You may think that a satellite messenger, which allows you to communicate from just about anywhere, is just for back county junkies that participate in risky activities like mountain climbing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, dirt biking, back packing, back country skiing, wilderness hiking, prospecting, etc. Those activities often take place in remote areas lacking cell phone service.
“A note helped rescuers find two missing campers in Death Valley. For one of them, it was too late.” April 14, 2021, Washington Post
A satellite messenger is not just for adrenaline junkies, but for campers and RVers, too
I bought my first SPOT satellite messenger more than ten years ago, as I participate in many of the activities mentioned above. My reasoning was if I ever found myself stranded or injured I could quickly summon rescuers to my exact location.
I consider the SPOT essential gear for my RV
However, over those ten years I have found myself using my satellite messenger more during my RV travels than any of the activities I initially purchased it for. In fact, I now consider it essential gear for my RV.
Therefore, when I was recently asked to review the latest satellite messenger SPOT X with Bluetooth®, I jumped at the chance. The SPOT X is the first satellite messenger from Globalstar, Inc., that provides two-way communication. Earlier models only allowed users to send a message but not receive messages. I will explain towards the end of this article why two-way communication has me so thrilled.
In addition to two-way communication via text and email, SPOT X contains a host of other new features. These include being able to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to access maps and contacts, and store more predefined messages. It provides a full keypad, has a navigation feature, compass, and a dedicated U.S. mobile phone number. There are many more features that others have written about and shared on YouTube.
Rather than reiterate what other reviewers have shared about the product, I want to tell RVers everywhere why they should have a SPOT X satellite messenger with them during their travels.
MOST IMPORTANTLY is that you don’t meet an early, unnecessary demise like a camper in Death Valley recently did. Shortly after receiving the SPOT X satellite messenger, my wife and I departed on a three-week spontaneous RV trip heading south to warmer climates. Just days before reaching Death Valley, I read an article about a missing couple and how one of them died before they could be rescued.
Had they been carrying a SPOT X satellite messenger, they could have easily summoned help to repair the flat tires on their vehicle. This would have been little less than a minor delay and inconvenience to them rather than the tragedy it became. Literally a press of a button could have saved a life. As a search and rescue volunteer, I can assure you this is not an isolated case. I could share scores of similar stories. Each time someone dies needlessly like this it just increases my resolve to spread the word about carrying a satellite messenger. All Spot satellite messenger devices have an S.O.S. button. You can activate it to dispatch first responders to your exact location just like calling 911.
Besides saving your life, here are 10 additional reasons why RVers should carry a SPOT X satellite messenger
- Campsites without cell service. Say you’re camping in a rural primitive campground or out in the boondocks without cell service. With a SPOT X you have the peace of mind that you can contact family, friends or first responders at any time. Conversely, if there is an emergency at home, loved ones can contact you via the dedicated U.S. mobile phone number on a SPOT X.
- Let friends and family know your location at the touch of a button. Using the “Check In” feature on a SPOT satellite messenger, you can let a list of predetermined family members and friends know you are “OK.” You can also provide them with your exact location via coordinates and a pin flag on a map. Even in areas where you have cell phone service, this is a much simpler method of checking in as there is no need to describe your location. Since my wife and I prefer to boondock, we use this function every day during our travels.
Your family and friends can track you, if you want
- Tracking Feature. The SPOT X allows family members and others (who you have provided permission) to track your “near live”* position as you travel. If you fail to check in via phone or SPOT X, others will know your exact location to dispatch first responders. Possibilities include loss of consciousness, vehicle leaving the road, medical emergency, criminal element, etc. If you are a SOLO RVer or outdoor recreationalist, I can’t emphasize strongly enough that you need a SPOT X satellite messenger! Here is a story I have been following locally where a solo male went missing and is presumed dead. Had he been carrying a SPOT X he could have called for help if injured. Or had someone been tracking him, his body could have been quickly recovered by search teams, providing closure for the family. At this point, the search has been called off leaving a grieving family wondering what happened to their loved one. The missing person is a 66-year-old retired school teacher who fits the demographic of the average RVtravel.com subscriber. This could have been any of you reading this. I encourage solo RVers that don’t think this can happen to them to read this.
