Gear Reviews


Most affordable

Brand: Spot

Model: X




The Lowdown: The most affordable device in the test is one step up from a basic personal locator beacon: It can initiate an SOS and send messages using either your phone (the latest version has Bluetooth) or its own keyboard.

User Interface: We found the companion app to be intuitive, although the process for navigating to waypoints and tracking takes too many steps if you haven’t set them up ahead of time. The built-in keyboard buttons can be slow to react, leading to unwanted editing.

Satellite System: Globalstar. This privately owned satellite network (which owns SPOT) has great coverage in the States and Europe, but is spotty elsewhere. In the depths of Arch Canyon, Utah, it took up to 20 minutes to send and receive messages and sometimes did not send them at all—not ideal in an emergency. 

Weather Reports: No

Battery Life: 240 hours (10 days) in 10-minute tracking mode

Subscription Cost: Starting at $12/month for 20 custom messages (preset messages are unlimited) with a $20 activation fee for yearly contracts, or $15/month plus a $25 flex charge for month-to-month plans.

Rating: 2/5