Wednesday, February 1, 2023


Camper’s death could have been prevented with a satellite messenger. Don’t let it happen to you!

Spot X and RV
A satellite messenger can bring rescuers here or anywhere your travels take you.

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.

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“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

satellite messenger screen showing an RV

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.

RV in the middle of nowhereWhy you should have a SPOT X satellite messenger

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.

Spot X in Death Valley
Cell service is limited in many National Park and near non-existent in Death Valley National Park

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.

    Satellite mesenger and RV
    Camp in confidence knowing you have two-way communication even in the middle of nowhere!
  • 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.

    Spot Text
    We check in with family and friends every evening when traveling

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 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 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 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.
Satellite messenger and rescue helicopter
My old SPOT brought the desired response, but two-way communication would have been more comforting

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.



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Roger V
4 months ago

We have the Garmin inReach. The iPhone 14 now offers this capability as well. Not mentioned here as the article is a year old.

Bill Fisher
4 months ago

Great article and true in every way. We carry a SpotX on any and all trips. It’s also reassuring right now as we ride out hurricane Ian in our home to know if our cell service goes off line we can communicate to others.

5 months ago

I have been involved with Search and Rescue and Emergency Mountain Rescue for a long time, and I am retired from the Army. I also do a lot of remote camping, hiking, fishing, and kayaking. I have had an Emergency Personal Locator Beacon in the past. Now I have a sat phone, and it is always with me. Anything that can help rescue crews locate you when you need it is the best investment you will ever make. Your life could depend on it (not to mention making it easier on us SAR folks).

Bob Palin
5 months ago

As the state coordinator for the American Discovery Trail in Utah I have to say that these devices are great. The ADT passes through some incredibly remote and rugged country in Utah and knowing where the hikers are is great for me and them even in non-emergency situations. You should see their faces when I turn up in some remote location after they’ve been hiking alone for 5 days and I have real food, and beer!
The most common one used by hikers seems to be the InReach Mini from Garmin, it has some restrictions as far as how many routes you can download but works. Messaging is not instantaneous, last week a hiker sent me a message at 9pm, I got it at 2:45am and this is normal, you can’t have a conversation.

D Pilit
9 months ago

I had a SPOT (not an X) for many years but finally gave up on it. I have had several times where it would not send position reports, and the worst was when it said reports were sent but my wife was frantic when I got back to civilization because she never received any messages. Going to try an InReach.

9 months ago


RV Staff
9 months ago
Reply to  Patty

Sorry, Peggy. What’s unavailable? Thanks. Have a good night. 🙂 –Diane

Beth Chuck
1 year ago

Thank you so much for this info! Getting one for daughter that goes to 10-14k mtns in CO.

1 year ago

Thanks for a great review! I would be interested in how much your friend’s rescue cost… I know helicopters aren’t free. I have read that you don’t use the SOS feature unless death is eminent because it will cost $$$$$$.

Stanley Sokolow
1 year ago
Reply to  cee

I have a Garmin inReach 2-way satellite communicator. The company offers at a reasonable price, in addition to the communication subscription, optional search and rescue insurance. It will cover the cost of helicopter trips, or whatever type of rescue vehicle is appropriately dispatched, for genuine medical emergencies. There are some limitations, so read the policy carefully. For example, you can’t use the insurance for evacuations due to RV breakdowns.

1 year ago

Thanks for the info Stanley. I’ve been looking at satellite communicators & hope to make up my mind by the end of the year. I don’t do extreme activities but do travel solo.

Eddie A. Fort
1 year ago

Exactly! This is the main reason (for me anyway) that the Garmin InReach is the better product.

Dave Helgeson
1 year ago
Reply to  cee

Cee, The initial bill was $30,000 however they would discount it 50% if paid within 30days. Our friends had just retired and switch from traditional health insurance to Samaritan Ministries a Christian health care sharing community. Our friends paid for the helicopter ride out of pocket to receive the discount and then were reimbursed in full (less a nominal deductible) for the helicopter and hospital stay.

Depends on the agency coming to rescue you. In Washington state and others, search and rescue mission services provided by the county are free of charge to the subject. It doesn’t matter if you call 911 or activate the SOS feature on a satellite messenger device. In King County, WA where I am a search and rescue volunteer we typically use a county owned helicopter or one dispatched from a local military base. If they are not available you get carried out in a litter.

1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Helgeson

Dave, Thank you for the info. Your friends have a good policy!

If I have an accident that requires S&R I hope it’s in WA! I don’t know what the policy is in MT for the various state, county and federal agencies… probably not as generous as WA. Something to look into.

1 year ago
Reply to  cee

Cee, thank you for asking the question I was going to ask. 20 years ago I lived in Alaska and spent plenty of time adventuring in the middle of spectacular north country nowhere. In our small community the search and rescue team included most of our neighbors. Rescues and the cost of rescues were often a topics of conversation at get togethers. After my current assignment I will begin months of solo boondocking. This conversation reminded me I need to review my insurance options.

John Noland
1 year ago

Agree that Spot is good to have, we always carry one while horseback or hiking. A bit frustrating that you have to leave it be for up to 20 minutes to send a message if in the back country.
Regarding the guy who died in Death Valley, sadly he violated the one of the most basic rules of desert survival; stay where you best can be found. Not only he left his car, but he and his girlfriend went down into a canyon, making it harder for SAR to find and extract them. Fortunately she survived.

Ronald Hiemann
1 year ago

This is a great article and I share your opinion that it is important to have this added safety. However, your article reads like a paid advertisement for the Globalstar Spot X. You fail to mention that there are several alternatives. Equally capable. Some better and for about the same cost. ALL OF THESE DEVICES REQUIRE A SUBSCRIPTION for the SOS and TRACKING and MESSAGING functions to work. It is also important to note that you do not always have satellite connectivity. All of these devices depend on a clear view of the skies. Globalstar’s Spot X is further handicapped by not having as many satellites as Iridium. So you may have to wait 10-15 minutes before you connect. Been there, done that. Here are some alternatives and anyone interested should research all of them. (1) Garmin InReach. Available in 3 different versions (2) ZOLEO Satellite Communicator (3) Garmin Montana 700i. Last but not least, a satellite phone.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago
Reply to  Ronald Hiemann

I found in the past when I read the ‘reviews’ of most of these various communications devices, the most glowing reports came from those who LOVE them, but have never really used them. They ‘love’ the idea that if they DID need these radios, they were ready for use. Not much help.

Shannon P.
1 year ago
Reply to  Ronald Hiemann

As I read the article I had the same feeling about it as advertising. We carry a Garmin InReach. I was surprised that there was no mention of other products even if the reviewer had no first hand knowledge of them.

PL Packer
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon P.

The reviewer was reviewing one product, not comparing various similar products. I’m sure one can find comparisons elsewhere on the internet.

4 months ago
Reply to  Ronald Hiemann

He states in the opening statement of this article – he was asked (by the company) to review their product – which he did. He wasn’t asked to compare their product to others.

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