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New SPOT Gen3


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The newest SPOT (GEN 3) is out... I guess... I can't find it on their website, but numerous vendors seem to have it for sale... The choice of SPOT vs PLB vs InReach gets tougher. The InReach SE has more features, but costs a bit more. Waddyathink?

Key Differences: SPOT 3 vs SPOT 2

  • Longer battery life - more reliable
  • Smaller size - easier to travel with
  • Internal vibration sensor to only send tracking messages while moving - more efficient
  • Vibration sensor also enables us to provide the new Unlimited Tracking service - ability to transmit indefinitely
  • New Movement Messaging - theft alerting capability
  • Variable rates in Track Mode (30 min, 15, 10, 5, 2) - more customizable
  • Inserting OK or Custom messages into a Track session no longer blocks Track Messages from being sent for ~30 minutes - more reliable
  • USB connection for FW upgrades as well as feature manipulation (enabling Unlimited Track, varying the rate, etc.)
  • USB connection for line power - indefinite life span
  • Device will run off of Energizer NiMH rechargeable batteries (USB power will NOT charge the batteries, they must be removed and charged separately)
  • LEDs visible while pressing the buttons - more confidence in the functions
  • Easier to press buttons with tactile feedback - more user-friendly
  • Loops on top and bottom provide mounting options instead of requiring a carrying case - easier to travel with/carry


  • Compact and light weight; Weighing only 3.2 oz. (with batteries), it packs easily for traveling.
  • Long Battery Life: choose from Lithium or rechargeable batteries; or line-power the unit through its USB port.
  • New Tracking Options: now you can choose the rate of tracking that suits your adventure (2 ½, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes).
  • Motion Activated Tracking: now your SPOT knows when you’re moving and when you stop to make camp. When SPOT Gen3 senses you’ve stopped for an extended period of time it will stop sending track messages until you start moving again.
  • New Contoured Shape: the new design allows you to easily attach your SPOT to your bag, boat or vehicle allowing SPOT to go wherever you d


  • Height: 3.43”
  • Width: 2.56”
  • Thickness: 1”
  • Weight: ~160g / 5.64 oz
  • Battery Life: 14 Days in Track Mode (net net is that it’ll last longer since it only transmits while moving
  • Requires 4 AAA Lithium Batteries


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Delorme's InReach SE adds altitudes to the track points and can send and receive text messages, but it looks like monthly fees are quite a bit more and the plans are complex.


InReach's inclusion of Altitude, speed and course are nice extras to have with the location information.

I initially thought the InReach was much more expensive, too.... but...

It looks like the Aviation1 plan would work for most recreation aviators... $11.95 /mo gives you 9.6 hours of tracking per month (5 minute interval), plenty for an active aviator with bytes left over for a bunch of custom messages or emails. Plus, $2.95 /mo for GEOS Rescue service. So the $180 a year wouldn't be much more than the $178 I pay yearly for SPOT (as per my last 3 yearly bills from SPOT). I'm sure the $180 will be a bit higher with taxes, etc.

The ability to message back/forth with rescuers (and family) would be a big plus. I'd hate to push the "SOS/Rescue" button if all I needed to say was "have a flat tire, please send help and tire/tube for my main gear".


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