prolonged and secretive build up, SPOT has finally launched the latest generation of their wildly successful GPS Satellite Messenger. Aptly named the Gen3, this new device includes a number of refined improvements guaranteed to make it a continued success. The most noticeable change is the reduced size. At only four ounces with overall dimensions slightly larger than a deck of cards, it’s genuinely pocket-sized. The Gen3 also features a sleek new shape and improved layout for the main buttons. Those buttons are a little easier to operate than on the previous unit.

The biggest changes have been made to battery management and tracking features. With double the battery life of the previous version, the Gen3 now runs on 4 AAA batteries. Those batteries can be recharged within the unit via the new USB port. This is an important upgrade for those wishing to connect their Gen3 to an external power source like a solar panel or vehicle based outlet. The original SPOT device was named the Personal Tracker for good reason, and the Gen3’s updated tracking features are the most sophisticated yet. A new vibration sensor detects when the device is in motion, and can stall tracking signals or initiate them as needed. The tracking intervals can be adjusted within varied time ranges starting at just 2.5 minutes and extending all the way to one hour to save battery life.

The changes over the GPS Satellite Messenger may not seem radical, but they are nice improvements all the same. The price remains reasonable at $169 and subscription plans are unchanged. For a more comprehensive review of the SPOT Gen3 and to see how it stacks up against the competition, be sure to pick up a copy of the 2013 winter issue of Overland Journal.

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.