*The SPOT X default tracking interval is 10 minutes. Depending upon your service plan, you can select from tracking intervals of 2½, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes.
Use SPOT X when there’s no cell service
- Points of interest without cell service. Like other RVers, my wife and I travel to many out-of-the-way points of interest where cell phone service is nonexistent. Some of these are ghost towns, slot canyons, alpine lakes, etc. However, with a SPOT X we can contact loved ones or first responders if needed. Remember this story in RVtravel.com from a couple of years back? A SPOT X would have saved rescuers days of effort and the family days of worry.
- Lonely sections of road without cell service. We have all traveled down a section of road where cell phone service drops out. With a SPOT X you can contact roadside assistance, emergency medical services or law enforcement informing them of your situation without delay. You’ll also receive a reply on their estimated time of arrival at your location.
More reasons to have a SPOT X
- Breakdown. As the above two items point out, what would you do if your RV breaks down on a lonely road? And what if you have no cell service, you don’t know your exact location and you need to be towed to a repair facility? Fifty years ago you would raise your hood to signal a problem with your vehicle. Then you would flag down a passing stranger to ask for help. Today that is inviting trouble. With a SPOT X you can summon roadside assistance to your exact location. You can also notify friends that you are delayed but okay.
- Disasters. Have you ever wondered what you would do if a natural disaster or terrorist attack occurred in an area where you were RVing? What if traditional forms of communication were disrupted? While you might be okay, how would you contact family back home to let them know? Even if cell phone service is still operational, it is likely to be overwhelmed with calls and texts – making it practically useless. A SPOT X sends and receives signals via satellites that are not impacted by disasters on earth. So you can rest assured you can still communicate with family and friends regardless of what happens around you.
- RVing abroad. Say you’re traveling beyond the borders of the continental United States (maybe RVing in Mexico or driving to Alaska, etc.). How confident are you with the cell phone carriers in other countries providing uninterrupted service? You have a backup form of communication with a SPOT X.
Keep in touch with your traveling companions with the SPOT X
- Traveling with other RVers. Each SPOT X has its own dedicated U.S. mobile phone number, so two or more SPOT X devices can “call” one another. This is regardless of whether the “call” is just a few miles down the road or across the globe. This is the perfect setup if you travel in remote areas with other RVers. Think of the advantages if you’re taking a dream RV trip of a lifetime to the Yukon, Northwest Territories, through Central America, etc. If you became separated via an accident, breakdown or worse, you could reach out to your fellow RVers to let them know you are okay and just lagging behind. Or you can tell them you are in serious trouble and need them to turn around and backtrack to your location.
I mentioned at the beginning of the article that I was very thrilled that the SPOT X provides two-way communication. Here’s why:
When you visit the Findmespot.com website you will see a headline proclaiming, ”7,676 RESCUES & COUNTING” (as of June 6, 2021). One of those 7,676 rescues was for an injured friend my wife and I were RVing with several summers ago. We were 25 miles from the last-known cell phone service and a dozen-plus miles up a rough road from the closest landline where the injury occurred. Fortunately, our friend’s spouse and I were carrying earlier models of SPOT satellite messenger devices. I trusted the devices to deliver the S.O.S. distress signal. However, knowing it was received and a reply that help was on the way would have been very comforting during this emergency. With two-way communication, we could have also sent a detailed message to our adult children and those of our injured friend informing them of what happened. As it was, they just received a call that we had activated the S.O.S. features on our devices and first responders were headed to our location. This created a stressful situation for them.
For those that are wondering, the cavalry arrived at our location sooner than I expected in the form of the local sheriff, search & rescue volunteers, a Forest Service ranger and a helicopter complete with two paramedics! Our friend was airlifted to the nearest hospital. She resided there for three days before being released to extended bed rest. She has fully recovered from her injuries and she, along with her husband, continue to RV with my wife and me.
For more information on the SPOT X including costs, special offers and service plans click here.
Please consider carrying a SPOT X for yourself and the ones you love. Thank you!
Note from editor: The SPOT X will be available on Amazon as of June 16, 2021.