As if it wasn’t enough to be able to use GPS satellites to locate yourself anywhere on the globe, now it’s possible to use satellites to communicate outward. This combo ushers in a new age of backcountry connectivity, which is why we gave it an Editors’ Choice Award this year.
The GPS unit itself is top of the line with high resolution topo maps, imagery, and street maps of North America, running on a lightning fast processor. But add that to the SPOT system which lets you send out emails, texts, tweets, Facebook updates, or requests for help to first responders. Friends and family can also track your progress with on Google Maps. Our editors have taken it around the globe, from Abu Dhabi to Denali and all around the continental US.
It’s not a 2-way communication device, meaning that you can’t receive messages from back home, just send them out. But it works in areas where cell phones don’t, all you need is a semi-clear sky above and some AA batteries. In case the GPS unit is lost or damaged, you can still send out SOS messages with the SPOT device. You can pick from a variety of service plans (500 texts/year for $50), and if you’re headed far off-trail or just want to be able to let your family know about your latest summit (or your Twitter followers!), this is the system for you. $450 for the devices, plus $100/year for the basic service plan; 10.7 oz.; delorme.com and findmespot.com